Sunday, July 26, 2015

7 Reasons Why Jesus Was Chosen As the Lamb of God

It was not just because He was sinless; for, even the Father and the Holy Spirit are sinless.

1. It was because all things were created through Him (Jn.1:3); therefore, only through Him could all things also be redeemed (Eph.3:9; Col.1:16; Heb.1:2).
2. It was because He is the heir of all things (created for Him); therefore, He alone had the right to redeem all things (Heb.1:2,3).
3. It was because the old creation was through Him; therefore, it's end could also be through Him (1Cor.15:45; Jn.5:22)
4. It was because the old creation was through Him; therefore, the new creation could also be through Him. (Rev.21:5)
5. It is in Him that all things consist (Col.1:17); therefore, it is in Him that all things (in heaven and on earth, not below earth) can be reconciled and gathered together (Eph.1:10).
6. It is by the word of His power that all things are upheld (Heb.1:3; 2Pet.3:7); therefore, it is by the word of His power alone that all things can be preserved for immortality (Jude 1:1).
7. It is because Jesus is the only begotten Son of God; therefore, it is only through Him that humans can obtain adoption, the redemption of the body (Rom.8:15,23,28; Eph.1:5), and inheritance (Heb.9:15); so, that the only begotten Son of God could be the Firstborn among many brethren (Rom.8:29).

Does the Bible Encourage People-Group Church Planting?

Pentecost has a number of theological implications for missions that cannot be ignored. The ethno-linguistic-geographical division that resulted at Babel was obliterated at Pentecost; and the pouring of the Holy Spirit entailed not only the transcending of linguistic barriers but also the ingathering of both Jews and Gentiles into one. "If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"(Acts 11:17). Of course, though this doesn't mean that barriers and divisions are no more, it does certainly mean that missionary methods must honestly conform to the biblical picture of the Church.
Theologically, we can recognize at least four distinctions in God’s ordering of the history of humanity: the original ordering, the divisive ordering, the in-gathering ordering, and the final ordering.

1. The Original Ordering. In the original ordering, humanity is one. Nationalities didn’t exist because plurality of language and culture was unknown. This original ordering began to break down after sin when man first understood the sense of shame and guilt as the man and the woman hid behind trees to hide their nakedness. Later, jealousy, murder, and lustful imagination employed the original ordering to infect the entire humanity to the extent that God desired to wipe off the entire human race. A global flood became the only resolution.

2. The Divisive Ordering [Babel, Gen.11]. After the Flood, humanity was given a divisive ordering.  ‘Confusion’ was the word used to describe this division because humanity was ordered in such a way that each nationality wasn’t able to so much understand another. Division should have prevented any religious epidemic to be globalized irresistibly. The divisive factor was language and the barrier helped develop cultural variety. On Mars Hill, Paul understood this divisive ordering to have a singular purpose: that mankind would seek God and haply find Him (Acts 17:27).....

3. The In-gathering Ordering. ...The New Testament declares Christ as the Mediator – the one in whom all walls of division between God and man, and man and man, are broken. Man is no longer an enemy of God and the Jew has no advantage over the non-Jew. This was announced on the Day of Pentecost through the outpouring of the Spirit with the manifestation of tongues (understandable to everyone trans-linguistically). The Body of Christ was not based on a political covenant like Israel was based upon; the new covenant transcended all linguistic and cultural barriers. Interestingly, Paul describes praying in tongues as praying with the Spirit (non-understandable to anyone except God). The Great Commission calls forth the church to preach the Gospel to all nations and make disciples of them because the new covenant was no longer the property of a particular race or nation. The New Testament was written in Greek because God was not just the God of the Hebrews. The Gospel had to get global because God was global and His new covenant was global. The church at Jerusalem was not divided into a Greek Church and a Hebrew Church, despite their disagreements. The in-gathering ordering is captured in this statement of Jesus: ‘And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.’ (John 10:16 NKJ) Spiritually, this comes to be through the Holy Spirit; consequently, all bias, division, and hierarchization among believers is carnal (1Corinthians 3:1-4). It is not from the Spirit.

4. The Final Ordering will happen at the end of times when all things, in heaven and on earth, will be gathered together in Jesus Christ (Eph.1:10). Then, one will say that the Kingdom of Heaven had fully come. [Gospelization and Globalization....]
When Jesus talked about preaching of the Gospel among every nations and making disciples of every nation, the spirit of the commandment was to break through the Jewish privileged mentality and break across to every nation. It was the commission to be ethnically impartial and universal in the communication of the Gospel. The Gospel was for all nations. However, it is important to understand that this command was in no sense a command to go and plant ethnic churches. At any cost, Jesus never meant the planting of separate Greek and Hebrew (linguistic or community/caste based) churches in the same region. That is not a biblical ideal or goal at all. While vernacular language (the language spoken by the majority of people in an area) has its role, neither language nor people-group division determines the nature of biblical mission. Mass community/caste movements in history are not Spirit given examples for doing mission in the world.

On the other hand, we have more region-based church planting strategies encouraged in the Bible:
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."(Acts 1:8)
And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation [ethnos] under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.(Acts 2:5-6)
Now in the church that was at Antioch [not the Greek or Hebrew Church of Antioch] there were certain prophets and teachers....(Acts 13:1 )
"For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.' "(Acts 13:47)
And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.(Acts 13:49) preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment.(2Cor 10:16)
"To the angel of the church of Ephesus [not Roman Church of Ephesus or Greek Church of Ephesus]...(Rev 2:1) [all emphatics above mine]
Of course, with regard to easing of communication barrier, one can speak in matters of grammatical-conformity without doctrinal compromise (whether related to cultural semantics of verbal). Thus Paul says: "and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (1Cor 9:20-22). Similarly, "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.(1Cor 10:31-33) Obviously, Paul is not talking about people-group church planting; but, doing whatever was lawfully right and necessary to save some. In fact, he asserts to the Church at Colosse that they must put on the new man (created in Christ) and not walk according to or in order to celebrate or idolize the ways of Adamic humanity (to idolize culture or tradition above the new man). "Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.(Col 3:9-11).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Sources of Our Thoughts

"This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there." (Jas 3:15-16)

The Bible talks about at least four sources of human thoughts:
  1. The World (books, images, media, friends, traditions, culture, belief-systems, etc)
  2. Our Nature or Soul (Gr. psuchikos; past experiences, inferences, memories, feelings, desires, lusts, undealt sin, immediate need, wickedness inside)
  3. The Devil (Evil spirits, occultic teachings)
  4. God (The Holy Spirit, The Word of God)
Examples of Worldly Thoughts:
  • You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. (Lev 20:23)
  • As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (1Kgs 11:4)
  • Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: (Col 2:20)
Examples of Soulish Thoughts:
  • Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen 6:5)
  • And Abraham said, "Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. (Gen 20:11)
  • When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face. (Gen 38:15)
  • "Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,' and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. (Deut 15:9)
  • The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts. (Ps 10:4)
  • For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matt 15:19)
  • When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (1Cor 13:11)
Examples of Demonic Thoughts:
  • Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Matt 16:23)
  • Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? (Acts 5:3)
  • The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (1Tim 4:1)
  • They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (Rev 20:9)
Examples of Thoughts from God:
  • Divine Vision: I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. (Dan 4:5)
  • Good Conscience that Bears Testimony to God's Law Within: "Since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) (Rom 2:15)
  • Holy Spirit: The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." (Acts 8:29)
  • The Word of God: "and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2Tim 3:15)
Whenever we feel confused and uncertain about the origin of our thoughts, we should ask: "Did I get these thoughts from the world, or from my mind and heart, or from the devil, or from God? One thing is sure, if these thoughts involve envy, self-seeking, confusion, and every evil thing, they are not from God. The characteristics of divine thoughts are that they are "first pure (without malice), then peaceable (peace-loving, open to reason), gentle (not aggressive and hurtful), willing to yield (submissive), full of mercy and good fruits (forgiving, edifying, and comforting), without partiality and without hypocrisy (unbiased, unprejudiced, honest and transparent)."

Keys to Walking According to Divine Wisdom
  • Cleanse your heart, keep it pure. "The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him. (Prov 15:26, NIV)
  • Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established. (Prov 16:3)
  • Contemplate on the Word of God (Psa.1:1-3)
  • Conform life to God (Rom.12:2; 1Pet.1:14,15).

Truth, Freedom, and Determinism

"Tell a lie, speak it loudly, repeat it often, and the majority of people will believe it." ~ Adolf Hitler

Sinister as this quote appears, deliberate lying is part of propaganda and advertisement all around. And, while people recognize much of it as false (for instance, an ad that shows women swarming on a man using a particular body spray), it is held that somehow the elevated picture one paints will have a psychologically deterministic noetic effect. But, are truth and determinism compatible? That is a vital question the answer to which will decide two things:
1. Whether humans have epistemic freedom; that is the choice to know.
2. Whether knowledge entails moral responsibility.

While some sort of psychological determinism exists, as evident from experiments in group conformity, Milgram's authority experiments, and Piaget's experiments on cognitive ability with children, the determinism of psychology argues in support of uniformity of experience and not diversities of truth. That is to say, that the psychological experiments may be repeated to bring forth the same results each time, to verify the theory; however, if someone says that each human is wired separately to believe in contradictory things as true (for instance, one's conviction of pantheism versus another's conviction of Trinitarianism; or one's conviction of determinism versus another's conviction of non-determinism), then we face a different kind of problem.

To say, for instance, that one is wired to see one thing as truth and another is wired to see its contradictory position as truth is to make a statement that denies the existence of freedom in matters of truth; this means that the person making the statement has no epistemic freedom; but, if he doesn't have epistemic freedom, then he is either the one who is deceived or is not, though both believe that the other is the deceived one; how will, then, he know whether he is the one who is deceived or the other is the one who is deceived in reality? This disqualifies him from making any statement regarding truth; for in order for one to make a statement regarding truth, one must posit freedom as an essential attribute of truth. Therefore, the one who asserts that people are not wired to believe contradictory things, but choose to believe have the upper hand. This latter position makes the volitional epistemic event also a moral one.

Secondly, to say that one is wired to see one thing as truth and another is wired to see its contradictory position as truth, if this means the jettisoning of truth as absolute category, would plurify and relativize truth; however, if truth is relative, one cannot make a universal or absolute statement of truth, like "one is wired to see one thing as truth and another is wired to see its contradictory position as truth." This position is self-contradictory and self-defeating. Again, the asserter of freedom gains the upper hand.

Thirdly, to say that one is wired to see one thing as truth and another is wired to see the same as truth as well, but wired to willfully reject the truth, is to imply, firstly, that freedom is subjective and ultimately illusory; secondly, that knowledge is passive; thirdly, that knowledge is subject to causality and, therefore, is necessarily driven (in other words, it is impossible for anyone to have wrong opinions); however, this contradicts experience, for if freedom were illusory then responsibility would be illusory as well, if knowledge were passive, then all minds would see things equally unless fashioned dissimilarly, if knowledge is necessarily driven then people can't have false opinions, but experience proves the contradictory (even determinists believe that people have false opinions); therefore, the wired-theory is false.

Therefore, it is evident that for truth to be absolute, freedom must be a necessary property of it; and, since humans have freedom of will, they have epistemic and moral responsibility towards truth.