Thursday, May 19, 2016

Could Jesus write?

14 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. Romans (2:14-16)

“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,” Hebrews 10:16 (RSV)

Eve made a speculative comment on my last blog post about Jesus not writing. She said, “This post made me think of a question.  Why was Jesus not called by the Father to actually write down his teachings?  Did Jesus know how to write?  Did he keep a journal? Or Blog?

I have thought about that as well, and since no artifacts or samples of Jesus’s writing have ever been found, it is impossible to prove that Jesus wrote anything. It is also impossible to prove that something never happened or never existed, so the best answer to the question of whether Jesus actually wrote or not is that no artifacts of Jesus writing have ever been found. One idea that I have about Jesus writing is that I do believe that He inspired every word that is written in scripture, and He has inspired written works over many centuries, including today. Perhaps the Father, the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit are actively writing blogs today, using their faithful servants to clatter away on a keyboard.

The scriptures above reinforce the idea of the permanence of God’s word apart from the written word. I think that God purposely did not have Jesus actually write anything on papyrus with ink is because:

1. People tend to revere earthly created religious artifacts. God wants people to think about what Jesus said, rather than to gaze at what He wrote on papyrus or stone.

2. Jesus main purpose in coming to earth was to establish the Kingdom of God. The first chapter of Mark opens with Jesus preaching that the Kingdom of God is at hand. The Jews already had a written law, kings, and a prescribed territory for an earthly kingdom that God gave to them. And how was that working for Israel? God knows that the law, however permanently inscribed on stone or papyrus, is useless unless the people think about it, embrace it and obey it. The kingdom depends upon the loyalty of the subjects, not upon the letter off the law.

3. In first century Galilee, writing was not necessarily a mark of education, it was more like a skill. Jesus knew the law, and read the law. He was well educated in scripture, and used scripture to combat satan. Even if Jesus could not write, this not did not negate the fact that God’s word was powerful Jesus.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Permanence of God's word

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by-no-means pass away. Matthew 24:35 (Disciples Literal New Testament translation)

Matthew 21 begins the story of Jesus’ last days. He rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, cleanses the temple, and intensely instructs, warns and teaches the Pharisees, Sadducees and disciples about God’s will for everyone. In chapter 24, Jesus is talking specifically with his disciples about the end times.

One apparent difference between modern translations, such as the NIV, and the Disciples Literal New Testament (DLNT), is that wording more fully reflects the ancient Greek language writing style. The ancient Greek language seems to have an emphasis on verbs and adverbs, or the action of the thought. The verse quoted above is in the future tense, and the emphatic, “by-no-means” is a reminder of the time surpassing permanence of God and His word.

Jesus spoke the truth, and although Jesus himself never wrote in ink on papyrus, His words have not passed away, no matter how hard the world has been trying to alter them or destroy them. Jesus’ words—God’s word—has permanence, not only in writing of the apostles and other early believers, but in the hearts of all believers. By no means can God’s word be erased from our hearts if we allow Him to write there.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Blessing through trials

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,” James 1:2 (NRSV).

“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 (NRSV).

I have been thinking about blessings. I think that everyone would agree that in general, we consider blessings as something tangible and good. Blessings include things like food, shelter, warmth, clothing, family and friends.

Hee Haw was comedy variety show that aired in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Archie Campbell was a regular on the show, and he performed a "That’s Good, That’s Bad" routine that went, for example, like this:

“Archie: Hey I guess you heard about my terrible misfortune.
Roy: No, what happened?
Archie: Yeah, my great uncle died.
Roy: Oh that's bad!
Archie: No that's good!
Roy: How's come?
Archie: Well, when he died, he left me 50,000 dollars
Roy: Oh that's good!
Archie: No that's bad…”

The routine continued on, with each action appearing to be both bad and good.

Perhaps it would be true to say that blessings are in the eye of the beholder. Winning a new car may be a blessing to some people, but to someone who does not have the means to pay the taxes, buy the insurance, and maintain the car, or pay for parking, a new car would seem like a burden to them.

Our lives are blessings from God. Our children are blessings from God, our spouse is a blessing from God, our homes are a blessing from God, and the food that we eat is a blessing from God. We must remember that everything is a blessing from God and keep this memory in the front of our thoughts because our blessings can sometimes feel like trials and problems. Children misbehave, sometimes to the point of causing parents to try to control the situation with anger. Spouses can do things that destroy the marriage. Our homes can become a tremendous financial burden for us, and the very food that is supposed to sustain our lives can cause health problems and obesity.

Our walk with Christ is meant to provide us with blessings in spite of our circumstances. Viewing our own lives, and the lives of our family and friends as blessings from God allows us to see ourselves and them as God sees us. God’s view of our lives is our true identity. When we walk with Christ and view our children as blessings, their misbehavior becomes less of a burden to us. When we view our spouse as a blessing from God, their transgressions become easier to forgive. We can then count it all joy, as James exhorts us to do.