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i get questions…

Hey Mike,

I love you brother.  And in love I must tell you.   You are wrong when you say:

Salvation is not a personal decision for Jesus but a community endeavor of faith and love rooted together in Christ. 

Salvation IS a personal decision for Jesus.  Period.  Full Stop.

Living out that salvation can be manifest in community faith and love—and should be. But living in community of faith and love does not save us.

I welcome your comments.

Your Spirit Sis

L_____________

 

* * * * * * *

 

L_______________, I love you too. And that’s probably one of the few things I can know for sure I’m not wrong about! Yes, I am without question wrong about many things, and may be wrong about this too.

But here’s my thinking.

First, there’s a big difference between the prepositions “by” and “in.” We are saved by Christ, by grace, by faith. And that reconciliation is experienced in one body – which is the “church.” (Ephesians 2:11-22)

First of all, don’t hear “church” as any institution which we build and whose activities we attend. See the organic, living connection with believers, living and dead (we traditionally call this the “universal church”) experienced practically in any gathering of two or more in his name (we call this the “local church”). So don’t confuse the two prepositions, first of all.

I’m glad the statement arrested you, made you stop, made you type a query that had first rebounded round your soul a bit. That’s the point of the statement.

We are a highly individualized culture with salvation and God being a personal commodity that I can buy and use at my own discretion in this or that body, or in no body at all but my own, if I get ticked off enough at people and “church”! I love my personal savior who answers to me alone! Ha! But it is the “communion of the saints” that historic Christianity confesses and that Scripture commends, not the autonomous, self-motivated, self-contained individual. This autonomous mentality, which results in much toxicity that masquerades as Christianity is what I’m throwing a wee snowball at in the statement.

Sure, I could have inserted the word “merely” and eliminated most of the objection. “Salvation is not merely a personal decision et al…” For it is certainly both my decision and inner movement of faith (at divine instigation, to be sure!) in the context of the one body of Christ (the “church”). So, yes, merely would smooth things out a bit – but where’s the fun in that? I’m simply exercising the prerogative of Christ who challenged his hungry hearers, “Labor not for the food that perishes, but for that which endures to eternal life.” Surely it is both – we are commanded to work for our daily bread, after all! (Eph 4:28) But how much less impacting to say, “Don’t just work for food you can eat, work also for the spiritual food that sustains you for eternity.” I’m exercising the prerogative of Paul when he affirmed to the Corinthians boasting about their baptisms, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel” – when he most certainly did send him to baptize too (Matt 28:19), thank you very much! But he seeks to stop them in their boasting tracks by the sharper contrast.

That’s all I would seek to do here in such a statement:

To arrest us, stop us in our individualistic, Western, self-sufficient tracks by saying just as emphatically that we are not rescued, reconciled, or redeemed all by our onesies as we sort everything out and cast our personal vote in our private salvation cubicle, but rather salvation is experienced in the context of the believing community we know as the “church.”

Hope this helps bring the needed clarity you seek.

If it doesn’t, well, then all I can say is let it rattle around a bit more and see if it doesn’t seem clearer after a bit, for I think there’s precious little more I have to offer on the matter at present!

Richest blessings to you, dearest L___________!

 

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Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Questions, Uncategorized

 

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good answers have questions in them

I like the comment by my friend Harry on last week’s post “I get questions”: Beware of answers without questions and answersquestions in them.

I am blessed by the answer to my answer from the original query-ist:

You bring up some interesting points. I would add to our own shortfalls I would not be surprised if our eyes are blinded by God for a reason. It’s funny how God somehow seems more real with a Bible that has mysteries about it than a bible that is absolutely perfect.  

Like, like, like.

Of course he also went on to say:

I must say that I really enjoy your sermons.  

Yes, I like this guy. And thank you, kind reader, for indulging me in a brief moment of narcissistic self back slapping. (It’s a dirty job, but someone just has to do it…and that would seem to be me.)

I love my friend’s answer.I love the question in his answer. It is funny how God is more real with a Bible that has mysteries about it than a bible that is absolutely perfect. The capitalization here – and the absence of it – are actually his, no doubt inadvertent. But quite fitting, I think. It is the Bible with mysteries acknowledged and embraced that is the Bible. Anything else is just a bible.

The same may be said of Jesus. Of God. Of Holy Spirit.

The same may be said of Life.

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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Bible Questions

 

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i get questions…

Yep, I do.question

Many surface and resurface and then resurface again. Some can be quite creative. Handling them via email certainly presents its challenges. I much prefer the dynamics and elaboration of the face to face exchange — which I will often suggest as the first option. Pop by the bookstore on Sunday and let’s find a moment to ponder this together a bit. That really is my first choice. Sometimes it’s possible, other times not practical, and still others I simply feel led to answer it on the spot in an emailed response.

Had this question sent to me this week:

genealogyI had a question come up concerning the two genealogies of Jesus, the one in Matthew and the one in Luke.  I thought originally that the general consensus was that the one in Matthew was his earthly father (not biological) and the one in Luke was of his mother’s side, with her father likely being named Joseph. Well, I have a new study bible this year and in the footnotes it said that the earthly father / mother side theory was not likely true and tried to say something about how the genealogies skipped generations at their convenience. If that were true then why are the two so different?  After David I don’t remember seeing any matches in names. I’m really confused at this point, do you happen to know of anything regarding these two genealogies?  Are there any good resources on this subject?  And with respect to the original Greek  is there anything in there that might provide a clue?

Note to self: beware of questions in the form of a paragraph.

Think about how you would answer this question. Just don’t hurt yourself. Or anyone else.

This is how I responded – and you can decide it if it is an FYE (for your edification) answer or an FYA (for your annoyance). It could also be a WTH (what the heliotrope or what the heretic, depending on which way you go) or WTF (what the freeman!) answer, but let’s just not go there, shall we? Enjoy. Or not.

Excellent question!

One that has occupied scholars for ages. For my part, after the first millennium in the new heavens and earth I’m planning on getting an appt with Matthew and Luke and asking them to ‘splain themselves. Just out of pure curiosity. Although, I’ll be happy, I suppose, to simply listen to them talk about anything they want to.

Both points you mention are usually the points discussed when the discrepancies are brought up. Neither seem to explain the anomaly to me. To my knowledge, neither Greek or Hebrew holds any unseen cards here.

This, of course, would be distressing to me if I still were of the mind that all seeming discrepancies and Questions and Answers signpostdisharmonies in this expansive divine community library we know as the Bible must be explained and smoothed out for me to keep reading there and listening. But the longer I read and the more I hang out with the Librarian, the more I see a God of many seeming discrepancies speaking to and through quite flawed and unharmonious human beings. So now, at each such bump in my reading, I have learned to smile, for the jolt is another sign, to me, of the authenticity and reality of the God who moves through the pages of this all too human collection of books.

This is probably not a very satisfying answer, but it’s where I am and what I have.

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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Bible Questions

 

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horny religion?

I received this question from a friend this week – and probably had a bit too much fun answering it. Perhaps this question comes from someone really seeking truth and having an issue with, well, horny religion; but then, perhaps not. Without further adieu, here’s the question followed by my havering answer…

Hello Mike,

I have a question for you, that was posed to me by a non-believer. This gal states that in Old Testament times, a person who was believed to have seen or been touched by God was described as having horns coming from their head…as Moses.  Then she asks, what does that say of my devil, or better yet, my Jesus as the Son of God? She then cites Exodus 34:29 as her reference. I don’t see that, even in the KJV.  Looking at the original word “karan” for face shone, states it still more a radiance, not horns.

How would one explain this to a non-believer?

Tell your friend that even great medieval artists have made the same mistake she is making (due to the “absurd rendering” of the Latin Vulgate; see lexicon entry), so she shouldn’t feel too badly about it…you can show your friend this if you like:

This is Gesenius’ classic Hebrew Lexicon entry for karan – and even if they were “horns” people saw on Moses (no mention of anyone else in Scripture experiencing the same phenomenon – so, nice try but wrong again) the “horns” were coming from the face of Moses, not the top of his head. (And isn’t that a fetching picture for your imagination!) So on at least three counts, I would tell your friend she needs to do some more homework before attempting to pose such a presumed conundrum, otherwise – while she may not have horns on her head – she will end up with egg on her face.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Bible Questions, Old Testament

 

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