Augustine, On Genesis

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In the beginning, God…

Augustine, Genesis, I.19.39

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, . . . and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.

Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learned from experience and the light of reason?

Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertions” [1 Timothy 1:7]. (All emphases, mine)

John Calvin, in the 16th Century, made many wise comments on Genesis:

“He who would learn astronomy…let him go elsewhere….”

 ”Moses wrote in a popular style things which without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to understand; but astronomers investigate with great labor whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them. For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God.”

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See, also, In The Beginning

Armageddon And the Book of Revelation

 

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The Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

Chapter 16: Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”

…Then I saw three impure spirits…They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.

15 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!”

Revelation in Context

The ‘Battle of Armageddon’ is one of the most misrepresented verses in the Bible by memory verse Christians who harden their hearts against reading God’s word in context.

  • Seven is the number of completeness. This completes God’s wrath at the end of time, just as seven days completed God’s creation.

  • It follows Christ’s Return. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war….And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations” Rev. 19
  • It is clearly the eschatological “battle of on the great day of
    God Almighty
    ” (vs. 14). –Geo. Eldon Ladd, Revelation
  • An eschatological battle, not a human battle. The armies are destroyed bythe sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth” 19:21
  • The ultimate reality is the Lord’s return. This is the event which is the focus of the expectation of the saints.” –Ladd

 

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Contrast with Off-The-Wall Interpretation of Ray Comfort

While no respected biblical scholars have named the nations [in Rev. 16:16] they do agree that certain nations will come together against Israel in one climatic end-time battle called Armageddon.”

If any scholar has made such an interpretation, it is not Bible scholarship, but eisegesis—reading his own preconceived notions into the text (think Left Behind).

Shock and Awe in Parables of Jesus

 

What We Don’t Know of Jesus’ Times Deflates the Impact

 

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The Pharisee and Publican Praying in the Temple

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/the-publican-only-half-a-surprise/

The Publican, a Jewish tax collector, was a traitor, being hated as one who worked for the occupation force of a pagan power, Rome. In rabbinic literature “hatred was to be extended even to the family of the tax collector” (ISBE).

Just pointing to a tax collector praying in the Temple would have been a shock!

 

Samaritan

The Scandal of the Samaritan

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/the-scandal-of-the-samaritan-2/

Jews despised Samaritans and viewed them as unclean foreigners. This went back in history to Assyria’s conquest of the Northern Kingdom….

 

parable-unjust-steward-luke16-1-9The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/parables-surprise-and-the-american-mind/

What?! The master praised this servant???”

 

A Mustard Seed

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/a-mustard-seed/

“…smaller than all seeds…”

For the technical mind, “all” must mean “all.” But for a parable, it is a literary device to convey the point

unmerciful-servant1The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/jesus-parable-unforgiving-sin-forgive/

Ten Thousand Talents–Have you ever heard a tall tale, or an outlandish story to which you exclaimed, “WHAT???”

 

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Part Two

https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2018/02/10/its-a-parable-part-two/

 

 

 

Chick-fil-A And the Lord’s Day: Rare Light in the Darkness

SabbathRest

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. Exodus 20

Remembering in a Forgetful World

Chick-fil-A keeps its doors closed on Sundays so that its employees have a day of rest and are able, if they wish, to go to church. Years ago, a lonely voice in Christianity Today, noted the complaint of a friend of hers who had to work on Sunday: ‘I have to work to serve all these Christians who are busy buying after church.’

The ubiquitous Sabbath-breaking of our own day is nothing new. During the revival that swept England, John Wesley noted a rare exception: “I suppose three such towns are scarce to be found again…There is no cursing, no Sabbath-breaking…”

He exhorted Christians, “Spend this day as thou hopest to spend that day which shall never end.”

On the Ten Commandments, Martin Luther told parents, “Exhort your household to learn them word for word, that they should obey God…For if you teach and urge your families things will go forward.”

The president of a denomination began his sermon at our local church with an offer of a ten dollar bill to any child who could cite the Ten Commandments in any order or form. As he put it back in his billfold he lamented that he had never been able to give it away in any church where he had preached.

Most Christians not only cannot cite the Ten Commandments in any order or form, we seem to be left with only eight or less these days.  [Original essay on Teaching Children Ten Commandments–‘Your Child’s Endangered Heart’]

In A Word to a Sabbath-Breaker, Wesley wrote, “Never more disappoint the design of his love, either by worldly business or idle diversions….You have lived many years in folly and sin; now, live one day unto the Lord.”

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[Please learn to share these posts. They do little good hidden in the corner.]

Remarkable Maundy Thursday!

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A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. –John 13:34, 35.

“Maundy” refers to the Latin text of verse 34, mandatum, from which we get the word mandate—an authoritative command.

In the Liturgy, it refers to the foot washing ceremony, the example which Jesus set for us before the new command.

The Gospel of John, which does not mention the institution of the Lord’s Supper, repeats this new mandatum three times! Peter refers to it three times in his First Epistle; John references it five times, it being one of the tests he gives to discern true Christians. Paul refers directly to ‘love one another’ in four of his letters.

An amazing feature of our American culture stares us in the face—many Christians do not even know that in the New Testament, (link)“one another” refers exclusively to our fellow believers.

In John, Holy Week begins with the anointing of Jesus’ feet by Mary along with her wiping them with her hair. And Jesus’ last physical act, before the events of the arrest and trial, consists of his washing his disciples’ feet.

Then follows the new commandment.

“The new thing appears to be the mutual affection that Christians have for one another on account of Christ’s great love for them.”–Leon Morris, NICNT

“The standard of love which the disciples are to have for one another is that which their Lord has lavished on them.”–F. F. Bruce, John

In the early church, Tertullian remarked that pagans noted, “See how they love one another.”

Tennyson penned these lines:

Love your enemies, bless your haters, said the

greatest of the great;

Christian love among the churches, look’d the

twin of heathen hate.

Peter wrote:

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,…

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[Anniversary–This blog began during Holy Week, seven years ago]

Where are the disciples?

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Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”–Matt. 28

We must first be a disciple before we can make a disciple. 

Disciple: a learner; a follower and student of a teacher; …actively imitating both the life and teaching of the master.

Back to the Word.  Read and Learn

Obedience is the key to all doors… –C.S. Lewis

‘Follow Your Heart’-NOT

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But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?–1 John 3:17 (ESV)

The Christian life is Christ-centered, NOT self-centered.

Here is an enlightening illustration which displays our modern feelings about “heart.”

The Greek text behind this verse (above) uses the word for “bowels” σπλάγχνα NOT “heart” καρδία The KJV renders this as “bowels of compassion” which represents the feelings to the Hebrew mind. (ISV: Whoever has earthly possessions and notices a brother in need and yet withholds his compassion from him, how can the love of God be present in him?)

In Jeremiah 31:20, “bowels” are used in “a metaphorical sense to denote the seat of emotions” (TWOT*). We use bowel metaphors like “a gut feeling” and “butterflies in my stomach.”

Again in the KJV, Colossians 3:12 is translated literally, “bowels of mercy” (where others use heart:”Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts…”)  The New International Bible Encyclopedia relates bowels, here,  to “powerful emotional forces.”

This is how we moderns understand “heart” today.  “Follow your heart” epitomizes the Zeitgeist. Do you desire to divorce your spouse? Have an affair? Abandon your children? Change your gender?

Follow your heart.”

When it comes to modern translations of “bowels,” many use the paraphrase “heart.”

Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, the RSV, NASB, Phillips, and the later NKJV rendered “bowels (of mercy/compassion)” as “heart.” And the English Standard Version (ESV) continued that in the twenty-first century. This misleads those with today’s mindset when we come to the actual word “heart” (kardia) in the Bible.

As noted (please be a disciple; read and learn) in the first article on Heart and Mind:

A striking feature of the NT is the essential closeness of kardia (heart) to the concept nous, mind…”–The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, s.v. “heart”

All quotations of the Great Commandment in the Gospels interject the word “mind.”

The person who is awash in his feelings, following his ‘heart’ and not loving God with his whole mind, cannot “understand that the goodness of God is meant to lead [him] to repentance…because of [his] hard and impenitent heart [closed, stubborn mind]”–Romans 2:4,5.

Hebrews repeats this warning three times: “…do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (3:8ff). This is not an exhortation to follow your feelings. The faithful heart is one which listens to God’s voice. The heart that goes astray is the one that “has not learned my ways.” A disciple is a learner, tutored by his Master.

The hard heart is the unteachable, disobedient mind that “refused to listen to God.”

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Be a disciple. Read and Learn More

*Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament