Friday, January 28, 2011

Jeremiah 3:15 and John 21:17

God promised Israel through Jeremiah:
"I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding."  - Jeremiah 3:15
I would assume Jesus was referring to this line of thinking when he told Peter:
"Feed my sheep." -  John 21:17
Think about it...shepherds who provide:
  1. Knowledge
  2. Understanding
What would this look like?

Is there anything more important to give people?

I suppose if you were starving, attaining some food would be the most important thing at that time. There are hundreds of examples like that...if a person had fallen out of an airplane they would first want a parachute. (Even then they would have to know how to put it on correctly and know how to open the chute.) But, aside from this endless stream of ridiculous specific situations that would require a specific need being met, the number one thing to give people is knowledge and understanding. In addition, the most important area to attain knowledge and understanding concerns God, the most important being.

You know you are blessed by God if he is providing knowledge and understanding to you concerning himself. Of course, ignoring this provision may prove to be a mistake. People may want to rethink their priorities if they have no desire to know and understand God. Ignorance and lack of knowledge is not a  good thing. Defending or promoting ignorance and lack of knowledge is deceitful and evil.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ancient Water Tunnel Excavated in Jerusalem

Read this story in the today's news:
>>Israel National News<<
CBS News
Washington Examiner

It was interesting to see this blog from that announced the opening of the Siloam Road and the sewer that was built below. This channel has now been opened to extend from the Pool of Siloam all the way up to the Temple Mount.
It is now possible to walk along the street and then through the channel from the Pool of Siloam at the south of the City of David up to the Jerusalem Archaeological Park just inside the Old City walls.  In the future visitors will be able to exit the tunnel in the Davidson Center, the archaeological museum at the southwest corner of the Temple Mount.  
Toni and I walked up the steps of this road and through the channel or gutter that ran under the street this summer. The video is here:

Here is a link to some of our photos of this street and water channel from this summer:

In this model of Jerusalem (66-70 AD) the location of the
Siloam Road and Tunnel is outlined with the black line.
The Pool of Siloam is circled at the bottom and the road
continues up to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.

Galyn under the stone pavement of the Siloam Road. Notice the walls
of this channel are built of stone blocks. This channel
ran rain water out of the city of Jerusalem during the days of Jesus.
In 70 AD the Jews hid in this long sewer to hide from the
Roman Legions as they destroyed Jerusalem.

The report in the JERUSALEM POST (see it here with photos) says the following:
Shukron led the Post on a tour of the channel following the announcement on Tuesday afternoon. The channel is about 1/3 of a meter wide and ranges in height from one to two meters, and is between 15 to 20 meters underground. The channel’s clearing also allowed archeologists to see the lower stones of the Kotel that are currently underground, though Shukron dismissed the Kotel stones as the least exciting part of the project.
“You know the Kotel already; that’s already been overdone,” he said, hurrying past the bottom of the Kotel to point out an underground mikve (ritual bath) and an ancient manhole. 
“Every rock has a story here,” he said, gesturing to a large boulder in the ceiling. He explained that the boulder had fallen into the arch of the ceiling during the Roman plundering of the city in 70 CE and serves as physical testimony to the violence of the times. 
“What this gives us is an understanding of the conditions of the roads in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. How did the city work? How did the city live? Here you’ve got something important, something interesting, something that you can relate to,” he said. 
Shukron also pointed out the remnants of previous explorations, including old wires and writing on the wall in French. He stressed that the channel did not go anywhere near the Temple Mount or the mosques, in contradiction to some claims. The channel follows the Tyropoeon Valley, which is the lowest area in ancient Jerusalem. “That’s why I can’t go up to the Temple Mount, because the Temple Mount is high. There’s no way that a drainage pipe could reach there,” Shukron explained. 
The rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, strongly denounced claims that the channel was an attempt to disrupt the delicate status quo in the area. 
“No one is digging their way underneath the Temple Mount, both because it’s explicitly forbidden according to Halacha and because it’s simply not possible” he said. “Every attempt to claim that the digging will damage the holy area is an outright lie, whose only goal is unnecessarily and dangerously fanning the flames in a place that is holy to all of the religions.”
Galyn Wiemers
Generation Word 

Six Tests of the Spiritual Man

The use of the term “spiritual” in some groups may describe someone who does not dress like the world, or appears to live absent from reality, or speaks in tongues, or feels close to God. Galatians is about this very issue.

Judiazers had come to make believers “spiritual.” The Judiazers’ favorite method of obtaining a superior spiritual status was circumcision and other outward signs of the law. Paul explains that true spirituality is not found in methods or rituals. It can only come from God. If a person is trying to produce an imitation spirituality, the result will always be a work of the flesh such as jealousy, selfish ambition, factions and envy. (5:19)

Paul stresses the need for a person to become a “new creation” (6:15) and then to express that new nature (5:6) by producing the fruit of the spirit (5:22-23). Since our new life is from the Spirit we need to “keep in step with the Spirit.”(5:25).

In Galatians 6:1-6 Paul tells his readers six things a spiritual person will find themselves doing.
First, “if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” “Restore” is used to refer to setting a broken bone. The spiritual person will be able to correctly diagnose and fix a spiritual “broken arm” of sin. In contrast, the unspiritual believer might tell the fallen brother to simply stop having a broken arm or give them a list of exercises to strengthen it or kick them out since they are useless with a “broken arm.”
Second, “Carry each other’s burdens.” “Burdens” is the word that refers to a load that is naturally too heavy for one person. We all have times in our lives where emotionally, financially, physically or spiritually our burden is more than one person could ever carry. The spiritual believer meets needs, they do not create needs.
Third, “take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.” Each of us has a gift we use. We can know we are doing it successfully without comparing ourselves to the “lesser” believers. Nor do we feel inferior due to the “great” believers.
Fourth, “Each one should test his own actions.” With a mind renewed to the word of God we can judge and correct our own hearts and attitudes.
Fifth, “each one should carry his own load.” This is a different word than “burden” used above. This is the weight of the supplies and equipment of a soldier. We each have been equipped to do our job. Do not expect someone else to carry your spiritual backpack of responsibility in the body of Christ.
Sixth, “share all good things with his instructor.” The spiritual person realizes the value of the sources that cause spiritual growth. Food, cars and possessions do not cause spiritual growth. The things that lead to spiritual growth will be defended and supported by the spiritual man. (6:1-6)

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Only God Converts the Arminians?" What does that mean?

When the theology of Calvinism is applied to life some interesting fruit begins to develop. Here is an example captured in a comment from an online blog post which was written by a Calvinist suggesting a good Calvinistic book:
“How about Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented. I give out copies to interested Arminian friends. Only God converts them, as we know; but this book sure shuts ‘em up.”
What is meant by, “God converts them?”
  1. Does this mean that God first converts Arminians to Calvinism and then they are saved? Does this mean you can not be saved until you are a Calvinist? 
  2. Does this mean that part of God’s sovereign, predestined call is to unconditionally bring some Christians to a fuller knowledge of his plan known as Calvinism? 
    • So, does that mean that when God calls his elect he is calling them to both salvation and to an understanding of Calvinism? 
    • Or, does that mean that some of the elect are only called to salvation, but are left to a lesser understanding called Arminianism. 
    • Likewise, some of the elect are called to both salvation and a greater understanding of this salvation. If this is the case then we can see the root of Gnosticism beginning to produce its concept of greater levels of knowledge. 
  3. Either way, it is interesting to see that in this single example of the Calvinistic view everything I believe and understand comes from God’s will in my life. This means then that the reason I am still not a Calvinist is because God has not yet revealed it to me. So, why do the Calvinist blame me for my ignorance. A paraphrase out of Romans 9 might sound like this:
“Then why do Calvinist still blame me? For who resists God’s will?”
This means that even though, in an attempt to persuade myself, I read Calvinistic books and listen to hours of Reformed preaching on my ipod, I will always think Calvinism is a stupid, illogical theology until God calls me to Calvinism? Then, why blame me? What else can I do?

What does the Calvinist say to me now?   
“Who are you, O man, to talk back to  God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me an Arminian?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some Calvinist and some Arminians?"
Where does Calvinism begin and end? What is the limit to predestination? Does predestination cause my doctrinal convictions? Does predestination cause me to be a Republican or a Democrat? The comment by this Calvinistic blogger seems to be on a slippery slope that nullifies all human responsibility or ability to discern truth. Yes, even trying to discern truth is futile. Now, I realize that is not how Calvin describes predestination. I have read RC Sproul and others as they argue intelligently against this point, but none the less, you can see the slippery slope dragging Calvinism past the issue of salvation and into the realm of accepting or rejecting doctrinal concepts. Maybe Calvin and RC understand the limits of predestination (or, do they?), but their converts are running this Calvinistic theology right off the tracks of logic (which is in itself an oxymoron.)

(These are rhetorical questions I am thinking about. No comments yet, please. I am still studying. I just ordered "Still Sovereign" by Schreiner and Ware, "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God" by Packer, and "Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility" by Carson to add to the following books I am already reading and researching:

                                                            1.      Augustin, The City of God, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, edited by Philip Schaff, Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                            2.      Augustin, Anti-Pelagian Works, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, edited by Philip Schaff, Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                            3.      Augustin, Sermon on the Mount, Harmony of the Gospels, Homilies on the Gospels, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, edited by Philip Schaff, Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                            4.      R.C. Sproul, Chosen By God, TyndaleHouse Publishers. Wheaton, Illinois, 1986.
                                                            5.      Olson, Gordon C., Getting the Gospel Right, Global Gospel Ministries, Inc. Cedar Knolls, NJ, 2005 (1981)
                                                            6.      Geisler, Norman, Chosen but Free, Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN, 2001 (1999)
                                                            7.      McKim, Donald K., editor, Calvin’s Institutes: Abridged Edition, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 2001
                                                            8.      Calvin, John (1509-1564), Institutes of the Christian Religion, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 2009
                                                            9.      Geisler, Norman, Systematic Theology: Sin, Salvation, vol. 3, Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN, 2004
                                                        10.      Phillips, Richard D., What Are Election and Predestination?, P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, 2006
                                                        11.      Shank, Robert, Elect in the Son, Bethany House, Bloomington, MN, 1989 (1970)
                                                        12.      Olson, Roger E., Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities, IVP Academic, Downers Grove, Illinois, 2006
                                                        13.      Allen, David L., and Lemke, Steve W., Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism, B & H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, 1010.
                                                        14.      Ellis, Mark A., The Arminian Confession of 1621, Pickwick Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 2005
                                                        15.      Boettner, Loraine, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Coompany, Phillipsburg, NJ, 1932.
                                                        16.      Ryken, Philip Graham, What is a True Calvinist?, P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, 2003.
                                                        17.      Vance, Laurence M., The Other Side of Calvinism, Vance Publications, Pensacola, FL, 1999 (1991)
                                                        18.      Spencer, Duane Edward, TULIP: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2009 (1979)
                                                        19.      Palmer, Edwin H., The Five Points of Calvinism, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2010 (1972)
                                                        20.      Berkoouwer, G. C., Divine Election, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1960.
                                                        21.      Robinson, James M., General Editor, The Nag Hammadi Library in English, E.J. Brill, New York, NY, 1996.
                                                        22.      Bercot, David W. Editor, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, Hendrickson Publishers, 1998
                                                        23.      Origen, Epistle To Gregory, Anti- Fathers, Vol. 9, edited by Menzies, Allan, D.D., Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                        24.      Origen, Gospel of John, Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 9, edited by Menzies, Allan, D.D., Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                        25.      Origen, De Principiis, Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, edited by Roberts, Alexander, D.D., and Donaldson, James, LL.D., Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887)
                                                        26.      Origen, Origen Against Celsus, Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, edited by Roberts, Alexander, D.D., and Donaldson, James, LL.D., Hendrickson, Peabody, Mass., 1995 (1887
                                                        27.      Rogers, Cleon L., Jr. and Rogers, Cleon L. III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical key to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998
                                                        28.      Walsh, Michael, Dictionary of Christian Biography, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 2001.
                                                        29.      Calvin, John, Calvin’s Calvinism, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1956 (Geneva 1552).
                                                        30.      Brown, Harold O. J., Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA., 1998 (1984).
                                                        31.      Kellly, J.N.D., Early Christian Doctrines, Prince Press, Peabody, MA, 2003 (1960)
                                                        32.      Bettenson, Henry, Editor, Documents of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, NY, NY, 1967.
                                                        33.      Calvin, John, Tracts and Letters, The Banner of Truth Trust, vol. 1-7, Carlisle, PA, 2009.
                                                        34.      Hunt, Dave, What Love is This?, The Berean Call, Bend, OR, 2006.
                                                        35.      Dongell, Joseph R. and Walls, Jerry L., Why I am Not a Calvinist, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2004.
                                                        36.      McNeill, John T., The History and Character of Calvinism, Oxford University Press, NY, NY, 1954.
                                                        37.      Luther, Martin, The Bondage of the Will, Watchmaker Publishing, LaVergne, TN, 2010 (1525)
                                                        38.      Hunt, Dave and White, James, Debating Calvinism, Multnomah Books, Colorado Springs, CO, 2004.
                                                        39.      Lewis, C.S., The Problem of Pain, Holman Reference, Nashville, TN, 1999.
                                                        40.      Brown, Craig R., The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism, Ligonier Ministries, Orlando, FL, 2007. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Either/Or Fallacy

Here is a portion of the information that will eventually be part of a chapter called "Paradoxes, Illogical Assumptions, Contradictions and Either/Or Fallacies." The information comes from the study of predestination.

An either/or fallacy is when an artificial range of choices is present. It is an attempt to force believers into choosing the Calvinistic position by presenting only two possible options. One choice is the Calvinistic position and the other is an unscriptural alternative. Often the choices force you to choose one extreme or the other. But, in reality there may actually be three or more choices. Here are some of the either/or fallacies that have been presented to me this last week through audio or books concerning predestination:

1. It is either a God ruled universe or a man ruled universe.
2. Either God is causing salvation or Man is working for salvation.
3. Either Christ died only for the elect so that only the elect are saved, or Christ died for everyone and everyone is saved.
4. Either man’s free will is completely dead and can not respond to God or man does not have a sin nature and is inherently good.
5. Either God controls nations just like a man controls a staff and breaks them down, gives them peace, sends them famine as he pleases or God is a mere spectator in the Universe.
6. Either God is in control and he decides all the details or man has free will and God can not control him.
7. Either the affairs of men are in the hands of a God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love or they are left to fate, chance, natural law or short-sighted people. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine Predestination, p. 32.)
8. Either history is controlled by the sovereignty of God who predestines, or history is controlled by the autocracy of human will. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine Predestination, p. 33.)
9. What God foreknows is fixed and certain. But, if man has free will then nothing God foreknows can be certain. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine Predestination, p. 42.)
10. Either future events are foreordained by a wise, heavenly father, or future events are the result of blind, physical fate. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine Predestination, p. 42.)
11. Foreknowledge implies certainty and certainty implies foreordination. But, the free will of man must deny foreknowledge. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine Predestination, p. 44.)
12. Calvinism loses itself in the adoration of the grace and omnipotence of God. But, belief in the free will of man loves to admire the dignity and strength of men. (Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine Predestination, p. 49.)

It would seem we are missing some of the information if these are the only choices we have. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

A King is Coming

The Old Testament book of Judges records some of the most ridiculous episodes recorded in biblical history. In those days people seemed to have no idea what God's will was or who the true God was. Indeed, they were very spiritual or religious. They feared curses and went out of their way to keep the ignorant vows they had made, but, as 1 Samuel 3:1 says,
"In those days the word of the Lord was rare."
The book of Judges ends by saying,
"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."
The government in the days of the Judges was the government Moses and Joshua had set up under God's direction. It was a representative form of government based on local leadership. Each family was represented in a clan and each clan was represented in the tribe. The leadership of the 12 tribes would then make national decisions. But, within 3 and 4 generations after Moses the people had wandered from God's truth and embraced the philosophies (called "idols" or "false gods") of the Canaanites.

The book of Judges is filled with unbelievably stupid decisions by individuals. This culminates in some of the most un-taught chapters of the Bible. In these chapters the national leadership can only be described as pathetically incompetent. The political and military decisions that the leaders of the tribes of Israel made would consistently take a very bad situation and manage to make it unbearably worse.

The only answer for an ignorant people who can not make the right decision to govern their own families, clans and tribes is to find someone to think for them. The people asked Samuel for a king. Samuel resisted by saying God doesn't want you to have a king because he wants you to govern yourself and follow him. But, the situation is obvious and God agreed with the people's diagnosis of their own incompetence and said:
"Listen to them and give them a king." (1 Samuel 8:22)
When people at the personal, local and national level prove to be so ignorant and undisciplined in governing themselves, God will provide a king to lead the people in their private, local and national lives. The failure of our national "group-thinking" ability proves that our representatives have no idea what to do which reflects on us as local governments and as individuals. America, behold, your king is coming!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Facebook Comment Explained

I wrote the following in response to a question that resulted from one of my Facebook comments. Here is the Facebook comment:
"In the end we will stand before him Bible study group, no counselors, no friends or spiritual advisers to stand with us in judgment...just ourselves and our God on that day when he evaluates us concerning our obedience to his word, his Spirit and his voice in our, listen and obey...(but, then, getting some advice and wise council isn't all bad either...)...listen and obey... "

My hope is that the following explanation is honorable and true. Of course, I think it is in line with Scripture, Protestant Church Councils and is generally pretty straight forward.

Premise Statement:
In the end we personally stand before God for evaluation (judgment), yet in life wisdom is attained with the help of others.

STATEMENT ONE: “In the end we will stand before him alone...”

In the parable of the talents each man was judged for his individual response and performance. One man was told:         
“Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23)
Paul also mentions that all of us will individually stand before Jesus on that Day:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
And, Paul again speaking of the individual’s judgment before God says:
“Each one should be careful how he builds…his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-13)

STATEMENT TWO: “…no Bible study group, no counselors, no friends or spiritual advisers to stand with us in judgment...just ourselves and our God on that day when he evaluates us concerning our obedience to his word, his Spirit and his voice in our life…”

Part of the attitude that began the Reformation was captured in the writings of John Wyclife summed up here:
“He inculcated the necessity of the exercise of private judgment, and man’s individual responsibility on the great day of accounts, and of a personal and saving acquaintance with that Book which alone “make wise unto salvation.” (Life of John Wycliffe, By Thomas Murray, page169)
We will not stand before God as a church, or a group nor will we stand before God with our pastor or our spiritual advisor. We will stand alone and will be responsible for what we did and did not believe, what we did and did not do. There will be no one else responsible for our final state other than ourselves, accept of course, the Grace of God that even allows this conversation to be relevant.

STATEMENT THREE: “, listen and obey...”

Since we are responsible, and since we are assumed to be seeking God through his Word by his Spirit, it is decision time. What else are we to do other than what we are fully convinced is what God is going to hold us accountable for on that Day? The conclusion then is: Listen and Obey God

STATEMENT FOUR: “…but, then, getting some advice and wise council isn't all bad either...”

So as not to appear to be supporting extreme individualism or a private interpretation of Scripture or a rebellious attitude toward established and evident truth, I am careful to point out the value of gleaning wisdom from others. As is stated in the Bible:

“The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” Proverbs 19:20
“For waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.” Proverbs 24:6

STATEMENT FIVE: “listen and obey..."

This is a restatement of the concluding statement for the main premise. So as not to be distracted by the council to get council, this is the concluding remark.