Saturday, December 31, 2011

The significance of 70AD and the destruction of the temple: Part II


1Corinthians 15:54-57  “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."  (55)  "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"  (56)  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  (57)  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


In part one of this series we looked into humanities problem because of the first Adam. We also saw that from the very beginning, God’s plan, was to dwell among humanity. He wanted to be loved and praised by mankind from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4-6 .) Whenever you see the phrase* from before the foundation of the world* you can understand that it means that, whatever was from before the foundation of the world, was the prime consideration for creation. Paul explains in Ephesians chapter one that God chose us in Christ, that is, he chose to redeem us, from before the foundation of the world, and it was to the praise of his glorious grace! Therefore, God created the earth with redemption as the first purpose of creation and it was to glorify his grace and bring praise to him for it. This is the catalyst for true love for God. God’s plan to gain true love was amazing… it was to be gained through his glorious grace. Glorious grace means a grace that metaphorically shines forth brightly.

The first question to ask is this; what is meant by the clause *the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law?* It is really quite simple when you think about it. The power that sin has on humanity is put forth in the law. The Old Covenant established ones righteousness by obedience to the law (Lev 18:5.) Obedience = life and disobedience = death.  Therefore, 1Corinthians 15:56 is equating death with the law. The last enemy death is in fact the law with its ordinances. When Paul speaks of Christ’s enemies being put under his feet what does he mean exactly? Who were Jesus enemies? The answer is first and foremost it was the Sanhedrin, the rulers of the Jews. Where did they get their power? The answer is from the Old Covenant, from Moses, and the Mosaic system. The destruction of the temple was to be the final act of God to show that he accepted Jesus sacrifice and that he was moving forward solely with the New Covenant. When you look at Jesus statements about the destruction of the temple, and the end of the age (*Not World,)* in light of the final transition from Old Covenant to New Covenant… then and *only then* does it begin to make real sense.

The question for this post is this; when does/did the perishable put on the imperishable and the mortal put on immortality? The clear answer is that this was accomplished in Christ. It is not something that awaits accomplishment. It is already a done deal… completely a finished work. If we know that we are immortal in Christ and the scripture promises that we are then, it must be that the perishable (you and I) have already put on the imperishable eternal life. Likewise, it must be that the mortal (again, you and I) have put on immortality or, in other words, we have overcome death and death is swallowed up in victory. What happens at death now? Does one go in the ground awaiting the resurrection? Of course not… most believe Paul when he says that absent from the body is present with the Lord. So then the answer to the above question is that the mortal has already put on immortality… in other words, death *has* been swallowed up in victory. It is a current reality.

We are moving along on this question but still have a lot of ground to cover, but again, the post is getting a little long so we will end it right here. Part III should be following soon.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The significance of 70AD and the destruction of the temple: Part I


1Corinthians 15:54-57  “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."  (55)  "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"  (56)  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  (57)  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The temple was the symbol for the Old Covenant and the Mosaic economy. All of Jewish religious practice was brought to fruition in the temple sacrifices. The purpose was to build a sanctuary so that God could dwell among the people Exodus 25:8. The temple was the symbol of God dwelling among the people. When you look at the scripture as the story of redemption, it tells the story of *the* God who has always desired to dwell among his people… his creation.

In the very beginning, the Garden of Eden was the sanctuary that God had prepared to dwell with his people.  Now then, whether you take Genesis two and three literally or allegorically, the result is the same. It describes humanity in a state of innocence not understanding either good or evil. There was only the assumption that it was good based upon God’s declaration in Genesis 1:31. Therefore, if God declares that it was good how could anyone question the fact? Based upon God’s declaration it must in fact be good. The problem is this; it would only be possible for one to believe this completely if they were in a state of na├»ve innocence. They would have to be oblivious to the knowledge of good and evil.

The minute the knowledge of good and evil is introduced into the equation one would have to ask the questions; am I good, or am I evil? What is good and what is evil? These questions are at enmity with God’s declaration. He has already declared that humanity was very good. Still, one is left with a dilemma. If humanity remained in the innocence they would have no way of truly worshipping God because they would be void of choice. They would simply accept without question his declaration;  their relationship with him would be automatic, similar to that of a robot and its creator. There is no real chance for love. On the other hand, humanity armed with the knowledge of good and evil, would have to question what was good and what was evil especially and most importantly, are they good and acceptable to God?

The result of receiving  the knowledge of good and evil would ultimately lead to judgment. That is, those with the knowledge of good and evil would be capable of  judgment. Judgment is the opposite of faith. Judgment is based upon understanding the difference between good and evil and judging one way or the other. Faith is accepting a declaration or situation as true and acting accordingly. This is why the author of Hebrews said that without faith it is impossible to please God. He goes on to say that one must believe that God exists and that he rewards all who diligently seek him.

Herein lies humanities problem. They have the knowledge of good and evil, and they have the ability to judge. Unfortunately however, they no longer have the innocence of being able to believe God without judgment so their judgment is not based upon faith in God’s declaration. Further, because of mortality, the sentence received for gaining the knowledge of good and evil, humanity usually judges in their own favor when they have the power to do so, and here you have the catalyst of all sin and selfishness. It is a quandary indeed. It is easy to begin to see the result of the fall in real human terms. Therefore, humanity was given the Law that would declare good and evil from God’s perspective. Unfortunately, humanity was not given God’s understanding and perspective, and thereby was unable  to render righteous judgment based upon the Law.

As the story progressed, Jesus, the *last Adam,*  became the new tabernacle for God to dwell among his people. With Jesus on the scene the temple was rendered obsolete. This was the reason that the temple would one day be destroyed. It had served its purp0se as a figure or type. With Jesus on the scene a new and better way was made for God to dwell with his creatures, and, when Jesus returned to the Father, a way was made for God to dwell among his people in their heart. We have a lot of ground to cover here and this is but a good beginning. It is getting longer than I like so I will end it right here.

In this particular post we have taken a look at *the first* Adam and what his/her part was in the story of redemption, and have set the ground for looking at how the story progresses. We will over several posts get to the significance of the destruction of the temple after the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord. You may already be putting it together in your mind but get ready for the continuation of the story.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What and when were the last days according to the New Testament writers? Could theologians get it wrong for 1800+ years? Part II


A while back I posed this question; Could theologians get it wrong for 1800+ years?  I would like to continue with a series that will show biblical evidence that they did get it wrong. First off, we should really take into consideration the intended readership… i.e., the audience that the New Testament authors targeted. Who was the New Testament written to and for? It is fairly well accepted that the gospels were written to specific communities and the epistles identify their intended audience.

We all too often just assume that it was written to us in the twenty-first century and this is especially the case when it comes to references to the last days or the end of the age. However, the text does not back that idea up at all. When you look at the epistles to Timothy, Paul distinctly states that he is in fact writing to Timothy (2Tim 1:1-8.) This means that the entire epistle is written to Timothy. While it is true that others can benefit from what Paul wrote to Timothy it is clear that one must acknowledge that Paul wrote the letter to Timothy.

So then, when Paul addresses Timothy in Chapter three warning him that in the last days difficult times will come he is specifically speaking of the last days that will come to pass in the life of Timothy. It is a mistake to push this message out 2000 years beyond Timothy’s life and the occasion for the writing of the letter. In other words, the distortion of the scripture and the selfish messages of the false teachers teaching false doctrine is a phenomenon that Timothy must deal with. You can see this theme throughout both epistles written to Timothy.  It is abundantly clear in 1Tim 1:3-4: “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,  (4)  nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.”  The epistle to Timothy was meant to combat and counteract problems that had already arisen.

When Paul writes “But know this; difficult times will come in the last days” he is telling Timothy that he is going to see the last days of the end of the age. I have written many posts in previous blogs that shows the imminent expectation of the end of the age in all of the New Testament writings. Just search imminence or imminent in the search function of the blog and you will see a plethora of these posts. The imminence began with John the Baptist telling the Pharisees that the axe was already at the root… it was foretold by Jesus reference to the withering fig tree… the end of the age that they were looking forward to was the end of the Mosaic age. It was predicted that it would be concurrent with the destruction of the temple.

I want to show with the next few posts that when one pushes the end of the age… the last days… out two thousand years they end up doing violence to the clear meaning of the text and what was written. Here we take a beginning look at the imminency that is so prevalent in all of the New Testament.  

What will this series of posts do for us? Hopefully it will help us certify the fact that the New Testament writings were transitional while the temple still stood and that the transition between the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law Economy) and the New Covenant (New Heaven and Earth) has completely taken place and that the only covenant in operation today from God’s view is the New Covenant.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

“Able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” ; why the evangelical doctrine of scripture misses the mark!


Most of the people that I see being set free by the Holy Spirit are in a process of taking two steps toward freedom and then one step backward. One of the main reasons for that is the evangelical orthodox doctrine of scripture. When it is viewed as the inerrant word of God then all of its messages tend to have equal value. How many times have you heard some preacher or seen a bumper sticker that essentially says, “God said it--- I believe it --- and that settles it!” … or… the saying… “it’s tight but it’s right!” Both of these statements are way too narrow and quite naive.  There are way too many accepted exceptions to the meaning of certain scripture passages to make either of those catchy sayings true in any sense.

The first question that any thinking saint should ask is this; Is there an overriding theme that one should bring to examining all scripture? What is the overriding theme? Is it that the scripture is the inerrant word of God? One would think so in view of the current evangelical doctrine of scripture. However, that is not the overriding theme that Jesus and his immediate followers brought to the scripture. It is a long, long way from it! As I have shown in so many different posts on this blog… Jesus and the writers of the New Testament redefined the phrases ---word of God ---  word of truth --- Word --- word of his grace to mean either Jesus the living Word or, the *gospel* the message of the living Word. If you do not believe this just go to the search function on this blog and search *word of God* or *word of truth.* The scriptural evidence is overwhelming and 100% indisputable!

Before you get all upset and blow a cork… I believe the following about scripture:
  • It is inspired and given by God
  • It is profitable for teaching
  • It is profitable for correction
  • It is profitable for reproof
  • It is profitable for training in righteousness
  • It will equip the man/woman of God for good works


I believe all of the above bulleted list. I believe it completely. The fact is that I can believe this within the framework of the overriding theme of the bible. The overriding theme of the bible according to Jesus and Paul is redemption.  It is *only* all of the above mentioned things in a redemptive sense. When Paul gave that list in 2Timothy  3:16 & 17 he did not give it until he had stated the overriding theme and purpose in verse 15. The prime, and only purpose of the scripture is “ to make one *wise* unto *salvation* which is in Christ Jesus.” Jesus stated the same thing in John 5:39-40 and Luke 24:27, 44-47. Take the time to read those passages and see for yourself the overriding theme and purpose.

Much of evangelical Christianity has already thrown out the rigid take on scripture by allowing women in the pulpit. If one is to take the *tight but right* approach to the scripture, then, one would have to *not allow* women preachers based upon 1Timothy 2:11&12 and 1Corinthians 14:34-35. One of the passages says that the Law/Torah prohibits it!

We should start viewing scripture the same way that Jesus and the New Testament writers did. When we do, we will be able to concentrate on The love of the Father and begin to allow that to transform us into the image of Jesus.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Perfect love casts out fear!


One of the main traits that is prevalent among many evangelicals is fear; Fear of upsetting God. In fact, many have their entire lives driven by fear. Fear is the catalyst for all that they do and say. They are always metaphorically looking over their shoulder, wondering if they have messed up and if they should quickly repent? And yet, John wrote in his epistle that perfect love cast out fear… what did he mean, and should Christians fear? In my view the answer to the question is that he meant that they should not fear.

Let’s take a closer look at the passage that the clause comes from.
1Jn 4:16-18  “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  (17)  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.  (18)  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
For context one should read the entire passage from 1John 4:7-19 It explains that God is love and, that it is *not* motivated by our love for God but rather, the motivation comes from God’s love for us. That is…  the love that was manifested in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is the catalyst for our love.  It is what will make us love God and our sister/brother. Jesus demonstrated Fathers *perfect love.* How you ask? He made him who knew no sin to be made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him! The perfect love that casts out fear then is the redemption purchased by Jesus once for all.

Look again at the above passage of scripture. In verse sixteen John states that he and the saints have come to *know* … and…. *believe* the love God has for each one. If one abides, lives, rests in this love they automatically abide in God and by the same token--- God abides in them. The purpose as stated above is to have confidence in the/a day of judgment…. any judgment. Believers should not be afraid of God! How much plainer can it be? In fact, he goes on to point out that if you fear you have *not* been perfected in love. As I have shown so many times in so many ways on this blog *resting in Jesus* --- *resting in redemption*--- * resting in the Father’s love,* is the very ground, the firm foundation of our relationship with a loving Father who does not condemn. This is what it means to be perfected in love. Resting in Jesus is equal with being perfected in love. I wish that I could make it more plain!

Allow the perfect love of the Father in Jesus to cast out all fear. You do not have to fear punishment… not if you are resting and trusting and clinging to the Father’s love! This is what will bring true love for the Father, true relationship with the Father and a natural desire to please him by loving your sister/brother.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why current evangelical doctrine is off the mark; looking at law and grace; part III


In the last two articles (Part1 & Part 2) I have discussed the roll of grace in the gospel, and specifically, the way that grace is the catalyst for transformation. This entire blog is dedicated to explaining a paradigm shift that I believe will be beneficial for any believer searching for a more consistent view that will help make Christian doctrine seem more congruent and less schizophrenic;  A view, where 1John 4:8 & 16 can make sense without any possible contradiction. One can be confident that God is love without convoluting the definition of love to include torture and various other damnations.

So then, if grace is the catalyst for transformation what roll should law play? To answer this question in the simplest manner I would suggest that it should be used for direction. Not as a legal requirement but as a guide. One of my favorite verses is found in the epistle to the Galatians.  “Gal 6:7-8  Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  (8)  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” I can hear you pausing now and saying *damn Joe* you have written one hundred and forty posts about unconditional grace and this is one of your favorite verses? ;) Yes, it is one of my favorite verses because it explains very succinctly the law of karma… what goes around comes around.

The problem with the cautionary scriptures resides in the view that the Law of God has eternal consequences and punishment. I don’t think that the scripture suggests that at all. I think our understanding of the scripture and the grammatical historical hermeneutic of the Scribes and Pharisees leads one to believe it but, I think that in using Jesus and his followers heremeneutic, redemptive historical hermeneutic that one can come to very different conclusions about the eternal consequences of the law.

If one is not being adjudicated righteous by obedience to the law--- the law, can lose its damning qualities and begin to have instructional, tutorial, guiding qualities. It can be used as an ideal to reach toward instead of a taskmaster that must be met or suffer pain of dire consequences. It can be a reflection of the heart of Father God explaining how he would have us treat one another.

Galatians 6:7-8 is the description of the reality of what will happen especially in this life. Humanity has instituted laws to regulate behavior for the good of the society or group. Murder will be punished by life in prison. These penalties are not eternal they are temporal and they actually work well in deterring unwanted behavior. I know from experience that bad choices, selfish choices will result in bad results. Yet, within God’s grace I have found redemption of my worst failures. This is not just in eternal terms… the redemption for me has been temporal. I am sure that it is that way with many of you.

Eternal consequences are mitigated by grace. There is much more to say on this but I think that it will be better addressed in subsequent posts. What if we treated the law as a guide and not as a yardstick to be met? How would that change things? How would that allow grace to transform us? Especially if the entire ecclesia was on the same page. I can dream can’t I?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why current evangelical doctrine is off the mark; looking at law and grace; part II


Have you ever told some fellow believer about the extent of  God’s grace only to have them tell you that no one should think that they could take advantage of God’s grace and get away with it?  It seems to me that there is a fear of encouraging sin by most Christians when it comes to acknowledging grace. On the other hand, D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, a Welsh preacher of the twentieth century, once made the comment that if one is not accused of being too easy on sin they are not preaching the gospel. I personally agree wholeheartedly with D. Martyn Lloyd Jones and I think that there is a misunderstanding of law and grace by most evangelicals.

In all this fear and caution about being too liberal with grace, the real point of the gospel is missed. One of the main problems with current evangelical dogma is the importance the law holds  in the life of a believer. Here is the most common view that evangelicals teach and believe.  Once a person is truly converted by faith in Christ, they then receive, supernatural power to become more law abiding or live closer to the commandments. Further, they believe that law obedience demonstrates that a person is truly converted. Martin Luther, the great defender of grace said it this way; “faith alone saves but, faith that saves is never alone”--- meaning that one will see law obedience form a truly converted person. This has been the “party line,”  if you will allow me to use the phrase, for most of the history of the Christian Church.

Actually, I think the New Testament teaches something very different from this.  Now this difference may sound like it is without distinction but, let me assure you that it is not and, that it is a very important distinction in the growth of a believer toward being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. That… being formed into the image of Christ… ought to be the goal.

So then, here is the reality of the situation as I read the New and Old Testaments.  Jesus Christ paid the price for *all* sin… one time…  for all. That is past, present and future sin. Truly believing this fact brings peace with God, that is, all enmity is gone! The peace is the result of not having to worry about judgment. In Christ all have been adjudicated righteous. By faith, one must apprehend this peace, hold on to it and persevere. That is what brings about the peace. Peace with God is the catalyst for love for God. The love for God that is generated by having peace with God is the catalyst for obeying God. If the peace is broken for any reason the love automatically breaks and obedience stops as fear ensues. Fear is the opposite of peace. One cannot have peace with God when fear is present. The law brings fear. When one is forced to find acceptability to God through law they immediately loose the peaceful effect of grace.

Resting in the finished work of Jesus no matter what is the only thing that over time brings and sustains peace with God in the mind of the believer. Renewing the mind is a constant shifting of focus to God’s grace in Christ and the peace that it brings. The peace as stated earlier brings love for God and the love for God brings love to others and love does not easily violate God’s law. In this state of love the believer is slowly but ever so surely being conformed into the image of Jesus which is apape/love.

Here is why the false system has worked for so long. Some people’s sin is easier to see, more socially unacceptable than others. People can separate themselves from the big issues, sex, drugs, alcohol… they can change their manner of speaking…. They can easily look converted to the eye of another but, down in their heart they are full of fear and hatred. No matter how much they say they love they cannot really truly love. You know this is speaking to you don’t you?

Only peace with God from unlimited grace can truly produce love!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why current evangelical doctrine is off the mark; looking at law and grace

While there are a multitude of differing doctrinal positions within evangelical Christianity, there are essentially two positions that are always at odds, and result in most of the overwhelming confusion that besets would be saints. The two mutual exclusive views can best be defined by asking the following two questions. What is the position taken on the tension between law and grace and which is the over-riding concept? To further define the two positions, it offers clarity, to explain the view they hold for law and/or grace. The positions in these two divisions are simply put… (1) those who emphasize law and (2) those who emphasize grace. 

The ones who emphasize law, at the end of the day, are called legalists by those who emphasize grace, and the ones who emphasize grace are called easy believers and their doctrine is called easy believism or anti-nomianism by those who emphasize law. So, which position is right? The answer is really quite simple when you sit back and look at it. 

In the New Covenant, the only covenant that Gentiles are under GRACE is the driving force. Grace is the motor that runs Christian doctrine. Grace has the first and foremost position. Here are three biblical reasons: 

  1. The law was given through Moses… but… grace and *truth* came through Jesus Christ
  2. Where sin abounds…. Grace abounds all the more 
  3. You are *not* under law… you are under *grace* 

First off, John 1:17 tells this. The law is neither grace nor truth. Grace and truth was something that had to come later and it came through Jesus. This alone should assure one that grace is the prime mover, grace drives the gospel train. Grace has priority over law and that is just a fact. Many do not want to hear it but just because they have plugged their ears does not mean that they are right. The opposite is true they are plain wrong and it is a woefully sad truth. The reason is that in their law emphasis, they damage those who have been set free from guilt by grace. This is precisely why the law kills and the Spirit gives life. 

Secondly, Romans 5:20 further explains that grace is the prime mover, that *grace*… not law… drives the gospel train metaphorically speaking. Here is the fact plain and simple. One cannot out-sin grace! This may offend the sensibilities of the legalist camp but it still remains an indisputable truth. Even when Paul goes on to ask if one should sin so that grace can abound… even that… does not overthrow the simple truth that one cannot out-sin grace. 

Finally, Romans 6:14 states it so plainly that anyone with the slightest command of language can understand that grace… not law… is the prime mover; it is driving the gospel train so to speak. Paul’s admonition in Romans 6:15 notwithstanding, grace is the catalyst. It is the ground. It is the foundation for faith and trust in Jesus Christ. 

This all goes to establish peace with God and love for God. Faith in the grace message is the catalyst for loving God and truly loving God is the prime mover in transformation. It will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, ever be the law. The Law will not ever provide peace with God and it therefore CANNOT produce the fruit of the Spirit.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What does a solely redemptive hermeneutic mean to faith and practice?


So far, the articles of this blog have established the fact that Jesus, his apostles and, first century followers redefined the phrase word of God and put a totally redemptive focus on the scripture. With this in mind; what should it mean to our faith and practice?

First and foremost, it changes the method of obedience. It shifts from a read and do obedience to what Paul called the obedience of faith. The exact meaning of the phrase can best be understood by examining the original language. This phrase is found in Romans 1:5 & 16:26. It is HUPAKOEN PISTEOS and it means the attentive hearing of faith. Paul uses a similar idea in Romans 6:17 when he says you have “obeyed from the heart” HUPAKOUO KARDIA.

It seems to me that the obedience of faith and obeying from the heart are essentially the same concept. It is interesting and informative that Paul uses this term to describe obedience. It is a contrast to read and do, law obedience. How does obeying from the heart and the obedience of faith differ from read and do obedience? Actually it is in the motivation for the obedience… you could even go so far as to call it the catalyst for the obedience. To explain further… it is the source of the obedience. In the first instance, read and do obedience--  it is merely the cognitive awareness of what needs to be obeyed and the expectation that the knowledge will result in obedience.

In the case of the obedience of faith--  faith… not the law is the focus. In the obedience of faith the prime method of obedience is believing; believing is the obedience.  All other obedience grows from faith and belief. This is where the redemptive focus comes into play.  When one shifts the definition of the word of God to gospel instead of scripture, the focus automatically goes from law obedience to faith obedience. This is precisely why the Lord and his apostles changed the definition and the hermeneutic. It was in anticipation of the redemption that had drawn nigh.

Further, the obedience of faith puts the emphasis on the promises and the performance of God. It directly removes it from the performance of humans. This allows us to have peace with God and rest in his mercy and grace. The mercy and grace of God is the source of growing obedience, but the obedience has all been fulfilled in trusting God in Christ. Trusting God’s mercy and grace promotes the development of the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness goodness, kindness and temperance  flow from trusting God’s grace with the obedience of faith. 

So then, why does current church doctrine put such great emphasis on read and do obedience? I believe that the answer is prophesied in Matthew 16:12 and 2Thess 2:11. Much of current church doctrine is the leaven of the Pharisees and the strong delusion. This is precisely the reason that there is so much burn out in people that are on a tread mill trying desperately to please each other and subsequently please God.  The leaven of the Pharisees works to abrogate the gospel of God’s grace.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The hermeneutics of Jesus and his followers VI


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to interpret the scripture just as Jesus did? Wouldn’t it be helpful to use Jesus hermeneutic in all biblical interpretation? Is it possible to understand and employ Jesus hermeneutic? If Jesus had a specific hermeneutic and, if we could understand it, why wouldn’t the followers of Jesus use his hermeneutic only? The answers to all of these questions should be a resounding yes/of course. Jesus most definitely taught his followers a unique distinctive hermeneutic so I will try to uncover it.

Looking at Jesus and his followers presuppositions:
#3 The scribes and Pharisees –- the rulers of the Jews were apostate and in danger of the imminent day of the Lord’s wrath, foretold of in the prophets, which would come to their generation. Ultimately, the hermeneutics of Jesus would overthrow the specularia of Moses and establish but one covenant… the new covenant. Jesus of Nazareth was the  unique promised Messiah.

All of the history of the scripture…. the entire story was pointing to one grand plan of God. God was going to set to rights the creation by bringing forth the Messiah. If one missed the Messiah, they missed God and his plan. Missing the Messiah was the ultimate example of missing the mark -- sin. When the Jews incited the Romans to crucify Jesus, they in effect killed their only Messiah and that is the ultimate apostasy. Rejecting and killing God Incarnate was the ultimate final apostasy.

Using scripture as a justification (John 7:46-49) the Jews rejected Jesus for religious and hermeneutical reasons. This was after God proclaimed this to them:
Exo 25:8-9  And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.  (9)  According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.
God had become the tabernacle and dwelt among them and they rejected him. This is the ultimate apostasy.

Hebrews the Rosetta Stone of the New Covenant:
One of the ways that God could speak clearly to the Jews was to employ their hermeneutical devices in speaking to them.  The bulk of the New Testament writings are made up of DRASH that helps to interpret the Old Testament Prophecy. Of all the books in the New Testament, Hebrews is directed at Jewish believers who were in danger of joining the unbelieving Jews in the apostasy of rejecting Jesus as Messiah.

One of the main presuppositions of the scribes and the Pharisees was called the specularia of Moses. By this they meant that all of the scripture must be filtered through Moses writings. They used Numbers 12:5-8 as the proof text for this Mosaic Specularia. DRASH uses phrases from the scripture to show interpretation. Hebrews chapters one through three establish the supremacy of Christ. Chapter three explains the supremacy of Christ over Moses and there is DRASH in the passage as the writer of Hebrews uses the language of Numbers 12:7 in referring to Moses being faithful in all of God’s house, and then the writer  goes on to say that Jesus was greater than Moses thus overthrowing the earlier Mosaic Specularia.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The hermeneutics of Jesus and his followers V


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to interpret the scripture just as Jesus did? Wouldn’t it be helpful to use Jesus hermeneutic in all biblical interpretation? Is it possible to understand and employ Jesus hermeneutic? If Jesus had a specific hermeneutic and, if we could understand it, why wouldn’t the followers of Jesus use his hermeneutic only? The answers to all of these questions should be a resounding yes/of course. Jesus most definitely taught his followers a unique distinctive hermeneutic so I will try to uncover it.

Looking at Jesus and his followers presuppositions:
#2 The end of the age was nigh i.e, it was within the first century time frame. All of the Old Testament prophecies were about to be fulfilled in the first century time frame

Were Jesus and his first century followers expecting the end of the age to be the end of the space time continuum? Why would anyone think they were? You can lay it partially at the feet of the King James translators and partially at the use of metaphor and hyperbole.

Matt KJV 24:3  “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

The above verse from the KJV translates the Greek word aeon to be world when it should have been translated age. Aeon is an age not a world. So then, Jesus and his followers like all the Pharisees and many other Jews were expecting an imminent (within their generation) end of the age. Likewise they were looking forward to Olam Ha Ba, the age to come. It is safe to say that none of them were expecting a cataclysmic end of the world. Even though you see language like the elements burning and melting it was not meant to be literal. In Jewish prophecy it was metaphoric and hyperbole. Stars falling, coming on clouds etc. were merely prophetic figures of speech.

They were however, expecting a regeneration of the world. They were expecting God to make all things new and establish the age to come. One of the principle prophecies of the time that pointed to this was Daniel 9:24-27.  The seventy weeks put the fulfillment of the prophecy in their time frame.

Here is Daniel 9:24 in bulleted form:
Dan 9:24  "Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city,
  • to finish the transgression,
  • to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity,
  • to bring in everlasting righteousness,
  • to seal both vision and prophet,
  • and to anoint a most holy place.


This is one of the main reasons that there is so much imminent expectation in the New Testament writings. Here are a list of some of the blog posts that have dealt with the end of the age.






Check these posts out and you will see the presuppositions that Jesus and his followers brought to their understanding of scripture concerning the end of the age.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The hermeneutics of Jesus and his followers IV


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to interpret the scripture just as Jesus did? Wouldn’t it be helpful to use Jesus hermeneutic in all biblical interpretation? Is it possible to understand and employ Jesus hermeneutic? If Jesus had a specific hermeneutic and, if we could understand it, why wouldn’t the followers of Jesus use his hermeneutic only? The answers to all of these questions should be a resounding yes/of course. Jesus most definitely taught his followers a unique distinctive hermeneutic so I will try to uncover it.

Looking at Jesus and his followers presuppositions:
#1 Jesus and his followers redefined the phrase/term word of God, word, word of truth, word of the truth, from scripture to either Himself the living word or the gospel.

I have already written several posts on this subject. I will list them all below so that you can look at them one by one. I would suggest that before you do that you read through this post completely so that you do not need to be clicking backward and forward.


If you read these posts you will see that overwhelmingly Jesus and his followers defined the phrases word of truth, word of God, word of his grace and word as the gospel or Jesus the living gospel. So here is the point of this post…. If Jesus and his followers defined the word of God, word of truth and word as the gospel or himself the living word… why would his followers define the word of God, word of truth, word as the scripture?

The fact is that this presupposition changes our view greatly. First, not every message of the scripture has equal value. Some messages of the scripture take precedence over others. Even the Pharisees taught that. For them, Mose and the five books of the Torah had preeminence and precedence over all others. Interestingly, the book of Hebrews, chapter three overthrows the preeminence of Moses. So then, Moses has to be viewed through the lens of Jesus and his followers.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The hermeneutics of Jesus and his followers III


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to interpret the scripture just as Jesus did? Wouldn’t it be helpful to use Jesus hermeneutic in all biblical interpretation? Is it possible to understand and employ Jesus hermeneutic? If Jesus had a specific hermeneutic and, if we could understand it, why wouldn’t the followers of Jesus use his hermeneutic only? The answers to all of these questions should be a resounding yes/of course. Jesus most definitely taught his followers a unique distinctive hermeneutic so I will try to uncover it.

In the last couple of posts I have looked at Luke 24:27,44-47. I have shown that first and foremost Jesus and his followers used a hermeneutic that showed that He was the Messiah and the complete focus of the scripture. This is especially reinforced in John 5:39-40.

John 5:39-40  You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me.  (40)  And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.

Therefore Jesus taught that the sole purpose of the scripture was to direct the reader to him so that they could come to him for life. This is evidence of one of the presuppositions that Jesus brought to scripture interpretation and it is a good time to answer the following question; what were the presuppositions that Jesus brought to his interpretation of scripture?

  • Jesus and his followers redefined the phrase/term word of God, word, word of truth, word of the truth, from scripture to either Himself the living word or the gospel.
  • He, Jesus was uniquely the promised Messiah
  • The end of the age was nigh i.e, it was within the first century time frame
  • He, Jesus was installing and instituting the New Covenant
  • He, Jesus was instituting the Kingdom of God
  • The scribes and Pharisees –- the rulers of the Jews were apostate and in danger of the imminent day of the Lord’s wrath, foretold of in the prophets, which would come to their generation
  • All of the Old Testament prophecies were about to be fulfilled in the first century time frame
  • After the resurrection, the Spirit continued to teach the hermeneutic of Jesus to his followers who wrote the New Testament.
  • Ultimately, the hermeneutics of Jesus would overthrow the specularia of Moses and establish but one covenant… the new covenant


Each of these presuppositions will be examined in greater detail as these posts move along. Interestingly, these presuppositions have led to the establishment of presuppositions that I in turn bring to the entire text of the bible. It is my view that these presuppositions must be used in any hermeneutic that claims to be Christian.

  • The definition of the term/phrase word of God is Jesus or the gospel in the New Testament writings
  • Progressive revelation is a rule of thumb for all Christians
  • The Old Testament must be viewed based upon progressive revelation
  • Progressive revelation found in the New Testament must alter the understanding of things written in the Old Testament
  • Redemption was the basis for creation
  • Jesus and his followers interpretation of Old Testament passages preempts earlier interpretations.
  • Jesus alone is the Israel of God and all *in Christ* inherit that same position
  • Obedience under the New Covenant is the obedience of faith -- Paul called it obeying from the heart also.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The hermeneutics of Jesus and his followers II


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to interpret the scripture just as Jesus did? Wouldn’t it be helpful to use Jesus hermeneutic in all biblical interpretation? Is it possible to understand and employ Jesus hermeneutic? If Jesus had a specific hermeneutic and, if we could understand it, why wouldn’t the followers of Jesus use his hermeneutic only? The answers to all of these questions should be a resounding yes. Jesus most definitely taught his followers a unique distinctive hermeneutic.

Should everyday Christ followers be concerned with hermeneutics at all? The answer to this question is also yes. I was at a meeting one time where a self-appointed apostle presided and was teaching. He made the comment that one should not worry about hermeneutics as the word is from Greek philosophy and is not in the bible. It is sad some of the things people teach. They get an idea and decide that they can proclaim it even if it is not true.

The fact is that the Greek word diermeneuo is found in Luke 24:27. It is directly related to the Greek word ermeneuo (the *h* sound is not written in Greek but it is pronounced) which is pronounced hermeneuo, and is where the word hermeneutics comes from. So then the fact is that Jesus employed hermeneutics in Luke 24:27.

Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

In the above passage the word diermeneuo is translated as interpreted. So then, Jesus used hermeneutical interpretation with his followers and taught them the interpretation method that he used. What was that lens you ask? It was a lens that saw Jesus as the Messiah. While it is true that the scribes and Pharisees had a Christo-centric, messiah centered hermeneutic; the thing that differentiated Jesus from them was that he saw himself as the Messiah and the center of all scripture. Therefore he alone was able to show how the scripture prophecies applied to him. His hermeneutic was Spirit directed. The scribes and Pharisees hermeneutic was scripture directed. In fact, the Pharisees declared that he was not the Messiah based upon the scripture when they asked; “has any of us thought that he was the Messiah? Yet, this group that does not know the scripture is accursed” (John 7:47-49.)

In other words, the scribes and Pharisees were depending on their interpretation of the scripture to be able to identify the Messiah, and their interpretation worked in the opposite… they determined by scripture that Jesus was not the Messiah. This is important because it shows that Jesus and his follower’s interpretation must have precedence over all other methods of interpretation. This creates a top down hermeneutic in which one has to view the Old Testament prophesies in view of the Spirit filled interpretation of Jesus and his followers.

This would mean that for one to properly interpret any scripture, one would have to read the entire scripture Genesis to Revelation without making any interpretation and only then make the interpretation in light of the revelation provided by Jesus and the New Testament writings.

Check out the blog post “The hermeneutics of Jesus and his followers I;” here

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The hermeneutics of Jesus and his followers I


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to interpret the scripture just as Jesus did? Wouldn’t it be helpful to use Jesus hermeneutic in all biblical interpretation? Is it possible to understand and employ Jesus hermeneutic? If Jesus had a specific hermeneutic and, if we could understand it, why wouldn’t the followers of Jesus use his hermeneutic only?

The answer to the first three questions is yes and the answer to the fourth question ought to be yes and why it isn’t baffles me. I realize that there are number of hermeneutical lenses that one can use but what is completely perplexing is this question; why wouldn’t followers of Jesus use his hermeneutic exclusively? Can someone please answer that for me? If there is a good reason to not use Jesus hermeneutic then I would like to hear it. The fact remains from my perspective that there is no reason not to use the hermeneutic of Jesus and his followers.

So then, what is the hermeneutic of Jesus and his followers? In short, it is a solely redemptive Christo-centric hermeneutic that uniquely sees Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of the entire Jewish scripture. I am speaking of both the Torah and the Tanakh; i.e., the thirty nine books that make up the Old Testament, and Jesus hermeneutic, is found in the pages of the twenty seven books of the New Testament. A large portion of the New Testament text is the explanation of --the interpretation of --the Old Testament in a solely redemptive, Jesus of Nazareth centric, way.

The foundation of Jesus hermeneutic is found in Luke chapter twenty-four. It can be specifically found in Luke 24:27 & 44-47. I will post each of these passages here.

Luke 24:27  “Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

Luke 24:44-47  “Then He told them, "These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you--that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled."  (45)  Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  (46)  He also said to them, "This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day,  (47)  and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

One of the more important parts of the above passages is verse forty-five. He opened their understanding. I will show later in a post that this is related to the Lamb opening the scroll in Revelation chapters five and ten.

What is included in a hermeneutical system or lens?
  • The method of interpretation of a text
  • The presuppositions that go into the writing of a text
  • The historical setting and context of the time of the writing of the text
  • The authority of the message of the text


In this series I will look at how Jesus viewed and formed these precepts into his hermeneutical lens. Further I will show that while the first century church embraced these principals completely the early church fathers abandoned many in favor of the hermeneutical principals of the Scribes and Pharisees.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What is the gospel?

It gnaws continually at your inner spiritual knowledge; You can't quite put your finger on it, but you know something is just not right. As much as you love the Lord, you feel that the way the gospel is presented just doesn't make sense. And yet, you cannot seem to prove it; even to yourself. You have given up trying. You never voice what you really believe because you are afraid that someone might call you a heretic and yell at you or, that they might accuse you of not really being saved. Friend, you are not alone. No, you are merely proving that you have been born from above. You know deep in your heart that God is a God of mercy love and grace and yet when you voice it, someone always says well you don't know God very well. The truth is that they do not know God.

One of the many questions that plague many believers is, what is the gospel? It should be such a basic well known fact but it is shrouded by a myriad of interpretations of the content of the gospel.

Some churches call themselves full gospel churches as if some churches do not have the full gospel. John Macarthur has written a book entitled The Gospel According to Jesus as if, this gospel is different than the accepted gospel. This causes great confusion and indecision as to meaning of the gospel. Can the question ever be answered?

What did Paul say?

1 Corinthians 15:1-4, KJV "1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" This alone is the gospel or Paul is an unreliable witness. How can I make this statement? Well, if one believes that Paul is inspired by the Holy Spirit, then, this becomes one of God's sovereign decrees of redemption. No one can waffle on the gospel or Paul has misrepresented this bold declaration. What does he say first? "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you"This is very clear language. Paul is telling them that he is going to explain the gospel in its entirety to them. this is the gospel he preached. Then he adds even more, "which also ye have received" So, this is the gospel he preached and it is the gospel they received. Look at this passage line by line and precept by precept. One could not make it any plainer. He is intending to present by declaration (a forceful word) the gospel he proclaimed. This is such a clear statement with such a precise intent that it would be impossible to believe that the gospel would be anything other than what he is now declaring. Further, if the statement is not the full gospel then Paul is unreliable. He solidifies this position by making the following additional statement; which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand. This is not only the gospel he proclaimed. It is also the gospel that the Corinthians believed and it is the gospel by which they stand. But he doesn't stop there. He goes on to say that it is by which also ye are saved. 


These statements are examples of Holy Spirit inspired sovereign decrees of God Almighty. The plain fact is that the gospel cannot be any more or less than what Paul is about to proclaim. If it were Paul is unreliable. The gospel is the epitome of reductionism. The following is the gospel in its entirety. for I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: Thats it. It is the death burial and resurrection of Jesus and that is all. The message of chapter fifteen is that the resurrection of Jesus made possible the resurrection of everyone else. The good news is that there is a resurrection and one can take part in the resurrection by believing the good news.

For a further look into the gospel we must look at Acts Chapter ten. This is an interesting and familiar story. It tells of the first Gentile conversion. Cornelius was a Roman Centurion and the account of his conversion and the conversion of all in his household is very instructive as to the scope, content, and nature of the gospel message. We will look at the passage. Act 10:1-2 Now there was a certain man in Caesarea, Cornelius by name, a Centurion of the band called the Italian band, (2) a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. The chapter opens telling of the qualities of Cornelius. He had wealth, power and position because he was a Centurion. Cornelius was a devout man. By devout it is meant that he was pious or religious. There were three more qualities mentioned in his bio. He feared God, he was generous with the poor, and he prayed without ceasing. By Puritan standards, this man was a exemplary individual. He would have been a great candidate for Promise Keepers. The fact we find, in reading the account is that his high standard of moral conduct was not sufficient before God to give him salvation. The Great Deception on the other hand, has humanity convinced that this type of behavior would show that he was a child of God and would keep him safe in that status. The clear fact however was that Cornelius was lost and hell bound without the sovereign intervention of the grace of God.

He was visited by and angel that told him that his prayers had been heard by God and that he should send to Joppa for Simon Peter who was lodging with Simon the Tanner. While this was going on, Peter ends up on the roof ofSimons home at the time for dinner. While waiting for his meal to be served he fell into a trance and had a vision of a great sheet with each of the four corners tied full of all kinds of four-footed animals. A voice in the vision tells Peter to get up kill the animals and eat. Peter protests because he does not want to break any of the Jewish dietary laws by saying that no unclean animal has ever touched his lips. The voice went on to say three times. Peter, do not call that which God has cleansed unclean. This message has great allegorical significance but Peter does not realize it at the time. In the meantime Cornelius men arrive at the door to beckon Peter to come with them to meet with Cornelius. When Peter arrived and found out why he was sought he understood that the gospel was to be given to the Gentiles also. After all, with Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free. The gospel is for all who will believe.

Why has the gospel been made so complicated? The answer lies in the Great Deception. It has been called a strong delusion. 2Thessalonians 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (12) That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. God has sent this delusion. God has given us the great deception. Why? The reason is, from the beginning men would not believe the simplicity of the gospel. And, to this very day, you have men,  deceived such as John MacArthur, not only believing a lie but also perpetuating it.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

The gospel is so simple; It is almost Zen

1Co 9:16 HCSB "For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because an obligation is placed on me. And woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" These words ring clear to me personally and I suggest that they are meant for everyone who has felt the call to proclaim the gospel of God's mercy, grace and love. So once again, I am faced with answering the question what is the gospel?

In my view, there is no clearer proclamation of the gospel than Isaiah chapter 53. It really must be placed in the greater context of chapters 52-54. The gospel preacher or herald is spoken of clearly in Isa 52:7  How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" So then, the gospel is the message of peace between God and humanity, and the assurance that God is in control at all times. It was brought to fruition by the faith, life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

Isa 53:12  Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels. 
How can I say that it is so simple? What is the nature of the simplicity? Paul states it in 1 Corinthians 15.

1Co 15:1-8  Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it.  (2)  You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you--unless you believed for no purpose.  (3)  For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  (4)  that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  (5)  and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.  (6)  Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep.  (7)  Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  (8)  Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.

That is the simple gospel and there is no more. If there were more to the gospel, then, Paul would not be able to say that it was the gospel he proclaimed, the gospel they received, the gospel they have taken their stand on and the gospel by which they were/are saved. If the gospel is more than that… If it takes more than belief, then, Paul is being untruthful.

Why do I say that it is almost Zen? Well, mainly because Zen stresses the experiential over the theoretical. I believe that the gospel is definitely first and foremost experiential. People experience the peace with God based upon the gospel proclamation. That is how it works. That is the source of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

It is interesting to me the amount of people that I know who have this gospel experience, and in spite of what others say and teach, they know at the most basic level that they are in fact a child of God, and are in relationship with Him via Jesus. It is also interesting that they maintain this ever certain relationship in spite of the teaching they receive by institutional Christianity.

Majoring in Minor Things

Not too long ago I heard a sermon where a preacher said that the Lord had recently told him that the saints were majoring in minors. What he...