Pie in the Sky

What does it profit to gain the whole world yet forfeit one’s soul? This present earth is filled with devils the hymn writer tells us (A Mighty Fortress is Our God). In the book of Job, Satan describes himself as traversing the earth back and forth and roaming on it (Job 1.7). Also, in Ephesians (6.12) it speaks of rulers and authorities over this dark world. Therefore, if one’s goal and focus is upon only this earthy life, they will miss the promises of the new earth and heaven where only good reigns (2Pe. 3.13).

Darius I: An Archaeological Biography — Bible Archaeology Report

One of the ways in which archaeology is beneficial to biblical studies is the way in which it furnishes background information that helps us a better understand the world in which events in Scripture took place.  Such is the case with the history of the Jewish people during Persian-era and the subject of our next […]

Darius I: An Archaeological Biography — Bible Archaeology Report

Deluded and Living in a Dream World

The sad reality of earthly life is that many folks, possibly as a coping mechanism, live in a fantasy world. This is true also for Christians, though, not as much as they become fashioned in the inner person to resemble Christ. God is a jealous God noted throughout scripture and wants His children to think and live in His truth instead of imagining lies: Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? (James 4.5). God is gracious and works with us however to become vessels of Christ through humility and faith (see vss. 6-10). Of course there exist penalties for those who live lies.

Joe Carter identifies fantasy ideology as what drove the insurrectionists last Wed. and its root source: Satan’s war against God is the ultimate and archetypal example of a fantasy ideology. On a rational level, it makes no sense and raises the question of why such a pointless venture would have begun in the first place. After all, as every child in Sunday school can attest, the Devil and his demons cannot win against their Creator. So why fight at all?

“Live Not by Lies”: A Review

By Gregory Thompson

Abstract:

In light of this instrumental use of the dissident tradition, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Dreher’s story is finally not about them but about himself and the tribe that he represents. That it is a self-absorbed attempt not to understand and follow these inspiring human beings, but to somehow reflect the light of their inspiration back toward himself, in hopes that we might see him in it. It is, in short, bespoke dissidence, oriented not toward social transformation but toward self-creation. In this respect, even as Dreher decries therapeutic culture, he does so in a book constructed for both the legitimation and actualization of his own dissident identity.

https://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/rod-drehers-cold-war-imagination/

5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from Ted Lasso — Canon Fodder

Looking back on 2020, it seemed like all news was bad news. We moved from impeachment to the coronavirus to the killing of George Floyd to the presidential election to multiple church leadership scandals and back to the coronavirus again. But sometimes it’s the little things that bring some hope and optimism when we’re feeling…

5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from Ted Lasso — Canon Fodder

183. Defining Roman Catholicism: An Evangelical Attempt — Vatican Files

Is it possible to capture the heart of the Roman Catholic worldview in a short description? Obviously “Roman Catholicism” is an extremely rich and complex universe. L’articolo 183. Defining Roman Catholicism: An Evangelical Attempt sembra essere il primo su Vatican Files.

183. Defining Roman Catholicism: An Evangelical Attempt — Vatican Files

The Seven-fold Armor of God

Eph. 6.10-18 records Paul’s admonition to deploy weapons, both defensive and offensive, in the struggle against evil. The idea of both types of weapons comes from the list itself where these descriptions denote either offensive or defensive purposes. Also, in 2Cor. 6.7, Paul instructs to use “weapons of righteousness on the right and left.” It doesn’t take much insight to see the typical soldier of that day with a shield in left hand and sword in his right – one offensive and the other protective.

Most English versions, in their formatting, do not include v. 18 in the list of armor. It should be included, however, just as militaries rely on communication in their battles, so Christians can depend on God’s provision in the struggle.

Therefore, Paul’s list divides structurally as two groups of three with Faith as the center. ‘The faith’ is what we preach (Rom. 8.10). Also, without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11.6). Faith is the center since everyone has had intimations from Him: Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them (Rom. 1.19 NIV).

Here is my translation of Eph. 6.10-18 which seeks to provide a flow for memorization:

From now on, be empowered by the Lord and His mighty strength. Put on the whole armor of God to be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavens. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God in order to withstand in the evil day, having done everything to stand. Stand therefore having gird yourselves with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness and the feet fitted with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Besides this, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Put on the helmet of salvation along with the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God). With all prayer and petition, praying all times in the Spirit, with this in mind, watch and persevere in petitioning for all saints.

Paul mentions the panoply (vs.13), which refers to a complete suit of armor designed for battle. Partial armor will leave the wearer exposed in places; therefore, all of the mentioned items are vital. The foes are fallen spiritual entities over the world (cosmos). These dark forces traverse both earth and heaven, temporarily, and seem to be marshalled into various ranks against us. Therefore, Christians need to do everything to stand firm in Christ.

Truth as a belt: The Greek doesn’t mention a belt; instead, “girding truth around the waist.” The sense is a belt without explicitly saying it. The idea is to acquire the truth of scripture in a full and comprehensive way and to stand and defend when asked. There are many false and dumb ideas in society today, and for the Christian, they are to be assured in their mind of the truthfulness of scripture. This weapon seems more defensive in purpose but may also project a quiet confidence which will send a message to the opponents and other observers (see Phil. 1.28).

The breastplate of righteousness refers to love and faith, fastened around one’s neck, with these qualities written on the tablet of the heart (see Prov. 3. 3-4). Also, Paul defines what this breastplate is, in 1 Thess. 5.8: But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. This item of armor appears defensive in nature as well.

The Boots of preparation is an offensive weapon by which Christians are ready to hold forth the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection for humanity’s justification. In the Greek, no shoes are mentioned, instead, feet are to be fitted. Some sort of footwear is implied however to aid the feet in the journey, and, of course, to stand. Importantly, it is not just a preprogramed scheme such as the “Roman’s Road” where the lost are guided by only a few simple truths. Instead, the Christian should be prepared to speak in bible concepts at points where the inquirer has questions. Sharing one’s faith with others should not be forced in any way. Instead, it should possess an element of spontaneity and flow naturally. Speaking about God is the most natural thing to do. This is His world, after all. On the other hand, if someone is not receptive, the Christian is not to give what is holy unto dogs, or cast their pearls before pigs.

The shield of faith is primarily defensive and resembles the breastplate which has as one of its elements faith or faithfulness. The difference seems to be that the breastplate is more intimately attached to the vital parts of one’s constitution whereas the “shield of faith” is held more at a distance to stop general types of attacks.

The helmet of salvation refers to the assurance one has as they walk with the Lord. As mentioned in 1 Thess. 5.8, it is “the hope of salvation.” Hope here means something substantive, a confidence that the believer will experience the joy of the Lord after passing this veil of tears. This assurance will need to be constantly bolstered as the Christian does what is right in every circumstance: The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever (Is. 32.17 NET). This item, by its nature, protects and is, therefore, generally defensive.

The sword of the Spirit is defined for us in the text and is no mystery what it accomplishes: a thrust of truth. This must be wielded in love, however, since: but, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects to Him who is the Head-Christ (Eph. 4.15).

Prayer in the Spirit is accomplished when Christians, who have the Spirit, are no longer relying on themselves for wisdom. Prov. 3.5 is instructive: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. It is a choice for Christians to walk in the Spirit or be led by their old selves. Prayer in the Spirit is more typical after God has crushed all our idols. Those Christians determined to follow God will know how to pray to Him. This prayer is not only self-focused, or humanity-focused, but looks after the needs of other Christians. We need to persevere in prayer for the needs of all Christians.

Understanding the Olivet Discourse Mt. 24-25, Lk. 21

Some folks wonder whether this teaching of Jesus refers to the end of days or whether it was fulfilled in 70 C.E. when Jerusalem and its Temple was destroyed. Jesus speaks to both times in His discourse but Matthew’s account only deals with the end times and he constructs the account for this purpose. Luke, on the other hand, records both events in 21. 5-36. Luke does focus primarily on the end times also but inserts a section that covers the Jerusalem’s Temple destruction in 70 C.E. (vss.20-24).

The key to this understanding is to see the clause: “pregnant women and nursing mothers” referring to different sets of women, one in 70 C.E. and the other during the end.

Emptying My Drafts Folder

At the end of every year I like to try to finish drafts that I have started or dump them. This results in a sporadic flood of posts or not (if I dump them). Looking ahead to next year, it may turn out to be rather sporadic with a few posts here and there. Nevertheless, I am committed to share insights from both others and myself and to establish an outlet of biblical truth.

I did not offer a Christmas greeting on my blog this year for several reasons. Primarily, the reason was to discount the commercial aspect of the Christmas holiday. Christianity is not so much an observable faith (if you will). What I mean is that the yoke of the Old Covenant is not placed on the neck of Christians as it was for Old Covenant Jews (see Acts 15.10-11). The promise to Abraham was gracious:

It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression (Rom. 4.13-16NIV).

Therefore, being a Christian is not so much about seasonal observances but being discipled by Christ. For the Old Covenant Jew the sacrifices were the remedy for transgressing the commandments. These were shadows of what Jesus would do in forgiving our sins on the cross. Further, the cross was a triumph over cosmic powers that accused those who were under the Mosaic Law:

having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col. 2.14-15, see all of Col. 2 also to get the flow).

Top Ten Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2020 — Bible Archaeology Report

One of my favorite times of the year is the end of December, when I can look back at all that has occurred in the past 12 months. 2020 has been a difficult year for many, and in the world of biblical archaeology, the pandemic led to the cancelation of many excavations in the lands […]

Top Ten Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology in 2020 — Bible Archaeology Report

The Easiest Bible Reading Plan

If the goal is to read through the bible in a year (a good and commendable goal), then one only needs to read three chapters, more or less, each day starting with Genesis. Here is a schedule to roughly track one’s progress:

Click to access straightthrough.pdf

As a young Christian I read through the New Testament in a month and recall the adoption of favorite passages and books which I would return to as a means of comfort or encouragement. It was good that I was studying the texts more and with progressively better tools to extract fuller meaning, a problem soon arose however. My biblical viewpoint was becoming skewed since I did not allow texts from other parts of the bible to inform my understanding of all that God had disclosed. I remember a message from chapel at bible college which had 2Tim. 3.16-17 as its text which challenged me to draw upon the whole bible for my personal discipleship: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God  may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (NIV). This method of attending to “all” of scripture balanced my understanding and helped me better grasp the totality of what God revealed to us.

Ignorant Christians

“Because gospel preaching is rare, because the radical demands of Christ are ignored, because preachers are growing churches by catering to carnal desires, we have an almost innumerable crowd of people who identify themselves with Christianity, but have little knowledge of Christ!” – Paul Washer

Quote of the Day — Zwinglius Redivivus

The Church Telling the Pastor What to Do

“Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord'” (Col. 4.17)

Colossians was written to the church whom Paul previously ministered to and no pastors are mentioned. If the Colossians did have a pastor, it was probably Archippus who was located in Laodicea, it seems. The churches of Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea were located relatively close to each other with the Colossian Epaphras probably being sent to Paul on all their behalf to support him while in prison.

Epaphras was also interceding to God for the churches and Paul writes to commend his ministry and assure the Colossians of his benefit to Paul (see Col. 4.12-13). It also seems that Epaphras was somehow also imprisoned at the time of writing and Paul wanted to vouch for him that he was not misbehaving on his mission (Philemon 23). Perhaps Paul was anticipating his release, as well as his own, when he wrote the wealthy and devout Philemon to prepare a guest room for him (Philemon 22).

Archippus is called a “fellow soldier” in Philemon 2 and is probably the designated pastor of the three churches in that area. This would involve a circuit ministry where each church would, in turn, be served by him. This may have worn on Archippus, as can be imagined, and, therefore, Paul tells the Colossians to encourage him to fulfill his ministry in Col. 4.17.

David Owen Filson Interviews Vern Poythress in Westminster Magazine — Frame-Poythress.org

This interview broadly traces Dr. Poythress’s development firstly as a Christian, and secondly as a thinker. Listen in to hear Poythress explain how the providence of God in all wisdom guided and directed him in such a way that he was well-equipped for the calling God placed on his life. In this interview, Poythress also…

David Owen Filson Interviews Vern Poythress in Westminster Magazine — Frame-Poythress.org

No Music in Either Synagogue or Early Church

Is it important what we do and how we do it when thinking about church services? I think its vitally important or we will slip into either mysticism or hypocrisy. The Jerusalem Temple had music to accompany its mysterious symbolism and redemptive themes expressed in shadows but not the synagogue. Both the synagogue and early church service were devoid of congregational singing and musical instrumentation. Some, no doubt, will see in the N.T. reference to “songs” and “melodies” but these are different than most Christians’ current practice. The reference in 1 Cor. 14.26 is to a Psalm as recitation not to a musical song. Also, in Eph. 5.19 it is unclear whether the singing is from the heart or in the heart. What is clear is that Paul is not speaking of doing the singing in assembly. No evidence has been found of a music component in the early church service. Instead, discipleship in the form of reading, teaching, and applying the message to others was the pattern laid down by Paul in 1 Tim. 4.13.

Apart from the first century Synagogue of Capernaum, the only other known synagogues from this period were found at Masada, Herodium, Gamla and Magdala. In Jerusalem, the  Theodotus Synagogue inscription, dating from the same time, was found, but no remains of the actual synagogue have been found.  The inscription reads: “Theodotos son of Vettenus, priest and head of the synagogue…

The Synagogue of Capernaum — Ritmeyer Archaeological Design

A Technique of Indirect Communication — The Scriptorium Daily

I just noticed an author using a technique for communicating very difficult subject matter, and I wanted to make a note of it. I’ve seen it employed in various kinds of writing, but my main interest in it is as a way of teaching theology. Here’s the example. It’s from Frederick Faber’s Bethlehem, a book-length…

A Technique of Indirect Communication — The Scriptorium Daily

Moses Marries a Cushite

The whole chapter of Numbers 12 deals with the incident where Aaron and Miriam speak against Moses because of his Cushite wife. She was a black woman who had presumably attached herself (or her family attached themselves) to the Israelites after witnessing the contest between the Lord and the Egyptians.

Here is a study of the biblical Cushites: http://www.asor.org/anetoday/2020/12/cushites-hebrew-bible

Miriam was struck with a condition which made her skin a sickly white. Why Aaron was not struck with this malady may have been due to his position as Israel’s High Priest. Alternately, it may have been that Miriam, the oldest sibling, was the instigator. Regardless, Moses prays for his sister to be healed and she is restored immediately. We know the healing is instantaneous since the quarantine requirement of seven days is after a person is symptom free (see Lev. 13. 1-5).

Discussions with the Diggers: Dr. Leen Ritmeyer — Bible Archaeology Report

One of the things I love about Discussions with the Diggers, is learning from experts about different biblical sites. My next guest is the world’s leading authority on the Temple Mount. Dr. Leen Ritmeyer is an archaeological architect who has been involved in all of Jerusalem’s major excavations. He was chief architect of the Temple […]

Discussions with the Diggers: Dr. Leen Ritmeyer — Bible Archaeology Report

Not Knowing Anyone According to the Flesh

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. (2Cor. 5.16)

https://www.goodnewsarticles.com/Sep06-3.htm

Excerpt:

So, “to know someone according to the flesh,” really means to know them from the perspective of my natural thinking – which would be to view them from the perspective of myself as the center of my universe. It would also mean that I know them based on their natural traits, personality, and fleshly characteristics. In other words, Paul is talking about relationships that exist fully in the NATURAL realm, rather than ones that are based on the new creation in Christ.

But Paul tells us that all of that is wrong – it is a wrong way of looking at things because of Jesus Christ. We are not the center of the universe. Christ is. And the REAL person we are, and the REAL person that someone else is, is NOT the natural man that we see, or think we see. No. The REAL person is found only in Christ Jesus.

Were Early Christian Scribes Untrained Amateurs? — Canon Fodder

In the ongoing debates about the reliability of early Christian manuscripts, and whether they have been transmitted with fidelity, it is often claimed that early Christian scribes were amateurs, unprofessional, and some probably couldn’t even read. In Michael Satlow’s book, How the Bible Became Holy (Yale, 2014), this same sort of argument appears (for my…

Were Early Christian Scribes Untrained Amateurs? — Canon Fodder

182. The Dogma of the Bodily Assumption of Mary, 70 Years After — Vatican Files

The 70th anniversary of the day that the dogma of the bodily assumption of Mary was promulgated passed almost unnoticed. It was November 1, 1950 that Pius XII, with the apostolic constitution Munificentissum Deus, solemnly pronounced the latest Marian dogma, which is also the last dogma of the Roman Catholic Church. In it, Roman Catholicism…

182. The Dogma of the Bodily Assumption of Mary, 70 Years After — Vatican Files

Seneca: The Fate of an Unused Bookroll — The Textual Mechanic

There has been a lot of talk in recent years on the length of time an ancient book, or even “autograph” may have been in use. I briefly addressed this topic in “Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism,” Chapter two “Myths About Autographs.” In that chapter I cite a comment from the second…

Seneca: The Fate of an Unused Bookroll — The Textual Mechanic

Hating Vain Thoughts — The Scriptorium Daily

Just a quick note here on the blog, to hold a link to a helpful sermon from Richard Chenevix Trench, “On the Duty of Hating Vain Thoughts.” It’s from an 1886 collection of sermons freely available at various places online, but I excerpted the sermon itself and am sharing it (along with my own highlighting)…

Hating Vain Thoughts — The Scriptorium Daily

Atonement in Heaven

This article argues effectively that Christ presented Himself in heaven for the forgiveness of humanity’s sins. The only quibble I have is that no ancient Jewish or early Christian source labels the high priest’s inner-sanctum blood manipulation an “offering.” 

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/our-welcome-to-heaven

Lev. 6.30 explains: But any sin offering whose blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place must not be eaten; it must be burned up. Here is mention of the sin offering’s blood to be brought into the Holy Place for atonement of sins.

Lev. 10.18 also notes aspects of the different sacrifices and instructs that the animal’s blood that is presented in the Holy Place makes atonement: “Since its blood was not taken into the Holy Place, you should have eaten the goat in the sanctuary area, as I commanded.”

Finally, Lev. 16.11-17 gives the mechanics where first Aaron (or his sons) makes propitiation for their own sins and then the animal’s blood for the congregation’s sins are brought into the inner sanctuary for sprinkling upon the atonement cover of the ark:

“Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering. He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. He is to put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the tablets of the covenant law, so that he will not die. He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover.

“He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel.

All the bolded quotes are from the NIV. Perhaps the Hebrew does not mention an “offering” but I am at a loss for what else they could be if they were not some kind of presentation or offering. This is nevertheless a good article which explains the scene as described in the book of Hebrews.