Faith & Love ||| Note in Passing

James 2:19 states:

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.”

~ In Koine the word used for believe is pisteuō (πιστεύω). It can also mean: to trust, to have faith in.

19 σὺ πιστεύεις ὅτι εἷς ἐστιν ὁ θεός, καλῶς ποιεῖς· καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια πιστεύουσιν καὶ φρίσσουσιν. [1]

~ Note however that in James 2:19, that the word pisteuō is not translated as trust. It does not say or associate trust with demons. What we can get out of this is that the demons believe in there being one God, but they do not trust that there is one God.  Something more is implied in saying that trust is involved. This means that the word trust does not mean exactly the same thing is believe.

~ Now lets go to one other verse, Romans 4:5 in English and in Koine:

“However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

5 τῷ δὲ μὴ ἐργαζομένῳ πιστεύοντι δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἀσεβῆ λογίζεται ἡ πίστις αὐτοῦ εἰς δικαιοσύνην· [2]

~ Here pisteuō  is translated as trusts and faith.

So all I am trying to say is this. In Koine, though the word often used in a given verse is pisteuō, in English, it may be translated as faith, believe, trust, etc.  Perhaps this should not be surprising.  Why? Well, we do this in English as well with some words. For example, the word you can have a singular referent or a plural referent.  Or the word love, can refer to something romantic or to friendships or to a fathers love for his child. And so on… We simply understand from the context what is going on.  And …

It seems to me that the Greeks were like that with the word, pisteuō. They simply understood from the context what was going on.

[1] Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, B., Aland, K., Karavidopoulos, J., Martini, C. M., & Metzger, B. M. (1993). The Greek New Testament (27th ed., Jas 2:19). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

[2] Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, B., Aland, K., Karavidopoulos, J., Martini, C. M., & Metzger, B. M. (1993). The Greek New Testament (27th ed., Ro 4:5). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

pale

Getting Back to Faith the Size of a…

~ So suppose that you are going through a massive, massive trial – something very difficult and painful.

What if Jesus had said that you need massive faith in order to handle massive trials?
~ Speaking for myself, I would despair. It seems so often during trials, that I have difficulty scraping up any faith and now, I am being told that..

Anyway… Jesus not say that and Thank Him, because had He said that it, would have … let to an infinite regress. Huh???

What I mean is that, had Jesus said that, then there would have been something incoherent, something odd about what He said.

Why? Because now, where before you have one massive trial, now you have two. That is, in addition to the first massive trial, now you have another massive trial, which is the need to have gigantic faith and the thought of this makes you groan.

So in order to have massive faith, you need to have massive faith beforehand. And in order to have massive faith beforehand, you need to have massive faith beforehand beforehand… and soon…

Again – thank God Jesus said, you need mustard seed sized faith. The size was not really important. What was important is the presence of faith. Just having it.  The only benefit that giant faith gets you is a greater assurance… a psychological benefit.

Those who trust in the Lord
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved,
but abides forever.”
~ Psm 125:1

 

Faith the Size of a Double-Coconut…

Seychelles_COCO_DE_MER

What if Jesus – instead of saying:

“If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6).

Had instead said…

“If you had faith like the seed of a Lodoicea Maldivica aka the Coco de Mer, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6).

The Lodoicea Maldivica aka the sea coconut, coco de mer, or double coconut is a tree that grows in the Seychelles Islands.  It grows a massive fruit, ~ 40-50 cm in length, which contains a seed, that has the honor being the worlds largest seed (see above).

India’s only double coconut tree artificially pollinated @ The Hindu

~ Yes. So what if Jesus had said something like that instead? What would you have done? I think I would faint.

I would faint, because that itself would be a trial.  A trial for which I did not have the requisite faith, because the requirement for faith was too large. Too difficult.  So I would faint.

~ Something buzzing here… Ok. Take a breath… a thought

-> In order to get through a difficulty, I need to have faith in God.

What could an example of this difficulty be?

It could be a sickness, financial struggles, a car accident… and so on. And – it could also be the need to have faith. Huh? So how does the above sentence get re-worked.

-> In order to get through the difficulty of not having faith, I need to have faith in God.

Or

-> In order to get through the difficult of having little faith, I need to have faith in God. ~ Well maybe not quite this last one.

A thought ~~~~> Thank God Jesus said that you only need a little faith in order to get things done. Not much. Quality was more important than quantity. Both small faith and big faith result in getting the job done. The only difference between the two is that large faith comes with some psychological benefits. You don’t freak out as much.

Abraham …

I was sifting through some old lecture notes and liked this so I am blogging this.

“Everyones gotta do an Abraham once in a while.” ~ Graham Cole

~~~ Other notes from GC:

Missio Dei: To secure God’s people in God’s place, under God’s rule, living God’s way in God’s holy and loving presence.

Covenant: A relationship founded on promise.

David Foster Wallace Quote ~ Books & Culture

The following is David Foster Wallace quote that I am excerpting from an article, “Everybody Worships” by Alissa Wilkinson. Wilkinson is Christianity Today’s chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King’s College in New York City.

“Here’s something else that’s weird but true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” ~ DFW

 

David Foster Wallace

 

 

 

Faith & Fear: Thoughts On The Side

~ Tentative thoughts…

1) Faith and fear are synonymous if the fear in question is Fear of the Lord.

2) Faith and fear are mutually exclusive if the fear in question is a fear of the world, the devil, man, the future, etc. I.e. all that is not God.

3) Fear of the Lord and all other fear are mutually exclusive such that if the Fear of the Lord is truly present in a person, it will exorcise out all other fears.

~ That is to say that the big Fear drives out all the little fears.  For example, you could be waiting at the mechanic-shop, fearful about whats wrong with your car and how much its going to cost to fix it, and you get a phone-call telling you that someone you love has cancer. Now all those car worries are gone as you ache over the sick person.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” ~ 1 John 4:18

redcircle

Findlay on Faith

MarshallBook~ I found a book online that I hope to eventually read. It is Faith as a Theme in Mark’s Narrative and it is by Christopher D. Marshall. You can read parts of it in Google Books. In it Marshall quotes an author from yestercentury, J.A. Findlay (1880-1961), on a definition of faith that he supplies. It is from pg. 107 of Findlay’s book, Jesus As They Saw Him, Part I. Mark.

“Faith, as illustrated in Mark’s gospel, may be defined as a painstaking and concentrated effort to obtain blessing for oneself or for others, material or spiritual, inspired by a confident belief that God in Jesus can supply all human need.”

~ The definition is nothing special. That is exactly why I like it. A child can exercise faith. You don’t need to be some super-saint.

Aside: While I find Findlay’s books online, I can find almost nothing about who he was. Go figure…

ReallyPale

Proleptic Faith

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” ~Mark 11:24

 “… to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit …” ~ 1 Cor. 12:9

~ Prolepsis is speaking of things in the future as though there were a done deal… a done deal in the past.  I believe that certain people have a special unique gift of faith such that they can call things before they happen. Or it may not be certain people but rather that all believers experience proleptic-faith moments in their lives where they can call certain things. They just know that something is going to work out.  God has somehow given it to them to know this.

~ Is there a special gift of faith that people have? Here is John Piper on this:

“In my message on Romans 12:3-8 , I argued from verse 3 that God gives varying measures of faith to his people. Paul says that we ought “to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” In the context this is not a limited reference to the unique spiritual gift of faith (1 Corinthians 12:9). For Paul says, “I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” “To each” refers back to “everyone among you.” God has given all Christians varying measures of faith. This is the faith with which we receive and use our varying gifts. It is the ordinary daily faith by which we live and minister.”

Follow Through Articles written by John Piper:
1) God Has Allotted to Each a Measure of Faith
2) The Elders, the People, and the Prayer of Faith
3) George Mueller’s Strategy for Showing God

~~> *Addendum: Just a quick note in passing. I have had what I thought was this Mark 11:24 faith moments. I mean I just knew that such and such was going to happen. Totally! And… and … what I thought would happen failed to happen. The lesson: Be really careful and sober.  Our emotions get the best of us sometimes.

redcircle

Mission Directs How We Exercise Faith (1)

~ In chapter 8 of Matthew, some remarkable things from the life of Jesus are detailed. For example, we see:

(1) in vv. 1-8, that Jesus heals a leper,
(2) in vv. 5-13, that Jesus heals a centurion’s servant on account of the great faith of the centurion,
(3) in vv. 14-15, Jesus heals Peter’s mother and
(4) in vv. 16-17, that Jesus heals and exorcises many many people.

~ The above four should give us an idea of what Jesus’s mission was. It was at the least a mission that involved healing people and setting people free from bondage to demons. Now of course we know that His mission involved much more than that because if we roll back a slight bit to chapter 7 of Matthew, we see Jesus teaching the masses various things.  And if we roll forward all the way to the last chapter of Matthew – chapter 28, we come to the Resurrection, which is about Jesus’ victory over sin and death, i.e. the main purpose of His mission.

Keeping all this in mind, let us come back to Matthew 8 and look at the story where Jesus calms the storm. Let us imagine that the story ends in a different sort of a way and — AND that as a result, chapter 8 is the last chapter of Matthew.

So again, IMAGINE that Matthew consists only of 8 chapters, not 28.

Why?

Well read the story of the calming of the storm, in the manner in which I write it now and you will see why. A certain absurdity ought to arise in your mind.

Point: ~~~> Hopefully you will be able to understand better Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples where He says “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” 


386px-Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee
The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633) by Rembrandt van Rijn

 23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” ~Matthew 8:23-25

~ Jesus was shocked! Immediately getting up, He grabbed a bucket and worked furiously to fill it with water and cast it out. The disciples also continued to strain hard at the oars as they attempted to control the boat. The waves however continued to pound them one after another and fearsome lightning lit up the sky and loud thunder shook up everyone and everything and filled their hearts with fear. The best of their efforts seemed hopeless and futile. Finally a wave thrice the size of the boat rose up and fell down on them with a loud crash! The boat was torn to pieces. Jesus and the disciples struggled to swim and stay afloat doing their best to grab on to any of the pieces of the wood from the boat. It was however no use. The storm was too strong. One by one they all drowned.

~ So ends the Gospel of Matthew here at chapter 8.

Now – doesn’t it seem just a bit absurd to think that Jesus, after doing all those things detailed up above, that His life and mission would suddenly fold like that?

Mark 11:20-24 & Faith

20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mk 11:20–24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this X … and does not doubt … but believes that X … it will be done for him.

~ My guess is that this is saying that faith and doubt are mutually exclusive when their object is the same.

Its like saying that you cannot believe that a rose is red and not-red at the same time.

I will have to keep thinking about this.

Faith In vs. Faith That – CB2 L8R

ShuttleFinFthat

~ I know  – this is a bit crazy. Ehhh… whatever… I inked it in with my bamboo… really do not like the writing… tacky – but ehh… for now.

My point is that one has faith in X that Y.

~So you have faith in God that Vindaloo will heal from his sickness. ~~~> You can draw out from this: “I have faith that Vindaloo will heal from his sickness.”

Now what this means is that whatever you have faith in in – that is whatever your rocket is pointed at – had better be the well and good and true. The rocket better be pointed at the right target or else the shuttle will not make it to where it should.

For example if you have faith in some false gurur that Vindaloo heals then you can say bye to Vindaloo.

Character is Evidence … Work on this later…

Somewhere I blogged that faith involves evidence for vs. evidence against.

So God may tell you go in direction Y, but everything in life says ~Y. Temptation says ~Y.

Sometimes the evidence is character.

So sometimes the devil will say such and such is of no use. You are hopeless. And there may be evidence presented to that effect. And… it would seem that you don’t have any evidence to the contrary.

However it maybe the case that if you are being biblical, that you have to believe otherwise – and the only thing that you have to go on is God’s character. In this case, character is evidence.

Faith, Knowledge & Belief Distinctions – Work through this later.

This analysis might seem to some to border on inanity. Don’t ask why – but I just need to understand this better.

For now this is just a tentative sketch …  I need to think it through more later.

FKB

 

Unbelief is a belief – belief in the wrong thing.

Can we oscillate between belief and unbelief? “Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief!” is not so much speaking of holding simultaneous contradictory beliefs as it is talking about going back and forth between the two. Evidence.

Beliefs are regarded as involuntary.

~ The object of belief has to be sole and singular – Jesus Christ.

~ The objects of unbelief are multitudinous.

Is faith involuntary?

Appearance and reality

~ What belief and faith have in common are appearance. What faith and knowledge have in common are reality.

I have faith in evidence.  Evidence in turn strengthens my faith.

Passing Comments on Faith, Causal Efficacy, & Unbelief’s objects.

(1) The causal efficacy of faith and prayer are the same. Yet since the sum of the whole is greater than its parts, they together are better.

~ So really faith and prayer are just instruments.

(2) “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'” ~ Mark 9:24

~ W.R.T. Jesus it seems that belief can only have ONE object, viz. Jesus Christ. However, unbelief has a 1,000 objects.

I find this whole passage in Mark 9, viz. that of the healing of the boy with an evil spirit, to be very difficult to understand.

 

Notes on Faith in Mark (2)

 

EMB

The following are some notes from a commentary on Mark, by Eugene M. Boring.

from pg. 147

“Even though the disciples had believed Jesus could do something about the storm, Jesus addresses them with severity and compassion as “miserably afraid” … Believing Jesus could work a miracle is not identical with authentic faith …  belief that Jesus works miracles is inadequate, is not yet faith, which will come only in the light of crucifixion and resurrection. …”

~ I am currently not clear on this, in particular the last bit about the crucifixion and resurrection.

Notes on Faith in Mark (1)

EMB

The following are some notes from a commentary on Mark, by Eugene M. Boring.

“The father’s anguished affirmation / plea is the climax of the story, which is not so much about an exorcism as about faith. The belief/unbelief elements in the father’s outcry should not be parceled out quantitatively, despite Matt 17:19-20 and many interpreters since Mark’s point is more dialectic. The man both believes, and does not believe. He believes but does not have faith as a possession to which he can appeal, and he knows he must pray (an expression of faith) for faith (which he does not claim to have).

The disciples lacked faith, but Jesus instructs them that their failure was due to lack of prayer. This is not a change of topics, for faith and prayer are two sides of the same coin (11:23-25).”

~ What I like about this is that Boring distinguishes between belief and faith. They are distinct!
~ Added to this Boring seems to imply that faith can be had as a possession.
~ I also like that Boring mentions that prayer is an expression of faith. How true?

But note that Boring says: “… he knows he must pray (an expression of faith) for faith

Lets change this a bit: ~~~> he knows he must express faith for faith. ~~~> he knows that he must express faith in certain way in order to have it in another way.

This means that there are distinct forms of faith.

It seems that faith has the features of both nouns and a verbs.

The Transparency of Experience ~ Notes (2)

More notes – from a different book: Philosophy of Mind: The Key Thinkers, edited by Andrew Bailey.

“The argument from transparency is based on introspective observations about what we do and do not notice in experience. In a nutshell, the introspective observations are these:

1. When we pay attention to our experiences, we don’t notice qualitative properties attributed to our experiences themselves.

2. When we pay attention to our experiences, the qualitative properties that we notice are attributed to the objects of our experiences.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To borrow Harman’s (1990) famous example, when Eloise sees a tree, she notices the greenness of the leaves, the brownness of the trunk and the overall shape of the tree. All the qualities that she notices seem to her to be properties of external objects, not of her experience. Our experiences seem to be characterized by properties of the sorts that external objects have, not properties that sense data or other mental entities have. Moreover, introspection reveals exactly the same properties whether or not corresponding objects exist. All this suggests that the nature of experience is exhausted by represented properties of represented objects.

Though advocates of transparency focus on visual experiences, the transparency observation is supposed to hold for all experiences. When we introspect on our auditory experiences, for example, we notice properties of sounds, such as their loudness and pitch, but we don’t notiec any qualitative features of our auditory experience themselves.

The claim that experience is transparent has been challenged on various grounds. …”

The Transparency of Experience Argument (Notes)

bluThe following are some notes on an argument I am trying to understand, viz. The Transparency of Experience Argument. I am getting my notes from pg. 44 of The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness, edited by y Philip David Zelazo, Morris Moscovitch, Evan Thompson. This is in the section titled Representationalism.

“Suppose you have a conscious experience of the blue sky. Your attention is focused on the sky.  You then decide to turn your attention away from the sky and onto your experience of the sky.  Now your attention is no longer focused on the sky, but rather on the experience thereof. What are you aware of? It seems that you are still aware of the blueness of the sky.  Certainly you are not aware of some second blueness, which attaches to your experience rather than to the sky.  You are not aware of any intermediate blue quality interposed between yourself and the sky.

It appears, then, that when you pay attention to your experience, the only thing you become aware of is which features of the external sky your experience represents. In other words, the only introspectively accessible properties of conscious experience are its representational properties.”

Knowledge – Types

There is distinctions to be made as to the kinds of knowledge out there:mtalbot2

1) Knowledge where
2) Knowledge how
3) Knowledge who
4) Knowledge of
5) Knowledge that ~~> i.e. propositional knowledge

I got these from Marianne Talbot, who teaches Philosophy at Oxford U. The link for this is here.

~ She states that there are views that state that (1)-(4) can be subsumed into (5).

Faith, Belief & Knowledge… scratchwork…

Knowledge: You cannot know something that is false. That is to say only that which is true can be known, so you cannot be mistaken about what you know. This sounds counterintuitive but it is true.  (E.g. You cannot know that the earth is flat or that 1 + 1 = 3.1415.)
~ I believe that there is no such thing as degrees of knowledge. (Double-check this.)
~ Knowledge is categorical in character. You either know something or you do not. There is no such thing as strongly knowing something or weakly knowing something.

Faith : You cannot have faith in God that X, where X is something false or not veridical. Only that which is true or veridical can be objects proper of faith.
~ There are degrees of faith.
~ Faith is both categorical and quantitative. Here we could say that faith ranges from [X >0 to X =1]
(*CB2: faith in and faith that.)

Belief : You can be correct or mistaken about your beliefs. The truth value of beliefs can be up in the air.
~ There are degrees of belief.
~ Belief is quantitative only. Here we could say that belief ranges from [x >= 0 to X =1]

Types of Knowledge

~ Whew… I finally get this!

Natural Knowledge: God’s knowledge of necessary truths (1+1=2) and also logical possibilities. Knowledge of what could be.

Free Knowledge: I like to call this as Actual knowledge.  Knowledge of what will be.

Middle Knowledge: Knowledge of what would be.

Notes – Two Stage Faith? & More

TS

~ The following are some notes that I am taking from Tom Schreiner’s book, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ.  I am taking notes from pages 550-551 of Chapter 15, Faith and Obedience.  I take these notes because I do not understand what is going on here and will return to the issue.

“The deficiency of the faith is illustrated in the two-stage healing in Mark (Mark 8:22-26). The placement of the account is crucial because it occurs right before Peter acclaimed Jesus as the Christ (Mark 8:27-30) and Jesus’ subsequent clarification that he woulds suffer and die as the Messiah. The two-stage healing does not indicate that Jesus lacked the ability to heal instantaneously, for nowhere else is a process of healing needed.  The two stages in the healing symbolize the faith of the disciples.  They grasped that Jesus is the Messiah but failed to see that He is the suffering Messiah.  Hence, growth in faith was needed so that they would not merely acclaim Jesus as Messiah, but also grasp that He is the Messiah that suffers and dies to atone for sin.  Furthermore, the account of the healing of the epileptic boy (Mark 9:14-29 par.) suggests that faith is imperfect in this life and needs to grow. The father confessed his belief but solicited Jesus to help his unbelief (Mark 9:24). Such a request implicitly represents an acknowledgement of Jesus’ deity, for only God can increase one’s faith.  It also reflects the truth that human faith is inherently weak and unstable, needing assistance from God to grow.” END

Things I do not understand:

(1) What is the connection between the disciples failure to see Jesus as the Suffering Messiah and a second stage of healing needing to be effected? (It seems a bit arbitrary.)
(2) Could there be other situations where n-stages of healing are needed since the disciples understanding of who Jesus is, is so defective?
(3) It seems that Schreiner is suggesting that growth in faith was needed so that the disciples could grasp that Jesus was to be a suffering Messiah who dies to atone for sin.
(3.1) So growth in faith is needed so that there is a resultant growth in knowledge? I thought that perhaps it could be the reverse, viz. growth in knowledge is needed so that there could be a resultant growth in faith. Could that be the case?
(3.2) Moreover it makes more sense to say that faith piggybacks on knowledge than to say that knowledge piggybacks on faith. No?
(3.3) Perhaps what we really need to do is step back and ask ourselves what is the relationship between faith and knowledge?
(3.3.1) A gazillion questions can be asked here: Does faith involve knowledge or is faith a form of knowledge? Are there different forms of faith? Can one know that he knows something? The philosophers would say no. Can one know that they have faith or are exercising faith? Can one have faith in faith? Etc. (All this has been a very serious issue for me. My reasons for going to grad school in Computer Science was saying “I have faith that this will work out so I will go.” I.e. I knew that I had faith.)
(4) What is imperfect faith? Is faith as small as a mustard seed imperfect because it is small?
(5) What is “human faith”?
(5.1) What does it mean to say that human faith is inherently weak?
(5.1.1) Is/Can faith as small as a mustard seed be inherently weak?
(5.2) What does it mean to say that human faith is inherently unstable?
(5.2.1) Is/Can faith as small as a mustard seed be inherently unstable

 ~ My tentative feeble 2 Cents Worth on how I think faith works.

3way

So imagine this – you need to get some reading done in your room and all that is needed for you to do that is a 50W bulb. Well lucky for you, you have a 3-way light bulb.  Now if you turn your lamp on and the first setting is 50W, then you are set. That is all you need. The 50W is sufficient to get your reading done. However, if you keep turning to 100W and 150W thats even better.

(A) In my understanding faith works like that. First you either have faith or you do not. If you merely just have it, then what you have is Mustard Seed faith, which btw is a beautiful thing! Once you have it it can be either remain at the Mustard seed level or it can grow.  The results will be the same, but having more will be much better psychologically.

(B) Now if you have faith, you either have genuine faith or you do not have it at all.  You either have a light bulb that works or does not work. There is no such thing as a imperfect or weak or unstable light bulb that only sort of works. The bulb either works or it does not. (*I am not discussing fluorescent lights in this analogy.)

(C) I believe contra Schriener that the two-stage healing did NOT require for them grow in faith, such that a lack of growth resulted in a lack of healing. Rather I think that what is going on is that the disciples needed to turn a second light bulb on. For the first stage they needed one light bulb and for the second they needed another.

~ Something similar is going on with Peter walking on water.

~ All this may sound like I am splitting hairs. I am not. I came at all this by getting burned in trials.

(D) Finally, it seems to me that Schriener’s explanation of the 2-stage healing and of the healing of the epileptic boy may be wrong on account of certain modal concepts (necessity, actuality, possibility), but this stuff is hard to understand and I am still working out my thoughts here.

Walking on Water & Faith ~ Another go …

~ I have always found it very difficult to systematically understand all the stories in the Bible that are about faith. Here is one more to think about. I have struggled with this one before, but it makes more sense now.

Stained Glass by Christopher Whall

29 “Come,” He said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”  ~ Matthew 14:29-30

(1) First thing to note is that Jesus said “Come”. This indicates that for Peter to walk on water would be for him to do something in line with the will of God.

(2) The second thing to note is that Jesus said “You of little faith” meaning that Peter did have some measure of faith, though not a full measure of faith. As such Peter experienced some measure of success, though not a full measure of success.

(3) That said … I have often thought that faith is an either/or thing. Either you have faith or you don’t such that if you have faith in something going down, then it will go down.* You cannot have faith that something will happen and then it not happen. (Indeed it will happen, however it will not happen of necessity.**)

The above passage seems to challenge this. It seems like Peter had faith and yet still he experienced a failure. How can this be?

The answer: Simple. Peter did not have faith for the whole walk. He had just enough for 2, 3 steps. Hence Jesus said to him, “You of little faith” meaning that Peter did have faith but only to sustain him for 2-3 steps, but not for 10-11 steps. He ran out of faith. He went totally broke on it and completely lacked it. However he still did take a 2-3 steps forward and that is commendable.

~ The thought here is this: If Jesus says “Come.” then this means that you can get to where you are bid to come full of faith. You may need to keep replenishing however – that is you may have to keep to your devotionals steady, keep praying, keep meeting with other believers, keep your eyes continually fixed on Jesus and so on. To exercise faith in a step-by-step fashion you need to continually keep replenishing. I am reminded of where Jesus said “According to your faith be it done to you” type of faith.  I think this is something along those lines.

All that said, this sort of thing is not the case every time. Other times, other trials, the very presence of faith is once and for all enough to experience a full measure of success. Thats why Jesus said that if you have faith as small as a mustard seed…

*Note: This has to do with some very basic considerations of modal logic. If any one reads just Chapter 1 of any Modal Logic book, and nothing else then they will know what I am talking about. There is a link to a free book on said topic on the right by Ed Zalta in the Online Books section.

**Note2: I am doing a 2nd round of study of Modality via Vern Poythress’ book on Logic and will need to reassess all this. He seems to be saying things that challenge my thoughts here. Is all good though! The book is free (click link)  and the cover design is wonderful!!! Fantastibulous!

Logic

Excerpt from Thomas Watson’s The Fight of Faith Crowned

Thomas Watson was an English Non-Conformist preacher who lived from 1620-1686. His writing is just amazing. The following are excerpts from The Fight o Faith Crowned.

“The third regiment Christians must fight against, is the enchantments of the world. The world is a flattering enemy. It kills by embracing. Worldly things hinder our passage to the holy land. They choke good affections—like the earth puts out the fire. Whom the world kisses—it betrays! …

For good reason we should fight the fight of faith—because we carry rich treasure about us. He who carries precious jewels with him, should be in a fighting posture. We carry a precious soul about us. If the cabinet of the body is so wonderfully wrought and embellished (Psalm 139:15), then what is the jewel in it! The soul is a spark and beam of celestial brightness, a blossom of eternity; and shall not we, by our martial prowess and chivalry, defend this treasure? To be robbed of the soul is an irreparable loss. God (said Chrysostom) has given you two eyes. If you lose one, you have another; but you have only one soul and if you are robbed of that, you are undone forever!

We must fight on our knees by prayer. Prayer whips the devil. The arrow of prayer, put into the bow of the promise and shot with the hand of faith, pierces the old serpent. Prayer brings God over to our side, and then we are on the strongest side.

Observe, Christians should hold on until they come to the finishing of their faith. It is not enough to begin well, to put forth fair blossoms of religion at first—but we must continue firm to the end. This is the glory of a Christian—not only to hold forth the truth—but to hold fast the truth. It is a beautiful sight to see silver hairs crowned with golden virtues.

 

Fear & Communication… Processing Numbers 21-22

Warning: I think that this will be a long-winded post to get to a simple point.

Background: After 40 years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites are finally getting to the Promised Land. En route to the Promised Land, they run into a couple of kings – Og, king of Bashan and Sihon, king of the Amorites. These kings one after another muster up their armies and attack the Israelites. The Israelites have no choice but to defend themselves and in the process they level these two guys.

Moving on – Next up they move on up near the Plains of Moab, which is where the Moabites live. The Moabites are actually related to the Israelites. They are the descendents of Lot.  As such God tells them in the Deuteronomy that they are not to fight with them.

Plains_of_Moab_with_Mount_Nebo_in_back,_91-13tb

“9 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.” ~ Deuteronomy 2:9*

*Note: Like so with the Edomites and the Ammonites. The former are related via Esau and the latter via Lot.

When Moab sees the Israelites camped out near them, they freak out:

” and Moab was terrified …  Indeed, Moab was filled with dread ..  The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.'” ~ Numbers 22:3-4

41QEqnvkncL._SX300_

Sooooeee… what does the king of Moab, Balak do?

~ He drops to his knees and prays to God, right?
No.

~ He sends out messengers to the Israelite camp asking them for peace talks and a treaty?
No.

~ He blesses those who persecute him?
No.

~ He introspects to see if his fears are justified? – Maybe he is over-reacting. Maybe his imagination is going wild.
No.

~ No. Rather he resorts to divination in order to get a seer named Balaam to place a curse on the Israelites so that he can be more effective when he engages them in battle.

And… in the meantime, the Israelites are completely unaware of anything. They are just out camping and having a lazy relaxing day. They have no idea that just a few miles away, there is this big huge drama brewing. They are in peace and oblivious that conspiracy and war are just around the corner.

Anyway, here is what I am trying to get at.

The Point:  Anytime you are in a tense situation with someone else and there are gaps in communication, then the Devil will fill in the gaps. That is to say – anytime you fail to communicate, the Devil will be more than happy to communicate for you.

mic

~ Balak and the Moabites failed to communicate with God and with the Israelites. As a result their imaginations ran wild. They speculated, conspired, exaggerated, deceived, cursed and ultimately fought. The end result was a big mess. All this could have been prevented if there was just a little communication.

So … let me restate my point: Anytime you are in a less than pleasant situation with someone else and there are gaps in communication, then the Devil will fill in those gaps.

~ Don’t let that happen.

The Highest Form of Courage (2)

This post basically follows up on a prior post titled Pastor Edward Donnelly on Courage. The point that Pastor Donnelly made, I have found repeated in another book as well, viz. The Story of the Old Testament and it is by Dr. Alec Motyer. Here is an excerpt from page 126 making that same point:

“Jeremiah portrays himself (1:6) as a diffident, insecure person, not a buoyant extrovert, but hesitant, conscious of weakness, immaturity and lack of “gift.”  The fact that later he will often be required to be – and will be – forthright, daring, ready to take risks illustrates the truth of the definition that courage is “being afraid but going on.” For in response to Jeremiah’s confession of immaturity, the Lord does not say, “No problem, I will change all that” …”

Again as Dr. Motyer says “Courage is being afraid but going on.”

I think that this is not only an important insight but honestly it is also an en-couraging truth.* Why?

Well because we have all been in situations (e.g. a confrontation with a friend, passing out tracts on the streets, etc.) where we have been nervous, fearful or perhaps even outright terrified about doing something and yet still we have moved forward and done that something. However, the problem is that quite often after having done that something, we feel bad about being so fear-filled and think of ourselves as somehow being lesser Christians. Our reasoning might be “Oh. If I were truly filled with faith, I would never have had all that fear, anxiety … I am so lame. What kind of a Christian am I? Sigh…”

However what we get from Jeremiah is that you are in fact not lame. No. In fact moving forward while still being filled with fear – as Jeremiah was – is actually courage, and that is nothing to feel bad about.

*The prefix “en” means “to put into.”

Pastor Edward Donnelly on Courage…

I have been reading through the book of Jeremiah in the Bible and quite honestly at times I find the reading to be dry, repetitious and so on.   The problem of course lies with me, not with the Scriptures. Anytime we find ourselves struggling to get through Scripture, what it means is that we are out of tune with God and not that there is something wrong with God and His Word.

Anyway, to improve my understanding of Jeremiah, I have supplemented my reading by listening to sermons from the Gospel Coalition.  In listening to a sermon on Jeremiah 15, I picked up an insight from Northern Irish Pastor Edward Donnelly that I have found to be most salutary and encouraging. I would like to share that here. Pastor Donnelly is the retired pastor of Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church out in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. He is also the Principal and a Professor at Reformed Theological College in Belfast, Ireland.

~ “The task given to this man [Jeremiah] is one of the most difficult assigned to a human being and he did it! … a brave, staunch and courageous man. One of the bravest men in history. And friends let me put this to you. This is the highest type of courage. Some people are naturally brave. There is no imagination.  It is easy for them to be brave.  That’s great. I would love to be like that.

But a higher sort of bravery is the person who is terrified but goes on ahead in any case.  Some people on Go-teams[?] – door to door. Easy- [Word ???] No problem. Wake up with a happy smile. Oh Good! Its door to door today.

Others of us, look out wondering if possibly a thunderstorm would come so that we don’t have to go out. Or if somebody wouldn’t be in.  And you young people you feel sick when you are walking up the path and you are frightened and you are nervous, but you go ahead and you do it.  You do it! That’s the highest type of courage. The person who is frightened. The person who is nervous … is vulnerable, but goes ahead and does it. The person who is easily hurt but continues and I think that is what God did with Jeremiah. God made Jeremiah such a man. And my friend you will experience this enabling.

Remember what I am saying. I am not saying it won’t hurt, but God will enable you to keep on. Remember Paul. ‘I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.'”

Sermon: Jeremiah – Faithful Witness – Pastor Edward Donnelly.

Jeremiah by Marc Chagall (1956)
Jeremiah by Marc Chagall (1956)

 

Jairus in Downtown Chicago

I was listening to D.A. Carson on Mark 5, and he talked about Jairus and also the woman with bleeding. Carson pointed out that it was the unnamed socially low woman with bleeding who was commended for her faith, not Jairus, the synagogue ruler. In fact Jairus needed for his faith to be propped. When people told Jairus that his daughter was dead, Jesus was like “Dont worry. Just believe.”

Honestly, being a type A type of person, I could resonate with Jairus’ weak faith. So I prayed to God asking Him to prop up my faith. To make a long story short… what is interesting about the Jairus incident is that “when power went out from” Jesus, He put everything on hold to ask around who touched Him. Then Jesus spent sometime talking to her. What would it have been like for Jairus, when this was taking place. He was probably pining away… aaack… my daughter… come on. Lets go! Lets go ! Lets go! Nobody likes delays.

Nobody likes interruptions either… {can this thought work???}.

Moving on… I had to drive 2 days straight these last two days, to get from NY to Chicago. I had to work in Chinatown, Chicago at 6:45pm. I listened to Carson as I drove. As I drove through Ohio, I kept thinking of all these things that I needed to take care of. At somepoint, I just said, shove it … I am reasoning in a fleshy manner, rather than leaving it at God’s hands. As I drove, I also calculated the time it would take for me … if I went to campus, dumped my stuff and then took the train to Chinatown, versus going to Chinatown straight right now. Going to Chinatown straight would have made the most sense, however after being on the road for so long, I just needed a breather, and so I decided to drive to campus. I figured that I had just enough time to take the 1-1/2 hr train to Chinatown. Just enough.

So I decided to go straight to campus… and lo and behold took a route that had massive construction, and hence the traffic slowed down to a crawl… Aargh … an interruption… a delay! Now I was Jairus!

So, I on and off pined away and prayed… ack! Eventually, I calmed myself and said… “I asked God to prop up my faith… ” Just trust in Him. “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” To get

I got to campus, refreshed myself quickly, did some quick organizing, took a quick breather and then jumped back into my car and headed for the train. It looked like things were going to work out. I still had enough time to make it. Just enough. It would be cutting it close… but there was just enough time.

I went to the train station and waited there. Three of my friends from school were there. I started to talk to them. They were headed for the symphony. The train came and I boarded. After a little talk, I realized something. I opened up my bag, and aaaaargh!!! the DVD’s that I needed to use, were not in my backpack. Someway… somehow… I do not know how… I had left them in my car. I thought for sure, I had them in my backpack… I did not. So I excused myself and promptly got off the train. Aaaackkk… Another delay… I ran-walked to the car, and got my DVD’s out and then made my way back to the train station. Now I had to wait for the next train, which would not be there for another 20 minutes. Calm down Jairus I said to myself and prayed again and again.

Then I remembered something. Jesus actually didn’t make it on time. He was actually delayed. The girl died. Sooooee… even if I was late, things still could work out alright… “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.” So once again I calmed down… and to get my mind off this, I forced myself to think about some other things… which worked. So what if I was just 15 minutes late…

Moving, I deboarded at Union Station, Chicago… and had to walk some distance to catch the Red-line … I did not even look at my watch. I was too afraid. Then I got lost trying to find the red-line. To make things worse, two people gave me the wrong directions to the red-line. It was definately past 6:45p now. I reminded myself that Jesus was always with Jairus, and that He was with me, and if He was with me, then all will be well.

Anyway, I found the red-line. It zipped me to Chinatown. I went to the center, where I was to teach English as a Second Language. I walked in and guess what??? Nothing had even begun. My students were still straggling in. And also apparently, the class was to begin at 7:15 – not 6:45. Moreover, today was just an orientation… not actual teaching. Just getting to know one another…

Jairus’ faith has been propped. I asked God to prop it. He did.

Which has led to another thought… interruptions are God’s way of working in our lives. When God interrupts or allows an interruption… everything will work out just fine. Jesus was interrupted by the woman with bleeding. He did not sweat it. He was not bothered one bit. The interruption led to delays. Delays can be a part of God’s plan.

Hmmmm… even the Lazarus situation… Jesus delayed going to Bethany.