The Promise is the Unity

It’s easy to say the Bible is written around the unifying theme of Jesus, but it might be a little difficult to see exactly where He is sometimes. Words are used such as “promise” and “covenant” (essentially a promise too). But sometimes even those key words are absent such as in Genesis 3:15 when God promises (without using that word) a descendant who will crush the head of the serpent. Abraham was “promised” (using the word “covenant” instead) that this descendant would be from a child born to Sarah, who would “bless the nations.” Later on Isaac was called the “son of the promise” by Paul in places such as Romans 9:9 and that thought is tied with the “seed of Eve” all through the Bible. David was included in the promise. God said he would have a son who would sit on his throne in a kingdom that would last forever. This promised son and blessing was part of the gospel (good news) preached to Israel at Sinai (Hebrews 4:2). The Law was part of the promise because it lays out behavior expected by God as He takes up residence according to the promise. He took up residence in Israel and expected certain actions, and as He takes up residence now in believers those expectations have not changed.

 

If the Bible really is “one faith” (chapter 4) delivered to “one body” (chapter 3) by “one God” and “one Lord” (chapter 2) as Paul says in Ephesians 4 then the next question is “Why aren’t we (the church) following it?” If the New Covenant is the Law written on a heart of flesh, then it seems some biblical practices are being ignored by those who are supposed to have this covenant as their operating document. If the Bible really is one continuous, unified message (and it is) with no breaks or stops and starts or new bodies created then the next step is to grab hold and put it into every area of life. Not just as a novelty or for some chuckles once in a while but hungering and thirsting for it as if His Word was a treasure hidden in a field or a pearl of great price. I know I’m mixing metaphors but you get my drift.

 

All the books of the Bible were written by people who understood the continuity of this promise from God and included continuous revelation from God as to how this promise would be realized. All the believers throughout the ages who accepted God’s Word looked forward to the delivery of the promise and its full implementation. The first century church lived all of it. When we throw out parts of the Word, whether we dismiss them as merely “civil” or “ceremonial” shadows or “fulfill” them and terminate them, we destroy the unity and continuity of His living oracles. The promise (or promises since there are other parts to the promise) cannot be seen, hoped for, or realized as well as it could. Like a guitar with a string missing, or a violin without a bow, if we remove any part of His Word the gospel and the promises of God are reduced to a limited discordant series of feel-good proverbs lacking the power to move us as they are intended.

Contradiction – A Loving God Executes Judgment

There are no contradictions in the Bible. Yeah, I know, if you’re a believer you get the contradiction thing thrown at you all the time, but it’s just not true. The word contradiction literally means (from Latin) “to speak against” and includes “assertion of the opposite” or “direct opposition between things compared.” It is asserted that the Bible contradicts itself, therefore it cannot be believed. But it’s not the Bible that is contradictory, it is the person viewing it.

 

Usually the reason for the contradiction is all in the head. A contradiction is perceived because of limited understanding, limited information, or limited willingness to do what God says. Mostly it’s the lack of willingness. You can tell this by the extra tag on the alleged contradiction such as “I can’t believe in (or follow) a God who says He’s a God of love but would wipe out an entire race of people.” The “I can’t believe” statement gives them away. What they really mean is “I don’t want to do what God says and I’m using this as an excuse to do it.”

 

God is all love, but He is also all justice. He doesn’t stop being loving in order to be just, nor does He stop being just in order to love. He is always good, right, and holy. His love and justice go together. By definition whatever God does is good, right, holy, loving and just. We may not see it, or agree with His actions, but that does not mean that God contradicts Himself.

 

Have you ever heard it said, “You haven’t done what I’ve done” or “You wouldn’t understand what I’m going through because you haven’t been through it yourself” or similar statements? It’s wrong (do we have to hit a finger with every kind of hammer out there to know how it hurts with all of them?) but let’s go with the thought for a minute. People who trot out the contradiction thing judge the Bible without actually doing what it says. They haven’t “been through it themselves” so they will not understand. Their “natural minds” refuse God’s living oracles which affects understanding. They have no intention of doing what God says, therefore they think a contradiction exists in the Bible when it only exists in their head.

 

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14, ESV)

 

So if you are accosted by a person who insists on contradictions, just tell them they don’t understand because they haven’t been through what you’ve been through!

Suicide Silence

I’ve been quiet for a while (no pun) because I’ve been struggling with writing an article about suicide. Recently a nephew went out this way, and this brought back memories from a few years ago when an acquaintance went out by her own hand also. It has taken some time to put down my thoughts on paper (okay, a word processor) and arrange them in a readable format. The article has some very personal testimony, and is very blunt. The connecting subjects of divorce, homosexuality, depression and anger are part of it, so exercise caution in reading. There will be many who do not like the truths I included, and I will be attacked. Here are some of the opening paragraphs, and there’s a link at the bottom for the whole article on wholebible.com

 

Her name was Theresa, a woman who killed herself at the end of December 2004 by jumping from a cliff on a hill near my home. She left behind eight kids, a broken marriage, and saddened friends. I knew Theresa a little because a few years before she died I answered an ad she placed at a local music store for people to form a band. We played together a couple of times; she was gifted with writing songs and playing keyboard and guitar. It didn’t work out for us to keep playing together because she lived in a town about 45 minutes away, so I mostly lost touch with her except for a couple of emails. Once she attended a Bible study we had in our home but as I remember the distance again was too great so she didn’t keep coming. I was reacquainted with her when I saw the newspaper article telling of her death.

 

I thought at first that she could not possibly have committed suicide, because the last I knew she seemed to be well adjusted if melancholy and bitter over her divorce. She had, I heard, solid relationships with a Baptist church she attended after she moved to our town, loved her kids, and had various friends. I suspected foul play; she couldn’t have jumped; she must have been pushed. But as the details were related to me, they found her footprints at the top of the cliff showing she was running towards the edge, and she had to jump far enough to clear a ledge just below the lip of the cliff. What sort of pain and anger, I wondered at the time, drove her to run toward her own destruction like that?

 

More recently a nephew of mine also decided to end his life. I didn’t know him at all, really, because he lived in another state and he’s the son from a previous marriage of my sister-in-law’s second husband. I met him a couple of times when he was a teenager. He was a likable, quiet kid who was into computers and was an amateur astronomer. According to friends he was smart and had two astronomy magazine articles written about some of his work. Like Theresa, he also seemed stable and there was no warning that he was feeling suicidal. Neither left a note, so we can only guess at the final straw that caused them to self-depart this physical plane.

 

As I understand it, for a few days before Theresa killed herself she wore duct tape over her mouth. One of her kids asked her why, and she said “no one was listening to her anyway.” She was right, in a way. We don’t want to hear it when someone is contemplating their own demise. After they’re dead we wonder why they didn’t seek help, but before they go it’s too uncomfortable to consider. Even if they did talk people have difficulty with answering. We can’t even talk about it very well after our loved ones are gone, so how much harder is it when they’re alive?

 

Read more online at www.wholebible.com

Declaration of Interdependence

I thought it would be appropriate today to list some of the facts behind our ultimate Declaration of Independence, or more properly Interdependence. All other government comes from God, God gives them permission to rule, and they are supposed to rule according to His Word. Sad for us that they mostly don’t. The U. S. was founded and has endured on many of His rules, but now we are in danger of passing into history because we have departed from them.

His book gathers His principles together and is like no other, ever.

    Written over 1,600 years by 40 different authors in three languages (not to mention the many languages spoken by the authors) representing three continents yet having amazing unity and continuity.

    Each testament is built around a historic section, a didactic section, and a prophetic section (past, present, and future or history, teaching, and proclamation).

    The Bible tells a single story of God’s people who still exist as a nation when all others have been relegated to the dust bin of history.

    All prophecy in the Bible though separated by time and distance forms an unbroken agreement on the future.

    The Word is unified like no other around the promise of God to provide a solution to the problem of sin and death and a return to a whole and right relationship with God the father in the person of our Messiah Jesus the Christ.

    The Bible has power greater than the sum of it’s parts to change lives, impart hope, soften hearts, and transform the world.

    It is unchanging, steady, and true. Many people have tried to destroy it and instead have been destroyed themselves. It is the best selling book ever produced in 6,000 years, and the only one which has had thousands of people willing to die to defend it and actually dying because of following and preaching it. Pascal famously said, “I prefer to believe those writers who get their throats cut for what they write.”

    No other religion or religious writing, from Atheism to Zoroastrianism, comes close to the wisdom, love, and peace of God’s living oracles. Every other religion imagined contains elements of God’s Word and testifies to some of His works but fail to answer questions of why we are here and where we are going. His writings give rest and direction to humble hearts willing to give up the false idea of their own godhood to acknowledge, worship and obey His.

Truly His Declaration will continue and lead us to real freedom in a kingdom without end ruled by a righteous, just and loving King of Kings Yeshua haMashiach. It is a rod of iron and a sword of steel to those who rebel, but life and health and all things good to those who humbly receive it into a heart of flesh filled with His Spirit.