Farewell, Dear Iris

Iris at 12
Iris at 12

Shredded hearts heal, but some take longer than others. I wrote this last week, but I’m only just now (barely) able to post it.  Still, I have to share.

Today is a sad day. On the sad-o-meter, it’s pretty much off the charts. In a little less than an hour, Brittan and I are off to the vet with Iris the Irritable Corgi on her final car ride. And my heart is breaking. Whoever said, ’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’, never owned a dog.

As I type this page, Iris is lying uncomfortably beside my chair, in constant pain, but not wanting to be away from us. She looks older than her 12.5 years, and because of her infirmities she acts it. Our once upon a time all-star athlete can’t even go down the three steps from our deck to the yard. Often she can’t even step over the threshold without tripping and doing painful splits across the kitchen floor.

My mind races back to better days. I smile wryly at her arrival all those years ago, when she gave us a run for our money as she bolted through the Bangor, Maine airport, when an airline employee foolishly opened her crate to take a peek at the little bi-eyed monster inside.

Iris darted out of the crate and down the corridor past the gaping airline worker and a dozen wide eyed travelers.  Had it not been for her need to take a dump, we might still be chasing her around the airport.

Iris and I got off to a rough start. She was just under a year old, and full of bad attitude. Like many Cardigan Corgis, she had a bossy streak and was a natural ankle and calf nipper. Herding is in her DNA.

She was Brittan’s dog, so I didn’t take her antipathy personally. Besides, I had my rowdy team of sleddogs outside to spend my time with.

Frankly, most people had a similar experience with our little squatty terrorist to the one I did. She was just not a friendly dog. She adored Brittan and tolerated me, but other people were a genuine nuisance to her, and she refused to hide it.

Our relationship changed a few months after her arrival, when we took her to basic obedience classes to help socialize her and hopefully earn her a Canine Good Citizen certificate.  During the first class, Brittan handled her and it was rather stressful, so beginning with lesson 2, Brittan asked me to handle the Queen of Irritability, and for some reason I agreed.

We instantly formed a teamwork bond. A switch flipped and Iris became the star of the class.  Within just a couple weeks, she was perfect at every skill. We only had to practice a few minutes a day. It turns out the little beast was a genius. She learned quickly, and would do anything for a treat.

When test day finally came, I was a nervous wreck, but Iris flew through her exam like a champ. I was so proud of her. I didn’t like her, but I was proud of her.

We thought she might have a future in competitive obedience, but we discovered that she had hip problems and would never be able to handle jumping. It was the first step in a series of steps that has led us to where we are today.

One of the worst nights of my life, was watching Iris start a fight with Lucy the Bullmastiff. This was about 4 years ago now. Both were Alpha females and disliked everything about the other, but Iris was 35 lbs of middle aged arthritis and attitude, while Lucy was 110 lbs of solid muscle.

Iris snarled and snapped at Lucy over something, and in a flash, Iris was sliced from stem to stern and Lucy was shaking her like a rag doll.

I can’t even remember how we got Iris free from Lucy’s grip, but by some act of Grace we managed it. This was late on a Saturday night and the nearest emergency vet was an hour away.  I raced through the dark streets while Brittan furiously fought to stem the flow of blood.

The vets rushed Iris into surgery, with little hope for her, while Brittan and I paced and prayed and fretted the night away.  Sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. , weak but alive, Iris was placed in our arms along with a bill roughly equivalent to the GDP of a small European country.

Like I said, that was roughly 4 years ago. Iris has not been the same since. Oh, she’s still sometimes grumpy, and gets into all kinds of trouble, but I don’t think she’s had a pain free day since.

She has extreme arthritis in her shoulder from trying to compensate for her hips and she has a permanent bladder infection. The stumpy grumpy one rarely runs these days, and when she does, she regrets it. It breaks my heart.

Iris still loves attention, and dare I say it, especially from me. She’s completely incontinent now, having multiple accidents per day. Tramadol is practically a food group and she can’t leave the deck.

On some level, we’ve known we were on borrowed time for several years. We are so blessed to have enjoyed our adventures together. Now, in 15 minutes, we go on our last one. And it feels like a sword in my stomach.

Brittan believes that God will allow our special pets to be with us in Heaven. I never have. I have never wanted to be wrong about anything so much. Farewell, Iris the Irritable, bi-eyed, bat eared, spotty, squatty Corgi. So difficult to like. So easy to love.

Jesus Unmasked – His True Identity Revealed

Episode 44

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I hope things are going well with you wherever you are.  It’s a beautiful day here at the farmstead. It’s a very emotional week as our remaining animals are going to their new homes as the week goes along. By next week’s show, all the animals will be gone. It’s a very surreal experience. If you could remember Brittan and me during your prayer time, I’d sure appreciate it.

On the other hand, It’s just a couple weeks until we head for Scotland. We’re so excited about the trip.  I hope you’ll follow our adventure on Facebook. All you need to do is search for ‘Scotland Rising’ on Facebook and like the page. We will update that page regularly with stories, photos, and prayer requests.

Today, we’re going to John Chapter one. Last week we started our journey in John with a look at the end of John’s gospel where he explained WHY he wrote what he did. His overt goal was proselytism. He wanted readers to not just know about Jesus life and teachings, he wanted readers to place their faith in Jesus as ‘the Christ, the son of God.’

Now, it’s time to go back to the beginning of the Gospel and look at the claims of Jesus, as recorded by John.

Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Joh 1:2  He was in the beginning with God.

Joh 1:3  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Joh 1:4  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Joh 1:5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

These 5 verses must be some of the most elegantly written pieces of Theology in existence. It is an extremely controversial set of statements in the  21st century, because it categorically declares the Deity of Christ.

Liberal and humanist minds have always chafed at these verses… They identify Jesus as God, as eternal, as creator and as redeemer.

First, John says Jesus was ‘In the beginning’.  John is deliberately identifying Jesus with ‘Elohim’ of Genesis 1.  Somehow they are different but somehow they are the same. The word was with God, suggesting some distinction. In fact, I found a translation called, “The Scriptures 1998” that actually translates the word, God as ‘Elohim’. Wild.  The word was God, suggesting equality. I’m not a theologian, nor do I play one on TV, but I can clearly see John is undeniably calling Jesus, God.

Those who argue against the deity of Christ, have worked hard to come up translations to try and make John say something less direct, but their arguments fall pitifully short. Even the extremely liberal RSV, is forced to translate verse one correctly. It’s simply impossible to do otherwise. The Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation tries to translate it the word was ‘a god’ with small g. And sometimes you might see it translated the word was divine or ‘godlike’.  But to do so is simply allowing theological bias to drive the translation rather than the other way round.  Sadly, I see this play out in a few other NT verses, but with this passage, only overtly pseudo Christian groups are bold enough to mistranslate John’s opening declaration.

By saying He was in the beginning, John is teaching the Eternality of Jesus. Before creation, only eternity and the eternal existed. Creation is the beginning of the bubble we call time. Jesus was there at the emergence of time. He is eternal.

John clearly identifies Jesus as creator when he says, By Him all things were made, and nothing was created apart from Him.

Finally John identifies Jesus as Redeemer when he says, In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Quite frequently, light and darkness are considered opposites. You know, the opposite of light is darkness. In movies the Dark Force is often portrayed and the polar opposite of light, sometimes as even a necessary requirement to create balance in the universe. eg. The dark side of the force.

In both Scripture and in Science, darkness is not the opposite of light, rather it is the absence of light. They are not equals and it is never a fair fight. Light ALWAYS dispels darkness. And darkness can’t overwhelm light. No matter how deep the darkness, even the smallest light will send it running. In fact, the heavier the darkness, the more effective the light.

No matter what darkness does, nor how dense, it is impotent against the light. So John can say with confidence, a light has shined in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

I believe this is a reference to sin. Sin covered all the human race and it seems so omnipotnent. But Jesus sacrifice shined a light into the darkness and conquered it.

Many, maybe most of us are afraid of the dark. Darkness hides many secrets, many dangers, many monsters. And as long as the darkness reigns, they seem so powerful, but the instant a light shines in the darkness, the hidden is revealed. Some dark creatures, like rats and cockroaches go scurrying for cover and others are able to be dealt with in the light of illumination.  The monster is slain, the bogey man is unmasked as a fraud. And in the same way, sin is defeated by the light of Christ. That’s why John can say in his first letter, ‘we want to be in the light, as He is in the light.

Right there my friends is the Gospel. Christ is the conqueror of darkness. It is defeated once and for all. The darkness is exposed. And that is Good News.

I could probably end here, but there is one more verse we absolutely MUST look at, and that is verse 14.

Joh 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

If the first verse is controversial in the 21st century, it is verse 14 that caused all the arguments in John’s day.

We’ve talked on and on about Gnosticism but John 1:14, must have caused blood to come out of their eyes and ears. And the Word became flesh was in conflict with everything they believed.  John does not say the word took on flesh, or the Word appeared to be flesh, but the Word BECAME flesh. The eternal became mortal. It is the perfect complimentary verse to Philippians 2 Php 2:6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Php 2:7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

 

The true identity of Jesus of Nazareth has now been revealed. The mask is ripped off. He is the God Man, the one of a kind, full of Grace and Truth.

You can reject Him, but you can’t dilute the claim.

 

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Why John REALLY wrote his Gospel

Episode 43

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I hope you enjoyed our journey through the New Testament. I know I did. Very soon, we’re going to take a similar one through the Old Testament, but I wanted to take a break from our hectic race through the Bible and zoom in just a little on some topics from John’s Gospel. Full disclosure here: on some level, John was chosen at random.  I wanted to focus on Jesus, so one of the 4 Gospels was a given.  It could have been any of them, but I have always been drawn to John’s Gospel.  My reasons are quite subjective and personal, but, hey, it’s my radio show.

Keep in mind, the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is about Jesus.  He is there in Genesis 1, the first promise of His incarnation in in Genesis 3. He is there in Revelation 22, when John pleads for His return.  I like to say the Old Testament is Waiting for Jesus, The Gospels are Memories of Jesus, Acts is Following Jesus and Carrying Jesus, The letters are Living for Jesus, and Revelation is Victory in Jesus.

But for the next 4 weeks (at least), we’re going to dip our toes in the water of the Gospel of John.  We’re going to go a bit deeper than during our fly over with our survey, but we’re not going deep enough that anyone is at risk of drowning.

This week, in this first lesson, we’re going to look at WHY John wrote his Gospel.  And to do that, we have to start at the end.  Just like Luke did in Chapter 1 of his memoir of Jesus, John explains he motives, but instead of being right up front, John waits until almost the very end of his Gospel, in Chapter 20

Joh 20:30  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;

Joh 20:31  but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

1 This passage begins, Now Jesus – I’ve already said that Jesus is the focus, the center, and at some level, the subject of the entire Bible. You will hear me repeat that over and over again as we survey the Old Testament beginning in just a few weeks. There have been many great teachers, outstanding philosophers, mighty prophets, excellent leaders and wise counselors down through the ages, but there has never been the like of Jesus of Nazareth. The Bible is unequivocal in it’s declarations about Him.  The Apostles proclaimed, There is no other name under Heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved.  Paul

Php 2:9  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

Php 2:10  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

Php 2:11  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I began (Re)Discovering the Bible Vol. 2 with these lines from the poem ‘One Solitary Live’, All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever set sale, All rulers that have ever ruled, and all the kings that have ever reigned on this earth, all put together, have not affected the life of man on earth, like this one, solitary live.

It’s true, there’s just something about that name.  As we’ve established over and over in our weekly time together, while it makes no logical sense, it is possible to reject Jesus. It is also possible, and I would argue, reasonable, logical, and desirable to accept and follow Him.  But it is not possible to remain intellectually and historically honest, and ignore Him.  Sooner or later, we all have to deal with Him.

John continues his thought: Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;

What are these other signs? He may be referring to miracles recorded in the other Gospels, or perhaps miracles we know nothing about. After all, John finishes his Gospel with these words, Joh 21:25  Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Please remember, the Gospels are not exhaustive biographies of the Life and Ministry of Jesus, but collections of memories of Jesus words and deeds. So there were undoubtedly many remarkable things we don’t know.

In this case, however, the context of John’s statement about many other signs, appears to be in context of post resurrection appearances and interactions. It is very similar to  Luke’s beginning to Acts of the Apostles where he says, Act 1:3  He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

 

We’ve said many times before, that the entire key to understanding Jesus specifically, and Christianity in General, is the resurrection.  Jesus spent 40 days between His resurrection and ascension into heaven interaction with people. The Gospel and Acts accounts are limited to time He spent with the Apostles and a select few others including a group of women. 1 Corinthians  15, however, adds an appearance to James, and an occasion where He appeared to more than 500 people at one time.

The evidence is overwhelming that He was raised.

And John is clear that the purpose for Jesus’ resurrection and subsequences is to establish His identity first of all the Christ, the long awaited Messiah of Israel, the Son of God.  This is borne out in the Gospel Sermons of Acts. Each sermon to a Jewish audience is built around the idea that Jesus is the Messiah. And each message to Gentiles it to demonstrate that Jesus is the Son of God and ultimate Judge of the human race.

He is not one of many, or one of a select few, He is the One.

John is quite specific in stating his purpose was to incite faith. He wants readers to Believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

Many contrast faith as something in the heart, rather than merely intellectual acknowledgment.  But that’s only part of the story.  If we had the time to dig really deep into the scripture we’d see that faith implies much more than a belief that is both heartfelt and intellectually satisfying, it leads to change in behavior and allegiance.  The Bible most frequently calls that repentance.

Interestingly, in Acts chapter 3, Peter commands the people to repent and believe, which is the inverse of how we usually talk. We normally ask people to believe and repent, but the conversion experience, at least our role in it, is so intimately interconnected, that we silly to talk about things like sequence.  Again, in Acts, Faith, Repentance, Baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are seen in every conceivable order. I perceive that’s not an accident.  God would never want us to see conversion reduced to a formula. Salvation is His doing and His alone. Conversion, is our response to what He has done.

There are many places in the New Testament, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, I Peter, where the entire human response to Jesus is summarized by just one of those words, sometimes it is faith, sometimes, baptism, sometimes repentance, and once, confession.  In each case, our complete response is assumed. The Bible knows nothing of unbaptized Believers. That’s a modern invention. At the same time, it knows nothing of unrepentant ones, or of unbelieving baptisms or faith that doesn’t produce repentance. Instinctively, we know that’s true, but we want to categorize our response or prioritize or create and order of response.  But in our hearts, we know the ultimate truth of the old song, ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. ‘

John finishes his thought with, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

This is another passage that liberal and fundamental tribes of Christians have each claimed half rather than the whole.

For most of my life, liberals have emphasized how the life and teaching of Jesus will help us improve our lives here on this green ball we call earth. Those with a conservative bent, have emphasized eternal life and forgiveness of sin.

I am utterly convinced when we do that, we parse a word that was never intended to be parsed. He meant both.  Watch as we look at John’s Gospel, we are going to discover a Jesus who comes to give eternal life, and life to the full, here. Jesus, the Christ, the son of God, is Lord over all, both time AND eternity.

The Bible tells me so.

Next week, we’re going to go back to Chapter 1, where John blows up the arguments of those who claim Jesus was never Human as well as those who claim He is ONLY human. Please, don’t miss it. Do send your thoughts and question to me by email or via the comments feature on the website with the show notes.

Until then, be blessed and be a blessing.

 

 

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Book of Revelation: Weird, or, Wonderful?

Episode 42

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We’re finally here. We’ve made it through each book of the New Testament. I’ve had a ton of fun.  Starting next week, we’re going to spend 4 weeks in the Gospel of John, then we will move into a survey of the old testament.

Today, we’re going to race through the Book of Revelation.  For some it’s the most fascinating book in the Bible. For others it is terrifying and for still others, it is extremely confusing.

Rev 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

This collection of visions was written by the Apostle John while he was in exile on Patmos, around AD 90*95.  It was an extremely difficult time for Christians.  The persecution of Christianity that began under Nero in the mid 60s, reached a fever pitch under Domitian.  Nero used Christians as the scapegoats for the burning of Rome, which was probably his own doing.  Domitian’s problem with Christians was more theological and in his own mind, noble.

Domitian loved Rome very much.  He believed her culture and religion were the highest in all the world, and superior to any other.  He also believed that he was a god in the flesh.  He was extremely tolerant of other religions, as long as the people also honored and worshiped him. Christians simply wouldn’t make that compromise.  In Domitian’s eyes, that was not merely defiance, but treasonous.

As a result of the Roman Oppression, the Church, was frightened and discouraged. John’s visions are written to bolster their resolve to stay true.

10:1010:26Simultaneously, the Churches in Asia were facing a scourge in false teaching and immorality in the form of the Gnostic heresy. In chapters 2 and 3, Jesus writes to seven prominent congregations, to let them know He still holds them in Hand, he is aware of their challenges, He warns them regarding their sin, and He promises to bless them if they overcome.

Down through the ages, interest in the Book of Revelation has waxed and waned, and there have been numerous popular interpretations of both the book and regarding the end times themselves.

For the first 1800 years, there were two primary dominant views of the end times, One is normally called today, Amillennialism and the other is referred to as Historic Premillennialism.  Essentially, their is whether or not the thousand years was literal or figurative.  For a while, a branch called postmillennialism gained popularity by saying the coming of Jesus happened AFTER the millennium. Yes, the Church was splitting hairs.

At the end of the first quarter of the 19th century, a new understanding of the end times was born. It is called dispensationalism, or dispensational premillennialism. Frankly, the other three views have more agremment with each other than any do with this dispensationalism.

It was made popular by John Darby. 14;50Darby was the son of wealthy Anglo Irish descent, and grew up in southern England. He was positively brilliant and gifted. He studied law and passed the bar. After just a few years, he abandoned his promising law career to serve as an Anglican Pastor. After becoming disillusioned with denominationalism, he left the clergy to become a lay preacher with the Plymouth Brethren.

Darby was the first well known proponent of Dispensationalism. He influenced C.I. Scofield, whose Bible Study notes really put this view on the map.

Dispensational looks very different than the other views in many ways.  One of the ways is in its approach to Israel. While the other three see the Church as the fulfillment, or even replacement for Israel, the dispensationalists see Israel as God’s primary concern and the Church as a parenthesis in history, to redeem Gentiles. After a secret ‘rapture’ which none of the other views see, there will be a seven year Tribulation which will end with Christ establishing a thousand year kingdom on earth. God will spend the millennium focusing on a revival of the Jews and re-establishing the Jewish Temple system.  Near the end of this reign, Satan will be released on the earth and establish a final rebellion. Christ will quell the rebellion and usher in the final judgement.

I fully confess my explanation of all the views are extremely broad brushed descriptions.  Sometime we’ll look at them in some depth, but today we’re not going there.

In 1948, Dispensationalism got a boost, when the allied forces offered reparations for the Jewish People by establishing the Nation of Israel. Dispensationalists saw this as a fulfillment of prophesy.

It was in the mid to late 1960s in the years following the 6 day war, with the extremely popular writings of John Walvoord, and especially Hal Lindsay, that Dispensational Premillennialism went mainstream.

Then, in the 1990s, the Left Behind novels (and later movies) catapulted the Dispensational view into preeminence.  Today, many, if not most Evangelicals, especially in America, do not even know about historic premillennialism or Amillennialism.  I have even recently read articles decrying the historic views as heretical false teaching.

I was very recently in a discussion with a group of Godly Believers, most of whom had never heard of anything but the Dispensational view, which for the record, I do not hold.

The discussion was lively, but respectful. When I got home I decided to do some digging on the matter and found that the debates among Believers have at times become quite ugly and have given ammunition to skeptics and unbelievers to allow them to mock and dismiss us for yet another way we Christians have no unity or agreement.

I knew this episode was coming up and decided right there to change direction. I am convinced that we sometimes miss the forest for the trees when discussing the Book of Revelation specifically, or the end times in general.

It is time for us to look at the areas in which we agree and go public with those, rather than focus publicly on our differences, which mostly don’t matter, anyway.

When we take this approach, the Book of Revelation is much less complicated. It doesn’t make great movies or novels, but it makes great sense and gives great hope.

Revelation repeatedly tells one thing and its one thing all Christians believe.

Ready for it? Jesus is risen and glorified. 2. Things are sometimes really tough for Christians. 3.It’s going to get worse. Much worse. 4. Just when it looks like evil wins, Jesus puts an end to the rebellion and 5. Sets up his Kingdom where all things good and holy exist forever and evil is banished. We call it, heaven.

I realize that’s not nearly as sexy as some of the view points, but it sure is accurate. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best one.  And…that’s the Book of Revelation in a nutshell.  And its good, no, GREAT news!

And…that’s all I got. At least for today. Thanks, BTW, to those of you who have sent donations for our Vision trip to Scotland. We’re getting there. I’m still amazed at how many gifts are coming via cash and check rather than through the crowd funding page. Still, I’m humbled by all the gifts. What I’m promoting now is that if 100 people will give us $40 then we and get this done. But any size gift is welcome. Those $10 and $5 donations add up. Thank you.

Thanks, too, for buying Vol. 2.  Once you’ve read it, would you please consider writing a review. Reviews are huge for Kindle books. Thanks again, you rock.

Next week we’re going to begin a study in the Gospel of John. Talk to you soon. Until then, Be blessed, and be a blessing.

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Hey, Jude

Survey of Jude

Episode 41

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Hey, Jude

Ok, I couldn’t resist.  Sorry, it’s just how I roll.

Let me just say from the outset, I’m a huge fan of the book of Jude. There are several verses that would allow a deeper study of several weeks, but we’ll just highlight a few of them and scratch the surface. I promise, though, we’ll come back later.

We know very little about Jude himself, other than his name. He identifies himself as the brother of James, which likely means he is a half brother of Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church say this is the Judas, aka, Thaddeus, who was one of the original 12 apostles.  Frankly, the majority of scholars and ancient Church leaders agree with the former understanding.  Do your own homework.

If you read this little letter right after, or right before, 2 Peter, you’ll immediately see there are similarities. They seem to be written for similar reasons, to a similar audiences, and about the same time. I date this book in the mid 60s A.D. Do your own homework if you really want to dig into that some more.

Jude begins his letter by saying he wanted to write about our common salvation, but feels the need to address some false teaching and teachers. How often have we heard that in recent weeks.

Jude wants to be positive, even joyful. His heart is to talk about our hope in Christ. Our eternal destiny in a Kingdom where all but love passes away. A place with no pain, no heartache, no sickness, no oppression, no death.  Who wouldn’t want to talk about that?

Unfortunately, the urgent matter of false teaching has reared it’s head and Jude feels compelled to address it. The bad guys here appear to be the same Gnostics, Peter, John, and Paul in his later years, had to confront in their letters.

We’ve talked about the Gnostics ad nausaeum the last few weeks, so I won’t go back over it. If you’re new to the show, go back and listen to the episodes on 2 Peter and the epistles of John.  For what it’s worth, this Gnostic problem plagued the Church for at least 300 years, and it made a big reappearance in the latter quarter of the 20th century and is nipping at the heels of the Gospel, even today.

Jude spends the overwhelming bulk of this letter, comparing these false teachers to just about every villain in the Old Testament.

As an aside, his many references to the Old Testament suggest strongly that Jude is writing primarily to Believers from a Jewish background.

Jude compares them to The Jews who sinned in the desert, to the angels who sinned in genesis 6, to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain, Balaam and Korah.  Folks, that’s a Hall if Shame, if their ever once was.  This is like the anti Hebrews 11 chapter.

Jude also talks about them Denying the Lord Jesus. I am convinced this is a reference to the Gnostic teaching that Jesus was not really human.  The New Testament, on the other hand, constantly and consistently testifies to Jesus dual nature as both Man and God.

It’s also important to note, that Jude points to these false teachers’ love of money and sexual sin.  It would appear that not much has changed in the last 2,000 years.

When we come back to a deeper study of Jude, we’ll drill deeper into all these issues, but I want to spend just a moment on Verse 6.

Jud 1:6  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—

Who are these angels?  I believe these are quite literally the fathers of what we call today, Demons.

I want to refer you to 2 Peter

2Pe 2:4  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

And to Genesis 6

Gen 6:1  When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,

Gen 6:2  the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.

Gen 6:3  Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Gen 6:4  The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

Gen 6:5  The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

 

It is obvious from the language that these ‘fallen’ angels are not the Biblical Demons, because they are chained in gloomy dungeons awaiting judgement.  But when we look back to the story of their sin, we finally gain some clarity.

We’ll look at this subject several times during our Old Testament Survey,  but let’s do a flyover right now.

It appears from Genesis, that at some point between The Garden of Eden and Noah, that some Angels (sons of God) decided to intermarry with humans. It is not something God designed or ordained. It was a violation. The offspring of these marriages were human/angelic hybrids, called, Nephilim.  These Nephilim are evil and do all they can to interfere with God’s plan for His people. First, here in Genesis, then when the Israelis are trying to get from Egypt to the Promised land. They appear again during the United Kingdom as they try and prevent David from establishing a dynasty. Then they disappear, only to reappear as ‘unclean spirits’ during the ministry of Jesus. They make a final, albeit feeble stand during the ministry of the Apostles, then disappear from Scripture. It is my contention, though, that we will see a greater manifestation, a reappearance, as it were, as we grow closer to the return of Christ.

For now, these angels, await judgment , chained and incarcerated far away from the earth and humans they tried so hard to pervert.

Jude says that the false teachers he’s warning the Church of, are just like these fallen angels; evil, defiant, perverted and defeated.

Let’s finish this glance at Jude by looking a little closer to home. We have an abundance of teachers, preachers, pastors and evangelists who are truly devils in disguise. Just look at the prosperity Gospel peddlers. Everything is all about money. But the truth is, we can’t serve both God and money.

Think how many Christian Celebrities have been found out as adulterers and perverts.  I know of many so called shepherds who are constantly scanning the flock for easy prey. These monsters are not shepherds, but predators, wolves looking for their own pleasure and to satisfy their own appetites. I remember reading of a female Christian singer who said she would watch the crowd to find a boy to take back to her hotel after a concert.

Jude has had his fill of these predators, getting away with their green and lust and warns the Church to watch for them.

We need to be on the lookout for them, too. Don’t be sheep. Be like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily.

And that’s all I got. Drop me a note with your thoughts. Next week, we’re finally in REVELATION. Can you believe it. I’m excited.  Until then, be blessed and be a blessing.

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Diotrephes, Demetrius, And Da Truth

Pergamum
Pergamum

Episode 40

3 John

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I hope you had a great week last week. It was busy around here as we prepared for our congregation’s 10th birthday party; and wow, what a day.  I won’t go into it, because unless you go to the same place we do, it will be pretty meaningless. I will say this, though, and it relates to the letters of John, if you are not attending a Church at all, or are going someplace that compromises on the truth, or does not practice Grace and Mercy, then let me know and I will help you find a good one. I’m not trying to be a jerk, but, as you can tell from John’s letters, there’s not time to put up with all the compromise and goofiness going on in many congregations these days. We need to be about the Father’s business rather than chasing some political or social agenda.  So if you need help finding a good congregation, email me, or use the comments section of the show notes.  If you include your name and where you live, I PROMISE to research and give you some suggestions. Yeah, it’s that important to me.

Speaking of important, let’s take a look at 3rd John.  Unlike 2nd John, or Revelation, this letter does not appear to be in code. John, kicks but and takes names, or at least names names, so he doesn’t seem to even make an attempt at discretion, so that suggests to me that he’s probably writing from his home base back in Ephesus.

John’s  frequent use of the word truth in his 3rd letter, just like the first two, maintains his pattern of emphasizing historic Christian doctrine in contrast to the mysterious Gnosticism that was so pervasive in Asia Minor during the latter decades of the first century.

Let’s face it, the New Testament’s emphasis on the uniqueness of Christian doctrine stands in stark contrast to the overwhelming opinions of the 21st century as well.  Christianity is rapidly becoming an unwelcome presence in the public arena.  I was recently reading a politically tinged article where the leftist magazine Salon, urged the Republican party to abandon their alliance with Christianity or fall into irrelevancy in our ‘post Christian’ America.

Wow.  I’m not going to spend one second on politics, but I didn’t know any party had an alliance with Christianity or with ‘Post Christian’ America either for that matter. But the article DOES imply that those who control the microphone, and editorial content of the mainstream have little tolerance for our faith.

So be it. It doesn’t change a thing. If we look at the New Testament writings, the early Church, and Jesus Himself during His ministry, saw truth as more important that acceptance.  Their attitude and practice was to tell the truth in love and let the chips fall where they may.

3rd John is a classic example of that. The letter is written to one, Gaius. That doesn’t tell us much at all. Several men by that name are mentioned in the New Testament. It was extremely common. Heck, it was even Julius Caesar’s first name.  Frankly, it’s like starting a letter, Dear Bill.  Without context, there’s just no knowing which Bill.

There is an ancient tradition that says John appointed a leader named Gaius as ‘Bishop of Pergamum.  While I’m not convinced that the Apostle appointed Bishops (we’ll leave that for another day), it is certainly possible that an elder by that name was the target of John’s letter.

Considering the possibility that John may have sent Gaius of Ephesus (see Acts 19) to Pergamum, this letter could be John’s welcome to Pergamum letter.

After a pleasant, if maybe a little lengthy, considering the brevity of the note, greeting, John identifies two other leaders for Gaius’ consideration. One, very negative and one, very positive.

The first of the two, Diotrephes, has become a pain in the rear for the Apostle. He is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture,  but because of the tradition of Gaius being the Pastor of the Church in Pergamum, I can’t help but associate Diotrephes with the letter to the Pergamum congregation in Revelation 2. Pergamum is dealing with a great deal of false teaching including Gnosticism.  I just see Diotrephes as the villain behind the problems. You do your own homework and see what you think.

At any rate, this Diotrephes, had assumed almost dictatorial control over the congregation. He does not recognize the authority of the Apostles, and even excommunicates people who do receive the apostles and their representatives. What a goofball.

I love verse 10, where John demonstrates there’s a little Boanerges left in his 90 plus year old frame. This ancient Son of Thunder says if he gets to come to Pergamum he’s going to face down Diotrephes. That verse always sends a tingle down  the back of my neck. I love it. The man of God refuses to back down to the enemy of truth.  I only hope I would be so bold under the same circumstance.

In contrast to Diotrephes, John mentions another member of the Church, one Demetrius. Again, there are far too many men of that name to identify who this is.  Going back to Acts 19 and the beginning of the Church in Ephesus, a silversmith by that name, was so upset at the Gospel for hurting his business, nearly caused a riot in the city.

Wouldn’t it be really cool if it was the same guy? An enemy of the Gospel, who became a Christ Follower and a great example of the Faith?  We have no way of knowing, but it would be awesome if it was him.

John says in verse 12, that Demetrius is a man of absolute integrity and character. He says even the truth itself offers testimony to Demetrius character. Oh how I pray that could be said of me.

Then suddenly, after brief remarks about these two contrasting men, John just shuts down the letter, just like he did in 2nd John.  He says here, Gaius, you rock, I’m so proud of you. Beware of Diotrephes, he’s a jerk, but Demetrius is a great guy. See you soon, Say hello to the Church.  See you soon, John.

It begs more questions than it answers, but you have to love it.  We have two great role models in Gaius and Demetrius, and we have one moron, Diotrephes.  Just change the names to modern ones and it could be anywhere.

All I know is, I want to be someone accused of walking in the truth. I hope you do too.

That’s all I got. I do hope you love this little note that way I do. Ping me and let me know. I can hardly wait until we look at Jude next week. It is STRONG. Until then, be blessed. And be a blessing.

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truth-has-no-agenda2 John

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I have a very special guest here in the camper today. I will introduce you to here in just a minute, but before we get into today’s topic I have a couple of special requests to make of you.

First, I want to thank you for being such an awesome audience. Your notes and words of encouragement mean more to me than you could possibly know.  With that in mind, would you share this podcast with your network?  The only way I have of expanding this show is by word of mouth.  We have no such thing as a marketing budget. So, if you would let your family and friends, or your FB and Twitter network know about this radio show, it would mean the world to me. And hopefully they will get some benefit from listening.

Also, and I’m truly excited to share this, Brittan and I are going to Scotland for the month of October.  We will be preaching in congregations, visiting with pastors, elders, ministry leaders, Govt. workers, social agencies, business leaders and more to nail down the direction of our long term ministry goals for our ministry, ‘Scotland Rising.’  But….we need your help to get there. Including plane tickets, we need about $7500 to make the trip happen.  Would you consider a one time donation towards this vision trip? To make it easier to donate, we have created a Crowd Rise campaign.  The url for that is http://tinyurl.com/hjujgeo. I will include the link in the show notes.   All the information is on the campaign page.  If you want more information, or would rather donate by check, ping me by email or Twitter.

Ok, thanks for prayerfully considering those requests. Now, back to business. This week, we’re looking at the second letter of John, better known as 2nd John.

I have always found 2 John to be fascinating.  There are some interesting messages in those 13 verses that make up this book. It only takes a couple minutes to read and you can brag to your friends that you read a whole book of the Bible today!

As I mentioned earlier, I have a very special guest in studio with me today.  This is episode 39 and this is my first guest. Shame on me.  My guest is absolutely awesome, but I confess I have a natural bias, because she is also my wife, Brittan.

Brittan and I cover a variety of topics including who 2nd John is addressed to, the nature of truth, False Teachers and Gnosticism.  It was fun having her in the studio. I hope you enjoy it.

Next week I’ll be taking a look at 3rd John.  Wow, we’re nearly finished with the New Testament. Amazing.

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