Hebrews 1:1-3

Hebrews 1:1-3 really struck me tonight. I looked at the description there of Christ and found myself thinking how amazing Christ was compared to who I might have, in my puny mind, thought of Him as. Check it out:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

The author of Hebrews is not known for certain. Some suggest a Pauline authorship, I have seen Timothy ascribed as well. However, the authorship is surely supernaturally the work of the Holy Spirit. This powerful opening to the book is clearly written to the Hebrews who would be ever-so-familiar with the fathers and the prophets as well as their portions and many ways. However, Christ is a newer and more important subject, one the author of Hebrews powerfully delves into in Chapter one!

We see in verse one a reference to Genesis 1:1 and at the very least the theology of John 1:1. We also see that Christ is to be the heir of all things, the kingship promised to David’s heir (ref) is His.

Verse three just blows me away. Christ is the radience of God’s glory here on earth. Whatever radience Moses may have had after being on Mt. Sanai (Exodus 34:29) was nothing compared to the radience of Christ in his ascended form (Colossians 3:1). Furthermore, Christ is not only God’s glory, but his nature as well! God’s perfect nature is in all three person’s of the Trinity, something that makes me marvel. Uphold comes from the Greek word (transliterated) fero which means to carry or bear. However, instead of this being a physical endurance, it is something that comes about ‘by the word of His power.’ God’s supernatural power sustains us, through Christ. If our sustaining comes from Him, there is no failure for His own!

After having purified His own from their sins through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension he was seated on the throne at the right hand of God. This is similar to the Colossians 3:1 passage which refers to the exact same event. This theanthropism, or attribution to God of human like qualities, is not alone in scripture, but the description of God, who is light having a left or right hand is quite poetic. The right hand is historically a place of favor and blessing. I don’t mean to be disgusting or to offend, but historically, when toilette paper was a future invention, the left hand was dirty due to its use as a cleaner hand. Therefore, being on the right hand was a blessing, and on the left hand,… well, it just wasn’t a blessing.

This picture of Christ, which continues on in the rest of the chapter and on into chapter two is powerful and contrasts that very human picture of Christ given in the Gospels. I imagine that Paul, seeing Christ on the raod to Damascus, saw Him in His glory, which sure enough, would be blinding to say the least. I also imagine that Christ, seated on His throne next to God the Father, looks at us, those who are hidden with Him with pleasure because we are in Him!

1 Timothy 1:3-7

This passage is one that should be a stumbling block to most elders 🙂 OK, not a stumbling block, but instead a focal point for their ministry, a mission statement. Look at Paul’s writing to Timothy and see what is instructed here in contrast to what is so often the roll leadership takes in the church.

1 Timothy 1:3-7 (NASB)

3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere rather than the administration of God which is by faith.
5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,
7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

So, you see Paul’s instructions are to Timothy, and you think to yourself, “Randy, this is to Timothy, it this for every church?” Good question. I think that in the greater context of the Timothy’s (first and second) that it is clear that Timothy was in Ephesus to help establish a strong elder based leadership at that church. Therefore, I think that since leadership shouldn’t die off in the church, these principles apply to the leadership of the church today.

Looking at verse three we see that Paul, trusting in the Holy Spirit’s work through Timothy, went on to Macedonia. Timothy’s Ephesian charge was to instruct certain men not to teach ‘strange doctrine.’ I love that phrase, it’s fun. In our post-modern, anything goes, relativistic culture ‘strange doctrine’ doesn’t happen. In fact, if Paul were writing (or righting) today I think he might go so far as to say, “…so that you may instruct certain men not to teach whatever doctrine is blowing through town.” The church has become so doctrinally splintered over the last 2,000 years that I believe few actually believe that there are true doctrines worth holding to. Just in case you’re not familiar with the term ‘doctrine’, it means ‘a teaching.’ In this context we can see in verses six and seven that the strange doctrines involve the mixture of Grace with the Law. And, if you know Galatians at all, you know the Law is not to be mixed with Grace.

Verse four tackles an old Jewish tradition/problem wherein Rabbinic tradition and geneology were counted as important. Using tradition is of some external value for some slight details, but it is certainly not to be incorporated into full fledged teachings. Geneology, as you can see in Matthew 1, was thick and rooted in the Jewish culture. Being able to say you were a son of [insert important name here] apparently meant something to these folks. However, Paul does not want them to focus on these things since they were now sons of God! Having been grafted into salvation through Christ, they were adopted children of God (Ephesians 1:5). Finally in this point we see that those distractions don’t lead to God’s final goal for believers on this earth. We also see that they are not rooted in faith.

Verse five gets into the fun stuff because we see that the goal of the leadership in the church should be instruction that produces the following results in the believers:

  • Love from a pure heart
  • A good conscience
  • A sincere faith

Point one in that list points out that we should let the Lord, who bought our hearts, have control of them, and then love through us with purity. It is so easy to not love people. It is even easier to tolerate, ignore or hate people when we’re in the flesh. Pure love comes from a submitted heart.

A good conscience is one that is not distracted by sin, one that is not hounded by guilt, and one that understands the awesomeness of grace. If you know grace, what it means, then your conscience will be clear, past sins will be a forgotten thing because you look for a hopeful future with your bridegroom, Christ.

A sincere faith is one that genuinely believes and knows the truth of Christ and the doctrines upon which the Christian life rests. We all have doubts at times, points in our lives where we question God’s work, our salvation or various other parts of our faith. If we are well equipped with spiritual truth many of the doubts we face (if not all) will be eraced by the confidence in our relationship with our savior.

So you see that a pastor/elder is to be teaching, discipling, and re-enforcing these things in the flock that God has bestowed to them. If you are spiritually mature, you might consider heavily investing these things into others lives. Sure, it will require time, possibly money, and surely a lot of emotional commitment, but it is the call of a spiritually mature believer to do this. I’m blogging about my Bible study time to help teach others what has been invested in me. While this small blog can’t reach all believers, or even a small fraction of believers, I do hope to help encourage those who read to study and know God’s word, which is Christ!

Verse six shows the fruitless discussion that is a result of straying from the fundamental and important things of the believer. Trust me that in seminary I more than once saw people discussing fruitless things that did not edify them, or anyone listening. Sometimes big words, new ideas or any of the other fruitless practices like geneologies and traditions can be distracting. They make us feel like we may have a corner on truth, a new, better solution or any number of fleshly things, however, if we’re rooted in the core of Christianity (Christ) then we’ll be set for growth and maturity.

Lastly, verse seven makes it clear that the Law is not for the believer. Often teachers mix the Law in with their teaching because they feel it instills a moral rightness, a better, more clear instruction for their parishioners. Frankly, it can’t be too much worse than just outright telling them to sin! Why? Because it does not encourage the believer unto Holy Spirit led righteousness. Instead it calls believers to keep accounts of their sins (or not sinning) rather than counting their righteousness in Christ. If the fruit of the Spirit is a long list of good, God rewarding things why not encourage spiritual growth and spiritual thinking (Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:1-3)?

OK, have a good weekend, I’ll be travelling so Saturday or Sunday may not be blogged, but I’ll do my best to post next week!

Resting in Him,
Randy Peterman

Salvation Throughout the Scripture

It can be confusing when we first study God’s word trying to understand the requirements of salvation in each time period of scripture. I picked up a handy acronym in an intensive that should be useful. The acronym is COMB came from Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum and it stands for Content, Object, Means and Basis. It is important to understand that salvation was always by faith [and not by works], but the elements of faith varied throughout the dispensations (or time periods associated with covenants in scripture).

This element of faith changes, this involves what you have to believe to be saved.
Always God.
Always by grace through faith.
Basis of salvation was always the substitutionary work of Christ.

Continue reading “Salvation Throughout the Scripture”

Position Verses Condition

When we are redeemed by the blood of Christ at the moment of salvation lots of things happen. Part of what happens is that we are then unified in Christ in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascention and then hidden with Him. Our position is in and with Christ. Immediately. However, while our position is sealed with Christ, our righteousness set to 100% (called ‘imputed’ in theological circles) our condition is altered but is not completed like our position. Our condition is subject to the flesh (Romans 7:15) which tries to gain back the hold that it once had. We are given a new nature that is alive and not separated from God (Genesis 3).
Continue reading “Position Verses Condition”

3 John 1:4

3 John 1:4 (NASB)

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

I am constantly reminded that this world is full of almost-truth, no truth and farthest from the truth. I am a strong proponent of ‘absolute truth.’ Absolute truth is the idea that truth is not just personal opinion, but exists outside of mankind [and as a Christian it resides in God]. A popular philosophy some time ago was called ‘modernism.’ Modernism said that man could figure out truth through science. That fell short since you can’t scientifically prove a lot of things. So then the philosophy of ‘post-modernism’ developed. Post-modernism involves the idea that there is no absolute truth at all. In short, everything is an opinion and everything is relativistic. Relativism clings to the self-cancelling statement: There is no absolute truth.
Continue reading “3 John 1:4”

Colossians 2:16-17

Today in church we went over Colossians 2:16-17. One of the key parts of this passage is that we need to not focus on the shadows, which have no substance, but instead focus on the substance of what is to come: Christ. Sometimes I get caught up in trappings like computers, programming, my car and my music. The truth is that Christ gives any meaning to those things that exist. If I look at them as His tools, then they have value, if I look at them as my posessions, or results of me and my genius then they are just shadows and they have no eternal value.

James 1:21

Tonight in Greek we looked at a very interesting difference in the NASB and King James version of the Bible when it comes to James 1:21. Below are the two versions to compare.

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility recieve the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

King James Version

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

On the surface the two look like the mean similar things. However, looking closer the King James implies a duality of responsibility that are ongoing:

  1. Lay apart all filthiness
  2. Receive the word

However, the NASB, which apparently reflects the Greek (according to my Greek teacher), there is only one ongoing task: receive the word. The laying aside of filthiness will then be an ongoing result of taking in the word! This is a powerful contrast to the King James’ implications. I’m often reminded that the Holy Spirit gives us righteousness and that we are not able to be righteous on our own. If we’re imbibing God’s word then it will be less likely that we’re sinning. How wonderful it is that the Lord renews our minds (Romans 12:2) and prepares us in condition for what our position has already obtained, the heavenlies (Colossians 3:1-3)!

Matthew 23:1-4

Matthew 23:1-4 (NASB)

  1. Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,
  2. Saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;
  3. therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
  4. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unvilling to move them with so much as a finger.”

What a picture this passage paints in my mind. Imagine a group of hungry listeners gathered around Jesus waiting for his direction. The authority with which Christ spoke makes it clear that when he made a statement, people were listening, even if they didn’t understand all that He said.

The short passage points out that the Jewish leaders of the day had usurped God’s authority (through the prophet Moses) and had made more laws! More rules for the Jewish believers to follow. As if 613 laws were not enough, the made more to help keep people from getting near the 613. This is somewhat like airport security in the United States after September 11th, 2001. Weapons like box cutters, guns and explosives were dangerous. Therefore toenail clippers were banned as well. If a 4 inch bumper on your car is good, a 4 foot bumper is better 🙂

What is so precious about this passage to me is that Christ still respects their authority! “What?!,” you migh ask. Christ instructs those listening to obey the authority God has allowed over them, but he doesn’t tell them to become drones. He instructs them to obey God’s law so that they don’t become bound up in the heavy bondage of the Pharisees’ law.

As a New Testament Saint, I rejoice that we’re not under the law at all! In fact the Holy Spirit is given to us to allow us to be free from the bondage of sin and the law. Instead, as we abide in the Holy Spirit we will be doing God’s will, walking in righteousness
and loving one another as God has directed.

Grace is good, especially in the light of this law that was once heaped on the Old Testament Saints.

All Things Theoblogical

This is a theological blog, or at least it will be. I hope to transfer most of the theological content I’ve written at my general blog over here to help create focused areas of attention and content.