May 24, 2010

Moving

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:19 PM by bethwilson

Well, it’s time.  I am moving my blog over to Blogger.  I was planning to keep it on WordPress, as there’s a lot I like about WordPress.  But, I decided that it would just be easier to have everything (email, blog, etc.) under one thing, so I’m moving.  You can see my new blog here: http://bethwilson90.blogspot.com/.

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March 28, 2010

Bits and Pieces 12: 1 Corinthians and Christian Worldview

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:48 PM by bethwilson

This past week, we had two classes: 1 Corinthians and Christian World View.  Both were challenging.  Challenging is good, but it can also get overwhelming when you have 18+ hours of challenging per week.  That doesn’t leave much time for processing and putting into practice.  🙂  But hopefully the lessons are getting tucked into my head somewhere so they can come out when I need them and have time to process them.  And that’s partly what these posts are for.  So, onto the bits of wisdom from this week:

John MacMurray taught on 1st Corinthians.  I thought he did an excellent job.  It almost seemed like a continuation from Galatians the week before.

  • Be teachable: take new ideas and allow them to examine your grid – don’t simply assume your grid is correct and allow that to examine the new ideas.
  • The fundamental truth about God is that He is a relational Being.  He is one God in three Persons.  He is, at a fundamental level, a Being in relationship, and He has invited us to join in that relationship.
  • Eternal life is to know the only true God and Jesus Christ.  We don’t know the Father – unless Jesus gives us that knowledge.  That’s our fundamental problem.  So we need to help people get into a relationship with God by showing them who God is through our lives.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 – Paul doesn’t thank them for what they’ve done, but for what God has done in them.  He thanks God for what He has done.  The foundational problem the Corinthians had is pride and arrogance.
  • Today in America, the most important thing to Christians is being right.  What happened to loving your neighbor?
  • We think that we can earn our way back to God because our thinking about God is wrong.   When we sinned, we turned and walked away from God, but God hadn’t changed.  What changed?  Our perception of God changed.  There’s no way for us to able to get back to God – God is the one who has to initiate it, because we are blind and lost.
  • The problem of sin is organic.  Our very nature is ‘rotten’ – it’s not just something external that we can fix.  Sin isn’t just something we do, but who we are.  Jesus didn’t come just to forgive our sins, but to change us – to give us a new nature.
  • 1:31 – Paul’s quote assumes we know the whole section of that text.  Taken from Jeremiah 9:23-24: “…let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me…”
  • The true Judge is judged by broken humanity (speaking of Christ’s crucifixion).
  • “The wrath poured out on Calvary didn’t originate in God’s heart, but in ours. … What sin could be more heinous than hating and then murdering God?”
  • Read the Gospels over and over so you can get to know God in Jesus.  See what God is like in how Jesus treats people.  He spent 30 years in a neighborhood and no one knew God was there – He didn’t come with fireworks, parades, etc, but lived as one of them.  He shows most prominently what God is like in how He interacts with people.  When Jesus came, He didn’t go to the middle class of Israel, but to the people on the fringes – lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes.  You aren’t better than anyone else, so stop boasting and care for others.  What are we doing to reach people not like us?
  • 3:10ff – It’s not a doctrinal statement, a creed, or even the Bible that is your foundation; it’s not information, but a person: Jesus.
  • On a side note: Why is so much of nature so unnecessarily beautiful?  Why does everyone see it as beautiful if we just evolved?  It’s not just that nature is beautiful, but that we have the ability to perceive it as beautiful.  This is evidence for a Creator.
  • Pride is the attitude the Corinthians had; reliance on human thinking was their thinking process, and the result is division.
  • God’s wisdom is the way of humility, the way of stooping.
  • Do you want to be humble?  Why?  So people will see that you’re humble?  Humility is when you say, “Lord, I’ll take the low seat – and I’ll stay there.”  Are you staying in the low seat until Jesus calls you up higher?  Or are you trying to manipulate your way into something?  We’ve bought into this idea that we need to ‘be all that we can be’ – grab as much as we can.  But everything we need we already have because God has given it to us.
  • 6:7 – “why not rather be wronged?”  It’s the way of the cross.  What causes conflict?  You think you have been wronged and fight for your rights.  Do you want the conflict to be resolved?  Why not rather be wronged and cheated – follow the way of the cross.
  • 6:12 – “all things are lawful for me…” the slogan of the Corinthians.  This isn’t wrong, but they were abusing that freedom.  Don’t let your freedom become your master.  And don’t let things you can do in your freedom become your master.   Christ is to be Lord over everything you have.  Paul’s freedom is governed by: is it beneficial?  Does it build others up?  Will it master you?
  • A disciple is a learner – one who follows the way of the master.  Jesus’ way is servanthood and sacrifice.  So, our way should be the same: servanthood and sacrifice.
  • The picture he gave for the Trinity is three people facing each other in a circle.  When a person becomes a Christian, he is brought into that circle and loves them (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) like they love each other, and they love him like they love each other.  When another person becomes a Christian, she joins the circle and so loves him and them like they love each other.  So we love other believers like the Trinity loves each other (see John 17:20-23).  God loves us like He loves Jesus.  There is no love in the universe like the love God has for Himself – and He invited you to join them!
  • If people knew the way God loves them, wouldn’t they want a relationship with Him?  Most probably would.  So why am I not spending my energies entering into their darkness and problems and loving them like Christ does so they see His love through me?  Instead we often try to put on a big show so people will be impressed with Jesus.  That’s irrelevant to people.  What would happen if we got into their messes and started to really love them?

The second class this week was on Christian World View.  Mostly, this class opened up my eyes to the people around me – their problems and fears.  How the promises of modernism have failed, and people are much more depressed, suspicious, apathetic, uncertain, etc.  So, anyways, I just wanted to share two videos that they showed in class:

  • “United States of Whatever” – be careful with this song…it just might get stuck in your head!  It’s a kind of funny song…until you realize that it really is representative of what people think today – that nothing really matters.  “Whatever.”
  • “Happy Birthday” – a song written by a rapper to his child that was aborted.

Bits and Pieces 11

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:49 PM by bethwilson

The first two weeks of spring term have just flown by!  The first week back, Brian Reese taught the class on Galatians.  It really challenged my thinking in what it means to have freedom in Christ.  There’s a lot here, but it was all so good I didn’t know what to cut out. 🙂  On to the lessons from Galatians:

  • If your focus is trying to obey or trying not to do certain things, you will be hypocritical – because it’s all about the outward things, sooner or later, you’re going to fake it.  Man cannot be made good by law.  Our mistake is in thinking that what God wants from us is obedience.  He wants to change us into the kind of person who would obey Him.  He wants to change the kind of person I am.
  • There are three “gospels” that are prevalent today:
  • Social gospel: we’re free to do whatever we want; the focus is on poverty and problems in society
  • Ecclesiastical gospel: stay in good standing with your church and you’ll be okay
  • Forgiveness gospel: sin management; a gospel entirely about forgiveness.  If you profess to believe, you won’t get the punishment you deserve, so you’ll get to go to Heaven.  Since this has happened, you should want to obey God – if you don’t, you haven’t proved by your life that you were forgiven.
  • In these three “gospels”, the Gospel becomes simply about justification – it’s all about what you are going to do with your sin and how you are going to get to Heaven.  The Gospel is: Trust Christ.  Trust that He will pay for your sins – you can’t do anything about it.  Trust that He’ll live His life in you now.  Trust Him to teach you how you can live.
  • The Great Commission: to make disciples and immerse them in the reality of the Trinitarian God and teach them to put into practice what Jesus taught.
  • What you really think of Jesus is going to show when you find out you don’t have to do anything to earn His favor.
  • Why is doctrine important?  Because if you know that the Virgin birth took place (for example), it changes your view of the world.  It’s understanding that if you believe miracles can happen, your life is no longer just secular.
  • Christ didn’t die on the cross so you wouldn’t have to.  He died on the cross so you could join Him there.  He wants to change us into the kind of people that want to do what’s right.  He likes us and wants to teach us the best and most exciting way to live.
  • The reason most people haven’t changed is because they don’t see the use of it since they are going to Heaven.  What is your intent?  Are you choosing to become like Christ?  We default to the easy choice of following our high moral rules instead of being transformed inwardly.
  • Does the literal, glorified body of Christ live in me?  We become the hands of Jesus to do what He would do.  We become the mind of Christ to think the thoughts He would think.  What He did and taught while living on the earth, He wants to continue doing and teaching through us (2 Corinthians 4:6,11; Galatians 2:20, 4:19).  He wants to make us into the kind of beings that spontaneously live out His life.
  • You don’t start with Jesus and then graduate to your own efforts – it’s all of Him.
  • What is the evidence of salvation?  To give to the poor (Galatians 2:10; Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 4:17-21).  Ironically, the one thing we most often neglect.  Remembering the poor – practical, financial compassion to the poor right where they are.  It should be the number one commitment of the church.  We are not more like Christ because we do this, but we do this because of His life manifested in us.
  • Legalism produces an attitude of pride.  Grace produces an attitude of humility.  When you serve the poor, you are serving people who can’t do anything in return.
  • We forget who we once were; we think we deserve Jesus and forget where we would be without Him.  Review the Gospels.  He served the poor, outcasts, sinners, the losers and misfits, those entrapped by sin.
  • God has never once bestowed His grace and mercy on anyone who deserved it.
  • Christians are not those without failure, but those with the understanding of how often we fail.  We refuse to let those failures keep us from trying again, and our failures make us more compassionate toward others.
  • We need to pick up our cross and follow Him.  The cross is for death.  Death to my dreams, desires, ambitions, myself.  But knowing what I’m like, it’s a good trade – to die myself and live Christ’s life.
  • Now Christ lives in me.  So embrace the truth (no longer I, but Christ lives in me).  Abide in Him.  We are undertaking to do what we have the power to do so He can do in and through us what we can’t do on our own.  You’re not aiming at obedience; you’re trying to become the kind of person who would obey.  What did you do to be saved?  Nothing.  It’s all of Christ.  The fruits of the Spirit are just that – of the Spirit.  It’s not your fruit that you have to produce.
  • The reason we don’t take on the character of Jesus is simply because we don’t intend to.
  • We need more than simply a list of rules to keep us above the amoral world we live in; do we just need to work harder at it? No.  Do we need to exhort Christians to obey?  Tell them that it’s better to strive to obey out of fear than to not obey at all?  The assumption of legalists is they forget the indelible mark of a Christian: believers love to obey God’s commands because they are not burdensome.  We are literally indwelt with the person of Christ.  Instead of me proving myself to God, God wants to prove Himself to me.  He wants me to love Him and delight in Him and be satisfied with Him.  Because that’s when He is most glorified.  He will perform in you everything that He has demanded of you.
  • We should be the kind of people where others see our lives and thank God for God.
  • You never live contrary to your beliefs, though you may live contrary to your professed beliefs.
  • Christ did not come and die to keep you from having a bad conscience, or to simply wipe out past sins, but to also clear the deck for Divine action.
  • Are we so foolish as to think we can change ourselves by ourselves?  Can we go on to maturity in a different way than we came to Christ?
  • God could have given very clear proofs that He exists and that Jesus is God – He gave sufficient proof, but the Bible never seeks to prove the existence of God, because God is concerned about whenter or not we believe Him, not whether or not we believe in Him.
  • The teachers coming in to the Galatian church taught that trusting Christ wasn’t enough.  If you wanted to stay in a good relationship with God, you needed to obey the Law – or at least the parts they thought were more important.  If you keep the Law by trying to keep the Law, you focus on only outward performance, rather than transforming the kind of person you are.  Trying not to kill anyone isn’t a way to become Christ-like.  Becoming Christ-like makes it so you don’t have to worry about trying to not kill anymore.  If you are striving to become more like Christ and to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, you will do these good things naturally.
  • It’s His promise, not my performance.  When we believe Him, we find that not only are His promises good, but they are the only things that satisfy us.  We begin to see sin as the absolutely foolish choice that it is.
  • So how can we become like Christ?
    1. Get a vision that what God has planned for you is a good thing; form a vision that the life that God has created for you is the absolute best thing that is out there for you.  This is the best bargain ever – giving up yourself in exchange for the wonderful life of Jesus in you.
    2. Have an intention, a decision to do so.  If you don’t have the intention, nothing will happen.
    3. Implement the means.  God’s grace is what helps you to become like Christ.  What are the means to becoming Christ-like?  (We don’t have the means to be patient, but we do have the means to do some things.  Also, we’re not being legalistic about this.  You’re simply attempting to do what is in your power.  If it doesn’t work, that’s fine – that’s the freedom we have.)  The means – some things we can do: memorize Scripture, pray, fast, celebrate and remember what God has done for you, serve others without recognition or return, read the Bible, find a mentor/discipler.  Do the things you are able to do so that He can do in you what you can’t do by your own direct effort.
  • Grace isn’t opposed to your efforts – it’s opposed to your earning (an attitude).
  • The church is not here to teach people how to die.  The church is here to teach people how to live.
  • People won’t remember what you teach, but they will remember how you live.
  • Paul is not saying obedience is legalism.  But just not murdering someone isn’t indicative of what’s in your heart.  It’s a freedom to actively engage with the living Christ in me.  I should actively seek righteousness, not actively seek not to sin. I  begin to see the foolhardiness of sin.
  • You will not drift into spiritual maturity – methodical practice and training is required.
  • Discern between what you do and who you are.  You are His child and He is the one who produces fruit in you.  The genuine fruit in your life is a result of the Spirit – but it comes because of direct effort on your part – but it’s not your effort that produces it.  (In other words, you can’t just do nothing and expect God to give it to you, but you can’t earn it, either.)
  • What Jesus found necessary in His life, you will probably find necessary in your life.  For example, rising early to spend time alone with His Father.
  • If we saw the truth, we would see that sin is like sticking a pencil in your eye.  There’s no need to have a rule about it because no one wants to do it.

March 26, 2010

Fighting Slavery

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:55 PM by bethwilson

For anyone who reads this and doesn’t know yet, I have started up a blog for our group at school that is involved in raising awareness of modern day slavery.  You can view it here.

March 10, 2010

Bits and Pieces 10

Posted in Ecola Bible School, Learning and Growing tagged at 3:35 PM by bethwilson

*Note: I wrote this up yesterday, and it was a really nice, long post – including almost everything from the class.   But, somehow when I posted it, only the first paragraph showed up (and not even all of that)!  I was not able to retrieve any of it, and I didn’t want to spend that much time typing it all out again, so I’m only doing part of what I had before.  But it’s still good material. 🙂

The last class for Winter Term was Apologetics.  This was a kind of crazy week, since it was the last week of school and we finished Thursday morning, with a test at noon on Thursday.  Plus, I had my usual outreach on Tuesday morning (helping with a Good News Club), we had our once a term banquet Tuesday evening with a Film Festival directly following, and a time of Communion and Prayer on Wednesday afternoon.  In addition to all that, we had to get our homework (a 2-3 page essay critiquing the statement: That may well be true for you, but it is not true for me) done by Wednesday morning.  And, we didn’t find out about that till our first class Monday evening!  So basically, I had two chunks of time to work on the homework: after dorm meetings (which end around 9:30 PM) on Monday till whenever I decided to call it quits for the night, and after the Film Festival Tuesday night (which ended around 9 or 9:30 PM).  Well, the paper got done, but it wasn’t one of my best.  Anyways, this was a pretty intense class; the teacher was Dr. Robert W. Evans.  He is a very intelligent man (which also added to the pressure of the paper) and has two Ph.D.s!!  This page lists all his many accomplishments.  Now on to some of the main topics of the class:

  • Principles of Reality.  (This is pretty deep…get your thinking caps on!)  There are twelve basic first principles:
    1. Being is: The principle of existence.
      • To deny this establishes my own existence.
    2. Being is Being: The principle of identity.
      • A thing must be identical to itself.  If not, it’s something else.
    3. Being is not Nonbeing: The principle of noncontradiction
      • Because those are opposites – it either is or it isn’t – it can’t be both.
      • Opposite statements cannot both be true.  If you say they can, you can’t say that the statement you just made is true.  You can’t have two mutually exclusive things both be true.
    4. Either Being or Non Being: The principle of the excluded middle.
      • If opposites can’t both be true, only one can be true.
    5. Nonbeing cannot cause Being: The principle of causality
      • If something doesn’t exist, it can’t make something else.
      • If the universe always was, we wouldn’t be here (infinite regression), so at one point there was nothing (this means the universe is a contingent being), which means at some point there had to be an eternal being to create us.
    6. Contingent Being cannot cause Contingent Being: The principle of contingency or dependence
      • Something that could not be anything can not create something else that could not have been.  (A contingent being is something that doesn’t need to exist.)
    7. Only Necessary Being can cause a Contingent Being: The positive principle of modality
      • Only something that must necessarily be can create everything that could not have been.
    8. Necessary Being cannot cause a Necessary Being: The negative principle of modality
      • A necessary being must be, so it can’t be caused, or it would have not been needed, so it would be a contingent being.
      • (Thus God is the only necessary being and you can’t have more than one God.)
    9. Every Contingent Being is caused by a Necessary Being: The principle of existential causality
      • All contingent beings need a reason for existing.
    10. Necessary Being Exists: The principle of existential necessity
      • Because of (9), a necessary being must exist.  Because contingent being exist, thus a necessary being (God) must exist to create all the contingent beings.
      • “I think, therefore God is.”
    11. Contingent Being Exists: The principle of existential contingency
      • If there wasn’t a God, we wouldn’t be here.
    12. Necessary Being is similar to similar Contingent Being(s) it causes: The principle of analogy
      • A necessary being must itself possess what it creates. (E.g. It must have the capacity for love in order to create love.)
      • So does God have sin?  No.  We share the freedom to choose.  God chooses not to sin; we have freedom to choose to love Him (coerced love is not love).
      • Argument for the Trinity: God would have to have the capacity for relationship in order to make humans with that capacity, but it has to be contained in Himself or else He would be dependent on something else and thus not God.
  • Reliability of the New Testament:
    • Julius Caesar’s Gallic War has 9-10 copies; the most documented piece of ancient literature (other than the Bible) is the Iliad which has 643 manuscripts.  No one calls their fidelity into question.  The New Testament (Greek copies alone) has 5,686 partial and complete manuscripts copied by hand.  If you include manuscripts from other languages, there are more than 14,000 copies.  And if you include all quotations of the New Testament there are 36,000 in the first 200 years.  You could reconstruct the entire New Testament (except for eleven verses) from these quotes.
    • Older manuscripts are better because they are closer to the original.  A distance of 1000 years is considered good in ancient literature.  It’s rare that there would be a copy within 500 year (for example, Homer’s Odyssey).  Most of the New Testament (NT) manuscripts were within 200 years – some within the first 100 years, and some within 40 years!  The entire NT in book form is found within 100 years of the original!
    • The NT is also the most accurate of ancient literature.  Homer’s Iliad is 95% accurate, while the NT is 99.9% accurate.  Most of the errors are variants in readings that get perpetuated by copies (each copy is counted as an error instead of one error faithfully and accurately copied).  Nearly all these mistakes are grammatical errors.  According to Philip Schaff, of about 150,000 variants, only 400 actually changed the meaning of the passage.  Only 50 of those were significant, and of those, not even one has any doctrinal importance.
  • Miscellaneous Items for Your Consideration:
    • “Far more people are going to be loved into the kingdom of God than will be argued in.”
    • When you get into a debate with someone, first restate their argument to ensure you correctly understand their position.
    • The statement: “There’s no such thing as truth” is a self-defeating statement.  You have to exclude that statement from your claim.
    • The naturalistic explanation for the universe is that given enough time it could happen.  But the problems with that: where did the original elements come from?  Where did matter, space and energy come from?  Even granted those, with more time (unless there’s design), there’s just more chaos.  It gives more time for things to go wrong.
    • We have to give science a break.  It is trying to get the most plausible, naturalistic explanations to explain observable events.  They can’t do naturalistic investigations and end up with a supernatural explanation.  They are trying to explain how the universe began without being allowed to say that God created it.  It’s kind of like asking someone to tell you what 2+2 is if there is no such number as 4.
    • There are two central tenants of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:3-5): Christ died (Scriptural evidence: the Bible; scientific evidence: he was buried); and Christ was raised (Scriptural evidence: the Bible; scientific evidence: he was seen by many people).
    • In the last class, he referred to the multiple choice exam as a “multiple guess” exam. 🙂

Well even this turned out pretty long, so you can imagine how much I left out!  Now that I’m finally caught up, I get to finish up my taxes and enjoy the last few days of spring break, while looking forward to learning more from God’s Word starting Monday!

Bits and Pieces 9

Posted in Ecola Bible School, Learning and Growing tagged , at 12:47 AM by bethwilson

John and Hebrews both in one week!  How exciting!!  Before the week even started, my roommates and I agreed that this would probably be the best week of classes, and for the most part, we weren’t disappointed.  So, here are some tidbits from those classes.  (By the way, just to be clear, I am not writing this all down from memory,  but looking back through my notes to find what caught/catches my eye. 🙂 )

  • Dr. Rich Hall taught the Gospel of John.
    • John can give us the clues of how to have a close, intimate relationship with God – he knows from experience, and it shows in his writings.
    • “Martin Luther once said, ‘This is the unique, tender, genuine chief Gospel… Should a tyrant succeed in destroying the Holy Scriptures and only a single copy of the Epistle to the Romans and the Gospel According to John escape him, Christianity would be saved.'”
    • “Augustine said, ‘Thou hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.'”
    • “John R. W. Stott says that unbelievers need to be confronted with authentic Christianity: ‘Authentic Christianity – the Christianity of Christ and the apostles – is supernatural Christianity.  It is not a tame and harmless ethic, consisting of a few moral platitudes, spiced with a dash of religion.  It is rather a resurrection religion, a life by the power of God.'”
    • We need to be “restfully available, instantly obedient.”
    • There’s no impact on others without contact.
    • God knows the kind of test you need and what the best time for that test is.
    • Notice how Jesus accepted Judas and loved him, even though he know – for three years – what he would do.
    • “William Barclay has some fine insight: ‘It is the place of Judas at the table that is of special interest to the reader. … He must have been sitting on Jesus’ left… And the most revealing thing about all this is that the place on the left of the host was the place of highest honor, kept for the most intimate friend.  For the host to offer the guest a special tidbit or morsel from the dish, was again a sign of special friendship.'”
    • “Ray Stedman: ‘When our Lord says, “abide in Me,” He is talking about the will, about the choices, the decisions we make.  We must decide to do the things which expose ourselves to Him and keep ourselves in contact with Him.'”
    • “If my life is fruitful, it doesn’t matter who criticizes me; if my life is fruitless, it doesn’t matter who praises me.”
  • Bryan Hurlbutt (as he said, “Yes, that is my name”) taught the book of Hebrews.  He did a wonderful job, and is probably one of the teachers that I will want CDs of his classes.  He didn’t try to edge around the truth, but spoke it out clearly and boldly – kind of like Pastor Whipple. 🙂
    • The only place in the Bible we have a definition of eternal life is in John 17:3, where it says that eternal life is to know God.  This knowledge is not just a mental ability to recite facts, but an interactive relationship, interacting on an appropriate level of thought and experience.  Knowing God involves living out the ‘facts’ you know.  Knowledge and belief are degreed properties – you don’t just know it or not know it – you can keep growing in these areas.  In fact, discipleship is growing in degrees of belief and knowledge.
    • Hebrews is about the supremacy of Christ.
    • This letter “serves as a call not merely to make a decision for Christ (i.e. receive Him as your savior, receive the gift of eternal life, etc…) but to subjugate your life to His supremacy and align your purpose and plans with His person and principles.”
    • If you’re coming to God for something (i.e. for peace), you’re misunderstanding it.  God should be ultimate, not a means to an end.
    • The recipients of the letter were “Jewish Christians or at least perceived Christians…. I call them [this] because as a good preacher, the author operates on the assumption that they are what they say they are, namely Christians.  But really he is not certain, and so the point of the letter is really to press them to live out that faith and so authenticate it.”
    • Hebrews is a letter, but it’s form is really a written sermon.
    • The warnings in the book of Hebrews are like a parent’s warning of danger to their child.  They are not intended to be assessments, but “rhetorical devices that serve as a means of perseverance and obedience.”  If they ignore the warnings, they are showing the state of their souls, not changing the state of their souls.
    • The Bible was not written to me, although it was written for me.
    • God is in control – He has His best in mind, which sometimes/often results in our felt needs being met, but not always – that’s not His main goal.
    • The Puritans had a saying: “God loveth adverbs.”  Why?  Because we are a people consumed with verbs – what we do.  God cares about how and why we do what we do.  Adverbs give meaning to verbs.  Do things for God’s glory and to enjoy Him forever.
    • 2:9 – He died for everyone – “for” implies substitutionary atonement.  He bore my sin in my place (see Romans 3:21-27 also).  One of the problems of the Emergent Church is the idea that substitutionary atonement is divine child abuse.  If you reject this, you reject the whole gospel and it is reduced to morality, which doesn’t save you.
    • 2:14 – “…destroy the one…” – destroy -> rendered useless – not completely annihilated.  Its power over you is not now what it once was because of Christ’s death.
    • 2:15 – now that we are no longer slaves to sin, we are free to please God – we are free to do what we ought.  It’s impossible to exult in this if we don’t understand the chains we were in before.  How should you respond to your sin?  “God, thank You for showing me the sin, and thank You that You still accept me and love me.  Please give me the grace to live.  Help me see what I need to do with Your strength.”   Sin is a diagnostic tool to show what is hidden in your deep.
    • What are the implications of Jesus’ supremacy in your life?  1) Renewal – a change from the inside out (one of the unique things about Christianity) 2) Resources – He has all the resources you need to please Him. 3) Responsibility.
    • “Reading romance novels is emotional porn.”
    • “The New Testament knows nothing of believers who are not involved in community – in a local church.”  Communal life is a life of accountability with transparent, even brutal honesty.  You can’t fulfill all of the New Testament commands without being in a local church
    • Are you going to hold firmly to what you profess?  (Not what you possess – implying that you can lose your salvation.)
    • Grace is God’s power working in your life.  What does it show up as?  As a sinner, to rescue me from punishment; as a believer, to change my life.  So we are always in need of grace. “I come to Jesus Christ by grace, and I live the Christian life by grace.”
    • We run into the danger of getting distracted from the focus on glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.  Are you spending your life pursuing things other than the Gospel?  Turn your life to the Gospel – everything else will burn.
    • 5:14 – the mature have formed habits.  We need to form healthy habits – they affect our soul.  “Trained” is used of athletes who were focused on the goal and stripped of any encumbrances.  The mature lay aside encumbrances or distractions in a singular focus on God.
    • God should not be your “number one priority” (a linear list with God at the top) – this makes it seem like you can “do God” and then “do family.”  Instead, your whole life should be focused on God (a circle with God at the center).
    • The Hebrews weren’t ready for this discussion because they had been lazy with their souls.  If we aren’t training our souls, there are things we won’t have the capacity to understand.  You must do the spiritual disciplines today so that you can one day accomplish by direct effort what you cannot now accomplish by direct effort.
    • God’s will is a moral question, not merely a directional question.  Form your soul before you ask what God wants you to do with your life so that you will be ready to hear.
    • 6:4-12 – The question is not, “If you’re in Jesus, will you stay in Jesus?”  because it doesn’t depend on you, but on God and His power.  Instead, the question is, “Are you really in Jesus?”  If you can lose your salvation, then you have to work to keep your salvation.  It’s all a gift.  In this passage, the writer is saying that it looks like they have all these things, so he’s encouraging them to make their profession their possession.  Some important observations:
      • Your salvation is secure (John 6:39; Romans 8:30, 35-39 etc.)
      • Your practice says something about your profession (John 14:15).
      • True Christians will not completely abandon the faith by rejecting Christ (1 John 2:19).
      • Those who do not press on in faith evidence the fact that they were never true Christians (the whole point of Hebrews).
      • The author’s warning is from a pastor who is assuming that their profession is true but is using the warning as a rhetorical device of the strongest means to urge them to press on in their faith.
    • Hebrews 7:4-10 – Bryan brought up the interesting idea that the soul is descended from our ancestors – similar to how physical attributes come from our ancestors.  In this case, the ‘soulishness’ of Levi is descended from Abraham.
    • The Law was set aside because it couldn’t rejuvenate the soul – it can’t make perfect.  The Law can’t renovate the heart, but Christ can.
    • 7:22-25 – Because Jesus lives forever, all our sins are forgiven – past, present and future.  If we could lose our salvation, then our future sins aren’t forgiven.  Also, since Jesus lives forever, we are assured of eternal security.
    • Work from our theology down to our life, not vice versa.
    • We must ask for forgiveness because the quality – not the existence – of our relationship with God is affected.
    • The Old Covenant was a bilateral agreement.  The New Covenant is a unilateral agreement; it is simply granted without any requirement from the other party.  All of it is contingent on and comes from God.
    • “The chief end of man is not to save his own skin and do the best he can.”
    • It’s important to note what we are being saved to (serving God) and not just what we are being saved from.
    • “True love doesn’t let people swim in sin.”
    • 12:1-2 – The crowd of witnesses are not watching us – their eyes are on turned to Christ.  Why would we run better for them anyway?  We run for Jesus.
    • A lot of times in our lives, we’re ready to do the “big” things for Christ, but we aren’t serving Him in the little things.
    • Whatever is in your life, God allowed to come into it – so we should ask ourselves and God why He allowed it in.
    • Conclusion: Keep the supremacy of Christ constantly before you.  Don’t take your eyes off of Jesus.  He’s the only reason you should do anything in your life.

As you can see, there was a lot in the Hebrews class.  Really, too much to grasp well in one week…which is why I want to get the CDs for that class. 🙂  Okay, just one class left from Winter Term.

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