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FEED MY SHEEP!

Undernutrition: Feeding the hungry

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Undernutrition is a global-pandemic that results in 50% of fatalities in children under five and in addition, 17% of families with children under the age of 18 experience food shortages or food insecurities in the United Sates alone (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). The consequences of this plight include but are not limited to, impaired physiological growth, cognitive impairment, emotional and social imbalances. The result of this crisis includes such effects as lower reasoning abilities and negative socio-interaction skills, verbal and spatial ability impairment, and other memory-associated tasks deficiencies (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). Yet this social-economical-political-cultural-physiological and even environmentally influenced globally devastating disease is both preventable and curable.

The problem of undernutrition is not a new pandemic. Acts 6 and act 11 address this issue with in the Church as well as this plight is illustrated in the story of Joseph in the Old Testament.  The question of many is what role the Church, or The Universal Body of Followers of Christ, may play in preventing and eliminating this pandemic. First, let us examine how the Early Church approached this crisis

Genesis 41 and 42 details a  prediction of the  coming of 7 year of abundance in the fields In Egypt followed by a famine and the necessity of storing of the grain to prepare for the upcoming crisis. The events that follow in Genesis 41 and 42 lead to Joseph’s appointment as an emissary and ambassador in Egypt and the provision of aid to Israel to his brothers’ who sold him into captivity. This illustrates the need for all people, the Church, and all Nations to come together regardless of differences and conflicts, to forgive disagreements, and seek to coexist and work in unity to eliminate global threats such as the pandemic of world hunger.

In Acts 6, seven deacons or elders were chosen to make sure the daily food ration that was collected from the congregation was equally disbursed among Gentiles and Jews within the Church and community. An argument arose that only those decent “Law-Biding and respectable believers of Pure Jewish Ethnicity” would either receive the rations first, or were entitled to benefits. The Apostles appointed the committee to ensure all people received an equal share and to free the ministers to meet the obligations of evangelism and maintaining other Spiritual needs within the community (Acts 6).

This passage shows the necessity of the church to provide resources both of a monetary and commodity nature (food / shelter and clothing) to help combat hunger and assist in other needs in times of crisis.  Additional committees or relief organization may be organized of committees of mature and rationally sound and Spiritual grounded individuals to act in the administration and distribution of other humanitarian relief efforts.  Finally, Acts 6 illustrates that aide is not to be given or denied based on privilege or status, but to be equal disbursed to all people and conflicts shall be negotiated by use of peaceful conflict resolution methods.

Acts 11:27-30 is the depiction of a prophecy of a Great Famine that will effect Jerusalem and much of the South Asia and how the Universal Church will need to take up special offerings and consolidate resources to help provide relief for the region. The famine occurred as predicted in the time of Claudius and the Church provided food, clothing and other resources as an act of humanitarian aid to all people through the Mother Church in Jerusalem.

Building on this historical model the church in times of crisis or whenever a need is present shall provide resources through the collection of food, clothing and other items to meet special needs and shall help supplement ongoing humanitarian relief efforts through the provision of workers or financial support to humanitarian efforts, whether they are secular, or religious in nature.

Undernutrition is the underlying cause for physical, emotional, psychological and social dysfunction and kills 50% of children under the age of five (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). One of the major factors of world hunger is poverty and improper management of resources or pure greed. A few final suggestions are for individuals, corporation and other affluent organizations to cut back on extravagant and unessential needs. By simplify living, donating surplus items, food or of other commodities or even one’s time, all may assist in the fight against world hunger, poverty and other socio-political-environmental crimes affecting all of humanity because of mankind’s sin.

Other options to help prevent and eventually eliminate food shortages and undernutrition includes, programs that promote financial management skills, establishment or support of food banks, participation in environment protection efforts and training in efficient farming practices, and finally awareness of the value of proper diet, hygiene and exercise. Furthermore, the church should educate and support programs on universal humanitarian efforts, the overall necessity of sanctity of all life, and even the importance of immunization

Monetary contributions by individuals and donations of percentages of profits by corporate entities or even an increase in taxation to help those who are less fortunate as well as reforms in areas such as affordability of medical assistance and or free medical coverage will benefit the populous in all areas of help and enable growth.Even a reduction prices or provision of assistance with the basic essential living commodities such as, food, shelter, medicine and clothing also may prove to be a viable option worldwide.

While some doctrines and dogmas of churches focus on spreading the truth or the message of Jesus it is equally or even more important to practice and spread the discipline and message of love. In Being Jesus and assisting in the meeting of needs, one may plant more abundantly fertile seeds than merely proclamation of truth as many people who have turned away from God have done so out of a belief and feeling of betrayal because of unmet needs. In being Christ like Love can lead to trust and then truth providing the freedom from suffering and death that on Christ can deliver.

In going beyond prayer, giving and providing for needs is essential. To paraphrase Jesus’s Greatest Command In Matthew 28:16 “All Glory and Worship or One’s Thoughts, feelings and Actions and who we are and what and to whom we belong to  is  based on the capstone of Christ and the foundation of Love.

Thus, “It is all about the Love.” “First, “Unto God and then to others and finally to self from which obligation in and by faith leads to obedience to all the Law.” This in turns reveals our purpose or truth our very nature and virtue of being in Christ-mindedness and Likeness (Phil 1-6) and brings about a plethora of blessing for both the individual and the community.

Finally, in the giving of the diversified yet unified flavored Spiritual Gift bestowed upon the believer by and in the Holy Spirit for the transformity and conformity of God’s Divine Purpose of Kingdom restoration and fulfillment. Through our justification, redemption and in our salvation, we all become free from the penalty of Sin and Death and become equally significant and secure citizens unified in community, kinship and Oneness with God and community. Upon the return of Christ, we will become fully united and transformed to our rightful image, in union with creation itself and in likeness and in distinction with Jesus living in harmony with all people and all creation (Gal 5, Rom 1-15).

Erik Erikson states, trust is formed by the ability to have access to the provision of one’s need by caregivers or individuals or people of authority (Martorell, Papalia, & Feldman, 2014). When authority figures fail to act responsibly or when needs are not met people experience betrayal, loss of  faith and even blame God or total reject of the notion of the existence of spirituality or divinity may become present in individual’s or society.  The most effective evangelical method with many of restoring hope, trust, and faith that then leads to assurance and finally the ability to comprehend and distinguish truth is by assisting and providing needs and in nurturing or counseling emphatically to one’s thoughts, feelings and action with positive regard and in a manner of love.

Healing and hope is regained by being and showing love, ministering to needs, and when/if, the person is ready in proclaiming the Gospel. However, the Good-News often is most effectively communicated in other manners using general references from everyday life but is best expressed first through patience, kindness compassion and respect for one’s uniqueness, diversity in the spirit of unity and through hope and above all else unconditional love.

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Word Count # 1438

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References

Martorell, G., Papalia, D. E., & Feldman, R. D. (2014). A Child’s World: Infancy through Adolescence (13th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill Education.

 

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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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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

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

 

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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
Image result for cTrinity symbolsImage result for messianic jews

 

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 BAPTISM OF SPIRIT THRU THE COVERING OF BLOOD

 

 

TRENTON C. RINDOKS

BIBL 364

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

MARCH 11, 2016

 

Introduction

The accounts of Baptism in Acts clearly depict three inseparable forms of Baptism the Baptism of Water, The Covering of Blood, and the Baptism of the Spirit, although the indwelling is seen as the keys to which faith is established and maintained in the believer evident by the emphasis of the accounts in Acts. Another suitable title for this Book could be the Acts of the Spirit as the book portrays how the Holy Spirit was essential in the role of establishing the Early Church, serving as protector and comforter to the disciples and the cornerstone of faith. One could even draw a correlation between the indwelling of the Spirit to the keys of the Kingdom as fore told by Jesus as being essential to the works of salvation in the lives, hearts and minds of the followers of the Way.

Many traditions, doctrines and dogmas exists with the Body of Christ surrounding Baptism. However, there are three distinct forms of Baptism mentioned in the Bible and in Acts. The First is the Baptism of John, or Water Baptism, which is the repentance of sin and commitment of Faith and to the Body of Christ.  The Second is the Covering of Blood, or the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This gift of grace is the actual removal of all sins past, present and future that was fully accomplished and hyper-exalted during the resurrection and ascension of The Son of Man and is available to all people through the profession of faith in Jesus Christ.  The Third is The Baptism of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit provides the Keys to the Kingdom necessary to establish, build and maintain the Faith necessary to walk through the Door of Heaven. Salvation is received once one professes believe in Jesus as the Lord, Savior and the only way of Eternal Life and Redemption of Sin. The grace given by the Covering of Blood is available to all people regardless of customs, culture, nationality or ethnicity. God does not discriminate.

A Variety Views on Spirit Baptism

The Wesleyan Position on Spirit Baptism is that is process and result of the conversion of the believer.  The terms and accounts, used in the various verses of Acts such as  the filling of the Spirit ,the pouring out of the Spirit, the receiving of the Spirit by the action of water Baptism, or through  the ability of disciple to lay hands upon another can be associated with the Resurrection, and should be viewed  as “interchangeable”.[1] The covering of Blood or the atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for all sins past, present and future is all that is required foe salvation.  By repentance or a commitment to die from the sinful nature of self, followed by a profession of faith one receives the gift of salvation and begins the journey of sanctification, which comes only by the grace of God and through Christ commandment of Love for God and others. Sanctification is equivocal to spiritual maturation and is an expression of growing love through the indwelling and gifting of the Spirit.[2]

The Pentecostal View hold one receives an initial Baptism or service, sanctification, and the Gifting of the Spirit maintain indwelling of the Spirit by obedience in Christ. The initial indwelling is a pledge for one who does not have the Holy Spirit within is Not of Christ ( Romans 8:9), Furthermore, it is a seal or down payment for the removal of sins and a sense of ownership or a belonging to the inheritance of the Kingdom of God. This serves as a promise of protection and care from the Holy Spirit. Finally, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit serves a duality of function representing the role of the temple residing in the hearts of man and a belonging in the unified Body of Christ or church. Additionally, after the initial indwelling stage the process of sanctification aided by the Holy Spirit and the provision of gifts along with the individual dying from the nature of flesh leads to spiritual maturation. The premise is justification and judgement befalls the nonbeliever but unto the believer, the indwelling of the Spirit is a promise but the Spirit may become blocked when one sins[3]. “Pentecostal usage turns Luke’s argument on its head by claiming that some Christians are not baptized in the Holy Spirit. Luke made the case, to those who might question it that all who call upon the Lord have the prophetic Spirit available to them and can no longer be denied equal status within the Kingdom.[4]

The Reformed view emphasizes, upon receives Christ the Holy Spirit is also received. In Paul’s words: ‘Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong.to him (Rom. 8:9).’One cannot declare Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 12:3). The Baptism into the Body of Christ occurs in conjunction with the baptism of the Spirit[5].” Salvation, sanctification, and justification both are actions of faith and form the duality of Salvation.  Sanctification is process throughout the life of the believer. Baptism is a sign and seal accomplished by Water and Spirit Baptism. This does not account for a multitude of blessings from the Spirit in the act of salvation such as receiving of the Spirit before regeneration, the ability to pray for and seek salvation or the works of the Spirit after conversion. It also understates the need to be activated or filled with Spirit by placing an overemphasis on the process of baptism.[6]

An Anglican view on Baptism of the Spirit holds that Lukan philosophy does not guarantee Spiritual Gifts or Spirit Baptism to All believers but that Water Baptism is the initial act of dedication and a desire to repent from Sin. In addition, Luke viewed the Water –Baptism as a symbolic action or commitment to the Church itself. Spirit Baptism was reserved for the Apostles and those with a direct connection to the Apostles and was the source for the Gifts necessary for the Proclamation of the Gospel and the fulfillment of Kingdom Calling to All People of All Groups as Stated in The Great Commission. Holy Spirit Baptism can be transferred from an Apostle to a believer by the laying of Hands, or be received during Water Baptism. Furthermore, it may come upon a believer any time before or after conversion based on the desire of the Holy Spirit and at the precedence of God. Additionally, Spirit Baptism is also symbolic of judgement in the End of Days. Thus, what is paramount is the development of faith and the desire to serve the will and glory of God by caring out the Great Commission. In doing so, “One will find their way in the Kingdom of God[7].”

A final view holds that Spirit Baptism is relative to the accounts in Acts to a becoming in oneness of Spirit and a unity of heart and mind for both the Church and the believer. Bruce Terry writes a perspective on the accounts of the Holy Spirits in Acts, from the Speaking and Hearing of Tongues at Pentecost through the various conversion to Christ and the procession of Gifts as Follows. “There are not some in the church who have been baptized in the Spirit and some who have only been saved but are seeking to be baptized in the Spirit. All who are in the body of Christ were baptized in one Spirit into it.[8]” A complementary view presented by Walvoord states “All reference to Holy Spirit Baptism can be as prove of a universal Baptism of Spirit among all Christian. Secondly, Baptism of the Spirit joins the believer to the Body of Christ without distinction of any cultural or worldview prejudice.  Next, Baptism also places the believer with a direct connection to our Lord Jesus Chris himself. ‘His justification, sanctification, deliverance, access to God, inheritance, and glorification are actual and possible because of the believer’s position in Christ.’ Final considerations include that although Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit Acts on his own enabling the believer to fulfill the Will of God. In addition, although one can experience the Holy Spirit indwelling, sealing, and baptism, while the ground for the filling of the Spirit and all subsequent experience, is not experimental in itself.  ‘As no one ever experienced a process in regeneration, so no one ever experienced a process in the baptism of the Spirit.’ As the entire process is universal to all Christians[9].”

A Defense on Lukan Theology Today

The Eleven Apostles are commanded, “Do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John Baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5 NIV).”  This implies although the Apostles repented and professed believe in in Jesus they had not received the Holy Spirit, because they had only received Water Baptism, repentance and instruction and thus were not yet fully ready or commissioned into the Body of Christ.

During Pentecost, not only did the Apostles receive The Spirit and begin Speaking in tongues. Jews from every nation were filled with the Spirit and were able to hear the Spirit in their own native language. Some rejected this and as a result, Peter preached on the need of repentance.  Those who had faith and received the gift immediately. Others accepted the Gospel repented and received water Baptism. In this instance, The Baptism of the Spirit proceeds Water Baptism and is the prerequisite needed to lead many to faith in Christ and Salvation (Acts 2).

During the Account of Phillip’s mission to Samaria, we are told of the use of the Proclamation of the Gospel, which resulted in signs, and miracles the crowds paid close attention to Philip. Healing acts and exorcism were performed resulting in enthusiasm.  Most importantly, as Philip preached about the inclusive nature of the Kingdom of God in the Name and Authority of Jesus Christ men and women repented and received water baptism. John and Peter were sent to approve of the new sister church but were astonished that the believers in Samaria had not received the Spirit! The Apostles then laid hands on the new congregation so they may be baptized in the Spirit (Acts 8: 4-25). Polhill comments, “That although baptism and receipt of the Spirit are normally closely joined during conversion and commitment to Christ, it is not always the case. The account of John in Ephesus in Acts (19-5-6) is a result of the laying of hands. Additionally, the Spirit Baptism proceeds water Baptism as the Holy Spirit cannot be controlled to any human Schema.[10]” Luke most likely is not indicating that each individuals did not receive the Holy Spirit internally but that the Laying of Hands is a Pentecost like experience of an external communal nature. “The purpose of such is to designate the providence and supremacy of God and the authority of Christ over any of man’s design. This is contrasted by the story of Simon the magician and his attempts to manipulate the Spirit by his own will.”[11]

After his Mission to Samaria Phillip is commanded by an angel to go south along the Road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza and along the way he encounters an Ethiopian royal eunuch that had just returned from Jerusalem to worship and was reading from the Servants psalm in Isiah and struggling to understand the meaning. Polhill explains many significance of the Eunuch. First, he was a God-fearing Gentile, and like Cornelius was not a full convert in to Judaism. As such, he would most likely have faced discrimination and access to the temple.[12]  One verse that may have caused the Ethiopian confusing is Isiah 56:3-8. The use of “will not be cut off” may have confused him.  As a Eunuch, he would have been castrated and thus not able to be circumcised as required to be a converted to Judaism. However, there is also a promise in these verses. “For this is what the Lord says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant , to them I will give within my temple and its wall  a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; will give them an everlasting name.  That will endure forever. (Isa 56:  4-5)” The promise can be seen as inclusion into the kingdom of God without restriction but How is this to be so. God answers this as follows, “And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants. To all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant. To these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices (Baptism) will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations (Isa. 56: 6-7).” This is a prophecy of the coming of Phillip the Proclaim the Gospel so the Eunuch and later people of all ethnicity can be included in the Kingdom of God.  Thus, this is a prophecy of the beginning of the Gentile inclusion into the Kingdom of God.  After the Ethiopian receives the Gospel he is Baptized and accepted into the fellowship of believers. One can assume the Holy Spirit was received after the water baptism in this case, as he was unaware of Resurrection and Ascension of Christ and unable to deduce the Messianic Prophecy in the Servants Psalm.

In Acts 10: 44-48 as Peter is preaching the Gospel to Cornelius, his close friends the Holy Spirit descends upon the audience and the receive the Spirit and begin speaking in tongues similar to the Account of day of Pentecost. This Gentile Pentecost illustrates that the Holy Spirit can in Spirit preceding the believer baptism or profession of faith. However, Peter, orders all present to be baptized in water as a symbol of the commitment of the Body of believers. Also, of importance he himself does not performs the baptism himself but leaves the act to another disciple showing any believer has the ability to baptize another into the church and start one’s walk with Christ.

A final point like the Samaritan Pentecost and Pentecost itself this was a communal receiving of the spirit of both indwelling and filling of the Spirit illustrating Gods unstoppable nature, providence and like with the Eunuch shows all restriction against culture, nationality or custom have been broken down by the providence of God. From here on the Gift of Salvation or the Covering of Blood for all sins, past present and future and the promise of the restoration of humanity to the image of God as well as the establishment of Jesus Christ as the Authority over all the Earth has been established.

Redemption, reconciliation, Sanctification, justification, and judgement of those who are against the Kingdom of God are now in the Hands of the Savior Ruler-Advocate and King of Heaven. Available for all people of every people group should the chose to accept it. This Baptism of Blood, available by a commitment of faith via repentance and Baptism will be aided by the Baptism of the Spirit, which will impart the necessary gifts for ministry, inspiration, unity, sanctification, healing, and service.

Much more importantly, the expression of love Christ-minded and acceptance of all that will lead to the expansion and fulfillment of Kingdom Calling breaking down the barriers of discrimination and culture except when such are against the very nature of God himself.

The conversion of Saul the Persecutor of the Church to Paul the persecuted-bondservant of Christ is a unique illustration of the interworking of The Lord Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit.  First, Lord Jesus Christ physically appears to Saul and resulting in a brilliant light that engulfed him knocking him off his feet followed by a loud thunderous voice asking him “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?” Saul answers in a reverent tone “Who are you Lord?” Jesus responds “ I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, Get up continue to Damascus and wait for further orders on What you are to do. “ The three traveling companions of Saul hear the sound but do not see anyone and are as a result speechless. The blinded distressed and awe struck Saul is led by his companions to Damascus as commanded as evident by the fact he did not eat or drink anything for three days ( Acts 9: 1-9).  In a vision, a disciple named Ananias receives a vision of Christ through the Holy Spirit to go to the house of Judas on Straight Street for Saul of Tarsus of is coming and has been praying and you will restore his sight. Ananias questions this request, as Saul is a viscous persecutor of the Church. However, the Lord comforts him stating  “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name Saul is my Chosen Instrument to carry my name to the Gentiles, kings and the people of Israel.( Acts 10-10-16).” When Saul arrives, he is welcomed as a fellow brother, Ananias tells Saul of his personal encounters with the Christ and that he will heal him and fill him with The Spirit.  Immediately, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit heals Saul. After the Spirit Baptism, Saul is baptized and Paul the Apostle is born. Depression and distress lifts and he is able to eat regaining his strength and a new vigor for life.  Paul spends a few days among the believers of Damascus and then begins proclaiming the Gospel and proofing Jesus is the Christ with great power and vigor. However, many Jews do not receive it seek to kill him (Acts 10: 17-22). Thus, the persecutor of the Church becomes the persecuted by those who deny the faith, however the providence of God and global inclusive missionary moment is expanded in the conversion of Paul as promised to Ananias (Acts 10:15).

When Paul arrived in Ephesus, He found some of the Disciples and asked, “Did You receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” The believers replied “No, that they have not even heard of a Holy Spirit before.” Paul asked, probably somewhat puzzled, “What sort of Baptism did you receive?” The Ephesians replied “John’s Baptism.” Paul then informs them “John’s Baptism was a Baptism of repentance. He told them to believe in one coming after him, Jesus. One Hearing this they were baptized in the Name of Jesus receiving the Baptism of the Spirit as Paul placed his hands upon them. The twelve men present began speaking in tongues and prophesying upon the indwelling and filling of the Spirit 9 (Acts 19: 1 -7)

The Lukan Prospective of Baptism of the Early Church

Luke first introduces in the book of Acts the need to freely repent from sin and receive the Baptism of John. The believer’s baptism serves the function of establishing a relationship with the body of the believer as well as symbolizes entering into a covenant with God by showing the individual is aware of a life lived in the ways of flesh or out of the sinful nature is futile. However, Luke stresses Jesus Chris provided a superior form of baptism that of the spirit. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit which may occur before the believers baptism out of one’s deeds and works of faith as a blessing by God, or may result as a result of water baptism. It may occur anytime during one’s Christian’s journey and provides the necessary cornerstone of faith to receive and proclaim the gospel. Additionally it allows one, to perform miracles, signs and wonders and protects the believer. The Spirit inspires, comforts, and works to sanctify or restore the believer to the image of Christ. Finally, when Christ died on the cross all sins for all people were forgiven and forgotten. This atoning sacrifice of blood, which was foretold by all the prophets, is the gate in to which one enters Heaven, the means of eternal life, and is affirmed by the resurrection by Jesus who now sits as the Authoritative King of Heaven and Earth, and will judge both the righteous and wicked. The only hope is provided in him through faith and the gracious gift of salvation, and in repentance and by receiving the Holy Spirit who will provide the keys of faith and tools for evangelism and sanctification.

Luke also illustrates those who do not receive the Spirit will not receive eternal life, First, telling how Simon the magician was a believer, was baptized, witnessed many signs and wonders but yet out of his desire to purchase the gift  of the Spirit and not openly receive it by grace had placed his salvation in jeopardy( Acts 8:9-24). Additionally, out of concern for the Elders of Ephesus Paul lays hands upon them and baptizes them with the Holy Spirit when he learns they have not received or heard of such a thing ( Acts 19: 1-7).  Peter and John also laid hands on the believers in Samaria so they receive the Holy Spirit when they learned they received only the Believer’s Baptism (Acts 8: 17).

Conclusion

The accounts of Baptism in Acts clearly depict three inseparable forms of Baptism the Baptism of Water, The Covering of Blood, and the Baptism of the Spirit. Although many traditions, doctrines and dogmas exists with the Body of Christ surrounding Baptism. However, there are three distinct forms of Baptism mentioned in the Bible and in Acts. The First is the Baptism of John, or Water Baptism, which is the repentance of sin and commitment of Faith and to the Body of Christ.  The Second is the Covering of Blood. This is the actual removal of all sins past, present and future that was fully accomplished on the cross and hyper-exalted during the resurrection and ascension of The Son of Man and is available to all people through the profession of faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ the Authority of Heaven and Earth, the redeemer, and restorer of man to the image of God,  the judge of all humanity and the only gateway into Heaven which one must enter in faith and grace . The Final is the Baptism of The Spirit, the keys to the kingdom, the provider of Spiritual Gifts, The giver of the Fruit, inspiration and the unifying force of the mind and heart of the individual and the Church. Most significantly, The Holy Spirit through the indwelling is the foundation of for the profession of faith and the aid of sanctification which works and faith are inseparable in the unified mind, heart and life, which leads to the restoration of the image of God itself.

However, whether one receives the Spirit, before the Baptism of John, during or after is entirely up to the will of the Spirit. Additionally the manner in which the Spirit is received is at the discretion of Christ and the Spirit.  For the Wind blows as it Pleases (John 3:8).”

Bibliography

Arrington, French. “The Indwelling, Baptism, and Infilling with the Holy Spirit: A Differentiation of Terms.” Pneuma 3, no. 2 (Fall 1981): 1-10.

Bloesch, Donald G. “The Wind of Spirit: Thoughts on a Doctrinal Controversy.” Reformed Journal 23, no. 8 (1973): 11-16.

Brown, Schyler. “Water-baptism and Spirit-baptism in Luke-Acts.” Anglican Theological Review 59, no. 2 (April 1977): 135-151.

Lee, Mark. “An Evangelical Dialogue on Luke, Salvation, and Spirit Baptism.” PNEUMA 26, no. 1 (Spring 2004).

Lyon, Robert W. “Baptism and Spirit-Baptism in the New Testament.” Wesleyan Theological Journal 14, no. 1 (Spring 1979): 14-26.

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

Terry, Bruce. “Baptized in One Spirit.” Restoration Quarterly 21, no. 4 (1978): 193-200.

Walvoord, John F. “The Person Of the Holy Spirit Part 7 The Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation.” Biblotheca Sacra 98, no. 392 (October 1941): 422-446.

 

 

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[1] Robert W.  Lyon,  “Baptism and Spirit-Baptism in the New Testament.” Wesleyan Theological Journal 14, no. 1 (Spring 1979): 14-26.

 

[2] [2]Robert W.  Lyon,  “Baptism and Spirit-Baptism in the New Testament.” Wesleyan Theological Journal 14, no. 1 (Spring 1979): 14-26.

 

[3] French Arrington, “The Indwelling, Baptism, and Infilling with the Holy Spirit: A Differentiation of Terms.” Pneuma 3, no. 2 (Fall 1981): 1-10.

 

[4] Mark Lee, “An Evangelical Dialogue on Luke, Salvation, and Spirit Baptism.” PNEUMA 26, no. 1 (Spring 2004).

 

[5] Donald G. Bloesch, “The Wind of Spirit: Thoughts on a Doctrinal Controversy.” Reformed Journal 23, no. 8 (1973): 11-16.

 

[6] Donald G. Bloesch, “The Wind of Spirit: Thoughts on a Doctrinal Controversy.” Reformed Journal 23, no. 8 (1973): 11-16.

 

 

[7]  Schyler Brown, “Water-baptism and Spirit-baptism in Luke-Acts.” Anglican Theolgical Review 59, no. 2 (April 1977): 135-151.

 

[8] Bruce Terry, “Baptized in One Spirit.” Restoration Quarterly 21, no. 4 (1978): 193-200.

 

[9] John F. Walvoord, “The Person Of the Holy Spirit Part 7 The Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation.” Biblotheca Sacra 98, no. 392 (October 1941): 422-446.

 

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

 

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

 

[12] John B. Polhill, 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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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)

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Issues in the Early Church

A discussion on Pax Romana, Persecution under Nero & Arianism

 

Introduction

Pax Romana or Roman Peace was the policy of occupation and civilization of territories to end up rest to a region. The greatest contribution to the Roman occupation was that to travel. Nero was the first Emperor to persecute Christian for their religious beliefs, although his primary motive was more of a political one than for religious reasons. Arianism is the belief that Jesus Christ Is not of the same substance of God, of lesser power and created sometime after creation. Three Councils were held in the fourth Century to determine the nature of God and relation of Christ and the legitimacy of the claims of Arius or whether or not such claims were heretic ideals.

RomanRoad
Pax Romana

The most significant contribution to the Christianity under Pax Romana was the safety and speed of travel available by the vast network of the Roman Roads. This network would allow a person to travel 20 miles a day walking or 50 miles by horse (Fanning 2009). For longer distances sea travel was used. Pax Romana made the ship lanes much safer as the treats of pirate attacks were diminished. These safe travel routes afforded missionaries, merchants and other Christians the ability to spread the gospel to far reaches of the known empire.

Pax Romana also contributed to the spread of Christianity in that Rome encouraged religious tolerance as long as it did not interfere with the daily or political life of society or the populous in general. When religion did interfere or when civil laws were broken the citizen would be tried in the courts. All citizens and those of occupied territories however were expected to worship the emperor in addition to their chosen God or Gods. The Pantheon of Rome would integrate the deities of the nations it occupies to help bring stability to the region under Pax Romana. Many of these deities from other cultures were integrated into the pantheon of Roman religion itself creating the so called mystery cult at the time of the early church.

Nero

Persecution under Nero

In 64 A.D. a fire erupted in Rome and leaving thousands homeless and destroying 3/5 of the city. Many accused the Emperor Nero of starting the fire claiming he wished to rebuild the city for his own glory. As the fire did not severely damage the portion of the city were Christians dwelled as a political move Nero responded by accusing the Christians of arson. He issued a proclamation to persecute and sentence to death Christians for the crimes against the state and the acts of atheism committed against the Emperor and God’s of Rome. These Christians were killed in cruel and vicious ways and as entertainment for the public. Many were dressed in animal furs and fed to dogs, others were burned alive or suffered horrible fates for the enjoyment of the people (Ekeke 2012). Although the persecution was mostly centered to Rome itself many Christians in the other providence feared for their lives. The result of the persecution was now Rome no longer held a tolerant eye towards Christians. Many were considered as cannibals, haters of all things Roman and a threat to the very lifestyle of Rome itself. Some even held Christians as possible rebels do to the promise of the return of the Messiah and the preaching’s of an apocalyptic age. However, most Emperors after Nero allowed Christians to practice their faith as long as long as no crimes were committed against the state. When charged most were persecuted not for being Christian but for not worshiping the Emperor as required by law.

 

Arrius

Arianism

Arianism is the belief that Jesus Christ Is not of the same substance of God, of lesser power and created sometime after creation. To the Arians Jesus was born sometime after the initial creation of the world and Jesus was born to humankind not of the Word becoming Flesh as state by John. Jesus is less equal in power than God and this debate sparked great controversy and division in theological circles in the 4th century. Two Councils were held to settle the debate and Final council was convey in Constantinople in 381 in which it was finally determined God, Christ and the Holy Spirit are all of the same substance (Body), Present from the beginning but each one as a slightly lesser order of significance in the hierarchy of power yet can all perform the same duties. This is the view still held by most churches today (Hansen 2001).

 

Word Count# 771

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Ekeke, Emeka C. Persecution and Martyrdom Of Christians In The Roman Empire From AD 54 to 100: A Lesson For The 21ST Century Church. Essay, Calabar: Department of Religious and Cultural Studies University of Calabar, 2012.

Fanning, Don. “Apostolic History of The Early Church.” History Of Global Missions, 2009: 1-15.

Hansen, Gary Neal. “Theological conflict: A Perspective from the Early Church.” Theology Matters:  A Publication of Presbyterians for Faith, Family and Ministry (Theology Matters) 7, no. 5 (Sep/Oct 2001): 1-16.

 

 

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