Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pentecost 16

Today's readings: Jeremiah 15:15-21; Romans 12:9-21; and Matthew 16:21-28 (sermon concentrated on verse 24).
What's the usual reward for a right answer? Recognition? Glory? We know the answer to last week's question, "Who do you say that I am?" But look at today's text: the reward, apparently, is to bear our cross! The answer is not the end but the beginning. But we don't take up His cross - thank God! His cross is rooted, already having been carried, already having borne the infinite weight of all the world's sins. Let your sins stay there, and not take them up again.

This week, those in school have borne crosses of a sort - syllabi, new classes, etc. Instead of standardized syllabi, however, God tailors our crosses to what we need and includes some of what we love. "But that's not fair!" True, it's not identical. But what if "fair" meant "the same principle of individual appropriateness"? Christ says to each of us, "Take up your cross and follow Me."

This is difficult to accept. Lose your life to follow Christ - sacrifice your demand for the perfect, standardized set of talents, relatives, challenges, etc. Your cross, shaped like yourself, takes trust. Accept God's individualized plan for you, not desiring someone else's plan. Take what He's given you. After all, He is personal, near to you, knowing you, loving you, caring for you. He will provide a way under each test and temptation; He knows what you can bear. Having faced the Question, accept His answer.
The pastor this morning teaches, among other things, a class on the New Testament. If only he did have individualized syllabi...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 9, part 4

Finally, here are OT prophecies literally fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

First Advent: fact (Genesis 3:15; Psalm 89:20; Ezekiel 34:24), time (Genesis 49:10; Daniel 9:24), divinity (Psalm 2:7, 11; Isaiah 9:6; Malachi 3:1), human generation (Genesis 12:3, 22:18; Isaiah 11:1).
Forerunner: Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1, 4:5.
Nativity/early years: fact (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14), place (Numbers 24:17, 19), adoration by Magi (Psalm 72:10, 15; Isaiah 60:3, 6), descent into Egypt (Hosea 11:1); massacre of innocents (Jeremiah 31:15).
Mission/office: like Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4), like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:!5), conversion of Gentiles (Isaiah 11:10, 42:1; Joel 2:32), in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2), miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6, 42:7, 53:4), spiritual graces (Psalm 45:7), preaching (Psalm 2:7, 78:2), purification of the Temple (Psalm 69:9).
Passion: rejected by Jews and Gentiles (Psalm 2:1, 41:5, 69:8; Isaiah 53:1, 65:2), persecuted (Psalm 22:6, 109:2), triumphal entry (Psalm 8:2; Zechariah 9:9), betrayed by friend (Psalm 55:13; Zechariah 13:6), for 30 silver pieces (Zechariah 11:12), betrayer's death (Psalm 109:17), potter's field (Zechariah 11:13), deserted by disciples (Zechariah 13:7), false accusation (Psalm 109:2), silence when accused (Isaiah 53:7), mocking (Psalm 22:7-8, 16), abuse by soldiers (Isaiah 50:6), patient in suffering (Isaiah 53:7-9), crucified (Psalm 22:14, 17), gall/vinegar offered (Psalm 69:21), prayed for enemies (Psalm 109:4), cries on the Cross (Psalm 22:1, 31:5), died in the prime of life (Psalm 102:24), died with evildoers (Isaiah 53:9, 12), nature reacted (Amos 5:20; Zechariah 14:4, 6), cast lots (Psalm 22:18), bones not broken (Psalm 34:20), pierced (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10, 13:6), voluntary death (Psalm 40:6-8), suffered vicariously (Daniel 9:26), buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9).
Resurrection: Psalm 16:8-10, 41:10; Hosea 6:2.
Ascension: Psalm 16:11, 68:18, 118:19.
Second coming: Isaiah 9:6-7; Zechariah 14:4-8; 1 Chronicles 17:11-14; Daniel 7:14.

The next several posts will be about the very long chapter 10, discussing the Resurrection.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

W. E. Messamore's letter to the ELCA

Messamore, author of the excellent blog (which I don't read quite as often as I'd like to) Slaying Dragons, asked me to consider this post and perhaps post its entirety here. Since he deserves traffic too, here is an excerpt:
Confrontation is sometimes necessary. I'm not writing it off as an inherent evil. But good, charitable conversation is preferable when possible, should be completely exhausted before moving on to full-blown rhetorical confrontation, and is usually far more effective at helping both parties to see and overcome flaws in their beliefs for their betterment.

That said, the following is my own letter to ELCA, addressing the same issues and hopefully in a more conversational way:

----------------------------------------

+ In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. ...
A good start! Read the rest on his blog.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 9, part 3

More about prophecies etc. This is a very long chapter.

4. Prophecies fulfilled confirm Jesus as the Christ, Son of God.
* Objection: Jesus deliberately fulfilled the prophecies concerning Himself.
* Answer: Many were beyond His human control - the place, time, and manner of His birth.
* Objection: Fulfillment was coincidental.
* Answer: No one else fulfills anywhere near all of the 61 above prophecies, let alone the others listed below.
* Time of the Messiah's coming:
- Removal of the scepter: Genesis 49:10. Began with Herod the Great.
- Destruction of the Temple: Malachi 3:1, Daniel 9:26. After the Messiah died.
* Fulfilled prophecies (double fulfillment is common).
- The text: Daniel 9:24-27 (the "seventy sevens" prophecy).
- Interpretation:
> Main features: two princes (Messiah and a prince to come), time period (70 weeks, both as a unit and as 7 + 62 + 1), specified start time, Messiah's appearance at the end of 69 weeks, Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed, covenant made between the people and the second prince, and Israel's final, eternal righteousness.
> Time measurement: Jewish "week" = "seven"; could stand for days or years. Example: Leviticus 25:2-4, 8. Years make sense here.
> Length of prophetic year: usually 360 days.
> Beginning of 70 sevens: Artaxerxes's decree to Nehemiah in 444 B.C. fits best.
> First 7 sevens: prophecy ended and Jerusalem was restored 40 (7 x 7) years after.
> 69-70 sevens: Messiah was cut off (crucified), Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pentecost 15

From the outdoor service this morning. Except for my not knowing the tunes to certain uber-modern Christian songs and for the mikes squealing after the sermon, it was lovely. The readings were Isaiah 51:1-6, Romans 11:33-12:8, and Matthew 16:13-20 (sermon text).
Identity issues - examples include various superheroes (e.g. no one knowing that Clark Kent is really Superman until the very end). Contrast who people think someone is. As with Jesus - something about Him mystified people. He knew His purpose but didn't reveal His identity to the crowds. In the text, His disciples (for once) answer His question correctly: "Who do you say that I am?" Their answer was given by god - no humans could have deduced that. Or could they? It seems obvious, but what does it mean?

We know about our hope. However, our lives still have trouble. God's concept of being a "superhero" is rather to be with us in our trouble. Yes, even Christ's death ("but I could have planned better than that!") was necessary. Therefore, since we can't figure out God's plan, we can only entrust Him with our lives and souls. He works in mysterious ways. His hope and peace, in the truth that Jesus, the Christ, is Son of the living God, enable us to trust His plan.

The gifts He leaves us are less visible - forgiveness, grace, His Spirit. The only answer to life is Jesus Christ, crucified, God incarnate, came to save you. He holds you in His hands.
Psalm 139:9-10 is the theme for this academic year. What a tremendous comfort it is!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Education perspectives

Some three articles for you to enjoy today as I acclimate to the Unnamed Institution of Higher Learning:

Tony Woodlief muses on children, labor, and Marx.

Shikha Dalmia and Lisa Snell argue against Obama's proposal to expand the school system even further.

Ben Wildavsky reviews a book questioning the merits of having all children attend college.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Murder in the worst sense

Yesterday I watched this video over at Cao's blog. It hurt.

Today, to add to that, came this editorial stating what seems impossible: that the Democrats have moved even farther left than thought possible in the area of the sanctity of life (whose life? The mom's?). Please read it.

Update: Check out The Stiletto's post too. Noteworthy also is Jill Stanek's info on a certain high-profile Politician Who Will Not Be Named.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pen vs. sword

Readers of the WSJ weigh in on this editorial. Read the viewpoints. I hope that this is not true:

It appears that the pen is no longer mightier than the sword.

Mary F.
Arlington Heights, Ill.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pentecost 14

Readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Psalm 67; Romans 11:1-2a, 13-15, 28-32; and Matthew 15:21-28 (sermon text; DP has an interesting discussion here).
Jesus says and does confusing (to us, at least) things. This story is perhaps the hardest for us, but the best for us Gentiles.

Context: chapter 15 begins with the Pharisees and scribes following Jesus not to learn but to criticize. They looked only at the outside; the real problem is the heart. So Jesus departed, physically and metaphorically, from them. Tyre and Sidon were outside ancient Israel's borders. Canaanites, the inhabitants, were outsiders. So the woman in the text rejected centuries of culture and idols, begging Christ for mercy - healing in exchange for nothing.

But Jesus ignored her! The disciples were less than merciful. Aside, He seemed to cross the line of rudeness. She persisted. He tested her faith (Jews called Gentiles "dogs"). She entreated Him again, being willing to receive whatever He gave. Seeing her faith, He healed her daughter (the other time He commended someone's faith was in the instance of the Roman centurion; this aptly demonstrates Matthew 28:19).

This story tells of faith - empty, humble believers who receive God's gifts. We should fear Satan and his demons, as did the woman, for he wants to separate us from Christ. Likewise, we should believe that Jesus can and does rescue us from all this. Remember also your heritage: Jesus fulfilled the promises prophesied. By Baptism we are heirs of Abraham's promises, given by God. God incarnate is our Lord and Christ! See that you are empty; receive even the crumbs from the Master's table. He will give you much, much more (vide the feeding of the 5000 + women + children with 12 baskets of crumbs left over): a full meal of life! Christ is all when we are nothing. Only He remains.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Required reading for today

Please enjoy these three articles from today's WSJ:

California has reversed its anti-homeschooling decision!

Censorship in China...perhaps of a different kind than what you'd expect.

Reader back-and-forth on a recent op-ed arguing for more tests and less college.

In other news, I depart in six days to an undisclosed location to learn things. It was a former convent, after all. On that topic there may be cryptic updates intelligible only to those who know me personally.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 9, part 2

More meat! I hope you all are enjoying this. Here are more prophecies.

Events after Christ's burial
  • Resurrection: Psalm 16:10 --> Acts 2:31.
  • Ascension: Psalm 68:18a --> Acts 1:9.
  • Seated at God's right hand: Psalm 110:1 --> Hebrews 1:3.
29 prophecies fulfilled in one day in the person of Jesus Christ
  • Betrayed by a friend: Psalm 41:9 --> Matthew 10:4.
  • Sold for 30 silver pieces: Zechariah 11:12 --> Matthew 26:15.
  • Money thrown into God's house: Zechariah 11:13b --> Matthew 27:5a.
  • Price given for a potter's field: Zechariah 11:13b --> Matthew 27:7.
  • Forsaken by disciples: Zechariah 13:7 --> Mark 14:50.
  • False witnesses: Psalm 35:11 --> Matthew 26:59-60.
  • Mute before accusers: Isaiah 53:7 --> Matthew 27:12.
  • Wounded and bruised: Isaiah 53:5 --> Matthew 27:26.
  • Smitten and spit upon: Isaiah 50:6 --> Matthew 26:67.
  • Mocked: Psalm 22:7-8 --> Matthew 27:31.
  • Fell under the cross: Psalm 109:24-25 --> John 19:17 and Luke 23:26.
  • Hands and feet pierced: Psalm 22:16 --> Luke 23:33.
  • Crucified with thieves: Isaiah 53:12 --> Matthew 27:38.
  • Interceded for persecutors: Isaiah 53:12 --> Luke 23:24.
  • Rejected by His own people: Isaiah 53:3 --> John 7:5, 48.
  • Was hated without a cause: Psalm 69:4 --> John 15:25.
  • Friends stood far off: Psalm 38:11 --> Luke 23:49.
  • People shook their heads in derision: Psalm 109:25 --> Matthew 27:39.
  • Was stared upon: Psalm 22:17 --> Luke 23:35.
  • Garments parted, lots cast: Psalm 22:18 --> John 19:23-24.
  • Thirst: Psalm 69:21 --> John 19:28.
  • Gall and vinegar: Psalm 69:21 --> Matthew 27:34. Myrrh stupefies.
  • Forsaken cry: Psalm 22:1a --> Matthew 27:46.
  • Committed Himself to God: Psalm 31:5 --> Luke 23:46.
  • Bones not broken: Psalm 34:20 --> John 19:33.
  • Heart broken: Psalm 22:14 --> John 19:34. Death --> blood + water.
  • Side pierced: Zechariah 12:10 --> John 19:34.
  • Darkness over the land: Amos 8:9 --> Matthew 27:45.
  • Buried in a rich man's tomb: Isaiah 53:9 --> Matthew 27:57-60.
Suggested reading: "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ" (a PDF from JAMA).

Yes, there will be more of the same tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 9, part 2

Now McDowell details some of the 300 OT prophecies fulfilled in Jesus. Quoting amply from Jewish documents such as the Talmud, he shows that we are not the first to have considered these verses as prophecies pertaining to the Messiah. In later parts of this chapter, we'll see why.

Pertaining to His birth
  • Seed of woman: Genesis 3:15 --> Matthew 1:20; Galatians 4:4. Literal translation of Genesis 4:1 - "I have gotten a man, even YHWH."
  • Virgin: Isaiah 7:14 --> Matthew 1:18, 24-25; Luke 1:26-35. Greek parthenos.
  • Son of God: Psalm 2:7 --> Matthew 3:17. See also Mark 3:11 and Matthew 26:63.
  • Seed of Abraham: Genesis 22:18 --> Matthew 1:1.
  • Son of Isaac: Genesis 21:12 --> Luke 3:23, 34. Refutes the Muslim assertion that Ishmael was the son of promise.
  • Son of Jacob: Numbers 24:17 --> Luke 3:23, 34. Eliminates Esau.
  • Tribe of Judah: Genesis 49:10 --> Luke 3:23, 33. Eliminates 11 of the 12 tribes.
  • Family line of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1 --> Luke 3:23, 32.
  • House of David: Jeremiah 23:5 --> Luke 3:23, 31. Eliminates Jesse's other sons (7+).
  • Born at Bethlehem: Micah 5:2 --> Matthew 2:1. Very precise.
  • Presented with gifts: Psalm 72:10 --> Matthew 2:1, 11.
  • Herod kills children: Jeremiah 31:15 --> Matthew 2:16.
Pertaining to His nature
  • Pre-existence: Micah 5:2 --> Colossians 1:17. He was always God.
  • Called "Lord": Psalm 110:1 --> Luke 2:11; Matthew 22:43-45.
  • Immanuel (God with us): Isaiah 7:14 --> Matthew 1:123.
  • Prophet: Deuteronomy 18:18 --> Matthew 21:11. Four ways in which Jesus is like Moses (p. 152): (1) He was delivered from a violent death in His infancy. (2) He was willing to become a Redeemer of His people (Exodus 3:10). (3) He worked as mediator between Yahweh and Israel (Exodus 19:16, 20:18). (4) He made intercession on behalf of sinful people (Exodus 32:7-14, 33; Numbers 14:11-20). [Also read this excellent article, "Deuteronomy Deductions".]
  • Priest: Psalm 110:4 --> Hebrews 3:1, 5:5-6.
  • Judge: Isaiah 33:22 --> John 5:30.
  • King: Psalm 2:6 --> Matthew 27:37.
  • Special anointing of the Spirit (sevenfold): Isaiah 11:2 --> Matthew 3:16-17.
  • Zeal for God: Psalm 69:9 --> John 2:15-17.
Pertaining to His ministry
  • Preceded by a messenger: Isaiah 40:3 --> Matthew 3:1-2.
  • Begun in Galilee: Isaiah 9:1 --> Matthew 4:12, 13, 17.
  • Miracles: Isaiah 35:5-6a --> Matthew 9:35.
  • Parables: Psalm 78:2 --> Matthew 13:34.
  • Entered the Temple: Malachi 3:1 --> Matthew 21:12.
  • Entered Jerusalem on a donkey: Zechariah 9:9 --> Luke 19:35-37a.
  • Stumbling block to the Jews: Psalm 118:22 --> 1 Peter 2:7.
  • "Light" to the Gentiles: Isaiah 60:3 --> Acts 13:47-48a.
More tomorrow - what do you think so far?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 9, part 1

This lengthy chapter deals with Messianic prophecies, their fulfillment, and answers to various objections to them.

1. Introduction.
* Purpose of Messianic prophecy
- Numbers 23:19 - God's word and knowledge are perfect.
- Isaiah 46:9-10 - God's will is supreme.
- Isaiah 48:3, 5; Romans 1:2-4 - God the Messiah's credentials make Him known.
* Appeal to Messianic prophecy
- Jesus: Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39, 40, 46-47; Matthew 13:14, 11:10, 21:42, 26:56; Mark 13:26; Luke 4:20-21, 22:37; John 15:25.
- NT writers: Acts 3:18, 10:43, 13:29, 17:2-3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 1:2; 1 Peter 2:5-6; Matthew 2:4-6.
- Levitical feasts: Passover --> 1 Corinthians 5:7; Unleavened Bread --> 1 Corinthians 5:8; First Fruits --> 1 Corinthians 15:23; Pentecost --> Acts 1:5, 2:4; Trumpets --> Matthew 24:31; Atonement --> Romans 11:26; Tabernacles --> Zechariah 14:16-18.
* Significance of predictive prophecy. It logically implies...
- a divine mind behind the OT and NT.
- the fact of God.
- the deity of Jesus.
- the inspiration of the Bible.
2. The OT has over 300 Messiah references fulfilled in Jesus.
* Objection: self-fulfilling because they were written at/after Christ's time.
* Answer: Even if you doubt 450 B.C. as the finishing point of the OT, still remember that the Septuagint was done in 250 B.C. That's still 250 years MINIMUM.

We get into the good stuff tomorrow, very meaty sections.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 8, part 2

Besides an unusual incarnation, sinlessness, and miracles, we would expect these of God-become-man:

4. Sense of uniqueness.
a. Friends' witness - must be either for or against. See, in the Quran, Sura Al-Imran, v. 45. McDowell also quotes from Pascal, John Young, Napoleon, Emerson, etc.
b. Antagonists agree - Goethe, H. G. Wells, Carlyle, Rosseau, etc.
5. Words greatest ever spoken.
a. Luke 21:33 - His claim - also Luke 4:32 and John 7:46.
b. Scholars sense His authority and adeptness, His universal, enduring words. They are not abstract; His person is integral to understanding His words.
6. Permanent, universal influence. Examples abound.
7. Satisfy man's spiritual hunger.
a. The abundance of major world religions testifies to this hunger.
b. Paul H. Johnson - a God-shaped vacuum in mankind.
8. Power over death.
a. Death: Jesus had authority over His life and death. Matthew 26:53-54 and John 10:18.
b. Burial: see Gospels for detailed description. He was most certainly dead.
c. Resurrection: again, a plethora of historical evidence. It promises life to us.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pentecost 13

We had a guest pastor today. The readings were Job 38:4-18, Psalm 18, Romans 10:5-17, and Matthew 14:22-33 (sermon text).
Our stories are those of being ungodly, hurt, and so on. The disciples had stories like these too. An imminent wreck of a boat isn't the best place to be. But Jesus was calm, walking on water - exactly opposite in every way. The water, therefore, was safer than the boat. Peter exited the boat - but why did he get wet? If we act like him (jumping out), we get either prideful or fearful.

The text is NOT about Peter, you, or even faith! The text is ALL about Jesus. He decided to walk on the water; He called Peter; He loved Peter enough to be pulled down. He loved each of us enough to be nailed to the cross.
Also joining me were Cheryl with other Martin Loopers (of which I hope to be a member in an indeterminate number of years) including Elephant's Child, Rebellious Pastor's Wife, Boots on the Ground, and a few assorted blogging children.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 8, part 1

"The great proposition - if God became man, what would He be like?" Since my family is into the applesauce-making days and our trees are bearing much fruit, and this chapter is almost 30 pages long, I am breaking it up.

We would expect...

1. An unusual entrance into human life.
a. Testimony about the virgin birth.
- Concept: Genesis 3:15 (woman's, not man's, seed). Also see Isaiah 7:14.
- Reliability: based on the Gospels' historical accuracy.
- Agreement vs. discrepancy: all four agree on * time frame * conception by the Holy Spirit * virgin mother * betrothed to Joseph * of David's line * at Bethlehem * named Jesus by divine command * called Savior * Joseph's integrity and courage * visions * living in Nazareth. Genealogies: Matthew follows Joseph, Luke follows Mary. John, Mark, and Paul testify about the virgin birth as well.
b. Historical evidence.
- Time - not enough to create a myth.
- Church fathers - e.g. Ignatius and Irenaeus.
- Jewish witness - made up a soldier story (unneeded unless His birth was indeed unusual).
- Quran: Jesus son of Mary, created by God. Sura (chapter) Maryam, ayah (verse) 20.
c. Writers such as W. H. Griffith Thomas and Henry Morris.
2. Sinlessness.
a. Self-witness - see John 8:29, 46.
b. Witness of friends: aware of their own sin; were with Him about 3 years; never mentioned a sin in His life, especially Peter and John.
c. Witness of enemies agrees! Luke 23:22, 41, 47, etc.
d. Witness of history. Too many historians to list; Quran Maryam v. 19.
e. Witness of skeptics - Rosseau, Mill, Emerson, Strauss, Ramm.
3. Miracles manifesting the supernatural.
a. Biblical witness - miracles of physical healing, natural objects (e.g. Cana; walking on water), and resurrections.
b. Jewish witness: histories; Julian the Apostate.
c. Miracles are visible; therefore, they count as testimonies if there were eyewitnesses. Not 'natural' events, but rather God stepping in.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 7

This chapter deals with C. S. Lewis's "trilemma" - whether Jesus Christ is a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Recently introduced into this has been a fourth option (making it a quadrilemma?), legend. But, given the evidence in chapter 4, this isn't feasible.

1. Who is Jesus? Impossible for Him to be only a great moral teacher. Also impossible to separate the Man from His teachings.
2. Is He God? He claimed deity. This claim is either true or false. If it is false, and He did know that it was false...
3. Was He a liar? If so, He was a hypocrite, had a demon, and was a fool because His claims got Him crucified. If, on the other hand, He didn't know that His claims were false...
4. Was He a lunatic? If so, He couldn't have been part of the straight-monotheistic Jewish culture. His demeanor was calm - not feverish, overly enthusiastic, or wild.
5. LORD. John 20:31.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 6

From page 97 - William Biederwolf:
A man who can read the New Testament and not see that Christ claims to be more than a man, can look all over the sky at high noon on a cloudless day and not see the sun.
* * * * * * *

Direct claims to deity


Trial
  • Mark 14:61-64.
  • The Jews understood His words as a claim to being God. The Sanhedrin indirectly (ironically) claimed it too!
Other claims
  • Equality with the Father. John 10:30-33 - "One" in Greek denotes a single essence or nature. John 15:17-18 - "My" - not "our" - Father implies that Jesus claims the same level as God.
  • "I AM." John 8:58. Claim to absolute deity (see Exodus 3:14, for example).
  • Due same honor as the Father. John 5:23-24.
  • "To know Me." John 8:19.
  • "Believe in Me." John 14:1.
  • "He who has seen Me . . ." John 14:9.
  • "I say unto you" is parallel to "Thus says the LORD." Example: Matthew 5:20.
Requesting/accepting worship as God
  • Reserved for God alone - John 4:20-22; Acts 8:27; John 4:24; Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:8.
  • Accepted worship - Matthew 8:2, 14:33; John 9:35-39, 20:27-29.
  • Contrasted to others - Acts 10:25-26; Revelation 19:10.
What others said
  • Paul - Philippians 2:9-11; Titus 2:13.
  • John the Baptist - Luke 3:22.
  • Peter - Matthew 16:15-17; Acts 2:36.
  • Thomas - John 20:26-29.
  • Author of Hebrews - 1:8.
  • Stephen - Acts 7:59.
Indirect claims to deity - too numerous to list
  • Able to forgive sins - Mark 2:5ff; Luke 7:48ff.
  • Immutable - Hebrews 13:8 (see Malachi 3:6).
  • Life embodied - John 14:6.
  • Containing life - 1 John 5:11-12.
  • Having authority - John 5:27.
Titles and their implications

YHWH - Lord
  • Jews didn't pronounce it out of reverence.
  • Christ's claim - the seven "I Am" statements.
Son of God
  • Implies uniqueness and coequality, being coeternal with the Father.
Son of Man
  • Earthly ministry, when referring to Himself.
  • Foretelling His death - since His deity could not die on the cross, His humanity had to.
  • Talking about His second coming - He will come not in spirit alone, but also in body.
Abba - "Father"
  • The Aramic means "Daddy" - the most intimate of terms in addressing someone.
  • Jews used the more deferential Abhinu.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 5

This chapter lays important foundations, the historicity of Jesus Christ.

Christian sources for Jesus' historicity
  • Books of the NT (27) - reliable (see ch. 4).
  • Church Fathers - Polycarp, Eusebius, Irenaeus, etc.
Non-Biblical sources
  • Cornelius Tacitus (born A.D. 52-54) - Crucifixion; Roman Christians.
  • Lucian of Samosata - satirical, scornful of Christians and Christ.
  • Flavius Josephus (born A.D. 37) - Jewish historian.
  • Suetonius (A.D. 120) - wrote of persecution of Christians.
  • Pliny the Younger (A.D. 112) - same.
  • Tertullian (A.D. 197) - defended Christianity.
  • Thallus (A.D. 52) - referenced the Crucifixion's darkness, at the wrong time for an eclipse.
  • Phlegon - same.
  • Mara Bar-Serapion - referenced Christ as among wise men.
  • Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) - details of Crucifixion.
  • Talmuds - historical details of Christ's life and death.
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica - more than 20,000 words about Him (more than other famous historical figures. States that grounds for non-historicity are flimsy and illogical.).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pentecost 12

Readings: Isaiah 55:1-5; Psalm 78; Romans 9:1-5; and Matthew 14:13-21 (sermon text).
What did Jesus hear (v. 13)? About the beheading of His cousin, John the Baptist. This explains why He withdrew - being 100% human, He was distraught. A prelude/premonition to His own gruesome death - the reason He came to earth. But instead of solitude, He got more crowds. So He had splagchna on them, healing their sick. But that wasn't His mission; the crowds didn't understand. They wanted a bread-king. When the miracles stopped, they crucified Him. The miracles' purpose was to show His divinity. He gives bread for our souls.

The day wore on; the disciples became pragmatic. Jesus told them to find food (after all, they had just come back from evangelizing and casting out demons!). Their actions showed, then, lack of trust in God. Remember that you - all people - do not live as if you trust in Him either. But Jesus took the paltry food they found, had the crowd sit on the grass (as a good Shepherd does), said a blessing (His total life was in God's presence), and broke the loaves (the first instance of many), making them much (12 baskets!) more than enough. Therefore He is perfectly capable of caring for you.
God's mercy is indeed a marvel. He provides for our bodies and souls, "eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 4, part 2

Assorted interesting facts
  • Nelson Glueck: archeology has never contradicted the Bible.
  • Critics used to treat Genesis 11-50 as legend; much has now been proven fact.
  • Ebla Kingdom: Pentateuch was written near the time of the events described.
OT examples
  • Origin of civilization was in Mesopotamia (whence the Genesis record traces man).
  • Origin of diverse languages (Alfredo Trombetti thinks perhaps all languages) at Babel.
  • Horites (in Esau's lineage; resembles the Hebrew word for cave) were not cave-dwellers.
  • Jericho's walls did fall outward (unlike normal walls), allowing Israel to charge in.
  • Abraham was most definitely a historical being.
NT examples
  • Luke is among the top historians - very accurate details about the time period, geography, customs, etc.
  • Pool of Bethesda.
My notes for this chapter, unfortunately, do no justice to the quotes therein.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Chapter 4, Part 1

Today's topic is the Bible's confirmation by historical texts. This means that we can trust our present-day manuscripts of Scripture as being the same as the original text, or very nearly so.

Bibliographical test: number and time-spacing of manuscripts (MSS)

(1) NT:
- Over 5300 Greek MSS, more than 10,000 Vulgate (Latin) MSS, over 9300 others = 24,600+ total copies of all or part(s) of the New Testament.
- Contrast the Iliad (coming second in the list of decreasing MSS support): 643 MSS, 1st copy in 1200s A.D. NT gap: 250-300 years, essentially nothing in MS-dating terms. NT has 0.5% doubtful text vs. 5% for the Iliad.
- Kenyon: no doctrine has alternate readings.
- Versions: Syraic, Latin, Greek; lectionaries.
- J. Greenlee: Church fathers quoted almost the entire NT.
(2) OT:
- Talmudists (A.D. 100-500): at least 17 extremely precise regulations for copying MSS.
- Masoretes (A.D. 500-900): obsessed with counting (line numbers, middle letters of books, etc.); added vowel marks for correct pronunciation.
- Hebrew text: Cairo Codex (A.D. 895), Prophets of Leningrad (A.D. 916), Codex Babylonicus Petropalitanus (A.D. 1008), Aleppo Codex (A.D. 900+), etc.
- Dead Sea Scrolls (125 B.C.): exact Isaiah scroll, etc. >95% accrate. 5% = spelling errors.
- Septuagint (285-246 B.C., in Greek): very close to Masoretic text.
- Samaritan Text (5th c. B.C.): Pentateuch.
- Targums (A.D. 500): paraphrases.
- Mishnah (A.D. 200): exposition and quotations.
- Gemaras: commentaries.
- Midrash (100 B.C. - A.D. 300): quotes.
- Hexapla ("sixfold): very like Masoretic text.

Internal test: three points to remember (whether a MS agrees with itself)

(1) Benefit of the doubt should be on the text, not on the critic. Problems aren't necessarily mistakes in the text.
(2) Primary source value: the authors wrote as eyewitnesses (e.g. John 19:35).
(3) Competent primary sources - because they date between A.D. 50-75.

External evidence text: whether outside sources (below) agree with the MSS

Extra-Biblical authors:
- Eusebius - Mark faithfully wrote down Peter's words.
- Papias - Matthew wrote accurately.
- Irenaeus - Gospel writers indeed wrote them.
- Clement of Rome - uses Bible as authentic.
- Ignatius - knew Apostles personally.
- Polycarp - martyred for trusting in Scripture.
- Flavius Josephus - confirms accuracy of Gospel accounts.
- Tatian - arranged Diatessaron (first harmony of the Gospels).

Tomorrow: Part 2 (Confirmation by Archeology).