The account of God raising up Moses to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt is one of the most important biblical events. In fact it is the most frequently mentioned event in the entire Old Testament, referred to over 120 times in subsequent stories, laws, poems, Psalms, historical writings and prophecies.1 […]Top Ten Discoveries Related to Moses and the Exodus — Bible Archaeology Report
Its not good enough to only want to be a Christian or claim to be a Christian and not believe the truth. Nearly 70% of U.S. adults claim Christianity but are ignorant of the basics of faith. A Christian is one who knows God intimately by the Spirit of God, a personal being, whom the Son and Father co-indwell as stated in John 17.20-23: My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (NIV).
Those who don’t have the Spirit are not true Christians: You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. (Rom. 8.9 NIV). Of course it is entirely possible to Have the Spirit but be ignorant about Him or His indwelling. If so, it is an unnecessary and pathetic existence, your choice. The Corinthian Church may have had the same problem, and, if so, were told to test themselves if they were in the faith: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2Cor. 13.5 NIV).
Also, The Apostle Peter uses words with possibly the strongest admonition (all effort): Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2Pe. 1.10-11 NIV).
Here are the statistics, read it and weep:
LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. (Jeremiah 10.23 NIV)
God’s Scrutiny of His Creatures
Here is a brief bible study to trace the revelation of heart’s transparency to God. Perhaps, prior to Samuel, it was not readily recognized from what perspective God tested humans. The book of Hebrews repeats what is revealed both explicitly and implicitly in the Old Testament: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (4.13 NIV). This transparency to God is also recognized by every person who has ever lived (though it is often suppressed): “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them” (Ro. 1.19 NIV).
The Era of Samuel the Prophet
The Prophet Samuel, when he went to anoint a replacement for King Saul, thought that David’s oldest brother was the Lord’s choice but God taught him differently: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Sa. 16.7 ESV). As far as I can tell from the scriptures, this new explicit truth was revealed first to Samuel, a Levite and prophet, specifically born and chosen to transition Israel from the relative darkness of the era of the Judges to King David who received the Covenant that Messiah would be born of his lineage.
Samuel was a Levite and so could minister in the tabernacle wearing an ephod before the negligent High Priest Eli (1Chron. 6.27-28, 1 Sam. 2.11, 18). The birth of Samuel was auspicious after Hannah’s suffering abuse from her rival (see 1Sam. 1). Hannah’s song and prayer in 1 Sam. 2.1-10 reflect important truths concerning God and His future king. Her song is prophetic in itself noting a coming judgment and king (vs. 10).
Samuel was a pivotal figure raised up to Judge Israel at a critical time in that nation’s history. Samuel’s calling by God in 1Sam. 3 reflects the judgment of Eli the High Priest and his line. God would guide the nation through Samuel until the choice of David the man after God’s own heart. Samuel functioned as Israel’s prophetic leader much the same way as Moses served as a conduit for the Lord’s word during the Egyptian Exodus and subsequent wilderness wanderings. This functional leadership is referenced in Jer. 15.1: Then the LORD said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go! (NIV). Also, in the the book of Acts after Peter healed a man lame from birth preached to the people noting the foundational place Samuel ministry functioned in the prophecy of Messiah’s coming and work of redemption: Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days (Acts 3.24 NIV).
Explicit References After Samuel to God’s Vantage
Again, David (who evidently was taught by Samuel) in Ps. 7.9 affirms this truth: “Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God!” (ESV). In the book of Proverbs, Solomon reveals the same concept: “Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!” (15.11 ESV). He (Solomon) also concludes the book of Ecclesiastes after surveying everything under the sun: “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (12.14 ESV). All these truths, it seems, were handed down to him by his father David: “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.” (1 Chron. 28.9). This Solomon, the wisest man on earth, would later pray at the First Temple’s completion in Jerusalem, the place where God revealed to David that He would place His name forever: “then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind” (2Chron. 6.30 ESV).
Also in the Biblical Prophets God gives Jeremiah this same truth to reiterate to His people: “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (17.10 ESV).
In the New Testament, not only do we have the Book Hebrews affirming heart transparency to God, Paul says the same thing in 1 Cor. 4.5: “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” (ESV).
When talking to others or writing, we do not need to first establish a case for God’s existence or exclusivity. When we set forth Christ, we should just give the word as we know it and testify what Jesus has done for us. All Christians should be ready to give an answer for the hope they have (1Pe. 3.15). Also, the commission Christ gave to His disciples applies to us if we are His disciples (Mt. 28.19-20). Finally, we will only be strong in the Lord and victorious spiritually if we prepare ourselves to speak the gospel to others whenever the Spirit opens the door to hold forth the power of Christ’s redemption (Eph. 6.15).
Peter Gurry has an important article titled “The Text of Eph 5.22 and the Start of the Ephesian Household Code” in the most recent issue of New …An Important Challenge to Egalitarian Claims about Ephesians 5:22
This post is an expansion and replacement of an earlier one. Most of my summer has been sort of hectic and intense in moving house, though some down times, such as plane travel and several times waiting for car fixes, have enabled me to catch up in reading downloaded books. I have read several of Larry Hurtado’s books which cover similar, if not identical ground.
Larry Hurtado’s main works refuted German theologian Wilhelm Bousset who wrote around the turn of the 19th Century. Bousset contended that Christians were influenced by the Greek ideology of many gods, and thus resulted in the inclusion of the worship of Jesus alongside the Father by the church. Bousset’s idea dominated scholarly circles and formed a Religionesgeschichteschule. Hurtado skillfully countered this thought with careful examination of the historical sources and the New Testament itself.
Hurtado’s study traced the worship of Christians instead of merely using Christology, the setting forth beliefs about Jesus from the text. By seeing the devotional practices, rather than what the text affirms, Hurtado thinks new information can be gleaned to help understand how a Monotheistic faith can have the worship of two persons. Hurtado contends that Christians are still Monotheistic along with Jews, with which I agree.
However, if we note in the scriptures how, for example, Moses and Joshua were commanded to take off their footwear in the presence of The Angel of The Lord, then, when recognizing that the Word became flesh, we see a natural progression in the worship of Jesus alongside God. In other words, it’s more of a recognition than innovation that believers now worship Jesus and God. The scriptures indicate from the beginning when the Lord God created mankind in His image, Adam and Eve communed with the Lord in their innocence face to face. This was the eternal Son, The Lord, who was fully God. Also, in the judgment scene after the fall of Adam (Eve was the first sinner but humanity sinned in Adam and not Eve), the man, woman, and serpent had no choice but to appear before the visible Lord. Conversely, God the Father dwells in unapproachable light and cannot be seen by humans. (1Tim. 6.16).
The Spirit of God, the bible contends, is a separate person from God the Father, but one in purpose like an extension (procession – Jn.15.26), if you will. This is seen in the first two verses of Genesis. Likewise, the Lord is the visible representation of the Father. No one but the Son and (presumably) the Spirit has seen the Father: “not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father” (Jn. 6.46).
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus quoted the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Mark 12.29). Paul also affirmed only one God: “yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1Cor. 8.6 ESV).
The Son and Spirit are a unity in God and inseparable, since the term “echad” in Dt. 6.4 doesn’t speak of singularity but unity.
Hurtado terms the new worship of Jesus alongside the Father as a “mutation” and an “innovation,” seeing this new cultus as a result of revelations and experiences from God to the early church. My contention is that the cultic worship is a fulfillment, a perfect completion of what has always been the worship of Israel.
The “times of The Lord” are referenced in Lev. 23.1-2: “The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to the Israelites and tell them, These are the Lord’s appointed times which you must proclaim as holy assemblies – my appointed times” (NET). These assemblies were the redemptive feasts when every Israelite male was required to “appear before The Lord.” They (the feasts) spoke or represented future activities performed by the Son and Spirit. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to be baptized he said “behold, the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.” Christ was crucified at Pesach and has become the Christians’ passover (1Cor. 5.7). Pentecost (Shavuot) was when the Spirit was sent (at 9am during the morning sacrifice) to the nascent church. It is thought by some that Yom Teruah will be the last trumpet (1Cor. 15.52, 1Th. 4.16). Therefore, the feasts of the Jewish people which were part of their cultic worship have been fulfilled in part by Jesus and the Spirit.
Further, one need only read the book of Hebrews to see how Christ was both the true High Priest and sacrifice. The cultic worship of the Jews in the Old Covenant were through the mediation of the priesthood and temple to God. Jesus was the fulfillment of this worship, the greater temple. Therefore, the early Church did not have a mutated worship in their inclusion of Christ in their address and prayer to the Father. Instead, Christ was God’s mystery: “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2.2-3 NIV).
Legalism. Pretty much everyone agrees that it’s bad. And in a world where Christians seem to disagree over basically everything, that’s saying …How Do You Know If Your Church Is Legalistic?