Thursday, August 29, 2013

Justin Martyr: Prophecies of Jesus

Last week, the Sunday School class that Tim and I are participating in gave a homework assignment to write down 15 things we like about our spouses.  It was not hard to think of 15 things for Tim.  It would not be hard to think of 15 more.  However, it is more important to spend our time thinking about ways that Jesus is worthy of our exclusive worship and honor.  Justin continues exegeting prophecies for his Roman readers to better understand Christ and his Christians in chapters 51-60 of his first apology.

Jesus 1) became man for our sakes, 2) endured to suffer and be dishonored and, 3)shall come again in glory.  Isaiah 52:13-53:8 enumerates all the suffering that he did for his people centuries before he did them.  4) After he was crucified, all his acquaintances forsook him.  5) When he had risen from the dead and appeared to the same people, he 6) taught them to read the prophecies, 7) they saw him ascent to heaven and believed, 8) he gave them his power in the Holy Spirit, and 9) they went to every race and taught the same things.

Isaiah 53:8-12 displays more of his post-resurrection glory.  10) They made his grave with the wicked and 11) with a rich man in his death although, 12) he had done no violence and 13) there was no deceit in his mouth.  14) Out of the anguish of his soul will he see and be satisfied.  15) By his knowledge he will make many to be considered righteous.  16) He will bear the sins of those he will consider righteous.  17) God will give him all his glory and he will divide it with those he redeemed; he will divide the spoil with the strengthened ones.  18) He makes intercession for the transgressors.

Justin also cites Psalm 24:7, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, that the King of Glory shall come in."  He cites Daniel 7:13 that predicts the Son of Man coming in glory, being presented before the Ancient of Days.

Everything predicted by the prophets happened.  From that, we can conclude that things they predicted that have not yet happened will certainly happen.  In the past they predicted Christ's dishonor and humiliation.  In the future, he will come from heaven with glory, and you can rest on that promise.  He will come 19) with the angelic host, 20) will raise the bodies of all men, 21)will clothe those he redeemed with immortality, and 21) he will send the wicked to the everlasting fire.

These prophecies are sufficient for persuading those who have ears to hear.  Christians can provide historical proof that Jesus fulfilled all of them.  The followers of Jupiter cannot do the same with his sons.  None of Jupiter's sons are 22) first-born of an unbegotten God, 23) will pass judgment on all humans, 24) have his message received better by the Gentiles than by the Jews, the original audience, and 25) have prophecies for their major city such as Jerusalem completed when the city and temple were destroyed in 70.

According to Justin, the pagans take all this prophecy and pretend it applies to their myths and legends but have no concrete evidence of their veracity.  They did not understand but imitated what was said of Christ.  From Genesis 49:10, they concluded that it was a prediction of Bacchus.  Isaiah predicted that a virgin would give birth to a son, and the pagans thought it referred to Perseus.  Psalm 19:5 talks of a champion rejoicing to run his course.  This would refer to Hercules, say the Romans.  The Old Testament predicted Jesus healing the sick and raising the dead.  They applied that info to Aesculapius.  All the pagan myths miss one mystery that still boggles the mind of both Jews and Gentiles: none of them presented their demigod heroes as being crucified on a cross.  It was always presented symbolically in the prophets, and since they did not understand those words, they missed the main purpose of Jesus when he did come.

Lamentations 4:20
The breath of our nostrils, the Lord's anointed,
    was captured in their pits,
of whom we said, “Under his shadow
    we shall live among the nations.”

Now that Jesus has come the same evil spirits who attributed the prophecies to the Roman pantheon later applied them to other men.  Simon and Menander from Samaria performed magic and deceived many Romans.  People on TV still do that with Words of Knowledge.  They focus the people away from Christ and onto themselves and on us.

The demons cause persecution.  They cannot prove that the wicked will not be punished any more than they can hide Christ.  These evil spirits 1)live irrationally, 2)are brought up in licentious homes with wicked cultures, and 3)are prejudice by their own opinions.  They hate the true believers and will do what they can to destroy them.  On the other hand, we do not hate them.  We actually pity them and pray that the Lord will lead them to repentance.  They cannot harm us because we do not fear death.

They also raise up people like Marcion who spoke of Jesus but who denied the goodness of God the Father presented in the Old Testament and edited anything Old Testament out of his Bible.  Marcion and company attempt nothing more than to seduce men from God.

Finally, Plato got all his ideas from Moses.  The Romans love Plato.  I love Plato and hope that the Lord had mercy on him.  Plato talked about a God who altered shapeless matter and made the world.  He got his idea from Moses.  Everyone who teaches that God spoke the universe into existence from nothing knows that Moses first taught that doctrine.  And they know that the prophetic words are true, reliable, and completely point to Jesus and all he has done for us.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Put me in the Zoo

I am looking for a stable job again.  The one I was holding on to by a thread, I will now release.  I hope to find a stable position that will help me feed Tim and the cats and also be a Proverbs 31 woman who cares for her family.  I now sit and recall most of my jobs since graduating seminary and I list what I like about them.

Refuge Pregnancy Center
I have been volunteering here for 3 years and it is the most fulfilling thing that I do. I get to talk to women who think that love is no more than sex and show them God's love which is real and pure.  I enjoy following up on clients once a month to check to see if they are still having the baby or to see if they now follow the Christ they say they believe in.  It boggles my mind to think that there are children alive because Christ showed them his love by using me.  The highlights of this job are the follow-ups.  I enjoy calling, emailing, and writing cards.  Sometimes I do not get a pleasant person, and sometimes I never hear from someone again.  The ones I do hear from are actually honored that we would think of them.

Trinity EPC
Another job for 3 years that provided endless blessings.  I planned lessons and researched curriculum.  I taught young children the Bible, and hopefully they learned things that are not learned at other places.  Biblical instruction is so rare.  Through this job, I discovered Christian Focus material, an amazing curriculum that follows my ideas for teaching the Bible.  Through this job I learned of my desire to teach the catechisms and hope to one day use them when I raise children.  Highlights are keeping updated on Christian teachings, materials, and classics like the Westminster Confession or early church fathers.  It is still my goal to bring this detailed theology to the lay level.

Paralegal work
It is great to rearrange my mind with criminal defense.  It really changes the way you look at the world and makes me further appreciate what Christ does for me before the Father in interceding for me and mediating for me.  I like staying updated on recent cases.  I hope to later to more receptionist work such as answering phones, dealing with clients, preparing motions and letters, and I want to reduce legal research and go back to writing briefs.  I did all that with the first attorney that I volunteered for.  I even organized trial notebooks.  Legal research is part of it, but I had more of my ideal job with the lawyer in Atlanta.

It is my pleasure to reread my seminary books and write blogs about church history, theology, and try not to get into rants.  In my church history blogging, I am about to start the Martin Luther era.  There are people I love dearly who will disagree with me writings, yeah, even be offended by them.  I pray that God gives me the grace to positively state what I believe rather than denouncing what I don't believe.  I pray to give accurate portrayals of beliefs that are not my own and do less ranting.  I pray to understand other perspectives and to identify with them.  There is no issue I have with one church that I don't find in all denominations, but as Martin Luther placed the RC church on the forefront of this, it will be the main example.  I may switch to the church I was raised in since 4th grade some, or pick some modern liberal theology.  I just hope to bring peace, truth, and possibly get people to understand.  Last year I thought I liked arguing.  This year I realized I hate confrontation but end up needing to tell the truth.  This is my practice in continuing to tell the truth in love and possibly in ways that people can even listen to.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Justin Martyr and Judah's demise

I'm reading Justin Martyr again.  I do not remember where I left off as that notebook is upstairs.  So I read through the first apology, paragraphs 41 through 50.  Recall that Justin explains to his pagan rulers that he and his fellow Christians are not atheists.  In fact, they worship the only true God and shun all other idols.  They refuse to even solute them.  In this section, he highlights the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus, about his death, resurrection, and session at God's right hand.  I will share some quotations.

The Lord hath reigned from the tree.
The cross was actually part of Christ's inauguration.  He gained power over Satan and satisfied God's wrath.  This was the beginning of his power to save all God had given him, and this power has no end.

For not like other things, which cannot act by choice, did God make man; for neither would be worthy of reward or praise if he did not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.
I know this is not Justin's theology.  I do not have the time to reread his previous chapters.  Justin seems to have gone the route of belief that people can choose good of their own accord.  All people in their natural state can only choose evil.  God has to elect them to salvation before they can obey him.  Once saved, they do make the choice to obey, but Justin must know that anything we can contribute to Jesus comes from Jesus himself.

On the other hand, humans are responsible to obey Jesus if they claim Christianity.  No one can take our salvation, but we still must obey the Lord.  Either way, our reward will always be the full presence of Jesus Christ with his righteousness imputed to us.  There is no reward outside of him.

"The sword shall devour you"...the sword of God is fire, of which they who choose to do wickedly become the fuel.
I seek another day of giving advice to pregnant women tomorrow.  I wish I could tell him plainly that they are not Christians, or at least behave as non-believers.  They are no different than the zombies of Hollywood.  If you don't go to church, you are not a Christian.  If you keep disobeying the Lord and having premarital sex, and possibly even having abortions, you seriously need to question the sincerity of your faith.  There are times when believers will backslide, and then there are times when people just spit in God's face and kick him in the stomach.  The latter are not true Christians at least at this time.  Obeying the law won't save them, but at the same time, they will only end up in the eternal fire of God's wrath if they never surrender their hearts' desires to Jesus.

Isaiah 64
10 Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
    Zion has become a wilderness,
    Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and beautiful house,
    where our fathers praised you,
has been burned by fire,
    and all our pleasant places have become ruins.
12 Will you restrain yourself at these things, O Lord?
    Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?

 Justin explains how Judea's nation would be destroyed for their blatant rebellion against God.  The beautiful temple and beautiful Jerusalem are only beautiful with no substance if they continue to be distracted by idols.  It is even worse if they try to worship both God and idols and pretend the idols are part of worshiping God.  Their souls are only a wilderness.

Isaiah 65
I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
    I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
    to a nation that was not called by my name.
I spread out my hands all the day
    to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
    following their own devices;
a people who provoke me
    to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
    and making offerings on bricks; 

Even in Israel's hardheartedness, Jesus still sends his word to them.  God does not give up on giving them the truth.

For the Jews, having the prophesies, and being always in expectation of the Christ to come, did not recognize him.  They even crucified him.
The Gentiles who did not grow up with God's prophecies were filled with joy and faith when they heard of Jesus.

Amazingly, people in America take God for granted.  The older conservatives still believe that this is one nation under God.  It's not one nation, and it's certainly not following God.  At this point, America's elite rebel against church while people in communist countries have the healthiest churches.  African denominations are sending missionaries to America.  We need to stop seeing Jesus as rote information and realize how much of the Bible we don't read.

Isaiah 52
13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
    he shall be high and lifted up,
    and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you—
    his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
    and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
    kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
    and that which they have not heard they understand.
 Isaiah 53
Who has believed what he has heard from us?[a]
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected[b] by men;
    a man of sorrows,[c] and acquainted with[d] grief;[e]
and as one from whom men hide their faces[f]
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?

Remember Christ's generous gift to you in taking your punishment.  Also remember that when he comes again, he will return with justice.  Let us tremble as we live our lives unto Him and not as if we were still against Him.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Wycliffe had come and gone.  The Catholic church still had the problem of having two popes.  Pope Urban VI in Avignon and Pope Clement VII in Rome.  The University of Paris stated that this could be solved with a council.  It worked so many times in history.  Dante wrote Of Monarchy stating that the church and state are both arms of God an are not supreme over the other.

Marselius of Padua wrote Defensor Pacis.  He declared that the church in general counsel guided by the New Testament alone could proclaim dogma and appoint officials.  To him, church council was the highest authority in the church, not the pope.

A Council began at Pisa in 1409.  Benedict 13 lived in Avignon, and Gregory 12 lived in Rome.  The college of cardinals called council and authority to call it.  They also claimed authority to call the popes to account.  They resolved to depose the two popes and appoint Alexander V as the official pope.  In the end, the 2 popes did not recognize this decision, leaving the HRE with 3 popes.  Alex 5 died in 1410 to be succeeded by John XXIII.

HRE emperor Sigismund, inspired by Constantine in 325, called the Council of Constance from 1414 to 1418.  Instead of having a majority vote, he would allow the five nations one unanimous vote.  Gregory 12 resigned and the counsel deposed the other two popes and replaced them with Martin V.  This council introduced Sancrosanct, taking power from the college of cardinals and giving it to the council.  It also introduced Frequens, a call for councils to meet every ten years to discuss schism, heresy, and reform.  At this particular council, they solved things by burning Jan Hus at the stake after promising him safe passage, and they exhumed John Wycliffe's bones and burned them, making him the only one martyred after he had been dead.

Jan Hus's friends in Bohemia began to riot.  Councils met at Basel and Ferrara from 1431 to 1449.  The one in Basel tried to take care of Bohemia.  Eugenius 4 was pope at the time.  They deposed him.  However, he sent a papal bull in 1439 deposing them.  He stayed pope.  Basel fizzled out in 1449.

Rivals held a council in Ferrara, but during a plague, moved to Florence.  They wanted to reunite the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.  Here, they also accepted the 7 sacraments.  They also did not succeed.

Finally, Pope Pius 2 sent a bull called Execrabilis in 1460.  He condemned any appeals to future general councils.

Also, the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges in 1438 made the French church autonomous from the pope only to make things worse and have it under state power.

To an extent, I agree with Marsilius.  One man should not be the final authority in the Church on planet earth.  It should be ruled by councils and committees.  Hence, I support the Presbyterian church government based on elders.

Marsilius forgot one thing.  Neither the pope nor church councils have the ultimate authority.  Jesus Christ never ceded his authority as the Word of God.  The few people who stood up for the authority of Christ became martyrs.  The rest was a struggle of egos.  Some were well-intentioned, but the church was in a Humpty-Dumpty state.  It still is.  Today we argue about what wise guru we will follow.  Some of them are good guys like John Calvin or John Piper.  Others are shady like Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer.  Ultimately, none of them are the final authority.  Jesus's words in the Bible are still the only authority that trumps all others.  I follow teachers as long as they follow the Bible and teach the whole counsel of God.  We have more popes now than Avignon ever did.  We should be following the only true Priest and King, Jesus Christ.  Not through an intercessor, but Jesus himself.

The biggest problem with all the churches is that Jesus alone is never enough, and that by definition is idolatry no matter what good words we dress it up with.  We need a priest or Mary or saints or LifeWay or the President or a cherished youth pastor.  No, they are taking Christ's spot in our mentalities and that by definition is idolatry.  We are all guilty.  The good thing, is Christ overrides all our folly and still unites his people underneath himself and will solve all the problems real soon.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What to Do with Despondency

This post is based on Psalm 73.  It is a wonderful Psalm that does not get a lot of airtime.  It was preached this Sunday at my church, and I thought I would add my thoughts.

Truly God is good to Israel,
    to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
    my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

I think we all can relate to Asaph who wrote this psalm.  You could be with someone who never smoked in their life and are still dying of cancer at a young age.  You compare them to someone who smokes, drinks, parties, lives in squalor, and still lives to a healthy age and prospers without having to spend money on medical bills.  Is God playing some joke?  Does he really care about the people who follow him?  The truth is, he is still good and his eye is still on his people.

Next, you see people in Hollywood who live in mansions and travel the world who don't actually work a real job.  Their job is to pretend to be someone else on camera.  You see the NBA players who are rolling in money and still end up in jail.  Then you see teachers and firefighters who risk their lives but earn very little money.  This is not fair at all.

16 But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task,
17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end.

Then we finally notice God again.  He is still in heaven ruling.  His commandments still apply to today even if people flagrantly thwart them.  You notice that the President takes my money and takes luxurious vacations to Africa, but then I notice that Tim and I have more room to be creative.  We explore parks, trails, tourist traps, read books, play games, watch Doctor Who, and we have so much more fulfillment in life than our President could ever have.  We also don't live on TV like William and Kate.  Our lives are our own and we belong to God.

We also notice that we have a security in a hope that this world cannot offer.  Most of the people Asaph envies in this psalm have hope only for this world and this life.  There is no joy in knowing that Jesus is going to come and right every wrong.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

According to Piper, in the Hebrew, this verse actually says "my heart and flesh fail."  No maybe.  They are failing.  Where does my strength come from?  Only God.  He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Without God, there is no reason for happiness or humor.  We are only numbing the pain of life until God arrives and shows you a different reality that outshines the world we see now.

Imagine a man with a degenerative disease that will kill him at a young age.  He lives in a wheelchair.  He may have a funny blog site and make people laugh, but does he know genuine joy?  Does he know Jesus?  If he does not know Jesus, then there is no reason to hope that God will have mercy on his elect and eventually depose the godless elite who rule the world.  His hope is for this life only until he meets the Lord and begins to have hope for a new, complete body in the life to come.  It is great that God gives common grace to those who will not be saved so that even they can have joy in life, but let us not as Christians look to them for hope and meaning unless they truly know the only Light worth knowing and the only cure to our sin disease.  You may not understand Him completely, but you must seek him out like a hidden treasure and ignore all the counterfeits from other faiths.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Rise of Wycliffe

This is part of 14th century church history.  At this point, there are at least two popes, and mystics are trying to reform the faith from within the church.  Pretty soon, other upstarts began to cause ripples that will change the world two centuries later.

John Wycliffe lived in England.  The English did not like the idea of the pope living in France because France was their enemy.  They did not want to send money to Avignon.  They passed the Statute of Praemunire in 1353 forbidding court cases to go out of England.

Wycliffe studied at Oxford and had a goal of eliminating immoral clergymen from the church.  In Of Civil Dominion, Wycliffe emphasized that God gave church leadership to use and posses, but not to own.  Leaders are only stewards, and God is still God.  Also fed up with the Great Schism, Wycliffe bravely attached the pope's authority in 1379.  While the pope claimed to be the Church's head, the authority still belongs to Jesus and no one else.  The Bible is the sole authority for the believer, and not church tradition.  Church tradition should patter itself after the Bible.

With his beliefs, John Wycliffe began to translate the Bible into English.  He wanted the people to no longer be starved of God's Word.  He even went as far as attacking the doctrine of transubstantiation because priests were withholding the elements of Eucharist from the people.  The people were getting no access to Christ whatsoever.  He made it known his beliefs that Christ is in charge of the church and the leaders are his housekeepers.  They are not Christ himself.  Christ's presence is in both the Scriptures and in the bread and wine.  The bread and wine cannot be destroyed by being taken by a less-than-holy person. 

He had a group at Oxford called the Lollards who would preach and spread his ideas over England.  London condemned his views in 1382, making Lollard ideas a capital crime.  However, Wycliffe was not martyred before he died.  He died a peaceful death.

Oxford soon formed ties with the school in Bohemia, and students could learn for free.  Lollard ideas traveled to Prague and influenced Jan Hus.  Bohemia also wanted to be free from mixing their civil cases in with church canon.  Hus took Wycliffe's ideas and began to reform his country.  He would show pictures of people in line to kiss the pope's foot while in another picture, Christ is stripped down and on the cross or washing his disciples' feet.  Why is the pope getting honor that Christ didn't even demand?

Once again, Rome did not care for these teachings.  They made Hus stand trial at the Council of Constance, promising him safe passage.  Hus refused to recant his ideas.  The Council decided they don't need to keep promises to heretics, so Jan Hus burned at the stake.  As he died, Hus prophesied that the church may have cooked his goose (Hus means "goose"), but a swan would rise to take his place.  This was fulfilled in Martin Luther who heard the story and decided that he was the swan.  Naturally, banned ideas are going to spread like wildfire and eventually go nuclear.

Monday, August 5, 2013

When in the Smokies

I do not have much for this post.  I'm married now to my beautiful Tim.  We had a wonderful trip to Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge.  We both worked today and it was a for real Monday.

But I am very happy to be going through every day with Tim.  Even just reading blogs with him next to me.  I will try to continue reading early church fathers and blogging church history.  I will probably share stories here and there.

But for today, I will recall our trip to Tennessee.  We saw the Forbidden Caves.  I liked how the people giving the tour said "thousands of years" instead of "millions of years."  And they're closed on Sunday.  It's an amazing natural experience that Answers in Genesis would approve.

We also did two Putt-Putts.  One, Adventure Golf and the other Hillbilly Golf.  The latter was amazing as it took place on a wooded hill-side.  The former had really good price rates.

The Apple Barn in Sevierville is also wonderful.  Gatlinburg is now super touristy.  Apple Barn is what it used to be.  It has preserves, candy shops, winery, and best of all, Christmas shop.  If Gatlinburg wears you down, go to Apple Barn.

My favorite store was still the Moon Pie store in Pigeon Forge.  It had Moon Pie memorabilia, used books, and puzzles.  Good random store.

The Lumberjack Feud dinner show was a blast.  We get to eat while rednecks compete with chainsaws.

And finally, go explore the Smoky Mountains.  We saw Cataract Falls and Laurel Falls.  Laurel is a decent hike and easy compared to other places I have been.

Also go to at least one pancake place.  There are 17 of them on the 3 mile stretch of Pigeon Forge.  Pancake Pantry was worth going to Gatlinburg for, but this one privately owned place called the log cabin was just as good, but cheaper.