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Archive for January, 2010

I first read about this on Jesus Creed blog, and now have found the article on Yahoo. Good read.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20100115/sc_livescience/biblepossiblywrittencenturiesearliertextsuggests

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New Books

I just purchased some excellent new books for my 2010 academic year in the area of biblical studies:

Acts (taught by Prof. RA Streett; PhD (Wales), PhD (CGST)

-The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on the Book of Acts by Ben Witherington III

Revelation (taught by Prof. Daniel Streett; MA (Yale), PhD (Southeastern)

-New Testament Theology: Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham

-A Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament editors: GK Beale and DA Carson

I also purchased the new ESV with Apocrypha

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I have decided that my next area of personal theological study will be centred around John the Baptist. I have three primary questions which I will try to answer in the three separate posts, with another post dedicated to introductory issues.

Question 1. What was John’s mission (eschatological, Isaianic mission, Holy spirit, etc.)?

Question 2. What was the content of Johns message (The Gospel, the Kingdom, Anti-Imperialism, etc.)

Question 3. Was John associated with the Essenes? If so, what are the implications?

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Suffering in 2010

Suffering in the Christian life can probably be easily compared to that of the life of Job. It might not be exactly the same circumstances, but I think the same key indigents are there.

Job was “the greatest man among all the people of the East” (Job 1.3) and “was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1.1, NIV). He prospered, loved God, and wanted his family to stand pure before the Lord (daily sacrifices and purification before feasts). In this life of obedience he truly prospered until he became the target of the Satan. All at once jobs cattle, camels. donkeys, sheep, servants, and children were taken from him, and his flesh was struck with boils. Yet instead of cursing God, which is what the Satan and even his wife expected he, “fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1.20,21, ESV).

In these passages we see a beautiful picture of how Christians are supposed to respond to suffering and persecution (not that Job got it all right, see rebukes from Elihu and YHWH, but the discourse ended with Jobs repentance in 42.1-6). Though it might seem as though we have the weight of the world on our shoulders, and sin seems to entangle us we must still fall before the Lord as worship, for he is our all in all. I know many of us cannot fathom the experience of Job, but at the same time there are many children of God that have lost everything for the sake of Messiah. When I first came to Criswell College I was in the mission and evangelism program. I quickly learned much of Christianities struggles in the rest of the world, and that was further validated by my time in Israel while on mission practicum. In the west we do not experience the same type of persecution as those in the east and middle east (though we do experience persecution of a different type). When I think about Jobs predicament and his faithfulness to God, it is very much a picture of how many in the middle east respond to the suffering they face…to count it all as loss, for the chance of suffering for the Name. Many of Christs followers

have lost their families, their homes, their currency (much like Job loosing his livestock), and many their lives. Suffering is a major part of being in Christ. Sometimes, even when everything in this world seems like an enemy against us, the best thing to do is like Job, to fall on our faces and worship.

When we see our brothers and sisters in Christ suffering we must really seek to find what response is best for the situation. In many cases, Like Job’s friends and wife, our advice can be totally of base. Sometimes the best thing to do is sit in silence with them (Job 2.13). Many times we ourselves can give bad council, for instance with Eliphaz, though he sought to help Job out he was wrong. He basically claimed that the innocent prosper, and assumed Job’s innocence it seems until we get to chap 22.1-11. Yet, we know that Job was “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1.8). This council from Eliphaz seems to be wrong for the situation at hand.

Next, Zophar again is unwise in his council pertaining to Job saying, “Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves” (Job 11.6). Yet once again though Zophar’s theology might have been correct, his assessment of Jobs predicament and state of spiritual character was wrong. Job did not “deserve worse”! He was upright and Godly, yet Zophar and Job did not understand sovereign God’s plan and the temptation process of the devil. So when we seek to give right council we must truly seek Almighty God. Job’s suffering was caused by the Satan, yet allowed by God for His ultimate purpose. We as believers must truly realize that sometimes the best thing to do, is to sit in silence. Others times it is best to implore our siblings in Christ of their situation. And at other times (most usually!) the best thing to do is listen and pray, for we do not always know the mind of God, nor truly our friends’ cause of suffering.

It does seem to be the case though, that God has given us His spirit, and with it comes understanding. While in Israel I meet a girl my age named Hader. She was a fairly new convert , but had for the most part been rejected by her family upon her conversion, and work and stayed in the Anglican Church in the “old city” (Christ Church). Yet, even though I was not familiar with her reality, in time I could give words of comfort. Many times we (like Job’s friends) speak to quickly and do not really comprehend the reality of suffering in others life’s. Like I have said before the best thing to do is to listen and implore the Lord for His wisdom.

In the epistle to the Hebrews, we have many themes of suffering, temptation, and the call for perseverance. There is much debate on who the epistle was delivered to, but the content is the same none the less. In it we see the superiority of God’s Son in all thing whether it be Moses, Angels, or even the old covenant. Yet something was causing some to drift away from their salvation (Heb 2.1-3, most likely their suffering explained in chap. 10), and they where being exhorted not to “ neglect such a great salvation” (Heb 2.3). Whatever their suffering was the author reminded them that, “he himself (Jesus) likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Heb 2.14-18). In this we see true wisdom…whatever they were going through (hard struggle with sufferings, publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, plundering of your property, etc.; Chap 10) the author new one thing for sure, that Jesus was better! Even though their struggles and pain were much, the new covenant and being made priests for Jesus, was worth it all. They would not fail like those at Kadesh-Barneia, they would not fall like those those in the wilderness generation, but persevere to end to reach the promised rest! Returning to the theme of Job’s suffering and to that of the Hebrews, we could tell our modern brothers and sisters in Christ this: “do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” (Hebrews 10.35-36) But this statement begs the question ‘why?’. And the author answers it beautifully: “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Heb 10.37-39) Our Messiah is coming! Though we suffer now, we must not shrink for “He has no pleasure” in those who do, and ultimately we know that those who persevere in faith will be vindicated like Job!

This reminds me of the promise of Jesus when foretelling his future suffering “”If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it (Mark 8.34-35). So like Job, even though our suffering is horrible, we must see the final outcome of it…the promise of vindication by Christ, which is rest from out troubles, a new nature and body, and new home. That is what the Gospel brings us, salvation from the age of Satan and the reality of the age to come.

I, a westerner can really not fathom much of the sufferings of Job or the church. But I do know that what rings true in the holy scripture, themes of suffering for the Jews, Job, the prophets, the early church, and even developing future generations, can only be solved by submission to Christ. Like Job, you might be righteous and upright, but you might still be put to the test. Like the believers in 1 Peter, though you are “exiles”and “tested by various trials” it “tests genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1.7-9).”

Finally, after all the suffering Job encountered, God vindicated him. It was the same for the early church, and will be the same for us. My words of advice for a brother in Christ who is enduring suffering would most likely be something like this: “I don’t really know what you are going through, but hold fast to the promise of Christ! For those who continue until the end will be greatly rewarded”. Let us remember to be silent, slow to speak, quick to listen, and try to have the wisdom of Jesus, the one who has suffered more than anyone, yet reigns victorious!

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