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On The Necessity of Virtues and Values

Of an Empowering & Inspired Leader

The term values is often confused with virtues although similar in meaning virtues are characteristics and attributes (qualities and aspects) associated with the nature of God whereas values are any principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile and desirable (Bredfeldt 2006). Furthermore, values are determined by one’s worldview and are based on personality, family dynamics, environmental factors, social factors, cultural aspects, political views and other views of social nature. One’s view on creation, God (or the lack of, and even economics shapes one’s values as well as how one perceives and pursues the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. Additionally one’s values are mutable and change as one’s perception and perspective changes. Our values can be influenced and manipulated by the views and teachings of others and form the basis of our morality where as our virtues are God given. The two combined form the basis for Ethics.

Ethics can be divided into three categories.  At the highest level is our Virtue our concept of God and Evil or theodicy.  Western social concepts of virtues is credited first to the Greek Philosopher Plato who views justice as the highest virtue.  Justice forms the bond that holds all the other four virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance (Self-control) and continence (abstinence from immorality especially sexually desire) in unity and congruency. Additionally, only through the exercise of knowledge and the power given within our soul can ultimate good be achieved for the form is an imperfect copy and our senses are inferior matter or existence is imperfect while essence (soul, God, spirit, knowledge) is perfect and unchanging and is the basis for all things (anonymous 2016).  The second level is one’s personal and family conception of what is right & wrong (general morality) and at the base is secular law or social and corporate structure.

Virtue, Values & Vices

Aristotle built upon Plato’s concepts but came to a different conclusion. For him matter and essence are inseparable and both are derived from God. The lower form matter thereby originated from the deity and all action originates from the potentiality of motion (anonymous 2016).   For Aristotle virtues are God given but must be developed in training and discipline in what he called means. If we for example wish exemplify High-Mindedness (Wisdom) but the over development of it this will lead to the excessive vice of pride (boastfulness, vanity). In Contrast a lack of development will lead to the vice of deficiency of foolishness ( humble-mindedness) Thus for Aristotle, virtues fail as a result of two categories’ of vices one of deficiency and one of excess as a result of a lack of discipline and training.

Aristotle’s list of virtues and vices are listed on the following chart (anonymous 2016).

VICE OF DEFICIENCY VIRTUOUS MEAN VICE OF EXCESS
Cowardice Courage Rashness
Insensibility Temperance Intemperance
Illiberality Liberality Prodigality
Pettiness Munificence Vulgarity
Humble-mindedness High-mindedness Vaingloriness
Want of Ambition Right Ambition Over-ambition
Spiritlessness Good Temper Irascibility
Surliness Friendly Civility Obsequiousness
Ironical Depreciation Sincerity Boastfulness
Boorishness Wittiness Buffoonery
Shamelessness Modesty Bashfulness
Callousness Just Resentment Spitefulness

 

Finally, one is to practice self-love and friendship or love of others, which is a communal relation, and peaceful and beautiful state of existence with the world in general (anonymous 2016). Furthermore, justice is both general and special in that it applies to the observance of both secular and moral law in occasional circumstance such as judicial and economic matters and is abstract in some instance for absolute justice, which is corrective, and often retaliatory is necessary in moral conduct and common decency.

God cannot be comprehended by practicing normal human moral insight; rather one finds God in happiness in being (anonymous 2016). For Aristotle, pain and pleasure of the mind and soul is the motivation behind the virtues and thus desire for higher pleasure one strives for the highest virtue of high-mindedness through the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and the disciplines of means or pursuit of the other Godly virtues.

From a Biblical the character of the leader should be developed out of disciple and training from the study of God’s word, meditation, prayer, a life of obedience of faith ( reliance, dependence and trust on Christ and the Holy Spirit).   One must additionally die to flesh – born to Spirit (Rom. 12) and be without boastful pride and in loving humble servitude and in a unity of heart and mind that imitates the likeness of Christ (Phil 1-6). Through the transformation of one’s mind through various spiritual disciplines and the resistance of temptations and living by Christian Ethics, one is granted Spiritual Gifts for the glory of God and service (Rom 12-15).

Additionally, one is to be follow the guidelines of Christian character and conducts as outlined in 1 Tim: 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. This ethical code is similar to the classical code of the Greeks and summarized lists certain desirable traits of conduct for leaders and elders of the church. However, this code should become the basis for all believers conduct, as it is list some basics guidelines for virtues besides those in Romans 12-15. The Fruit of the Spirit, which results from discipline practice and training, is the highest virtues (Gal 5-16-26, Col 3:1-17) and is only given by the leading and granting of the Holy Spirit. Both lists also contain some of the more common sins or depravities of Humanity.  One should recall from Romans 1-8 Paul reminds us all though the Law illustrates us the nature of our sin and we may have all intentions to do good deeds, works actions or even obey out of obligation of the Law. Because of our sin even after being justified or declared citizens of distinction worth and righteous (elect, saints). Will fall short. Thus only by the atoning cross can any of us be truly forgiven, and it is by Christ grace and mercy that all faith is based not by anything we can accomplish. WE however must with the aid of the Holy Spirit striving to become transformed dying from the temptations of sin, forgiving others as well as our self, empowering others and spreading the Gospel to the fallen world serving as Christ like teachers in faith, hope and love.

Courage

Courage is essential and is the result of Endurance, perseverance, and often times suffering.  Courage is the ability to face one’s fears, standing firm in strength in one’s convictions and is a discipline virtue that arises from faith and relying on the practice of truth in times of crisis, adversity or suffering. Courage as a virtue is the assurance of the interdependence working of God in total trust and reliance in any situation or occasion of danger (whether perceived or actual).

Thus, with that aid of the Holy Spirit and the Authority given to the believer by Christ the sovereignty will insure the outcome is in the best interest of the Trinity of God and for his divine creation and Eternal- kingdom.  Additionally courage sparks the passion and not always the sensibility of the individual leading to actions in a situation. Wisdom is the application of knowledge, virtues, and vales in a manner that practical and is thus sensible and heartfelt or appropriate in any given situation.

Truth

Truth can be absolute or relative based on assumptions, feelings, false input of one’s senses or misguided views or actions. The Bible in inerrant when God, Christ or “The Angel of the Lord says or the Holy Spirit gives direct directives. However, the Bible is also infallible meaning it is the means and ends of achieving Faith. Both doctrines of the church are human perspectives and can be supported by the Biblical Evidence.

However, the Bible is not fully inerrant or infallible in itself and never makes an exclusive claim for one or the other. Rather truth and faith (Spirit) matched with authenticity should be seen as the Biblical doctrine  Biblical intake and teaching requires the ability to differentiate, evaluate and incorporate  historical, occasional, cultural, situational, universal, personal and finally current relevancy (Duvall and Hays 2012, 235-246).

To make a claim that either truth of faith or works or goodwill (deeds) are to be separated or combined in any a+ +b or b+ d or any other combination to achieve salvation is missing the mark. The truth is all are inseparable and holistic parts lived and in of obedience of faith for the suffering Bondservant of Christ. One style of leadership or church will not be fitting or reach and meet the needs for all people and doctrines of man will divide. Each view has strengths and weakness as every man has strength and weaknesses (Bredfeldt 2006).

The Key of Wisdom

The key is discernment with biblical guidance and application of general revelation, assessment and our experience. This enables one as an individual, the Body of Believers or universal communal church, and all who are willing to hear, see and receive the Atoning Sacrifice of Christ and the Good-News in a manner that leads to a profession of faith and the empowering and ongoing transformation to the Eikōn. This New Adam – New Kingdom fulfillment, will be granted  when final salvation and full restoration is completed upon Christ return which is only possible with the aid of others and the Holy Spirit brought forth in humble, and accepting discerning teachings of love grace and mercy.

 

Uniqueness & Diversity: The Character of a Leader

What defines ethics and sound character will vary from subculture to culture and will differ even by some degree with in the individual heart and mind of each person. A worldview is simply how an individual perceives the world and his place in creation. It is influenced by family dynamics, cultural customs, ethnicity, nationality, religious views ( doctrines and dogma & beliefs), peer pressure, inspiration, philosophical ideology, political perception,  economics, innate vales & talents , God given virtues ( often unrealized or undeveloped), knowledge, and wisdom. This list is far from complete.

Sin is the adversary of character and is like a genetic curse inherit in all humanity. Sin leads to opposition to the guidelines of the Law that is Holy and the basis of our virtuous morality. Only through Christ atoning sacrifice are we worthy and significant free from blind obligation to obedience of the Law.  In correlation by the leading of the Spirit sanctified and ethics is thus written on the heart of all who live obediently in and by faith (Rom 6-8).

Our strengths and weakness need to be assessment and evaluation and at times God uses not our strengths but our weakness ( Gen 50:20)  for the benefit his divine purpose ( Matt 28: 18-20 must be done in conjunction Matt 22:33-39). Finally, Philippians 1-11, Titus 1:6-8, 1 Timothy 3:2-7, 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5, Romans 12-16 as well as Matt 5-7, Eph 5, Col 3:5, and Rom 1:18-32, Rom 2-6). The Good News is since all are declared righteous and redeemed by Christ and love writes the Law on one’s heart in transformation, obedience and willing service of love.

The individual and community is being transformed and restored as long as we keep trudging running, persevering, suffering thru the race of life and praising and glorify God in all things. Thus, doing our part to advance the completion of God promise of salvation and inclusion of all who are willing into the New Adam ( Man)- Perfected reconstructed Eternal kingdom of God when Christ returns to reign in the Eschatological Age (Moo 2000).

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

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Bibliography

anonymous. Ancient Greek Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser, Bradley Dowden, & Kirby Jeremy. 2016. http://www.iep.utm.edu/greekphi/ (accessed May 01, 2016).

 

Bredfeldt, Gary J. Great Leader, Great Teacher: Recovering the Biblical Vision for Leadership. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2006.

Duvall, Scott J., and Daniel J. Hays. Grasping God’s Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

Moo, Douglas J. Romans. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

 

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On Spiritual Disciplines

At times as a student and those whom are elected or called into pastoral or ministry roles much of our time is devoted to meeting the needs of others while we neglect the needs of our self and tragically at times our own family. Therefore it is imperative we devote time to developing a consisting of personal spiritual disciplines in order to maintain a strong footing of faith.

There are two common positions regarding God’s Providence regarding how much free will and choice one has in the matter of one’s life and in regards to one’s destiny and what I would describe as one’s mission.  One’s Eternal Destiny is secure once one accepts the gracious gift of Salvation that was fulfilled during the resurrection and hyper-exalted during the ascension however, one is required to live in the obedience of faith by the transformation of the mind, which brings about the circumcision of the heart and rebirth in the Body. This New Body is one live with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which provides comfort, protection and inspiration, serves as the seal of the New Covenant, and is the Keys to the Kingdom while Christ is the Narrow Gateway in which one passes into Eternal Life.

 

Some would believe that God has predestined all things including Salvation and all areas of one’s life. While others believe that one has the free will to either accept or reject Salvation, that many of our choices are simply probabilities and possibilities and God reacts to the actions of the free agents or in a modification of this process.  Thus, faith is a process and predestined but are daily actions are however actions of freewill (Boyd and Eddy 2009).  However, one’s mission is the secondary purposes and functions one faces daily and throughout life such as matters of vocation, where one will live, who one will marry, one’s role in society and even one’s worldview outlook on life in general. These, missions or views may casually effect the individual’s thinking actions and behavior they should only indirectly affect one’s sanctification. Works and deeds are the result of faith and by the Justification of Faith alone; one is declared righteous or redeemed in grace and mercy from the wretchedness of sin and thus, achieves Salvation on the redeeming qualities of Christ alone.

In regards, to a dilemma on Scripture intake Methodology, the idea of utilizing a digital tool to review the Bible in a year is a sensible approach. May I also, suggest that as struggles arise you consult a concordance on the manner, as well as seek the insight of an accountability group or mentor, and above all else pray and meditate digesting the Words, wisdom and truth slowly (Whitney 2014)! Above all else, do not beat yourself up for failing to read or study the Bible daily for yourself. Quite possibly the mission God has for you in this season of the life is for the growth of a particular area of your life in what you are teaching others. My own experience has found some of the most sufficient growth in my life has come while teaching as at times students can serve as become teachers to the master. One should remember it was Simon who reveal to Jesus that he was the Son of God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 16:16.)

May I also suggest a period at night of thanksgiving and review? In areas where things went right simply God for the lessons learned and things, he has provided. Where challenges have led to setback, where adversity has come first thank God for your enemies and the opportunities to face the adversities and the protection or lessons that you learned from these obstacles. Next, if any action, behavior, transgression is a sin is present on your part or another simply ask for forgiveness of yourself or the other. Although Christ has paid the debts of all sin past, present and future in full and all forgiven and forgotten we as imperfect creatures tend to hold on to grudges and this leads to unneeded depression,  feelings of rejection, fear, anxiety, loss and hostility. Although we cannot control our feelings in truth our feelings should not control us just like our thoughts our not the master of our actions or behaviors. This is the truth of transformation and the principle behind Christian Ethics, dying of Flesh and being born to the nature of the Spirit as outlined in Romans 12.

Personal Vs. Communal Worship

Participating in church activities, attending service, small groups and other corporal and interpersonal disciplines are necessary for Christian living as Whitney stated personal disciplines are equally essential for the development of Spiritual maturity. [1]  Unfortunately, there is a common believe in many modern churches that a believer must be actively involved in the church to be an effective witness for Christ and develop Spiritually.  Although the Body of Christ is communal in nature, the Body is composed of individual and thus as in any group dynamic the group is only as strong the weakest link. If the churches with in the Body focus only on the need of the individual church and each individual seeks to meet the needs of those in that particular church or denomination; are we not promoting more of a social gathering and failing the Great Commission of Christ and the intent of the Father to have a diverse representative group from all people of every people group in the Kingdom?

Time Management

Although time management is an issue for many one only needs to devote 15 – 30 minutes a day to reading & studying the Word a day to have read the Bible in a year. (Whitney 2014) May I suggest that if time management is an issue you break your study time up into three segment a day consisting of a morning, afternoon and evening study and meditation time? You may wish also to begin your day with a prayer of blessing and asking for the provision of needs and end the day with a prayer of thanksgiving and forgiveness of any wrongs done to you of that you may have committed. Although this is a simple formula, it used while assisting in raising Children, attending school, running my own business and attempting to evangelize others. Also, if it does not work simply modify the period to include a brief study time an hour before bed. If one reviews, the time wasted on trivial task such as watching Television, engaging in multi-media, or other random activities one can make the time for God. I myself have become complacent of this in the area of prayer and am working to remedy this in my own life. Above all else place your trust and dependency in Christ and the Holy Spirit who will provide the needed strength and at times one simply needs to be still and realize God is God. Boredom is one of the Best times to Listen for answers from God (meditate) or seek and contemplate areas of Growth through the Word (study). If one is not experience down time in one’s life one is in control and needs to let go of something, someone or some place and remember sufficiency and significance is not achievable by the works and deeds of human endeavors but only in obedience and faith to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. At times one may even need to surrender the attendance of a church function or service to have a solid personal relationship with God.

 

Prayer

“The Greek word for disciple is gymnasia from which the English word gymnasium is derived (Whitney 2014).” In 1 Timothy 4:7, one is commanded “train yourself to be Godly. In the Message, it is stated as such: “You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you will be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we have thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers (1 Tim. 4: 7-10 MSG).”

Spiritual Disciplines are active works of faith that build and maintain spiritual maturity and produce the fruit of the Spirit during the act of sanctification in the minds, heart and lives of believers resulting in transformation, Christ-likeness and ultimately godliness.

The primary Spiritual Discipline is Spiritual intake, and is subdivided into five categories of hearing, reading, studying mediating and the application the Word of God in one’s Life the secondary is prayer.  Unfortunately a large percentage of Christians fail have a life based on prayer despite the fact that In Matthew 6: 5-9, Luke 11:9  and elsewhere Jesus expects us to pray. Additionally, the Bible illustrates that Jesus frequently prayed in Luke 5:16, John 11-41-42.  Furthermore, in Thessalonians 5:17 Paul writes, “Pray without ceasing.”  According to Donald S. Whitney “If one cannot always have God in the forefront of one’s consciousness one should always be communicating with God as if having God on one line while taking  a call on another, so you  may never lose your focus or the need of the Lord in your Life.” A believer then does not stop conversing with God but may have frequent setbacks or interruptions (Whitney 2014). Additional prayer serves to equip us for Spiritual warfare by providing guidance and direction, his a means of showing love and not an obligation, is always answered by God but not always in the manner in which we expect, and finally must be rooted in the Scriptures and is best served as a reaction to mediation.

Prayer in my own life could be more consistent.  Currently I am in a season where I have drifted away from my routine of active meditative listening prayer.  In the past I would study a portion of the Word, pray on it and meditate on the context, relevancy, issue in my life, historical and contemporary issue or whatever else would come to my mind and heart through inspiration during my study period.  I instead have become more focused on needs based prayer using the Tell Jesus anything,  attempt to think how Jesus would handle the situation and Wait on a response approach and repeat as necessary approach. While meeting the needs and the request of others I have been neglecting to ask for my own needs, guidance or even inspiration in my own life.  Instead seeking to deal with my own shortcomings through secular counseling techniques, and meditation methods. Additionally, my life has at times felt like a frustrated and hurried mess. I need to return to a Biblical foundation and truth and realize that one’s security and significance is only found in Christ and the dependency of the Holy Spirit and works of sanctification.

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Bibliography

Boyd, Gregory A., and Paul R. Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRASPING & UNDERSTANDING THE TRUTH

&

RELEVANCY OF SCRIPTURE

 

A Home Study on Psalm 3 for Biblical Comprehension Relevancy

&

Overcoming Fear and Facing Adversity

 

 

TRENTON CLARK RINDOKS

RLGN 489

MAY 13, 2016

 

Grasping & Understanding the Truth & Relevancy of Scripture

A Home Study on Psalm 3 for Biblical Comprehension Relevancy

&

Overcoming Fear and Facing Adversity

I. The Proposition

” According to A Barna Research Group Poll, Only 18 percent of Christians, or than less than two of every ten read the Bible every day. Worst of all, 23 percent or almost one in four professing Christians—say they never read the Word of God (Whitney 2014).”  Paul makes it clear in Romans that while repentance, Baptism and belief in Jesus are necessary Sanctification and the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit are required for salvation. For while Christ Atoning Sacrifice was offered and paid the ransom fully for all sin and death sanctification is the mean through the leading of Faith and Christian living in which one is transformed and restored into the image of  Christ ( Eikōn). Additionally, while Jesus is the door to salvation Faith or the Holy Spirit provides the keys to enter the Kingdom.  Romans 12:1-2  States, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” In this passage, Paul is stating that sin originates and centers in our thoughts and therefore we must constantly renewal of our mind with truth and the ways of God or his Holy Word if we wish to live in Godliness, develop virtues, and not be overcome by vices or ways of the flesh.

Additionally Paul states that reading and meditation on the Word leads to the development of Spiritual character and dying to the  ways of old-self or the ways of sin (Adam), thus leading to our transformation to the New Adam or Eikōn. In  Second Timothy Paul states a correlation of this, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work ( 2 Tim 3:16-18).”

Finally, In Ephesians Paul states how scripture can form one of the most potent tools in our arsenal for spiritual warfare. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should (Eph 6: 12-18).”

“Jesus often asked questions about people’s understanding of the Scriptures, sometimes beginning with the words, “Have you not read . . . ?” (Matthew 19:4; Mark 12:10). He assumed that those claiming to be the people of God would have read the Word of God. And a case can be made that this question implies a familiarity with the entire Word of God. In addition, When Jesus said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).’  Surely He intended at the very least for us to read “every word,” for how can we “live . . . by every word that comes from the mouth of God” if we have never even read “every word that comes from the mouth of God (Whitney 2014)?” If Jesus commanded it, why are so many of us not doing it? Many of us blame it on time, but others on lack of ability comprehend or relate to the Word.

The purpose of this gathering is to illuminate minds and open hearts be better equipped to understand and relate to Word of God in a relative fashion while maintain the intent understanding the context of the occasion and audience while bridging the gap into our modern world. Additional the small group study will focus on Psalms 3 and is intended to address to areas of fear and overcoming adversity and depending on God to meet one’s needs and the necessity of prayer. Psalms 3 NIV states:

Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”[b]

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.

 

The method of analysis and instruction is the Crossing the Bridge Method outline by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays (Duvall and Hays 2012). A simplified version will be first introduced as a foundation and further studies will build upon the foundation should interest develop or needs arise.

The initial analysis for this event began in 2015. The initial project was to be a home study to overcome fear in Adults that never originated do to schedule conflicts. Further requests and assessments of social and personal needs are making this hypothetical project more of a reality than possibility. The question should not be a matter of why to start but when to start, and the answer should be as soon as possible.

II. Method

Interpretation of Psalm 3 Outline

Using Psalms: three as an example text for interpreting, study and mediating on God’s Word a concise theological/biblical method will be taught on some common applications for this verse for the Christians today. The method used to interpret this verse will be the four-step method known as the Interpretative Journey. This method starts by examining the text in relevance to the time, place and context when written and bridges the gap to a relevant meaning to contemporary society (Carter, Duvall and Hays 2005). When interpreting The Books Psalms one needs to approach the verse or passage as a conversation with God as each Psalm in themselves convey one of three messages Praise, Laments or a cry for help, and Thanksgiving (Carter, Duvall and Hays 2005).

Each Psalm contained within the Book of Psalms were written as songs thus much of the context is in an allegorical or, poetic and symbolic language. Interpreting the verses. We should not take all the context as literal but consider the metaphors as would do if one was  trying to gain understanding into a contemporary songs such as Bob Dylan’s “knocking on Heaven’s Door (Dylan 1973). ”  In the song, Dylan is not literally knocking on an actual door. However, in our mind and heart Dylan paints us a vivid picture of one approaching death.

The Biblical Meaning / Historical Setting

“Each Psalm is an independent unit isolated from its literary context and thus we must consider the historical context throughout the entire book first (Carter, Duvall and Hays 2005).”

The Book of Psalms subdivision in a fivefold format parallels the first five books of the Torah or The Pentateuch. The first five books is the story of Mankind creation his Eternal blessed state or oneness with God and his separation-death as result of sin, and the process to recovery or reconciliation of his righteousness with God.

The Book of Psalms is a collection of 150 songs that are a composition for worship in The Temple of Jerusalem. The Book of Psalms is divides in a Five-book format. At the end of each Psalm in the first four books is a conclusion with a doxology or “Word of Praise” (Ps 41:13; 72:18-19; 89:52, 106:48). The fifth book closes with a praise song, Psalm 150 (Hindson and Yates 2012).

Psalm 3 is a composition of King David and is a lamentation as he fled from his son Absalom who led a rebellion against him (his father) and used subterfuge and influential power as a Judge to proclaim himself rightful  authoritive heir to the throne. David fleeing Jerusalem and was pursued by Absalom’s Army. This Psalm was composed in and under the context of the constant face of fear and facing the uncertainty of death. David’s orders Absalom to be punished with kindness when captured.  However, when Absalom’s hair becomes entangled in a tree he is executed for his crimes. In reaction to David’s grief over his son’s actions, the morale of his army was low and his soldiers defy their orders. Instead of victory, David’s forces returned to Jerusalem in sorrow.

The Story of Absalom is recorded in 2 Samuel: 13-19 the main theme to remember is God has providence over all events in History (2 Sam: 17:14 NIV ). Another contextual point illustrated is the love and forgiveness of a parent for a child despite what action they may choose to do. This Psalm forms the basis to the parable of The Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32. Psalms 3 concludes with a Doxology.

The historical-contextual meaning to the Biblical audience of this passage can be summarized in the following statement.   Psalms 3 is a prayer to God to protect one from harm of an enemy. Furthermore, God will conqueror fear, provide, and sustain one’s needs and assist in the deliverance from one’s enemies. At first glance, one may view the enemy to be the literal encroaching forces of Absalom but Absalom can also apply to Sin or principalities of evil as well. David’s metaphor as  God as a shield and is also used in New Testament Paul using such a reference in Ephesians 6:16 to the Faith we have in God the obedience and trust perseverance and endurance and ultimately empowerment and at time sacrificial living . The Obedience by faith that comes through the Authority of Christ and the  leading of Holy Spirit in our becoming and imitating of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Differences and Similarities

Although the Psalms were written under the Old Covenant (Law) and us as, Christians live under the New Covenant (Guidance or Virtues of the Heart). The differences are not that great. Jesus did not come to overturn the Law but he modified it to a manner in which it is easier for one to apply in their daily life. In The Great Commandment:  Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind.’ ‘This is the first and Greatest Commandment.’ And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt 22: 37-40  ).’” This Commandment if followed encompasses the Law. Thus, the Old Covenant serves as a guide for our actions and a determining factor for what is sin. Jesus also reminds us that all of us will fall short and none of us can uphold the law completely by our own accord: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:20 NIV).”  Like the Israelites in David’s time, we face the threat of war, and need protection from enemies additionally forces both physical and spiritual threaten us on a daily basis.

 

 

The Meaning (Crossing the Bridge)

The theological/Biblical Statement can thus be stated simply in the following way. By an action of Faith (The Shield) God will protect, and provide for us. God will give us strength to defeat our enemies but we must always thank him and put him above all things.

Examples of Application

The application for this passage is in times of danger whether the force of opposition is a spiritual or physical The Presence of God will provide comfort, strength, and the means to defeat our enemies. We use our Faith, The Shield, The Word of God, The Sword, The Breastplate of Righteousness, or Spiritual Living, The Belt of Truth, and The Helmet of Salvation to protect us and defeat our adversaries.  Finally, we need not forget to praise God for what he does in our life. Like David in times of strife one should turn to prayer first as God will provide and meet all needs, protect and strengthen the body, mind, and soul and give us the Gifts of Spirit to persevere all circumstances in times of suffering and in times of abundance for the glory of his kingdom.

III. Strategy Plan

  1. Target: Adult Small Group
  • Assessment Date: May, 13, 2016
  • Assessed By: Trenton Rindoks & Associates
  1. General Age Group Characteristics
  2. Age Level: ____35-65_____
  3. Gender ☐ Males Only ☐ Females Only      × Mixed Group

 

Physical:

Some have illness (physical)

 

Some mental

 

 

 

 

Cognitive:

 

2 Scientific/ rational (deductive/Objective)

 

2 Abstract

( inductive subjective

Faith is firm is some

Able to read and Understand Modern Language Translations (NIV)

 

Linear view( Black/ White thinkers)

 

Some existentialist

 

Psychosocial:

Low Esteem

 

Fear /Anxiety/ Depression

 

Secondary need displacement

 

Rejection

 

Western Prospective of Culture Religion

 

Post-Modernism

Evangelical

Modernism view

 

Some Pluralist/  Universalistic / Agnostics

 

Mix of conservative and Liberal positions on Politics and Religion ( or Lack thereof)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual:

 

Accepted Christ

Basic  Bible Knowledge

 

Blame of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1.  
  1. Characteristics of the Ministry Setting

 

  • Kind of Group (Indicate the agency and type of ministry in which the teaching is to take place): Home Bible study

 

  • Size of Group (Indicate number of students who are anticipated or attend regularly):

4-6

 

  • Social-cultural Characteristics of Group (type of community, ethnicity, types of employment, economic level, community size, etc.): White, middle class, from small rural / suburb community 20 miles outside Memphis. Various occupations, some self-employed and disabled
  • Spiritual Maturity Level of Students: Beginner to mature, a few seekers and Agnostics

 

  1. Specific Group Characteristics

 

  • Interests:

Art, Music, Cooking, sports, movies. Music, philosophy, literature

 

  • Abilities: Construction / Handyman, Cooking, Auto repair, Pottery, Creative Writing, Care Giving,  Parents, Teaching

 

  • Limitations: basic Understanding of Bible, Some or Seeking Agnostic

 

 

  • Observed Needs: Many confusing Secondary needs as Primary and living in the flesh. Confusing the pursuit of happiness as the desired means of God instead of servitude and obedience. Many do not realize reliance on God produce Joy= Happiness and prosperity, Some are Agnostic and have a Pluralistic Understanding

 

 

  1. Points of Ministry: Examples from music, movies, art and contemporary life and other areas comparing contrasting worldly ways with Godly ways. Ask Questions How, What, Where, When, Why format to keep flow going.

 

 

 

Date:    11/20/14                    Location:    My Home  Munford, TN                                                              File Under: Psalms 3
Target Group:

A Home study group of 4-6 consisting of adults ranging in age 35-65 at various stages in their relationship with Christ. Some struggle with acceptance/ belonging issues and confuse secondary with primary needs relying on flesh nature to fill gaps of inferiority.

Passage:

Psalms 3

 

Cross-references:

2 Sam: 17:14; Matt 22: 37-40; Matt 5:20; Ephesians 6:10-20, Rom, 1-8, 12-15:3

Exegetical Idea:

By an action of Faith, or prayer, (the shield) God will protect, and provide for us.

 

 

Pedagogical Idea:

God will give us strength to defeat our enemies but we must always thank him and put him above all things

 

 

 

Lesson AIM(s)

Cognitive (Head): The student will see how reliance on prayer in a time of need will give strength and provide protection (Security Need). That reliance on God superior than instinctive action. Right thinking starts with God and fear often center in the mind.

 

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Affective (Heart): By turning to prayer, one can be a conqueror of fear as a change of thinking in a Godly direction conquers anxiety. The Holy Spirit comforts and Provides Gifts for all situations and circumstances although at times we must endure suffering for Growth as Christ himself suffered (Rom 1-8) Renewal of Mind and Transformity (Rom 12- 15:3)  Whom shall I Fear ( Rom 8)

 

 

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Behavioral (Hands): By continue reliance on prayer for one’s needs one will see that one’s needs are to be met by placing God first.  One over time will become less anxious and secondary needs (or worldly /compulsive outlets) will be replaced by spiritual right thinking and a change of heart.

 

 

 

Hook:

Take 15 Minutes alone and contemplate on the passage then answer the questions.

Break into Groups and Share and Discuss solutions.

1.      What would you do if you were threatened or your life is in danger?

2.      What is your instinctual response to fear?

3.      What world solution comes to mind to combat and adversary or fear?

4.      What would God have you do?

5.      What can you learn from David’s example on how to face fear

6.      Why should we thank God when closing a prayer?

7.      Why did Absalom die on a Tree?

8.      What can we learn from David’s Reaction to Absalom’s deviance?

9.      What Adversaries are we as society facing today?

10.  What is any Area of fear in your life?

11.  How does God provide the blessing in your life?

12.  Why is dependency on God superior to self-sufficiency or self-appointed authority?

13.   Whom do we Fear?

14.   Who is the provider of security or source of strength and comfort in your life?

15.  What is your ultimate Goal or strength and weakness and Why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book:

Content Outline

1.      Historical info explained

 

 

 

 

2.      Compare of Shield and combat of adversaries

 

3.       Group Analysis Psalm 3

 

4.      Review & Discuss Possible solutions and Alternatives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         

Methodology

Mini lecture from 2 Samuel:  13-19 to explain historical setting of Psalms 3. Explain difference of old and New Covenant (; Matt 22: 37-40; Matt 5:20)

 

Ephesians 6:10-20

 

 

Read and Analyze Psalm 3 Conclude with question and Answer from Hook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look:

1.      Ask each student to think of ways each could better use prayer to overcome fear, and better rely on God first.

2.      Suggest each  Student spend 10 minutes a day on awakening reviewing day ahead inviting God into their life and Thanking God at night before bed reviewing where they acted instinctual relying on self, and where prayer should have been used to overcome fear, or provide for a need.

 

 

 

 

 

Took:

Begin with Praise either singing Hymns or Listening to Praise Music and Sharing of snacks or a Meal.

Communion: Offer communion to any who wish to Partake of it in Remembrance of the Suffering of our Lord Jesus and his Atonement for the Sin of All Humanity.

Group Prayer: Conclude with prayer requests and a Lord’s Prayer Thank God for what he has done in all participants Lives. Read John 3:16-21 and offer to Pray a prayer of Salvation for those who wish to turn their life to Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rationale:

This study is designed to both provide a more concise method to comprehend the Bible while working on Issues, of Fear and increase dependency on the Holy Spirit, in Prayer and in Faith while promoting community and unity and fellowship.

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Carter, Terry G, J. Scott Duvall, and J.Daniel Hays. Preaching God’s Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005.

 

Duvall, Scott J., and Daniel J. Hays. Grasping God’s Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

Dylan, Bob. “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” Pat Gareet & Billy the Kid. 1973.

Hindson, Ed, and Gary Yates. The Essence of the OLd Testament: A Survry. Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2012.

 

Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014.

 

 

Image result for 2nd temple period Christianity

 

THE CORRELATION OF PAUL

&

SECOND TEMPLE JUDAISM

 

 

 

TRENTON CLARK RINDOKS

RLGN 425

MAY 9, 2016

Introduction

“It is easy to assume the individual writings that comprise the Bible correlate to each other in a relative fashion for a specific purpose of providing knowledge and wisdom and a means of achieving faith and guidance. However, what some Christians may not be familiar with is during the first century before the canonization and unification of the earliest version during the 2nd century, many secular Jewish and Hellenistic writings were also as well as the early codex format of scripture in many churches. Although the scripture codex including the Pauline Epistles were regarded with holiness as the Gospel, these other works such as the Apocrypha, writings of Philo, Josephus and Books Judaic Wisdom as well as the pseudepigrapha provided a wealth of information and inspiration.[1]”  Furthermore, some churches profess these are Authoritive and canonical works and thus these writings are included in the Bibles of the Catholic, Coptic, Lutheran, Orthodox and other Christian denominations in some variation.

“Paul addresses himself set apart for the gospel of God (Rom 1:1) but according to Watson this should not infer Paul does not share a unified view from secular counterparts in his concerns of God, Humanity, sin righteousness, creation, salvation and creation[2].” This book is a contribution of essays from contributions of doctrinal students from Durham University and other Institutions and serves the purpose of providing contextual, cultural, historical, philosophical, and religious information relative to second Temple Judaic thinking and life. While the Epistle of Romans is a systematic Gospel and guide to Christian living and ethics it was written in an era with perspectives and concerns that were different from our current age. Furthermore, one most consider the historical as well as current relevancy to fully grasp the meaning of any Biblical text to fully gaining wisdom, guidance and truth and full apply God’s word the intended fashion. Therefore, as Paul was influenced, and inspired not only source within our current Old Testament, the Holy Spirit but also the writings and philosophies of his age.  The intent or thesis of this book is to provide insight and understanding by comparing and contrasting sources and contemporary views or Paul’s time that helped shape the writings of Romans and influenced his audience the church of 1st century Church of Rome.

Prologue

Editors Ben C. Blackwell is an “assistant professor of Christianity at Houston Baptist University and served in the position as a research associate for N. T.  Wright (University of St Andrews) and John Barclay (Durham University). John K. Goodrich is the Interim chair an associate professor at Moody Bible Institute. Jason Maston is associate professor of theology and the chair of the department of theology at Houston Baptist University[3].” The editors have numerous published works on church history, Pauline studies and Second Temple Period worldviews and the combined works of the contributing student- authors provides a wealth of knowledge in comprehendible and cohesive manner. This book will serve as a means for any student, apologetic, evangelist or even one who simply wishes to gain a better understanding on the context relative to the mind and heart of Paul and people of this period and some of the issues relative to the early Church and culture of Rome.

The Second Temple Period (516 BC 70 AD) began with The Jews under the reign of the Persian Empire and concluded under the rule of the Romans. Facing the tensions of cultural and religious integration by the controlling Empires and people groups numerous philosophical and religious works were composed to provide hope, maintain cultural integrity, preserve the covenant and obedience to the Mosaic Law and to understand the understand the purpose and intent of God in the current and future age for the Judaic People. These writings today are classified as the pseudepigrapha or literary writings that are credited to a certain Biblical author but were later determined to be a later edition or authored by another person or scholar and often contain references from numerous sources.  The Septuagint or The Greek Edition of the Old Testament), The Apocrypha – A collection of OT period Jewish text which are canonized by The Roman Catholics & Orthodox but not included in the protestant Bible, and certain historical-cultural  and philosophical works  written during this period for the remainder of the writings in the classification of the writings from this period.  In obtaining comprehension  of these early texts one will grasp the relationship of sociocultural and historical context and thus better obtain an understanding of the occasion and intent of Paul as well as gain a more clear systematic and personal relationship with whatever verse, passage or chapter one studies. This wisdom will provide a better foundation of the period to appreciate the New Testament in General and recognize the purpose and meaning of the author and issues of the target audience a better establish a significant meaning to society today.

Synopsis  

The First Chapter written by Wesley Hill (PhD University of Durham).  Wesley illustrates how the Psalm of Solomon was used as a source for the basis to establish Jesus Christ as the Appointed Son of God who was preexistent with God, became flesh and in his death and resurrection was set apart by the Spirit to reign in a new life as the eternal King of creation.  Furthermore, the gift of salvation is extended to everyone both Jews and Gentiles based on faith alone.  Paul uses his Jewish tradition and builds on both the Old Testament and Second Temple writings to establish a biography of Christ. That basic concept can be outlined as Jesus preexisted with God and was born from the lineage of David according to the flesh and is now as the result of the resurrection the Appointed Son of God reigns in power and Authority in agreement with the Holy Spirit.

Chapter Two illuminates the concept of who sin brigs about the wrath of God and Paul concludes all people both Jews and Gentiles are under the power of sin for all have that God does not discriminate in judgement of immorality ( Rom 1-8-2:5). By comparing and contrasting The Wisdom of Solomon with Romans 1:8-2:5 Jonathan A. Linebaugh ( University of Durham)  shows how Paul used the Wisdom of Solomon and Psalm 105:20 to show the progression of sin the worship of natural created things, to the worship of false religions and idols which in turn leads immorality and finally judgement. Paul, then Paul’s Apologetic deduction can be summarized, as there is no shame in the Gospel, For the Authority of God alone is Salvation. Therefore, in the Good News of the Gospel the truth and righteousness of Good is revealed and God reveals is wrath for all have sinned and fallen short of God.

Chapter Three focus on the issue of circumcision, and the law. By comparing Jubilees with Romans and the issues that surfaced from the Maccabean revolt and Hellenistic influence in the Jews Paul uses the reference in the Book of Jubilees to illustrate how circumcision is a matter of the heart and not on of covenant obligation. However, Paul uses Duet 3:11-14 and the Abrahamic Covenant to show how this promise is now was always promised to all People, and is fulfilled by love and faith not by works or in the righteousness obedience of the law. Additionally, Chapter 4 shows how Paul reinforces this point by showing how the Dead Sea Scroll 4QMMT to establish the need of redemption through righteousness of faith in contrast to the works of the Law. While Paul does not denounce the Law. What Paul does is assign the works of the Law to Jesus Christ and thus salvation to profession and faith in Christ alone.

Chapter 5 continues on the theme of Righteousness using the Epistle of Enoch to show the relationship between justice and righteousness. In Enoch during the present age, the righteous are cursed and will be blessed at judgement. Paul builds on this theme but instead of placing the priority on the works of humanity, the means is the atonement & resurrection of Christ and in faith one’s alone.  Thus in Christ gracious and merciful suffering salvation & righteousness received by faith alone to all sinners.

Chapter 6 shows the similarity between the book of Sirach and Paul’s use of Genesis to Illustrate the Life of Abraham and the establishment of the covenant of God and God’s fulfillment of promises built on faith which in turn lead to the covenant being promised to all Abraham’s numberless descendants or nations of the world.

Chapter 7 shows how certain Dead Scrolls establish the role of suffering as a necessity for the righteousness and for salvation and in additional the role of a community in based on love, justice and humility in order to work towards truth and righteousness. Paul will build on these ideal for as Christ suffered we must also rejoice in suffering for his glory. Rejoicings in both the blessings and trials of the present age as we look forward to his final glory revealed in the Eternal Kingdom on his return serving the body of Christ and loving the whole community in humble servitude for his great purpose.

Chapter 8 compares Philo is writing on creation and sin with Paul. This explains why for Paul because of the original sin of Adam only through Christ atoning Sacrifice and resurrection thus, declared righteous and obedience life of faith can one be truly restored and saved.

Chapter Nine shows how sin and death entered into the world by invitation and foolishness. In a sense out of desire Humanity made a pact with death and for they were blinded by desire and evilness.  Stated simply Satan deceived humanity through desires and is still doing so today. The result is the Death of Humanity according to The Wisdom of Solomon. Furthermore, The Wisdom of Solomon explains God’s Holy Spirit cannot enter into a body tainted with sin therefore; one must study and seek the Lord. Paul builds on this concept further concluded at baptism we are buried and raise from the tomb with Jesus and beginning living a new life and as a result, our old self is crucified on the cross with Christ. Therefore, we are no longer slaves to sin and death. WE are new citizen under a new King living under grace and not obligation of law. However, sin still has power over us and we must resist sin. Instead of being a slave offer yourself as slaves to righteousness (Rom 6:18).

Chapter 10 -11 Addresses Second Temple writings in relationship to Humanity, sin and the Law and freedom of Christ and the Spirit as the only means to overcome sin and death and achieve eternal life.

Chapter 12 uses the Greek Life of Adam perspective of Creation to show a similarity or possibility on how Paul concluded that At the Fall Man and all creation became Separated and corrupted  from God’s Glory and at Christ return on Creation will be recreated or restored to the a glorious state.

Chapter 13 uses Philo to explain the view of Hellenist views of virtues on Second Temple Jews. The focus of this chapter is on the virtues of grace, mercy, and reason. Paul’s contrasts of Philo’s writings with that of the story of Isaac and Ishmael and Jacob and Esau to prove god’s election is Gentiles mercy and the election of Jews is based solely on faith. Paul then concludes mercy and faith is in the nature and instead to all people.

Chapter 14 shows how Philo aligns keeping the law and morality. This unity is a matter of personal integrity and keeps one from inner turmoil more than external rigid obligation or obedience. Thus, one must both be in agreement with thought, vocal expression (action), and not in disagreement with ones desire to enjoy happiness. Paul renounce self-reliance, but the focus of the works on faith in Christ and the Spirit. Thus Paul claims Christ is the end of the Law and gracious and obedient living is all that is necessary for sanctification and salvation as all are declared righteousness by faith alone not work nor deed.

Chapter 15 Compares Tobit with Romans to show how Paul constructs his plan for the Jews and his view of all Israel. For Paul Christ, came first to the Jews but some accepted the savior while others rejected him.  However, God changed his covenant plans for a sin of ignorance of the Jews. Now through the jealous and the salvation all of Israel will be saved (Gentile People). The elect nation of Israel who accept Christ will enter in to salvation like the Gentiles. However the rest of the Jews must wait until judgement Salvation is for many and some may not be saved however “For only if they do not continue in disbelief (Rom 11:23).”

Chapter 16 compares 4 Maccabees and the control of ones emotions as a necessity and sound judgement being the most superior of all the virtues.  Paul in Romans 12: 1-21 states we are to renew our mind in transformation in community worship, through the discernment of God’s will, through humility, with self-control and sensibility. Furthermore, we are to be given gifts from the Holy Spirit for the service and glory of God. Paul also focus on acceptable emotions such as a zeal for God, Love, encouragement, empathy and honesty.

Chapter 17-19 deals with concerns of the Roman Church such as cultural divisions on diet, Sabbath practices, and giving. Additionally it covers relationship with secular authority and taxation and general brotherly love. These Chapters help to show how Paul encouraged a fostered unity within the multicultural churches of Rome and discourage dissention but rather love and peace and joy to all.

Chapter 20 focus on the role of women as ministers in Judaism and the Early Christian Church.

Assessment

The book provides a wealth of information by comparing and contrasting sources from the Second Temple Period with Old Testament writings used by Paul and the various chapters of The Epistles of Romans. This book will aid any theologian, believer, or seeker to understand the relative historical, political, cultural and religious customs of Judaic and Hellenistic believers of the period while better grasp and developing a means to correlate such knowledge to a current perspective or occasion.

 Bibliography

Blackwell, Ben C., John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston, . Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

Image result for Early Christian symbols rome

 

Watson, Francis. “Foreward.” In Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, edited by Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston, 13-14. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 201

[1] Francis Watson, “Foreward,” In Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, edited by Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 13-14.

[2] Ibid, 14

[3] Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston,”Contributors” In Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, edited by Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 178

FREEDOM FROM BONDAGE

THRU

OBEDIENCE OF FAITH

 

The Necessity Trudging Process of Sanctification

&

The Role of Continual Transformation into the Eikōn of Christ

An Essay on Christian Life

 

 

 

TRENTON C. RINDOKS

RLGN 425

MAY 13, 2016

 

 Image result for sanctification

 

 

Introduction

 

It is relatively true that anyone who repents of sin and professes belief that Jesus Christ died for the sins of all humanity on the cross is declared righteous by God and is granted the gracious Gift of Salvation. However, all humanity is still subjective to the wages of sin (Romans 6: 21-23) and are still accountable for their actions (Romans 3: 9-19).  In the practice of Spiritual disciplines, which leads to the transformation of the mind during the ongoing process of sanctification and the continual life of obedience of faith during(Romans 6: 16-17) the necessity trudging process of sanctification the continual transformation to the image of Christ occurs. Through this action of unity of mind and heart the development of fruit of the Spirit by glorious living, one is transformed in the Spirit and dies to flesh (Romans 12).  This is a requirement for all Disciples of the Way as sin blocks the connection to the Holy Spirit who is the provider of the Keys of Faith, which open the narrow Gateway into Heaven and is the only means to Eternal Life. Paul’s Gospel position contends, through the atonement of Blood Jesus redeemed all humanity – a gracious gift of mercy that must be received by faith through revelation that all truth, life and means come from Christ alone. In Our own human endeavors no one will achieve righteousness as we are slaves to sin and death and hopeless without Christ for even the law offers no means of justification or salvation. Vindication comes only in the grace and mercy of Christ alone however true righteousness requires faithful obedience and worship of God in all manner of living thus, For Paul, sanctification is the means in which our old-self being crucified with Christ remains dead to sin  and is the basis for Christian living (Rom 6: 5-15). In continual transformation and renewing of our mind and not conforming to the ways of the world we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, join in unity of worship and service with the Body of Christ ( The unified Church and Trinity), and live in obedience of faith for the glory of God in all things.  Furthermore, we are empowered, gifted, and protected under the guidance, power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit and by the authority of Christ. Sanctification, aides in Gods divine purposes the inclusion of all people who accept Christ and “all Israel” through the restoration into the Eikōn of Christ. Our restoration leads to the recreation of all creation from the consequences of the fallen state of the original sin of Adam (Rom 6: 5:13, 8, 12-15:3).[1]

Sanctification

For Paul, sanctification is the means in which our old-self being crucified with Christ remains dead to sin  and is the basis for Christian living (Rom 6: 5-15). Sanctification is a cooperation of personal and communal works of deeds of faith and spiritual disciplines and spiritual gifting, one’s own innate talents and experiences. The accumulation of these endeavors are granted out grace and mercy are to be used for the purpose of, service the proclamation of Gospel, renewing and transforming the mind and the church, promoting unity and brotherly love and above all else worship and trust of God in all areas of one’s life in a humble and Christ like manner . Sanctification reveals and equips one in the virtues need to serve the Kingdom of God while allowing one to align their moral values ( Ethics) to the nature ( virtue) of God. This in turn leads to the holistic restoration of dying of the flesh (ways of sin /world) and maturation to the nature of the Spirit (Godliness). While The Atonement and Resurrection finished the process of salvation on the cross, Yet Salvation for all creation is not complete until Christ returns. Sanctification is the process in which one is aided by faith in the guidance of the Spirit and is thus being transformed in to the Eikōn. Sanctification is our training, equipping, and ongoing service to the community of believers and the world as the Spirit sees fit (our election). This election process of sanctification is our role as stewards in the recreation and transformation-salvation plan of creation.

The Lutheran perspective states, our sanctification is an obligation of regeneration arises only from the power and grace of our inheritance and our justification by faith or our redemption and citizenship into the people and Kingdom of God, and thus is empowered by the Holy Spirit and not dependent on our works. Furthermore although one is free from rigid obligation of the Law and ritualist restraints one is still bound to follow the highest virtues or under obligation of the Law of God thus must resist temptations of sin and the ways of flesh.

“For it remains God’s eternal and immutable ordinance, that we obey God; the Gospel not only begins, but also subjects us to obedience towards God “. The thought is, ‘We are debtors; but not to the flesh.’ Our allegiance and obedience are to a higher law than we find in our members. We owe nothing to the flesh; we owe everything to the Spirit.[2]

For John Calvin sanctification is a state of righteous living upon receiving Christ and his atoning gift of justification – vindication and thus assisted in sanctification by the giving and indwelling of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and the means of faith. Furthermore, Calvin vies sanctification as a process of restoration of holiness and assurance of salvation given by Christ and sealed by the gift of the Spirit. For Calvin salvation is not obtained through baptism, Christian living but once Christ returns however from the believer justification insures eternal security in the Kingdom of God.  “The state of the case is really this,—that the faithful are never reconciled to God without the gift of regeneration; nay, we are for this end justified,—that we may afterwards serve God in holiness of life. Christ indeed does not cleanse us by his blood, nor render God propitious to us by his expiation, in any other way than by making us partakers of his Spirit, who renews us to a holy life. It would then be a most strange inversion of the work of God were sin to gather strength on account of the grace which is offered to us in Christ ; for medicine is not a feeder of the disease, which it destroys. We must further bear in mind, what I have already referred to- that Paul does not state here what God finds us to be, when he calls us to an union with his Son, but what it behoves us to be, after he has had mercy on us, and has freely adopted us. For by an adverb, denoting a future time, he shows what kind of change ought to follow righteousness.[3]

The Necessity of Sanctification

The reason why one must endure the process of sanctification is to be transformed into the image of Christ or Eikōn.  The profession of faith, or merely believing or claiming one is a one is a Christian without practicing personal spiritual disciplines and obedience of faith is not the means of achieving salvation. Sanctification as a result of justification requires the practice of spiritual discipline’s such as: biblical intake or the study & meditation on the word of God, prayer, meditation, humble sacrificial giving of time, money, and service to those in need, empathy and sympathy, and above all else worship and praise of God. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and faith, or trust in reliance on the trinity of God for and in all things, Christian living transformation and salvation is impossible. Works, deeds and even the obedience to any moral code or law will not earn the favor of God or grant one Eternal life. Sanctification must proceed repentance, acceptance of Christ by faith and a life of obedience by following the law written to one’s heart and the practice of driplines and brotherly love and glorious worship.

Furthermore, one is to proclaim or give testimony of the good news of Christ, be of service to the universal church and community and aid in the recreation or reconstruction of creation in whatever fashion the Holy Spirit sees fit. The Spirit under the authority of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will protect, inspire and give us gifts to serve and advance the renewal of creation as we await the return of Christ. The ultimate plan of God is the inclusion of all people from ever nation and every people group. Paul states, “ All Israel will be saved ( Rom 11) by God’s mercy and covenant of grace and as a result of sin those whose heart remain hardened and ignorant or defiant will be lost.   Paul continues in the doxology one must know the mind of God and trace out his unsearchable path of wisdom for this give one the counselor ( Holy Spirit)  and from him ( Christ) and through him are all thing and all glory or only means of salvation and eternal life.( Rom 11: 33-36).”  Some biblical commentators see this applying only to the remnant of the Jewish people or the Jewish Elect, while others view this as Paul stating the remaining Jewish nation will be judged and must undergo a profession of faith in Christ or conversion at the End of day. Other see the Jewish people eternally secure and under no penalty accept obedience to the Law itself and judgement by God as God will keep his promise of the original covenants with his elect nation a final vies is that all Israel is the body of believers or the universal church itself.[4]. An alternate universal view is the All Israel simply applies to all people groups whom by their own will choice to accept and walk and live a life under the guidance of the Spirit and by obedience of faith or reject the followings, the teachings and disciplines  of The Way entirely.

The Process of Sanctification

The process of sanctification begins with transformation or renewing of the mind. This continual process for Paul is a struggle of conforming to the ways of the virtues of the Spirit and dying from the ways of the world or flesh (sin).  Grant Osborne views this as a complete reshaping change in our very core or nature that enabled one to offer him or herself completely to God. Additionally, this is a lifelong process in which the ways of the flesh our replaced with the virtues or mannerisms of God. The mind is a battlefield of struggle between sin and the virtues of God; therefore, sanctification is the necessary process of reinforcing and resisting the temptations by training the mind, and equipping the individuals to endure and persevere through struggles and suffering in life with the aid protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit[5]. The primary means is through the study, meditation and application of the Word of God and thus on a live built on virtues,  humble service to other, love, peace, empathy, sympathy and prayer but ultimate on glory and worship of God in all things.

The Result

Fruit of the Spirit

Sanctification produces the Fruit of the Spirit. “Paul describes this as a seven taste fruit with the following flavors: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness (Gal 5:22).”  Furthermore, one is to conduct themselves with empathy for others in a humble manner and respect for the ways of others view manners of Christian faith and life in respect of cultural beliefs in general. Neither boasting of their own superiority nor pressing their own views or positions on other believers (Rom 15). This spirit of unity and division encourage and strengths the believer and allows one to walk in manner more fitting of Christ. One Additionally should respect the customs and cultures and worldviews of nonbelievers in the society in which the live serving as good citizens while never apologizing for proclaiming the Gospel or compromising their virtues.

Christ-Mindedness

Christ-mindedness is humbly serving and loving other people. This applies placing one in the role of a servant or in a status beneath the one whom we serve. Additionally, it involves the lack of conceit, arrogance, and self-centered motifs. It also, involves the love of others and ultimately the love and worship of God in all things. One strives to think of what is best served for God’s Glory and realize all that one has been given is a blessing from God. This does not imply one necessarily needs to live in poverty or go to any excess or to experience any form of deficiencies. However as Christ suffered at times we must all too suffer. Suffering brings about character through our ability to endure and persevere and is the cornerstone to growth and maturation.

Spiritual Gifts

Paul states that one of his reasons for is visit and writing the Epistle to Romans is to Provide Spiritual Gifts (Rom 1).  In  Romans 12 Paul provides a short list of  Spiritual Gifts While Prophesy is not mentioned in Romans it is included in Ephesians 4:11 and   1 Corinthians 12:28.  Paul however does mention teaching as a gift as well as encouraging and counseling[6]. Additionally Paul lists humbling serving, giving, showing mercy, extortion and according to Moo the advancement and use of one’s own natural talents and skills for the church and God purpose.[7]  Paul in the beginning of Romans 12 states that we must renew and transform our mind to the way of the Spirit and thus this implies to additional Gifts that of knowledge and Wisdom being given by the Holy Spirit.

Blessed Assurance

Assurance of Sanctification

“God is, or what true liberty is — not liberty to sin, but liberty from sin. Mark, these words are not to such as are trying to experience that they are dead to sin, or dead with Christ, and alive to God. They have made the profession in baptism that they are dead and buried with Christ, identified with Him in death. They reckon themselves dead unto sin, and thus are justified from sin, and alive to God. Oh, wondrous, almost forgotten, truth! Death to sin — the only deliverance from sin. But what deliverance would there be without life in Christ to God? How can you walk in newness of life, if you have not got newness of life? If your old nature were placed under law, then, surely, sin would have dominion. But because God has given you a new life — and that His free gift —His own unchanging, boundless grace, ” What, then, shall we sin [that is, practise sin] because we are not under law, but under grace?” Far be the thought[8].”

Assurance of Salvation

According to Frank Matera “The Holy Spirit Serves as the Assurance of Salvation in three ways for the believer first the Spirit is the mark or seal that one belongs to Christ. Next, the Spirit serves as a the guide for a living a dynamic norm for living the Christian life and sanctification, and finally, the Spirit provides assurance of eternal life in that the first fruits will be raised of eschatological glory and given by God to believers when God raises the dead during the end of days.[9]

Freedom from the Law

“Theological teaching since the reformation have never set forth clearly our utter death with Christ at the Cross.  The fatal error is to claim the Law is over the Christ. Law has dominion over man has long has he lives (Rom 7:1). Unless one can belief in the heart that they truly died with Christ on the cross and was crucified and buried with him, and that your history with Adam came to an end at Calvary, you will never be truly free from the Law upon your conscience.[10]” “Furthermore, The Mosaic Law is a written code that commands and instructs but cannot empower people to act, as they should. In contract,   The Law of The Spirit is the life giving force, or Presence of God, in the life of the believer. This living dynamic force inspires maturity, conformity, and illumination into the Presence of the One who dwells with in them additionally, the Law or the Spirit provides identity, the living norm and assurance of salvation in the Eschatological Age by providing Gifts and Fruits to serve for the glory of the service and blessing of the Eternal Kingdom.[11] Additionally in Romans 13: 13 Paul gives a directive for a universal submission to secular authority. According to John R. Scott three reason are clear for tis directive. “First, God establishes all authority / Powers, Intuitions, Secondly; the authorities that are established exist because of God. Finally, one who resist the authorities also is in rebellion with the institutions of God. This universal warning Goes on to state that to rebel will bring to punishment by those who hold power. However, Scott points out this is not a directive to endorse those who misuse power or totalitarianism rather to endorse submission to rightful rulers.

Paul never intended the statement to endorse any authority that is against the virtues or to endorse principalities or authoritative power that advance evil regimes or schemes. Scott cites Stalin Hitler Pontius Pilate and others as examples of historical people in power who although granted executive or authority misused power overcome with sin[12].” In such cases on what are duties as Christians are, we should consult Acts 5:33-40 1 Peter 2:11-23, Eph 6, Rom 8.

In response to the Mosaic Law and our Freedom in Christ. From Paul’s prospective simply the Law is transferred as an intrinsic written moral code to each individual’s heart. Thus, we are to decide what is right and wrong from our individual culture and through sensibly thinking (Rom 12) and loving humble action toward God and everyone with the aid of the Holy Spirit in service to others for the Glory of God.  In study and proclamation of the truth of the Gospel our minds our transformed and our hearts and minds thus become a cohesive oneness with God and the Body of Christ itself.

Additionally. We are to imitate Christ in thought, speech, and action the result is joy, peace, hope, and assurance of restoration to the image or Eikōn of Christ and the recreation of all creation.

While Freedom from the obligation of the Law does imply a deterministic view or that humanity is a free agent. Which is expressed in the perspective of Sirach 15: 13-15, “The Lord hates abominable wickedness and does not cause it to happen it to those who fear him. God created Adam (The Man) from the beginning, and he gave him into the hand of his inclination. If you chose, you may keep the commandment, and you will understand his will.”

Paul however provides a new perspective on this view inn Romans 6-8 by illustrating how living free from the law and not under the obligation of the Torah and ones’ own human endeavors but in faith and reliance on Christ produces freedom from sin and death. Paul agrees that the Law serves as a moral guide for living and ought not to be pursued out of rigid obligation. Service to the Law brought death as a result sin. Christ merely creates obedience by the sending of the Spirit to his people[13].

Thus, the Law intent from the beginning is to be guidelines for virtuous living but humankinds’ own desires and ignorance corrupted and misinterpreted the law out of sin. The attempt to live out of righteous and holy obligation to the Law failed. For faith and deed is the only means for justification. From the Patriarchs to the Prophets Christ coming was predicted to fulfill the Law. Christ accomplished this act by paying the ransom of sin and death through the atonement of blood and the resurrection. From that day on by the providing and aid of the Holy Spirit the law is a moral code on each person’s heart that leads to transformation and unity in sanctification and restoration.

Conditional Security

God knows “All that Shall Be and All that May Be” in History. “This view proposes prophecy should be considers as conditional warnings and that God is sovereign in that that he can predestine history and foreknow as much of it as he choices.[14]” Thus the future is still be written by God and man acts a coauthor of creation. This authority and aspect of the image of God was given to humanity during creation. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Gen 1:26 NASB).”

Paul teaches of the need of love and sanctification. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. However, do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Gal 5: 13-18 NIV).”

Finally, Paul makes it  clear throughout his writings with in Romans that salvation is eternally secure on God’s Part but conditional and dependent on first faith and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through which the believer participates in and is empowered with the means of sanctification. However, the nature of freewill makes this a conditional act as sanctification is based upon obedience of faith and spiritual discipline.

Romans 8: 31-37 does contain one of the most powerful promises of assurance of salvation however which summarized states no power whether of Man or Spirit can separate on from God this point is often used to prove that believer is forever eternally secure and conditional security is a myth. However if freewill does not exist mankind is reduced to nothing more than a puppet or a slave which goes against Paul’s premise of freedom from bondage and the nature of a loving, gracious and merciful God. Furthermore, it states as God is for us none are truly against us we are more than conquers whom shall we truly fear.

Conclusion

By the unity of mind and heart and in the development of fruit of the Spirit through glorious living, one is transformed in the Spirit and dies to flesh (Romans 12).  This is a requirement for all Disciples of the Way as sin blocks the connection to the Holy Spirit who is the provider of the Keys of Faith, which open the narrow Gateway into Heaven and is the only means to Eternal Life. Paul’s Gospel position contends, through the atonement of Blood Jesus redeemed all humanity – a gracious gift of mercy that must be received by faith through revelation that all truth, life and means come from Christ alone. In Our own human endeavors no one will achieve righteousness as we are slaves to sin and death and hopeless without Christ for even the law offers no means of justification or salvation. Vindication comes only in the grace and mercy of Christ alone however true righteousness requires faithful obedience and worship of God in all manner of living thus, For Paul, sanctification is the means in which our old-self being crucified with Christ remains dead to sin  and is the basis for Christian living (Rom 6: 5-15).

However while salvation is eternal secure on Gods Part it is conditional and dependent on the process of sanctification and a life of obedient faith. The Good News is all believers have the Blessed Assurance through the practice of spiritual disciplines and the aid of the Holy Spirit no power can separate them from the love, grace and mercy from God accept the willingness of a defiant or self-centered self.” For as God is for Us none are against us -Whom shall We Fear! We are more than conqueror!  We are co-heirs to the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven (Rom 8:31-37)!

 

 

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Bibliography

Boyd, Gregory A., and Paul R. Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

 

C.S. On the Epistle to the Romans. London, 1885.

 

Calvin, John. Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans. Edited by John Rev. Owen. Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1849.

 

Jacobs, H. E. ” The Epistles of Paul to the Romans and 1 Corinthians I-VI.” In The Lutheran Commentary. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1896.

 

Maston, Jason. “Sirach and Romans 7:1-25: The Human, the Law, and Sin.” In Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, edited by Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston, 93-100. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

 

Matera, Frank J. Romans. Paideia : Commentaries on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.

 

Moo, Douglas J. Romans. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

 

Newell, William R. “Chapter Five.” In Romans Verse by Verse. Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2000.

 

Osborne, Grant R. Romans. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

 

Stott, John R. W. “The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World. Bible Speaks Today Series.” 133-148. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

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[1] Douglas J. Moo,  Romans. NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

 

[2]  H. E. Jacobs, ” The Epistles of Paul to the Romans and 1 Corinthians I-VI.” In The Lutheran Commentary (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1896), 153.

 

[3] John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans. Edited by John Rev. Owen (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1849), 219.

 

[4] Douglas J. Moo,  Romans. NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

 

 

[5] Grant R. Osborne,  Romans. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 22.

 

[6] Ibid, 22-23.

[7] Douglas J. Moo,  Romans. NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

 

[8] C.S. On the Epistle to the Romans. (London, 1885), 73.

 

[9] Frank J. Matera, Romans, Paideia : Commentaries on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010), 210.

 

[10] William R. Newell, “Chapter Five, ” In Romans Verse by Verse ( Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 2000), 19.

 

[11] Frank J. Matera, Romans, Paideia : Commentaries on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010), 210.

 

[12] John R. W. Stott,  “The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World. Bible Speaks Today Series,” (Downers Grove: InterVaristy Press, 2001), 134 .

 

[13] Jason Maston, “Sirach and Romans 7:1-25,” in Reading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, ed. Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, and Jason Matson (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 95-97.

 

[14] Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 34.

 

UNDERSTANDING THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS
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A Treatise on Faith & the Glorification of God

In the Mind & Hearts of all Believers

The Apostle Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans in the winter of 56-57 AD while visiting Corinth during his third missionary Journey and was preparing to deliver “the donations of the Saints to the mother Church in Jerusalem “and thus will be delayed in his anticipated visit of the Roman Church.[1] Many themes have been suggested for the Epistle of Romans however the overlying theme could be seen righteousness by faith and the necessity of faith and the glorification of God in all areas of one’s life. The purpose of Pauls’ visit and the treatise is to further to proclaim the Good News ,or inclusive Gospel of Salvation, to all People and to fulfill God’s divine provincial plan of Kingdom fulfillment.

This plan or reconciliation and redemption is available to all who are willing to be justified by faith by the gracious acts accomplished during the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Regardless of any cultural or any other prejudices of the law all are redeemed from sin and reconciled by Christ and faith alone and none can come to righteousness through any work or deed. However, Christian living requires a live of lived in faith and Glory to God which will require a transformation of the mind and result in the circumcision of the heart and rebirth into a new body and indwelling and transformation of Spirit.[2]

 The Date

Written during Paul’s third missionary before his departure to Jerusalem and during the period in which many Jews were in exile from Rome and Italy (Acts 18) under the orders of Claudius but According to Moo, many were slowly returning to the city.[3]

The Audience

The Epistle to the Romans was written to the believers or Body of Christ living in Rome. The congregation was composed mainly a gentile community, some of whom may have been “Godfearers” or Gentile converts to Judaism and then Christianity but the vast majority would have been those from the general gentile populous those who lived outside the Law of Moses and thus were uncircumcised and practiced the customs of eating the unclean foods. Even though the Council of Jerusalem ( Acts 15)  had decided that such restriction should not prohibit one from being a brother in Christ or disciple fear of assimilation and loss of national identity and misinterpretation and a desire to hold true to the ways of the Old Covenant still remained among Judaic believers and their Hellenistic ( Gentile) brothers[4]. However, as mentioned above many Jews were returning to the city after being expelled under the edict of Claudius and as such, there was a Judaic presence in the city both in the body of the believer and the synagogue and as was Paul’s custom and God’s directive Paul would witness first to the Jews then to the Gentiles. Thus, the Letter is attended for all believers, or saints, regardless of nationality or cultural identity.

 

The Occasion

As briefly mentioned above Paul wrote the Epistle during the winter of AD 56-57 in Corinth while preparing to deliver the gifts of the Saints to Jerusalem to help with the needs of the church and the people. This universal church offering was most likely a crisis relief effort to meet the needs that occurred from the three-year famine that occurred during the reign of Emperor Claudius around 45-48 AD and would have had financial impacts on the area and the people of region (Acts 11).

Additionally Paul writes the Epistle with a sense of regret for not being able to visit Rome at an earlier date and having to be delayed but encouraging the church he is coming and Eager to proclaim the Gospel and the necessity of faith to the Church.[5] Finally, Robert Stein adds it was “Paul, not Peter, responsibility to mister to the Roman Church as the church in this city was primarily a Gentile and not Judaic Church. Additionally He commits on the uniqueness of the introduction of the Epistle in which Paul states how he was divinely appointed by Christ to serve as the Apostle to the Gentiles. This divine appointment by the risen Christ and through the Spirit was received by faith and is done so to bring about the obedient faith in to whom have received gracious faith in the risen Christ as he has.[6] Moo also comments on this adding that the purpose is the Proclaim the Gospel to the People of Rome.[7] Additionally, the assignation of Claudius has placed a new Emperor Nero in on the throne who would eventually become a vicious persecutor of both Jew and Christian.  This persecution and attempted assimilation onto the Jews would lead to the failed uprising of the Jewish zealots and the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70.[8] Additionally, fulfilling the warnings of the prophets and the promise of the destruction of Jesus and proving that no one can be made righteous to God by works, deeds or upholding the Law along it must be accomplished in the inseparability of action and faith and a life lived for the glory of God.

In regards to the situation the Jews were allowed back in Rome due to the assassination of Claudius and thus as a political attempt by Nero to try to appease Jewish populous in the Empire and as an end the disturbance and thus a means to avoid a possible revolution. Nero ascended the throne in 54 AD but this pacification would not last long. In 64 AD, the fire of Rome was blamed on the Christians and was the catalyst for the Persecution of Christians and Jews under Nero, which lasts until 68 AD.  Most historians claim Nero actual started the fire of Rome as an attempt to discredit the Christian and Jews. Christians and Jews refused to worship the Emperor as God and Christians were accused of cannibalism (for the belief in the Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper), and for undermining Roman cultural traditions and in the Words of Tacitus “Nero Blamed Christians who are hated for their abominations and punished them with refined cruelty. Christ from whom they take their namesake were executed under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. Stopped for a moment, this evil superstition reappeared, not only in Judea, where was the root of all evil, but also in Rome, where all things sordid and abominable from every corner of the world come together. 

Thus, those who confessed [to being Christians] were arrested, on the basis of their testimony a great number condemned, although not so much for the fire itself as for the hatred of humankind.”[9]  The common fable that Nero played his lyre dressed as an actor singing about the destruction of Troy was done so he would be memorialized in Epic Poems as a hero of Rome, great Poet and savior of the people as the who order the setting of the fire. Two sections of the city, which were spared by the fire, were the Christian and Jewish sections. The fire burned ten of the fourteen sections and left the citizens vengeful and seeking justice with many, aware that Nero set the fire so he could rebuild Rome to be more to his liking and splendor. To apiece the people and his own cruelty Nero would dress Christian s dogs and have them killed, or parade them around in his garden in a circus where he dressed as a charioteer would exact cruel punishment.. In AD 68 was impeached and executed by the Senate and after a volatile year was replaced by Vespasian as Emperor ending the Persecution the Christians and Jews.

The term Godfearer can apply to Hellenistic Jews or Gentile Converts to Judaism and is associated with individuals who did not uphold to all the commandments of the Law of Moses, whether it be circumcision, dietary customs, or other restrictions listed in the Judaic Law in in the Old Testament. At times, it simply means one whom is chosen by God or lives in obedient faith. In contrast, a proselyte is a convert who uphold all the Judaic traditions of culture and religious Law. In the 1st century, a Pharisee would tend to be more inclined to view those who did not uphold the commandments that were more of a doctorial or religious nature were, as a Sadducee would tend to emphasize cultural and national identity.  Additionally, those of the Diaspora populous would be a bit more tolerant where as those in Judea and Palestine would view any one of a Hellenistic view or background and a Gentile in a negative manner.[10]

Purpose

Although, many sub themes run through the Epistle of Romans Paul’s intent or Purpose is clearly defined in the introduction. “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of Godthe gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him, we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1-7 NIV).” What Paul is stating it is by divine election and appointment and the leading of the Spirit he has been called and sent to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. This divine election is his apostolic calling for seen by the prophets, that the resurrected decedent of David will be the Son of God and reign in Heaven at the resurrection. All people Gentile and Jews are called to live in obedient faith to the Son of God and all authority and power is given under his name alone. His salvation is only available by grace to those who live by faith alone.

Moo states although many purposes have been stated for the intent or theme for Romans the Gospel should be seen as the primary focal point or position of Romans.[11] The purpose of Romans is to spread the Gospel to all people of Rome first to Jews then Gentiles. Paul additionally plans to expand on this message in a different manner. Through encouraging, convincing and rebuking of the ways of Flesh and the rebirth of the Spirit.  This transformation of the mind that lead to a circumcised heart and a life of obedient faith for those justified thru faith. Justification and Salvation is the gracious gift, which was granted thru the crucifixion, resurrection and the hyper-exaltation of the Lord of All Creation the Son of God, in which one is born into a new image in the likeness of Christ or his Eikōn.

 

The purpose of the letter is thus to establish the need of obedient faith and proclaim the inclusive Gospel in Rome in order to fulfill God’s Kingdom calling. [12]Obedient faith includes such issues as justification by faith in which one is declared righteous or forgiven of past transgressions only by the grace of the sacrificial act of Christ on the cross and in his resurrection and exalted ascension.

Furthermore, justification is similar to when a judge pardons ones actions or a debt is paid in full by another and forgotten in addition to forgiven. Thus, no deed, work or human action can gain God’s favor and bring about restoration.

Additionally, Paul speaks of the need for the transformation of the mind, sensible thinking, the circumcision of the heart applying that a life live by faith also requires dying to the ways of sin, resisting temptation and total reliance and dependence on the Authority and Power of Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit. A life that is to be live in service to God,  for the glory of God, and in a relationship with God lived on the precepts of love, a unity of heart and mind and a interdependence with the community and not live out of an independent selfish nature. Finally, all believers are called to proclaim the gospel and further the kingdom of God.

Although salvation may begin with the individual, it expands through the community and then explodes in an inclusive nondiscriminatory global fashion. As it was for the 1st century, Roman Church be today. We must set aside our difference so we can fulfil God’s plan of Kingdom fulfillment through the Good News of the Gospel.

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

 

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Bibliography

Blackwell, Ben C., John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston, . Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

 

Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. Vol. I. New York: Harper One, 2010.

 

Haris, M. D. The MD Haris Institute. December 11, 2011. http://mdharrismd.com/2011/12/19/proselytes-god-fearers-and-relations-between-jews-and-gentiles-in-the-bible/ (accessed March 26, 2016).

 

Moo, Douglas J. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

Stein, Robert. Biblical Training. Spring 2003. https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library (accessed March 25, 2016).

 

Towns, Elmer L., and Ben Gutierrez, . The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2012.

 

[1] Elmer L. Towns, and Ben Gutierrez, . The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey. ( Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2012), 132.

[2] Douglas J Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[3] Douglas J Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[4] As evident in Paul’s frustration with the Jews in Corinth & Macedonia during his third Journey (Act 18 :5-6)

[5] Douglas J Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[6] Robert Stein. Biblical Training. Spring 2003. https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library (accessed March 25, 2016).

[7] Douglas J Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[8] Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston, . Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 24.

[9] Justo L. Gonzalez. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. Vol. I. ( New York: Harper One, 2010), 43-46.

[10]  M. D. Haris. The MD Haris Institute. December 11, 2011.  The MD Haris Institute. December 11, 2011.

[11] Douglas J. Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[12] Douglas J Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

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THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS

Justification by Faith

“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:21-22 NIV).”

The issue of justification by faith and the relationship of works and the law has any role in salvation has been a doctrinal controversial since the Reformation. Martin Luther felt strongly that one is justified and thus restored to righteous by faith alone that he viewed this issue and Romans 3:21-26 is the central theme of the Bible.[1] Luther was strong in his conviction that faith and not works leads to one being declared worthy and significant, or righteous by God, he wished to have the Book of James declared uncanonical but included it in the Apocrypha of the Lutheran Bible with the following preface.

“In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works.  It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac; though in Romans 4 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15. Now although this epistle might be helped and an interpretation devised for this justification by works, it cannot be defended in its application to works of Moses’ statement in Genesis 15. For Moses is speaking here only of Abraham’s faith, and not of his works, as St. Paul demonstrates in Romans 4. This fault, therefore, proves that this epistle is not the work of any apostle.[2]

“In the second place its purpose is to teach Christians, but in all this long teaching it does not once mention the Passion, the resurrection, or the Spirit of Christ. He names Christ several times; however, he teaches nothing about him, but only speaks of general faith in God. Now it is the office of a true apostle to preach of the Passion and resurrection and office of Christ, and to lay the foundation for faith in him, as Christ himself says in John 15, “You shall bear witness to me.” All the genuine sacred books agree in this, that all of them preach and inculcate Christ.[3]

Paul build his arguments with his thesis statement in Romans 3:21 22 No one can be redeemed righteous by the Law but is given to righteousness or justified in faith alone and by the profession of believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He then explains all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. This redemption is only available by the atonement, or blood sacrifice, that was offered up for all humanities sins on the cross, and in this act of ultimate justice, the sins of all humanity past, present and future are paid in full. This act was given out of grace alone.

He explains God is the God of all people both those under the Law although justification is achieved by faith not in observation or keeping the works of Law. He explains however, we do uphold the Law as faith does not nullify the Law but rather affirms the Law. It is in, by our Faith, and out of faith that all works and deeds therefore result. Thus work and deeds are a result of faith not a way of achieving faith or maintain righteousness or one is relational standing with Law.  The Greek word for faith, and believe chosen by Paul is Pistis / Pisteuo. In Greek mythology Pistis is the Spirit of faith, truth and honest who fled Pandora’s Box and abandoned humankind.

 

On the Issue of Continuity of Righteousness (James 2: 14:26)

Paul, continues his argument in Romans 4 illustrating the Life of Abraham and his obedience of Faith as result from the gracious promises and blessings bestowed on him as the result of his Salvation not  any actions or deed of his own intent as the results that led to the Covenant Relationship ( Righteousness.) Additionally Paul uses the illustration of the promise and blessing of an heir and nation to illustrate the inclusiveness of Salvation to all humanity. Furthermore, in the promise of the child being born to a barren mother shows ability as creator and originator of all thing. He who can create Life out of that which is formless or empty. He then states, “Abraham is the father of us all and God gives Life to the dead and call things that are not as though they were.” This passage, alludes to Eternal Life, and illustrates who Christ conquered sin and death.

Paul concludes by stating that Abraham offspring’s will be like him who had unwavering faith , when at 100 Sarah gave birth to Isaac and through his strengthened and unwavering faith he gave the glory to God and this is why we credit him righteous( romans 4:22). Finally concluding the words were not written credit to him for Abraham alone but for all of us also. However, for us this faith comes only in Jesus, our Lord raised from the dead, who conquered death and sin and was resurrected for our justification Romans 4; 23-25).

James 2: 14-26 states reasonable argument that on the surface level appears contrast Paul’s logical defense on Justification by Faith alone.  James contends faith, works and deeds are all necessary starts off by illustrating that if one has faith and does not practice deeds such as acts of charity can one truly be saved.  The key here I believe is a missing word James is not saying can one achieve righteous but can one who claims to have repented of sin and profess believe in Christ and thus have the Holy Spirit within truly be counted as righteous. Paul will build on this assumption himself in Romans 7, 8 and 12).

James states “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2: 17). After the initial process of repentance, justification, baptism, transformation and sanctification process occurs and is ongoing. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” James continues, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder (James 2: 18-19).”  James states that faith without deeds is meaningless but faith and resulting deeds illustrates true righteousness. He then compares the works and faith of Abraham (In his sacrifice of Isaac) and Rahab the prostitute (who was made righteous by assisting the spies and gave them lodging), as examples how faith works and deeds are inseparable. However, the key to understanding James is that faith and deed result from faith not lead to faith or righteousness.  The righteousness James references here is more in lines with obedience of faith or sanctification of Paul. This is evident in his closing statement “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead (2 James 26).”

Thus, why many theologians have argued about a debate in position on justification between Paul and James and the position of faith, works and deeds , the main issue is over a misunderstanding on what James understood as righteousness.  For James righteousness is a state of obedient faith that produces actions and deeds as a result of faith in an ongoing process in the Christian life similar to or even equivocal to Paul’s view of transformation, obedience of faith and sanctification. The issue is thus one of church doctrine and dogma and not an issue of historical or apostolic significance as Luther and others claim.

When on is considering the issue of justification by faith from the perspective of Paul it is clear the Paul is stating that one is declared worthy and significant to be a member of God’s people and entitled to all the privileges of citizenship. The entitlements of citizenship are freedom from rigid servitude to any form of the law.-in such things humanity will never earn God’s favor.

However, the principle of obedient faith is an ongoing process of sanctification and transformation of the mind and heart. By resisting the ways of worldly things, immoral actions, and the giving one’s self-over to the guidance, care and direction of Christ and the Holy Spirit (Romans 12).  Furthermore, one is to glorify God in all areas of one’s life by being a living sacrifice and serving others out of humility (Romans 12:1-8). Finally, a life of active love is living out of the obedience leading of faith.  This form of Christ-likeness forms the standard of Christian conduct (Romans 12:9-21).

The initial act of justification is a gift of both grace and mercy given freely offered by Christ to all and is the result of the atoning sacrifice which serves as the repaid of sin that was offered up and fully redeemed on the Tree of Calvary. Therefore, Paul is merely stating that no good deed, moral action, or even attempt to obey and live by the Law of Moses can grant one Eternal life. One must repent, profess in faith in Jesus Christ alone. This is a heartfelt and spirit led desire to trust and believe that a life lived in sin is futile. Only in and thru Jesus who is both man and God can on achieve eternal life.

The Epistle of James is a book of wisdom. It teaches one how to apply inseparability of deed and action through faith and become Christ-like. Thus, James is writing on sanctification and Christian living.   In contrast, Paul’s principle of justification of faith applies to the initial act of one entering into the covenant of God or being granted citizenship into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The church doctrine of justification is centered on a social and cultural view. For Luther, the sacraments and all the “unneeded requirements of the Catholic Church seemed to complicate the complicate the matter of faith and brought distress, confusion and even uncertainty of one’s eternal security.” Thus, Luther concluded that once one is justified one’s faith is sanctified all one must do is live by faith alone. “Sanctification is nothing over or above living obediently by faith alone for in Jesus all are declared holy and righteous[4].”

An Analogy from History

An analogy from history may help clarify this position: When we were under the oppressive rule of England and sought our founding fathers wrote a The Declaration of Independence and stated are decision to succeed from the reign of rule. When we repent of our sins and profess That Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior our Authoritative King who died-for all sin, we state our intent to be set free from the oppression of the reign of Satan, self and the world itself.

In response to the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War was waged as we fought for our Independence. The war we as believers wage is in part still going on and is why we must put on the Armor of God. In practice of the disciplines of truth, righteousness (morality), evangelism (Gospel), obedience of faith (trust and worship of God in all things), Salvation (   redemption, renewal, sanctification) and above all else study, mediation, and proclamation of the Word of God. Finally, we must pray for all people as well as we must under all occasions and circumstance whether we are in the face of adversity or giving the glory for blessings to God (Ephesians 6, Duet. 26:11).

However, the war is partial over as Christ conquered sin and death on the Tree of Calvary and the Bible provides all the necessary tools and serves as our Constitution or moral and spiritual guidebook, which is written on our heart.

As our nations is intended to be a melting pot of all oppressed and dispersed people we as soldiers under the commission of Christ and being restored to his Eikōn are commanded to make disciples of all people from every nations regardless of any cultural differences[5]. We serve as mentors as they strive by faith to enter citizenship into the Kingdom of God.

The main issue for Paul is how we become citizens to God’s Kingdom. Paul is merely stating throughout his argument on justification by faith alone we can never earn God’s favor. However after he builds his argument of how we are declared worthy and significant by the grace and mercy of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross and how the blood sacrifice fully paid the price for the sins of all humanity regardless of culture.  All must practice a life in obedience of faith.  This ongoing process of sanctification that he introduces in Romans 6:1-23 is one that involves a full transformation of mind and heart (Romans 12).  It requires of dying of selfish ways, and all though we are free from obligation of any form of the any laws we serve as living examples in our new body. This new image is a likeness of Christ or Eikōn. We live under a new moral code of ethics built on faith, love and for the Glory of God (Romans 12:3-Romans 15:13). Key points include being a good citizen, defense of the weak, not judging others sins as all are sinners themselves, encouragement, keeping the 10 commandments, not harming others and trust and hope in the power of the spirit which provides joy and in the scriptures. The last point simply is as a call for evangelism.

Many see salvation as only available to “The Elect as Paul speak of those who are predestined and chosen by God in Romans 8: 30-36. However if one carefully reads it is simply a statement of encouragement that for one who lives in obedience of faith and life that “ neither death nor life, angels or demons or any powers can separate us from creation once we are in the love and Eikōn of Christ and living for his Glory( Romans 8:38). For more on free will versus predestination on would recommend reading “The Salvation Debate” and Eternal Security Debate in Across the Spectrum  by Boyd and Eddy[6].

 

In God Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

Image result for tomb of christImage result for Holy Spirit

 

 

Bibliography

Boyd, Gregory A., and Paul R. Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

Diehl, D. W. “Righteousness.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 1033-103. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Luther’s Treatment of the ‘Disputed Books’of the New Testament. 2016. http://www.bible-researcher.com/antilegomena.html (accessed April 8, 2016).

Moo, Douglas J. “Romans. NIV Application Commentary.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

Packer, J. J. “Justification.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 643-646. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

The Lausanne Covenant. Vol. 4th, in Perspectives On the World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winter, & Hawthorn Stephen C, 764-768. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.

 

[1] Luther’s Treatment of the ‘Disputed Books’ of the New Testament. 2016. http://www.bible-researcher.com/antilegomena.html (accessed April 8, 2016)

[2] Ibid

[3] Douglas J. Moo, “Romans. NIV Application Commentary.” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[4] Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 162-163.

[5] For more on diversity issues & world evangelism consult The Lausanne Covenant ( 1974):

The Lausanne Covenant. Vol. 4th, in Perspectives On the World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winter, & Hawthorn Stephen C, 764-768. Pasadena: (William Carey Libary, 2009).

[6] Gregory A., Boyd,  and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009).

 

 

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Image result for The PrototokosThe Prototokos Debate

The debate over what is meant by being first born as it pertains to Jesus Christ has perplexed theologians and has created a divide resulting in discord within the Body of Christ resulting in a lack of unity, dissention and in some cases rivalry and even hatred among those who profess that Christ is their Lord their Lord and Savior.

The word heretic and heresy is commonly a depiction of one who holds an ideology that is against God or against the Church. The meaning from the Greek and Biblical definition can refer to a sect or individual holding an opinion or choice as in Acts 5:17, Is. 24:5, to speak out against authority( Gal 5:20),  a person of questionable conduct “whose self – will questions (Titus 3-10)”,  or a division in the church itself ( 1 Cor. 11:19) (Easton 1897). A simple meaning could be stated as follows: any view, belief or opinion that does not agree with the official belief, dominant theory, opinion, or practice of a particular religion, institution or system (Heresy 2015).”  However, deviancy is a definition of society and those considered deviant are often innovators of change in society. More so,  one could hardly argue Jesus was a bit of a revolutionary and considered a revolutionary and even considered a heretic by the religious leaders of his time.

What is Paul referring to in Col. 1:15 when He states, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” First, on the issue of first-born the story of Jacob and Esau comes to mind. Eric Lutzer states: “One should take the word “firstborn” to mean “first-bearer” implying Christ has preeminence over creation or the source of all things that which is above ,supreme and above all else, The Alpha the Omega. In addition, Lutzer points out “It is not a chronological matter but one of status that should be considered for Esau was older but Jacob received the blessing and inheritance (Lutzer 1998).” Secondly, John the Beloved writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (Jn.  1:1 NIV).” John also restates this as; “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14 NIV).” The first quote refers to Jesus Christ as being present since before and at the beginning of time, One with God, and the author of creation. The second refers to the second persona of God, Jesus Christ descending from the father to be our savior fully human and divine both in form and in essence; complete in mind, body soul and spirit.

The councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon were called to debate the nature of God and Persona of Christ. In summary, Jesus Christ was of a unified nature of human form- and Divinity born of a virgin mother in a manner which is a mystery and ascended to Heaven in the same state and thus will return in such a state in the second coming. Only such form would be sufficient to pay the price for the penalty of the sins of humanity. Only a Man-God could experience temptation and serve as a teacher and example: A New Adam and role model for a fallen world in need of redemption, a savior who could crush the head of serpent (evil) and hold mastery over all matters of death physical and spiritual (Lutzer 1998).

However, there are some truth and merits to the views of heretics. The Gnostics view that much of the world is under the influence of unseen spirits and the Platonic view that all knowledge is derived from a heavenly origin and all creation has a soul is not without warrant. The Bible cautions of the powers of principalities and the need to put on” The Armor of God” In Ephesians 6. The Holy Spirit is the source of all Inspiration, and in Psalms 148, it is clear all Creation worships and praises God.  All has a soul and Spirit; however, we as humans are in a fallen state suffering a spiritual death because of the sin of Adam and Eve. Humankind must come into a decision of faith, and by the gift of grace of salvation to be redeemed and restored back to our rightful state being baptized of the Spirit.

To the Jehovah Witness who claims that the Father created the Son and the in turn created creation.  A full explanation of context, meaning, and historical as well as relative meaning of the passages from John coupled with the story of Jacob and Esau and the Blessing story should suffice. To the Mormon who claims Christ was born of a union between God the Father and a Goddess the passages from John may be a starting point. However, unlike many fundamentalist and many evangelist the focus should be on salvation, sanctification, and the seven core teachings of Jesus Christ[1] and on Love, unity and humility. It is my belief to overly emphasis doctrine. Dogma or Law is to place religion over relationship and to be more like a Pharisee than to be like our Lord and Savior. If culture, worldview and such can be incorporated into a fashion that does not threaten the Body as a whole it only adds to the dimension of the Church not subtracts from it. God created man in his image but each one of us id unique the world is not black and white but made up of many colors and even forces we cannot see. Even the Highest name of God YHWH means I am which is inclusive not exclusive either God is everything or He is nothing.

In God, Christ, & Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

References

Easton, Matthew George. Entry for Heresy. 1897. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/eastons-bible-dictionary/heresy.html (accessed 01 21, 2016).

Heresy. 2015. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heresy (accessed 21 2016, 01).

Lutzer, Eric. The Doctrines That Divide. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1998.

 

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[1] Repent & Believe (Mark 1:15)Baptism and Sanctification (Matt 28:18; 20; Acts 2:38; Rom 6:1:11), Love God/Others ( Matt 22: 37-40),Communion (Luke 22:17-20),Pray (Matt 6: 5-15),Give (Matt 6:19-21; Luke 6:38)Evangelize the world( Matt 28: 18-20)

La Cristo de Dalí (recorte)

La Cristo de Dalí (recorte) (Photo credit: Arkangel)

A JOURNEY FROM BONDAGE:

 

 

This is a brief testimonial of my transformation from a servant of darkness to a loving child of Christ. I will attempt to illustrate the struggles and hardships I have endured and the miracles I have since experienced. This tale will take you from the depths of my personal hell in to my becoming, and finally, thru my awakening and current life as a follower of Christ. My hope is that this brief essay may touch at least one person who reads this.

 

My Life before Christ:

 

I was born into a loving Christian home the oldest of three children.  My father was an officer in the army and my mother was predominantly a stay at home Mom. We moved quite frequently as a result of my father’s occupation and thru this I experienced a good bit of the world and its culture and people. I only recall brief instances of being comfortable in church as a child, and remember feeling a disoriented and somewhat empty and spiritually unfulfilled. I also had an inferiority complex and suffered frequent periods of depression. I can remember having numerous conversations with God begging him to take my life; then followed by outright disdain for his lack of response to my requests. At an early age I became attracted to evil, mythology, and the occult. Even among friends and family members I felt unloved.

 

As I mentioned in the above paragraph I never felt comfortable in a religious setting.  However, I kept seeking. At the age of 14 we moved to Memphis Tennessee and we attended Winchester Heights Christian Church. I became active in youth group and served as a youth counselor for underprivileged children and attended a number of spiritual retreats.  However, during this period of my life the feelings of inadequacy progressed and I sought out drugs and alcohol in an attempt to numb out these feelings as well as the obsessive thoughts of suicide and death. After living briefly in Germany, I moved back to Memphis to go to college and continued to attend Winchester Heights Christian Church. At this time I was living with the family of a friend whose brother (Charles) recently committed suicide after murdering his girlfriend. During one of his sermons the minister stated that the family and all the friends of Charles were going to Hell, and that Charles murdered his girlfriend as a result of the sinful environment he lived in. This statement, as well as continued drug use, led me to question the existence of God and Christ and eventually I developed a true hatred of Christ and everything Christian. I became actively involved in Paganism and continued down the road of self-destruction. I dropped out of school moved in with a rock band and basically lived for self-gratification and sin.

 

 

In a matter of months the sickness tied to drug abuse and overall reckless abandon took its toll.  I called my parents seeking a way out, moved back to Germany, and started a period of recovery. Ill from drug abuse and spiritually empty I attempted to straighten out my life. This was somewhat successful, but after two years I once again sought drugs and alcohol to ease the discomfort of a maladjusted life. I began associating with drug dealers and lure of easy money led me to make a decision to smuggle drugs. After coming under suspicion for criminal activities I decided to move back to Memphis. On the outside I was successful but internally I was still lacking, I eventually fell back into addiction and became a full-blown alcoholic.

 

 

My Christ Dependency Revealed:

 

Within five years of return to Memphis my life was slowly deteriorating. I joined Alcoholics Anonymous trying to obtain some sense of stability but no matter what form of progress I would make towards recovery, any short term material gain I would achieve, any gratification sustained from relationships or any form of material success I would achieve, I felt cold and empty inside.

 

While in AA I slowly let go of my self-centeredness, my self-destructive behavior, and eventually became receptive to the idea that there may be some sort of spiritual entity in charge of my life. I once again became involved in paganism and witchcraft and sought out philosophy and religion in an attempt to fill the void I felt deep inside my soul. Although things were slowly improving I still felt disconnected from my fellow man. I had numerous relapses and slowly drifted into atheism. After a vicious bought of alcoholism I returned To AA and once again sought out New Age concepts to fill the ever-increasing pit of despair that was inside of me. I eventually had a break down and was diagnosed as Manic Depressive. However, I continued to seek out philosophy, worldviews, and religion in an attempt to become stable. I also investigated numerous churches but to no avail. Self-reliance and self-sufficiency was failing! Philosophy and religion was not providing any solution what was the answer to be?

 

 

After continuing with my independent studies of man and his beliefs I had another relapse. That night I was awoken from a nightmare and had a vision of a demonic presence of Native American origin followed shortly after by a visit of an angelic sort. The angel spoke to me saying “You will be returning home and that soon you will find serenity.” I also started hearing a soft gentle voice saying,” Be still and know that I am God”  From then on whenever I would sink into depression, mania, or agitation  I would start reading the Bible. I mainly studied Proverbs and the writings of Solomon. It should be mentioned that during this time I was involved in an ongoing battle with Social Security and that my bipolar disorder progressed to a level in which I no longer could support my self. After one more relapse followed by an attempt at recovery it was time for me to step away from the situation. I planned a trip and visited my parents in Hampton Virginia.

 

My Conversion Experience:

 

While visiting my parents I attended Harbor Pointe Community Church, and a few of the Thursday night refuge group meetings. I had an opportunity to meet some of the people with in the church body and I felt welcomed and connected. For the first time in a long time I felt like I had arrived home. Unfortunately, my vacation ended and I returned home to Atoka Tennessee.  I remember wishing a church like this existed near my home in Tennessee. God heard my prayers and had other plans. I was turned down for disability and after speaking with my parents made a decision to move to Hampton Virginia.

 

My Spiritual Growth:

 

While living in Virginia I became actively involved at Harbor Pointe. I attended three refuge groups a week and served on the worship technical team.   I co- design and install the sound system, lighting and stage and was part of the leadership committee. I served as Lead Sound Engineer for several years and assisted with the youth briefly. I no longer felt like an outsider and regained my serenity and inner peace. My relationship with Christ edified daily I could feel and sense his Love, Grace and Peace around me constantly. I had a purpose! I was reborn! My journey from bondage was drawing to an end!

 

In the fall of 2006 my Great Uncle passed away leaving me an inheritance I planned a visit back to Atoka, Tennessee and while on vacation decided that I wanted to relocate back to Tennessee. I purchased a three bedroom mobile home on a .5 acre of land. After returning briefly to Hampton while the home was being built, I moved to Millington TN in April 2007.

 

I lived in my trailer in Millington from April 2007 until December 2011 and continued studying the word but did not actively attend church. I ministered independently to a few friends with alcohol and abuse issues and in January 2011 moved in with my fiancé’ in Munford TN.

 

I married in April 2012 to a longtime friend and we continue to grow and support each other daily through God, Christ, Prayer, and Devotional readings and scripture. Sheryl (My Wife) and I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Although our first year of marriage has not been easy, Christ strengthens and guides us daily. We try to spread the message of his Love, Grace and Salvation to those we meet and to teach his Great Commission to those who will listen.  We believe firmly in his teaching and strife to live by the standards outlined in both the New and Old Testament.

 

My Prayer is: If anyone reading this is going through tough times, feels lost, hopeless, or just out of place, or in need of direction May they continue seeking out God and enter into a friendship with Jesus Christ to be reborn in his Salvation and be wash clean of all sin. In Jesus name we Pray Amen.

 

God bless,

Trent Rindoks

 

 

 

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