Cultural Jesus · Interpretation · Understanding

What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean – John 16:13-14

Decades ago, when I was just a youngin’ in the Lord, I was befriended by a mature believer. Golly, it was so long ago, I forgot his name, and yet his witness has stuck with me.

He was a safety shoe salesman, hocking his wares from construction site to construction site in a large panel van. He covered an immense geographical region, and was often on the highway. As we got to know each other, he would find me occasionally reading my little New Testament, and would speak of his experiences with God.

One passion Frank had (let’s call him Frank), one passion he had was to speak in tongues. Now remember, I was very young in the Lord, and primed for any teaching. I had little to no discernment and found I gave men much freedom in their influence over me. (In other words, I didn’t test the teaching like I am instructed to!). I was entranced by his witness, listened to his stories and enjoyed his friendship very much.

Frank would drop by and tell me glowing stories of the Lord personally teaching him mysteries that were modern day messages directly from God, directed for him, and all he could reach. He was so charismatic (I mean that in both his personality and theology), it was hard to not be swept away with the excitement.

Until he spoke of a time he was driving down the 401 (North America’s busiest freeway), between Windsor and London Ontario, and he was “slain in the Spirit”. Wow! What does that mean Frank?

He described the rapturous utterances he spoke, of his shaking uncontrollably, and of his visions. His visions, that required his eyes to be closed. While on the busiest highway in North America. While travelling 100 km/hr. In a large panel van!

Golly. Something just don’t sound right!

He spoke of the Spirit guiding him into all truth and of the mysteries the Spirit was revealing in the last days, of the Spirit working through the gift of tongues to bring about revival and renewal, of the Spirit Spirit Spirit.

Enter George.

I have spoke of this fine believer in an earlier post. (See Story Time – Christian Accountability – Obey) During one of my visits with George, he spoke of a “shy” member of the Trinity, a member of the trinity that seeks to be in the background. What heresy am I hearing now? Golly, what is a young believer to do with so many influences?

George wasn’t in the habit of telling me magnificent stories of personal revelations, of visions and utterances. He simply sat down with me, and opened up the Word to the following passages.

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. – John 15:26

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:13-14

George looked at me, and spoke of the witness of the Spirit to be of Jesus, not of the Spirit. Whoa – coming from my time with Frank, it only made sense that the Spirit would speak of itself – how could we as believers not admit the message, visions and utterances were not from the Spirit? Why, that is simply logical, reasonable and popular!

But George challenged me with the written Word, and not with his feelings or his personal testimony in this area of faith.

Did Jesus want us to focus on the Spirit of truth? Is His message to His followers to focus on the Spirit, or to judge the source of the message by the content of the message. In other words, if it bears witness to the Savior, and glorifies Him, it is from the Spirit. The Spirit is the “shy” person in the Trinity, seeking to show off Jesus, and not Himself.

Golly, even though the Spirit has the authority of the Godhead, Jesus reveals that He (the Spirit) will not speak of His own authority. During this age of the Body of Christ, the Spirit mimics Jesus’ self humiliation while He was on the earth, and steps back from any attention grabbing, in order for all the glory to go to the Risen Savior.

My friend – consider your focus, who you are looking to. Looking for the gifts of the Spirit is misdirected, has caused trouble in the church before and will cause divisions in the Body today. It is abundantly clear in the written Word, that the Savior is the Lord, and that as we look to Him (and no other) that we will understand His will and know the truth.

But be warned. To walk as He walked includes a humility and servanthood that is not popular amongst many in the church, many who are supposedly providing glorious messages that God personally provides to them. Those who provide messages directly from God actually become the focus of the message, and the Lord is simply a means to an end for these messengers. I am convinced that the mystical messages are at least a distraction for the believer, for any mystical message that speaks the same as the Bible is unnecessary, and any message that speaks differently than the Word should be rejected.

His message has been given to us. Crack a Bible and read it. Keep your eyes on Him. And let the Spirit do what He desires, and not what you want!


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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Knowledge · Understanding · Wisdom

Proverbial Thoughts on Listening

Thoughts on the topic of listening from the book of wisdom.

Listening.  Am I really listening?

My workplace  is a stress filled environment, with deadlines, miscommunications, unrealized expectations and frequent disappointments.  One of those irritants, that is miscommunications between my self and my co-workers, is one that I have some control over.

Let me explain a day in my life when this became apparent to me.

I arrive at work before anyone in the office and take 15 minutes walking the parking garage, praying and doing my memory work.  One morning, my assigned verses included Proverbs 28:13.

18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.


For some reason I dwelt on this verse a bit longer than the others and asked for help with this in my life. 

You see, with deadlines always before me, my mind tends to race, and I do not listen to those I work with.  I realized that I answer matters before I hear them, and it has created problems for my projects and those associated with my projects.
 

Definitely a shame on me. 

Since that morning, I have sought to “slow down” to gain production, and though it sounds contradictory, it has produced good results.

Less confusion in my mind, and the minds of my workers, increased team building, since I consider others input, deadlines are still hit, and my stress level has dropped. 

Don’t hear me say I have no stress.  We have to have stress in our lives!  It is the unnecessary stress that we should seek to avoid!

 
23:12 Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.

I had this verse included in our blog prior to my application of the verse above to my life.  Without this truth I would not have found success in the counsel of the verse above.


How often do I read, study or memorize the Word and come away from it unchanged?

  
28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

 
This verse is somewhat of the other side of the coin for the previous verse above.  When we come to a passage and “turn our ear away”, it is the opposite of applying my heart unto the instruction.


Often when I let the Word simply go in and go out, I consider the effect to be neutral.  This verse simply corrects that error.


Even my prayer shall be an abomination.  The NLT translates it…

God detests the prayers
of a person who ignores the law.

A disturbing thought, but it is not a rare teaching of the Word. 

Consider 1 Peter, where he speaks to husbands and our relationships with our wives.


1 Peter 3:7


Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Consider listening.

As my momma used to say, God gave you two ears and one mouth!

Thanks for visiting. Leave a comment or question below. I would love to discuss with you.


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Hell · Jesus the Messiah · Understanding

Did Jesus Go To Hell? – Concerns of a Brother – Epilogue

hell-awaits-fire-red

A while back, we were enjoying a time of Bible study in our home, after enjoying some supper together with our friends. It was a very relaxed time and I think we were discussing Mark’s gospel.

An innocent question came up and the discussion veered to the topic of hell, specifically, if Jesus went to hell.

It turns out I had wrote a blog post titled “Did Jesus go to Hell?” a few months prior and suggested that instead of chasing this rabbit trail, that anyone interested in that topic may pursue my thoughts in their free time.

One brother did. Our previous posts supplied his concerns and the responses I supplied.


Out of all his concerns, his final comment struck me.

“If you believe otherwise with all due respect I pity you.”

Brother I do not seek your pity.

I do seek an open ear and a willing heart to discuss face to face the “heresy” I may be swimming in.

Your multiple refusals to accept my invitations to meet together tells me that I am not worthy of your time.

If you consider me an erring brother, accept my invitation to discuss.

If you can’t accept my conclusions, let’s seek to maintain peace and unity of purpose – peace with each other and love toward the lost.

Petty squabbles and hair splitting over doctrines such as this does not accomplish this other than feed the pride of doctrinal purity you may assume I have. This topic is not a core doctrine. At the most, it is simply a topic that caught my attention and my post was an effort to suggest a possible interpretation.

You may accept or reject – but you are still my brother because of the primary issue – Faith in the salvation supplied by the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of the Messiah.

Let us not forget that.

This ends my final response to him. I have called and texted him but to no avail.


I struggle with folk that are hard nosed, unwilling to discuss and understand an others position. I suppose I struggle with these hard nosed brothers, those that are on a crusade to protect the gospel in areas that are not primary.

I struggle with them since I am a recovering hard nosed brother, one that would seek to find a difference with a brother.

If you know a brother or sister that has different opinions regarding the message the Bible gives forth, give them a chance to explain their position.

Other than rejecting the gospel message of the risen Christ, the brother or sister that thinks differently may supply a challenge that will force you to reconsider the Scripture.

Considering the Bible is a good thing – the action of, and hopefully the blog also.

The Christian life is a life of repentance and growth. Without challenges to our thinking, growth may not occur other than from outside circumstances.

Let us not be so limited.


Find below the short study I mentioned in the previous post.
“Katakrino”

Matthew 12:41

The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Matthew 12:42

The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

Matthew 20:18
“See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death

Matthew 27:3
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,

Mark 10:33
saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.

Mark 14:64
You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.

Mark 16:16
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Luke 11:31
The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

Luke 11:32
The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

John 8:10
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

John 8:11
She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Romans 2:1
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
Romans 8:3
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
Romans 8:34
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Romans 14:23
But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

1 Corinthians 11:32
But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

Hebrews 11:7
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

2 Peter 2:6
if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

In writing this post, I started looking at the Greek words that have the root of “judge” within them. I hope to start a short study on these terms in the near future and will post as I progress through the study.

I look forward to comments and discussion. May the Lord give you an understanding heart and a willing spirit to consider the Bible and all it’s wealth.


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Hell · Jesus the Messiah · Understanding

Did Jesus Go To Hell? – Concerns of a Brother – 3

hell-awaits-fire-redA while back, we were enjoying a time of Bible study in our home, after enjoying some supper together with our friends.  It was a very relaxed time and I think we were discussing Mark’s gospel.

An innocent question came up and the discussion veered to the topic of hell, specifically, if Jesus went to hell.

It turns out I had wrote a blog post titled “Did Jesus go to Hell?” a few months prior and suggested that instead of chasing this rabbit trail, that anyone interested in that topic may pursue my thoughts in their free time.

One brother did.  This is the continuation of my brothers concerns over my blog post.  As a reminder, my comments are indented, in red, and interspersed within my brother’s comments.


What is the point of judgment if you are going to be forgiven anyways?

Judgement (krino and its compunds – anakrino, diakrino ) have many shades of meaning, from simply to “discern” all the way to “condemnation.” To judge (krites and its compounds – dikastēs, kritērion) defines the one judging.

You surely will agree that at the believer’s judgement, condemnation is not considered. Also, we who have been forgiven, will be judged.

New Testament (Greek) for “judge”
G350 ἀνακρίνω anakrinō examine, judge, ask question, search, discern
G1252 διακρίνω diakrinō doubt, judge, discern, contend, waver, misc
G1348 δικαστής dikastēs judge
G2919 κρίνω krinō judge, determine, condemn, go to law, call in question, esteem, misc
G2922 κριτήριον kritērion to judge, judgment, judgment seat
G2923 κριτής kritēs judge, Judge

Judgement has concept of separation, or of making a determination between right and wrong.  Katakrino is the term that strictly refers to condemnation, and at that, I am not sure if there is a time element associated with it. By that I mean, the word itself simply means condemn, not necessarily condemn forever. ( I bring this up since the term is used of condemning the Lord Jesus, and we both know that He was not condemned forever – Praise God!) The context may supply that information, but I do not see where the word itself carried a time element.

It is also interesting to note that the work Katakrino is used 19 times in the New Testament. Of those nineteen time, none of them refer to God condemning any one

As a matter of fact, it looks like men do a lot of the condemning (ie the men of Ninevah, the Queen of the South, even ourselves (Rom 2:1, 14:23)). Other occurrences in the New Testament speak of the Messiah receiving condemnation. One time the Messiah spoke on condemning, but that He would not condemn the sinner. He is something else, eh? (John 8:10-11)

The “Katakrino” list may be found at the end of this note (if of interest).

(As I am studying this concept of judgment, I have found a much larger body of data in the New Testament than first reviewed. In the interest of brevity, I will leave the above mini-study as is, know that it is incomplete, and I will return to it.)

That is a minor point but has no explanation if I conceded to believing in “soul sleep” or universal salvation for all.

I am not sure your intent of the previous sentence. The soul sleep question is a nonissue for me.

So When Jesus said it was better for Judas not to have been born, (Matthew 26:24, Mark 14:21) woe doesn’t have any significance if there is no consequences for betraying the Son of the living God.?

I am going to assume the consequence you are referring to above is Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT).

Mat 26:24

The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Mar 14:21

For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

I understand your point, but note that the Messiah said “it would have been better” for Judas to not exist than to be born, not “Judas will burn in hell forever”

“Better” is a comparative term. If I said “I am better than Joe” this doesn’t mean I am equal to the great apostle Paul. Better simply compares to conditions, but it does not supply the extent of the difference between the two things being compared. In other words, Judas destiny was defined as being less than nothing. A negative condition.

So, if the Scriptures teaches ECT, Jesus may have been hinting at Judas destiny. (A negative condition!)

If He meant something else, (like living and dying under the guilt of condemning a just man), that is also possible. (Also a negative condition!)

Both of these destinies (I am sure there are additional destinies that may be possible for Judas) for Judas would surely fit the description Jesus provides of “not existing”

To demand ECT is taught in this passage would be considered eisegesis. The verse does not clearly inform us of Judas destiny, other than being a negative condition.

Or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

One verse in the New Testament speaks of blasphemy against the Spirit

Mat 12:31

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

There are multiple ways to understand this passage, but if we use the grammatical, historical method, a possible interpretation could be that Jesus was condemning the people he spoke to in the historical setting, that is the pharisees that just claimed the work of the Spirit as sourced out of Satan.

Or the woes of Matthew 23.  Greater condemnation, v.33-how will they escape the condemnation of Hell?

I guess you don’t believe what Jesus said in v.35 either?  No purgatory in Scripture.  No escaping the judgment of God having received the knowledge of the truth ( Hebrews 10:26-31).

If you believe otherwise with all due respect I pity you.


With that said, my discussion with my brother has concluded.

Our final post in this series will consider some after thoughts on this interaction.  I do hope we can get together again.  Thanks for reading and may you have a blessed day.


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Hell · Jesus the Messiah · Understanding

Did Jesus Go To Hell? – Concerns of a Brother – 2

hell-awaits-fire-red

A while back, we were enjoying a time of Bible study in our home, after enjoying some supper together with our friends. It was a very relaxed time and I think we were discussing Mark’s gospel.

An innocent question came up and the discussion veered to the topic of hell, specifically, if Jesus went to hell.

It turns out I had wrote a blog post titled “Did Jesus go to Hell?” a few months prior and suggested that instead of chasing this rabbit trail, that anyone interested in that topic may pursue my thoughts in their free time.

One brother did. He sent me the following concerns and my comments are indented, in red, and interspersed within my brother’s comments.


Brother

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my blog, “Did Jesus go to Hell?” I had been looking forward to your comments since Monday.

I would like to clarify a few items if you don’t mind. I may have written something that was not clear and I would like to correct that. With that said, I have taking your comments and inserted some of my thoughts (in red) for your consideration.

With all due respect It is written… you have a copy of scripture. I read some of it to you Saturday. I believe in a plain normal grammatical historical plenary interpretation.

Brother – I would like to discuss your interpretive methods for a moment.

Plain

    • When you mention the plain interpretation of scripture, I assume that you are referring to a literal reading of scripture. In many portions of the Word, I would agree with you. Some passages give me pause though.
      • When Acts 2 speaks of tongues of fire, would you understand it to be literal fire?
      • I am sure you do not consider the Messiah to be a door, or a sheep, or a light.
      • I think the apostles and prophets spoke in a manner that would communicate clearly to to their audience, in their culture, language, social structure and religion. It is our labor to try to decipher their message from that environment, and not to read the Word as if it has been written for 21st century American believers. (That just seems a bit provincial.)

Normal

    • I looked up normal for a definition and found “conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural”
    • I would appreciate a little clarification on what you mean when you say normal. It’s seems other terms in this description describe your “normal” reading of Scripture

Grammatical

    • Definition for grammatical
      • Of or relating to grammar, conforming to the rules of grammar:
        • I assume you are describing your method of Bible interpretation / understanding as being different than my efforts. I tend to analyze a passage through word studies, the flow of the sentence structure and the context of the sentence / verse / paragraph I am studying. I think I am on the same page as you on this.

Historical

    • I believe the historical context of the passage when spoken / written is critical to understanding the message. Let me supply an example.

When Jesus spoke of thine eye being evil, I used to think He was referring to a general evil or wickedness.

Matt 6:23

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

What does it mean “if thine eye is evil”? Could it refer to a murderous intent, wicked thoughts or evil schemes? I never really understood this verse until I checked the historical background in

Deuteronomy 15:9

Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.

When I read Matthew 6:23, I assumed I understood the phrase “if thine eye be evil”. But when I studied the historical background of the phrase, and how it relates to the audience Jesus was immediately addressing, the application for my life becomes so much clearer. So I would heartily agree that the historical interpretation of any passage is critical

Plenary

    • If by plenary, you mean that the canon of Scripture is complete (plenary = full), I would also agree.

Much of your Bible reading and study methods are the same as mine. I do not understand your concern.

If we don’t believe the scripture itself when read, how can we expound upon deeper truth?

I think we need to understand the Scripture (as much as possible) in order to believe it. I consider belief / faith is an action word.

Gal 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

and not mental consent, and therefore the day to day decisions I make, exercising my faith/belief has to come from an understanding of the message God has provided.

If Christ went to the grave and that’s it. We are still dead in trespasses and sins.

I do not recall saying that Christ went simply to the grave. If I did, I spoke wrongly. What I was considering in the blog post was whether the Messiah went to hell, ie the place of torment. The few NT passages that seem to speak of the Messiah going to hell are not convincing to me in my study.

What is the point as Paul said in 1 Cor 15? The early church got it right historically as I told you Saturday. I stand with them even though the “Soli Scripta” Scripture alone speaks for itself.

Sola Scriptura is what I am trying to do as I study. I seek to find how the Scripture interprets itself, and in the blog, I made mention of a few Old Testament passages that may supply hints as to what the apostles were pointing to.

An example was the “lowest parts of the earth” phrase that Paul used in Ephesians. The OT supplied three possibilities for understanding what Paul meant when he wrote “the lower parts of the earth”

Regarding the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15) I feel you still consider my thoughts to be of denial of the resurrection. I am not sure where you get that from, but let me assure you that I believe in the bodily resurrection more now than when I first believed.

My brothers comments begin a discussion on judgement that is somewhat lengthy (Come on Carl – it is your response that is lengthy – Just admit it!)

Okay – so the next post will continue our discussion with my brother.

I do hope you can visit with us.


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Hell · Jesus the Messiah · Understanding

Did Jesus Go To Hell? – Concerns of a Brother – 1

hell-awaits-fire-redA while back, we were enjoying a time of Bible study in our home, after enjoying some supper together with our friends.  It was a very relaxed time and I think we were discussing Mark’s gospel.

An innocent question came up and the discussion veered to the topic of hell, specifically, if Jesus went to hell.

It turns out I had wrote a blog post titled “Did Jesus go to Hell?” a few months prior and suggested that instead of chasing this rabbit trail, that anyone interested in that topic may pursue my thoughts in their free time.

One brother did.

I might better not have offered.  It seems this blog offended my brother.

Different Thinking

You know, it made me consider my own reactions to those who think and believe differently than I.

One weakness I have is to pass judgement on brothers that have differences of opinion or faith in secondary and tertiary matters.  Of course the apostle describes the foundation of our faith as

…One body and one Spirit, one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

This is a non-negotiable in determining one that is “of the faith”.  After that, many differences erupt between believers and I used to be very frustrated with those that hadn’t come around to my truth.  Oh dear – did I say my truth – I meant the truth.

Different Worldviews

Ever notice that Jesus chose Matthew (a tax collecting sellout to Rome) and Simon (a zealot, who would die to free Israel from the Romans) to be in His band of followers.  They hated each other.  They were like a capitalist and a communist trying to get along.  But Jesus chose them to be with Him, and the command to love each other must have made them choke the first time they understood it.

But differences are awesome – I have learned much after realizing I lived in a tiny, tiny corner of Christendom, not having met some of the believers that think differently than I.  It has been a blessing (and a great challenge), since I need to come to grips with what I believe and not simply what a man or organization has taught me.

Different Faith

The arena of faith is so vast, and full of expression, so open within the boundaries of the basics.  Jesus Christ, crucified, raised and glorified has supplied to His church a multifaceted faith that can be expressed in seemingly endless ways.

We can (and will) come to different conclusions and we need to give our brothers room for their understanding.  It’s called grace and to give a brother room in his belief’s is a sign of maturity (I hope).

Somewhere the apostle tells us

The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.

We also need to be patient with those who may feel threatened by teaching that is new to them.  The apostle reminds me that

…the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

It hurts greatly when a tertiary teaching such as the topic of “Did Jesus go to Hell” becomes a litmus test for brotherhood in the faith.  I’m afraid in this instance, it did.  I have reached out to my brother numerous time to discuss and come to a peaceful resolution, yet without success.

I lost a brother and a friend over that blog post, and I wonder if I failed my brother in some way.  I don’t see any benefit in removing a blog post that might be remotely offensive from the site, since this does nothing for the readership except to supply them pablum and tasteless milk.

I also didn’t expect this topic to cause offence!  (My goodness, what other posts may cause offence?)  Deleting studies that may not conform to a specific Christian mind set seems unacceptable in my mind.  I revel in the differences I experience with my brothers and sisters.  Oh to have open discussions, where emotion does not control the comment, where there is more light than heat being generated, where the Word is considered and viewpoints are allowed.

With that long introduction, I would like to supply my discussion with my brother for your consideration in my next post.  I open myself up to your comments, suggestions and rebuke (if necessary).

Thanks for reading!


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Cultural Jesus · Interpretation · Understanding

A Literal Bible – Part 2

page-turning-bible-animation-21Does the Bible lend itself to a LITERAL reading?

Our last post on this topic dealt with the question

“Is all the Bible to be read literally?”

We discussed the literal definition of the word “literal” – Oh how boring…., and genres of literature that passages within the Bible fall into. (somewhat interesting….)

This post, I would like to focus on the question

Is the message intended to be taken literally?

This is the heart of the message I am trying to communicate!

The intended (or true) meaning may be clouded or completely in error if taken literally.
Sometimes the message isn’t completely clear and the author will correct the misunderstanding. The following passages are offered to try to explain this concept.

Lets see if some of the messages Jesus gave in the Gospel of John were meant to be taken literally.

  • A Literal Temple

When Jesus said “Destroy this Temple”, the religious leaders understood the literal temple. Might this have been a mistake?

John 2:18-21

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”
21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
  • A Literal Rebirth

When Nicodemus came to Jesus, Jesus told him he must be born again. Did Nicodemus take this literally?

John 3:3-9

3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”
  • A Literal Well

When Jesus told the woman at the well about living water, and she asked Jesus about a bucket and the depth of the well, was she taking Jesus’ words too literally?

John 4:9-11

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?
  • A Literal Lunch

When the disciples came back from the town, after Jesus discussion with the woman at the well, they were confused about what Jesus had eaten. Maybe the disciples understood Him too literally?

John 4:31-35

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
  • His Literal Flesh

How about when Jesus taught that His flesh was to be eaten and His blood was to be drank. Should that be taken literally?

John 6:48-52

48 I am the bread of life.
49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

The Person of Christ

How about the “I am” statements in the Gospel? Shall literalness help us in our understanding of the person of Christ? Shall we consider the Messiah to be…

  • A Literal Light

John 8:12

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 9:5

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

  • A Literal Door

John 10:7

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

  • A Literal (Path)way

John 14:6

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

  • A Literal Vine

John 15:1

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

John 15: 5

5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Two final points come to mind at this time.

  • Many times throughout the gospels, those who took the sayings of Jesus too literally either
    • Were in a state of confusion, but eventually found clarity,

or

    • refused to consider anything other than the literal understanding.

Those who were confused but hungry and teachable eventually got the message. Those who refused to consider any other understanding seemed to be associated with His enemies.

  • Throughout the gospel, there are thousands of instances where depending on literalness causes confusion. And thousands of instances where it occurs in Johns other writings. Thousands! Even in Revelation. Thousands I tell you, thousands!

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


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