Tag Archives: Old Testament

What Is The Gospel? Part Two: The Gospel According to Jesus

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Then Jesus returned to Galilee by the power of the Spirit. Meanwhile, the news about him spread throughout the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was continuously receiving praise from everyone. (Luke 4:14,15 ISV)

Soon after Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus returned to Galilee. Luke, written to Theophilus, a Greek, does not use the word gospel here. It only says that Jesus began to teach. Matthew and Mark record the same event with the word gospel.

Then he went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every illness among the people. (Matthew 4:23 ISV)

Now after John had been arrested, Jesus went to Galilee and proclaimed the gospel about the kingdom of God. He said, ‘The time is now! The kingdom of God is near! Repent, and keep believing the gospel!’” (Mark 1:14,15 ISV)

The first time Luke uses the word gospel is when Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1 in a synagogue.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
he has anointed me to tell
the good news [gospel] to the poor.
He has sent me to announce release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set oppressed people free,
and to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.
(Luke 4:18,19 ISV)

The gospel Jesus proclaimed was not a new teaching. As Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so the gospel Jesus proclaimed was the same message proclaimed from the foundation of the world. It is the good news of salvation. But to understand salvation, we must understand sin, our need for a savior, and God’s righteous requirements for atonement.

When Jesus walked about teaching in Israel, He taught the same message over and over again. But he taught people who knew what we call the Old Testament. Jesus taught the gospel continuously throughout his life. To large crowds he taught in parables because many people in his audience were unwilling to accept everything included in the gospel.
The gospel according to Jesus included the entire Old Testament. It was not a simple list which could be accepted or rejected after a ten minute presentation.

When Jesus returned after his resurrection, he continued to preach the gospel. But he spoke only to his disciples. Jesus found two disciples, and walked with them over 7 miles, teaching as they walked.

Then Jesus told them, “O, how foolish you are! How slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! The Messiah had to suffer these things and then enter his glory, didn’t he?” Then, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them all the passages of Scripture about himself. (Luke 24:25-27 ISV)

When Jesus left them, these two disciples ran back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.

While they were all talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and told them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, thinking they were seeing a ghost. But Jesus told them, “What’s frightening you? And why are you doubting? Look at my hands and my feet, because it’s really me. Touch me and look at me, because a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

After he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. Even though they were still skeptical due to their joy and astonishment, Jesus asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. Then he told them, “These are the words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the Low of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms had to be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds so that they might understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:36-45)

The gospel of Jesus: everything written about me in the Low of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms had to be fulfilled.

Image Credit “The Road to Emmaus” by Robert Zund St Gallen Museum of Art  Photographer joyfulheart upload by Adrian Michael Wikimedia Commons

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The Sword of the Lord

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On all the barren heights in the desert destroyers will come. Indeed, a sword of the LORD will devour from one end of the land to the other. There will be no peace for any person (Jeremiah 12:12, ISV).

Whenever the sword of Lord is mentioned in the Old Testament, it is a literal sword. Even when the use might be metaphorical, the sword means death and destruction. The method might be a plague or some other form of death. The people of Israel understood that the sword of the LORD was an instrument of death.

The Apostle Paul dramatically changed that imagery for New Testament believers. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6:17).

The book of Hebrews uses the same imagery. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12, ISV).

This imagery is continued by John in the last book of the New Testament, the Revelation, written about 95 AD. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines with full force (Revelation 1:16).

The power of the tongue was not a new concept, but it is somewhat difficult for us to understand. Solomon said, “The positive words that a man speaks fill his stomach; he will be satisfied with what his lips produce.” (Proverbs 18:20, ISV). In our culture, which emphasizes the positive, this is not too unusual.

But the very next verse says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and whoever loves it shall eat its fruit.” (Keil and Delitzsch commentary translation) Even metaphorically, we do not think of a tongue as an instrument of death.

Jesus said, “Again, you have heard that it was told those who lived long ago, ‘You must not swear an oath falsely,’ but ‘You must fulfill your oaths to the Lord.’ But I tell you not to swear at all, neither by heaven, because it is God’s throne, nor by the earth, because it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Great King. Nor should you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. Instead, let your message be ‘Yes’ for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ for ‘No.’ Anything more than that comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33-37).

We understand that we are to be truthful, kind, and honest with our words; words that we write as well as speak. But we have difficulty equating the Sword of the Lord with life and death. David understood this very clearly. David asked the young man who related the story, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” The young man who had been relating the story answered, “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa and there was Saul, leaning on his spear! Meanwhile, the chariots and horsemen were rapidly drawing near. Saul glanced behind him, saw me, and called out to me, so I replied, ‘Here I am!’ He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ So I answered him, ‘I’m an Amalekite!’ He begged me, ‘Please—come stand here next to me and kill me, because I’m still alive.’ So I stood next to him and killed him, because I knew that he wouldn’t live after he had fallen. I took the crown that had been on his head, along with the bracelet that had been on his arm, and I have brought them to your majesty.” On hearing this, David grabbed his clothes and tore them, as did all the men who were attending to him. They mourned and wept, and then decided to fast until dusk for Saul, for his son Jonathan, for the army of the LORD, and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen in battle. Meanwhile, David asked the young man who had told him the story, “Where are you from?” He answered, “I’m an Amalekite, the son of a foreign man.” At this David asked him, “How is it that you weren’t afraid to raise your hand to strike the LORD’s anointed?” Then David called out to one of his young men and ordered him, “Go up to him and cut him down!” So he attacked him and killed him. David told him, “Your blood is on your own head, because your own words testified against you! After all, you said, ‘I myself have killed the LORD’s anointed!'” (2 Samuel 1:5-16).

Each of us has the same responsibility. I saw the dead, both unimportant and important, standing in front of the throne, and books were open. Another book was opened—the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to their actions, as recorded in the books (Revelation 20:12). One of our actions (works, KJV) are the words we speak. Just like the internet, our words are never deleted. And they will be presented in judgment if they are not covered by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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How Did We Get The Old Testament?

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While there are numerous detailed answers, this is a brief, simple overview.
1) Moses wrote of what he learned as an Egyptian.
And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. Acts 7:21,22
Like every other book in the Word of God, God used the background, education and culture of the author.
2) Moses wrote what God revealed to Him on Mount Sinai.
And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. Exodus 24:4
God gave part of the Law to Moses directly and Moses wrote down these parts word for word as God dictated them to Moses.
3) Samuel edited the Law. Samuel, the last of the Judges and the first of the prophets founded the sons of the prophets who kept records during the kingdom period.
Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord. 1 Samuel 10:25
4) King Manasseh destroyed every copy of the Law he could find. It was restored by King Josiah.
And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord.And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. 2 Kings 22:8-10
4) Ezra the Scribe, after the Children of Israel returned from captivity under the Persians, collected the material and edited everything into what we have today.
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. Ezra 7:10
And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: Nehemiah 8:1-5
Books were not readily available. To have a book to read from meant that Ezra had to first make (assemble) the parts of the book together.

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Book Review of The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr

Men’s minds and thinking are getting shallower all the time, but it’s wrong to blame that on the Internet. Many things are just as powerful as the Internet in changing our lives and our thought patterns. Rock music, television, video games and addiction (alcoholism) still play a greater role in “shallowing” the mind than the Internet. The human brain works the same way it has since Adam. The Internet is a minor cultural change compared to the Civil War in the American South, Concentration Camps for Jews, the ten plagues in Egypt and the decimation of Native American culture by Europeans.

(Note that all quotes below are from Carr’s book unless otherwise stated.)

Sabrina’s “workaholic” Linus Larrabee shouts, “My life makes your life possible!” “And I resent that!” playboy younger brother David shouts back. “So do I!” Linus retorts. This popped into my head as I read the repeated descriptions of the deep readers and contemplative thinkers. Nathaniel Hawthorne lay back and experienced nature for hours. Trains and busy working people disturbed him. The “shallow thinkers” Carr brings up are productive people, people with jobs. They have always paid for the lives of these deep thinkers.

Deep thinkers may not be playboys. They still need to be supported to lie in the grass listening to the breeze. Artists and writers from ancient times had patrons or they starved to death. Today their support still comes from those who can handle the world’s distractions. I say this as an artist and writer forced into the distraction of working or helping my husband work to pay bills and buy books like The Shallows.

Carr’s concept of “deep reading” sounds like Eastern Mysticism, opening the mind to everything, rather than reading as the Scriptures teach, “to know wisdom and understanding,” “comparing Scripture with Scripture.” If you can’t lose yourself in a long book you don’t learn properly? Then why does he reduce the Nathaniel Hawthorne tale of his Sleepy Hollow reverie to “snippets?”

Carr quotes wicked men as praiseworthy examples. Emerson, Freud, Nietszche and Marx are just a few of his favorite secularists. Studies are automatically authoritative. In our book Antidisestablishmentarianism we include this: “Dennis Prager, anthropologist and historian, laments the unthinking reliance on pseudo-science in today’s society. ‘In much of the West, the well-educated have been taught to believe they can know nothing and they can draw no independent conclusions about truth, unless they cite a study and “experts” have affirmed it. “Studies show” is to the modern secular college graduate what “Scripture says” is to the religious fundamentalist.'” (Prager quote from “Breastfeeding as a Religion,” World Net Daily, wnd.com, posted November 11, 2003 1:00 am Eastern.)

Carr’s “facts” are lies or skewed into lies. Plato’s Phaedrus strongly supports oral tradition. Theuth and Thamus illustrate oral versus written traditions. “Unlike the orator Socrates, Plato was a writer, and while we can assume that he shared Socrates’ worry that reading might substitute for remembering, leading to a loss of inner depth, it’s also clear that he recognized the advantages that the written word had over the spoken one.” Carr twists it to say Plato is supporting writing over oral tradition.

Plato knew of the honored Spartan tradition that their laws had to be memorized. “Plutarch, in his discourse on the life of Lycurgus and his rule in ancient Greece, expresses the belief that oral tradition is a way of making the law more firmly fixed in the mind.

“None of his laws were put into writing by Lycurgus, indeed, one of the so-called ‘rhetras’ forbids it. For he thought that if the most important and binding principles which conduce to the prosperity and virtue of a city were implanted in the habits and training of its citizens, they would remain unchanged and secure, having a stronger bond than compulsion in the fixed purposes imparted to the young by education, which performs the office of a law-giver for every one of them.”

Carr says Plato’s Republic opposes the oral tradition. “In a famous and revealing passage at the end of the Republic, … Plato has Socrates go out of his way to attack ‘poetry,’ declaring that he would ban poets from his perfect state.” Book Ten of Plato’s Republic starts off by saying that he wanted to banish the type of poetry that did not support his state. His goal was to rewrite the religious and imitative literature. Plato wanted absolute regulation of content, not the banishment of the oral tradition, as stated in Book II. “Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction (which includes the Poets) …and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorized ones only.”

The book relies on the shallowness of gleaning opinions from others without testing them by researching in the work itself. Carr didn’t seek out the real meaning of the discussions in the Republic and Phaedrus for himself. This would be almost comical if it weren’t for his repeated emphasis on deep thinking and reading.

Carr talks about the cool serenity of library stacks, but we went to a college where the stacks were closed and the frustrations of getting the right books were endless. Open stacks are still time consuming if the book in the card catalog isn’t on the shelf. Leisure reading and research reading are very different. Long novels like War and Peace and Bleak House and technically difficult works like Einstein and Infield’s The Evolution of Physics are worth the time to read cover to cover. But the library is confining and the Internet is liberating when there is time pressure.

Carr loses the struggle to define determinism because he is thoroughly deterministic in his approach to the studies, the experiments, and the use of what he condemns (superficial research and study) to prove his point. He mentions a couple of histories of societies making technology choices, but, “Although individuals and communities may make very different decisions about which tools they use, that doesn’t mean that as a species we’ve had much control over the path or pace of technological progress.”

How dare he say the brains of London cabbies won’t be as interesting if they start using GPS? That thinking isn’t much different from withholding medicine and clothing from jungle tribes. They’ll be “less interesting” for anthropologists to study. “Anthropologists are often faced with situations where members of the tribe they are studying die on a regular basis from easily curable diseases. But administering medicine may be the first step toward the loss of a culture. Many tribes actually express desire to become more technological. Anthropologists usually pressure them not to do so. One Brazilian indigenous tribal chief, after hearing such a recommendation, is quoted saying, ‘Do they think we like not having any clothes? It may be the way of our ancestors, but the bugs bother us…’ Should tribes like these be exposed to the modern world? There are no easy answers.” (Quoted from BBC online, updated April 10, 2002, in our book Antidisestablishmentarianism.)

E-books already outsell paper books on Amazon.com, and have for over a year. The Kindle is easy to read, keeps your place, allows written comments and highlighting. It’s a “real book.” Many small and medium conventional publishers are out of business. Only publishing giants and specialty “boutique” publishers can sustain the costs of producing paper books. The minimal costs of e-books will force this trend to continue.

Carr even quotes Psalm 115:3-8, a description of the deadness and powerlessness of idols, and warps it to fit his thesis about “technology’s numbing effect. It’s an ancient idea, one that was given perhaps its most eloquent and ominous expression by the Old Testament psalmist.” The creation of idols didn’t just “amplify and in turn numb the most intimate, the most human, of our natural capacities — those for reason, perception, memory, and emotion.” This is blasphemy. How can he equate the deadly sin of idolatry with the mere loss of “natural capacities”? He does this because he’s a secularist. (The passage is included here) “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not. They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” ( KJV)

Placing of scientific journals online does not narrow the scope of research and scholarship, which has always built on past scholarship. An article from 2005 need not cite one from 1945. That research was incorporated into, for example, a 1960 article. Further study, experimentation and research would occur by 1960, or more recently.

At one time many libraries had that 1945 issue, interlibrary loan privileges or microfilm. Libraries today rely on online research, which requires membership fees, payment by the article or both. Some of these charges are prohibitive to keep paying and paying for every article an author wishes he could study and reference. Newer articles are more readily available, often free or cheap, and easier to find.

We have been bombarded with distractions and choices and sensory overloads for centuries. It was happening before the Internet, before Gutenberg, before Plato. It’s up to us to filter.

Nicholas Carr pays tribute to the Scriptures by calling Psalm 115:3-8 a “most eloquent and ominous expression.” Hear then, more of the Scriptures and judge whether Carr has any conception of how eloquent the Word of God can be, and how little he understands about how it should shape our thinking. (The following quotes are from the King James Version)

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11: “All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.”

Ecclesiastes 12:11-14: “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.  And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

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