Archive for the ‘Bible & Theology’ Category

Eternal Life (Part 2)

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

In part 1 we examined the only occurrence of the phrase eternal life in the Old Testament, Daniel 12:2.  In that context eternal life was a reward given to the righteous after they were resurrected.

Today we’re moving on to the first occurrence in the New Testament, Matthew 19:16.  It is part of the story commonly known as the Rich Young Ruler and occurs in all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, Luke 18:18-30).  One thing we need to remember here is that the focus of this story is not eternal life.  This story focuses on the things that keep us from experiencing eternal life because we value them above God.

Yet, we learn something about the nature of eternal life.  In Jesus’ answer to the man we learn three things.  These are adapted from Matthew: From Biblical Text to Contemporary Life (NIV Application Commentary Series)
by Michael J. Wilkins.  (1) Eternal life is a way of living different from the normal humans experience (Matthew 19:17).  Jesus doesn’t, at this point, clarify the nature of this life.  It is only clear that it’s different from the life the young man is experiencing.  (2) Eternal life is closely associated with the Kingdom of Heaven/God.  They are not one and the same, but you can’t have one without the other.  (3) Eternal life is part of salvation.

As you can see, the New Testament has expanded our view of eternal life.  The gift is not only received at the resurrection, all who are saved experience it.  It is a type of life different from the normal life experienced by humanity and is closely related to the Kingdom of God.

What other differences do you see from Daniel’s portrayal of eternal life and the Gospels’ presentations here?

Eternal Life (Part 1)

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

For those of you that have been following this blog for a little while, this series is going to be a little different from what you’re used to.  I’m going to give you a peek into my research.   The focus of my research is John’s use of the concept of eternal life in his Gospel.  This series is going to provide an overview of what Scripture says about eternal life.  We will look at each occurrence of the phrase in the Bible and try to understand what that passage says about eternal life.

The first and only time the phrase eternal life appears in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint abbreviated LXX) is in Daniel 12:2.  Daniel 12 is part of an apocalyptic revelation given to Daniel while he was in Persia.  It is part of a very long prophecy which culminates with these words:

1 “At that time Michael,
the great prince who watches over your people,
will arise.
There will be a time of distress
unlike any other from the nation’s beginning
up to that time.
But at that time your own people,
all those whose names are found written in the book,
will escape.
2 Many of those who sleep
in the dusty ground will awake—
some to everlasting life,
and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence.
3 But the wise will shine
like the brightness of the heavenly expanse.
And those bringing many to righteousness
will be like the stars forever and ever.
(Daniel 12:1-3 NET)

The phrase “everlasting life” in Greek is the same as “eternal life.”  Daniel tells us a couple of things about eternal life in this passage.  (1) Eternal life will be given to some after they are resurrected from the dead.  (2) Those that do not receive eternal life will receive eternal abhorrence.  The Greek word used here indicates a great disgrace.  In Ancient Near Eastern culture this was one of the worst things that could possibly happen to a person.  Honor was the most important thing in that culture.  Daniel is saying that some will be resurrected to eternal life and some will be resurrected to eternal disgrace.

So, Daniel 12:2 teaches us that eternal life is given to some when they are resurrected.  It appears here to be a reward of some kind and is the opposite of eternal disgrace.

How does this affect what you believe about eternal life?

The Distance Between You and God (Part 4)

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The past several posts have focused on how Christ-followers can overcome the relational distance created between us and God when we sin.  To illustrate, we’ve been looking at Psalm 51.  The first two things that stand out in the Psalm are that we need to admit that we have sinned and then put our trust in what God has done to overcome that relational distance.  There is one more thing we learn about this from Psalm 51.

This is probably the lesson I need most.  It seems to be the thing that most people leave out in the restoration process.

Worship!

Throughout the Psalm David worships God.  In confession he honors God’s justice in judging sin.  In his request for restoration he honor’s God’s mercy in restoring him.  The Psalm reaches its crescendo in the second half of verse 14, “Then my tongue will shout for joy because of your deliverance.”  The Psalm closes in praise of God.

When Christ-followers sin, we create relational distance between ourselves and God.  We must acknowledge our sin in confession.  Then we can experience God’s work in restoring our relationship.  As we experience this restoration, the only appropriate response is to worship God.

How do you worship God when he restores you?

The Distance Between You and God (Part 3)

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

We’ve been talking about what Christ-followers should do when they sin.  In the first post of the series we established that sin does not cause us to lose our relationship with God.  It creates relational distance between Him and us.  We’re looking at Psalm 51, King David’s prayer when he was caught in sin, to discover how to overcome that relational distance.  In the last post we observed that the first step is confession.

At this point we have to understand that we cannot overcome this relational distance on our own.  It literally takes an act of God.  The only way for us to span the distance that we’ve created in our sin is for God to restore us to the place we were.  The cool thing is that God is all about restoration.  The entire Bible is the story of human sin which creates relational distance between humanity and God and God’s work to restore that relationship.

Look at what David says in Psalm 51:7-14a:

7  Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.

8  Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven!
May the bones you crushed rejoice!

9  Hide your face from my sins!
Wipe away all my guilt!

10  Create for me a pure heart, O God!
Renew a resolute spirit within me!

11  Do not reject me!
Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me!

12  Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance!
Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey!

13  Then I will teach rebels your merciful ways,
and sinners will turn to you.

14  Rescue me from the guilt of murder, O God, the God who delivers me! (NET)

When we first became Christ-followers, we trusted Jesus and his sacrifice to free us from sin and death and to restore our relationship with God.  This one time experience guarantees us salvation and eternity with Him.  But just as the disciples needed their feet washed to be clean the night of the last supper (John 13:1-17), we need to rest in God’s grace.  We need to trust that just as Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross saved us, his sacrifice restores our relationship with God.  It is not an act of will or obedience.  It is an act of faith; an act of trust; an act of love.

An then, we experience the closing of the distance that we created.

We experience the restoration of our relationship with God.

When have you experienced this kind of relational restoration?

The Distance Between You and God (Part 2)

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

If you missed Tuesday’s post, make sure to read it.  It sets the foundation for the next several posts in the series.

We’re talking about what it takes for a Christ-follower to overcome the relational distance created between us and God when we sin, by looking at Psalm 51.  As we look at the first six verses we learn the first step to restore our relationship with God.  Confession.  The first step to overcoming that relational distance created by sin is to admit our sin.

That’s harder than it first sounds though.  There are several aspects to that admission.  Confession isn’t merely a mumbled I’m sorry for getting caught.  That’s often how we confess to each other, is it not?  Confession is more than that.  First, we must acknowledge that what we’ve done is truly wrong.  Until we acknowledge that our sin is sin, we will never restore our relationship with God.   Many times we don’t believe our sin is truly sin.  We are trapped by our culture’s “everything’s OK” mentality.  Everything is not OK.  Sin is still sin and sin keeps us from experiencing the relationship with God for which He created us.

Second, we must repent.  The word repent means to turn away.  We must consciously turn away from our sin.  Often, we get trapped in our sin and though we long to be closer to God we refuse to turn away from our sin.  We cannot restore our relationship with God unless we repent.  Our relationship with God has to be more important to us than our sin.  There’s a lot that goes in to repentance that we can talk about another time.  For the sake of this step in restoring our relationship with God, repentance is the inner conviction to leave that sin and lean on God.

That leaning on God will lead us to our next post.

Until then, have you ever seen or experienced confession restoring a relationship?

The Distance Between You and God

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

For the sake of clarity, I’m going to share one of my theological presuppositions.  I believe that the moment a person trusts Christ all their sins are forgiven, even the ones they haven’t committed yet.  I know not everyone agrees with that statement.  If you’d like to discuss it further feel free to comment below, but that is the presupposition that this series of posts will be built upon.

Often I have been asked if that is true, what happens when Christ-followers sin?  There are two things that do not happen.  (1) They are not rejected by God.  (2) They do not lose their place in heaven.  Therefore, when Christ-followers sin they have not lost the relationship with God that they received when they trusted Christ.

They’ve disappointed God and created relational distance between themselves and God.  You’ve experienced this in relationships with people.  Think of a time when you disappointed or hurt someone close to you, your husband or wife, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your parents, your children, or maybe just a close friend.  Think back to how you felt at that time.  Remember the pain and discomfort you experienced.  That is relational distance.  That is what happens to Christ-followers when they sin.

For some of you, that relational distance was never overcome.  For some of you, that relationship ended and the pain is still there.  I want you to know, I am truly sorry about that.  I’m sorry for the loss and the pain that you’ve experienced.  Yet, I also want you to know that will never happen with God.  Jesus has promised to never leave you (Matthew 28:20).  Jesus has promised that no one will ever pull you out of God’s hand (John 10:28-29).

In the next several posts we’re going to talk about what to do to overcome that experience of relational distance with God.  We’re going to look at Psalm 51.  It is a prayer that King David of Israel prayed after he had sinned by sleeping with another man’s wife, getting her pregnant and then killing the man to cover up what he’d done.  If you haven’t read Psalm 51 in a while check it out on YouVersion.  And if you want to read the story about David it’s in 2 Samuel 10 – 11.

Before we get into what Scripture says, however, what are the steps that you use when trying to restore broken relationships?