Saturday, December 15, 2018

Jesus rules and judges all people

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke,† though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts‡; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34, NKJV)

"All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Me. Going, therefore, disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep all that I have commanded you...." (Matthew 28:18-20, CFB)

"For the Father judges no one. Instead, He gave all the judgement to the Son, so that all should honour the Son just as they should honour the Father. He not honouring the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him. Amen amen I say to you that him listening to the Word of Mine and trusting Him who sent Me has eternal life and does not come into judgement but has passed over from the death into the life." (John 5:22-24, CFB)


"And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies*:
'You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.'
For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect;** on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God." (Hebrews 7:15-19, NKJV)

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† So with MT, Tg., Vg.; LXX, Syr. and I turned away from them
‡ Literally, "inward parts".
* Nestle-Aland / United Bible Societies prefer the manuscripts that read "it is testified"
** That is to say, "complete".

CFB: Scripture quoted from the Christ Family Bible. Copyright © 2018 by J.J. Thomas. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

NKJV: Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sins that stop a human from entering God's Kingdom

"Or do you not know that unrighteous people will not inherit God's kingdom? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor cowardly,* nor homosexuals,** nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor abusive, nor rapacious will inherit God's kingdom."1 Corinthians 6:9-10

"Manifest, however, are the works of the flesh, which are fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery,*** enmity, strife, rivalry, rages, selfish schemes, divisions, heresies, envy, drunkenness, revelries, and the things like these, of which I say beforehand to you, just as I said before, that they practicing the things like these will not inherit God's kingdom."Galatians 5:19-21

"...anyone a fornicator or unclean or covetous (that is an idolater) has not inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and God."Ephesians 5:5

"But to the cowardly and unfaithful and them being loathsome and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers*** and idolaters and all the deceitful is the part of theirs in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the death—the second one."Revelation 21:8

"Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers*** and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone loving and practicing falsehood."Revelation 22:15

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* Possibly "effeminate [males]"
** Possibly "men having sex with men"
*** Possibly φάρμακος (phármakos) and φάρμακοι (phármakoi) also refer to using spiritually destructive substances

Scripture quoted from The Christ Family Bible. Copyright © 2018 by J.J. Thomas. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Lord's parenting and counsel

1. Practise Christ's way: Love as Christ loved.

2. Get Christ's education: Learn all the Holy Scriptures by heart.

3. Practise elenchus (truthful/scientific evaluation): Let evidence speak against falsehoods.

Our banking should agree with Christ

Debt is a major problem today for nations, cities, families, etc.

One reason is that we have not insisted that our own banks agree with Christ: the laws and teaching of the Holy Bible about charging interest-on-loans and cancelling debts.

Christ's teaching that it's unjust to charge interest on loans [1] is entirely consistent with the rest of the Holy Bible [2].

Can we have banks that do not charge interest? Yes.

One way for a bank to operate is to be a shareholding company: 
1. When the bank lends money it receives part-ownership.
2. People put their money in the bank by buying shares in the bank.
3. When a person wants to take money out of the bank, they sell shares.

For the shares to have a stable value, the bank must focus on financing stable assets, such as land and businesses.

This also helps to avoid crisis, because such banks will not provide money where the returns on the investment are not clear.


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Notes

[1] "...I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest." (Matthew 25:26-27, NRSV)

[2] "You shall not charge interest to your brother—interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest." (Deuteronomy 23:19, NKJV)

"O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill? Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right... who do not lend money at interest...." (Psalm 15:1, 2a, 5a, NRSV)

"Now the person who shall be righteous, the one who performs judgment and righteousness,... shall not give his money for interest and shall not take excess...." (Ezekiel 18:5, 8a, NETS)


NETS: Quotations marked NETS are taken from A New English Translation of the Septuagint, ©2007 by the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Inc. Used by permission of Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

NKJV: Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

NRSV: New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Monday, November 19, 2018

The day I was baptized in the Holy Spirit

The Almighty Lord Jesus accepted me as a disciple on 21 April 2013, the day when I completely repented from Satan and all rebellion against Almighty God, and when I gave thanks that I could become a disciple of Christ Jesus. I know this, because I experienced an amazing thing that day (like pure radiating energy that suddenly began radiating onto me and into my body) and because from that day on, I have been a walking confirmation of 1 John 3, “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God”.

Before 21 April 2013, I was a fornicator, a drunkard, a person involved in rages, abusiveness, selfish schemes, falsehood, cowardice, murder (through an abortion), covetousness, envy, idolatry, uncleanness, licentiousness, theft, sorcery, heresies, revelries, a practicer of carnal works that drag a human being into Hellfire (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Ephesians 5:3-5, Galatians 5:19-21, Revelation 21:8, 22:15).

But after 21 April 2013? Have I committed any of the carnal works the Holy Bible names? Not one. I’ve been tempted a few times, but now another thing happens. Somehow my mind is awakened to the terror of committing a carnal work, the shame it brings to Christ, the Holy Spirit, and my Father in the Heavens, and the punishments and torments that I will suffer if I commit that carnal work: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

The day of my baptism in the Holy Spirit was like how I am kept from carnal works ever since: amazing things happened to lead me to the right confession at the right time in the right place.

(1) For the first time in my life, I had returned from a Sunday church service feeling low. I had always come home feeling elated, hopeful, joyful. This Sunday: shocked and saddened and despondent, after experiencing the coldness of two seminary friends at the church coffee, and lacking much hope in that church fellowship after seeing its dry, formulaic preaching and singing for several weeks.

(2) But I had an inspiration: I could go to an international Bible fellowship, held in the cafeteria of a church, that a student-friend of mine (from environmental studies) had led me to visit to some years beforehand. It would be easy, because my neighbours downstairs from me attended that fellowship. And so I went and asked them to bring me along. They said yes.

(3) When I walked into the cafeteria, before the meeting had begun, suddenly I gave a confession in my heart, without planning to do so. “The whole Bible is written by God, and it convicts me as a sinner. I need a savior.”

I was 40 then. I had grown up in a culture of great skepticism to the testimony of the Bible: our homes, our schools, our churches, our politicians, our artists, our intellectuals, our scientists, walked in skepticism to the Bible, and so I did too. How God led me out of that wicked dark pit, is a story to tell! The 4 major steps were (a) I tried to keep Jesus’s words; (b) So I experienced miraculous coincidences, just like Jesus promises (John 14); (c) I read the Bible and saw its amazing, intelligent design); (d) I read John Lennox’s book God’s Undertaker—Has Science Buried God? that describes how Science does not contradict the Bible and how instead, Science witnesses to the Bible, and that atheist scientists are forced by the evidence they see in the Universe to accept that there is a divine creator as described in the Bible. Shortly after I finished reading Lennox’s book, at the end of 2012, and a few months before the day of my baptism, I had accepted that the Bible was almost certainly inspired in every respect by Almighty God.

(4) The preacher that day was focused on explaining to us the importance of being baptized in the Holy Spirit! She urged us to come forward and kneel and receive hands and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

(5) I risked my career as a minister in a church, by answering the call to be baptized that day. I had trained for nearly 4 years full-time, taking loans, to minister in a church that looks with great skepticism on the Bible and Holy Spirit baptism beyond the original first water-sprinkling baptism. Why did I risk it? After I began working as a trainee minister in that church, I developed a belief that I was no longer on my way to eternal life with God. So I was scared!

I didn’t feel anything happen when people laid their hands on me, and prayed for me to receive the Holy Spirit. I went back to my chair and began to pray. All I remember is talking to Jesus, saying thank You, thank You that I can be a disciple of Yours. This went on for many minutes. And then something did happen! Right there as I sat in that chair. The feeling was so unlike anything I had felt before, and it was so powerful, that I knew it was from God. My first reaction was joy, joy that God was not abandoning me! I was so relieved that I laughed for a moment out of joyful relief!

I don’t remember much more about that day. But I remember that for the next several days, I was a man on a mission, cleaning out my home of anything that could be offensive to God (like a Buddhist book, or books skeptical about the Bible from seminary courses). Hour after hour, I purified my home.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Christian testimony

I struggled with anxiety-depression and addictions, alongside the many trials of being a "child of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3), for circa 40 years, even as I read the Bible and worshipped at churches (which did not properly honour God's Word). Then in 2013 I faced up to the truth: the Holy Bible was right, I was wrong. Thanks to the testimonies of many courageous people, I had come to believe that the entire Bible is God's Word, and that I could entrust my rescue to Christ Jesus. 

Encouraged by a preacher who with her husband had established a church in Kibera, Kenya, I prayed for baptism in the Holy Spirit, and people laid hands on me. Like the Holy Bible and Bob Dylan say: a great deed of power took place. I know that, and can witness to that truthfully, not only because of what happened in that moment, when I experienced something like the power of a very strong sun radiating into me, if only for a few seconds. It's also a sure witness because 4 years later, I see that I haven't been the same person since. I have experienced liberation from slavery to sin, just as the Holy Bible testifies:


"But gratitude be to the God,
because you were slaves of the sin,
yet you obeyed from heart unto that
to which you were delivered—
that form of teaching. Then, having
been liberated from the sin, you were
enslaved to the righteousness." 
(Romans 6:17-18)

The Holy Bible is true. God does rescue people through Christ Jesus. I know this because I have the same experience as countless other Christians: when I put ALL my trust in Jesus, I was set free from many kinds of slavery (to sins, wrath, addictions, etc.). But I had to walk free, choose freedom. For example, I continued to use filthy language, because I hadn't read in the New Testament the commandment not to.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Holy Bible is perfect, but all people stumble (even in what they say)

Several years ago, in early 2012, I began researching how Israelites, Jews and Christians preserved memories. What is the primary example of this for Christians? Christ Jesus of Nazareth instructed His disciples to celebrate their meals together in a memorial to Jesus, with the two witnesses of bread commemorating Jesus's broken body and wine commemorating Jesus's spilt blood.

The research work led to the progressive realization that these communities followed memory traditions and very strict witness rules, which together explain the form of the Holy Scriptures. 

The two main rules for testimony were (1) No false testimony, and (2) Multiple corroborating witnesses required. Even Jesus of Nazareth is described as following these testimony rules. If He followed them, it is highly likely that His disciples did too. And that gives us a key for understanding a range of difficulties with the New Testament texts. 

In one and the same book, The Acts of the Apostles, an incident is reported in two conflicting ways. What is the best explanation for this? One explanation is that the book is assembled from different original texts: it doesn't have one author. If that were so, why wouldn't the editor(s) edit away the conflict between the two reports of St. Paul's encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9 & 22)? If instead a single human author wrote Acts, and he followed the two rules of testimony that Christ Jesus did, we have an excellent explanation of why he preserved the conflicting testimonies:

(1) When Luke himself needed to record the history of St. Paul's conversion, he wrote it in Acts 9, in his own voice. 

(2) When Luke recorded the history of St. Paul's later speech in Jerusalem, he wrote it in Acts 22, and followed what St. Paul said.

(3) It is entirely acceptable and predictable that even St. Paul could have stumbled in his own words about a detail of the events on the road to Damascus (e.g. mixing up whether his travelling companions did not hear the voice or did not see the light; compare 9:7 with 22:9). This is because Holy Scripture itself tells us, when reasoning about why very few should be Christian teachers, that "we all stumble" in many ways, or a lot (James 3:1-2).