The Name of God’s Son

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In the ancient world, one’s name was more than just a designation for that individual. They saw the name as being closely associated with that individual’s personality. If you could invoke the name of a god, you could call that god’s powers into your own use. Writing in the TDNT (V:243), Bietenhard says, “Only when men know the name of a god can they call upon him, have dealings with him, or bring him into play by magic” (see also pgs 250-252, 269-270). The ancients believed they could manipulate their gods by invoking their names as a part of their magical rituals. Bietenhard continues: “Pronouncment or invocation of the name sets in operation the energy potentially contained in him.” Perhaps this is one reason why God warned Israel not to take His name in vain (Exo. 20:7; Deut. 5:11). God will not be manipulated.

We have observed that a name gives the owner authority and/or ownership. The name can distinguish one item, object, or person from another. Giving one a name can be a mark of honor, whether naming that person after yourself or after someone else respected and admired.

We have also seen that the temple in the Old Testament was given God’s name, showing His ownership, occupation, authority, and honor dwelling there. The designation “Tabernacle of the Lord” is found nine times in the Old Testament. When Israel forgot that fact, God removed His presence. Bietenhard observes: “The shem [name, p.h.] guarantees God’s presence in the temple in clear distinction from Yahweh’s throne in heaven” (256).

God chose to send His Son, to whom He attached His own name (Isaiah 7:14 – “Emmanuel” = “God with us”). “In the NT the name, person and work of God are – with various differentiations – inseparably linked with the name, person and work of Jesus Christ” (Bientenhard, 271). Jesus came to reveal the name of God (person, character) to mankind. In John 17:6, the Savior says, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.”

It is in and through Jesus Christ that God’s presence / name found within us. Thus it is, as Bientenhard writes (274): “The whole life of the Christian stands under the name of Jesus.” In the words of an inspired writer, Paul says: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).

Thus it is when we obey Jesus Christ, we do so “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). We are baptized “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38). “There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The  Gospel is equated with the “name of Jesus Christ” in Acts 8:12.

Saul of Tarsus, after being immersed into the Name, was commissioned to bear that name to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). In the Jerusalem conference, James speaks and says that the inclusion of Gentiles into the church reflects Old Testament prophecy whereby God is seen “taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). When the Gospel is preached, the name of the Lord Jesus is magnified (Acts 19:17).

It is thus that a penitent believer who has been immersed into Christ, into His name, carries His name – Christian (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). In wearing the name of Christ, we show that we belong to Christ. We show honor to Christ. We also show that Christ has authority over us. God places His name on the Christian, just as He did on the tabernacle and temple in the Old Testament. If we forget that we wear His name and we belong to Him, He can remove that name, just as He did with the tabernacle and temple.

–Paul Holland

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The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals

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The Science that Separates Us

    Thomas Suddendorf teaches psychology at the University of Queensland. Three years ago, he published a book, The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from Other Animals. The title alone would clue you in that Suddendorf is an evolutionist. In his first paragraph, he states that humans are: organisms, animals, vertebrates, mammals, and primates. Yet on page 2, he writes: “Yet it would be prudent of me to call you an ape only from a safe distance.”

    Fundamentally, humans are separate from animals (Since evolution is false, I’ll drop Suddendorf’s “other”), the author writes “because our extraordinary powers do not derive from our muscles and bones but from our minds. …Our minds have spawned civilizations and technologies that have changed the face of the Earth, while our closest living animal relatives sit unobtrusively in their remaining forests.”

    The heart of the book are chapters in which he compares and contrasts recent studies on various aspects of animal behavior with human behavior. In chapter three, he presents: “Minds Comparing Minds.” Summarizing studies on apes, Suddendorf writes: “although there are reports of pretend play in great apes, the list is relatively short, and even if the reports are accepted at face value, great apes do not show anywhere near the sophistication or amount of pretend play that human children do” (48).

    Chapter four is about “Talking Apes.” Human beings speak 6,000 different languages, including a language based on touch (Braille) and hand signals (sign language). It is through language that we transmit knowledge and thoughts from one human to another. When it comes to communication among the animals, apes specifically, research on “communication systems of animals have found them to be restricted to a few types of information exchanges, typically to do with reproduction, territory, food, and alarm” (81). He continues: “They do not regularly teach each other, point out things for others’ benefit, or ask for the names of things” (86).

    The fifth chapter is on “Time Travelers.” In this chapter, Suddendorf deals with remembering the past and planning the future, even a fictional future. The professor of human psychology writes: “We could not find compelling evidence for anything like this faculty in other animals and argued that its emergence must have been a prime mover in human evolution” (90). “It seems safe to say that mental time travel is a significant human attribute, without which we would hardly have been able to change the face of the Earth – let alone control many of its other inhabitants” (103). 

    I have frequently commented at funerals that memory is a great gift from God. Humans have it uniquely among God’s creation, at the level with which we can exercise it. “Although it is safe to conclude that animals have procedural [the “how”, p.h.] and semantic memory [facts, p.h.] systems, there is no obvious demonstration that they have episodic memory [events, p.h.]” (104). He also writes: “Thus evidence that animals can draw on accurate information about the what, where, and when of a particular event does not show that they travel mentally in time” (105).

    Finally, he comments: “Richard Dawkins agrees that there is something unique about the human capacity to think about the future. Human long-term planning appears to have no obvious rivals in the animal kingdom” (106). Do you think there is a reason God gave us the ability to plan for the future?

    “Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!” (Psalm 8:5).

    I’ll share more of Suddendorf’s book later…

–Paul Holland

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How to Study the Bible: Word Studies – Part 3

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    My last and final study (for now) on doing word studies…

PAY ATTENTION TO THEOLOGICAL WORDS:

    In 1 Thessalonians 1:4, Paul writes:“knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you.” That sounds like an unassuming phrase, until you do a word study on “choice.”

    If you use Mounce’s Reverse Interlinear translation (on biblegateway.com) and Greek helps, you find Strong’s # and the GK # and the definitions. One definition is: “in NT election to privilege by divine grace.” The word is found only 7 times in the NT (from billmounce.com): Romans 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Peter 1:10; Acts 9:15. That’s not hard to study: seven verses. Take a look at those 7 verses and their context and see what Paul has to say.

    If you go to biblestudytools.com, you find a host of Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias. You might check Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology and look up “elect.” If you do that, you learn some things.

    If you read the whole article, you learn that God’s election of Israel is a significant theme in the Old Testament. For example, in Amos 3:2, God tells Israel: “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

    Since in the OT, it was “Israel” who was God’s elect, God’s chosen, for Paul to refer to the church of Christ (composed largely of Gentiles – 1:9-10) as chosen means that Paul is identifying Christians as God’s elect during the Christian Age! That’s important. That is a subtle but sure message to these young, persecuted Christians, that they are – in Christ Jesus – God’s chosen people. They might be rejected by the world but they are chosen by God.

    Finally, let’s take a look at another example, from 2 Thessalonians. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul writes,“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.”  Now “apostasy” would be a good word to do some word study on (later).

    For this devotional, I want us to consider the phrases “man of lawlessness” and “son of destruction.” Now, you can look up “man” and come up with 2,294 occasions and read all of them or “son,” and read all 4,880 occasions of that word! Or, you can look up phrases. “Man of lawlessness” – (when you look up phrases in computer software, put the phrase in parentheses) – you learn that this is the only passage where it is found. That severely limits our ability to interpret the phrase! This is also the only time “son of destruction” is found. Again, not much help in that regard.

    So, we have to change our phrase a little. What does “man of” mean? Or “son of”? Let’s look that phrase up. The expression “man of” is found 164 times. Just looking at the first three verses, I can draw the conclusion that “man of” is a figure of speech for someone “characterized by…”

    That is one indication that this “man of lawlessness” might not be a specific person. The phrase “son of” is similar but used a whopping 1,165 times. Of course it is used literally to refer to relationships.

    I know from previous studies that “son of” is a figure of speech to refer to someone having the qualities or characteristics of someone or something. 1 Thessalonians 5:5 is an excellent example of the use. In fact, the expression “son of God,” when it is not referring to Jesus, refers to someone who is characterized by God, characterized by godly attributes. 

    We see the same idea in the phrase “sons of disobedience” in Ephesians 2:2; 5:6 (cf. Colossians 3:6), and “sons of men” (Eph. 3:5 – i. e., having qualities of mankind; a figure of speech for humans).

    This brings up an important point. In doing word studies, we would start understanding the meaning of a word in a given context, in this order:

    1. The word’s use in the same letter (if it is so used);

    2. The word’s use in other writings by the same author;

    3. The word’s use in the New Testament;

    4. The word’s use in the Old Testament.

    It pays to enrich your knowledge of biblical words.

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How to Study the Bible – Word Studies – Part 2

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    Words are the basic building blocks of sentences, therefore of paragraphs.

PAY ATTENTION TO WORDS THAT ARE DIFFERENT:

    You should always compare more than one translation. Romans 7 is a good time to consider doing word studies stimulated by such a comparison. 

7:18 (NIV) – “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”

7:18 (NASV) – “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” (Compare the similar differences in 7:25).

    You can do some study in the original language when it comes to word studies, even without knowing the language. You just have to have time, patience, and a willingness to do some research. If you go to biblegateway.com and look up the verse in question, say Romans 7:18, use the “Mounce Reverse Interlinear New Testament.”

    The English version is the ESV and underneath the English version is a transliteration of the Greek word for “flesh”: sarx. If you click on that, a passage from Mounce’s Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament comes up. At the top, you have a number assigned to this specific word, Strong’s #: G4561. That was an old way of tagging words so that non-Greek students could find the word in Greek sources. But there were problems with that so a new system was developed and that number is given as well – GK#: G4922. Those numbers can be used to learn even more about these specific words.

    But underneath that, you have several definitions of this Greek word. You can also see at the bottom that Mounce will give you, on his own personal website, “Everywhere sarx appears in the New Testament.”

    My point in bringing this to your attention is that the word sarx does not carry within it the inherent idea of “sinful.” I would be adamant that we are not born with a “sinful nature” as the NIV translates this word. That teaches that babies are born in sin, born sinful. No, the word does not mean sinful nature; it means human nature, as opposed to divine nature. We sin because we do not know everything and do not always listen as we could and should. But that’s not inherent in some way in our nature so that we cannot do  what is right. The word should be translated either as “human flesh/nature” or simply “flesh,” which is better it allows me, the Bible student, to decide the connotations of the word.

    Let’s use another example. I mentioned in a previous Daily Droplets, when we studied verb forms, that there is no imperative, no command, in 1 Corinthians 11 relative to wearing the veil. We’ll talk more about the veil soon when we consider the historical/cultural background to the text. But, we’ve got an important word to consider here in our text, found in verse 16:

    NIV – “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.”

    NASV – “But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.”

    NKJV – “But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”

    Which is it? “No other practice” or “no such practice”? They are completely different, are they not? How do we decide? Go to biblegateway.com and look up Mounce’s Reverse Interlinear NT…

    First, we observe that the ESV agrees with the NKJV: “But if anyone is disposed to be contentious—we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.“ Then, we also observe the Greek word is “toioutos.” We click on it and Mounce gives us a few definitions: “such, such like, of this kind or sort, so great, etc.” We go to Bill Mounce’s website and find more information: 

    The word is used 57 times in the NT. Take the time to scan through all 57 instances, in the ESV, and you see this word is never translated “other” in any other passage. I did not check the NIV but it is not translated “other” in any other passage in the NASV. It would not be hard, since Mounce gives us all the verses that use that word, to check your own translation. 

    The ESV and the NKJV seem to be “with the program” – the word means “such” or “such like.” Whatever else we can say about the veil and wearing it, we know two things now: 1.) Paul does not command the wearing of the veil in this text; and 2.) in verse 16, Paul concludes the whole discussion by saying, “We have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”    

    More on word studies…

–Paul Holland

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Jesus: The Truth

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    Back in 2003, in partial response to the devastation of the 9/11 destruction of the twin towers in NYC and the Pentagon and Flight 93 in PA, President George W. Bush sent our military into battle in the country of Iraq. One of, but not the only, reason for this invasion was the existence of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. After we invaded and started stabilizing the country, it was widely reported that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

    That (lack of) discovery motivated the other political party to demand the truth! Nancy Pelosi, the Majority Leader at the time, called the CIA habitual liars. Both Democrats and GOP leaders called for a 9/11 Truth Commission. We want the truth. A 9/11 commission was appointed and they gave the results of their research.

    Truth. Who would question that light travels at 186,282 miles per second? Who would question that two opposite statements cannot both be true at the same time and in the same way? Who would question that 2+2=4?

    “True” is defined as “that which corresponds to reality.” People today like to say, “You have your truth and I have my truth.” But that absolutely cannot be the case unless both “truths” are the same truth. Either your “truth” corresponds to reality or my “truth” corresponds to reality. But if our “truths” are different, then one (or both) of them are false.

    The focus of our VBS this week is: Truth Seekers, with our key text coming from John 14:6, where Jesus famously says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

    The word “true” is found in the Bible 87 times; 28 in the OT; 59 in the NT (NASV). “Truth” is found 206 times; 95 in the NT. Out of these 95 times in the NT, the word “truth” is found 26 times in the Gospel of John. “True” is found 21 times. That means that 1/4 of all the occasions of “truth” in the NT are used by John in his Gospel! One-third of all the occasions of the word “true” are used by John in his Gospel! If you add in the letters of John and Revelation, we have an additional 17 occasions of “true” and 20 occasions of “truth;” that’s as many in those letters as in the whole Gospel! That’s a total of 84 times!

    If there is anybody who knows truth, who truly understands all of reality, it is God. God is called the “true” God some five times in the Bible. But the truth of the matter is that Jesus came to reveal that truth to mankind.

    John 1:14-17: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.  For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

    Jesus came to testify to the truth. “Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37).

    Thus we see that Jesus embodies the truth from God and teaches the truth, from the mind of God. He says: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him. …Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me” (John 8:29, 42).

    All that Jesus did and says is what truly “corresponds to reality.” What He says is what is absolute, unchanging truth. That’s why you can trust Him. That’s why you must obey Him.

–Paul Holland

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The heart (Joshua-Malachi)

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  • In Josh. 5:1, the “melted hearts” were in a state of terror because God had dried up Jordan River.
  • If our spiritual heart is not right w/God, fear and terror will result w/coming into contact with God.
  • 24:23; we “incline” our hearts to God.
    1. In Judg. 16 we have some information about Samson and a woman he desired.
    2. Delilah said Samson’s “heart” was “not right” with her.  Not all hearts are “right.”
  • In Judg. 19:5 we read about a “strengthened heart.”
  • Grieved” hearts among God’s people are possible (1 Sam. 1:8).
  • The child of God can “rejoice” in his or her heart (1 Sam. 2:1).

BODY:

  • 1 Sam. 13:14 – Here we are told it possible to have a “heart” like God.
  • However we choose to live, God “looks” on our heart and knows what is there (1 Sam. 16:7).
  • Deity knows some want a “naughty” heart (1 Sam. 17:28).
  • David’s “heart smote” him (1 Sam. 24:5).
  • We can use our heart to “despise” others (2 Sam. 6:16).
  • We can “take things to heart” (2 Sam. 13:20)
  • It is possible to have an “understanding” (wise) heart, 1 Kgs. 3:9, 12.
  • We may have a “yearning” in the heart (1 Kgs. 3:26).
  • If yearnings are bad, a heart can be “turned away” from what is right (1 Kgs. 11:2).
  • God says we need a “tender heart” (2 Kgs. 22:19) which is “inclined” to God.
  • 2 Chron. 30:19 talks about “setting the heart” to seek God.
  • Ezra (7:10) “set his heart to seek the law of Jehovah and do it.”
  • We must have the right heart because Ps. 7:10 says God “saves the upright in heart.”
  • In Ps. 14:1 – “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.”
  • A little later (Ps. 19:14) the word “heart” is joined with the word “meditation.”
  • When our heart is right, there are many benefits, including no “fear” (Ps. 27:3).
  • We get the right heart by putting “law of God is in our hearts” (Ps. 37:31).
  • When our heart is right, “righteousness” will be in it (Ps. 40:10).
  • We will also have a “clean heart” (Ps. 51:10) and a “pure heart” (Ps. 73:1).
  • God wants us to “fix” and “establish” our heart on Him (Ps. 112:7-8).
  • 4:23 says “keep thy heart with all diligence” (guard your heart).
  • The devil wants to put “perverseness” in the heart (Prov. 6:14); don’t let him.
  • Continually “bind” what is right to our “hearts” (Prov. 6:21).
  • “Foolishness” is “bound up” in the heart, certainly among children (Prov. 22:15).
  • If alcohol becomes part of a person’s life, the heart may start to say strange things (Prov. 23:33).
  • 44:20, Jer. 17:9.
  • 4:6
  • The most important question anyone will ever ask us is this:
  • IS OUR HEART RIGHT WITH GOD?

*********************

El corazón (Joshua-Malaquías)

1) En Jos. 5: 1, “los corazones blandos» se encontraban en un estado de terror porque Dios había secado el río Jordán.
2) Si nuestro corazón espiritual no está bien w / Dios, el miedo y el terror resultará w / entrar en contacto con Dios.
3) Josh. 24:23; nos “inclinamos” nuestro corazón a Dios.
a) En Jue. 16 que tienen alguna información acerca de Samson y una mujer que deseaba.
b) Dalila dijo “corazón” de Sansón era “no está bien” con ella. No todos los corazones son “correctas”.

4) En Jue. 19: 5 leemos acerca de un “corazón fortalecido.”
5) son posibles (corazones “entristecido” entre el pueblo de Dios 1 Sam. 1: 8).
6) El hijo de Dios puede “regocijarse” en su corazón (1 Sam. 2: 1).

CUERPO:

1) 1 Sam. 13:14 – Aquí se nos dice que es posible tener un “corazón” como Dios.
2) Sin embargo elegimos vivir, Dios “miradas” en nuestro corazón y sabe qué es lo que hay (1 Sam. 16: 7).
3) Deidad sabe que algunos quieren un corazón “malo” (1 Sam. 17:28).
4) “hirió el corazón” de David le (1 Sam. 24: 5).
5) Podemos utilizar nuestro corazón a “despreciar” a otros (2 Sam. 6:16).
6) Se puede “tomar las cosas en serio” (2 Sam. 13:20)
7) Es posible tener un (corazón sabio), 1 Rey “entendimiento”. 3: 9, 12.
8) Es posible que tengamos un “anhelo” en el corazón (1 Rey. 3:26).
9) Si anhelos son malas, un corazón puede ser “se alejó” de lo que es correcto (1 Rey. 11: 2).
10) Dios dice que necesitamos un “tierno corazón” (2 Re. 22:19) que está “inclinado” a Dios.
11) 2 Cron. 30:19 habla de “establecer el corazón” para buscar a Dios.
12) Esdras (7:10) “preparado su corazón para inquirir la ley de Jehová y hacerlo”.
13) Debemos tener el lado derecho del corazón debido a Ps. 7:10 dice que Dios “salva a los rectos de corazón”.
14) En Ps. 14: 1 – “Dice el necio en su corazón: no hay Dios.”
15) Un poco más tarde (Sal. 19:14) la palabra “corazón” se junta con la palabra “meditación”.
16) Cuando nuestro corazón está bien, hay muchos beneficios, incluyendo sin “miedo” (Sal. 27: 3).
17) Se obtiene el lado derecho del corazón, poniendo “ley de Dios está en nuestro corazón” (Sal. 37:31).
18) Cuando nuestro corazón está bien, “justicia”, será en él (Sal. 40:10).
19) También vamos a tener un “corazón limpio” (Salmo 51:10) y un “corazón puro” (Sal 73:.. 1).
20) Dios quiere que “corregir” y “establecer” nuestro corazón en Él (Sal. 112: 7-8).
21) Prov. 04:23 dice “guarda tu corazón con toda diligencia” (guarda tu corazón).
22) El diablo quiere poner “perversidad” en el corazón (Pr 6:14).; No lo deje.
23) continuamente “unir” lo que es correcto para nuestros “corazones” (Prov. 6:21).
24) “La necedad” está “ligado” en el corazón, sin duda entre los niños (Prov. 22:15).
25) Si el alcohol se convierte en parte de la vida de una persona, el corazón puede empezar a decir cosas extrañas (Prov. 23:33).  26) Isa. 44:20, Jer. 17: 9.  27) Mal. 4: 6

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How to Study the Bible: Word Studies

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    Words are the basic building blocks of sentences. Just as atoms are the basic building blocks of elements and cells are the basic building blocks of organic tissue. I have said before that we communicate through sentences in paragraphs. But those paragraphs and sentences are broken up into words. Words have meaning. You cannot make a word mean anything you want it to mean; otherwise communication would be impossible.

So, it is important for us to consider the study of words and its importance in Bible study. Topical sermons – like on parenting or the church or the Holy Spirit – are largely word studies. You grab a concordance, find all the verses that mention “father” or “mother” or “son, daughter, child” and then you see what the Bible says about them. You can take a concordance and look up the word “Spirit” to see what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit. Of course, in this event, you would have to weed through all 611 verses in the Bible and see if the passage is talking about the Holy Spirit or man’s spirit.

PAY ATTENTION TO WORDS THAT ARE REPEATED:

If you were explaining to someone how to grill a hamburger, you would mention the meat several times. If you were explaining to someone how to build a playground set, you would use the word “wood” many times. If you were standing at an assembly line in a factory and explaining to your substitute how to perform your job, you would repeat certain actions or steps several times so that even someone who was blind would know what you were talking about. 

In the same way, when a biblical writer repeats himself, pay attention. The words themselves might not be hard to understand or theologically significant. But if the word is repeated, it has a bearing on your understanding of what is important in the context!

I offer Joshua 1 & 2 as “Exhibit A.” The word “give” is found in verses 1:2, 3, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15, 2:9, 14, 24. Do you think the fact that God has given the land to Israel is important to know as you begin the study of Joshua?

Turn over to Judges 1 (“Exhibit B”). Take a look at this phrase (again, the phrase is not hard to understand, no theologically significant words here): “could not drive out.” It is found in verses 19, 21, 27 (a synonymous phrase but different), 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33. “Could not drive out” – do you think that phrase has any bearing on our interpretation and view of the entire book of Judges?

Exhibit “C” – Take a look at Matthew 13. Please observe Jesus’ use of the verb “to hear:” Verses 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 43 (almost as a conclusion). The parable of the sower is in the middle of all that emphasis on “hearing.” Isn’t that the point of the parable? The message of the parable is not specifically on the seed (although that is important), nor on the sower (although he is important too). The emphasis is on the response of the soil. Rather than calling it the “Parable of the Sower,” it would be more accurate to call it the “Parable of the Soils.”

One more example (“Exhibit D”) from the New Testament. Look over at Romans 8. We could really take a step back and consider Romans 7. Take a look at Romans 7. Here are verses that use the word “death” or “die:” 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 (killed), 13 and now into Romans 8:1 (condemnation), 2, 4, 6, 7 (hostile), 10, 11, 13, 21 (corruption).

But, at the same time, we’ve got some other key words that are running through this text as well: “Law:” 7:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, 22, 23, 25, 8:2, 3, 4, 7. Law and death run rampant in chapter 7. Consider chapter 8: “flesh:” 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (body), 11, 12, 13, 23 (the conclusion!). Those are key words in chapters 7 & 8 and learning about those words will help us understand what Paul is talking about.

–Paul Holland

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The Name of God’s Assembly

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    Rather than dwelling in temples made by man’s hands, as He did in the Old Testament, in the New Covenant, God has chosen to dwell in temples not made by man’s hands. Today, He dwells in the hearts of humans who have submitted themselves to God and been cleansed of sin by the blood of His Son. When God dwells in the heart, He places His name there. Thus, disciples of Christ are most appropriately designated as “Christians” – followers of Christ. Other terms are used metaphorically to refer to Christians like brother and sister, friend, etc. But, no designation identifies a follower as clearly and as accurately as the name “Christian.” The name shows that God/Christ dwell in us; that they have authority over us; we belong to them. So, it is an honor to be called a Christian (1 Peter 4:16).

    When God chose to bring these Christians together into one group, He chose a word out of man’s vocabulary – ekklesia – to identify them. This word’s original meaning was “assembly.” In the Septuagint, it referred to the Jewish assembly. In the New Testament, it is the word translated church or assembly or even congregation at least 112 (NASV).

    Out of the 27 books of the New Testament, it is found in 17 of those writings. We see the secular meaning of the word (“assembly”) in Acts 19:32, 39, 41. In these verses, it denotes a civic assembly. We see the Jewish meaning in Acts 7:38 – the “congregation [NASV]” of Israel in the wilderness. But, of course, most often it refers to the aggregate body of Christians.

    The ekklesia that is in Christ is different than the ekklesia of civic matters or the ekklesia of the Jewish faith. This ekklesia, or assembly, bears the name, the character, the reputation of the God of heaven. “The congregation or Church of God always stands in contrast and even in opposition to other forms of society” (K. L. Schmidt in TDNT; III:505).

    The church is often identified by its location, such as the “churches of Galatia” (1:2) or the “church of the Thessalonians,” (1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1), that is, the church composed of Thessalonians. Relative to deity, the church is identified most often as “church of God” (11 times). It is never referred to as the “church of the Spirit” but it is designated once as the “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16). However, there are other passages that identify the church as “in Christ:” 1 Thess. 2:14; Gal. 1:22. I believe that Schmidt is correct when he writes: “in the Fourth Evangelist, ecclesiology is simply Christology, and vice versa” (512). I would argue it is true in the entire New Testament, not just the Gospel of John. That being the case, often when we find the expression “in Christ Jesus,” (over 100 times) indicating we are to see a reference to the ekklesia / assembly / church of Christ.

    Yet, in the context of Christian writings, “church” (even without the definite article, “the”) came to be used almost as a proper name (Schmidt, 506). At that time, it was not necessary to say which church. There was only one church and it was the church. It was the assembly that in all ways belonged to God/Christ. He was the owner. They submitted to His authority and they honored God/Christ through their worship, work, and daily lives. The church was understood / assumed to be of God, in Christ Jesus.

    There are obviously other metaphorical terms the New Testament writers used for the aggregate believers: family, flock, temple, body, etc. But God chose one designation to be used above all: ekklesia / church. It is found well over 100 times in the New Testament. But, no designation identifies an ekklesia as clearly and as accurately as the designation “church of God” or church of Christ.” Identifying the body as an assembly denotes the corporate nature of this body. What we do, we are to do together. Out of the 27 writings composing the New Testament, at least 17 of them are addressed to churches / ekklesia. It can be easily argued that others were as well (like the Gospel accounts and 1 & 2 Timothy & Titus).

    So the church of God in Christ Jesus is the corporate body which God has chosen to bear His name. That means this body / assembly belongs to God. It is under His authority. It honors Him as long as it submits to His will.

    Next time, we will consider one last thought: Men’s names for their churches.

–Paul Holland

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Imitating God

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Ephesians 5:1 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children”

As Christians, it is our duty to serve God with our lives and often times we see God as unreachable as he is truly out of reach of our comprehension. However, the Bible is His word and it is through it that we learn who He is.

In Paul’s address, he encourages Christians to imitate Christ. If we stop there, we may not be sure what exactly to imitate. God is who we worship; He is who our lives are for. So what do we imitate?

Three qualities we are going to look at that we as Christians can imitate are: how God is constant, how God is forgiving, and how God is loving.

CONSTANT:

In James 1:17 it says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,” and people usually stop right there but it continues and gets even better, “coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Not only are we as Christians comforted by the fact that all and only good things come from God but, that with every good gift and every perfect gift there is no change. God is constant. 1 Corinthians 12:5-6 expands on this.

In the body of Christ, we know there are many different roles that make up the body and regardless of what we do for the cause of Christ, it is God who empowers us to do everything we do. We also know from Hebrews 13:8 that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” How encouraging is it that our way, truth and light are constant? It is a quality that we should strive to imitate.

FORGIVING:

In Ephesians 1:7, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus about the second quality of God we are going to look at, saying, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Christ does more than we could ever wish and that is to forgive us.

Forgiveness is further demonstrated quite loudly in the parable of the unforgiving servant found in Matthew 18:21-35. We see in this parable a man who owes his ruler such a large amount of money that it would take lifetimes of labor to pay off, but the ruler forgives him of this debt and let’s him go. However, when a fellow servant owed him pennies compared to what he owed, and he does not repay the favor, the ruler calls him back.

At the end of the parable Jesus says, “Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

This parable does more than simply lay out a quality of God we need to imitate. It tells us that our God forgives us of anything when we come to Him and ask for forgiveness. But if we do not, in turn, imitate Him in doing so for those around us, we will not receive forgiveness. We should not and cannot hold grudges; we must forgive others of their trespasses. We know from the beatitudes that “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” We know he is merciful because of the love he has for us.

LOVING:

Love is most certainly the first quality society associates with God. We know that we love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).  Read Romans 8:35-39.

There are two points to take from this. First, God’s love is inseparable. This does not mean you cannot transgress His love. What this means is that so long as we are constant in the ways of Christ, we will never escape his love. The second aspect to take from this is that there will be hardships to come between us and God and if we trust in His love wholly, we will never be separated from it.

The Psalmist in psalm 136 really emphasized the quality of God and how his love is both merciful and constant. In the first two verses the psalmist says, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.” If you continue reading, every verse ends with “his steadfast love endures forever.” This technique used by the psalmist is to further emphasize the idea that God’s love does endure forever. But not just his love, but his steadfast, firm, unwavering love.

He is constant. His mercy is constant. His love is constant and merciful. We must imitate these qualities and many more. Despite those aspects of God though, we are human and we all fall short but assuming that “you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24).

–Zachary Rominske

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The Ultimate Icon: Human Evolution

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    Paleontology is the study of ancient man. It has been referred to as the most “subjective” of all the biological sciences. That is, there are more feelings and opinions in paleontology than hard facts. William Fix, a science writer, says: “one would have thought that the history of this field was an unbroken string of triumphant verifications; instead it is mostly a catalogue of fiascoes” (pg 4).

    Here are just two of the weaknesses in the current story of human evolution.

FOSSIL EVIDENCE IS TAINTED:

    Consider the “Piltdown Man” – Often times, scientists will say, “Science is self-correcting.” Yes it is, if you are open-minded, not blinded by ideology. But consider how many people were deceived by this fraud! It took 40 years for the truth to come to light!

    A very modern book I have just finished reading: Gap: The Science of What Separates Us from the Animals, published just in 2013, continues to use Java Man as an example of human evolution! (pg. 252). It was not very long after Java Man was discovered in the late 1800s that it was proven that the teeth and femur were human but the skullcap was of a monkey! Yet, “Java Man” is still be promulgated as a “link” in the chain of human evolution!

IS IT ART OR SCIENCE?

    The drawings of “ape-men” are an artist’s rendering. Do not let this point go in one ear and out the other! Evolutionist and anthropologist Frederick Hulse, who taught at Arizona State University at the time he wrote his textbook wrote in The Human Species: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology: “…the reconstruction of an entire animal from some small bony fragment is out of the question” (Hulse, 79). He continues: “At the same time, we must understand that reconstructions are exercises of the imagination and are therefore subject to any preconceptions in the mind of the reconstructor [sic]. Pictures of our own prehistoric ancestors, often used to illustrate books concerning them, can be dangerously misleading, for we know absolutely nothing about their pigmentation, the extent of the body hair, or the thickness of their lips” (80).

THE BIBLICAL ORIGIN OF MAN:

    If we are interested in what is truth, what corresponds to reality, then the Bible is the only source of information that corresponds to reality when it comes to the intricate nature and origin of the human being. Of course, Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

    With this history, both Jesus and other New Testament writers are in agreement. Jesus affirms that in the beginning, God made humankind both male and female (Matthew 19:4). They did not evolve; the reproductive organs did not evolve. They were all created and formed by God.

    Jesus affirms that Adam was the first man (Mark 10:6). There were no pre-human ape-like creatures. Adam is only five days younger than the earth itself. Did Adam live in a cave once he was expelled from the Garden of Eden? Likely. In a time before construction supplies were developed, mankind lived in caves. The first cave mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 19 when Lot lived in a cave when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Living in caves is no sign of a pre-historical man nor a sign of a shallow education or shallow knowledge.

    The apostle Paul also affirmed that Adam was the first man (1 Cor. 15:45) and Eve was the first woman (1 Tim. 2:13). So the New Testament writers are unanimous, including Jesus Himself, that the biblical account of creation found in Genesis is true and accurate history: the real origin of human beings.

    Scientists’ explanation of the origin of humans is full of gaps. Only the Bible gives an accurate description of the origin of humans. We are made in the image and likeness of the heavenly Father.

–Paul Holland

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