Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

The Bible’s Role in Politics

December 26, 2008

Here is a quick (5 min) video showing the undergirding of America politics and how the Bible has influenced our politics.

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Hebrews as a bridge

December 24, 2007

These reflections come from Gareth Lee Cockrill’s book titled “Guidebook for Pilgrims to the Heavenly City”

Have you ever thought of using the book of Hebrews to bridge a Muslim’s Hajj? Guidebook for Pilgrims to the Heavenly City does just that. The author of Hebrews uses language and analogies for a journey, or reaching a city (The New Jerusalem, Heaven). What a great way to attract people whose tradition compels them to take such a journey. This method is unique, because it so easily contextualizes the entire book of Hebrews into the Islamic culture. Cockrill’s rendition of this bridge is written primarily to an audience bent on one day going to Mecca, or have already taken the Hajj. Here is a short overview; use this to be intrigued, but read the book if you want to use the strategy.

Part One: The Pilgrim Road (Hebrews 10:32 – 12:29)


Introduction to Part One
(Hebrews 10:32-39)
This section of Hebrews clearly describes the life of faith as a pilgrimage to heaven. The writer of Hebrews assumes that we are asking the question, “Why should we continue in this pilgrimage when we face suffering?” Introduces Part One

Called to be a Pilgrim (Hebrews 11:1-22)
True pilgrims trust God’s promises of future blessing and believe that He is active in their daily lives. By his example Abraham calls us to have this faith and make our pilgrimage to the Heavenly City. From his life we learn that pilgrimage means leaving the things of this world and pursuing the heavenly goal. Like Abraham we may face opposition, but it is vital that we persevere to the end of our journey.

Endure Suffering (Hebrews 11:23-40)
Moses, like Abraham, was a pilgrim to the Heavenly City. Since Moses was willing to leave the horded treasures of Egypt for the eternal homeland, he reminds us of the unsurpassed value of our destination. His courage in face of opposition inspires us to be courageous . God’s deliverance of many encourages us to persevere. Our resolve is strengthened by remembering those faithful pilgrims who have had to suffer persecution and death for their faith. We know that victory will be theirs in the resurrection. Because of Jesus the Messiah our resources are much greater than theirs.

Follow Your Guide (Hebrews 12:1-17)
Jesus is both the founder of this pilgrimage and our mutawwif [guide] along the way. By his suffering he has opened the way for us to enter the Heavenly City. By keeping our gaze on him we are strengthened to meet the challenges of the pilgrim way. Indeed, suffering is a mark of the true pilgrim. God uses this suffering to train His faithful pilgrims and prepare them for His blessing just as a loving father disciplines his beloved children. We must not let suffering turn us away from the great blessings that are within our reach.

At the Mount of Mercy (Hebrews 12:18-29)
Through what Jesus has done for us we are able to through prayer and worship to enter the Heavenly City and stand joyfully in God’s presence with the angels around His throne. For us that City is on the Mount of God’s Mercy. Those who have rejected Jesus the Messiah stand in condemnation before the Mount of Judgment. Just as those who stand at the Plain of Arafat on the 9th of Dhu-l-Hajjah anticipate the Judgment Day, so our present experience at God’s Mount of Mercy anticipates the mercy we will receive on that Day if we do not shrink back from following Jesus

Part Two: The Pilgrim’s Helper
(Hebrews 1:1 – 12:29)

Introduction to Part Two (Hebrews 5:11 – 6:20)
This part of Hebrews explains in greater depth the significance of Jesus as the founder of the Pilgrimage to the Heavenly City and as mutawwif along the way. It shows us how Jesus and Jesus alone is the one who enables us to reach our destination. The writer of Hebrews prepares his readers for his teaching about Jesus’ High Priesthood, which they found difficult or objectionable. Gives special attention to the reality of his death and resurrection and the significance of his being called “Son.”

Around the Ka’bah (Hebrews 1:1 – 2:4)
Pilgrims to Mecca anticipate the time when they will gaze on the Ka’bah. For them it is the point of contact between heaven and earth. Jesus is the Ka’bah or focal point of heavenly contact for pilgrims to the Heavenly City. He is God’s embodied Eternal Word and thus brings us a revelation that fulfills and surpasses all revelations given through prophets and angels. It is vital that we remain loyal to what God has revealed for us in Jesus.

The First Pilgrim (Hebrews 2:5-18, 4:14 – 5:10)
By the “Great Pilgrimage” of 632 A.D. Muhammad established the pattern of pilgrimage to Mecca. In 622 he left the city only to return victoriously in 630 and open the way for pilgrims. God’s Eternal Word has opened the way to the Heavenly City by what was surely a “Great Pilgrimage.” According to the will of God he established this pilgrimage by leaving the Heavenly City, becoming a human being and offering himself for the sins of all humanity before returning in triumph to the Heavenly Homeland. By his offering he freed us from the impurity of sin which kept us from God’s presence and liberated us from the fear of condemnation on the Day of Judgment. Thus he is our High Priest who invites us into the God’s holy presence and fulfills the picture of High Priesthood which God has given in the Tawrah of Moses.

The Apostle of God and the Pilgrims who Rebelled (Hebrews 3:1 – 4:13)
Jesus is the Apostle or Rasul of God because he has brought the final revelation of God and because he leads us into the promised Heavenly Homeland. He is as much superior to Moses, the great prophet and apostle with whom God spoke so intimately, as “the maker of a house is greater than the house.” Thus if the people who followed Moses failed to enter the “rest” of God’s Eternal City because they refused to trust God’s power and promises, how much more will we fail if we do not obey in faith? Let us be diligent to enter because the Heavenly City they sought is still available to those who trust and obey. God holds us accountable.

An Intercessor Before the Day of Judgment (Hebrews 7:1-28)
Even now Jesus sits at God’s right hand as our Intercessor who cleanses us from sin, brings us into God’s presence, and mediates to us the grace we need to be faithful pilgrims. He can do this because he is a “priest according to the order of Melchizadek.” As the obedient embodied Eternal Word of God he has replaced the Mosaic priesthood of sinful, mortal men. Since his High Priesthood is backed by God’s oath, he can guarantee us perpetual access into God’s presence. Since he is eternal he can completely deliver us from sin. He is exactly the kind of High Priest we need and we are invited to draw near to God through him every day of our pilgrimage.

The Feast of Sacrifice (Hebrews 8:1 – 10:18)
Discusses the themes of sanctuary, sacrifice, and covenant. Jesus’ sacrifice is superior because it alone provides access to the true heavenly sanctuary and establishes the new and adequate covenant. Thus pilgrims to the Heavenly City have three reasons to rejoice in the sacrifice of God’s Eternal Word embodied in Jesus. First, through his perfect obedience and willing sacrifice of himself he has cleansed us of the impurity of sin. Second, by this cleansing he has established a new covenant or din in which our sins are forgiven and we are given obedient hearts. Third he has opened the way for the purified people of this new covenant to enter the presence of God in heaven. No animal sacrifice was sufficient. Only the willingly self-offering of Jesus in perfect obedience to God was adequate for our sin. He expressed this obedience in his talbiya: “Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God.”

Stoning the Devil (Hebrews 10:19-31)
Pilgrims to Mecca attest their determination to resist temptation by stoning the three pillars that represent Satan’s temptation of Abraham in the valley of Mina. Pilgrims to the Heavenly City are invited to take refuge from Satan and his temptations by drawing near to God through the sacrifice of Jesus. He has opened a “new and living” way into God’s presence by cleansing us from sin within and without. He welcomes them when they enter. They are to be unswerving in their pilgrimage and encourage one another because Jesus their High Priest is faithful. This passage closes with a solemn reminder that anyone who professes to experience the blessings of Christ and then turns away will suffer eternal separation from God.

Conclusion: The Way of Ihram (Hebrews 13:1-25)
Hebrews concludes with instructions on how to live in the state of heart ihram provided by Jesus. This purity is not a matter of rituals or of keeping a number of rules. It is the offering of two sacrifices–praise to God and doing good and sharing with others. We do good by sharing with both friends and strangers, helping those in need, being sexually pure, and by being generous and relying on God to supply our needs. We praise God by confessing our loyalty to Jesus and identifying with those who worship him. Hebrews ends with a blessing that the God who raised the Lord Jesus, our caring Shepherd, will bring us to the end of our pilgrimage.

– Taken from Appendix Two: A Quick Reference (pp.171 – 175)

Universalism

October 11, 2007

Y’all have probably heard about the question of what happens to a man on an island if they don’t know Christ. The mercy side of us that is there in the image of God cries out “Its not fair for a man to die and go to hell if he is seeking God.” I was involved in a conversation like this yesterday.

Rarely does the justice we have in the image of God adequately reflect the justice God has. We may not cut in line to go to the movies or we may feel sorrow for the mistreated and innocent, but those just touch the top of the iceberg. If we sincerely look at God’s justice, sin is grounds for immediate and unmerciful death. A common statement is “its not fair for bad things to happen to good people, or that good people should go to hell.” The bible is pretty clear though: our good works are like dirty rags to God (Isaiah 64:6), not one seeks God (Romans 3:11, Jeremiah 5:1-3), it is by faith alone (Ephesians 2:9-10). The truth is that we deserve to die now, and again and again. BUT by Christ’s sacrifice, we take His place.

SO my response (especially to those still having doubts on Christianity) on this issue is: I realize this is a problem. These people can’t be in relationship with God unless they become like one without sin. In order to do this they must be saved under Jesus’ name. If there are places where Jesus’ name is not proclaimed, it is our duty to tell them. This whole thing is why I am involved in missions. It is because God loves these people that we go and give them the chance to respond to the gospel. I tell these who have yet to put their faith in Jesus, “join me in letting the nations know,” if you are so concerned than go with me.

Missiology: Reaching Muslims using the Koran

March 18, 2007

Where do religions come from? We know that all mankind came from Adam and Noah. Division begins at the Tower of Babel. God scatters man and confuses their language. Once things settle, God chooses a specific man to share his revelation with. From this point in scripture, it seems that Abraham is pretty aware that there is one God, its not until later that scripture mentions other gods. At this point, God has been distant with man. God calls Abraham into relation with Him and begins a process of renewal for the world through His covenant with Abraham; again, God wants all peoples to know Him. Later on we see scripture say, “Thou shall have no other god before me.” So we know that other people believe in other gods. Exodus 32 shows the process of this transferal from the one true God into other gods. The people want a physical presence of God, but God doesn’t give that to all people. The people turn from their previous knowledge of the one true God and worship a calf instead.

Therefore I believe that other religions are just perversions of the real thing. Other religions thus have connections back to the Truth. Don Richardson explains similar cultural connections in his book Eternity in Their Hearts. There thus should also be redemptive analogies back to the truth, where you can turn back these perversions. Kevin Greeson’s book, the Camel Training Manuel shows ayats (verses) from the Koran that point to the truth of the one true God who redeems His people through His sacrifice. The Koran can be used as a bridge to lift Jesus above prophet status, although it will not share the fullness of Christ’s plan for redemption.

Most people know that Islam has a foundation built on Christianity, thus Judaism, if you look closer into the Koran there are ayats that point to Christ as more than just a prophet. It confers with the new testament that Jesus has conquered death, that Muhammad himself was unsure about his eternal fate, and that Allah tells Muhammad to look at the “before books” (Old Testament and New Testament) for answers. Ayats from the Koran itself actually give more validity to Christ than Muhammad. Most followers of Muhammad feel that the Koran is too holy of a book to read, and that few people can actually interpret the text. Hence, for the most part, using the Koran as a bridge to the gospel is more effective with Imams (Islamic priests) than with the general population of Muslims.

Wrapped up in one passage (Surah Al-Imran 3:42-55), one can see that Jesus is not just a prophet. This text can help raise Jesus up to the deserved position of Savior. This Koranic text says that Jesus was holy, Jesus had power over death, and Jesus knows the way to heaven. This is the crux of the Koranic text to lead seekers into reading the Bible for themselves

Here are some other interesting ayats in the Koran

Surah The Sandhills 46:9 “Say: I am not the first of the apostles, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you: I do not follow anything but that which is revealed to me, and I am nothing but a plain warner.” Muhammad himself testifies that he is not the greatest, he does not know where his followers are going, and he is only a warner.

Surah Jonah 10:94 “But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book before you; certainly the truth has come to you from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the disputers.” This is a direct reference back to “the Book before you” aka the Bible. The Koran de-emphasizes itself.

Surah The Woman 4:136 “O you who believe! believe in Allah and His Apostle and the Book which He has revealed to His Apostle and the Book which He revealed before; and whoever disbelieves in Allah and His angels and His apostles and the last day, he indeed strays off into a remote error.” Again note the “Book which He revealed before” lifting up the Bible along with the Koran.

Surah Cattle 6:115-116 “And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will lead you astray from Allah’s way; they follow but conjecture and they only lie. Surely your Lord– He best knows who goes astray from His way, and He best knows those who follow the right course.” Allah’s words can not be changed

Surah The Table Spread 5:65-66 “And if the followers of the Book had believed and guarded (against evil) We would certainly have covered their evil deeds and We would certainly have made them enter gardens of bliss And if they had kept up the Taurat and the Injeel and that which was revealed to them from their Lord, they would certainly have eaten from above them and from beneath their feet there is a party of them keeping to the moderate course, and (as for) most of them, evil is that which they do” Those who follow the Torah and Gospel will be blessed

Surah The Woman 4:171 “but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him” Jesus was sent from Allah in heaven in the form of a baby in Mary.

Surah Ta Ha 20:121 “Then they both ate of it, so their evil inclinations became manifest to them, and they both began to cover themselves with leaves of the garden, and Adam disobeyed his Lord, so his life became evil (to him).” Allah is Holy, and we have sinned against Him to cause evil

Surah The Sandhills 46:9 “Say: I am not the first of the apostles, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you: I do not follow anything but that which is revealed to me, and I am nothing but a plain warner.” Muhammad confesses he does not know where he nor his followers will go after death.

IMPORTANT NOTE: as said before, most Muslims have a high respect for the Koran, therefore while using these bridges we must use a gentle spirit. I would not confront a Muslim about these issues without first reading the book. The book will walk you step by step on ways to ask questions and order and bring it all together. My purpose is to expose the reader to some issues, so that you will be interested and dig deeper.

Wounds

March 12, 2007


Original Post from JD Greear’s website

This subject is amazingly deep. God can not heal those who aren’t wounded. Its in the midst of sufferings that God shows us his power and love.

Peter says the ultimate form of this happened on the cross “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24). If God is not afraid of wounding his own son for his glory, than how much more will he need to wound us for us to become dependent on him.
Its amazing to see Christians suffer victoriously. It was at the site of Stephen’s execution that Paul saw Christ’s power and love before his own conversion. Tertullian says that “the blood of martyrs is seed for the church.” When Christians suffer victoriously to the point of death God is revealed in supernatural ways that cause those who watch to reflect on their own beliefs and some to question the claims of Christ.

I believe God may wound us for compound reasons. Its through common suffering that bonds and healing can be formed. When in a difficult situation you may believe you are all alone. By suffering in some of the same ways the world suffers, we as Christians can act as a bridge for someone to receive Christ. Someone going through death of a relative, divorced home, abuse, addiction, ect, is closed off to your advice unless you yourself has been there. Not to take Peter out of context, but to a lesser extent, by our wounds, our friends and family can see how we have been healed, and accept that healing for themselves.

The story of Job shows us yet another reason why God may wound or allow others to wound us. The story defies the idea that God only punishes the wicked, in case the testimony of Jesus nor Hebrews 12:7-8 doesn’t speak loudly enough. Job was a man considered righteous by God. God than allows Satan to destroy Job’s life. Satan takes his family, his earnings, his physical health, his friends; everything but his very life. What would be the purpose of wrecking a righteous man’s life. Through Job’s wounds, he proves that God by himself is enough to sustain him. Job never curses God but suffers victoriously.

For the glory of God, previous Judeo-Christian communities were demolished, so that other people would know that He was their God. Examples include the Israelites in captivity and exile being taken over so that the surrounding nations would have a chance to hear from God. Brutal wars in the old testament were fought for God’s glory. All those people died by the sword to destroy the God’s they worshiped and so that other nations would know that the God of the Israelites was the one true God. Jump past Christ’s life. The Barbarians took over the Romans, who were taken over by the Vikings all so that the conquering nation could have a chance to hear the gospel. These wars were fought by humans for earthly land and possessions. God allowed defeat and bloodshed, suffering and woundedness so that eventually more peoples would praise Him.

The crux of the whole issue is God being jealous for the glory He deserves. He will do anything He has to for personal relationship with His creation. He wounds us as individuals so that we may grow in our dependence towards Him, and others can watch with a strange awe. He may wound us as a people, as Americans so that the gospel will be carried to places who haven’t had an opportunity to hear of what He has done. When we go through these sufferings, their is comfort knowing that God’s purposes are holy and just, we know He is using us as His vessels to receive glory.

Worship

December 11, 2006

Worship is the heartbeat of God. He rejoices when we take time out of our lives to make a display that we desire his presence. It’s amazing how much worship is wrapped around culture. While God accepts many styles of worship, the worshipper feels more or less connected based on the style. This gets very specific. Most peoples worship through music of some sorts. Reading through “All the World Is Singing” showed how culture forms the basis of worship. Many times when a missionary gives the good news to a people group, the message is packaged in a Western form of logic, vocabulary and individualistic connotation. Same goes for worship music and church style. Many times a new church will look like one from the West: 25 minutes of hymns or guitar/keyboard based music, and a 45 minute sermon. Other cultures prefer drums, gongs, and local instruments in timing and rhythms that sound weird to westerners (for an example go to Heart Sounds International). Other cultures listen to bible stories for hours at a time and get frustrated with westerners who can only preach for an hour. From this book it was amazing to see how much joy the local believers had when they could worship God with their own idiom and style of music. Some described it as “God was speaking to their heart, using their heart language.” The church was then more prepared to evangelize their own community. They would go through out the villages playing their new songs and the villagers would stop what they were doing to come out and listen. This is so much better then us as missionaries trying to use our methods. Reading the book gave me a taste of what heaven would be like. Revelation 7:9-10 says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!””. I can’t wait to be praising God in the key of G with 4/4 timing, right beside someone else dancing to an African drum, next to someone from a Muslim background reverently bowing before God.