From the above, we can conclude that what it meant to be in the image/idol of a god in the ancient Near East was not about having a singularly unique capacity, such as reason or a soul that might separate humans from the animals; rather the image served as a holistic manifestation of the divine presence to those who might encounter the deity in and through the image. Yet the deity remained transcendent beyond the image. Not just in the ancient Near Eastern world of the Old Testament but also during the time of Jesus, many pagans living in the Mediterranean region believed that their idols were a nexus of the mundane and the divine, a complex portal where heaven and earth kissed. As Nijay Gupta has recently concluded on the basis of his study of Greco-Roman cult statues, from the pagan vantage point idols (1) were not merely human creations but also divine; (2) were living; (3) were able to see, hear, and speak; (4) could sometimes move; and (5) were capable of “saving” their worshipers from illness, danger, or trouble [Gupta, "They Are Not Gods!," 712–718]. To meet the image was to encounter the god or goddess who was imbued and manifested in the image and who acted through it.—Matthew Bates in Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 150
Monday, August 31, 2020
Friday, August 28, 2020
Thursday, August 27, 2020
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Allegiance cannot be quantified or enumerated. How would you feel if you were getting married and your spouse wanted a list of rules issued in advance describing how far he or she could go sexually in a relationship with another before it would be considered cheating? Or what, if you were a soldier during wartime, would your general think if you wanted a list defining how much military aid you could give to the opponent before it would be considered treason? The desire for an enumerated list is often indicative of one of two things: either a failure to know and trust the goodness of Jesus the king or a what—can-I-get—away—with orientation.—Matthew Bates in Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 124
Monday, August 24, 2020
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not consummate the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are contrary to the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are contrary to the ﬂesh, for these are opposed to each other, so that you do not do the things you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the ﬂesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality. (Gal. 5:16-19)In other words, allegiance to the Christ entails life in the Spirit (which is precisely what it means to be part of the church) rather than life under the law—and this allegiance is manifest as a concrete way of life that puts to death the ﬂesh’s wicked practices. It also means that the fruit of the Spirit Will be embodied, but not necessarily in a simple cause—and-effect relationship between initial “faith” (as “belief” or “trust”) and subsequent “good deeds.” Rather the Spirit’s actions in the midst of the community that continues to profess “Jesus is Lord” is the cause, and the effect is spiritual gifts that manifest “good deeds” performed as ongoing allegiance (see 1 Cor. 12:1—3).—Matthew Bates in Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 120-21
Friday, August 21, 2020
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
A timely reminder, as we have a president who gushes lies and hate. What he says matters—not in the way he thinks, but in the world that his words are building. Is that the world you want to live in? I don't! It's not a godly looking world; there is no shalom in it.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
He used to say in his lectures, "Just as you cannot study philosophy through praying, you cannot study prayer through philosophizing."—Susannah Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, xxi
Thursday, August 13, 2020
what can a righteous person possibly accomplish?
4 But the Lord is in his holy temple.
The Lord! His throne is in heaven.
His eyes see—
his vision examines all of humanity.
5 The Lord examines
both the righteous and the wicked;
his very being hates anyone who loves violence.
6 God will rain fiery coals and sulfur on the wicked;
their cups will be filled
with nothing but a scorching hot wind
7 because the Lord is righteous!
He loves righteous deeds.
Those whose heart is right will see God’s face.— Ps. 10 (CEB)
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Confession of Jesus as Lord is an expression of allegiance to him as the ruling king. Paul is pointing at our need to swear allegiance to Jesus as the Lord, the ruling sovereign, precisely because this lordship stage of Jesus’s career expressly summarizes a key aspect of the gospel, describes Jesus’s current role in earthly and heavenly affairs, and is the essential reality that must be afﬁrmed to become part of God’s family. Public acknowledgement of the acceptance of Jesus’s rule is the premier culminating act of pistis. The verb that Paul selects to describe what is necessary, homologeo, refers in this sort of context to a public declaration, as is made clear by the “with your mouth.” Paul does not envision raising your hand in church or silently praying a prayer in your heart as a sufficient “confession” (nor does Paul say that such an action couldn’t initiate salvation, but he clearly intends something more substantive). Paul is talking about something public and verbal, like what might happen at an ancient baptism.—Matthew Bates in Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 97–98 (emphasis original)
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Indeed! We see all too much evidence of that everyday here in the US, with christianity being equated with nationalism. The early church wouldn't understand any of our culture war mentality. They knew Jesus was Lord and that he reigned. And because of that, they were not manipulated by fear, the weapon of choice today against christians.
Monday, August 10, 2020
We also were without electricity for about 10 hours. The electricity had flickered a couple times, and then a blast of lightning hit so close that the boom was almost simultaneous with the flash. Probably the closest I've ever experienced. Later we found out that most of our side of town was without power. We got ours back around 2:00 AM. Others didn't get their power back until Sunday afternoon.
When we went out for a walk after the storm, there were limbs down everywhere. On East Avenue, tree had fallen across the road, blocking it. It had also taken out some power lines. It was an older maple that was hollow inside, so it basically snapped into pieces.
Sunday afternoon, about 20 hours after the storm, I was working the garden (putting the trellises back together) when I heard a loud crash from the front yard. I thought maybe someone was doing some cleanup across the street and kept working. A minute or two later, a neighbor told me to look out front. A limb from our maple, weakened by the storm, had cracked and fallen across the street! Normally, there is a vehicle parked under that limb, but they were gone. Five minutes later, they came home. Needless to say, they were extremely thankful that their vehicle wasn't parked there when the limb fell.
Here are a couple of pictures of it.
Friday, August 07, 2020
Thursday, August 06, 2020
Wednesday, August 05, 2020
The Gospel: An OutlineJesus the king
1. preexisted with the Father,<idle musing>
2. took on human ﬂesh, fulﬁlling God’s promises to David,
3. died for sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
4. was buried,
5. was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
6. appeared to many,
7. is seated at the right hand of God as Lord, and
8. will come again as judge.—Matthew Bates in Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 74
Straight out of 1 Cor 15. It's usually called the kerygma, a Greek word meaning announcement. Unfortunately, most people truncate the gospel to items 3 through 5, possibly including 6 as an afterthought. They totally neglect the other ones, which are what frame the gospel and make it Good News.
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Monday, August 03, 2020
So Jesus, before a human tribunal, makes the outrageous statement that he indeed is “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed,” implying that even if he is falsely judged by a human court, he will be vindicated by God, seated at God’s right hand, and given an everlasting kingdom over which he will rule. And in so doing, Jesus once again has subversively turned the tables on his accusers, bringing out the deep irony of the entire trial scene. For if those who are trying Jesus—the Jewish high priest, ruling council, and their lackeys—ﬁnd him guilty, then Jesus has insinuated that they will in fact be acting not as the Ancient of Days would desire, but rather in collusion with the fourth beast and its arrogant horn by attacking Jesus. And these are the very ones who fancy themselves to be standing in the legitimate place of the God of Israel in giving a verdict, especially the high priest! Jesus’s words have turned the entire trial scene upside down, for Jesus has asserted that this earthly trial is an inversion of the heavenly reality. It is in fact, as Jesus has painted the picture, the high priest and his minions who are really on trial in association with the fourth beast’s hostile activities, and they will be condemned and ultimately destroyed by God! Meanwhile, Jesus is about to be declared innocent and installed as king, sharing in God’s very throne.Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 71–72