December 2, 2018 Light for the Blind

Light for the Blind

“The WHO [World Health Organization] estimates that in 2012 there were 285 millionvisually impaired people in the world, of which 246 million had low vision and 39 millionwere blind. Of those who are blind 90% live in the developing world” (Epidemiology). To imagine the world of the 39 million totally blind, just close your eyes and consider that the darkness would be there when you opened them.

Jesus brought sight to a man who was born blind at least 30 years earlier, in John 9.1-7 (Bible). Note that the man “received” sight, as he states in verse 11, even though he had become accustomed to his blindness. Offers of sight and other “salvation” are only offers until they are “received”, as John 1.12 states and Acts 3.16 and 4.12 testify. The Spirit knew the beggar would receive sight from Jesus and, thus, crossed their paths, which happens in the Kingdom of God (John 3.8). No malady is permanent when the remedy can be received.

But, according to Jesus’ statements in John 9.39-41, the sighted man became blind once more. Perhaps an analogy will illustrate. You may be old enough to remember the “3-D glasses” distributed at some “picture shows” in days gone by that seemed to reveal a third dimension to the characters on the screen. You were able to see “through” the eyes, not just “with” them. Jesus is, here, repeating what God said in Isaiah 42.19, which concept Jesus had already discussed with Nicodemus (John 3.3 & 5 concerning the events of John 2.23). William Blake’s famous poem discusses this problem of sight:

“This life’s dim windows of the soul

Distorts the heavens from pole to pole

And leads you to believe a lie

When you see with, not through, the eye.” (Blake)

Christians are meant to be “blind”, as Jesus states, and our blindness is caused by His “light”, as He infers in John 9.5. We are reminded, here, of the writer, John’s description of the “Word” in John 1.4 & 9. When we “receive” Life from the Word by believing in the Name “Jesus” (John 1.12), we “receive” Light to accomplish the missions variously assigned, as can be understood from reading in sequence Judges 13.12, Jeremiah 1.5, and John 3.27. Apostle Paul’s experience with Light from Life illustrates this (Acts 9.1-19). The Light gives us knowledge sufficient to fully complete the assigned tasks.

But, Jesus says this Light may dim, in John 9.4-5. “Night comes” when the Light from Life diminishes with encroaching “darkness”. This is readily seen with the approaching Winter Solstice, as the daylight becomes shorter in the Northern Hemisphere. Jesus warned about this encroaching spiritual darkness in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6.22-23). satan actively works to replace the “mask” that plunges into darkness, as Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4.3-4, and Jesus in Matthew 13.18-22. Work to keep the Light on! We need it to do our best work.

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world”, Jesus is quoted in John 9.5. Obviously, Jesus was not speaking about His physical presence. Rather, He was speaking about His “Word”, His name “Jesus”, which the world wants unspoken. As long as “Jesus” is spoken, there will be “Light” in the world (Acts 4.12)! Paul writes about the power of “Jesus” is 1 Corinthians 1.18-20,24; 2.4-5; & 4.20.

The “power” of “Jesus” may be illustrated in the following.

It is important to note here that countries with primarily Protestant Christian cultures have, historically, added $29,784 to per capita GDP, versus those with Jewish cultures adding $19,320, Roman Catholic cultures adding $9, 358, and Islamic cultures adding only $3,142. (Asmus & Grudem, p. 120).

The Light of “Jesus” explains the difference. Keep the Light in the world!

References:

Asmus, Barry; Grudem, Wayne. 2013. The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution. Crossway. Kindle Edition

Bible. English Standard Version. www.olivetree.com.

Blake, William. Quotes. www.goodreads.com.

Epidemiology. Google. www.worldblindunion.org.

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2018. www.sozoclass.com.

 

November 18, 2018 The Word “Word”

The Word “Word”

This Bible study focuses upon Jesus’ use of the word “word” in John 8.31-32. My curiosity comes in remembering that the writer John has summarized his Gospel about Jesus in chapter one. More specifically, John is the only Gospel writer to discuss the “Word” as being with God and being God, in John 1.1-18. God, the Word, put on an earth-suit to reveal Himself to mankind (John 1.14Hebrews 2.14-15). He made the Universe and is the complete Source of all human knowledge (Nash, p. 67). So, it seems likely that John will use “Jesus” and “Word” interchangeably, since they are the same.

This is important for the reason that our salvation depends upon accepting the person of God and not His writings. Paul discusses this in Galatians 3.21 where he states that there was no Law that gave eternal life. None of the 613 laws given by God, including the Ten Commandments, promises eternal life. The Law was given to keep Hebrews from adopting the ways of the nations they were driving out (Leviticus 18.1-30) and to point to the need for a Savior, which God would provide (Isaiah 7.14). God intended for the Jews of the Exodus to become a Nation of Priests to prepare the world for His arrival (Exodus 19.6) to bring salvation (John 3.16).

The interchangeability of “Jesus” and the “Word” are demonstrated in Revelation 19.13. The rider on “Faithful and True” (verse 11; John 1.17) is Jesus, Who is called “The Word of God”. “Jesus” is the “Word” that was given to identify God while He was on the earth (Matthew 1.21& Luke 1.31).

So, when Jesus says “to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples’”, He was encouraging them to hold onto His name “Jesus” (John 8.31). He had previously warned the disciples that “‘you will be hated by all for my name’s sake’” (Matthew 10.22). Thus, Jesus says that true disciples do not give up His name; see Matthew 13.18-23.

Paul warns all, that might give up the saving name, “Jesus”, that they cannot return to its saving power again. In Hebrews 6.4-6, he writes:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

That is, each person only gets one chance at John 3.16. S/he cannot follow Jesus for awhile, switch to Allah until the contrast becomes obvious (Acts 17.26-27 & 1Corinthians 1.22-25), and, then, accept John 3.16 again. This same logic is not true, however, about waffling on the interpretation and understanding of a verse until it becomes clear over time. Thus, the “Word” “Jesus” is of tremendous importance and is to be “hallowed” (kept holy; Matthew 6.9) and not to be used in “vain” (not believing in its authority and power; Exodus 20.7).

The word, “Word”, is the crux of the confusing misinformation, disinformation, and straw man argued by the Jews. I believe that Jesus uses “word” in John 8.31, 37, 43, 51, and 55 to connect John 1.1 to John 1.14 to Matthew 1.21 and Luke 1.31. That is, the Word is God from the beginning of time. This Word became born for the reason Apostle Paul explains in Hebrews 2.14-15. And, this Baby was given the name “Jesus” because He is part of the Trinity of God. The God-head is named “Jesus”, as Jesus acknowledges in John 17.12 and John 14.24 band Paul infers in Philippians 2.9-11 and Hebrews 13.8.

The Psalmist expresses the same understanding of the use of the “word” in Psalm 107.20, where he speaks about the “word” delivering from destruction. That is what the “Word” Who took on flesh did for whoever would accept “Jesus” (John 1.1 & 14; John 3.16). The 70 disciples returned proclaiming the power of Jesus’ Name to deliver from daily demons, in Luke 10.17. Notice Jesus’ authorization to them and to us in verse 19. The Centurion (Matthew 8.5-13) and Syro-Phonecian woman (Matthew 15.21-28) released the power of the Name Jesus without even speaking it. So, Jesus declared their faith ‘great’! They spoke an understanding of the power of the Word Who took on flesh (John 1.1 & 14). Perhaps, Psalm 103.20 and Mark 16.20 picture these actions and instructs you to speak “Jesus” with faith (not in vain)!

Additionally, Jesus’ teaching in John 15.1-11includes a similar explanation of the “word” in verse 7: “‘If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.’” Abiding in Jesus (John 15.7) and abiding in His “word” (John 8.31; not meaning His teachings) are the same. That is, Jesus is the Word, and the Word is Jesus, from John 1.1&14. In John 12.44, Jesus confirms this point, and, in verse 48, warns that the Word will judge all who deny Him. Notice the affirming dialogue of Son and Father in John 12.28 and how the adoring crowds agree on Palm Sunday, in Matthew 21.9.

Also, “abiding in” is the same concept as being baptized “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28.19; see John 17.21, too). Jesus states this in John 17.12: “’I kept them IN your name, which you have given me’” (my emphasis). How does Revelation 12.11 extend “kept them in Your name” to us?

So, why would the Jews hate the “word”? Because satan was “thrown down to the earth” from his place in Heaven (Revelation 12.9; and would be “cast out” of earth by Jesus—in John 12.31–into the Pit of Hades, Isaiah 14.12-15) and was leading that generation of ‘blind’ Jews as he had led previous generations, beginning with the Jews in the Wilderness that rejected their God-given, that is, ordained, role in Exodus 19.6. Jeremiah 13.10 explains how this devolution began and continued throughout the generations and continues today, as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4.3-4.

Blindness might, also, explain why the word “word” was not capitalized, as in John 1.1. For example, it is accepted practice not to capitalize the first letter of pronouns for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they included “Word” among these pronouns. Or, the translators did not consider the perspective I bring in this study.

References
Bible.

English Standard Version.www.olivetree.com.

Nash, Ronald. 1982. The Word of God and The Mind of Man. P&R Publishing. Phillipsburg, NJ.

The Word “Word”

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2018. www.sozoclass.com.

 

NOVEMBER 11, 2018 Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

There is a saying that frames this topic well: a text without a context is a pretext. That is, someone with an agenda will only tell you enough to persuade you to do what they wish. Television and radio advertising for political candidates is a sufficient example.

Thinking is critical and, seemingly, a lost art. Critique today is mostly against one’s personal opinions, and these opinions from, even, unreliable sources, mostly relative to contemporary social media. Frequently, our surface thinking accepts the misinformation (unintentional distortion) and disinformation (intentional distortion) without considering the complete file of information necessary for understanding. Then, too, there are the “straw-man” arguments that cloud the true issue, as in “do it for the children”.

Note the source of misinformation, disinformation, and straw man arguments in the following speech given by legendary ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey on April 3, 1965:

If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.” To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”. In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . .

If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing. (Harvey)

Manipulators prey upon our lack of time or willingness and/or access to complete information. For example, consider the slippage in critical thinking from a recent survey of Christians.

Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research teamed up again this year to conduct a study concerning America’s core theological doctrines, and the results show that evangelicals are “deeply confused.”

The 2018 study examined 34 beliefs based on interviews with 3,000 Americans defined by Lifeway to be evangelicals to discover what they “believe about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible.” Overall, the study reveals that American evangelicals hold beliefs that are contrary to the historic Christian faith.

Stated Chris Larson, president and CEO of Ligonier Ministries, “It’s never been popular to talk about mankind’s sinfulness or the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ. But at a time when a darkened world needs the light of the gospel, it’s disheartening to see many within the evangelical church confused about what the Bible teaches.”

Results indicate that 69 percent of evangelicals think that the smallest sins do not deserve eternal damnation, 58 percent believe that regular church attendance can be replaced by worshipping alone or with one’s family, and 59 percent believe that the Holy Spirit is a force and not a person. The study also revealed that 52 percent believe people are basically good, and 51 percent believe God accepts the worship of all religions, including Islam. (Survey)

This was true in Jesus’ day, also. How He handled such is instructional for Christians today. Notice how He handled the misinformation, disinformation, and straw man of the Jews who questioned him in John 8.12-59 (Bible).

The word, “word”, is the crux of the confusing misinformation, disinformation, and straw man of the Jews. I believe that Jesus uses “word” in John 8.31, 37, 43, 51and 55to connect John 1.1 to John 1.14 to Matthew 1.21 and Luke 1.31. That is, the Word is God from the beginning of time. This Word became born for the reason Apostle Paul explains in Hebrews 2.14-15. And, this Baby was given the name “Jesus” because He is part of the Trinity of God. The God-head is named “Jesus”, as Jesus acknowledges in John 17.12and Paul infers in Philippians 2.9-11and Hebrews 13.8.

The Psalmist expresses the same understanding of the use of the “word” in Psalm 107.20, where he speaks about the “word” delivering from destruction. That is what the “Word” Who took on flesh did for whoever would accept “Jesus” (John 1.1 & 14;John 3.16). The 70 disciples returned proclaiming the power of Jesus’ Name to deliver from daily demons, in Luke 10.17. Notice Jesus’ authorization to them and to us in verse 19. The Centurion (Matthew 8.5-13) and Syro-Phonecian woman (Matthew 15.21-28) released the power of the Name Jesus without even speaking it. And, Jesus declared their faith ‘great’! They spoke an understanding of the power of the Word Who took on flesh (John 1.1 & 14). Perhaps, Psalm 103.20 and Mark 16.20 picture these actions and instructs you to speak “Jesus” with faith!

Additionally, Jesus’ teaching in John 15.1-11 includes a similar explanation of the “word” in verse 7: “‘If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.’” Abiding in Jesus (John 15.7) and abiding in His “word” (John 8.31; not meaning His teachings) are the same. That is, Jesus is the Word, and the Word is Jesus, from John 1.1&14. In John 12.44, Jesus confirms this point, and, in verse 48, warns that the Word will judge all who deny Him. Notice the affirming dialogue of Son and Father in John 12.28 and how the adoring crowds agree on Palm Sunday, in Matthew 21.9.

Also, “abiding in” is the same concept as being baptized “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28.19; see John 17.21, too). Jesus states this in John 17.12: “’I kept them IN your name, which you have given me’” (my emphasis). How does Revelation 12.11extend “kept them in Your name” to us?

So, why would the Jews hate the “word”? Because satan was thrown down to the earth” from his place in Heaven (Revelation 12.9; and would be “cast out: of earth by Jesus—in John 12.31—into the Pit of Hades, Isaiah 14.12-15) and was leading that generation of ‘blind’ Jews as he had previous generations, beginning with the Jews Wilderness that rejected their God-given, that is, ordained, role in Exodus 19.6. Jeremiah 13.10 explains how this devolution began and continued throughout the generations and continues today, as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4.3-4. Consequently, we might expect their misinformation, disinformation, and straw man arguments to distract away from the central issue.

John 8.48 is an example of misinformation and disinformation. “You are a Samaritan” is misinformation, and “have a demon” is disinformation. These and similar comments have been used by satan earlier in other Bible passages to confuse the other Jews listening to the dialogue. Conversely, Jesus exposes and condemns the Scribes’ and Pharisees’ misinformation and disinformation in His Seven Woes in Matthew 23.1-36, Which do you identify? How did Jesus respond?

But, let’s focus on straw-man of Abraham. Jesus acknowledged that Abraham was their physical father, in John 8.56but crippled this argument, in verse 39, by reminding them of God’s acclaim of Abraham: faith in God resulting in obedience to Him. Paul explains in Galatians 3.6-9and Romans 4.16what is illustrated by Abraham’s actions (his “works”) in Hebrews 11.8-10. James (2.21-24)emphasizes the importance of behaviors from thinking that is directed by the right mindset. Thus, Jesus continues in John 8.40that Abraham would have acknowledged Jesus as Savior and made Him Lord. He looked for the day of his Seed (John 8.56; Galatians 3.16)!

The Jews may have been physical progeny of Abraham but were not his spiritual progeny. Rather, Jesus rightly identifies satan as their father in John 8.44, recognizing that their lies about Himself were the lies that satan had repeated since deceiving their fore-fathers from accepting and obeying God’s ordained role for them. Notice Jesus’ other descriptor for satan: he murdered, as in the prophets (Matthew 23.30 & Luke 11.47-51). Jesus may have been foretelling of their murder of Him.

It is ironic that the Jews’ disdain for truth (John 1.17) even deceived their response to Jesus’ explanation to believers about the Source of truth; that is, the Name “Jesus” (the Word; see earlier paragraph). 
See John 8.33: we “have never been enslaved to anyone”. Roman soldiers were their current masters; Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians had been the masters of their fore-fathers. Jesus’ reply in verses 34-35 is their disdain for the Name above all others (Philippians 2.9-11) provides only momentarily pleasure. Paul writes about this by contrast in Romans 6.16.

Dr. R. G. Lee’s sermon title seems an appropriate conclusion to this matter. During his years as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, he preached “Payday, Someday” (Sermon). Mankind can listen to satan’s agents’ speaking just enough truth to cover their misinformation. And, mankind can, even, accept the disinformation lie without searching out the truth. Further, mankind can give in to the emotion of the straw-man argument without looking for what it is hiding. That is, a text without a context is a pretext!

Only the Holy Spirit knows for sure; ask Him (John 16.13-15; John 14.26; Romans 8.14)

Only when mankind abides in the name Jesus (John 8.31) will we experience the freedom of truth and “never see death” (John 8.51).

1 Peter 1.22-25!

References
Bible. The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. www.olivetree.com.

Harvey, Paul. April 3, 1965. ‘If I Were the Devil’ (Warning for a Nation)

Sermon. SermonAudio.com.

Survey. November 2, 2018. Study ShowsAmerica’s Evangelicals Are ‘Deeply Confused’. www.factn.org.

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Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2018. www.sozoclass.com.