Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Existence of God

 

 

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

 

Image result for Christian leadership wallpaper

Image result for Cross

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.

 

Image result for Christian leadership wallpaper

 

Image result for trinity

 

Advertisements

On Spiritual Disciplines

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

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

 

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

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

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

Personal Vs. Communal Worship

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

Time Management

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

 

Prayer

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

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

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

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

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Bibliography

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRASPING & UNDERSTANDING THE TRUTH

&

RELEVANCY OF SCRIPTURE

 

A Home Study on Psalm 3 for Biblical Comprehension Relevancy

&

Overcoming Fear and Facing Adversity

 

 

TRENTON CLARK RINDOKS

RLGN 489

MAY 13, 2016

 

Grasping & Understanding the Truth & Relevancy of Scripture

A Home Study on Psalm 3 for Biblical Comprehension Relevancy

&

Overcoming Fear and Facing Adversity

I. The Proposition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

II. Method

Interpretation of Psalm 3 Outline

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

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

The Biblical Meaning / Historical Setting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Differences and Similarities

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

 

 

The Meaning (Crossing the Bridge)

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

Examples of Application

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

III. Strategy Plan

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

 

Physical:

Some have illness (physical)

 

Some mental

 

 

 

 

Cognitive:

 

2 Scientific/ rational (deductive/Objective)

 

2 Abstract

( inductive subjective

Faith is firm is some

Able to read and Understand Modern Language Translations (NIV)

 

Linear view( Black/ White thinkers)

 

Some existentialist

 

Psychosocial:

Low Esteem

 

Fear /Anxiety/ Depression

 

Secondary need displacement

 

Rejection

 

Western Prospective of Culture Religion

 

Post-Modernism

Evangelical

Modernism view

 

Some Pluralist/  Universalistic / Agnostics

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual:

 

Accepted Christ

Basic  Bible Knowledge

 

Blame of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1.  
  1. Characteristics of the Ministry Setting

 

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

 

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

4-6

 

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

 

  1. Specific Group Characteristics

 

  • Interests:

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

Passage:

Psalms 3

 

Cross-references:

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

Exegetical Idea:

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

 

 

Pedagogical Idea:

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

 

 

 

Lesson AIM(s)

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

Hook:

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

Break into Groups and Share and Discuss solutions.

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

2.      What is your instinctual response to fear?

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

4.      What would God have you do?

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

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

7.      Why did Absalom die on a Tree?

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

9.      What Adversaries are we as society facing today?

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

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

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

13.   Whom do we Fear?

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book:

Content Outline

1.      Historical info explained

 

 

 

 

2.      Compare of Shield and combat of adversaries

 

3.       Group Analysis Psalm 3

 

4.      Review & Discuss Possible solutions and Alternatives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         

Methodology

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

 

Ephesians 6:10-20

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look:

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Took:

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rationale:

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

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

FREEDOM FROM BONDAGE

THRU

OBEDIENCE OF FAITH

 

The Necessity Trudging Process of Sanctification

&

The Role of Continual Transformation into the Eikōn of Christ

An Essay on Christian Life

 

 

 

TRENTON C. RINDOKS

RLGN 425

MAY 13, 2016

 

 Image result for sanctification

 

 

Introduction

 

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

Sanctification

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

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

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

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

The Necessity of Sanctification

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

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

The Process of Sanctification

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

The Result

Fruit of the Spirit

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

Christ-Mindedness

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

Spiritual Gifts

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

Blessed Assurance

Assurance of Sanctification

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

Assurance of Salvation

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

Freedom from the Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conditional Security

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

 

Image result for christ cross background

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.

Image result for Holy Spirit sanctification

[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.

 Image result for resurrection

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).

 

Image result for Resurrection of dead to heaven

 

 Image result for Crucified lamb

The Authority of Christ

Three themes present in the sermons of Peter in Acts 2:5 identify the Authority of our Lord Jesus Christ: The bodily Resurrection and Ascension, The Exaltation and Providence and unstoppable – ability of God’s will over the will of man.

First, the bodily Resurrection and Ascension serves as prove that what the prophets foretold had happened. As stated by Polhill “ from Moses and from the time of Samuel onward The Resurrection and Ascension must come from One who was both fully Human and fully Divine. David still rests in Hades and thus, no human could serve as either a uniting king, conquer physical and spiritual death, and restore the separation from God that resulted from the sin of Adam and Eve or grant Salvation (Polhill 1992,2003).” One has to remember that the Prophets in the Old Testament served both the function of Judges, predictors of God’s future wrath and to warn of event that are will occur in the present age if one does not change their ways. Additionally In the section of the Major Prophets only 5% deal with the New Covenant, 1% deal with deal with events that will happen in our present era, 2% are Messianic in Nature the rest thus are event that occurred in history (Duvall and Hays 2012). Thus, all prophecy and signs have a relationship that are past, present and future in meaning.

God, The Father, being purely Holy divine & pure Holiness would destroy creation itself, as the father cannot look upon evil ( Hb 1:13) and the Holy Spirit being without human-form would not be able to fully experience or be an adequate sacrifice for the sins of the Humankind, thus only a Man-God would suffice.

Secondly, the Ascension and Exaltation of Our Lord Jesus Christ as the Man-God serves the function to illustrate that during the second-coming Jesus Christ will return in the same manner in which he ascended. This is important to show that although Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecy humanity is not fully restored to the image of God, The Nation of Israel is not yet fully redeemed, and all people of all nations who are willing have yet to accept and profess the authority and name of Jesu Christ as the Lord and Savior! Additionally, evil is not fully contained as temptation remains as principalities, and the Prince of the Earth still are in direct opposition with the Kingdom of Heaven. However, Jesus did provide a means for Salvation through the establishment of a New Covenant for the whole of humanity and a formula for the resisting of temptation. Christ gave us a comforter, a source of Inspiration and protector. Heaven and Earth or the New Jerusalem is a future prediction that will not come to pass until Old Israel is restored to God, our Savior-King returns to set up his Earthly Kingdom and all face the day of the Lord. The most important aspect is that upon Ascension Jesus current sits at the right hand of the father a place of glory or hyper-exaltation. Jesus-Christ thus is the ruler over all creation Heaven and Earth and is with God or the same as God of the same substance, authority, power. Prominence and sovereignty.

Finally, Providence and unstoppable force of God’s will over the will of man is illuminated by Luke in (Acts 5: 38-39) when Peter states in reference to Theudas and the uprising that resulted in response to his teaching in comparison to the martyrdom of Stephen that if such activities are of human origins they will fail.  When such endeavors of God’s will succeed and one will only be fighting a losing battle against God’s purpose, authority sovereignty itself. Peter used such literary devices in (Acts 4:12 NIV) When he states “Salvation is found in no one else name under Heaven.”  In Acts 4:19-20 Peter and John reply when commanded not to keep teach, proclaim, performing miracles and such  under the Authority or in the Name of Jesus “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!  As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard (Acts 4: 19-20 HCSB).” The implication of the above verses taken from the various speeches before the Sanhedrin is will of God has ultimate providence over the will of man.  The authority of Christ is the same as that of the father himself, God Kingdom calling is global in perspective and not reserved to Jews and the nation of Israel. All who go against the will of God will face judgement and will fail. Any who act out of their own self-ambition, concept or desires will fail and are not serving God’s purpose. Unity, faith, suffering for the glory of God, Prayer repentance, grace and the availability of Salvation to all people will become the central themes of the Universal church. Additional subthemes include defense of the weak, compassion to all, commodity, not giving into the status quo (being like the Sadducees), and being overly concerned with the Law (Like the Pharisees). From thenceforth, Salvation must come from willful receiving the gift of Salvation of Grace deeds or faith alone are not sufficient. One must have both.  Also all gifts, signs and miracles are performed in the name and Authority of Jesus Christ in conjunction with faith and assisted by the Holy Spirit anything else would be considered a sin against God. When all three pint are considered, it demonstrates and illustrates the Authority of Jesus Christ as well as Providence Of & Will of God and the Unity and Sovereignty of the Trinity.

In God, Christ, & Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

References

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davinci God

Logical Deductions on God and the Universe

A Response to: “On Being an Atheist”

                            

Introduction

In modern society with the popularization of philosophical views such as humanism, existentialism and materialism, many are turning away or rejecting theological worldview points. One such poplar writer on the subject of Atheism is H. J. McCloskey. McCloskey believes that existence of God can be disproved by the existence of evil in the world (McCloskey 1968).McCloskey can find no basis for the existence in God in the common defense given in the Cosmological, Teleological, or Faith based defense systems of defense used by theist that God exists. Many atheists mistakenly claim a sense of freedom and well-being arises from such a viewpoint.  The attention of the author is to disprove such believes.

Cosmological Argument

According to C Stephen Evans and R. Zachary Manis, “The Cosmological Argument attempts to infer the existence of God from the existence of the universe (Evans 2009, 69).” McCloskey however claims that the existence of the world or the universe proofs such a claim. Many famous theodicies have been built upon this premise. Augustine built his concept of God created many infinite worlds with finite conditions (some, good and some evil) but was under no obligation to create any world. He simply created the world based on reason but reason is not the basis of the laws of the universe. God is always free to create creation, as he seems fit. Another view is that of Leibniz, which states God, created best possible world operating out of sufficient reason in a universe of infinite worlds with finite properties. There are many more Cosmological theories in philosophy simply presenting two of the more common as an example for comparison and illustration purposes.

Within the Cosmological Argument lies the non-temporal form objection the poplar response to those who hold that all action requires a cause can be defined as contingency. A necessary being “God as the originator of all creation is the only logical explanation that can be given for any other explanation would require a further explanation. Whether one holds to a religious doctrine or the Big Bang Theory, it must originate from some source. Only a divine being in his vary nature as a necessary being and absolute source of all existence, substance, matter, omnipotent,  omnipresent, omniscience and true to his or her very essence can explain such a phenomena. All other deductions will lead to a circle of infinite unanswered questions.

Teleological Argument

The Teleological Argument views God as an intelligent designer. One may creation as machines of sorts. “In nature there exist many examples of a beneficial order that probably result from an intelligent designer (Evans 2009, 80) is a simple statement of this argument. McCloskey belief is one must hold fast to obtaining proof to to prove Teleological Design.  I personally believe that the Teleological Argument falls short were empirical knowledge fails to provide sufficient evidence such as in the fields of Metaphysics or Faith. Empirical reasoning and scientific knowledge can take one only so far. Many scientific principles are actual theory unto themselves, as the evidence cannot physically be experienced by the sense. Teleology also falls short in explain morality but will sever one well when explain natural evil (Pain, death, natural disasters and the like). Indisputable proof of God being, or the lack of, cannot thus be can by proven by empirical knowledge some sort of other form of deduction is required to substantiate such a claim as God either does or does not exist.

McCloskey implies that the Theory of Evolution has replaced the need for Teleology. Although Charles Darwin works have become widely accepted and practices such as carbon dated used to prove the various stages and era of our planets. Many of these theories are coming into question in modern times. Carbon 14 has been proven to yield false positives on samples from the same site or even when taken from the same sample performed under a later tastings.  A more common variation of Darwinism has shown theories of adaptation of species based on environmental factors and not from inter Genius-Species relationship (Man from Ape Theory). Any imperfections in nature do not disprove God as a perfect Creator but rather lead back to the adaptation theory and a modification of the Teleological Argument that places man and God in a state of partial creation during the initial creation process and even allows man to be active in the creation and destruction of the World. This theory is popular with those holding the free will theodicy, which allows man a level of free will given to man by his creator.

Faith

McCloskey’s main objection to those holding a religious worldviews is “No being who was perfect could have created a world in which there was unavoidable suffering or which his creatures would engage in immoral acts endanger the innocent (McCloskey 1968).” In response to this argument, which is commonly called the logical argument, the author offers this defense.

From the Judo-Christian perspective, morality originates out of man’s own selfish motivations and desires. It is from our own desires and not the desires of God moral Evil originates. Man was made in the image of God meaning given a body, conscience / morality (Spirit) and a mind (reason) and was originally pure and innocent until tempted and led astray soon after his creation. As a punishment for his disobedience man was cutoff (experienced a death) from God and the world became harsh to man (natural evil became real). Laws of society are divinely inspired attempts to become one with the creator not just to keep social order.

McCloskey also has an objection to the Free-Will Argument: “Might not God have very easily so arranged the world and biased man to virtue that men always freely chose what is right (McCloskey 1968)?” In Response to this objection, Plantigna offers the following explanations: It is logically possible for God to create a world described by McCloskey. However, we do not have reason to think that this world is such a world created by God. Thus, God can create a world dependent on the freewill of the creatures inhabiting it if God so desires (Evans 2009).

On the Comforts of Atheism

McCloskey argues that Atheism provides a far more comfortable life style than that afforded to the theist. William Lane Craig offers the following argument to this point. Citing from Nietzsche Craig points out that the atheist viewpoint will eventual push society into a nihilistic state. Craig further points out that the atheist in his attempt to prove the meaning in life by living up to a set of ideals only further contradicts his view adding strength to the prove of the existence of God and the need for immortality particular that which is offered by Christianity. In an attempt of the modern man to maintain a happy consistent life numerous philosophies have been developed. On such is termed the Noble Lie. The Noble Lie tricks us, compels us beyond self-interest and social coherence to believe in universal truths of morality and not to live for self but for the greater good. Such a philosophy would work well in a society where an elite group controlled society but not in the world as a whole (Craig 2008, 71-90). Craig further explains that the deeds, actions and accomplishments of one’s life are not enough to prove meaning. A similar theme can be found the Book of Ecclesiastes. The writer of the Biblical book who most scholars associate with  King Solomon explains who wealth ,women,  possessions, what one builds, leaves behind ,or any fame one acquires is of no meaning and results in little or no happiness. In all actuality, such things usual bring ruin and decay. The only true meaning and source of wisdom is a life lived in harmony with God.

Conclusion

In conclusion, McCloskey believes that existence of God can be disproved by the existence of evil in the world However, as outlined previously; Evil is not an aspect of God but of man and thus does not disprove God.  Natural and Moral Evil (Sin) arise as a punishment for man’s disobedience to God. Just as it is not unkind to punish a child for breaking a rule especially when the punishment may serve to teach the child morality and keep the child from causing harm to his or herself God uses evil to tech morality, judgment and reason to humankind. Freewill does not disprove God but in all actuality prove man’s active involvement in creation.  Many theodicies exist to explain why evil exist in the world today but most commonly hold true to the fact that there are multiple worlds of finite possibilities. Whether one is a Creationist, Cosmological thinker or holds true to any of the other numerous other theories pertaining to the nature of God, It is certain that true happiness comes from God and the belief in Atheism is a path of unhappiness and contradictory at best.

 

 

 

Word count: #1520

                                                          Bibliography

Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics 3rd Ed. Wheaton:

Evans, Stephen C. & R. Zachary Manis. Philosophy of Religion 2nd Edition: Thinking About Faith. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009.

McCloskey, H. J. “On Being an Atheist.” 1968.

 

“As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deed’ (1 Sam. 24:13 [NIV])”.

Short Essay on Hamartiology: The Problem of Evil (Theodicy)

Recently as I was leaving church a friend confronted me with an argument he would like to discuss. With all the wars, disease, decadence and such If God exists how can these atrocities happen? Does not an All- love God prove a contradiction to evil? Why would God if he does exist allow such things to happen?  Although the above situation is a hypothetical scenario it is a conversation many of us of may engage in.

The problem of Evil

To understand the nature of evil one must first define what evil is. Evil can be broken down into two subsets: moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil (sin) can be best explained in the as an active or passive action of negative (evil) intent by a person or entity.

Natural evil is as an unintentional occurrence of evil.  The distinction between natural and moral evil are often intermingled and the lines the two forms of perils often are intermingled. Walter A. Elwell explains: “According to the Bible, natural evil is the consequence of moral evil. At first, while still sinless, man is placed in an idyllic garden where he lives in a happy relationship with his Creator, his wife, and the animals. Eternal life is a possibility. The “day” that he obeys God, i.e., commits moral evil, he was covered with shame, confusion, and anxiety: and rejected from the Garden. The man must bring forth the fruit of the earth, the woman the fruit of the womb in agony (Gen. 3) (Elwell 1984, 2001, 412).” A few examples of sin would be murder, adultery, slavery, drunkenness and the like. Natural evil could be defined as anything from an earthquake to a seemingly random event such as a death of a child.

The problem that arises in the mind of humankind is that desire to proof the nonexistence of God to proof the validity of evil. Many skeptics towards theology would argue that an omnibenevolent – omnipotent God should have eradicated evil or would have not allowed evil to be created in the first place.  Evil therefore must be a contradiction to God thus God must not exist. Another argument is that malicious events happen because of an evil entity or force in opposition to God, which acts as a balancing agent to the universe. Yet another is that evil is the result of man’s deviation of social standards. Many other concepts of Theodicy and morality exist and are beyond the scope of this essay.

In regards to why sin is among mankind and why atrocities happen in the universe, the Bible provides a great starting point for revelation to these two questions. Sin is the result of the Fall as illustrated in the book of Genesis Chapter three and is passed down to man from generation to generation. The result of the original sin (Sin of Adam and Eve) is a separation from God and the loss of eternal life, man being required to work long hard hours and women to have to endure pain at childbirth and became infatuated with her husband and ultimately a separation from God or spiritual death. Anxiety, shame, guilt, and other forms of mental and physical afflictions were introduced once man ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The desire to serve self and do evil entered the heart and minds of man and from selfishness, all sin stems. Some Theologian will debate this claiming pride was the first sin. Pride caused Lucifer to rebel against God. The transformation of Lucifer from Angel of light to Satan (advisory) may be regarded as the actual first sin.  Extreme followers of Calvinistic doctrine and predestination hold all men to a fatal state and only a few (the elect) worthy of Salvation. Most theologians hold a more systematic approach embracing theories and doctrines from numerous sources.  A more extensive study on sin is beyond the scope of the present argument.

The main reference to the seemingly random events of evil and pernicious acts in nature can also be found in the Book of Romans Chapter 8: 21-22. Elmer L. Towns States in Theology for Today: “The earth also became the recipient of divine Judgment. Prior to the fall harmony existed in the animal kingdom. The earth never experienced upheavals of earthquakes and volcanoes, nor did man experience the seasonal changes that bring adverse conditions.  The utopia enjoyed in the garden could be experienced on the entire earth. Since the Fall, Earth’s turmoil has increased dramatically, and animals have become carnivorous rather than vegetarians. Paul notes these conditions: ‘Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groanrth and travaileth in pain until now’ (Towns 2008, 2002).”

God is incapable of looking upon sin and detests evil. This is illuminated in the last words of Jesus Christ as he died on the cross “‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani’ (“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matt. 27:46 [NKJV])?” God in his holiness hates evil and wickedness, (Ps. 5:4, Hab. 1:13), is compassionate (Matt. 15:32, Luke 10:23, Lam 3:22), is slow to anger (Ps. 86:15), most importantly God is love and this is expressed in his deliverance of us from the penalty of death and the promise of our return to grace by salvation to all who accept his son. (John 3:16) (Elwell 1984, 2001, 492-498) What father would sacrifice his only son as a sacrifice for the crimes of another?  Could such a God create evil. God is a man and respects our cognitive and reasoning ability and all beings free will equally. YHWH does not discriminate. We are not puppets.

Theodicy

Like any philosophical or theological concept, Theodicy must be consistent. If a contradiction can be found in the system then the existence of God himself can be disproved. All sound arguments should be without contradiction, true, and take the   middleman out approach.

The following six principles will be included in all sound systems that justify the holiness of God and the coexistence of evil:

1.         Omnipotence: God is omnipotent. In his expression of Agape love and is the divine relational center of the universe. This must be expressed without prejudice.

2.         Relevancy to the problem: The theorem must explain the relation to God to both natural and moral evil without contradiction.

3.         Relevancy to a specific theology system and not universal: The belief must be consistent with the theological system it associated.

4.         Logical Consistency: The equation should explain God’s omnipotence in a logical fashion.

5.         Axiom of the removal of Guilt: A sound defense will remove blame from God & man for the origin of Sin and Calamities. This is not exclusive to all theological doctrines or theodicy however.

6.         Test of the system by absence of contradiction: A sound test against God’s character and omnipotence shall be conducted by proofing that in spite of his power God is incapable of removing the transgressions of the world and of humankind. It is a contradiction to who and what God is.

Theodicy Doctrines

Numerous doctrines of theodicy and ethics exist in the world today outlined below are a few of the more common systems:

1.         Leibniz: In his system, Leibniz observes God only knows why he does the things he does (reasons).  God’s reasons are necessary and unaided by revelation. Only God matters we are insignificant. God created an infinite number of finite worlds but only one best world exists. Metaphysical evil is the lack of being and good is plenty. Good therefore is the sum of God’s best. If God had created less than the best possible world, he would not be good. God always reasons. God always creates and chooses what is best.

Although consistent and without contradiction, the main problem with this view is God is shown only as omnipotent but not All- loving.

2.         Augustine: God had no need or obligation to create a world but it was fitting him to do so. This is based on his own decision and not on any universal laws. There are an infinite number of finite worlds he created, as he deemed relevant. Augustine believed sin originated from Adam and passed from generation to generation.

Opponent of this tradition claim Augustine did not account free – will.

3.         Rationalist An offshoot of the Augustine tradition amends the weakness of the Augustine tradition. Rationalist theologians explain simply this is one of the many possible good worlds. Rationalist may use a free- will defense to state that good and evil are of no consequence of God. An outside force introduced evil.

4.         Soul-building: theorist claim that this has no significance as it is part of our predetermined plan. God will ultimately use evil to bring good.

5.         Other: Other free-will agents point to the abuse of the will of man as the cause of evil. God should not be guilty of giving man free will as man exercise his will independently of God.

Although the free will system has it merits an excessive view can lead some to underestimate the power effects of Sin and but an overly dependence on man. Soul -build agents can be accused of a near contradiction. How can God build souls and remove Evil at the same time? What about those who choose to resist the will or deny God and salvation all together? The Bible states clearly some will be judged and perish in the Lake of fire during the eschatological times (Elwell 1984, 2001, 1184-1187).

Personal Thoughts & Conclusion

Personally, I hold to the rationalist approach but can see some merit in the view of the soul-building agent theory. Pauline doctrine in the book of Romans details a clear path of Salvation. The Epistles to the Galatians, Corinthians and Ephesians account sin and the destructive nature in detail. James warns of sin particular of the tongue. The beatitude teaches us how to live a more loving and righteous lifestyle. I also, hold strongly to the Augustine tradition of theology stating original sin is passes from generation to generation. I however, acknowledge a more free-will approach and recognize that moral sin is the result of our actions. I do not discredit the role that society, family and our environment plays on our belief nor do I chastise the theologian who follows the Calvinist theory of the predestination. I believe Salvation is available to all who come to Christ but belief in the Doctrine of Works for the sake of Sanctification. Thus, it is by sin God teaches us and draws us closer to him.

In regards to the world, sometimes things just happen. Why God allows them to do so is a mystery. God has only revealed part of himself in his Word and will continue to reveal himself to those who seek by illumination, meditation, study, and, prayer. As a Christian, student of philosophy, one must be teachable and willing and open to new idea (without contradiction or embracing false teachings). In accepting truth may be found anywhere and  as God is the source of all knowledge and truth knowledge may be derived from unlikely sources I try to keep an open mind and not just consult the Bible for revelation. God is either everything or nothing or else evil would either completely exit or not exist at all.

A negative experience or a lack of knowledge may lead one away from religion and into the realm of confusion. Wisdom by prayer, reading the word and observation and by attempting to live by the guidelines of morality, and brotherly love as outlined in the Bible are one’s only true hope to overcoming death.  One can never be Holy just better.

In God, Christ, and the Spirit,

Trenton Clark Rindoks

Word count: # 2011

Bibliography

Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1984, 2001.

Towns, Elmer L. Theology for Today . Mason: Cengage Learning, 2008,2002.

 

%d bloggers like this: