Love One Another and Herding Cats

love_one_another_1 John 4

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

 

These days, trying to help Christians think straight and to take the text of Scripture seriously is akin to herding cats.

As always, the above text, “love one another,” refers specifically to our fellow Christians, not to our unbelieving neighbors or to anyone else outside the Church.

This is the special commandment which Jesus gave to his disciples. It is the sign by which Jesus said others would know that we are HIS.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”–John 13

Yes, Jesus also taught us to love our neighbor  (The Second Great Commandment). As E. J. Carnell wrote, “The responsibility to love all human beings is repeatedly set forth with such solemnity in Scripture that an unloving Christian is a manifest contradiction in terms.” (What we today call an oxymoron.)

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But when Jesus and John said, “love one another,” they were referring to that unique fellowship we have with all those who believe in Him.

 

Babylon

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Revelation 14

Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon[f] is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”

Isaiah: God Speaks to People of Sodom

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Isaiah One

Hear O heavens! Give ear O earth!

For the LORD has spoken:

“Children I have raised and brought up,

but they have rebelled against me.

The ox knows its owner;

the donkey its master’s trough;

Israel does not know,

my people does not understand.”

Woe! Sinning nation,

guilt laden people,

evil generation,

corrupt children.

They have forsaken the LORD:

they have turned away from the Holy One of Israel;

they have turned back. . . .

Hear* the word of the LORD, governors of Sodom;

give ear to the teaching of our God, people of Gomorrah. . . .

When you spread out your hands [to pray],

I will turn my eyes from you.

Even though you multiply your prayers,

I am not listening.

It is blood that fills your hands.

[*Hebrew does not recognize a distinction between hearing and doing. If you do not obey a command you do not truly hear it.]

Wash to be clean!

Take away the evil of your deeds from before my eyes.

Stop doing evil; learn to do good. . . .

“Come now, let us argue it out together,” says the LORD.

“Even if your sins were like scarlet,

they could become white like snow.

Even if they were like crimson,

they could be like wool.

If you are willing and listen,

you will eat the best of the land.

But if you refuse and rebel,

the sword will devour you.”

For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

“This passage [18ff] provides a conclusion to the contrast between [religious system] and ethical behavior . . . there is only one intelligent course of action—obedience and submission.”

“. .. what God is asking the people to debate with him is the wisdom of the two alternatives that are left them. Should they continue as they are and be destroyed, or should they obey God and be blessed?”

“God does not contend with us as though he wished to pursue our sins to the utmost. There is hope, but in God’s way, not ours.”

“There is a delicate balance to be maintained here between human freedom and divine sovereignty. On the one hand, it ought not to be said that obedience produces forgiveness. God forgives and cleanses not because he must, but because he wishes to and has made a way for that to be done through the death and resurrection of Christ. But, on the other hand, it is also plain that God does not proclaim forgiveness to those who are unwilling to obey.”

“The primary emphasis in Scripture is upon act. It is not how one feels but what one does that is of primary importance.”

–John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament

How the West Is Killing Christianity

Originally posted on News and Information:

Foreign wars and conflicts launched and promoted by the United States and its allies since 2003 have led directly to the widespread persecution of Christians in Africa and the Middle East.

The ongoing slaughter of Christians, followed by the exodus of upwards of 1 million of them from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq, where Christianity flourished for nearly two millennia, has encouraged many observers to warn of the death rather than decline of Christianity in that part of the world.

The great irony of the plight of Christians is that Western leaders, who profess to be Christian, were the ones who launched the wars that have torn the Middle East apart and created the most toxic sectarian nightmare in which Christians have become victims, often portrayed as supporters of Western interventionist policies. Some of the oldest Christian denominations, with links back to the time of Christ and his disciples…

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Three Passages that Prove Jesus was Violent (or not)

Michael Snow:

Excellent, succinct presentation of three misused NT passages. Fuller discussion of Two Swords here.

Originally posted on dave stimers:

Most people who have investigated Jesus even a little bit would agree that Jesus taught peace.  His ethic of enemy love, praying for those who persecute you, and blessing those who curse you are not hard to find.  But that hasn’t stopped people from debating how far this nonviolent teaching should be pushed, and how widely applied.  There are many layers to this, but in this post (and the next) I want to take on a couple of objections to deep and wide applications of Jesus’ nonviolent teaching.

The first objection is a biblical one: “Jesus taught peace, but also acted violently himself at times.  There are a number of passages that seem to prove that Jesus, at least sometimes, acted violently.  So, we shouldn’t take his ethic of nonviolence to apply to certain situations, just as Jesus didn’t.”

Let’s take a closer look at some of the common passages that…

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Yeshua Ha’Mashiach: Crucified

crucifixion

Isaiah 52:13ff

“Behold, my servant [Targ. adds “the Messiah”] will accomplish his purpose;

he will be high and lifted up, and very exalted.

Just as many were appalled over you–

his appearance was a disfigurement from the human

and his form from that of humanity–

so he will startle many nations…

He was despised, a rejection of people,

a man of pain, one who knows sickness

and like a hiding of face from him,

he was despised, and we did not pay attention to him.

But surely it was our sickness he carried,

our pains he bore.

But we considered him stricken,

smitten of God and afflicted.

But he was pierced through for our rebellion,

crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment for our peace was on him,

and his welts made healing  for us

All of us, like sheep we go astray,

each one to his own way we have turned;

but the Lord has caused to fall on him

the inquity of us all.

 From NICOT, Isaiah, by Prof. John Oswalt, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary.

High and lifted up are used in combination four times in this book (and no where else in the OT). In the other three places (66:1; 33:10; 57:15) they describe God….The same point may be made concerning exalted….only God can be lifted up. Is it here than being said that the nation of Israel [the explanation of some for ‘servant’] will be exalted to the place of God? Is it a prophet of Israel? In each case the answer must be no.  This is the Messiah or no one.”

53:7 …Like a sheep…

“the only extended metaphor in this poem involves sheep, the primary animals of sacrifice.”

“the Servant will be exalted to highest heaven…because it was all in order to carry the sin of the world away to permit God’s children to come home to him….redemption.”

“The text must still be read through the eyes of faith, but with that faith the mystery is no longer about how it is possible for sinful humans to have a healthy and whole relationship with God.  The only mystery is how God could love us like that.”

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