What Would You Give Up?

Vernon, Florida is a small town located in the state’s panhandle.  It, by reputation, is commonly called “Nub City.”  This moniker was earned in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  During this time the area was economically depressed.  It seems that some of its residents found a way to bring in money.  During this period, this town accounted for 2/3 of all insurance claims for dismemberment in the country.  This town, with a population which fluctuated between 500 and 800, had 50 citizens lose body parts.  There were hunting accidents, farming accidents, and home accidents of various kinds.  One source says, “Hard times have befallen the residents of countless American small towns, but few have fought back so boldly as many of the citizens of Vernon, Florida who found that severing their limbs could be even more lucrative than using them” (Vernon, Florida, atlasobscura.com).  To be fair, no one was ever convicted for insurance fraud.  However, many of the circumstances were suspicious (e.g. multiple insurance policies taken out shortly before the accident, one man had at least 28 policies, one victim had a tourniquet in his pocket at the time of his accident and happened to be driving his wife’s car which had an automatic transmission and not his truck with a manual transmission which he ordinarily used, etc.).  “Insurers took many of the Nub Club members to court.  The problem was convincing a jury that a man with any sense at all would have the gumption to aim a rifle at one of his appendages and pull the trigger” (‘Nub City’: Vernon, Florida’s Decade-Long Insurance Scam by Brooks Hays, mentalfloss.com).

The epidemic of accidents came to an end in the early 1960’s.  This coincided with insurance companies changing how they did business in the area.  Some raised premiums astronomically.  Others refused to do business in this area.

Many will go to great extremes for financial benefit; let us ask to what extent you would go to make it to heaven? Jesus sad, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you.  For it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).

No, this is not to be understood literally.  Who is tempted by the right eye and not the left (except a one-eyed person)?  Who is tempted by the right hand and not the left (except a one-handed person)?  Furthermore, sin is actually a product of the heart and mind (Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 23:7a; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 12:1-2).

The meaning is that we should seek to eliminate conduits of temptation and stumbling blocks from our lives, so far as possible (cf. Romans 13:14).  Albert Barnes comments, “His design was to teach that the dearest objects, if they cause us to sin, are to be abandoned” (Barnes Notes).  This might include “friends,” books, T.V. shows, certain music, internet surfing, the place one lives, or job.  Are we willing to pay the price?  The N.I.V. Study Bible comments, “Jesus is not teaching self-mutilation, for even a blind man can lust.  The point is that we should deal as drastically with sin as necessary.”  This is what is needed.   The E.S.V. Study Bible says of this context, “Jesus uses deliberate overstatement to emphasize the importance of maintaining exclusive devotion to one’s spouse.  Even things of great value should be given up if they are leading a person to sin.”  Are you willing to be a part of the Nub Club?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Does Your House Say About You?

Whether you realize it or not, your house, car, and personal items may reveal much about you.  Malcolm Gladwell writes, “Imagine that you are considering me for a job.  You’ve seen my resume and think I have the necessary credentials.  But you want to know whether I am a right fit or your organization.  Am I a hard worker?  Am I honest?  Am I open to new ideas?  In order to answer these questions about my personality, your boss gives you two options.  The first is to meet with me twice a week for a year – to have lunch or dinner or go to a movie with me – to the point you become one of my close friends… The second option is to drop by my house when I am not there and spend half an hour or so looking around.  Which would you choose?”  (Malcolm Gladwell, Blink, p. 34).  The writer suggests that the second option may be the better option.

Gladwell references an experiment by psychologist Samuel Gosling.  Eighty college students were used as subjects in the experiment.  First, close friends of each student answered a questionnaire rating their friend in five areas: 1.  Extraversion.  Are you sociable or retiring?  Fun-loving or reserved?  2.  Agreeableness.  Are you trusting or suspicious?  Helpful or uncooperative?  3.  Conscientiousness.  Are you organized or disorganized?  Self-disciplined or weak willed?  4.  Emotional stability.  Are you worried or calm?  5.  Openness to new experiences.  Are you imaginative or down-to-earth?  Independent or conforming?  Second, total strangers were given access to the student’s room, for fifteen minutes, and asked to complete the same questionnaire.  Here are the results: The close friends did better in the first two areas, and the total strangers did better in the last three areas.  “On balance, …the strangers ended up doing a much better job” (Gladwell, p. 36).

What information could be gathered from one’s dorm room?  “Gosling says… that a person’s bedroom gives three kinds of clues to his or her personality.  There are, first of all, identity claims, which are deliberate expressions about how we would like to be seen by the world: a framed copy of a magna cum laude degree from Harvard, for example.  Then, there is behavioral residue, which is defined as the inadvertent clues we leave behind: dirty laundry on the floor, for instance, or an alphabetized CD collection.  Finally, there are thoughts and feelings regulators, which are changes we make to our most personal spaces to affect the way we feel when we inhabit them: a scented candle in the corner, for example, or a pile of artfully placed decorative pillows on the bed… Just as important, though is the information you don’t have when you look through someone’s belongings… Most of us have difficulty believing that a 275-pound football lineman could have a lively and discerning intellect.  We just can’t get past the stereotype of the dumb jock.  But if all we saw of that person was his bookshelf or the artwork on his walls, we wouldn’t have the same problem” (Gladwell, pp. 37-38).

Let’s make application.  I am not concerned about what your personal space and possessions may indicate about your personality type; but I am concerned about what they may reveal about you (and me) spiritually.  Does your space reveal that you study your Bible?  Does your space reveal that you spend time in prayer (e.g. a prayer list)?  Does your space indicate that you love the brethren (e.g. cards addressed to others to encourage them)?  Does your space indicate worldliness?  Does your space indicate moral impurity or questionable behavior?

Regardless of what may be visible to human eyes, let us remember that God knows us completely.  David wrote, “O LORD, You have searched me and know me.  You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.  You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it all together” (Psalm 139:1-4). Proverbs declares, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jesus: The Son of God

Jesus is described as “the Son of God” about 30 times in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Mark’s account begins, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).  Demons, or unclean spirits, are recorded as using this phrase in addressing Jesus (Mark 3:11; 5:7).  Peter confessed of Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).  Jesus acknowledged the truth of Peter’s words (Matthew 16:17).  Jesus declared that he was the Son of God, to a healed man, who had been born blind (John 9:35-38).  A centurion, who witnessed the events connected with the cross, concluded, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:37-39 cf. Matthew 27:54).

What does this phrase mean?  It depends on the context.  This phrase is used in different ways in scripture.  (1) Sons of God is used of angels, or heavenly beings, it seems (Job 2:1).  Perhaps, this is because they are God’s creation (cf. Psalm 148:1—5; Nehemiah 9:6; Colossians 1:16).  Another possible explanation is that they are so called, because they serve God.  (2) Son of God is used of Adam (Luke 3:38).  He is called this, because he was created by God, not having an earthly father preceding him.  (3) Israel is called by God “My Son” (Exodus 4:22).  This is likely a reference to relationship, and care.  (4) Kings who came through the Davidic seed line, are sons of God (2 Samuel 7:12-16).  This is likely a reference to relationship, and care.  (5) Those in authority are called, “children of the Most High” (Psalm 82:6).  This is likely a reference to authority and position allowed by God on this earth (e.g. Exodus 7:1-2, Exodus 22:28; Ezekiel 31:11).  (6) Christians are called “sons of God” (cf. 1 John 3:1-2; Galatians 3:26-28).  The reference is to being a part of God’s spiritual family, and heirs of the good things to come (Romans 8:17).

In what way is Jesus the Son of God?  (1) He is the Son of God by birth.  The phrase is used in connection with Jesus’ birth (Luke 1:26-35).  This may be similar to how the phrase is used of Adam (Luke 3:38).  (2) He is the Son of God, being the object of God’s love and protective care.  Jesus is called God’s son, in the context of God’s protective care (Matthew 2:13-15).  [The words of Matthew 2:15 originally applied to God’s love and protective care of Israel (cf. Hosea 11:1-2).  The word “fulfilled” is used accommodatingly (see article: Prophecy: Fulfilled by B.H.)].  (3) He is the Son of God, in his submissive relationship on earth to God.  Children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1).  Jesus did this.  Consider these passages: (a) John 5:30, “I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me.”  (b) John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.”  (c) John 14:28, “My Father is greater than I.”  Guy N. Woods comments, “While here, in the flesh, he was in a subordinate position to the Father” (Guy N. Woods, The Gospel According to John, p. 318).  This subordination occurred in the incarnation (cf. Philippians 2:5-8).  I know of no clear passages which teaches this Father-Son relationship prior to the incarnation. Kevin Moore writes, “There are only three Old Testament allusions to Jesus as ‘son’ (Psalm 2:7,12; Daniel 7:13), all of which are predictive messianic prophecies” (Moore, Jesus Christ: the Son of God, kmooreperspective.blogspot.com). (4) He is the Son of God, in the sense that he is the Christ.  Notice how these terms appear together: (a) Peter confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).  (b) Martha confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27).  (c) The high priest demanded, “Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God!” (Matthew 26:26).  Jesus replied, “It I as you said” (Matthew 26:64).  (d) The rulers and the people, standing at the cross, said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Christ, the chosen of God” (Luke 23:35 cf. Matthew 27:39-43).  Notice that instead of the phrase “the Son of God” with “the Christ” as in other passages, it reads, “the Christ, the chosen of God.”  (e) Then, consider what Saul preached.  He proclaimed that Jesus is “the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).  He preached proving that Jesus is “the Christ” (Acts 9:22).  The terms seem to be equated.  (5) He is the Son of God, in the sense of being King.  Brad Bromling has written, “Historically the term had a royal connotation for many nations of the Ancient Near East.  It was commonplace for Egyptian, Babylonian, Canaanite, and Roman rulers to be called ‘Son of God'” (Bromling, What Does it Mean to say Jesus id “Son of God”?, apologeticspress.org). We have already pointed out that this phrase was used of the kings who descended from David (cf. 1 Samuel 7:12-16).  Hebrews 1:5a reads: “For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You’?”  This is a quotation from Psalm 2:7.  It concerns the coronation of a king (cf. Psalm 2:6-7).  This happened when Jesus was resurrected, begotten from the dead (cf. Acts 13:33-34).  Hebrews 1:5b reads, “And again, ‘I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a Son’?”  This is a quotation of 2 Samuel 7:14.  It concerns the kings who would descend through David (cf. 2 Samuel 7:12-16).  Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this (cf. Acts 13:33-34).

Is there another usage in some contexts?  (6) Some believe the “Son of God” is used at times in the sense of Jesus being of divine nature (Now, he certain is, whether or not this phrase is used in this way in the New Testament).  Remember, earlier in this series, we said that “son of…” can be used for being “of the order” (Zondervan’s Pictorial Dictionary, p. 805).  Consider: (a) John 5.  Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath (John 5:5-9).  Jesus angered certain Jews by doing this on the Sabbath (John 5:16).  Jesus told them, “My Father has being working until now, and I have been working” (John 5:17).  Then, we are told, “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was his father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18).  It is one thing to say that God can do something.  It is another thing to claim that same right.  Moreover, the way he used the term “father,” and equated his authority to do what he did with the Father’s authority, caused them to conclude that Jesus was claiming in some sense to be one with the Father (cf. John 10:28-33).  Was he?  Yes!  (cf. John 5:21-23).  To them, this was blasphemous.  Guy N. Woods comments, “He had thus far been to them merely a man who had broken the laws of the Sabbath; now, he appears before them as one claiming to be the Son of God in a fashion characteristic of no other and also equal with God” (Woods, pp. 100-101).  (b) Romans 1:3-4, “…Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”  Some believe that the phrase is used in this passage of “Christ” or “King.”  Other are convinced that it is being used Jesus’ divine nature (The Bible teaches this divine nature.  See: John 1:1 cf. 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:19; 2:9).  Regardless of how one understands this phrase, as it is used in Romans 1:3-4, known this: The resurrection of Jesus is set forth as “proof of his purity, innocence, and Divine approbation” (Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. 6, pp. 36-37).

Let us summarize.  The phrase, “the Son of God” is used in different ways, in different context.  It is used of Jesus’ relationship with God on earth (birth, protective care, submission).  It is used of Jesus being the chosen one of God (Christ, King).  It may or may not be used of divine nature (However, Jesus’ divine nature is taught in Scripture).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jesus: The Son of David

Jesus is described as “the Son of David,” or “David’s son,” or some equivalent, more than a dozen times in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Matthew’s account begins with the genealogy of Jesus, saying – “Jesus Christ, the Son of David” (Matthew 1:1).  He is recognized, as the son of David, by many, including: two blind men (Matthew 9:27); a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:22); two more blind men near Jericho (Matthew 20:30); multitudes (Matthew 21:9 cf. 12:22-23).

What does this phrase mean?  (1) It refers to fleshly genealogy.  “Jesus Christ our Lord, was born of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3).  It should be pointed out that the term “son” does not always refer to immediate off-spring.  It can refer to a more remote descendant in scripture {Matthew arranges Jesus’ genealogy, from Abraham to Jesus, into 3 groups of 14 generations.  Perhaps, he does so as a memory devise. The numeric value of the name David in Hebrew is 14. He lists 28 generations from David to Jesus.  [Four names are omitted from group two: Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, and Jehoiakim (cf. 1 Chronicles 3:10-16).  One name is counted twice.  Some believe that Jechoniah is counted in both group two and in group three.  Others believe that David is counted in both group one and in group two].  Luke follows a different genealogy list [Mary’s, I think, See: “Who’s Your Grandfather by B.H.].  He lists 76 generations from Adam to Jesus; 55 generations from Abraham to Jesus, 39 generations from David to Jesus}.  The Pharisees understood that the Christ was to be the son of David (Matthew 22:41-42).

(2) It, at times, may mean more.  (a) On one occasion, when Jesus had healed a demon-possessed, blind and mute man – the multitudes said, “Could this be the son of David?” (Matthew 12:22-23).  They had in mind the Christ (cf. John 7:31).  J.W. McGarvey comments, “It wakened the hope that Jesus might be the Messiah, the Son of David” (McGarvey, The Fourfold Gospel, p. 299).  William Wilder comments, “They saw Him fulfilling prophecy… He fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 35:5)” (ed. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, The Book of Matthew, Spiritual Sword Lectureship, p. 356).  (b) Later, when Jesus entered Jerusalem the multitudes cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).  This is a reference to Psalm 118:26.  “Hosanna” means “Save we pray.”  However, “the word seems to have become an utterance of praise rather than of prayer” (Vine’s).  They saw Jesus as Savior.  This is Messianic.  Luke’s account reads, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38).  Mark’s account reads, “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:10).  Wayne Jackson comments, “They hailed the coming kingdom (Mark 11:10), though they doubtless perceived it as a political entity at the time” (Wayne Jackson, A New Testament Commentary, p. 48).  Notice that the context concerns a king and a kingdom.

(3)  It involved more than the understood.  Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ?  Whose son is He?”  They answered “The son of David.” (Matthew 22:42).  He then asked, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying ‘The LORD said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’?  If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?  (Matthew 22:43-45).   Jesus quoted from Psalm 110:1.  They were not able to answer this question (Matthew 22:46).  Wayne Jackson provides this answer, “As a human being, Jesus was David’s son.  As a divine being, he was David’s ‘Lord.’  He is the God-Man (John 1:1, 14)” (Jackson, p. 54).

Let us summarize.  His earthly genealogy is in view.  Moreover, Christology is in view.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jesus: The Son of Man

Jesus is described as “the son of man” over 80 times in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Most of the time, with only a couple of exceptions, Jesus is the one who used this phrase.  Moreover, he was using this phrase to describe himself (e.g. Mark 2:10; John 3:14; Matthew 16:13).

What does this phrase mean?  (1) It refers to his humanity.  (a) Psalm 8:4 reads, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him?”  Notice the parallelism.  “Man” is parallel with “the son of man.”   This parallel is found in many Old Testament passages (e.g. Number 23:19; Job 16:21; 25:6; 35:8; Psalm 80:17; 144:3-4; Isaiah 51:12; 56:2; Jeremiah 49:18, 33; 50:40; 51:43).  (b) Others are referred to as “son of man.”  Ezekiel is referred to by this phrase over 90 times in the book of Ezekiel.  Daniel is referred to this way once in the book of Daniel.  This is done to emphasize their humanity, and relationship to God and man (cf. Ezekiel 3:17-19).  (c) The words “son of…” sometimes refers to being “of the order of” (Zondervan’s Pictorial Dictionary, p. 805) or “membership in a class or guild” (I.S.B.E. Vol. 4, p. 2826).  It is used of: one who is a perfumer, Nehemiah 3:8, see NKJV fn; one of the goldsmiths, Nehemiah 3:31; those who are singers, Nehemiah 12:28; a prophet or one associated with a prophet, Amos 7:14.

Jesus was fully human.  He grew tired and needed sleep (John 4:6; Mark 4:38).  He experienced hunger and thirst (Matthew 4:2; John 4:6-7; 19:28).  He was tempted (Mark 1:13; Hebrews 4:15).  He even tasted death (Hebrews 2:9).

(2) More may be intended.  He was the promised human.  He was the promised seed (Genesis 3:15; 12:3; 22:18).  This son of man was written of in scripture aforetime.  Jesus said, “The son of man indeed goes just as it is written of Him…” (Matthew 26:24).  It was foretold that a man would come, who would suffer for us (Isaiah 53).  Moreover, one like the son of man would go to the Ancient off Days and would be given an everlasting kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14 cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33, 36).  Remember that Jesus came in the likeness of man (Romans 8:3; Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 2:17).

Let us summarize.  His humanity is in view.  “ ‘Son of man’ seems to mean essentially, man, a distinct member of the order of humanity” says Zondervan’s Pictorial Dictionary (p. 805).  However, more may be intended.  He is the one prophesied of in scripture.  He is the promised one.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ghosting (Don’t Ghost Me)

Are you familiar with this word, and its modern usage?  I was not, until recently.  What does the word mean?  Here are some definitions – Psychology Today: “Ghosting… is having someone that you believe cares about you, whether it be a friend or someone you are dating, disappear from contact without any explanation at all” (This Is Why Ghosting Hurts So Much by Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., physchologytoday.com).  Urban Dictionary: “When a person cuts off all communication with their friends or the person they’re dating, with zero warning or notice before hand” (urbandictionary.com).  Wikipedia: “Ghosting is breaking off a relationship… by ceasing all communication and contact with the former partner without apparent warning or justification, as well as ignoring the former partner’s attempts to reach out or communicate” (Wikipedia.org).

Let’s consider some who have been ghosted:

1.  Employers. 

Some feel no sense of responsibility to an employer.  They, without notice, cease showing up for work.  In some cases, they leave their employers short-handed and in a difficult situation (cf. Proverbs 25:19).

I remember being taught to offer an employer at least two weeks’ notice.  Some positions need even more notice.

Are there Biblical principles to consider?  I believe that there are.  Consider: “Therefore, what you want men to do to you, do also to them… (Matt. 7:12); “having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that… they may by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12); “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

2.  Those Dated.

Some feel no sense of responsibility to those whom they date.  Jennice Vilhaver has written, “Ghosting isn’t new – people have long done disappearing acts – but years ago this kind of behavior was limited to a certain type of scoundrel.  In today’s dating culture being ghosted is a phenomenon that approximately 50 percent of men and women have experienced… Despite ghosting’s commonality, the emotional effects can be devastating, and particularly damaging to those who already have fragile self-esteem… ghosting can result in feelings of being disrespected, used and disposable” (psychologytoday.com).

Why do people ghost?  “People who ghost are primarily focused on avoiding their own emotional discomfort and they aren’t even thinking about how it makes the other person feel” (ibid).  In other words, they are selfish.

Are there Biblical principles?  I believe that there are.  “Therefore, what you want men to do to you do also to them… (Matthew 7:12).  “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).  Remember that this other person was made in the similitude of God (cf. James 3:9).

3.  Friends.

Some feel no sense of responsibility to friends.  They are “fair-weathered friends.”  They lack loyalty.

 Are there Biblical principles to consider?  I believe that there are.  “Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend…” (Proverbs 27:10).  Friends should try to make each other better (cf. Proverbs 27:17).  “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them…” (Matthew 7:12).

4.  Families.

Some feel no sense of responsibility to family.  They are “fair-weathered” family members.  They are not loyal.  They are not long-suffering or forgiving.  Husbands and wives, fathers and mothers walk away.  Think Kenny Rogers’ song, “You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille, with four hungry children and a crop in the field” (Song: Lucille by Kenny Rogers).  Children neglect and forsake parents.

Are there Biblical principles to consider?  I believe that there are.  There should be loyalty in marriage.  “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).  There are responsibilities that should be considered.  Husbands and wives have responsibilities (e.g. Colossians 3:18-19).  Fathers and mothers have responsibilities (e.g. Colossians 3:21; Titus 2:5).  Children are to honor father and mother (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-2; Mark 7:9-12).  I find only one exception to this (cf. Acts 4:19; 5:29).  Love is need (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).  Forgiveness is needed (Colossians 3:12-13).  Esau (Genesis 33), Joseph (Genesis 45, 50), and the father in the parable of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15) are great examples of how reconciliation should occur in families.

5.  Brethren.

Some feel no sense of responsibility to their brethren.  Others should serve them; they do not serve.  If another upsets them, they quickly sever the relationship and avoid contact with the person.

Are there Biblical principles to consider?  I believe that there are.  We have responsibilities to one another (John 13:14; Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; James 5:19-20).  We are to be helping one another to heaven.  We are brothers and sisters in Christ.  Moreover, when offenses occur, both the offender and the offended have a responsibility to seek reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24; Matthew 18:15-17).  We are told, “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, longsuffering; bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

6.  The Church.

Some have no sense of responsibility or loyalty to the church, especially the local church.  They have the consumer mentality.  The church is there for them.  They do not see themselves as part of the church.  If something happens or is said that they disagree with, or do not like, they leave without a word, never to return.  Problems and misunderstandings are not worked through, and discussed; they simply leave.  Such instability hurts the church, and does not help bring about spiritual maturity.

Are there Biblical principles to consider?  I believe that there are.  The local church should work together as one body (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12).  Each member should function as part of the body, not separate from it.  Members of the body should seek to build up the body in love (Ephesians 4:16).  Moreover, we should not hastily give up on each other.  Paul did not hastily give up on the church at Corinth.  He reasoned with them.  He corrected them.  He did not ghost them.  He care too much to do that.  Furthermore, if something is done or said that is considered to be wrong, there is a way to deal with such (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Jude 3).  Ghosting is not the answer.  Love demands more.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Easter, a Special Holy Day?

Some people avoid any connection with Easter.  It is to them an unauthorized special holy day at best, and a pagan holiday at worst.

Some people place special emphasis on Easter Sunday.  They attend the worship assembly, when they ordinarily do not.  (Preachers sometimes speak of C.E.O. members and C.M.E. members.  C.E.O. members attend on Christmas and Easter only.  C.M.E. members add Mother’s Day.  I hope that you are not this type of member.  However, Easter Sunday does typically draw larger than average crowds to many local churches).  They dress in new clothes.

How should Christians view this day?  Should it be treated as a special holy day?

What is the origin of Easter?  (1) Many believe that it has roots in paganism.  The New Book of Knowledge says, “Easter is believed to have taken its English name from the Teutonic Festival celebrating the return of spring each year, which was called Eostur” (1985, Vol. 5, p. 35).  The Australian Broadcast Corporation says, “Easter actually began as a pagan festival celebrating spring in the Northern Hemisphere, long before the advent of Christianity… in English – speaking countries… Easter takes its name from Anglo-Saxon England… Eostre was the goddess of spring and renewal… in Germany the festival is called Ostern (Origin of Easter by Penny Travers, abc.net.au).  It is suggested that some of the traditions long pre-date Christianity.  The New Book of Knowledge says, “The custom of a sunrise service on Easter Sunday can be traced to ancient spring festivals that celebrated the rising sun… one of the best-known Easter symbols is the egg, which has symbolized renewed life since ancient days… The Persians and the Egyptians also colored eggs and ate them during their new year’s celebration, which came in the spring” (p. 35-36).  The Easter bunny may also come from paganism.  Time Magazine says, “The exact origins of the Easter bunny are clouded in mystery.  One theory is that the symbol of the rabbit stems from pagan tradition, specifically the festival of Eostre – a goddess of fertility whose animal symbol was a bunny.  Rabbits, known for their energetic breeding, have traditionally symbolized fertility (What’s the Origin of the Easter Bunny? By Alexandra Sifferlin, time.com).  (2) It may also have a root in Judaism.  The New Book of Knowledge says, “The French word for Easter, Paques, the Italian Pasqua, and the Spanish Pascua all came from the Hebrew word Pesah, a Jewish Feast celebrated on the night of the first full moon in the spring season.  The Feast of Pesah (in English, Passover) marks the freedom of the ancient Israelites from the Egyptians, who had enslaved them” (ibid).   (3) This day has become connected with Jesus.  Jesus’ tomb was found empty on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1-ff; Mark 16:1-ff; Luke 24:1-ff; John 20:1-ff), following the Passover (Matthew 26:2, 17, 18, 19; Mark 14:1, 12, 14, 16; Luke 22:1, 7, 8, 11, 13, 15; John 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:28, 39; 19:14).  It is theorized by some that ancient traditions were re-purposed.  It is not difficult to see how the egg could come to symbolize hope and rebirth.  It is said that some ancient writers (e.g. Pliny the Elder) thought that rabbits could reproduce without mating, and therefore it was associated with Mary (The Surprising Origin of the Easter Bunny, catholic.org).  The wearing of new clothes on Easter is thought by some to represent a new life in Christ (Now Easter Finery has Deeper Meaning by Carla Hinton, newsok.com).  This appears to be a unique tradition in Christianity.

There are those who argue that Easter has no pagan roots at all.  I have not been convinced.

There was an early controversy in church history, known as the Paschal controversy. The controversy arose after the second century.  Some churches in the east, particularly in Asia Minor, wanted to observe Easter on the same day, Nisan 14th, that the Jewish Passover occurred.  “They began a fast on the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month, the day of the crucifixion – and then celebrated the resurrection three days later.  This made Easter fall on different days of the week” (F.W. Mattox, The Eternal Kingdom p. 121).  Some churches in the west insisted that Easter should only be observed on the first day of the week.  The council of Nicea in 325 decreed that Easter should be observed on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox (For more info see: Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 404-ff; Paschal Controversies, Britannica.com).  The Roman Catholic church and the Orthodox church have different dates for Easter.  This difference is due to calendars used.  The Roman Catholics use the Gregorian calendar.  The Orthodox church has remained with the Julian calendar (Calculating the Easter Date, timeanddate.com).  These controversies are needless.  The Bible never instructs us to observe Easter.

How should the Christian view Easter?  (1) As a pagan holiday?  I know of no one who is trying to worship Eostre, or any other god.  Intent matters.  (2) As a Jewish holiday?  Paul wrote, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).  (3) As a special holy day?  There is no indication in Scripture that there is to be an annual special holy day called Easter.  We read, “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).  It was “on the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7).  Every week has a first day.  If you come on “Easter Sunday” we are glad to see you.  However, we would encourage you to be with us for worship each and every first day.

Is there anything wrong with egg hunts and chocolate bunnies?  I do not believe that there is.  There is nothing inherently wrong with these things.  No one to my knowledge is in worship of a pagan god.  It is more of a seasonal holiday to celebrate the coming of spring, and playtime with the young.  If these things bother your conscience, then I suggest you avoid them (Romans 14:23).  However, be cautious not to bind this on others who consider it nothing but harmless fun.

Is there anything wrong with telling our children about the resurrection on this occasion?  Certainly not.  He was “raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25 E.S.V.).  God has “begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3 cf. 3:21); without this we have no hope (1 Corinthians 15).

Doesn’t the Bible mention Easter?  The word “Easter” appears once in the K.J.V. in Acts 12:4.  The reference is to the Jewish Passover.  Herod certainly was not observing an Easter that celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.  The Greek word Pascha appears 29 times in the New Testament.  28 of these times the K.J.V. renders it “Passover.”  Why the K.J.V. rendered it “Easter” in this one passage is unknown.  Robert Taylor Jr. writes, “It is interesting to observe that the Oxford Universal Dictionary on Historical Principles says that Easter referred to ‘The Jewish Passover – 1611’ (p. 579).  The Greek word is Pascha and refers to the Passover feast or the days of unleavened bread.  The context makes this crystal clear” (Taylor, Challenging Dangers of Modern Versions, p. 123).

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments