Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Thursday Post: Week 8: The Most Powerful Piece of Literature Known to Man

The Holy Scriptures constitutes one of the most powerful pieces of literature known to man. As the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews notes in chapter four verse twelve of that epistle, “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”.
How is the word of God living and powerful? It is an inanimate object: a book. A book can't do much of anything on it's own. A book can't grow lips or call our names when we are sinning. A book can't physically stop us from stealing, or from hatefully pulling the trigger of a gun. The writer to the Hebrews was not crazy. If he's not crazy, what does he mean?
Within the covers of a Bible lies written accounts of the life of Christ. The Old Testament shows what lead up to the life of Christ, and what Christ had to fulfill. It enhances the story of the New Testament, the actual teachings and actions of Christ. They are necessary to each other. But neither can live, neither can do anything in a physical sense. While the Bible is important, it needs the Church. The Church, as the bride of Christ, is the life and action of the Bible. The Church is what makes the word of God living and powerful. We enact the Bible in a very physical way as members of the body of Christ.
The writer to the Hebrews continues by saying that the word of God is “sharper than any two edged sword”. Not just any sword, a two edged sword. The passage quoted here is taken from the New King James Version, but the English Standard Version, the American Standard Version, The New American Standard Bible, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the King James Version all contain the phrase “two-edged”. Perhaps it was just used for emphasis, for example, “not only a regular sword, but a TWO-EDGED sword”. But I like to think that the use of the phrase “two-edged” is more symbolic. The Bible can be used for two different purposes: to judge and to save. Two sides. Judgment and salvation are, in some sense, two different sides of the same coin, just as there as a two-edged sword has two sharp edges, but it is still only one sword. I argue that by using the phrase “two-edged”, the writer to the Hebrews is giving testimony to the dual purpose of the Holy Scriptures.
Again, keeping to the militaristic imagery, the writer of the Hebrews says that the word of God “[pierces] even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. How does one separate soul from spirit? Is not one's soul and spirit the same thing? “Joints and marrow” seem to be pointing to the same thing. I would argue that yes, just like “joints and marrow”, the writer of the Hebrews would say that soul and spirit are one and the same. But how can the word of God divide them? I don't think that the writer to the Hebrews meant this to be literal. If soul and spirit are one and the same, just as joints and marrow are, then there is no separating them. This analogy merely emphasizes the writers statement that the word of God is powerful. How powerful? Powerful enough to divide something from itself.
“A discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. Again, emphasizing how powerful the word of God is. It's convicting. It's only a book, and it can't get up and physically guide us, but it can convict us through words. As already mentioned, God uses the Church, the body of Christ, to make the word of God living and powerful. We as Christians help the Bible to convict. Not many lost souls will simply pick up a Bible and read it for fun, but we can use the Bible, like a two-edged sword, to pierce to the very inward parts of that lost soul and cut away all that is not wanted.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Thursday Post: Week 7: Blood in the Two Covenant Systems

When discussing the sacraments, blood is nearly always viewed as being symbolic of life. But there is another view to blood, one that is not often heard in sacramental theology, but which bears just as much importance as the first.
In the Old Covenant system, sacrifice was normal. That meant that blood was common. With that blood came the forgiveness of sins and the redemption of the body (promise of salvation in Abraham's bosom). But it was not a once and for all sacrifice. It had to be done often. Blood meant death. Death occurred often. The death of God's creation for the salvation of his people. The old covenant people were redeemed by death.
Now, in the New Covenant, we have Christ. He died for us, and thus we are still redeemed by death, but the death is different. It is only Christ who died, just one man. A man who was both 100% human and 100% divine, yes, but still one man. In the New Covenant, there's less death, and because of that, there's less blood. The blood that is shed is His blood, and so it is much more special and altogether worth more than the blood of goats and calves.
As the writer to the Hebrew's notes (as well as many others) in chapter nine verse twenty-two, “without shedding of blood there is no remission”. Death had to come upon something to save humanity, lest humanity itself fall prey to death. The Hebrews in the Old Covenant had calves and goats, but “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14) Because Christ is greater than the sacrifices before, he was and is able to completely redeem all who follow Him by His death, rather than by the death of millions, literally millions of His lower creation.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Thursday Post: Week 6: Lord of Creation, Lord of Justice

God, being the Author and Lord of all creation, has certain views on the characteristics which define His creation. One of these characteristics which ought to be seen in creation is justice. Because of the fall, however, creation cannot have this attribute. We are unable to be as completely just as God (or we) would like us to be.
Bringing the world to rights is part of God's great plan of creation. Ever since man disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, we have been in need of salvation. Salvation from death, and salvation from evil. Justice is set up in order to condemn evil. Therefore, the ultimate justice, the ultimate condemnation of evil, must come from God, since He is the author of good, the opposite of evil. Death was defeated by Christ when he rose from the grave, but evil still abounds, even though Satan has been overcome. Therefore, justice is still needed.
Why is God so concerned about setting the world to rights? God, first and foremost, is a God of order. He made His creation with a definite order and hierarchy. After all, He allowed Adam to name the animals, did He not? Our God is a methodical God. He made things in order, day by day.
Secondly, God is a king. He is ruler over all the earth. Thus, it is only logical to suppose that He wants us to have order and hierarchy in our societies as well; that is, government. Government everywhere, both in a political sense, and in an ecclesiastical sense. Without government on our part, we tend to wander away from truth, order, and most of all, justice.
Related to the issue of justice, is the issue of citizenship. Good citizens are those which obey their government and serve their country. But in his epistle to the Philippians, St. Paul states that our citizenship is not here on earth, but in heaven. Does that mean that we neglect being obedient here on earth? Of course not. Christ told us to “give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's”. Even though we are citizens of the heavenly kingdom, it does not follow that we cease to be citizens of earthly ones. That means that, as citizens, we must take part in the fight to bring justice to all the ends of the world.
But, if only God can ultimately bring justice to creation, doesn't that make our fight futile? Of course not! If we follow that line of reasoning, we might as well give up evangelism simply because God has the ability to save whoever He wants. It is not in God's nature to strike every last murderer with lightning upon the instant that he commits the crime. Murderers will be judged, just like the rest of us, but many murderers still live to tell their tales. God has left earthly governments in charge of carrying out justice. God could do it all Himself, but again, it's not in His nature. He has given authority to us, His creation, to bring the world to rights, one little bit at a time, until the day comes when He will complete and purify heaven and earth.
God will bring all His creation to rights, and it is our job as citizens to do our best to promote justice while we are on this earth. If we call ourselves Christians, then we must recognize that our God is a God who loves justice, it’s evident in the general revelation of His creation, and it is evident in the specific revelation of His word. And if we call ourselves Christians, citizens of the heavenly kingdom as well as citizens here on earth, then we must share that love of justice, and use justice to fight the battle that has been raging on for centuries: the battle between good and evil.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


An excerpt from "The Dangerous Book for Boys" by Conn Iggulden

"You may already have noticed that girls are quite different from you. By this, we do not mean the physical differences, more the fact that they remain unimpressed by your mastery of a game involving wizards, or your understanding of Mores code. Some will be impressed, of course, but as a general rule, girls do not get quite as excited by the use of urine as a secret ink as boys do.

We thought long and hard about what advice could possibly be suitable. It is an inescapable fact that boys spend a great deal of their lives thinking and dreaming about girls, so the subject should be mentioned here - as delicately as possible.

Advice About Girls

1. It is important to listen. Human beings are often very self-centered and like to talk about themselves. In addition, it's an easy subject if someone is nervous. It is good advice to listen closely - unless she has also been given this advice, in which case an uneasy silence could develop, like two owls sitting together.

2. Be careful with humor. It is very common for boys to try to impress girls with a string of jokes, each one more desperate than the last. One joke, perhaps, and then a long silence while she talks about herself...

3. When you are older, flowers really do work - women love them. When you are young, however, there is a ghastly sense of being awkward rather than romantic - and she will guess your mother bought them.

4. Valentine's Day cards. Do not put your name on them. The whole point is the excitement a girl feels, wondering who finds her attractive. If it says "From Brian" on it, the magic isn't really there. This is actually quite a nice thing to do to someone you don't think will get a card. If you do this, it is even more important that you never say, "I sent you one because I thought you wouldn't get any." Keep the cards simple. You do not want one with fancy stuff of any kind.

5. Avoid being vulgar. Excitable bouts of windbreaking will not endear you to a girl, just to pick one example.

6. Play a sport of some kind. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it replaces the corpse-like pallor of the computer programmer with a ruddy glow. Honestly, this is more important than you know.

7. If you see a girl in need of help - unable to lift something, for example - do not taunt her. Approach the object and greet her with a cheerful smile, while surreptitiously testing the weight of the object. If you find you can lift it, go ahead. IF you can't try sitting on it and engaging her in conversation.

8. Finally, make sure you are well-scrubbed, your nails are clean and your hair is washed. Remember that girls are as nervous around you as you are around them, if you can imagine such a thing. They think and act rather differently to you, but without them, life would be one long football locker room. Treat them with respect."

Hmmm..... good things to know.... plus I thought it was rather humorous.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Thursday Post: Week 5: Eliminate Prostitution!

Prostitution. The word isn't a pleasant one, and yet prostitution is given a blind eye in every country of the world. In some countries, such as The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and New Zealand, prostitution is nearly a government job. They have unions. It's an organized business. Sitting here in California, I run across ads promoting prostitution are all over the Internet. Prostitution is far secretive. Why? Why do we let this happen? What happened to our dignity? When did our rights overrule our humanity?
As a teenage male, it seems socially awkward for me to talk about this, but if I don't talk about this who will? There are obviously not enough people taking the initiative to blot this defect from our midst.
Note that these counties which have such organized forms of prostitution are “Western Countries”. As Americans, it seems as if we ought to naturally be rivals with the countries of the Middle East. We have this idea in our heads that the Middle East is our enemy, that those countries are the ones who hate us and bombed us on 9/11. Yes, we have our differences, but I say that we have much to learn from them. The Islamic countries are the countries which hold the death penalty for prostitution. They are the ones which actually recognize prostitution for what it is: disgusting. Perhaps their methods of punishment are harsh, but they're leagues above where we are.
When will we recognize what we've done? When will we wake up and see what a mess we've made of ourselves. We spend so much time promoting human rights and catering to the freedom of our citizens that in doing so, we're hurting ourselves. We're stabbing ourselves in the back.
The Creator