I guess we do best to start in the Torah.
God’s election of Israel demands a response — a changed heart that submits to God’s loving will — a will that shows us what is best for us.
(Deu 10:16-19 ESV) 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
God takes no bribes, but treats all fairly — meaning that we should do the same. God cares for and demands justice for widows and orphans. Those who can’t look out after themselves have God himself as a protector — and he commands his people to follow his example. Continue reading
So I’ve been disagreeing with some materials quoted by Richard Beck on sexuality. But as I’ve said before, I’m a fan of Beck’s blog and read it avidly.
Just the other day, he reviewed a book by Christine D. Pohl, Living into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us, and he said something that bears some serious reflection.
This quote needs to be discussed in every small group and Bible class —
Specifically, one of the questions I often ask myself about my church, which is reflective of most churches I suspect, is this: What binds us together as a community?
As best I can tell what binds us together is liking. We’re at our church because we like it. Because we like the sermons. Or like the worship. Or like the programs. Or like the bible classes. Or like the people. Continue reading
In the Prophets, the NT’s Greek word for “repent” is rarely used of national repentance. But the concept of repentance is plainly taught. For example, the author of 2 Kings says regarding God’s allowing the Northern Kingdom to be carried off into Assyrian Captivity,
(2Ki 17:10-14 ESV) 10 They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11 and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, 12 and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” 13 Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” 14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God.
Their idolatry and other sins were characterized as ultimately a lack of faith. After all, if you really believed in God, and if you believed he was serious about the curses in Deu 28, you wouldn’t worship idols. Continue reading
I’m now about 5 weeks past my back surgery and doing much better. I’m doing physical therapy and back to work nearly full time.
Follow up testing has been positive — the bones are fusing as they’re supposed to. I just need to rebuild my stamina.
I deeply appreciate everyone’s prayers. They matter.
On a very different note, my youngest son (of four sons), Philip, age 24, was diagnosed with colon cancer 10 days ago. It’s been surgically removed, and the cancer had not penetrated the outside of his intestine. The cancer had not spread to any other organs. But they found involvement in two out of 21 sampled lymph nodes. We’ll meet with an oncologist on Tuesday to discuss his treatment. He’ll need some sort of chemo-therapy. We don’t yet have any details. Continue reading
I just can’t get enough translation humor!
It’s a little surprising that the NT word for “repent” is rarely used in the OT except with regard to God himself. In fact, metanoeo, the Greek verb translated “repent” in Acts 2:38 appears only 19 times in 18 OT verses.
Of these, 14 refer to God relenting or changing his mind. Obviously, God does not sin and therefore he cannot repent in the sense of giving up sin. Therefore, metanoeo does not necessarily refer to giving up sin. Continue reading
I skipped ahead a bit, and so we still need to cover some key passages in the prophets before we continue with the NT.
Jeremiah prophesied to the Jews of Judea shortly before and during the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s attacks on Judea.
(Jer 4:4 ESV) 4 “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD; remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.”
(Jer 9:25-26 ESV) “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh — 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”
This is an obvious warning, based on Deu 10, that the mere form of obedience is not good enough. God insists on hearts that love him. Contrary to over a century of really bad teaching, the Law of Moses was just as much about the heart as God’s other covenants. Continue reading
I get emails (and insomnia) —
Jay…I ran across your thoughts on church leadership. If one wants to be trained in how to lead a church to grow, especially a CoC preacher like myself, where would you recommend? Preferably, I would want to sit at the feet of someone who has grown the church, not just read books on it. This has been the burning question on my heart the last few months. I can’t think of any resources except for outside the church. I’m lost. Loved your article and appreciate you bringing up a needed topic.
I’m not entirely sure myself, so this is going to be a little scattershot. I’d LOVE it if the readers could add to my late-night brainstorming. Continue reading
Recently posted at Wineskins is a four-part series I wrote dealing with the availability of God’s grace to forgive after a Christian has fallen away so as to be lost.
Does Hebrews 6:4-6 really say that you can’t be saved once you’ve fallen away?
This brings us to a passage frequently alluded to in the NT —
(Deu 30:6-8 ESV) 6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 7 And the LORD your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. 8 And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today.
God says, through Moses, that even after all the curses are suffered by Israel, if they will return to him, he will “circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” Continue reading