Logos tou Theou

The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into him, that they may delight in his presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God himself in the core and center of their hearts.
-A.W. Tozer
___________________________

I am going to start off by making it very clear that I do not have all the answers. I don’t even have all the questions for that matter. But one thing I do have is a growing love for the ancient words of the New Testament. I am finishing up my third semester of Ancient Greek, which I decided to cram into two weeks. Things have been pretty crazy, but it has also been awesome just to be engulfed in the original language of Gospel according to John (of which we are translating about 40%).

Yet, those opening words of John’s still ring most powerfully in my mind: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and not one things came into being without him. That which came into being through him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [or overcome] it.”

It’s interesting that John calls Jesus “The Word”. Through the word of God, he made all things. The Word of God was, is, and forever will be. Once a word is spoken by God it rings throughout eternity, for he is not bound by time or space, and neither is his word. But the word, which is powerful and eternal, became flesh and pitched his tent among us.

The Word entered into time and space. The Word became hungry and tired. He thirsted, he sweat, he cried, he bled, he died. But death itself, the ultimate unknown, could not comprehend the light of God’s Word. Death itself, the ultimate realm of darkness, could not overcome the light of God’s Word. The Word, though bound by time and space, still had authority over all things which he created. The Word continued to have power over time, space, and natural laws which He had set in motion from the beginning. No one could shut the Word up, but he chose to silence himself before Pilate. No one took the life out of him, but he gave it up so that we might have life eternally.

The Word spoke to thousands but was heard by only a few, and those few have gone through the trouble of bringing the Word to us that we may know him. The Word became flesh, not paper and ink, but the words and deeds of the Word have been preserved through paper and ink for us to hear and obey.

Are you listening?

Logos tou Theou

The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into him, that they may delight in his presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God himself in the core and center of their hearts.
-A.W. Tozer
___________________________

I am going to start off by making it very clear that I do not have all the answers. I don’t even have all the questions for that matter. But one thing I do have is a growing love for the ancient words of the New Testament. I am finishing up my third semester of Ancient Greek, which I decided to cram into two weeks. Things have been pretty crazy, but it has also been awesome just to be engulfed in the original language of Gospel according to John (of which we are translating about 40%).

Yet, those opening words of John’s still ring most powerfully in my mind: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and not one things came into being without him. That which came into being through him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [or overcome] it.”

It’s interesting that John calls Jesus “The Word”. Through the word of God, he made all things. The Word of God was, is, and forever will be. Once a word is spoken by God it rings throughout eternity, for he is not bound by time or space, and neither is his word. But the word, which is powerful and eternal, became flesh and pitched his tent among us.

The Word entered into time and space. The Word became hungry and tired. He thirsted, he sweat, he cried, he bled, he died. But death itself, the ultimate unknown, could not comprehend the light of God’s Word. Death itself, the ultimate realm of darkness, could not overcome the light of God’s Word. The Word, though bound by time and space, still had authority over all things which he created. The Word continued to have power over time, space, and natural laws which He had set in motion from the beginning. No one could shut the Word up, but he chose to silence himself before Pilate. No one took the life out of him, but he gave it up so that we might have life eternally.

The Word spoke to thousands but was heard by only a few, and those few have gone through the trouble of bringing the Word to us that we may know him. The Word became flesh, not paper and ink, but the words and deeds of the Word have been preserved through paper and ink for us to hear and obey.

Are you listening?

Going home…

This is going to be one of my more personal posts which I have written thus far.

I must say that I am slightly nervous about going back home from college when I finish up with my two-week course next Friday.

I’m not nervous because of my wedding that will be coming up two weeks after I get home. I’m extremely excited about that. It’s going to be amazing.

What I am nervous about is the church situation back home. I have been observing things from 300 miles away, only getting bits and pieces of what’s going on in Columbia. And from what I have seen and heard, especially of what has happened over the past few months, faithful Christians, whom I have come to respect greatly, have not been acting very Christ-like toward fellow believers. They believe they they are more right, or more correct in their interpretation of the Bible than other Christians – and they very likely are. But the situation has gotten out of hand.

It appears that instead of going to a brother one on one like we are commanded to (Mt 18:15), and teaching the truth in love (Eph 4:15), they have resorted to posting comments on blogs and publishing misleading information in church bulletins for all their congregation to read. They are most likely correct in their stance on scripture, but they have been using that knowledge in a very non-Christ-like manner (in my opinion). A slight few (one or two, mostly the more immature of the ones) have even posted comments that were downright judgmental, condemning, and borderline hateful. They seemed to add a pinch of pride and self-righteousness to their comments (which I know is condemned more than “not being baptized”).

Now I feel like I am stooping to their level. I am just very upset and disappointed, which is why I am nervous about going home. I just don’t want this summer to be full of controversy and cynicism.

I guess the real reason I am writing this is that I ask everyone who reads this to pray for me. Pray that I may be calm and composed when I go back home. Pray that I may do what God would ask of me in handling this situation, and that in whatever he may lead me to do, I do it with love, patience, sincerity, and humility. Pray also that I have the strength to stand firm in what I believe and that I may not be tossed and pulled in all sorts of directions, nor will I be forced to pick a “side”.

Thank you. Your prayers and suggestions are highly appreciated.

Going home…

This is going to be one of my more personal posts which I have written thus far.

I must say that I am slightly nervous about going back home from college when I finish up with my two-week course next Friday.

I’m not nervous because of my wedding that will be coming up two weeks after I get home. I’m extremely excited about that. It’s going to be amazing.

What I am nervous about is the church situation back home. I have been observing things from 300 miles away, only getting bits and pieces of what’s going on in Columbia. And from what I have seen and heard, especially of what has happened over the past few months, faithful Christians, whom I have come to respect greatly, have not been acting very Christ-like toward fellow believers. They believe they they are more right, or more correct in their interpretation of the Bible than other Christians – and they very likely are. But the situation has gotten out of hand.

It appears that instead of going to a brother one on one like we are commanded to (Mt 18:15), and teaching the truth in love (Eph 4:15), they have resorted to posting comments on blogs and publishing misleading information in church bulletins for all their congregation to read. They are most likely correct in their stance on scripture, but they have been using that knowledge in a very non-Christ-like manner (in my opinion). A slight few (one or two, mostly the more immature of the ones) have even posted comments that were downright judgmental, condemning, and borderline hateful. They seemed to add a pinch of pride and self-righteousness to their comments (which I know is condemned more than “not being baptized”).

Now I feel like I am stooping to their level. I am just very upset and disappointed, which is why I am nervous about going home. I just don’t want this summer to be full of controversy and cynicism.

I guess the real reason I am writing this is that I ask everyone who reads this to pray for me. Pray that I may be calm and composed when I go back home. Pray that I may do what God would ask of me in handling this situation, and that in whatever he may lead me to do, I do it with love, patience, sincerity, and humility. Pray also that I have the strength to stand firm in what I believe and that I may not be tossed and pulled in all sorts of directions, nor will I be forced to pick a “side”.

Thank you. Your prayers and suggestions are highly appreciated.

"Jesus Christ" by Brand New

Brand New has been my favorite band for a very long time now. Their newest album is titled The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, and it is simply outstanding in my opinion. They are not a Christian band, by any means, but this album has quite a spiritual overtone to it. This song really got to me and continues to be my favorite song of theirs. I feel like the writer is just being real with Jesus. He doesn’t have everything together. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen to him. But he’s trying to be real and not hold back. This is exactly how I feel sometimes, but I know that it will be OK because of his love for me.
____________________________

Jesus Christ, that’s a pretty face,
The kind you’d find on someone that could save.
If they don’t put me away,
Well, it’ll be a miracle

Do you believe you’re missing out
That everything good is happening somewhere else?
But with nobody in your bed
The night’s hard to get through.

And I will die all alone,
And when I arrive I won’t know anyone

Well, Jesus Christ, I’m alone again.
So what did you do those three days you were dead?
’cause this problem’s gonna last more than the weekend.

Well, Jesus Christ, I’m not scared to die,
I’m a little bit scared of what comes after.
Do I get the gold chariot?
Do I float through the ceiling?

Do I divide and fall apart?
’cause my bright is too slight to hold back all my dark.
And the ship went down in sight of land.
And at the gates does Thomas ask to see my hands?

I know you’ll come in the night like a thief,
But I’ve had some time, O Lord, to hone my lying technique.
I know you think that I’m someone you can trust,
But I’m scared I’ll get scared, and I swear I’ll try to nail you back up.

So do you think that we could work out a sign,
So I’ll know it’s you and that it’s over so I won’t even try.

I know you’re coming for the people like me,
But we all got wood and nails
And we turn out hate in factories.
We all got wood and nails
And we turn out hate in factories.
We all got wood and nails
And we sleep inside of this machine.

"Jesus Christ" by Brand New

Brand New has been my favorite band for a very long time now. Their newest album is titled The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, and it is simply outstanding in my opinion. They are not a Christian band, by any means, but this album has quite a spiritual overtone to it. This song really got to me and continues to be my favorite song of theirs. I feel like the writer is just being real with Jesus. He doesn’t have everything together. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen to him. But he’s trying to be real and not hold back. This is exactly how I feel sometimes, but I know that it will be OK because of his love for me.
____________________________

Jesus Christ, that’s a pretty face,
The kind you’d find on someone that could save.
If they don’t put me away,
Well, it’ll be a miracle

Do you believe you’re missing out
That everything good is happening somewhere else?
But with nobody in your bed
The night’s hard to get through.

And I will die all alone,
And when I arrive I won’t know anyone

Well, Jesus Christ, I’m alone again.
So what did you do those three days you were dead?
’cause this problem’s gonna last more than the weekend.

Well, Jesus Christ, I’m not scared to die,
I’m a little bit scared of what comes after.
Do I get the gold chariot?
Do I float through the ceiling?

Do I divide and fall apart?
’cause my bright is too slight to hold back all my dark.
And the ship went down in sight of land.
And at the gates does Thomas ask to see my hands?

I know you’ll come in the night like a thief,
But I’ve had some time, O Lord, to hone my lying technique.
I know you think that I’m someone you can trust,
But I’m scared I’ll get scared, and I swear I’ll try to nail you back up.

So do you think that we could work out a sign,
So I’ll know it’s you and that it’s over so I won’t even try.

I know you’re coming for the people like me,
But we all got wood and nails
And we turn out hate in factories.
We all got wood and nails
And we turn out hate in factories.
We all got wood and nails
And we sleep inside of this machine.

What if…

What if…there were no heaven?
Is God still worth our time? Would you still devote your life to him? Would he still be great? Would Jesus’ sacrifice be worth anything? What would we have to live for? What would we have to die for? Would any of the debates over instruments, baptism, women’s roles, predestination, etc. have any point to them?

This is a question I have been wrestling with for a while. What if heaven were not intended to be the end goal of the Christian life? What if we stopped worrying about what things will and won’t get us to heaven, and instead started focusing more on how God’s kingdom could be spread here on earth?

So what if there were no heaven? I pray that we would all still be able to abide by the two greatest commands, “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Could we still do that? Would we still do that? I hope so.

I have come to think that maybe (and this is simply a possible suggestion) when the New Testament authors discuss salvation, they may not be simply talking about something to long for after we die. Maybe, just maybe, salvation also includes (maybe even exclusively in some instances) the transformation of our lives right here on earth, to the effect that we make the world around us better just by having lived in it. This business of loving one’s neighbor, loving one’s enemies, humbling oneself, regarding others as more important than oneself, treating others the way oneself wants to be treated, turning the other cheek, going the second mile, being meek, peaceful, pure in heart, compassionate, forgiving, patient, and the list goes one. Maybe all these instructions are not in order to get us to heaven but to get heaven to us.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he prayed that God’s kingdom would come. The prayer is in traditional Hebrew parallel-style poetry, so the next lines explain exactly how God’s kingdom would come: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We will know that God’s kingdom has come when his will is done on earth as it is in heaven. It’s not about our getting to heaven, but about heaven getting to us.

Don’t try to read into this more than what I am saying. I am NOT saying that heaven is not a worthy goal, and I am not saying that we should assume that every time salvation is discussed in the New Testament that the author is not referring to the afterlife, because he may indeed. I’m simply trying to raise the issue of whether or not heaven should be our primary focus in this life or if we are to have our focus on bringing heaven to those around us here on earth.

Maybe if we live on earth as if we were in heaven, then we may be more prepared for our place with God after this life is over. But why do we have to wait until we die to live daily in the presence of God? Why do we have to die before we see Jesus? Why do we have to die before we can be called sons of God? Why do we have to die before we are immersed in the light of the Son? Why do we have to die before we continually cry out to God, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!”?

We don’t have to wait until we die. We have that opportunity right now! Stop waiting around, worrying about the tomorrow that may never come, and start actively seeking the kingdom of God first in whatever you do. Then “all these things” will fall into place.

What if…

What if…there were no heaven?
Is God still worth our time? Would you still devote your life to him? Would he still be great? Would Jesus’ sacrifice be worth anything? What would we have to live for? What would we have to die for? Would any of the debates over instruments, baptism, women’s roles, predestination, etc. have any point to them?

This is a question I have been wrestling with for a while. What if heaven were not intended to be the end goal of the Christian life? What if we stopped worrying about what things will and won’t get us to heaven, and instead started focusing more on how God’s kingdom could be spread here on earth?

So what if there were no heaven? I pray that we would all still be able to abide by the two greatest commands, “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Could we still do that? Would we still do that? I hope so.

I have come to think that maybe (and this is simply a possible suggestion) when the New Testament authors discuss salvation, they may not be simply talking about something to long for after we die. Maybe, just maybe, salvation also includes (maybe even exclusively in some instances) the transformation of our lives right here on earth, to the effect that we make the world around us better just by having lived in it. This business of loving one’s neighbor, loving one’s enemies, humbling oneself, regarding others as more important than oneself, treating others the way oneself wants to be treated, turning the other cheek, going the second mile, being meek, peaceful, pure in heart, compassionate, forgiving, patient, and the list goes one. Maybe all these instructions are not in order to get us to heaven but to get heaven to us.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he prayed that God’s kingdom would come. The prayer is in traditional Hebrew parallel-style poetry, so the next lines explain exactly how God’s kingdom would come: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We will know that God’s kingdom has come when his will is done on earth as it is in heaven. It’s not about our getting to heaven, but about heaven getting to us.

Don’t try to read into this more than what I am saying. I am NOT saying that heaven is not a worthy goal, and I am not saying that we should assume that every time salvation is discussed in the New Testament that the author is not referring to the afterlife, because he may indeed. I’m simply trying to raise the issue of whether or not heaven should be our primary focus in this life or if we are to have our focus on bringing heaven to those around us here on earth.

Maybe if we live on earth as if we were in heaven, then we may be more prepared for our place with God after this life is over. But why do we have to wait until we die to live daily in the presence of God? Why do we have to die before we see Jesus? Why do we have to die before we can be called sons of God? Why do we have to die before we are immersed in the light of the Son? Why do we have to die before we continually cry out to God, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!”?

We don’t have to wait until we die. We have that opportunity right now! Stop waiting around, worrying about the tomorrow that may never come, and start actively seeking the kingdom of God first in whatever you do. Then “all these things” will fall into place.

Communion, part C: Some (maybe not so) Final Thoughts

So the question then is, what should we do? I must say, that I do not know. We have become so far removed from the setting of the first century worship assembly that it would be nearly impossible to take the meal as they did week after week. Instead of smaller groups of believers meeting in each others homes to share a meal, including the Lord’s Supper at the end, we have thousand-member congregations sitting in pews, staring at the floor or at the back of their sister’s head.

I’m not suggesting to completely rid ourselves of these “mega-church” type settings. I find it very encouraging to worship in one place at one time with hundreds or thousands of fellow believers. However, this type of setting is not easily conducive to the spirit of the Lord’s Supper. So what can be done?

Here are a few suggestions that others and I have brainstormed:

  • While the communion trays are passed, instead of sitting silently by yourself, have everyone in the congregation turn to their neighbors (2 or 3 friends/family members) and remember Christ together. Share stories about how the resurrection of Christ has changed your life. Reminisce about times that God has shown his love to you. Laugh, have fun, get excited because you are a part of the greatest story of redemption the world has ever known!
  • Or maybe we should periodically have fellowship meals following the service, in potluck style like they were obviously doing in Corinth. At the end of the meal, before anybody leaves, we could break bread and pass the cup in remembrance and thanksgiving.
  • Or, should we not do communion at all during the morning service and wait until Sunday night when we could meet as families in each other’s homes to have food, fellowship, and communion in a more intimate setting. (We would make arrangements on Sunday morning for those unable to attend a Sunday night small group)

Let me know what you think, and if you have other suggestions based off the discussion then please let me know.

Communion, part C: Some (maybe not so) Final Thoughts

So the question then is, what should we do? I must say, that I do not know. We have become so far removed from the setting of the first century worship assembly that it would be nearly impossible to take the meal as they did week after week. Instead of smaller groups of believers meeting in each others homes to share a meal, including the Lord’s Supper at the end, we have thousand-member congregations sitting in pews, staring at the floor or at the back of their sister’s head.

I’m not suggesting to completely rid ourselves of these “mega-church” type settings. I find it very encouraging to worship in one place at one time with hundreds or thousands of fellow believers. However, this type of setting is not easily conducive to the spirit of the Lord’s Supper. So what can be done?

Here are a few suggestions that others and I have brainstormed:

  • While the communion trays are passed, instead of sitting silently by yourself, have everyone in the congregation turn to their neighbors (2 or 3 friends/family members) and remember Christ together. Share stories about how the resurrection of Christ has changed your life. Reminisce about times that God has shown his love to you. Laugh, have fun, get excited because you are a part of the greatest story of redemption the world has ever known!
  • Or maybe we should periodically have fellowship meals following the service, in potluck style like they were obviously doing in Corinth. At the end of the meal, before anybody leaves, we could break bread and pass the cup in remembrance and thanksgiving.
  • Or, should we not do communion at all during the morning service and wait until Sunday night when we could meet as families in each other’s homes to have food, fellowship, and communion in a more intimate setting. (We would make arrangements on Sunday morning for those unable to attend a Sunday night small group)

Let me know what you think, and if you have other suggestions based off the discussion then please let me know.