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Topics - Brian Stoffregen

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Your Turn / Was Paul Aware of the Apostolic Council?
« on: November 21, 2022, 07:32:20 PM »
1. Yes, Paul knew, he was there according to Acts 15 and hears about it again in Acts 21 when Paul returned to Jerusalem and faced charges that he was teaching the Jews who live among Gentiles to reject Moses. (Quotes from the CEB)

Acts 15:2: The church at Antioch appointed Paul, Barnabas, and several others from Antioch to go up to Jerusalem to set this question before the apostles and the elders.

Acts 15:12: The entire assembly fell quiet as they listened to Barnabas and Paul describe all the signs and wonders God did among the Gentiles through their activity.

Acts 21:18 On the next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James. All of the elders were present.

While this council affirmed "On the contrary, we believe that we and they are saved in the same way, by the grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11); also imposed a few rules from Moses that are repeated three times in Acts.

Acts 15:20 avoid …                            Acts 15:29 refuse …               Acts 21:25 avoid …
the pollution associated with idols       refuse food offered to idols     avoid food offered to idols
sexual immorality                              blood                                    blood
eating meat from strangled animals    meat from strangled animals   meat from strangled animals
consuming blood                               sexual immorality                   sexual immorality

Acts 15:20 τοῦ ἀπέχεσθαι …        Acts 15:29 ἀπέχεσθαι …     Acts 21:25 φυλάσσεσθαι αὐτοὺς …
τῶν ἀλισγημάτων τῶν εἰδώλων   εἰδωλοθύτων                     τό τε εἰδωλόθυτον
καὶ τῆς πορνείας                         καὶ αἵματος                       καὶ αἷμα
καὶ τοῦ πνικτοῦ                          καὶ πνικτῶν                       καὶ πνικτὸν
καὶ τοῦ αἵματος                          καὶ πορνείας                      καὶ πορνείαν

2. Paul does not make any reference to this decision when he writes about εἰδωλόθυτον in 1 Corinthians 8(:1, 4, 7, 10) and 10(:19). He does not prohibit it.

There are some with "knowledge." They know that false gods are nothing. The food has been sacrificed to nothing, so there's nothing wrong with (probably going to the pagan temple) and eating food there.

There are some who don't have this knowledge, who believe that such food was really dedicated to a false god. They cannot eat it. To illustrate the power of forbidden foods, a former Muslim talked about the first time he ate pork. He didn't know that it was pork. An hour later he asked about that meat. They told him it was pork. His body reacted. He vomited. My wrestling coach had a similar experience when he learned that the food he was eating in Japan was slug.

Food issues involve more than just knowledge in our heads.

While Paul doesn't talk specifically about εἰδωλόθτον that could be the context in his comments "One person believes in eating everything, while the weak person eats only vegetables" (Romans 14:2).

Paul confesses: "I know and I'm convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is wrong to eat in itself. But if someone thinks something is wrong to eat, it becomes wrong for that person" (Rom 14:14). [Note that "wrong to eat" is the CEB's translation of κοινός. Generally, it refers to "what is common, ordinary," but in regards to the cultic, it is often in contrast to what is sacred, consecrated, and thus can mean "profane" or "defiled." We continue to make this distinction between the consecrated bread and wine of the sacrament, and "ordinary" bread and wine that we eat at other places.]

I believe that this verse was the background for listing four positions within the ELCA in regards to same-sex relationships. For those who consider them wrong, they are wrong. For those who consider them acceptable, they are acceptable. I also see it in the LCMS in regards to women's participation in worship. Some think its OK and women read some lessons, etc. Others do not think it's acceptable, so women do not read.

Back to the main topic. Paul does not seem to indicate any knowledge about the Jerusalem Council's decree, which in participated in, according to Acts. Rather than advising Gentile believers to refuse to eat food sacrificed to idols; he indicates that he can be acceptable for some to do so - those who have the knowledge that they are nothing. He also puts himself into that category.

He seems to have had no knowledge of the prohibition against eating food that had been sacrificed to idols; or, if he knew, he disagreed with it.

Your Turn / Whatever happened to Molech?
« on: November 07, 2022, 08:30:02 PM »
Molech game up in a discussion. I decided to do some biblical research on it.

The Hebrew consonants מלך [MLK] generally refer to "king" or "ruling as king." A feminine form is "queen".

The pointing for the gods name, Molech/Moloch occurs in Leviticus 18:21; 20:2, 3, 4, 5; 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:10; Possibly Isaiah 57:9 (it is sometimes "king" there); Jeremiah 32:35. 1 Kings 11:5; 11:33; 2 Kings 23:13 have the name "Milcom" as the name of the God of the Ammonites.

In checking the LXX, in nearly all of these verses, "Molech" (and "Milcom") disappear.

In all five texts in Leviticus, the LXX uses ἄρχων = "ruler".
In 1 Kings 11:5, 11, 33; and Jeremiah 32:35, the LXX uses βασιλεύς = "king"
Only in 2 Kings 23:10 does the LXX transliterate: Μολοχ. (It also uses this word in Amos 5:26 where the Hebrew has "king." This is used when Luke quotes the passage in Acts 7:43.)

For a flavor of what difference this makes, here is the New English Translation of the Septuagint rendering of Leviticus 20:2-5:

You shall also speak to the sons of Israel: If any of the sons of Israel or of the guests who have come in Israel - whoever gives any of his offspring to a ruler, by death let him be put to death; the nation in the land shall stone them with stones. And it is I who will set my face against that person and will utterly destroy him from his people, because he has given of his offspring to a ruler, to defile my holy things and to profane the name of those consecrated to me. But if the natives of the land should by an oversight overlook with their eyes away from that person when he gives his offspring to a ruler in order not to kill him, then I will set my face against that person and his family and will utterly destroy him from among his people, him and all who are like-minded in going out to commit fornication with the rulers.

What might this version say about the type of allegiance folks give to rulers, e.g., the president (regardless of what party)?

Or, as a meme I copied: "Over the next six days don't let the elephants and donkeys make you forget that you belong to the Lamb."

Your Turn / Why our children and grandchildren don't go to church.
« on: November 01, 2022, 12:52:35 AM »
I'm at our synod's retirees retreat. (The first one I've attended.)
Dr. David Lose is the key speaker and his general topic is: Why our children and grandchildren don't go to church - and what can we do about it. (He's in the process of writing a book on this topic - but has slowed since accepting the call as a pastor of a very large congregation.

He is the senior pastor at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN, one of the largest ELCA congregations.
Prior to that, he was president of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
Before that, he taught on the faculty of Luther Seminary for 14 years.

He's giving three presentations:
1. Exploring the Cultural Landscape in which We Minister
2. Spiritual but not Religious - How We Became a Church without Youth
3. Faith that is Caught, Not Taught - What Can We Do

My impression is that many of the retired clergy at this retreat have children and grandchildren who are not attending church.

A key reason from his first presentation is that they live in a different culture than we oldsters grew up in. He related a story from a colleague about a family who made a list of all their activities and what they were getting out of them. Attending church didn't make the cut. Making such a decision was not on my parent's radar when we were growing up. Sunday morning we went to church. In addition, to even ask, "What am I getting out of it?" wasn't a question we asked.

It should be an interesting two more days.

Your Turn / Emmett Till et. al.
« on: October 27, 2022, 07:06:54 PM »
In watching ads for the movie "Till," about the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till, I wondered, is teaching about what happened to him fall under Critical Race Theory? Is it something that should be taught in our schools about our unfortunate racial history.

If we teach about his torture and death, about about Matthew Shepherd's torturous death? His wasn't motivated by race.

Your Turn / The Blessing/Curse of Wealth in Scriptures
« on: September 29, 2022, 06:22:22 PM »
The discussion on Luke 16:19-21 has centered on wealth throughout Scriptures. It's a topic that will occur in some later texts, too.

To begin with, I ported over this post:

Brian, above you wrote:  "In contrast to thinking that the man was wealthy because God blessed him, the common thinking in the 1st century Mediterranean world was that he was a crook."  Although Jewish beliefs were not monolithic in Jesus' day and some DID have a correct view of wealth as an undeserved gift from God and that one should give freely to the needy out of faith in the coming Messiah, the fact is that the Pharisees viewed their wealth as a sign that they had been blessed by God for their obedience - and thus their shock at the reversal in Jesus' story in Luke 16:19-31.

In a good article on this linked below it says:  "The Pharisees believed that being rich was a sign of being spiritual. The wealthier a person was, the more he was thought to be favored and blessed by God, a reward for his righteous conduct. In contrast, poor people were believed to be sinful and under God's judgment because of their unrighteous conduct ... This parable isn't about money, though Jesus tells it in response to the Pharisee's ridicule of his view on money. No, this parable is about believing in God and obeying his laws and commandments, which teaches us how we should manage his provision, including wealth, as well as other principles necessary for godly living ... The rich man was not unrighteous because he had wealth; he was unrighteous because he chose to live for himself and disobey God's instructions, ultimately leading him to reject God. Lazarus was not righteous because he was poor; he was righteous because he depended on and trusted in God for his provision."

I read no sources from which he based in his conclusions.

In his book The World of the Early Christians, Kelly writes that material wealth is highly valued in the Tanakh and that the Hebrews sought it and believed that God promised to bless them with it if they followed his commandments and that biblical writers portray God as enabling men such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon to achieve wealth and that this wealth was considered a clear sign of divine favor.

In this article, The Morality of Wealth ( Rabbi Herman Abramovitz writes:  "In short, the Torah displays no trace of animus or ambivalence on the subject of the patriarchs’ financial prowess. While they are not without their shortcomings, wealth does not diminish their moral stature. On the contrary, the Torah highlights it as a sign of God’s favor."

Also, The Talmud (Babylonian Talmud, Yuma 22b) states that one who becomes a leader/administrator involved in community affairs becomes wealthy as a divine reward for serving the public honestly and dependably.

Many commentaries I've read (by both conservative and liberal Christians) mention how SOME Jews of Jesus' day viewed wealth as a sign of God's favor and poverty as a sign that one had sinned.  I don't have time to check their sources now, but they're there.

The point is that SOME (not ALL) Jews of Jesus' day - especially the Pharisees! - viewed wealth as a reward for one's piety and poverty/illness as a curse from God because of some sin.  Obviously, not ALL wealthy people in Jesus' day were viewed as pious because some wealthy were open sinners, such as the Tax Collectors.  But the Pharisees believed that the Tax Collectors would not enter heaven whereas the Pharisees believed they HAD merited heaven by their works (including their charity!) - and their wealth was a sign of this.  Jesus was dealing with this false teaching.

We even see this false theology as early as the Book of Job where Job's friends view his negative circumstances (including his loss of wealth!) as a sign that he had sinned against God.

In any cases, there is much information out there that confirms what I've been writing.

What might surprise some; I agree with Tom's post. Especially when preaching/teaching about the rich man, I've made the same kind of comments: That wealth was a sign of God's favor.

I decided to broaden this discussions as I'm doing a deeper dive into πλούσιος, πλουτέω, πλουτίζω, and πλοῦτος in the LXX and the Hebrew words they translated.

As a word group, they occur very seldom in the Torah - and generally show that the person was blessed by God:
Gen 13:2 - Abraham was very rich (πλούσιος).
Gen 14:23 - Abraham makes sure that it was not the King of Sodom that made him rich. (πλουτίζω)
Gen 30:43 - Jacob became very, very rich (πλουτέω)
Gen 31:16 - Reference to Leban's wealth (πλοῦτος).
Ex 30:15 - Both the rich (ὁ πλουτῶν) and the poor (ὁ πενόμενος) had to pay the same amount for the census compensation tax.
Deut 33:19 - Zebulon and Issachar will reap riches of the sea (πλοῦτος).

What I've seen so far, is that Wisdom Literature isn't as positive towards wealth as these verses in Torah. Sirach 13 has quite a bit to say about the rich.

Possible thesis: the positive sense of wealth as a sign of God's blessing in the Torah becomes less prevalent in the later OT writings. (I'm still looking up and recording verses from the prophets and writings.)

« on: September 19, 2022, 08:17:27 PM »
When I try to log on to ALPB from my computer I've been getting this warning.

This server could not prove that it is; its security certificate expired 3 days ago. This may be caused by a misconfiguration or an attacker intercepting your connection. Your computer's clock is currently set to Monday, September 19, 2022. Does that look right? If not, you should correct your system's clock and then refresh this page.

I can get on without problems with my iPad, but it's more difficult to type than on the computer keyboard.

Your Turn / Third Use of the Law Is Legalism
« on: September 05, 2022, 06:46:51 PM »
The Third Use of the Law always leads to legalism regardless of how it is described.
1. These are the rules that Christians must obey.
2. These are the rules that Christians should obey.
3. These are the rules that Christians should want to obey.
4. These are the rules that the Spirit leads Christians to obey.

The one exception, which is what I was taught at seminary, and a classmate who occasionally looks in on the forum recently wrote me that what I've said is also what he remembers learning at Wartburg Theological Seminary. That understand is that the Third Use declares that the first two uses continue to apply to believers. There were those who claimed that the regenerated were free from the Law, perhaps because they believed that the Spirit within them would guide them into proper behaviors. The Formula says, "No." God continues to use the law even on the regenerated (1) to curb (and guide) behaviors for the good of society; and (2) to convict of sinful behaviors and our inner sinful nature.

However a separate 3rd use is imposed on Christians, it boils down to, if someone isn't obeying the guiding laws or doesn't want to obey them or isn't trying to obey them, or the Spirit isn't leading the believer to obey them, the conclusion must be that the disobedient or unguided person must not really be a Christian.

How do those who hold to a 3rd Use explain it in such away that it doesn't become legalism?

Your Turn / Righteous before God?
« on: August 07, 2022, 08:11:58 PM »
Luke says the following about Zechariah and Elizabeth:

Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. (Luke 1:6)

So, I wondered, Is it possible for humans to be "righteous before God?" Can we live "blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord?"

Luke also calls Simeon "righteous" (δίκαιος) (Luke 2:25) and Joseph (Arimathea) (Luke 23:50) and Cornelius (Acts 10:22).

In contrast to this, Paul states: “There is no one righteous, not even one," quoting Psalm 14:3.

One approach is to conclude that Paul and Luke had different beliefs about human abilities to do δίκαιος. 

Your Turn / Justin's "President"
« on: August 04, 2022, 01:53:14 PM »
In another discussion, Justin came up. More specifically, I became interested in the role of the "president" in Justin's First Apology. (He doesn't use "bishop" in any of his writings - at least as I have found.)

The Greek word that is translated "president," in Justin, is προΐστημι (a perf. part. form) = lit. "having set before."

BDAG defines it (with biblical references - some under both definitions):
1. to exercise a position of leadership (1 Ti 3:4f., 12; 5:17; 1 Th 5:12; Ro 12: 8)
2. to have an interest in (1 Th 5:12; Ro 12:8; Tit 3:8, 14)

It is something a bishop is to do (1 Ti 3:4f.) and deacons (1 Ti 3:12) and elders (1 Ti 5:17).
It is something all believers are to do (Tit 3:8, 14).
It may be seen as a particular gift of some people (Ro 12: 8)

The verses where it is found in Justin (all in First Apology):

3There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. 4This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it]. 5And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion. (65:3-5)

3And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; 4then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. 5Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. 6And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. (67:3-6)

Except for finances being deposited with the president (although many pastors have a discretionary fund to help the needy, our function as pastors hasn't changed much. However, the emphasis of deacons (not the president?!) taking communion to those who are absent isn't practiced as much as it seemed to be back then.

Your Turn / The original sin?
« on: July 27, 2022, 02:08:35 PM »
I suggested in another discussion that the first humans sinned by desiring the fruit of the forbidden tree (Gen 3:6). The Hebrew word for "to desire," (חָמַד) is the same word (although different form) translated "to covet" in the commands against it.

While this word can be used in a good sense, such as its use in Gen 2:9 for all the desirable trees in the garden; it is usually used in negative senses - to desire what one should not have. It is clear in the context that Eve should not eat of the forbidden tree in the garden.

As Jesus points out in Matthew 5, our inner desires, when focused on things we shouldn't do, are sins.

Thus, I posit that the first sin of the humans was their desire to eat what God had forbidden. That came before the act of eating the forbidden fruit.

Interestingly (at least to me,) the LXX changes the verb, "to desire," into an adjective, "beautiful." Where the the ESV has "the tree was to be desired to make one wise," the LXX (NETS) has "it was beautiful to contemplate" [ὡραῖόν ἐστιν τοῦ κατανοῆσαι]. Could she have been obsessed with the beauty of this one tree and fruit?

If this desire for what was forbidden was part of their nature/essence before the sinful act, what might that indicate about our understanding of pre-fall life? I remember a speaker pointing out that the while the first creation account often says, "It was good," the second account (from which Gen 3 also comes,) has God saying, "It is not good" (Gen 2:18).

Your Turn / Colossians 3:15
« on: June 06, 2022, 10:17:38 PM »
I was recently studying this verse and thought it applicable to a number of the discussions here. I also think that many translations miss key nuances in these words.

καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Χριστοῦ
βραβευέτω ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν,
εἰς ἣν καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι:
καὶ εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε.

Line 1
"and the peace of Christ"

εἰρήνη is primarily a term about interpersonal relationships, e.g., not fighting with one another; rather than some sort of individual inner tranquility.

I think that this "peace" is defined in line 3:
"into which (=the peace) also you were called in one body"

Line 3 becomes a tricky one.
βραβευέτω only occurs here in the NT.
It is related to βραβεῖον which refers to a prize that is won in a contest. It is used in 1 Corinthians 9:24 and Philippians 3:14.

The verb refers to the process used by umpires, judges, officials, and others to determine who wins the prize. When umpires call a pitch a strike and batters disagree, the batters' opinion doesn't matter. The umpires' opinion is the one that matters.

What struck me about this is that it is not doctrine, or teachings, or grace, or faith, that should be the "umpire" of our hearts, but "peace." If everyone thought, "How is peace determining what I say or write?" "How does peace determining my response?" "How am I supporting the unity of the one body?" Things might be a bit different.

Line 4
Frequently this line starts a new section. βραβευέτω is a third person imperative, a form that we do not have in English. It is usually translated with "Let peace rule/control/make decisions for your heart".

This line uses a second person imperative which in English becomes a command: "Be thankful." However, we could use the same kind of grammar as in lines 1 & 2: Let you be thankful. Our response to letting peace (i.e., the unity of the body) control our hearts should result in us being thankful - perhaps for all the different parts of the body that Christ has given us.


Your Turn / What is a "fallen thigh"?
« on: May 08, 2022, 12:26:18 PM »
There was a meme on Facebook that suggested that God gave instructions for causing an abortion in Numbers 5. As usually, I dug deeper into the text that was quoted.

Three times (5:21, 22, 27) the literal image of "thigh falling away and belly swelling" is used.

The Hebrew, יָרֵךְ, can refer to the "thigh," , e.g., where a sword is worn; but it can also be a euphemism for genitals, e.g., "going out of his loins" (Genesis 46:26; Exodus 1:5; Judges 8:30) to refer to offspring. (This suggests that the word might also refer to what the genitals produce.)

In looking at 13 different English translations there are 13 different translations! (While the quotes below are Numbers 5:21 the same language is used in each translation in vv. 22 & 27.) Some of these translations/interpretations are about causing a miscarriage. Others see the language as making the woman infertile. Most use the more literal terms without explaining what they might mean. Whatever it is, it is a divine punishment if the woman has had an affair. The punishment here for adultery is less severe than in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 where both parties in the adulterous relationship are put to death.

CEB  induces a miscarriage and your womb discharges
CEV  never be able to give birth to a child
ESV  makes your thigh fall away and your body swell
GNT  cause your genital organs to shrink and your stomach to swell up
LEB  making your hip fall away and your stomach swollen
NABRE  causing your uterus to fall and your belly to swell
NASB  making your thigh shriveled and your belly swollen
NASB95  making your thigh waste away and your abdomen swell
NET  makes your thigh fall away and your abdomen swell
NIV  makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell
NKJV  makes your thigh rot and your belly swell
NRSV  makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge
JPS  causes your thigh to sag and your belly to distend

Conclusion: we can't know for sure what these words mean. It seems likely that יָרֵךְ does not really mean "thigh," but it could refer to a woman's genitals (that fall =? stop working) or to the offspring in the womb who falls out before being developed (= miscarriage).

These verses, like Exodus 21:22 get interpreted as pro-choice or pro-life is based on the beliefs of the translator/interpreter. The language in Hebrew (and also Greek) is ambiguous.

Your Turn / Gender Non-Conformity - Your Responses
« on: May 03, 2022, 12:47:27 PM »
A mother's post (a friend of mine)

Yes, our daughter [Name] is proud to be a part of the LGBTQ community.
[Name] is gender non-conforming. What does this mean? One day [Name] may wake up feeling connected to a fem side but the next day feeling connected more to a masc side. But does it change who [Name] really is? NO! Not in our eyes and heart! [Name] is and will always be our baby, our child, our pride and joy!
[Name] has struggled for the past 2 years trying to find a place in this world. [Name] has been bullied, judged and shunned, has lost friends & been pushed away by others.   It was all from the support of amazing family & true friends  to finally be true to  the heart.
That is all [Name] & I ever wanted for all our kids is for them to be happy & true to their hearts.

If after seeing the beautiful pictures and reading this post you feel you need to unfriend me then please do so, but nothing will EVER come between me and my kids! I hope [Name] is an inspiration & role model to anyone that has ever struggled with finding their true self.

Her daughter's follow up.

Thank you everybody for the wonderful support and kind words, I am, as my mom said, Gender non-conforming, she did a wonderful job of explaining what that means but I'd like to add to it. Another part of Gender non-conforming is that I don't identify as one gender, I don't conform to one specific gender. I have never felt like just a girl, at one point I used she/her/they/them pronouns to kind of experiment, then one day on social media I heard about gender-fluid, where someone will one day wake up feeling like a man and have a specific name they go by that day, and the next a female and a name for them that day. For a while I wondered if that was me, but then I realized I have no desire to fully identify as a man, then I learned about Gender non-conforming in a Health class ruing our Sex Ed course and it was like sudden clarity, I knew who I was, I now know my name, I am LJ, I am the child of [Name] and [Name], I am the middle sibling of [Name] and [Name], and I am the grandchild of [Name]. Thank you to everybody who helped me get to where I am now, to love myself like I do now, but I want to give a special thanks to my wonderful significant other, [Name] and her lovely family who helped me understand more about Gender non-conformity and how it fits who I am. (A little psa after this long message, I use all pronouns, but I have a slight preference to they/them/theirs.) If you read all of this, thank you so much.

This family is active in a Lutheran congregation. As pastors what would your response be should a member make such a public announcement?

Your Turn / The Easter Story in Greek (with English subtitles)
« on: April 22, 2022, 12:16:23 PM »

A way to hear the Greek of Easter (and creation and the Fall) with illustrations. There's some theology thrown in, too.

Your Turn / Can we reject God's grace?
« on: April 06, 2022, 12:10:58 PM »
The idea that we can reject God's grace has come up in another discussion.

What are the biblical basis for this idea? Could it be the result of our sinfulness: that we want to keep a little control over our eternal salvation?

I asked in the other discussion if Lazarus could have rejected Jesus' call to "come out"?

In another discussion I asked if Mary could have rejected God's announcement that she would give birth to a son and make it not happen? Could Zechariah have rejected Elizabeth's pregnancy and make it not happen?

All of Jesus' followers rejected (or at least refused to believe) his promise that he would be raised from the dead. Women come to the tomb expecting to see a body there. In the reports where they tell the disciples, they reject their message. The refuse to believe it. Their rejection of the word did not mean that it didn't happen.

We confess that "God created me and all that exists." There are people who reject that idea. Some do not believe that there is a God. Others believe in other gods. However, rejection of having been created by God doesn't change the fact that they and all things were created by God.

The same can be said about those who reject Jesus as the messiah, as the one who suffered and died, and rose from the grave. Their rejection of that belief doesn't mean it didn't happen. There are also millions of people who have never heard about Jesus. Their ignorance doesn't mean it didn't happen.

I've heard it argued that the rejection of God's grace means that one misses out on the benefits of that grace. Perhaps that is true, but at the same time, we have Jesus saying: "He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45b). We also know from experiences that bad things happen to believers as well as unbelievers, e.g., houses destroyed by a tornado; terminal cancer.

So, for discussion: (1) Can human reject God's grace? (2) What are the tangible consequences of rejecting that grace? (3) What are the biblical basis for your position?

What I have presented with the texts above is the idea that God does what God wants to do regardless of human acceptance or rejection. God blesses both believers and rejecters the same; and suffering can come to believers and rejecters the same.

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