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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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

 

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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Three Testimonies:

The Providence of the Holy Spirit

& the Early Believers in Acts

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One could argue that a suitable Title for Acts would be The Acts of the Holy Spirt as the Book of Acts of the Apostles depicts the Holy Spirit as the inspiration behind the preaching, the source of protection the provider, of miracles, healing signs and wonders and the comforter throughout the Book. The Holy Spirit is often depicted as fire, water or wind. Additionally, “In the New Testament the Holy Spirit is the instrument of Baptism, prophecy, and judgement and a source of unity and the instrument of service. Furthermore he is our seal of the inheritance of the kingdom and intercedes on behalf of the saints to serve the Father’s will.”[1]

The Significance of Stephen’s Dying Vision of Jesus

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The significance of Stephen’s vision  (Acts 7: 55-56 )while “being full of the Spirit and see Jesus standing at the throne as the son of man at the right side of the father serves a duality of meaning. First, the vision has Jesus Christ hyper-exalted and at the right side of the God-The Father it shows a position of Authority. Additionally, confirmation to the fact that Jesus Christ was resurrected and ascended in both human form and divinity is stated by the usage of the terminology “Son of Man” as Stephen proclaims the vision before the Sanhedrin preceding his execution. It also, in the use of the Son of God confirms that Jesus is God, sent by God as Messiah and in his ascension equal to God. The Standing position serves a duality of purpose to show that God through the Authority of Christ is welcoming Stephen in Heaven. In Addition it serves to illustrate that Jesus Christ is standing to pass judgement on the Sanhedrin and those who persecute the faithful, rejected the teachings of all the prophets on the coming and fulfillment of Salvation through the righteous one. He finally charges them with being guilt of the murder of Christ, and it the future they will continue to persecute the saints (Acts 7:52-53). These saints are the  believers who spread the Gospel thus serving  the advancement of the Great Commission or  Kingdom Fulfillment of Salvation availability to All people as this is  the will of God and thus persecutors are guilty of not living under the Law  and failing to fulfil God’s will for Israel, and denying the Holy Spirit( Acts 7:51-53). Polhill states “In Daniel 7:14 the Son of Man vision is used to illustrate God’s Providence or dominion over All peoples of every nation, and every language.”[2] This supports the role of the Holy Spirit as the Agent of Inspiration, gifting provider of miracles, wonders,  and signs and the Authority of Christ as Ruler of Heaven and Earth and judge and the unstoppable nature of God’s will over any of manmade desires or creations ( Acts: 7: 39- 50) .

Cornelius & the Necessity of the Gospel

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Cornelius and his household are stated by Luke as being God-Fearers and one can easily draw an assumption this applies were familiar with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the disciples. However, a closer look at Acts 10:2 simply states he was God-fearing, prayed regularly, and gave to the needy. In Acts 10:4 God sends an Angel to him because his deeds of prayer and gifts have gained the notice and favor of God. He is told to send for Peter. The next day at noon during prayer, Peter has his vision of the eating of unclean food, as “nothing created by God is unclean. Followed by the Holy Spirit announcing the arrival of the entourage of Cornelius and invited the men in as guest and the next day sets out to meet with Cornelius(Acts 10: 9:23) .” At Cornelius house Peter stresses it against the Law of God for him even associate with a Gentile because he is unclean but God had called him to do so. They  share an exchange of the visions given by the God to them and Peter remarks that He knows that God does not discriminate or show favoritism accepting all who worship him and do what is right.(Acts 10: 34-35) . Peter then begins to preach the Gospel in a unique manner from his other speeches but is interrupted when the entire audience composed of Cornelius and his household, his relative and close friends are baptized by the Spirit and then begin Speaking in tongues. Later he orders them to be baptized in Water in the Name of Christ and brought into the Body of Christ. The question is if Cornelius is God-fearing then why did Peter feel the need to proclaim the Gospel? Polhill explains this in the following manner.” Peter’s unique tailoring of the Gospel is based on Peter’s view that God does not discriminate and thus there is no division of people from a divine perspective. However, God does discriminate on an individual’s actions and attitudes, He accept those who worship, him and live in a manner that is acceptable to his ways. Polhill goes on to state that although one may view this as theology of Saving Grace more accurately it can be seen more in line with the view presented by James the faith and works are inseparable.[3]

The Significance in a Name:  Christians in Antioch

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The term Christian is historically associated with Books of Acts and the Church of Antioch. It only occurs in Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. The Term was not originally used by the believers themselves but by outsiders to designate members of the faith. The first usage to designate fellow believers can be traced to the second century to Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch; Roman writers to designate followers of Christ more commonly used it. The preferred term was Brother, Believer, or Disciple.[4] In contrast the Judaic Church preferred the term Disciple of the Way, Believer, Brother, or simply Disciple.  What is the significance of the term Christian between the Hellenist Church of Antioch and the Gentile Churches that sprang fourth from this movement? According to Polhill, this reflects the success of the Gentile movement and the distinction of identity.[5] No Longer could the church be seen as an exclusive Jewish sect or movement rather it had distinct identity. More so, it illustrates the view of the Global nature and inclusiveness of salvation and the breaking down of nationalism and cultural barrios. From now on God’s concern is nondiscriminatory except in manners of conduct and behavior that are against God’s own nature.

When the three testimonies on the Providence of the Holy Spirit are combined it illustrates God’s unstoppable nature authority, the inclusiveness of Salvation, the inseparability of faith and works, the Homoousios (of same form & essence), and ultimately the judgement of those who deny Christ and the will of God.

In God, Christ, & Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

Bibliography

Caulley, T.S. “Holy Spirit.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 569-570. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

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[1] Caulley, T.S. “Holy Spirit.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 569-570. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

 

[2] Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

[3] Caulley, T.S. “Holy Spirit.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 569-570. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

 

[4] Caulley, T.S. “Holy Spirit.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 569-570. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

[5] [5] Caulley, T.S. “Holy Spirit.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 569-570. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Polhill, John B. The New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Nashville: BroadmenPress, B&H Publishing Group, 1992,2003.

 

 

 

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In Regards to the Salvation of Children

Do infants and children who die before reaching the age of accountability die and go to Heaven and if so what is the age of accountability? This question has been debated amongst the Universal Church often resulting in violent conflict for centuries. The premise on the surface seems to be based on the issue of baptism but in reality crosses into doctrines, dogmas and traditions of Salvation, the relevance of Sacraments and ordinances and issues of faith being a personal relationship, one of election, or a matter that is given by the Church through the Authority of God, Christ and Holy Spirit. In regards to the matter of sacraments, ordinances, issues of faith and such much has to come down to an issue of Church and State and the role if any The church plays in Salvation, redemption, and if election is predetermined by God or a matter of one’s own will. The sacrament of infant baptism is never explicitly stated in the Bible tracing its roots out of fear of infant condemnation to around the 200 AD in North Africa. However, it developed into an instrument of control by the Catholic Church and Roman Empire under Constantine and remained so until the reformation of the 15th century unifying Church and State and curbing heretics and rebellion (Lutzer 1998).

First, what is the age of accountability or when is one accountable or aware of one’s actions? Piaget’s theory of concrete operational thought states, “Children, of the ages of 6-11, are able to think logically and not bound by the limits of egocentricism. Additionally the ability to infer links and establish relationships also develops during this period.”  Vygotsky bridged the gap between potential, need and knowledge by confirming that social interaction, instruction, and are essential in the proper cognitive development of children through the need for teachers and older peers to avoid confusion who often are mimicked or imitated (Berger 2011) .” This ability for concrete learning is best exercises at age 6 as younger child are often confused by concept that interest older children. In regards to morality, Lawrence Kohlberg theorized that children of the ages of 6-11 are able to understand conventional morality. Conventional morality functions much like operational thought and is relative to logic and observable patterns. Additionally, patterns of morality are imitated and taught like stated in Vygotsky learning theory (Berger 2011). “Under the Old Testament, the Jews recognized that children could not be held personally accountable to the Law of Moses. They set the arbitrary age of twelve as the year when a child assumed adult status in religious matters (Theopedia 2009).” Likewise, Kohlberg’s next stage of Moral Development entails the ability to differentiate moral issue for oneself, the use of abstract ideas, logic and concrete operation and the ability to question, “What is or what should Be” and is not common until adolescence or adulthood (Berger 2011). Scriptural support for the Salvation of children and the innocent is evident in such passages as he one who sins is the one who will die. “The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged (Ez 18:20) NIV.” Additionally, Jesus Speaks of the Salvation of Child in Matthew 18:3 When He states: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” In Matthew 19:14 Jesus proclaims “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” “Finally Paul writes, ‘For apart from the law sin was dead I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died (Romans 7:8-9).’  The only time in a person’s life when he or she is spiritually alive in the absence of law is before he or she is a responsible, accountable adult (Miller 2003).”

 

In God, Christ, & Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

References

Berger, Kathleen Strassen. The Developing Person Through the Life Span. Edited by 8th. New York: Worth Publishers, 2011.

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

Miller, David. The Age of Accountability. 2003. https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1202 (accessed 02 11, 2016).

Theopedia. 11 24, 2009. http://www.theopedia.com/age-of-accountability (accessed 02 11, 2016).

 

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I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immora

 

lity, and marries another woman commits adultery (Matthew 19:4 NIV).

An Essay of Anthropology: Biblical Teachings on Divorce and Marriage

Assume two friends come two you that are experiencing difficulty in their marriage. As A Christian, what sort of advice would you give in the areas of separation, divorce, the right to remarry and the nature of marriage itself as it pertains to scriptures? How does divorce affect society and the Church as a whole? These are a few of the topics we will exam in this short essay on marriage and divorce. Many more could be covered but only the most relevant will be covered to keep paper as brief as possible.

The Bible on Marriage

What is marriage? Is marriage a formal contract between two parties, an arrangement, a religious decree, a personal bond or some deep spiritual and physical connection? The world has many theories on marriage Differing from one’s personal views and that of the society one is born into there are some many numerous concepts. My focus is one of a Biblical nature I will not cover those of the secular variety in this essay. I will only mention a few of the world viewpoints briefly.  One may go to Justice of the Peace, marry in front of a religious leader, may choose to live as if married but without a legal contract (Common Law) or may be totally against the concept entirely.

When does the Bible consider one married? According to Walter A. Elwell “Marriage is effected through sexual intercourse (1 Corinthians 6:16). A person is thus considered to be married to the person to whom he or she has had sexual intercourse with. This is seen as the agent in which God in acts marriage similar to the way baptism initiates regeneration (Elwell 1984,2001).”

Other Theologians consider the declaration of vows or intent the point at which the marriage initiates (Elwell 1984,2001).

According to Walter A.  Elwell “The first reference to marriage in the Bible is in the Book of Genesis and states the God had established marriage for the good of mankind (Gen. 2:18 -25).”  Elwell then expounds on the early customs of the Jewish people of the Old Testament and that most marriage was arranged in early times. He then explains the word betrothal (Exodus 22:16; Duet. 20:7 )  “was a legally binding  contact between the parents and the groom It had the same status of marriage  and anyone guilty of violating it was guilty of adultery (Elwell 1984,2001, 740-741).”  From the concept of Betrothal, the idea of engagement originated. This also is one of the earliest Judo-Christian marriage contracts as well.

The first Biblical story on Marriage is the account of Jacob. A simple expression of vows were exchanged as recorded in the Elephantine text “She is my wife and and I am Her Husband from this day forever.” In Christian times, it was a more simple declaration: “Thou shalt be my Wife (Elwell 1984,2001).” It was not uncommon for a wedding feast to last up to two weeks in the time of Christ and the couple was treated as royalty. The wedding was expected to be consummated on the same night and if a woman was found not to be, a virgin the marriage could be nulled within a week of less of residing together (Elwell 1984,2001).

The Bible teaches one main point on marriage “The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal; but for the man no helper was found as his complement. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. Then the Lord God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man. And the man said:

This one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called “woman, for she was taken from man. This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh (Gen. 2: 20 -24).” This passage teaches us man and women are to be together in a perfect union, as partners, helpmates and in a symbiotic union with each other only exclusively. This passage is in the defensive of monogamy and the basis for which all the other passage on graveness of adultery stem. It illustrates the need for love and relationship in one’s life to be a whole. Nothing aside from marriage or God’s Agape love will suffice in filling this void. Paul in (1 Cor: 6:16) reminds one illicit sexual acts are not to be condoned even by married individuals.  Jesus states, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let not man separate (Matt. 19:6).” With the discussion, in mind, what is the Bibles view on separation and divorce?

The Bible on Divorce

The basic teaching of the Bible as it relates to Christians is that divorce is only allowed under limited circumstances. The conditions are Adultery, desertion, marriage to a nonbeliever and extreme acts of violence, malice or neglect. Some theologians include a list of other lesser evils as well…

Many ministers and churches cite Matthew 19:4 stating adultery is the only justifiable reason: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” In This passage Jesus is debating with the Pharisees on divorce however if one reads further one will see he states in response to a question on marriage and divorce not all can accept this: Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”

 

“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can (Matthew 19: 10-12).” In addition, one must not forget Christianity is about love and forgiveness. If one does not allow for divorce and remarriage in some instances one goes against the nature of God. It is imperative counseling must be pursued. Remember, Marriage is a covenant between God, man and women, as illustrated in the passage from Genesis stated earlier in this essay. Marriage is our natural state. Abuse and the acceptance and tolerance of evil and Sin is not however. [1]

The bible differs from what the world teaches in a dramatic manner. In today’s society unhappiness, infidelity, financial struggles, loss of love or simply trading in for a new model may be sufficient grounds. The list could go on indefinitely. If one can come come up with a reason one can get a divorce.

I believe divorce should only be sought after counseling and reconciliation has failed or when there is an imminent threat of danger to one’s security or life or that of a child. To many people are too quick to give in to rash decisions and emotions failing to realize you do not necessary always like the person you love. It is a lifetime commitment. It is a partnership. It takes determination, commitment, communication hard work, perseverance, integrity, and discipline. In response that I am old fashion or to conservative I tell people to grow up and live in God’s World. Stop being so selfish! Life is not about You!

On Remarrying

Many Churches are against the right of remarriage to the divorcee. The Catholic Church holds the view that remarriage is forbidden unless done in a civil setting under certain cases only. The general view of the Roman Catholic Church is to not remarry in accordance to its ban on divorce. The Eastern Orthodox and Nonconformist and some Anglicans have allowed conditional remarriage. However, in general most Anglican and their protestant derivatives have outlawed remarriage. As for the independent churches, it is done by a case-by-case basis and should be considered carefully by the pastor. A wise minister should remember that the Bible warns that marriage is only for the mature and sane. This is what The Apostle Paul was alluded to in the Book of 1 Corinthians 7.

Impact of Divorce

The impact of divorce on society is great. Divided homes are linked to everything to behavior problems in children, to crime and violence. The financial loss from a one income home can be strain on many as well. Divorce destroys and divides family units.

The role of the church should not be to condemn but to encourage. We must strengthen and bring hope to those recovering from divorce. To those considering divorce, we as Christians should seek to help in reconciliation if possible. Divorce is like a cancer that not only eats away at the body of society but also can divide the Body of Christ. However, at times it is useful to save one from abuse and undue harm. Who are we to judge anyways?

In God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit,

Trenton Clark Rindoks

Word count: # 1565

Bibliography

Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1984,2001.


[1] For more on divorce see also, 1 Corinthian 7:11

220px-Tissot_Joseph_and_His_Brethren_Welcomed_by_Pharaoh

Parallels between Trent Rindoks and Joseph:

Like Joseph my road to come to serve the lord has be paved with many obstacles.

I am the eldest of three children from a Christian based family. My father is a retired military officer and we moved around frequently. Although this gave me the chance to experience many cultures it led me to be somewhat of a withdrawn and shy child.

I was picked on as a child as I was not an excellent athlete and was more inclined to academic pursuits, although I was a fair soccer player and ran cross country until 10th grade.

Unlike Joseph my home life with siblings was great. However I felt the world was against me and I did not fit in. I have always had a dislike for injustice and intolerance and was plagued with a temper and short fuse, which I have learned to control as I have aged, but was a source of many conflicts early in life. I could never seem to remain quiet or not react to an outrage or sense wrong doing.

Around the age of twelve I began feeling like an outcast and less friends. I withdrew into listening to heavy metal and alternative music. I started embracing the culture of my favorite bands and the lifestyle of the bands and eventually fell into the wrong crowd. I do not blame music for my-self-imposed prison or my depression but the view society had on fans of the music at the time led me to be labeled as a devil worshiper and to come under persecution.  In fact during high school it was the opposite. I was active in my church and in several social programs but the harassment I faced only fueled my anger.  Also, around my 20th birthday a friend of mine was involved in a murder suicide and I and his family were blamed and condemned by the minister of our church after this event I became angry with God and explored various philosophies and religions as I was sure that if Jehovah was God he was done with me.  I also became addicted to drugs and alcohol and battled with Manic Depressive disorder for many years.

I illustrate the above to show how the persecution of those closest to you could push even the most devoted over the edge.

Like Joseph God was always present. He delivered me from my imposed prison of addiction, allowing me to rededicate my life to Christ in 2004 and to even be restored from mental illness. He graced me with an inheritance from my great uncle allowing me to rebuild my finances and to help build a church in Hampton VA thus, much like Joseph I was graced the birthright of his father. However , I did not gain my by deception[i]  “he has provided numerous talents and careers over the years and has recently called me to serve him by transferring to Liberty and switching my major from Computer Science to Religion in hopes of entering into ministry.   Like Joseph my family has been reunited under the banner of God.  Most importantly, my experiences positive and negative have over the years allowed me to bring others to know Christ and spread love to the world and he has blessed me with a wonderful wife. What more could one ask for. To those that doubt the existence of God today I only laugh after praying. For today I know the Power of God, Christ and Spirit is present and real and is available for those that seek sometime even to those that do not.

Take God with You,

Trent Rindoks


[i] “First sell me your birthright insisted Jacob (Genesis 25:31)”Hindson,ED.The Courageous Faith Life Lessons From Old Testament Heroes pg.36.Chattanogga,TN:AMG Publishers,2003

 

Our prayers need to be with these brave Christians as they spread the word. It is troubling that in today’s world man can not express his mind or worship freely without prosecution. Even in an Islamic state one has freedom of worship but just deesculatution of legal rights if one chooses not to be a Muslim. Unfortunately the Christian ( Jewish) / Islamic Jihad is centuries old. Dating back to the rivalry of Ishmael and Isaac, until we as humans all lay down our prejudiced and hatred war and conflict will be struggle for all of us.

http://www.christianpost.com/news/five-christians-arrested-at-prayer-service-facing-trial-with-political-charges-91466/cpt

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