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Showing posts with label Personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal. Show all posts

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pascal Meal vis-à-vis Lord’s Supper

The first Passover is described in Exodus chapter 12: one lamb was slain for every household and the blood painted onto the lintels and doorposts. This was done in order that the angel of Death would not slay the first-born son of the Jewish households, but only those of Pharaoh’s people, whom God had warned He would judge. "When I see the blood, I will pass over you" the Lord told the children of Israel (Exodus 12:13). They were to eat the lamb, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, in haste prior to their departure from Egypt. The eating of unleavened bread was to continue for seven days, as their sustenance to exit Egypt and escape Pharaoh’s slavery.

Outstanding among the possible typologies or correlates—“shadows,” if you prefer—is that of the Passover or Seder meal which commemorates[i] the deliverance and exodus of the children of Israel from the dominion of Pharaoh as slaves in Egypt, around 1450 BC.

The First Passover

The setting of the Lord's Supper is in my opinion a correlate of the Passover meal; but Jesus was not hosting a proper Seder in the sense that there was no lamb since He was and is the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world. Jesus Christ is Himself the Passover lamb, offered up for the redemption and deliverance of His people (I Corinthians 5:7), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The bread and wine speak of His death, and of the new covenant it ratifies, reconciling God and man. Jesus says "Do this in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11:24-25), telling His disciples that the Passover is fulfilled in Him. Until He comes again (Luke 22:18; I Corinthians 11:26), we are to remember the significance of what He has done for us.

This position is further collaborated by an ancient Christian church manual called the Didache which also suggests that the Last Supper may have been an ordinary Jewish meal. In Chapters 9 and 10 of the Didache, the Eucharistic prayers are remarkably close to the Jewish Grace After Meals (Birkat ha-Mazon).[ii] While these prayers are recited after the Passover meal, they would in fact be recited at any meal at which bread was eaten, holiday or not. Thus, this too underscores the likelihood that the Last Supper was an everyday Jewish meal.

Moreover, while the narrative in the Synoptics situates the Last Supper during Passover week, the fact remains that the only foods we are told the disciples ate are bread and wine—the basic elements of any formal Jewish meal. If this was a Passover meal, where is the Passover lamb? Where are the bitter herbs? Where are the four cups of wine?

However, there are striking parallels between the Last Supper and the Passover (Seder) Meal as can be easily seen in the following comparison: (1) The Last Supper took place in Jerusalem, (2) in a room made available to pilgrims for that purpose, and (3) it was held during the night. (4) Jesus celebrated that meal with his “family” of disciples; and (5) while they ate, they reclined. (6) This meal was eaten in a state of ritual purity. (7) Bread was broken during the meal and not just at the beginning. (8) Wine was consumed and (9) this wine was red. (10) There were last-minute preparations for the meal, after which (11) alms were given, and (12) a hymn was sung. (13) Jesus and his disciples then remained in Jerusalem. Finally, (14) Jesus discussed the symbolic significance of the meal, just as Jews do during the Passover Seder.

Why do the Synoptic Gospels Portray the Last Supper as a Passover Meal?
Having determined that the Last Supper was not a Seder and that it probably did not take place on Passover, I must try to account for why the synoptic Gospels portray the Last Supper as a Passover meal. Of course, the temporal proximity of Jesus’ crucifixion (and with it, the Last Supper) to the Jewish Passover provides one motive: Surely this historical coincidence could not be dismissed as just that.

Other examples of Passoverization can be identified. The Gospel of John, as previously noted, and Paul (1 Corinthians 5:7–8) equate Jesus’ crucifixion with the Passover sacrifice: “Our Paschal lamb, Christ has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” This too is a Passoverization of the Jesus tradition, but it is one that contradicts the identification of the Last Supper with the Seder or Passover meal.

Still others assert that there is no contradiction at all between the events of the Last Supper as shared by John and his less reliable disciple-friends. According to this theory, put forth in the 1960s by French biblical scholar Annie Jaubert and cited in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus and his disciples were adhering to the calendar of the rebellious Pharisee sect, which celebrated the start of Passover a day earlier than the rest of the Jews.

Passover Meal Challenge[iii][iv]
Now, to continue this line of argument, let’s consider Mark 14:12-26, since Matthew and Luke are in general agreement with him on the events surrounding the Last Supper:

Jesus Celebrates the Passover with His Disciples
12 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”
13 And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. 14 Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.”
16 So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover.
17 In the evening He came with the twelve. 18 Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.”
19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said, “Is it I?”
20 He answered and said to them, “It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish. 21 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.”

Jesus Institutes the New Covenant
22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. 25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Mark 14:12-26 (NKJV)

And now with these verse in John’s Gospel that seems to conflict with the Synoptics:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. (John 17:1); and,
2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him.

With the verse that seems to conflict with the Synoptics:
Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away…” (John 19:31)

Problem Observed:
Do you see the problem here? The problem is best presented in the form of a question: “How could Jesus eat the Passover meal with his disciples, then be crucified and the Jews ask that he be taken down off the cross before the Passover meal they were to eat later that day?” (John 19:31)

The answer is, obviously if one accepts that the Last Supper was the Passover meal, followed by yet another Passover meal after he was crucified, then there is definitely a contradiction.

The Choice is Yours:
At this point, the choice is yours. Either the Bible is the inerrant, infallible word of God or it is simply a good book full of advice, some good perhaps, and some bad; but, nonetheless, errant in its narratives and with an archaic prescientific worldview. It cannot be both.

As for me, I would find it very hard to place my confidence in a book riddled with such apparent errors and prescientific mythologies. Yet, some continue to hang onto this straw and proudly proclaim that they are Christians.

I say, foolishness.

Possibilities Considered:
With this clearly in mind, let us allow our thoughts to run down an imaginative trail of possibilities. What if those New Testament authors living in time and space only had one option? Now, what if that option was that they could only declare in space and time what originated in the mind of the Eternal One? Is this not precisely what Peter said, when he wrote:
For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)

Does not the scripture also say?
From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do. (Isaiah 46:11)

We cannot have both. God is eternal, He changes not. He cannot, and does not lie. (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29)

The Inauguration of a New Covenant:
Firstly, the Lord’s Supper mentioned was not a Seder or Passover meal at all but the inauguration of a new covenant. This conviction is based on the fact that there is no mention of eating the sacrificial lamb—since He was, indeed, the sacrificial lamb. And, he clearly states that:
"This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes." (1 Corinthians 11:25, 26)

So, instead of celebrating the Passover, since he knew that he would be the Passover lamb the next day, he clearly is saying the old Seder meal is therefore null and void and is no longer necessary. I am the bread, I am the lamb, I am the wine in ways that these old symbolisms never were. For, as the scripture says,

Hebrews 8: 7-13
(7) For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, (8) “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, I will effect a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; (9) not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, And I did not care for them, says the Lord. (10) “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, And I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their god, and they shall be my people. (11) “and they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘know the Lord,’ for all will know me, from the least to the greatest of them.  (12) “for I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

(13) When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

And, disappear it did!

Therefore, if this position is taken—and I believe it is the correct one—one of our major problems is solved; that is, that Christ was crucified and died precisely during the time the Passover lamb was sacrificed that the High Priest would eat later that night at the traditional Seder meal.

Regardless of one’s view of history, we must agree with Wilhelm Herrmann a liberal theologian, who readily admits the flaws in depending on history for a final judgment call on Biblical doctrine,
“[It] is a fatal drawback that no historical judgment, however certain it may appear, ever attains anything more than probability. But what sort of religion would that be which accepted a basis for its convictions with the consciousness that it was only probably safe?

It is a fatal error to attempt to establish the basis of faith by means of historical investigation. The basis of faith must be something fixed; the results of historical inquiry are continually changing.”[v]


The Last Supper in Summary

The Story

The last meal that Jesus shared with his disciples is described in all four canonical Gospels, namely in Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-39 and John 13:1-17:26.
This meal later became known as the Last Supper or the Lord’s Supper.

Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (11:23-26), which was likely written before the Gospels, includes a reference to the Last Supper but emphasizes the theological basis rather than giving a detailed description of the event or its background.

The Critics

"Date and time of the crucifixion”

All the sources agree that Jesus was crucified on 14 Nisan. Some dispute as to whether the Passover was on Thursday or Friday. Some feel that The Synoptics seem to suggest that Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples on Thursday night was a Passover meal. I disagree. This was not the traditional Seder meal, but rather the introduction of the New Covenant. John agrees that Jesus did share a Last Supper with his disciples on Thursday night in the upper room prior to his betrayal and arrest.

John also says that the Jewish leaders wanted to remove Jesus from the cross before the Passover meal began Friday night. So was Passover on Thursday or Friday?

The Issue

In essence the Synoptics are very much the same. Mark 14:12-16 seems to encapsulate the story well; Matthew and Luke give less detail, but otherwise read the same:
And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the Passover? And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples? And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover.

Scripture of controversy
John 13:1-2 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him.

Thus it is argued that Jesus was betrayed and thus crucified prior to the Passover.

Let us consider whether or not this is true by closely looking at the scriptures.

1st statement:
“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.”
2nd statement:
“And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him.” (John 13:1-2)

So from these two statements alone, what do we discover? Firstly, we discover that the 1st statement says “before the feast of the Passover” which to me indicates that the Last Supper may have been prior to the Passover feast, say the day before. Granted, John does immediately introduce the Last Supper meal by saying “And supper being ended,” Judas betrayed him later that very evening.

My question is, What meal? A Seder meal. No, because a proper Seder meal must be eaten at the beginning of Nisan 15, which was at earliest the next day. The sacrificial lamb was prepared for sacrifice and killed during the day on Nisan 14; whereas, the Last Supper had to be prior to that and not the Seder meal since bluntly speaking dead men do not eat!

That being established—at least in my thinking—we must deal with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

For the record, from all indications He was crucified at 12 PM noon on Nisan 14, and died at 3 PM on the same day. Thus, he was placed in the borrowed tomb at around 6 PM that evening which was the beginning of Nisan 15 and the start of the paschal Seder meal that very evening.

Therefore, it seems to me that all we must account for are the three days and three nights that scripture says he was to be in the bowels of the earth as Jonah was in the belly of the whale (or great fish, if you prefer).

Now, in essence, the major conflict between the Synoptic Gospels and The Gospel of John concerning the Last Supper, his betrayal and trial and crucifixion, including his burial and resurrection has been settle, all we must do now is to account for statements concerning otherwise insignificant activities—such as, when and which Mary visited the tomb, and how many angels were present and so-forth.

[i] The Feast of Passover (Exodus 12:1-28)

The Passover meal was (and still is) held as an annual event in each Jewish household. The meal commemorates the deliverance and Exodus of the children of Israel from the dominion of Pharoah as slaves in Egypt, around 1450 BC.

The First Passover
The first Passover is described in Exodus chapter 12: one lamb was slain for every household and the blood painted onto the lintels and doorposts. This was done in order that the angel of Death would not slay the first-born son of the Jewish households, but only those of Pharoah's people, whom God had warned He would judge. "When I see the blood, I will pass over you" the Lord told the children of Israel (Exodus 12:13). They were to eat the lamb, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, in haste prior to their departure from Egypt. The eating of unleavened bread was to continue for seven days, as their sustenance to exit Egypt and escape Pharoah's slavery. God ordained that the children of Israel would commemorate the Passover every year to remember their deliverance, almost 3,450 years ago.

Early Commemorations of The Passover
Commemoration of the Feast of Passover was the first major event after the Tabernacle was first built. The building was finished on schedule, two weeks prior to the first anniversary of the Exodus. The Tabernacle was consecrated and anointed with oil (Exodus 40:9, a definite foreshadow of the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ). Aaron and his sons (the Levites) were also consecrated and anointed to serve in the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:13).

During the first four decades of the Tabernacle, all of the children of Israel were together in one place in the wilderness to commemorate the Passover. Once they had entered into the good land of Canaan, Jerusalem eventually became the focus of worship, at the time of King David, around 1000 BC. From then onwards, the Feast of Passover was to be held every year in Jerusalem, in accordance with God's word to Moses in Deuteronomy 16:1-8.

The ordinances of the Passover, specified in Exodus chapter 12, state that the lamb was to be examined for four days, to ensure it was without blemish. Then at evening (Jewish days begin at sunset) the lamb was to be slain, its blood applied to the lintels and doorposts and then roasted for sustenance for the Exodus journey.

How is the Passover commemorated today?
Today, the Passover (Seder) meal follows a fairly standard pattern in every Jewish household. There is a 'Haggadah' (which means 'telling', 'portraying', see Galatians 3:1) to guide the proceedings, which is based on four 'Cups'.

At the start, candles are lit and a prayer is offered to bless the First Cup of wine: "Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, the Creator who brings forth the vine from the earth with its fruit" (Genesis 1:11). This First Cup is called the Cup of Sanctification, signifying "I the Lord will bring you out from under the yoke of slavery" (Exodus 6:6); this was God setting the children of Israel apart for Himself.

Next all the participants wash their hands: "Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart" (Psalm 24:3-4). This was probably the point where Jesus washed His disciples' feet (John 13:4-12).

Then each person takes some herbs (usually Parsley) and dips them in salt water and eats them (Matthew 26:23; also, it was probably at this point that Jesus gave the sop to Judas, John 13:26). The salt water and herbs remind all present that the Passover was originally eaten with 'bitter herbs' (Exodus 12:8). The herbs are dipped in salt water to remember the tears as "the Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help went up to God" (Exodus 2:23). In connection with the herbs, the Lord is remembered and blessed as the Creator of the fruits of the earth.

Next, the head of the family takes the middle one of the three flat cakes of unleavened Matzah bread; he breaks it and puts one half aside, wrapped in a white linen cloth. The hidden bread is called the 'Afikomen' (meaning dessert). There are three pieces of bread to remember that the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is One who keeps His covenant; He it is that delivered the children of Israel from bondage (Exodus 6:2-9). But why is it the middle piece that is broken? This is because the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is an indication of the tri-unity of God. Just as Abraham was willing to offer up His "only son" (Genesis 22:2,12), so God the Father willingly offered up His Son, Jesus (John 3:16). Jesus was broken on the cross for our redemption (I Corinthians 11:24) and wrapped in linen for burial (Luke 23:53).

Part of God's purpose in requiring the children of Israel to remember the Passover was to inspire questions from future young generations, for their instruction (Exodus 12:26-27). Children customarily have to ask four questions:

Q. Why tonight?:
A. "A night to remember" (Exodus 12:42)

Q. Why bitter herbs?: 
A. "To remember the anguish of slavery" (Exodus 2:23)

Q. Why dip the bitter herbs in the salt water twice?
A. "It was really bad in slavery, but our HOPE was in God" (Psalm 42:5)

Q. Why do we eat reclining?
A. "Because now we are free to come to God" (Exodus 3:18-20; Galatians 5:1; Matthew 11:28)

The history of the first Passover is read aloud from Exodus chapter 12 and Psalms 113 and 114.
The second cup, the Cup of Plagues is filled and passed round. The ten plagues on Pharoah's Egypt are verbally recounted (Exodus 7:14-12:36):
Cattle Disease!
Death of the Firstborn!

This Cup of Plagues is the last cup before the Passover Lamb is considered (see Luke 22:17).
The climax of the Seder meal should be the festive meal of roast lamb. However, since the Temple no longer stands in Jerusalem (where the Passover lamb was sacrificed), a shankbone is presented as a reminder of the Passover Lamb.
It was after this point that Jesus instituted 'the Lord's Supper'. He took the Afikomen bread (laid aside earlier) and gave thanks (Matthew 26:26): "Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, the Creator Who brings forth bread from the earth", according to the Jewish Haggadah. Then He broke the Afikomen bread and passed round the third cup of wine, called the Cup of Blessing or the Cup of Redemption. Jesus said "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you" (Luke 22:20).
(Incidentally, Jesus' words "this is ..." (Matthew 26:26,28) must mean 'this represents...' since He was Himself there, giving the disiples the bread and wine.)
The final cup of wine, the Cup of Praise, is drunk as the Seder meal concludes with the singing of the remaining 'Halel' (or Hallelujah) Psalms (115-118) and the 'Great Halel', Psalm 136 "God's love endures for ever". These psalms are probably the 'hymn' mentioned in Matthew 26:30. Psalm 116 is particularly pertinent to the Lord's prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39,42).
The final sentence expresses the hope of how next year's Passover will be remembered:

"Next year in Jerusalem!"

The setting of the Lord's Supper at the heart of the Passover meal explains its meaning. Jesus Christ is Himself the Passover lamb, offered up for the redemption and deliverance of His people (I Corinthians 5:7), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The bread and wine speak of His death, and of the new covenant it ratifies, reconciling God and man. Jesus says "Do this in rememberance of Me" (Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11:24-25), telling His disciples that the Passover is fulfilled in Him. Until He comes again (Luke 22:18; I Corinthians 11:26), we are to remember the significance of what He has done for us. (Page authored by Martyn Barrow.)
[ii] For more on the parallels between the Didache and the Jewish Birkat ha-Mazon, see Enrico Mazza, The Celebration of the Eucharist: The Origin of the Rite and the Development of Its Interpretation (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999), esp. pp. 19–26 (where he discusses these parallels) and pp. 307–309 (where he provides translations of the texts).
[iv] Eternity and time PowerPoint (available)
[v] Wilhelm Herrmann, The Communion of the Christian with God (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), pp. 72, 76.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Whoops out pops the weasel . . .

I don't know about you, but I am kind of tired of Christians labeled as stupid simply because they do not buy into political correctness. It's stupid to believe in creationism they say, anyone with just common sense knows that all of this just happened. 

Now, I cannot prove how it happened but I can tell you one thing, it was not the result of some atoms just bumping together long enough to just accidentally get all tangled up and whoops out pops the weasel.

Ah, they say, that's where you are mistaken. Evolution preserves the survival of the fittest and guarantees the very best for the future. Really? Why? Who cares? If all there is,is just atoms and electrons and material stuff that bounced around long enough to do that, pray tell me who made the glue that keeps it all together? Furthermore, why keep it all together if there is no purpose beyond just keeping it together? So, why bother debating such an absurd allegation?

Well, I know that I am preaching to the choir; but, believe-it-or-not I do have a point. 

The point is you simply are wasting your time arguing against willful ignorance. Peter told us that this foolishness would be propagated in the last days, when he wrote:
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: (2 Peter 3:5 AKJV)
So, for me it just makes good sense to believer the author of Hebrews when he writes,
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:3 NIV)
And, that's just the point. We Christians are sometimes just too timid or intellectually lazy to challenge the intellectual integrity of those that propagate these doctrines of men. A friend of mine, Wilson Turner, a professor who taught at Stanford University once remarked in a conversation we had that statistically there are simply not enough zeros that can be added to any number of chances for a random collection of atoms (never mind where they came from) to produce even the most elementary biological cell, much less explain the "accidental" structure of the universe. 

Yours For A Greater End Time Harvest,

P.S. Please continue to pray for and support our ministry in the former Soviet Union and in Southern Asia. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Bigots Among Us . . .

I don’t know about you, but do you sense a lot of bigotry out there among some Christians? I can almost guarantee you that if I mention Billly Graham or Mother Tersa or Pope Francis on a blog that I will get a rash of responses that inform me that they are either headed for Hell or should be since none of them are branded with the right theology.
Billy Graham is New Age. Yeah, can you believe that? I thought that the New Age wave was a thing of the trendy past. Apparently not. He’s New Age they say because he leaves some wiggle room for someone who has never heard the name of Jesus to have a slight chance of getting into Heaven. Never mind that he insist that Jesus is the only door, for these self-appointed purveyors of righteousness it is enough that the door wasn’t opened soon enough. So, unfortunately these poor ignorant souls are left to fry in Hell for ever and ever, world without end. Amen and amen.

And, Mother Teresa, whom I had the privilege to meet and also to closely associate with those that knew her best . . . well, poor Mother Teresa is sizzling away in Hell right now according to some of my fundamentalist buddies. Kind of sad, but they insist on it. Why? Well, because she was Roman Catholic, but primarily because she rigorously insisted that even a Hindu had the right to die in the comforting arms of sisters who really cared—whom she appropriately called the Sisters of Charity. Oh to God that we had more sisters and brothers of charity! Christ’s love was unconditional; so should ours be.

Then there is Pope Francis. I’m not Roman Catholic but much of my theology is similar as is the case for most of us—i.e., the Trinity, the virgin birth, the Resurrection, and so-forth—although, I do have my disagreements; as do all Protestants, or they would not be protesting. 

Nevertheless, I am not prepared to usher them into Hell simply because we have a difference of opinion. My theology is this regards is best described in the words of the following hymn—
My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul, I come to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name,
Salvation through His blood.

My great Physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

—‘No Other Plea’ by Lidie H. Edmunds, 19th Century

Now, I am not so naïve to believe that this is all that is needed to live a fully informed and fruitful Christian life; but I am saying that it is enough.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Retirement is for the birds!

Retirement is for the birds!

We did we ever get the notion that when someone reaches a certain age that they must hang it up and settle into a rocking chair.

I'll be 75 in less than a month. December 3rd to be precise. And, I am not about to retire. Why should I? If we really believe the Bible, as we say we do, then pray tell me where you find the word "retirement" there?

It's not there. Believe me, I’ve checked.

The sad part is that the Church has bought into this worldly idea and made it policy. How ridiculous! Imagine some board or committee of bureaucrats setting one of the Apostles down, say John the Revelator, for instance, and saying, "Well, Brother John, you have reached the ripe old age of 90 so you have got to retire. It's policy. We even committeeized and prayed about it, and we just believe that you must step aside and make room for a new generation. Besides that, you've just about worked yourself to a frazzle, and you need a good long rest! So, here's your social security check, good bye. It's been good to know you."

What foolishness.

Now, if John were half senile, hobbling around on a walker and desperately trying to figure out what all those strange visions he was seeing were, not knowing where he was or what time of the year it was, then, I say, "Okay. John, sit down and let's have a nice long talk about how you need to take full advantage of Medicare advantage policy and just enjoy what little life you have left."

No, I am not being facetious. I am dead serious.

Abraham was 75 before he really got started. Today we would have written him off and shipped him and poor old Sarah off to the adult care center. Caleb? Caleb would not have stood a chance. Give him a mountain? Are you kidding? More likely he would have been handed a room key and shuttle down to the old folks home in Hebron to relax under a fig tree.

My suggestion? Pure and simple. Listen to God before you strategize and mess with someone's ministry. One's call to the ministry and ordination is not for someone to second guess just because a certain age number is reached. I say, quit meddling in God's business.

Not sure how many folks (at least those that need to know) will read or agree with this; but as I say, it is “One Man’s Opinion.”

And, I might add, the correct one at that!   Smile

So, this is just to let you know that we are headed out once again in January, courtesy of partners just like you and the wonderful opportunity to volunteer and channel what little funds we receive through approved AGWM channels.

As a team, you and I are going to make it happen!


P.S. Like to forward this to a friend? Click here!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wood, Hay and Stubble

Staying focused has always been a problem with me. I am absolutely fascinated with almost every aspect of life. Now, that doesn’t mean that I am good at everything that I attempt, but I try.

Language is a good example. A linguist, I am not. But, I have been able to master a passable fluency in a couple of foreign language and have a good basic comprehension of a third. My portfolio of academic experience includes everything from meteorology to naturopathic medicine, and, of course religious studies.

However, he is where the rub comes in. If I have one regret it is that I have spread myself to thin; trying perhaps to be all things to all men. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t enjoyed some of the unusual bypaths that I have taken. It is nice to know a little about weather and medicine. My experience as a weatherman in the U.S. Navy was fabulous, as was my time in hospital work. Fortunately, most of the time I was able to maintain an active ministry, as a sailor preaching in the Philippines, or as director of administration for the Mission of Mercy Hospital in Calcutta.

My regret is that I ~ remember, honest confession is good for the soul ~ have not spent more time on my knees and in searching out the richness of God’s word. Oh, I teach New Testament theology, and Biblical hermeneutics, apologetics, and a few other subjects like world religions and so on; but . . . when it is all said and done, all that really counts is whether or not I have been faithful in reaching my generation for Christ.

That’s it in a nutshell.

So, I along with C.T. Studd, the famous cricketer and missionary, I say:

Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life,’ twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.
(Poem: “Only One Life” by C.T. Studd)