THE LAW: A Muslim Student Challenges Ravi Zacharias

A Muslim student at Michigan University challenges Ravi Zacharias on Christianities seemingly lack of ability in keeping the “law” like Islam and Judaism do so well. How can Christianity be true if it isn’t doing that which God demands? (I have recently enhanced, greatly, the audio in the file from my original VIMEO upload… and reconfigured slightly the visual presentation.)

Grace and Truth as Tools To Healing Christians Broken Lives

A first chapter from a book I thoroughly enjoyed and helped me deal with me.

Here is a downloadable PDF.


[p.17>] Once upon a time in a faraway galaxy, there was a highly advanced people. They had everything they could ever desire: technology to solve every problem, and more leisure than we get in a lifetime. But they were bored. Bored to tears. They needed something new—something exciting—to liven up their planet.

A committee was established to look into the matter. They discussed coming up with a new sport. Or developing a new amusement park. Finally, an alien named Beezy proposed the winning idea.

“How about creating a god?” he suggested.

Everyone agreed it was a wonderful idea. “It will give our people something to do on Sunday,” one said. “And it will be great for conversations,” said another.

So they tried to invent a god. But to no avail. Beezy, who had been placed in charge of the research and development of a new god, called all the committee members together.

“Look, this just isn’t working,” he said. “What good is a god we can invent ourselves? We’re smart enough to know that’s not a real god. Why don’t we find us a god instead—like that God the earthlings worship?”

The committee agreed, and soon afterward Beezy took a business trip to the Planet Earth. Under his invisible cloak, he visited dozens and dozens of churches and religious institutions. He took copious notes and spent hours writing up his report.

When he returned, the committee gathered, eager to hear of his findings. “Fellow aliens,” he greeted them. “I have returned not with one god, but with two.”

A gasp of astonishment rippled through the room.

“The name of the first god, or should I say goddess, is Grace. A [p.18>] very attractive goddess she is. She talked about love often. ‘Get along, be friends, be nice,’ she’d say. ‘And if you can’t be good, I’ll forgive you anyway.’ ” Beezy looked perplexed. “The only thing is, I’m not sure what she would forgive, since they didn’t seem to have any rules to break.”

Beezy went on. “I especially liked the things the followers of Grace did, like feeding poor people and visiting prisoners in jail. However”—he shook his head—”these followers of Grace seemed so lost. They kept doing the same bad things over and over, and they never seemed to know where they were going.

“Then there’s the other god.” Beezy took a deep breath. “This god is definitely a man, and his name is Truth. Truth is just as mean as Grace is nice. He kept telling the people all sorts of things about them that made them feel very bad, and his followers did the same thing. But there’s a good side to Truth,” Beezy reassured the committee. “He campaigns against some very nasty enemies, such as lying, cheating, adultery, abortion, and drunkenness. He’s like a big religious street sweeper, sweeping away all his enemies. The only trouble is, he not only sweeps away bad things; he also sweeps away the people who do the bad things. As for the smiles you see on the followers of Grace—forget it. All Truth’s followers do is scowl and scream.”

Needless to say, after hearing Beezy’s report, the committee were ready to opt for the new amusement park because they didn’t like either god. But Beezy had one last suggestion.

“We have all this wonderful technology for mixing repelling elements, like oil and water,” he said. “How about if we try mixing Grace and Truth?”

GRACE AND TRUTH DIVIDED

Our God is a God “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). We often hear the phrase “full of grace and truth,” but we rarely stop and realize its implications for our struggles here on earth. What are grace and truth? Why are they so important?

Let’s take grace first. Grace is the unmerited favor of God toward people. Grace is something we have not earned and do not deserve. As Frederick Buechner says, “Grace is something you can never get but only be given. There’s no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.”‘

To put it another way, grace is unconditional love and acceptance. Such love is the foundation upon which all healing of the human spirit [p.19>] rests. It is also the essence of God. “God is love,” writes the apostle John (1 John 4:8). And God loves us freely, without condition.

The Bible itself does not clearly distinguish between grace and love. As the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia comments, “Love stresses God’s personal disposition toward unworthy creatures, while grace stresses his freedom from obligation in saving them. But the distinction is not clearly nor consistently made. Both love and grace come to us through Christ (Rom. 5:8; Gal. 1:6). And both are unique in that they are undeserved.”

Grace is the first ingredient necessary for growing up in the image of God. Grace is unbroken, uninterrupted, unearned, accepting rela­tionship. It is the kind of relationship humanity had with God in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were loved and provided for. They knew God’s truth, and they had perfect freedom to do God’s will. In short, they were secure; they had no shame and anxiety. They could be who they truly were.

Perhaps you have experienced this kind of love and grace with someone. You can be exactly who you are. You do not need to hide your thoughts or feelings; you do not need to perform; you do not need to do anything to be loved. Someone knows the real you, and loves you anyway.

Grace, then, is the relational aspect of God’s character. It shows itself in his unconditional connection to us. The first “god” Beezy discovered had this characteristic: Grace was a goddess of compassion and relationship. Her followers did all sorts of loving things for one another; they gave of themselves freely. They tried to connect with people who were in pain and to help them out of their pain. They lived in togetherness.

Those who worshiped Grace had only one problem: they heard little truth spoken. As a result, they continued to fall into bad situations that required more and more grace. It’s not that the goddess Grace minded giving more. Grace’s grace had no limit. However, Grace’s followers needed direction to keep them from falling into the same old patterns over and over again. They needed guidance to steer them away from trouble.

This is where Truth comes in. The second god that Beezy found was very good at setting limits on bad behavior. He gave his followers lots of direction; he told them exactly what they could do and what they could not do. They knew clearly the difference between what was right and what was wrong, what was good and what was not good. They had firm boundaries about where they could play and where they could not.

Truth is the second ingredient necessary for growing up in the image of God. Truth is what is real; it describes how things really are. [p.20>]

Just as grace is the relational aspect of God’s character, truth is the structural aspect of his character. Truth is the skeleton life hangs upon; it adds shape to everything in the universe. God’s truth leads us to what is real, to what is accurate. Just as our DNA contains the form that our physical life will take, God’s truth contains the form that our soul and spirit should take.

All of this sounds wonderful, but as was the case with Grace, Truth had his own problems. He was mean. He didn’t seem to care about the people who were violating his standards. All he cared about was wiping out the bad. He had none of the compassion Grace demonstrated; at times he seemed downright uncaring. In short, he had no relational aspects: he lacked forgiveness, favor, mercy, compassion—all of the attributes that flowed freely from Grace. If people failed, he just threw them out, or yelled at them.

As Grace left Beezy wanting structure, Truth left Beezy wanting love.

All of us, to some degree, have experienced these two gods—the loving one for whom anything goes and the hard one who lets nothing slide. As you have probably already realized, these two gods are aspects of the one true God’s nature, aspects that different churches emphasize. What you may not realize is that these different “gods” are really symbols of the human condition after the fall, when sin ripped grace and truth apart.

TRUTH WITHOUT GRACE

When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they had both grace and truth united in one God. When they sinned, they drove a wedge between themselves and God; they lost their grace-filled and truthful relationship with God.

Without grace, Adam and Eve felt shame: when they heard God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, they hid from him. When God calls out, “Where are you?” Adam explains that he was hiding because he was afraid (Gen. 3:8-10). Shame and guilt had entered the world; human beings were no longer safe.

After Adam and Eve cut themselves off from a relationship with God, they also severed their connection to grace and truth, for those come through relationship with God. However, God did not let them stay isolated for long. Seeing Adam and Eve in their lost state, he decided to give them direction; he gave them truth in the form of the [p.21>] law. The law is a blueprint, or a structure, for people to live by. It offers them guidance, and it sets limits for them.

There was only one problem: God gave them truth without grace. Adam and Eve had to try to live up to God’s standards. They soon learned that they could never measure up. No matter how hard they tried to perform, they would always come up short. Truth without grace is judgment. It sends you straight to hell, literally and experientially.

Paul writes to the Romans about truth without grace—the law—and the things it does to us:

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (3:19-20)

Law brings wrath. (4:15)

The law was added so that the trespass might increase. (5:20)

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. (7:5)

Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. (7:9-10)

And to the Galatians Paul writes:

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (3:10)

We were held prisoners by the law. (3:23)

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (5:4)

And James gives us this discouraging bit of news:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (2:10) [p.22>]

When we look at what the Scripture says about the law, about truth without grace, we see that the law silences us, brings anger, increases sin, arouses sinful passions, brings death, puts us under a curse, holds us prisoner, alienates us from Christ, and judges us harshly. No wonder Beezy did not like Truth!

The law without grace destroys us. No one ever grows when they are under the law, for the law put us into a strictly legal relationship with God: “I’ll love you only if you do what is true or right.” Getting truth before grace, or truth before relationship, brings guilt, anxiety, anger, and a host of other painful emotions, as this story of Ruth shows.

Ruth’s missionary father had insisted that his twenty-two-year-old daughter come to see me. Ruth, a college student, was suffering from depression. She had no appetite and had trouble sleeping and studying. Her father accompanied her to the appointment.

“What’s the problem?” I asked Ruth, after we had chatted for a few minutes. But it was her father who responded.

“Well, it’s pretty obvious,” he said, folding his arms across his chest. “She’s not living like she should.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“She’s doing drugs and sleeping around,” he said with disgust. “Plus she’s flunking out of college, and she has no idea what she wants to do with her life.” Before I could ask another question, he continued, “If she read her Bible and went to church, she wouldn’t be so depressed. But all she wants to do is hang around those reprobate friends of hers.”

“What would happen if she began to do all of the things you think she should?” I asked.

“Well, then she would be happy like her mother and I, and the Lord would bless her.”

I could see that I was not going to get very far with Ruth’s father, so I thanked him for his information and asked if I could talk with Ruth alone.

When her father had left, Ruth was still hesitant to talk. She refused to answer any of my questions with more than a yes or no. Finally I said, “Ruth, I think if I had to live with your father, I’d take drugs too. Does his attitude have anything to do with your discourage­ment?”

Ruth nodded. Her eyes filled with tears.

“You are an adult and this is an adults’ hospital,” I said, “I don’t see that you are in any danger to yourself or anyone else, so you are free to go. But before you leave, let me tell you what I think is going on. [p.23>]

“I don’t know all of the story, but I can tell that you’re very depressed, and I don’t think it is because you aren’t doing the things your father thinks you should do. I think there are other reasons, very good, logical reasons, that he doesn’t understand. If you would like to stay, I think we can help you to feel better. If you do stay, though, it will have to be your choice, not his. If he’s upset about something, he can get help for himself.”

Ruth sat stiffly in her chair, staring at me through her tears. “I’ll leave you alone a few minutes to think about it,” I said.

Ruth did decide to check in, and what I had suspected was true. Ruth had had many years of “truth without grace.” As a result, she was experiencing the things the Bible says the law produces: bad feelings and failure. Everywhere she turned, she ran into some “should,” and very little acceptance. The law of sin and death had taken its toll on her, and it was a painful struggle for her to break free of its grip.

As I watched her struggle, I could not help thinking back to what the Bible says about truth without grace: it silences us, brings anger, increases sin, arouses sinful passions, brings death, puts us under a curse, holds us prisoner, alienates us from Christ, and judges us harshly.

GRACE WITHOUT TRUTH

Truth without grace is deadly, but as Beezy discovered, grace without truth leads to less than successful living as well. In Grace’s church, Beezy saw people who were loving, but directionless. In actuality, Grace was not this goddess’s real name. In the same way that Truth (without grace) can be called Judgment, Grace (without truth) can be named License. The Scriptures write about her also:

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature. (Gal. 5:13)

The acts of sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunk­enness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19-21)

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Rom. 6:15-16) [p.24>]

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Col. 3:5)

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, carousing, and detestable idolatry. (1 Peter 4:3)

He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored. (Prov. 13:18)

In the same way that Ruth’s home—one of truth without grace—had led to negative consequences, a home of “grace without truth” can also have devastating results.

Sam was admitted into our hospital program after an accidental drug overdose. He had neglected to keep track of how much cocaine he was snorting. Although Sam was twenty-eight, he dressed like a teenager—torn jeans, a faded Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt, and high-top tennis shoes with the laces untied.

In the first few sessions we discovered that, although Sam had a genius IQ, he had flunked out of two colleges and had never been able to hold down a job. His relational life was equally troubled. He would totally lose himself in a relationship and recklessly abandon the rest of his responsibilities. In the process, he would smother whomever he was dating and scare her away. At the time he was admitted, his latest girlfriend had just left him.

When we asked Sam about his family, he told us that his father had died when Sam was four. Depressed and withdrawn for many years, his mother had never remarried. In an attempt to make up for the loss of their father, she had tried to be as nice to her children as possible. To hear Sam tell it, he had lived “the life of Riley.” He had had few responsibilities and plenty of money. His mother had rarely disciplined him when he got into trouble. In fact, several times she had bailed him out of jail when he had been arrested for shoplifting, disorderly conduct, and drug possession.

At first, Sam’s lifelong patterns continued at the hospital unit: he would sleep late, miss activities, forget assignments, and fail to groom himself properly. The lack of limits in his life—the lack of truth and discipline—had led to a chaotic lifestyle.

The hospital staff, however, refused to protect Sam from the consequences of his actions as his mother had. Sam learned, after some strong guidance and painful confrontations, to fulfill his responsibilities. [p.25>]

And, to his surprise, he discovered that he felt much better about life when he was pulling his own weight.

The Bible doesn’t commend either one of Beezy’s gods: Truth apart from Grace, nor Grace apart from Truth. Beezy’s final suggestion was a good one: how about mixing Grace and Truth together? He wasn’t the first to think of this: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:14, 16-17, italics mine).

This passage shows both how people fail and how they are redeemed. Failure comes through the law, and redemption through Jesus. It is only through him that we can realize two ingredients of growth: grace and truth. It is through him that we can come back into the same relationship Adam had: an unbroken connection (grace) to the One who is reality (truth).

We have seen the destruction that occurs when grace and truth are divided. Let’s look at what happens when grace and truth get together.

GRACE AND TRUTH TOGETHER

Grace and truth together reverse the effects of the fall, which were separation from God and others. Grace and truth together invite us out of isolation and into relationship. Grace, when it is combined with truth, invites the true self, the “me” as I really am, warts and all, into relationship. It is one thing to have safety in relationship; it is quite another to be truly known and accepted in this relationship.

With grace alone, we are safe from condemnation, but we cannot experience true intimacy. When the one who offers grace also offers truth (truth about who we are, truth about who he or she is, and truth about the world around us), and we respond with our true self, then real intimacy is possible. Real intimacy always comes in the company of truth.

Jesus’ treatment of the adulterous woman in John 8:3-11 provides a wonderful example of safety and intimacy:

Jesus had gone to the temple at dawn to teach the people. He had just sat down when the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in an adulterous woman and made her stand before the group.

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery,” they said. “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do [p.26>] you say?” The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus. The Romans did not allow the Jews to carry out the death sentence, so if Jesus said, “Stone her,” he would be in conflict with the Romans. If he said, “Don’t stone her,” he could be accused of undermining Jewish law.

But Jesus refused to fall into their trap. He bent down, and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he stood up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

When they heard his answer, they began to slink away, one by one. Soon Jesus was left alone with the woman. He asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

In this one encounter, Jesus shows what it means to know grace and truth in him. He offered this woman grace in the form of forgiveness and acceptance. He said, in effect, that she did not have to die for her sin. She was accepted and did not have to be separated from him. He also showed the power of grace as an agent to end separation from her fellow human beings as well. The Pharisees were no different from her: she was a sinner, and they were sinners. Jesus even invited the Pharisees to commune with her as a member of the human race, an invitation they declined. Grace has the power to bring us together with God and with others, if others will accept it.

But Jesus did not stop with just acceptance. He accepted her with full realization of who she was: an adulteress. He accepted her true self, a woman with sinful desires and actions. He then gives her direction for the future: “Go now and leave your life of sin.” These two ingredients together—acceptance and direction—serve to bring the real self into relationship, the only way that healing ever takes place.

Jesus said it in another way in John 4:23-24: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (italics mine). We must worship God in relationship and in honesty, or we do not worship him at all. The sad thing is that many of us come to Christ because we are sinners, and then spend the rest of our lives trying to prove that we are not! We try to hide who we really are.

THE REAL SELF VERSUS THE FALSE SELF

When the real self comes into relationship with God and others, an incredible dynamic is set into motion: we grow as God created us to [p.27>] grow. It is only when you are connected to the Head (Jesus Christ) and connected to others (the Body) that “the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow” (Col. 2:19). A coming together of grace and truth in Jesus Christ is our only hope, and indeed it is a hope that does not disappoint.

Jake, a friend of mine and a recovering alcoholic, put it this way:

“When I was in church or with my Christian friends, they would just tell me that drinking was wrong and that I should repent. They didn’t know how many times I had tried quitting, how many times I had tried to be a good Christian.

“When I got into Alcoholics Anonymous, I found that I could be honest about my failures, but more important, I could be honest about my helplessness. When I found out that God and others accepted me in both my drinking and my helplessness to control it, I began to have hope. I could come forth with who I really was and find help.

“As much as the church preached grace, I never really found acceptance there for my real state. They always expected me to change. In my AA group, not only did they not expect me to change, they told me that, by myself, I could not change! They told me that all I could do was confess who I truly was, an alcoholic, and that God could change me along with their daily support. Finally, I could be honest, and I could find friends. That was totally different, and it changed my life.”

Jake found that when he could be himself in relationship with God and others, healing was possible. Problems occur when the real self, the one God created, is hiding from God and others.

If the true self is in hiding, the false self takes over. The false self is the self that is conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2). The false self is the self we present to others, the false front, if you will, that we put up for others to see. Paul speaks of the false self this way:

You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. (Eph. 4:20-25)

As long as the lying, false self is the one relating to God, others, and ourselves, then grace and truth cannot heal us. The false self tries to “heal” us by its own methods; it always finds false solutions, and the [p.28>] real self that God created to grow into his likeness stays hidden and unexposed to grace and truth.

THE GUILT BARRIER

Grace and truth are a healing combination because they deal with one of the main barriers to all growth: guilt. We have emotional difficulties because we have been injured (someone has sinned against us) or we have rebelled (we have sinned) or some combination of the two. As a result of this lack of love or lack of obedience, we are hidden in a world of guilt. We saw earlier that Adam and Eve had to hide themselves because of the guilt and shame of their sin, and also because of what they had become (less than perfect).

Guilt and shame too often sends us into hiding. If we have to hide, we cannot get help for our needs and brokenness; we cannot become “poor in Spirit,” and therefore be blessed. When grace comes along and says that we are not condemned for who we truly are, then guilt can begin to be resolved, and we can begin to heal.

Sometimes the church reinforces our inclination to hide. My friend Jake found an end to his hiding only after he joined an AA group. When he came into a culture where he did not have to be ashamed of his failures and was forgiven for his sins, then truth and grace began to have their effect in his life.

It is interesting to compare a legalistic church with a good AA group. In this kind of church, it is culturally unacceptable to have problems; that is called being sinful. In the AA group it is culturally unacceptable to be perfect; that is called denial. In the former setting, people look better but get worse, and in the latter, they look worse but get better. Certainly there are good churches and poor AA groups, but because of a lack of grace and truth in some churches, Christians have had to go elsewhere to find healing.

It is clear why the aliens in Beezy’s world decided against worshiping a god. This religious stuff was for the birds. On the one hand, there was acceptance without direction, and that was not good; on the other hand, there was direction without relationship, and that stung! It is only in a combination of grace and truth that the real Jesus is present. It is only when the real Jesus is present that we can begin to grow into the likeness of our Creator. And we really can be healed, if we have one more ingredient….

Luther’s Dialectics (Two Kingdoms) |Updated|

“[T]he paradox is that God must destroy in us, all illusions of

righteousness before he can make us righteous…”

~ Martin Luther

(Click To Enlarge – More About This Painting Below)

Luther LOVED Paul’s letter to the Romans. In this letter we find a battle of this “two-kingdom” idea (7:14-25[a]), which surely made him meditate on these things listed below.

A WILDERNESS OF CASUISTRY

In 1957, the great Reformation historian Johannes Heckel called Luther’s two-kingdoms theory a veritable Irrgarten, literally “garden of errors,” where the wheats and tares of interpretation had grown indiscriminately together. Some half a century of scholarship later, Heckel’s little garden of errors has become a whole wilderness of confusion, with many thorny thickets of casuistry to ensnare the unsuspecting. It is tempting to find another way into Lutheran contributions to legal theory. But Luther’s two-kingdoms theory was the framework on which both he and many of his followers built their enduring views of law and authority, justice and equity, society and politics. We must wander in this wilderness at least long enough to get our legal bearings.

Luther was a master of the dialectic — of holding two doctrinal opposites in tension and of exploring ingeniously the intellectual power of this tension. Many of his favorite dialectics were set out in the Bible and well rehearsed in the Christian tradition: spirit and flesh, soul and body, faith and works, heaven and hell, grace and nature, the kingdom of God versus the kingdom of Satan, the things that are God’s and the things that are Caesar’s, and more. Some of the dialectics were more uniquely Lutheran in accent: Law and Gospel, sinner and saint, servant and lord, inner man and outer man, passive justice and active justice, alien righteousness and proper righteousness, civil uses and theological uses of the law, among others.

Luther developed a good number of these dialectical doctrines separately in his writings from 1515 to 1545 — at different paces, in varying levels of detail, and with uneven attention to how one doctrine fit with others. He and his followers eventually jostled together several doctrines under the broad umbrella of the two-kingdoms theory. This theory came to describe at once: (1) the distinctions between the fallen realm and the redeemed realm, the City of Man and the City of God, the Reign of the Devil and the Reign of Christ; (2) the distinctions between the sinner and the saint, the flesh and the spirit, the inner man and the outer man; (3) the distinctions between the visible Church and the invisible Church, the Church as governed by civil law and the Church as governed by the Holy Spirit; (4) the distinctions between reason and faith, natural knowledge and spiritual knowledge; and (5) the distinctions between two kinds of righteousness, two kinds of justice, two uses of law.

When Luther, and especially his followers, used the two-kingdoms terminology, they often had one or two of these distinctions primarily in mind, sometimes without clearly specifying which. Rarely did all of these distinctions come in for a fully differentiated and systematic discussion and application, especially when the jurists later invoked the two-kingdoms theory as part of their jurisprudential reflections. The matter was complicated even further because both Anabaptists and Calvinists of the day eventually adopted and adapted the language of the two kingdoms as well — each with their own confessional accents and legal applications that were sometimes in sharp tension with Luther’s and other Evangelical views. It is thus worth spelling out Luther’s understanding of the two kingdoms in some detail, and then drawing out its implications for law, society, and politics.

John Witte, Jr., Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2002) ,94-95.

More about the painting. Be aware that the text below may be imperfect as it was “Google Translated” ~ via WIKI

According to the letters of the Apostle Paul, man’s way out of condemnation, sin and law is presented to eternal life, faith and grace. Since for Martin Luther sin is inextricably linked to the human being, the believer of the Mosaic law needs to be aware of his sinfulness. He must realize that he will fail and despair of the commandments of the punishing Old Testament God. This despair is the prerequisite for salvation through Christ and the Gospel. According to the differentiation made by Luther, the tree in the center of the image separates the contrasted events from the Old and New Testaments. In the left half of the law, the tree of life is dried, on the right side of the gospel it bears greening branches. On the left, death and the devil chase the sinful man into hellish fire while looking to the right to Moses, who points to the tablets of the Ten Commandments in a group of prophets of the Old Testament. Representations of the sin and the Last Judgment in the wide landscape show the origin and punishment of human misconduct. The scene of the bronze serpent from the Old Testament, which is important to Luther, typologically points to the crucifixion and shows the salvation of the Israelites before the poison by following the direction of God.

Right on the right of the tree, John the Baptist can be seen along with the naked man on the left. John, as the last prophet before Christ, stands for Luther between the law and the gospel, which is why he has the role of mediator. He directs the attention of the naked, who stands completely calmly and with folded hands, to the Crucified at the right edge of the picture. From the side-wound of Christ is a stream of blood, which extends over nearly the whole width of the right half, and goes down on the breast of the naked. The dove of the Holy Spirit appears in the stream of blood. It is shown here that only Christ, who died vicariously for man and whose good news is transmitted by the Holy Spirit, can abolish the sentence by the law. Only by his faith, sola fide, does the man of divine forgiveness participate in the form of the delivering blood-stream. By the risen Christ, who rises above the grave-cave behind the cross, the dead and the devil who pursued the sinner on the left side are banned: both lie conquered before the cross, under the Lamb of God, like the Risen One The victory flag. The sinner of the law is, however, a righteous one, with which the Gotha image illustrates the aspect of simul iustus et peccator. At the gates of Bethlehem, in the background of the right, the Annunciation appears to the shepherds. Like the raising of the brazen serpent, which the eye of the beholder finds right on the other side of the tree, this scene shows the recognition of God’s Word by man. For the viewer, it is made clear that the law and the gospel proclaim the same joyous message which always leads to Christ. Quotations from the Old and New Testaments in the lower part of the table underline the statement and also provide the biblical legitimation of the representation.

Good News Means There is Bad News

I love Propaganda’s above presentation. It hits all the point in the below video. You see, a life lived without the Gospel Message infused into your walk makes a truly lost soul where in the end nothing you do amounts to anything important. It mirrors naturalism in that all your actions… and humanities collective achievements, are all for nothing. Except, unlike naturalism, you live with this consequence in some form — eternally.

Josh McDowell put it best on why there has to be judgment for our sins, let me paraphrase him with this story of a judge and his daughter.

There was a district court judge who had been on the bench for thirty years, he was a just judge. He has never taken a bribe, always handed out judgment and leniency in a fair and balanced way, only within the parameters of what the law allowed. In other words, a just, righteous member of the legal system as well as the community. One day while in session, his only child, a daughter, was brought before him with a traffic violation. She had broke the law and was arrested for her excessive speeding. What was he to do? He loved his daughter immensely, so he could fine her only one dollar and no jail time. But this would mean he would be an unjust judge, not worthy of the position he holds.

So instead, he fines her 500 hundred dollars and three days in jail. He is heart broken, but that is what the law requires. Just as soon as his gavel hits the bench, he rises from his chair, removes his robe of authority, steps down from the raised platform to come around to the front of the bench. He, with a tear in his eye, throws an arm around his daughter, whom he loves dearly, and with the other hand pays the fine and puts himself in her place in the three day sentence. This is TRUE love, and TRUE justice.

In the same way, the just God of the Bible is our judge. He would be un-worthy of our worship and honor if he acted any other way. He has pronounced death as the judgment of our rebellion and sin [Death and hell are merely eternal separation from him, and because of that, there will be gnashing of teeth]. As our heavenly Father, who knew us before we were in the womb, he loved us so much (His creation) that he stepped down from his heavenly throne to the earth and paid the price for our infractions against the “court.” No other god in history in any other religious belief cared so much as to offer the only acceptable (free of sin) gift, Himself. This is the beauty of the Christian faith.

Remember, the Gospel STARTS with a terrifying truth, that is, “God Is Good… and we are not

God doesn’t put people he loves in “hell”, those people choose that place as a replacement for God’s already done work on the cross. I firmly believe that if you were able to go to hell and ask someone there if they would like to change their mind and accept Jesus, they would respond in the negative! Why? Because they would rather have eternal pain and “hell fire” than to acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Even Stephen Hawkings gets this distinction (from an old debate):

One of the most intriguing aspects mentioned by Ravi Zacharias of a lecture he attended entitled “Determinism – Is Man a Slave or the Master of His Fate,” given by Stephen Hawking, who is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Isaac Newton’s chair, was this admission by Dr. Hawking’s, was Hawking’s admission that if “we are the random products of chance, and hence, not free, or whether God had designed these laws within which we are free.” In other words, do we have the ability to make moral life choices, or do we simply follow a chemical reaction induced by millions of mutational collisions of free atoms? Michael Polyni mentions that this “reduction of the world to its atomic elements acting blindly in terms of equilibrations of forces,” a belief that has prevailed “since the birth of modern science, has made any sort of teleological view of the cosmos seem unscientific…. [to] the contemporary mind.”

Mortimer J. Adler points out in his book Ten Philosophical Mistakes that without true choice, free will, nature disallowes any talk of moral categories. He says “What merit would attach to moral virtue if the acts that form such habitual tendencies and dispositions were not acts of free choice on the part of the individual who was in the process of acquiring moral virtue? Persons of vicious moral character would have their characters formed in a manner no different from the way in which the character of a morally virtuous person was formed—by acts entirely determined, and that could not have been otherwise by freedom of choice.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s maxim rings just as true today as it did in his day, “If there is no God, all things are permissible.” Without an absolute ethical norm, morality is reduced to mere preference and the world is a jungle where might makes right. This same strain of thought caused Mussolini to comment, “Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”

Notice that Mussolini agrees that might makes right. There was another bad boy on the block in those days, his name was Hitler, who agreed when he said, “I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality… we will train young people before whom the world will tremble. I want young people capable of violence – imperious, relentless and cruel.” Again, the rejection of moral absolutes creates what? Young people who will scare the bejesus out of the world.  (Take note of the rise in youth violence in our school system.)

But what is this “absolute” that Mussolini referred to as “the immortal truth?” What is the “stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality” that Hitler removed in order to created a nation of hate mongers? Heidegger, In Being and Time, discussed the problems facing men living in a post-Enlightenment secular world which he called“the dark night of the world.” A world in which the light of God had been eclipsed and in which men were left to grope around as best they could, searching in the darkness for any scraps of meaning that might be found. Is it any wonder then that Heidegger backed the National Socialists (Nazis) for most of the 1930’s. society – a world without God in other words.  Heidegger called this situation

Apologist, lawyer and theologian John Warwick Montgomery references this choice in a quick blurb about the existence of evil and a good God:

Opponents of theism have perennially argued that the natural and moral evils in the universe make the idea of an omnipotent and perfectly good God irrational. But if subjectivity (and its correlative, freewill) must be presupposed on the level of human action, and if God’s character as fully transcendent divine Subject serves to make human volition meaningful, then the existence of freewill in itself provides a legitimate explanation of evil. To create personalities without genuine freewill would not have been to create persons at all; and freewill means the genuine possibility of wrong decision, i.e., the creation of evil by God’s creatures (whether wide ranging natural and moral evil by fallen angels or limited chaos on earth by fallen mankind).

As for the argument that a good God should have created only those beings he would foresee as choosing the right – or that he could certainly eliminate the effects of his creatures’ evil decisions, the obvious answer is (as Plantinga develops it with great logical rigor in his God and Other Minds) that this would be tantamount to not giving freewill at all. To create only those who “must” (in any sense) choose good is to create automata; and to whisk away evil effects as they are produced is to whisk away evil itself, for an act and its consequences are bound together. C. S. Lewis has noted that God’s love enters into this issue as well, since the Biblical God created man out of love, and genuine freewill – without the free possibility of accepting love or rejecting it. Just as a boy who offers himself and his love to a girl must count on the real possibility of rejection, so when God originated a creative work that made genuine love possible, it by definition entailed the concomitant possibility of the evil rejection of his love by his creatures.

The choice is yours. All your answers will not be magically swept away, but you will be on a road of deeper understanding and a spiritual journey that includes love in it. No other world religion has this type of love story in it. Here is a witnessing situation that includes the above thinking, it is instructive to show how wide the divide is between us and our Lord:

This may seem simple, but the Roman’s road brings you to the sinners prayer. God has so wired you and this cosmos that He responds to this simple prayer

In a presentation that I gave in a Sunday class at church (and added media to here), I end with this wonderful video that encapsulated the Gospel message the most effectively — in my minds eye:

Keeping Our Christian Identity Through “Seders” (Edited)

Walk With Me

This is a topic I taught on at church, and it is a simple way to preach the Gospel to yourself. There are 5 categories:

  1. We are Sinners;
  2. We are Judged for this sin;
  3. We are Forgiven;
  4. This forgiveness creates a Relational aspect with our God;
  5. Which brings Joy in every situation we face.

In our busy schedules choose a single verse from each section and on Monday study that single verse about our sinful nature. Use an online resource such as Blue Letter Bible to read a commentary on it or Bible Gateway to read a version you haven’t read of the verse. (Or one of your home resources… whatever the case may be.) On Tuesday take a verse on forgiveness (mine, or one that has hit a cord with you over the years). Etc.

By Friday, T.G.I.F. takes on a new meaning. The following week, do the same, but with a different verse. Habits.

WE ARE CALLED TO CHECK IN

A verse that calls us to “check in” so-to-speak, is 2 Corinthians 13:5 ~ I will read from a paraphrase of this verse, however, feel free to click on the link below to see the paraphrase next to my favorite versions:

2Corinthians 13:5’ish

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise.

We don’t just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives.

Even one of the greatest Repormers mentioned this “preaching the Gospel to ourselves” aspect of our faith: “We need to hear the Gospel every day, because we forget it every day” ~ Martin Luther.

ALL HAVE SINNED (#1)

  • Proverbs 21:2 ~ “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.”
  • Proverbs 16:2 ~ “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD evaluates the motives.”
  • 1 Samuel 16:7 ~ “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

2 things to glean from these:

1. Divine involvement in man’s heart is not limited to kings or priests;

2. A person may think nothing is wrong with his conduct, ahem, but God may.

Here we read a quick insight gleaned from Matthew Henry (Matthew 23:27-28)

The proud heart is very ingenious in putting a fair face upon a foul matter, and in making that appear right to itself which is far from being so, to stop the mouth of conscience. ~ Matthew Henry

How many righteous persons are there?

  • Romans 3:10 ~ “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

Bill Cosby teaches us about this malady we have from the earliest age (and he is a debased sinner as well, in need of a savior):

As an aside. Something that Bill Cosby said above struck a cord with me. He mentioned that the only time a child tells the truth is when they are in pain. So do we ~ often times ~ as adults. Here is the C.S. Lewis quote that came to me when I watched this:

We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities, and anyone who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (NY, New York: Touchstone, 1996), 82-83.

Let us take a short historical theology break and read a few points from the 1689 London Baptist Confession:

4 The actual sins that men commit are the fruit of the corrupt nature transmitted to them by our first parents. By reason of this corruption, all men become wholly inclined to all evil; sin disables them. They are utterly indisposed to, and, indeed, rendered opposite to, all that is good. (Matt. 15:19; Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21; Jas. 1:14.)

5 During this earthly life corrupt nature remains in those who are born of God, that is to say, regenerated. Through Christ it is pardoned and mortified, yet both the corruption itself, and all that issues from it, are truly and properly sin. (Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 7:18,23-25; Gal. 5:17; 1 John 1:8.)

Hank Hanegraaff explains WHAT sin is and is not:

R.C. Sproul, a theologian of report, helps us define what TOTAL and UTTER “depravity” means:

…There is a distinction which I have found to be helpful: total depravity does not mean utter depravity. Utter depravity would mean that every human being is as wicked as it is possible to be, and we know that this is not the case. As much as we sin, we can always contemplate sinning more often, or more grievously than we presently do.

While some will not support my posting of this next video by Mark Driscoll… I understand. But he has done a lot of good explaining of core doctrine that assists us in understanding concepts, like, TOTAL DEPRAVITY:

  • Jeremiah 17:9 ~ “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?”

Sproul has a wonderful ministry, and he [Sproul] has asked ~ rhetorically ~ how: anyone could be involved in believing in the value of human worth and at the same time believing in TOTAL depravity? He responds:

The very fact that Calvinists take sin so seriously is because they take the value of human beings so seriously. It is because man was made in the image of God, called to mirror and reflect God’s holiness, that we have the distinction of being the image-bearers of God.

But what does ‘total depravity’ mean? Total depravity means simply this: that sin affects every aspect of our human existence: our minds, our wills and our bodies are affected by sin. Every dimension of our personality suffers at some point from the weight of sin that has infected the human race.

SENTENCED! (#2)

  • Leviticus 5:17 ~ “If someone sins and without knowing it violates any of the Lord’s commands concerning anything prohibited, he bears the consequences of his guilt.”

...GUILT

Modern persons think “guilt” is a matter of feelings;

The Bible treats guilt as a fact.

In the O.T. guilt has three aspects.

(1) There is an act which brings guilt;
(2) There is the condition of guilt which follows the act;
(3) There is punishment appropriate to the act.

In the N.T., guilt is a judicial concept. The Greek word/idea is drawn from the courts, and emphasize liability to punishment. The guilty person has been:

(1) accused;
(2) tried;
(3) and convicted.

Both Testaments view acts which bring guilt as the end result of offenses against God. (See: Heb. 9:11–28 for the legal answer to this predicament)

  • Romans 6:23(a) ~ “For the wages of sin is death….”

This is the summary of the entire chapter. Paul painted the choice in black and white. The choice is ours—sin and death or free grace through Christ and eternal life. It is very similar to the “two ways” of OT wisdom literature (Ps. 1; Prov. 4; 10–19; Matt. 7:13–14).

And, we must always keep in mind that we are judged righteously by our Triune God:

Never put someone to death unless 2 or 3 witnesses:

“But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 17:6); “For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Hebrews 10:28).

FORGIVEN (#3)

Galatians 2:16-17 (<< link to the HCSB version. Below is the ISV)

“…yet we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law, for no human being will be justified by the works of the law.” (International Standard Version [ISV])

~ According to the text in the ISV, Christ’s faith — not ours — does the justifying. It is His focus of attention, not ours, that does the work. (The “onus” then is put in proper perspective.) As an example from one of my favorite verses, Philippians 1:6:

“I am sure of this, that He who (a) started a good work in you will (b) carry it on to completion until the (c) day of Christ Jesus.”

To be clear:

(a) HE started the Good work [salvation];
(b) He will carry it out;

(c) He will complete it.

It is ALL a work of Christ!

In-other-words, we will join the 24-elders in Revelation in throwing our crowns at Jesus feet, for all the good “WE” did was in actually Him working through us by even creating these… good works in our heart, and the will and drive to do them for His glory:

“There will be no jarring note in Heaven, no whisper of human merit, no claim of a reward for good intentions—but every crown shall be cast at Jesus’ feet and every voice shall join in the ascription, ‘Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Your name be all the glory of the salvation which You have worked out for us from first to last.’” ~ C.H. Spurgeon

The Imperishable Crown (1 Cor 9:24-24) — The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thess 2:19) — The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) — The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4) — The Crown of Life (Revelation 2:10)

  • Romans 6:23(b) ~ “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

For those that do not know, I am a three-time convicted felon from many years ago. I like to say I am a retired felon. While in Jail I had to realign drastically the direction I had traveled. I didn’t realize it then, but I was preaching the Gospel to myself by studying Hosea. The Lord told the prophet — literally —

  • “Go, take to yourself a wife who will prove to be unfaithful.”

And if you think about it, we are all unfaithful to God in some way: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And we break our marriage contract with the Lord, it is the Lord who is faithful and bridges the gap we cannot:

“The LORD said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes'” (Hosea 3:1).

[David offered raisin cakes to the starving (1 Sam 30:11-12); at the celebration of the return of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam 6:18-19); Abigail made for David’s troops (1 Sam 25:18). What was once good in the Lord’s eyes man will surely corrupt.]

  • Jeremiah 15:19(a,b) ~ “Therefore, this is what the LORD says: ‘If you return, I will restore you…'”

This implies we will fail, and He knew it, and yet chose us.

George Gilder enumerates a law that goes well with the Refiners Fire hymn. In an Interview with Dennis Prager Mr. Gilder enumerated a law of Information Theory*, and thus economics:

“A fundamental principle of information theory is that you can’t guarantee outcomes… in order for an experiment to yield knowledge, it has to be able to fail. If you have guaranteed experiments, you have zero knowledge”

*(the mathematical theory concerned with the content, transmission, storage, and retrieval of information, usually in the form of messages or data, and especially by means of computers)

Zechariah 13:9;
Job 23:10;
Isaiah 48:10;
1 Peter 1:7.

Notes on 1 Peter 1:7

a) Peter  was not backslidden or apathetic;
b) It was Paul’s general encouragement to fan the flame/keep the fire burning brightly

How?

  • 2 Corinthians 4:16 ~ Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.

“…renewed day by day.” Almost like a Jewish Seder which Paul would have been familiar with. Like the Passover Seder, for instance, that helped keep the identity of the Jewish nation for almost 3-millinea, we need habits that keep our identity as owned by Christ, daily. Are we equipped for the task?

“…but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” We have “to take some responsibility in that renewal. The continual brightening of the inner flame that God has given to us is related to God’s own equipment for us. God does not equip us with weakness, but with power. He does not equip us with hatred, but with love. He does not equip us with self-destruction, but with self-discipline.”

  • Romans 8:15 ~ “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”

John Calvin, the great Reformer, says this of the above Romans thinking:

He now confirms the certainty of that confidence, in which he has already bidden the faithful to rest secure; and he does this by mentioning the special effect produced by the Spirit; for he has not been given for the purpose of harassing us with trembling or of tormenting us with anxiety; but on the contrary, for this end—that having calmed every perturbation [(pûr’tər-bā’shən) mental disquiet, disturbance, or agitation], and restoring our minds to a tranquil state, he may stir us up to call on God with confidence and freedom. He does not then pursue only the argument which he had before stated, but dwells more on another clause, which he had connected with it, even the paternal mercy of God, by which he forgives his people the infirmities of the flesh and the sins which still remain in them. He teaches us that our confidence in this respect is made certain by the Spirit of adoption, who could not inspire us with confidence in prayer without scaling to us a gratuitous pardon: and that he might make this more evident, he mentions a twofold spirit; he calls one the spirit of bondage, which we receive from the law; and the other, the spirit of adoption, which proceeds from the gospel. The first, he says, was given formerly to produce fear; the other is given now to afford assurance. By such a comparison of contrary things the certainty of our salvation, which he intended to confirm, is, as you see, made more evident. The same comparison is used by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews [Hebrews 12:18], where he says, that we have not come to Mount Sinai, where all things were so terrible, that the people, being alarmed as it were by an immediate apprehension of death, implored that the word should be no more spoken to them, and Moses himself confessed that he was terrified; “but to [Z]ion, the mount of the Lord, and to his city, the heavenly Jerusalem, where Jesus is, the Mediator of the New Testament.”

MARTIN LUTHER tells us we have to preach this to ourselves constantly… because it is SUCH GREAT NEWS we seem to view it as unbelievable:

Grace in the Reformation

Luther’s Reformation message of salvation by grace alone could hardly have looked more different when compared with that old pre-Reformation teaching of his about salvation by grace. This is how he began to talk: “He is not righteous who does much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ.”4 Here grace is not about God’s building on our righteous deeds or helping us to perform them. God, Luther began to see, was the one “who justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5), not one who simply recognizes and rewards those who manage to make themselves godly. God is not one who must build on our foun­dations; he creates life out of nothing. It meant that, instead of looking to God for assistance and then ultimately relying on himself, Luther was turning to rely entirely on Christ, in whom all righteousness is achieved. “The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this,’ and everything is already done.”

Here Luther found a message so good it almost seemed incredible to him. It was good news for the repeated failure, news of a God who comes not to call the righteous but sinners (Matt. 9:13). Not many today find themselves wearing hair shirts and enduring all-night prayer vigils in the freezing cold to earn God’s favor. Yet deep in our psyche is the assumption that we will be more loved when (and only when) we make ourselves more attractive—both to God and to others. Into that, Luther speaks words that cut through the gloom like a glorious and utterly unexpected sunbeam:

The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it…. Rather than seeking its own good, the love of God flows forth and bestows good. Therefore sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive.

In Reformation thought, grace was no longer seen as being like a can of spiritual Red Bull. It was more like a marriage. In fact when Luther first sought to explain his Reformation dis­covery in detail to the world, it was the story of a wedding that framed what he said. Drawing on the romance of the lover and his beloved in Song of Solomon (especially 2:16, “My beloved is mine, and I am his”), he told the gospel as the story of the “rich and divine bridegroom Christ” who “marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all his goodness.” At the wedding a wonderful exchange takes place whereby the king takes all the shame and debt of his bride, and the harlot receives all the wealth and royal status of her bridegroom. For Jesus and the soul that is united to him by faith, it works like this:

Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s; for if Christ is a bridegroom, he must take upon himself the things which are his bride’s and bestow upon her the things that are his. If he gives her his body and very self, how shall he not give her all that is his? And if he takes the body of the bride, how shall he not take all that is hers?

In the story the prostitute finds that she has been made a queen. That does not mean she always behaves as befits royalty but, however she behaves, her status is royal. She is now the queen. So it is with the believer: she remains a sinner and con­tinues to stumble and wander, but she has the righteous status of her perfect and royal bridegroom. She is—and until death will remain—at the same time both utterly righteous (in her status before God) and a sinner (in her behavior).

That means that it is simply wrong-headed for the believer to look to her behavior as an accurate yardstick of her righ­teousness before God. Her behavior and her status are distinct.

The prostitute will grow more queenly as she lives with the king and feels the security of his love, but she will never become more the queen. Just so, the believer will grow more Christlike over time, but never more righteous. Thus, because of Christ, and not because of her performance, the sinner can know a despair-crushing confidence.

Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him. And she has that righ­teousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, “If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his.”

For the rest of his life Luther took this message as good news that needs continually to be reapplied to the heart of the believer. From his own experience he found that we are so in­stinctively self-dependent that while we happily subscribe to salvation by grace, our minds are like rocks, drawn down by the gravitational pull of sin away from belief in grace alone. So he counseled his friend as follows:

They try to do good of themselves in order that they might stand before God clothed in their own virtues and merits. But this is impossible. Among us you were one who held to this opinion, or rather, error. So was I, and I am still fighting against the error without having con­quered it as yet.

Therefore, my dear brother, learn Christ and him cruci­fied. Learn to pray to him and, despairing of yourself, say: “Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am thy sin. Thou hast taken upon thyself what is mine and hast given to me what is thine. Thou hast taken upon thyself what thou wast not and hast given to me what I was not.”

  • Michael Reeves and Tim Chester, Why The Reformation Still Matters (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2016), 84-88.

RELATIONAL (#4)

Okay, what does “forgiven” mean? And, how does this change our position with God?

We have all heard the famous saying, “Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you absolutely do not deserve.” This comes in part from Hebrews 4:16:

“Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”

“At the proper time” is a colloquial saying of the day that means “just in the nick of time.” The Believer’s Bible Commentary says this of the Hebrews verse:

Now the gracious invitation is extended: draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. Our confidence is based on the knowledge that He died to save us and that He lives to keep us. We are assured of a hearty welcome because He has told us to come.

….We can go into His presence at any time of the day or night and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. His mercy covers the things we should not have done, and His grace empowers us to do what we should do but do not have the power to do.

In Genesis 8 when Noah sacrificed clean animals to God, “the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma.” Christ is the last Adam, thee final sacrifice that ends all sacrificial offerings, and we see in 2 Corinthians 2:15 the “…we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” You see, we are covered in Christ’ offering and are thus pleasing to God.

…Segue

How should we respond to this idea in Psalm 30:5?

For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favor, a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night,
but there is joy in the morning.

JOYFULNESS (#5)

Indeed, God is my salvation;

I will trust Him and not be afraid,

for Jehovah, the Lord,

is my strength and my song.

He has become my salvation.”

You will joyfully draw water

from the springs of salvation,

and on that day you will say:

Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name!

Celebrate His works among the peoples.

Declare that His name is exalted.

Sing to Yahweh, for He has done glorious things.

(Isaiah 12:1-6)

The God of Glory

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

(Ephesians 1:3–6)

Even in failure and time of testing and trials we have a line to divine joy. Consider James 1:2-4:

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (HCSB) Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (The Message)

Of verse two my first owned (and still a favorite of mine) commentary says this:

The Christian life is filled with problems. They come uninvited and unexpected. Sometimes they come singly and sometimes in droves. They are inevitable. James does not say “if you fall into various trials” but when. We can never get away from them. The question is, “What are we going to do about them?”

There are several possible attitudes we can take toward these testings and trials of life. We can rebel against them (Heb. 12:5) by adopting a spirit of defiance, boasting that we will battle through to victory by our own power. On the other hand, we can lose heart or give up under pressure (Heb. 12:5). This is nothing but fatalism. It leads to questioning even the Lord’s care for us. Again, we can grumble and complain about our troubles. This is what Paul warns us against in 1 Corinthians 10:10. Another option—we can indulge in self-pity, thinking of no one but ourselves, and trying to get sympathy from others. Or better, we can be exercised by the difficulties and perplexities of life (Heb. 12:11). We can say, in effect, “God has allowed this trial to come to me. He has some good purpose in it for me. I don’t know what that purpose is, but I’ll try to find out. I want His purposes to be worked out in my life.” This is what James advocates: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Don’t rebel! Don’t faint! Rejoice! These problems are not enemies, bent on destroying you. They are friends which have come to aid you to develop Christian character.

God is trying to produce Christlikeness in each of His children. This process necessarily involves suffering, frustration, and perplexity. The fruit of the Spirit cannot be produced when all is sunshine; there must be rain and dark clouds. Trials never seem pleasant; they seem very difficult and disagreeable. But afterwards they yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by them (Heb. 12:11). How often we hear a Christian say, after passing through some great crisis, “It wasn’t easy to take, but I wouldn’t give up the experience for anything.”

William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 2218.

In another commentaries summing up of verse three, we see perseverance is key to our joy as well, but this takes time and is something not magically infused at the outset:

…But James’s readers knew the good reason God allows such trials (v. 3). God intends for them to result in a mature and complete faith; perseverance is faith’s first product. But perseverance is not a minimal virtue. Rather, it is elemental to that fortitude of the soldier who braves all in his life-and-death struggle on the field of combat. Praised by Paul (1 Thess 1:3) and by the author of Revelation (cf. 14:12), perseverance characterizes the godly both before and after Christ. The gradual and painful acquisition of this virtue is also unmistakable. Perseverance, though essential to faith, is not infused immediately in a moment of conversion. Only through great ardor and the stumbling pursuit of the goal laid before it and only through sustained service in spite of opposition does perseverance come.

Kurt A. Richardson, James, vol. 36, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 61–62.

Paul surely knew by heart this verse:

My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to You
because You have redeemed me.

(Psalm 71:23)

We should then have a definition of o-u-r-s-e-l-v-e-s… as Christians, that bring to bear the gift we should now be celebrating, here, Martin Luther in his Commentary on Galatians, offers a good definition of a Christian. In this definition we see the totality of the above study of Romans Road ~ exemplified:

“We therefore make this definition of a Christian: a Christian is not he who hath no sin, but he to whom God imputeth not his sin, through faith in Christ. That is why we so often repeat and beat into your minds, the forgiveness of sins and imputation of righteousness for Christ’s sake. Therefore when the law accuseth him and sin terrifieth him, he looketh up to Christ, and when he hath apprehended Him by faith, he hath present with him the conqueror of the law, sin, death, and the devil: and Christ reigneth and ruleth over them, so that they cannot hurt the Christian. So that he hath indeed a great and inestimable treasure, or as St. Paul saith: ‘the unspeakable gift’ (2 Cor. ix. 15), which cannot be magnified enough, for it maketh us the children and heirs of God. This gift may be said to be greater than heaven and earth, because Christ, who is this gift, is greater.”

A “summation” of the above:

Was Jesus Black? (Conversation Series)

I have, for some reason unknown to me, many run-ins with Black Hebrew Israelites. God, either through my personality or bringing these people to my cyber door step, allows prolonged conversation with these very earnest people. This is one guy I like, he is witty, funny, and entrepreneur, but he is lost, lost, lost. I will not post our entire conversation, but I will shorten it to some of the important exchanges to allow others to add some responses to their apologetic repertoire. (You can read the entire thing here if you so wish.) This conversation may seem choppy, again, I am shortening it, but there are some nuggets of thinking one can apply to their responses on these theologically racial encounters. This gentleman, however, has a messiah complex — and may be thinking of himself as a biblical character? For example, here is the “About the Author” from Amazon:

My name is Enoch Mubarak. I was chosen to write this book. I don’t know why I was chosen to bring “you” this truth. I bring you this truth not to seek reward for self, but to literally save “your” life and the lives of “your” children. “If the watchman sees the enemy coming and does not sound the alarm, I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.” Ezekiel 33:6

So keep this in mind as you pick up our conversation, or any comments he may leave.

By-the-by, the gentleman I discussed this topic with lives in Chicago, which has a large cult movement along these lines (click the Chicago skyline to read about it). Also, one should note that while I cannot pigeon-hole Enoch into a particular category (he has a mix of beliefs: Nation of Islam, Black Hebrew Israelite, Black Nationalist Liberation Theology, New Age, etc), the response near the end of this post to the verses typically used (by black liberation theologians, Nation of Islam adherents, and black Hebrew Israelites) to show Jesus is black is key.

Jumping in:

Me:
… But Enoch… lets break away from your Pulitzer prize winning writing skills. Do you believe what Christ taught about the law?

Enoch:
speaking about what I believe in regards to Christ let me begin with I believe Christ when he says that you must be hot or cold and if you are warm I will spew thee out. …. You must atone by deleting what you wrote in haste or know for certain that what you wrote is what you know beyond “maybe.”

Just so you are up to date, Enoch wrote a book that he bragged was rated “5-Stars” on Amazon (it was based on one review). Having encountered Enoch in past conversations and after reading his first chapter of the book, I gave him a one-star, to which I must atone for.


Me:
Well, when you want to talk about WHO Jesus is, WHAT His mission was, and His requirements that we must attain in order to enter into his presence, I am here for you. THIS is more important than who you are right now or how I view you (or your book). God sees the real Enoch. In some way I do not yet understand now, He digs you a lot and wants you to accept his mercy, but maybe you haven’t hashed out your positions with a guy like me? Maybe you do not realize that the letter keeping of Islam and other religions pale in comparison to Christianity. The question is this: in this law keeping (whether the five pillars in Islam – or – the search for Nirvana by rejecting the world in the here-and-now in Buddhism, whatever it is) are you driven towards personal righteousness/attainment and you will be judged on that by a just God, or into the arms of a God who has interwoven a love story (in contradistinction to every world religion, major and minor) who is more than ready to show mercy in your acceptance of His perfect Son. If we need to start at the bare bones (looking at the inspirational aspect of the Bible and who it was written by and how God doesn’t use automatons, then that is where we should start. But Jesus is calling you “Enoch,” and he knows YOU and WHO you are, and loved you before you knew Him.

Enoch:
Without evidence other than my name you conclude that I am Islam and once you concluded that I am islam you have structured your entire conversation around that premise.

Me:
No, I use Islam as an example because many you surround yourself with accept it (as your reviewer for your book does). And in the black nationalist movement many do as well, which I suppose is a big draw for your business? Granted, you may be a Christian in the “Rev. Wright” strain (black liberation theology), but there too is a world not based in the amount of mercy offered to man and is a works based understanding and a “James Cone” understanding of God. I am prepared as well to dig into that… BUT, I would rather concentrate on WHO Jesus is, and why it matters. I will compare and contrast His mercy with every other man-made system of thought.

And by-the-way, your name would denote a more New Age vision of life to me that includes UFOs and the like. in fact the “Book of Enoch” is typically accepted more by New Age apprentices rather than other belief structures. So your name, to be clear, has a ring of the Nation of Islam with a New Age flavor. But much of the view of “god” by Elijah Muhammad and others combine the two. AGAIN, however, we could talk about that/your name, my name all day… lets deal with the meat of the issue (Mark 8:29).

Okay. You referenced the Mark of Cain, this verse is really misused by the black nationalist community (and the white nationalist [and historical Mormons]). The reason I want to deal with WHO Jesus is IS because many people say they believe in Jesus:

✔ Mormons say he is the first born from a sexual union between a god and one of his goddesses, and that Lucifer and he are literal brothers… like all of us are;
✔ Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is the first created angel, Michael the Archangel, and that when he came to earth he was known as Jesus, and when he went back to heaven he became Michael again;
✔ Black liberation theology took a turn from Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey (Garveyism), and the Marxist Trinity (race, class, gender) was thrust into the modern movement by James Cone saying Jesus was a black man who didn’t only come to save people individually, but to lift the poor up — thus becoming a revolutionary figure. Taking it further still was Albert Cleage who effectively called into question (as most liberal theologies do) Paul’s inclusion in the New Testament;
✔ New Age (Helen Schucman, Heidi Rose Robbins, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Richard Bach Quotes, and the like) persons believe Jesus reached the next level of evolution and will herald the coming destruction of those not ready for this next stage of spiritual evolution;
✔ Christadelphianism believes Jesus was a created man with a sin nature;
✔ Theosophy believes that “god” is a principle to be believed and that Jesus is a great teacher, like Buddha and others;
✔ Masons believe Jesus is a Aeon here to (very much like Gnostics) point to a spiritual (not material) “cosmic consciousness, soul regeneration, philosophic initiation, spiritual illumination, Brahmic Splendor…” etc;
On-and-on… ad infinitum.

So when you write of “Jesus,” Enoch, I will again ask who you say HE IS (Mark 8:29)? Take note I summarized many beliefs about him in a sentence or two above… no mystery, or ethereal language involved. See if you can give me a plain answer to this simple question.

Enoch:
Tsk, tsk, naughty, naughty. Before we delve into what you desire you must first atone for your sin: You must atone by deleting the book review that you wrote in vindictive haste and with malice or….. know for certain that what you wrote is what you know to be certain and beyond “maybe.”

Me:
After reading 41-pages of it my critique stands… no 5-stars for you my friend.

Enoch:
Had you been a black person that left one star then my concern would be heightened but considering the source 5 stars was never my expectation.


Enoch mentioned that my sarcasm (which I had to point out, my sarcasm that is) was vindictive, malicious, antagonistic and mean spirited. Which it wasn’t, but Enoch takes things VERY literal, as you will see he does in a bit with Scripture.


Me:
… and there you go… the liberal trinity of race, class, and gender….The question isn’t what the white man speaks with, but what does Jesus say about eternality and the extent of the law YOU must keep in order to attain it. I, and other ethnicities are fallen creatures who can be vindictive, malicious, antagonistic and mean spirited. But WHO do you say Jesus is?

The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission.

Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strongminded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshiped, even with multitudinous idols. All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character.

All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances. Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.

Robert Hume, The World’s Living Religions, pp. 285-286.

Enoch (posted a video):
While you were in school getting your degree in theology did they tell, show or teach you this….

HERE IS A RARE IF EVER AGAIN OPPORTUNITY TO WITNESS THE TRUE FACE OF JESUS.

Me (I posted a video as well):
Did I learn about a 150-year old replica when studying a faith that is about 2,000 years old and rooted in a faith connected to the first man and women created? No. I did learn about the earliest known Christian symbol and its historical value (http://religiopoliticaltalk.com/symbol/). We also learned about the Shroud of Turin, and I have recently gotten a book for reference on the matter after hearing an interview with the author [The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection] on Michael Medved, a topic — by the way — a Jew shouldn’t be interested in… but in fact, Medved is fascinated by this Resurrection evidence. Jesus wasn’t white Enoch (or black), he was a Mediterranean Jew, much like you see in Jerusalem today.

While I disagree with the above author’s conclusion, he does rightly place the Shroud, to Jesus, in his (His) tomb, at that time. In other words Enoch Mubarak, the “image” of Jesus is well known. Another guest Medved had on a couple of years back was the author of this book, “The Truth About the Shroud of Turin: Solving the Mystery.” I do highly recommend this book

Enoch (quotes me): ‎
“Jesus wasn’t white Enoch, he was a Mediterranean Jew”~ “In other words Enoch Mubarak, the “image” of Jesus is well known.” ~ Sean Giordano

Don’t he, haw and drag your tongue just say it….Jesus is a black man.

Me:
Jesus was not a black man Enoch Mubarak. You are inserting something demonstrably false into your “faith.”

Enoch:
The following describes black all day~everyday…….not white nor Mediterranean Jew.

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. ~ Revelation 1:14

Daniel 7:9 “As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.
————————–————————–————————–
Daniel 10:6 His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.
————————–————————–————————–
Revelation 2:18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
————————–————————–————————–

MEANWHILE…WHO IS JESUS?

Revelation 19:12 He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.

Me:
Using you logic then, God has wings, feathers, is a rock, a fireball, blew His nose to drown the Egyptians in the sea, and carried the entire Hebrew nation in His giant hand. You are literally interpreting what is meant to be Hebraic poetry and imagery.

————————–
EXODUS 15:8 And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.

PSALM 57:1 Be merciful unto me, O God, . . . in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, . . . (cf. Ps 17:8, 36:7, 61:4, 63:7, Is 8:8, Mt 23:37, Lk 13:34)

PSALM 78:35 And they remembered that God was their rock, . . . (cf. Dt 32:4,15,18,37, 1 Sam 2:2, 2 Sam 22:32, Ps 18:2,31,46, 42:9)

PSALM 91:4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust….

DEUTERONOMY 9:26 I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand. (cf. Dt 5:15, 7:8)

DEUTERONOMY 4:24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, . . . (cf. Dt 9:3)
————————–

Quoting the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson

…Now to the more interesting observations. How will blacks react to “The Passion”? My answer to this will sound absolutely insane to some – particularly to white readers, who know that all too many blacks are crazy but don’t know quite how crazy – but bear with me, because a sizable sector of the American black population will react in the way I am predicting. One main complaint amongst some blacks will be that this movie does not represent black people because in their minds, Jesus was black.

Don’t believe me? Then take it from Malik Z. Shabazz, national chairman of the New Black Panther Party. Shabazz believes “The Passion” is “harmful and racist” because of “one very basic inaccuracy which has been long-promoted in order to bolster white supremacy.” That basic inaccuracy, according to Shabazz? “Jesus was not a European white man. Jesus Christ was a black man.” Shabazz even complains about the lack of black actors in the film. His motto seems to be: “History be damned – where are the black actors, and where’s Jesus’ afro!”

This is hardly a scarce notion amongst black Americans. Believe me. I live in the black community. Many believe this! Some of my own relatives even believe this! Therefore, many blacks believe that Christianity is the white man’s religion and that Islam is the true religion of black folks!…

http://www.wnd.com/2004/02/23454/

REVELATION & DANIEL

Again, using your logic, as the VISION continues, Jesus is a Lion that looks like a lamb.

REV 1:14-16

First, Jesus had snow white hair. Second, his eyes were like flame of fire. Third, his feet were like fine brass. (How did you extend that description to the rest of his body?) Fourth, his voice was like the sound of many waters. (So was it intelligible? How so if this description is literal?) Fifth, his right hand was large enough to contain seven stars. Sixth, he had a sword out of his mouth. And, seventh, his countenance was like the sun. (That final one does not sound much like the description of his feet.)

http://www.thywordistruth.com/questions/Question-189.html

[….]

The terms come from John’s VISION of Christ, recorded in Revelation 1. That picture itself builds on a whole set of Old Testament imagery, esp. on the vision of the “Ancient of Days” (that is, God) and ‘one like a son of man’ in Daniel 7.

The specific phrases your description is based on are “his HEAD and HEAR were WHITE like wool” (not “woolly” – it’s about the COLOR, not the texture) and “FEET like bronze GLOWING IN A FURNACE”.

The picture doesn’t prove anything racial. All the more so if you look at the WHOLE description. The high priestly type garb described might work, but just TRY to draw a picture that incorporates ALL the parts, and IF you’re able to draw it, it will NOT look, sound, etc. at all like a normal human being! (his tongue is a SWORD, his eyes blaze like fire, his face shines LIKE THE SUN, his voice is like thundering waters). That’s because it not MEANT to — it is a VISION telling you something about his characteristics, glory, power, etc.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080118074933AAqPHB1

What a myopic view of your savior/creator Enoch Mubarak. Such a limiting view of Scripture and a heavy burden to carry in order to reach your own atonement. Your best works do not reach even the minimum Jesus calls us to, a law so steep we are pushed into his arms. He is waiting for you my friend… with open arms. I suggest you read one of my papers: Defined: Inerrancy (Exegesis & Hermeneutics As Well)

Enoch never answered the Biblical critique of his taking out of context verses that HE (and the Black Hebrew Israelites) interpret to mean Jesus is a black man. In fact, when I point out the above, I never hear a response?

I hope you enjoyed this choppy conversation, that last part is a great response to theologically racist interpretation of Scripture.

UPDATE!

Continuing the conversation at another post of Enoch’s (see here) about the supposed racism of the Tea Party, which I thoroughly refute, the conversation switches to a more important subject — Salvation. One reader — after my refutation of the narrative that the Tea Party is racist — asks the following: I thought they weren’t racist. This started off a new strain:

Me:
David Duke certainly is. He is a scumbag with an ego and prideful heart that will contribute to Matthew 24:7 that talks about the end of days: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” “kingdoms” are the nation states, the Greek word for nation, however, is “ethnos,” where we get our word “ethnic” from. Jesus is really saying that the one of the signs of the times will include a “racial pride” or “war” that fuels this culmination of “Armageddon.”

Which is why the Bible is the best answer to this racial division. A great (and short – under 200-pages) book by Pastor and Dr. A. Charles Ware with Ken Ham is “One Race, One Blood”  Unfortunately Enoch Mubarak is in this same law keeping that color is important when faith is what unites us, not genes turned on or off that produce melatonin. And his [Enoch’s] confusion of racial lines and racism onto whole swaths of people [Tea Partiers] that never deserved or earned the title of it [racist/racism] like David Duke has earned such a title of a scumbag racist, is just plain wrong. It is a parroting of the mass media and what Enoch thinks he has escaped is only in fact helping to spread. Which is why Mason Weaver’s book is so fitting: “It’s OK to Leave the Plantation: The New Underground Railroad” 

I know Jesus is Enoch’s good Shepherd… Enoch just needs to listen to His Masters voice [Jesus’] and realize that if he wants to live by the law he will be judged by it. There is a merciful and graceful path outlined for Enoch, this means however, taking himself off of superman shirts and replacing it with Jesus. Or as one poet of the Gospel (or G.O.S.P.E.L.) says better than I on GodTube.

Maybe Enoch will listen to him because he has a “mane” of hair?


For the reader’s information, Enoch rejected [earlier in the conversation] a video presentation by “MachoSauce” because he has a shaved head… according to Enoch, black men must have hair: “Black man you must stop shaving your head bald. Your hair is your strength and your glory. The perception of strength is hair. Grow your hair. Stop going along just to get along. Stop letting the world, global community and your black woman continue to disrespect you by treating you like a BALD HEAD.”

To which I responded: ‎“Shave or not to shave” ~ You will be judged on the law Enoch, in heaven, if you so choose… Jesus is calling you to mercy and forgiveness, otherwise his impossible law he has set up will doom you to being on the left hand of God. Hear a Muslim student ask about the law:

Back to the conversation:


 

Enoch:
Enoch has risen and…..”If the watchman sees the enemy coming and does not sound the alarm, I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths Ezekiel 33:6″

Me:
Enoch, the BIBLE is all about Jesus… not “action.” The Old Testament (or literally, “The Old Covenant”) screams Jesus. In fact, that verse you quote often is found fulfilled in whom it refers to IN Matthew 24:

===============MATT 24:40-51 (The Message Bible)
39-44″The Son of Man’s Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field—one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill—one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up.

45-47″Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing the kitchen? A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day. Someone the Master can drop in on unannounced and always find him doing his job. A God-blessed man or woman, I tell you. It won’t be long before the Master will put this person in charge of the whole operation.

48-51″But if that person only looks out for himself, and the minute the Master is away does what he pleases—abusing the help and throwing drunken parties for his friends—the Master is going to show up when he least expects it and make hash of him. He’ll end up in the dump with the hypocrites, out in the cold shivering, teeth chattering.”
===========================================

The Watchman are watching for Jesus Enoch (Sermon Central). Do not insert your own meaning into the Bible (eisegesis) , the Bible speaks for itself (exegesis). Again, there is a “New Covenant” (the New Testament, and it is Good News my friend. You quote many ideas and thoughts that place you under the school master….

★ “You think you can instruct the ignorant and teach children the ways of God. For you are certain that God’s law gives you complete knowledge and truth.” (Romans 2:20)
★ “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian” [or school master] (Galatians 3:24-25)

Are you watching… not for “David Dukes” or fictitious racists you gin up via the news-media, but are you watching for your Master Enoch?

Enoch:
We are conversing at this moment because I saw you coming, sounded the alarm and stopped you at the gate of Black America’s enclave.

Me:
Enoch Mubarak, if God can judge (and be the author of the death of 38-million [plus] black people in recent generations and not the fallen nature of man), then surely He can call you to repentance from that heavy yoke you carry (Matthew 11:30) through a very unlikely source, yeah? (*Speaking here of a shaved headed white boy*) Even donkey’s speak on God’s whim Enoch… the question is, does Balaam listen? God is calling you to peace Enoch (Galatians 3:27), the “hounds of heaven” are on your heals.

=========QUOTE
Text: Romans 1:19-21

“I fled Him down the nights and down the days
I fled Him down the arches of the years
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
I hid from him….”

So begins Francis Thompson’s famous, but difficult, poem entitled “The Hound of Heaven.” The author sets the poem in the context of a life spent running from God. The poem pictures God like an old bloodhound sniffing our scent, always in the distance, occasionally letting out a howl to remind us that he is on our trail.

As the lengthy poem goes on, Thompson says he fled “across the margins of the world,” but the refrain always comes back:

“Still with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following feet, and a Voice above their beat…”

God is always there, always pursuing, always engaged in self-disclosure. And that is the essence of the second doctrine covered in our “Christian Believer” study – the self-revealing God. God is in the business of revealing the Divine Self to us. We would know nothing about God if God did not choose to reveal it.

Enoch:
Aside from videos, books asnd parables do you possess any original thought or ideas?

 

Me:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” I pass on what I know Enoch Mubarak, as all have from the time of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3).


God is truly calling Enoch, and for some reason He has placed on my heart a temporary drive to share with him the Good News! I pray Enoch listens. He can use your prayers.

Preaching the Gospel To Ourselves~Knowing Our Place Allows for Greater Understanding of What God Accomplished On Our Behalf

One pastor that put a twist on preaching the Gospel to ourselves rather than pointing to others as a cause of chaos is Supt. H. Burnett of Dunamis Word. This pastor and I may not see eye-to-eye on the non-essentials. But on the essentials, he preaches the Gospel message as it should be: we are sinners in need of a savior… and we need daily regeneration by the continued workings of the Holy Spirit. His pointing a segment of his readers to the fact that they shouldn’t be concerned about secret or conspiratorial marks on the Dollar Bill or New World Order type shenanigans, but rather, these marks of rebellion and sinfulness are in and on each one of us ~ IS BRILLIANT. In other words… preach the Gospel to ourselves, start there. A great insight!