Human’s Responsibility in God’s Theatre

Behold The Man

Until I read Genesis 20:4-6, Paul conclusion in Philippians 2:12-13 had continuously baffled me. Commending unity that can only be achieved through humility in the church in Philippi, Paul asked Philippians to learn not to do anything out of selfish ambition, but in humility consider others more significant.

Making his point clearer, Paul beseeched the Philippians to follow Christ Jesus’ example. According to Paul, Jesus was in the form of God, but did not hold to his majesty. In humbleness and for the sake of those who God called and draw to him, emptied himself taking the form of a human being, and went even further through  a hideous death and rose to glory for their sake. (2:1-11)

From that, Paul concluded that Philippians, in his absence, were to “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [them], both to will and to work for his good pleasure”(2:12b-13 ESV) doing all things without grumbling or disputing.

How was it possible for Philippians to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, if it is God who works in them both to will and work for God’s own good pleasure? If God works in them to will and work, how then are Philippians said to will and to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling? Does not God’s working in Philippians’ will and work somehow negate Philippians responsibility to work out their own salvation?

In a theatrical account of Abimelech, Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 20 my bafflement like a vapor disappeared. In this account, Abraham found himself in the Egypt-like déjà vu (Gen. 12:10-20) where because of his wife’s dazzling beauty, his life was in danger. In fear that men without fear of God will kill him to have her, Abraham said, for the second time, that his wife was his sister. Abimelech king of Gerar took Sarah but did not sleep with her.  The drama then unfolds:

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. (v3-6 ESV)

God recognized that Abimelech did not sleep with Sarah in integrity of his heart and clarified that Abimelech’s will and working out not to lay with Sarah was so because He worked in him, namely God kept Abimelech from sinning against Him. God did not let Abimelech sleep with his new mistress Sarah.

Philippians, like Abimelech, are called to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, yet it is God who works in their willing and working for His own good pleasure. The working out of salvation with fear and trembling is possible because they are in God’s theatre.

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Problem With The Blind Men and the Elephant

David Jakobsen explained the problem with postmodernism and show that the popular illustration of The Blind Men and the Elephant does work against a postmodernist.

Thanks to my best friend Pierce Peter at FactorySense and Matthew D. Burnett on MattTubeVlog for a brilliant work.

Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant

As told in Jainism and Buddhism(Udana 68-69)

A number of disciples went to the Buddha and said, “Sir, there are living here in Savatthi many wandering hermits and scholars who indulge in constant dispute, some saying that the world is infinite and eternal and others that it is finite and not eternal, some saying that the soul dies with the body and others that it lives on forever, and so forth. What, Sir, would you say concerning them?”

The Buddha answered, “Once upon a time there was a certain raja who called to his servant and said, ‘Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were born blind… and show them an elephant.’ ‘Very good, sire,’ replied the servant, and he did as he was told. He said to the blind men assembled there, ‘Here is an elephant,’ and to one man he presented the head of the elephant, to another its ears, to another a tusk, to another the trunk, the foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail, saying to each one that that was the elephant.

“When the blind men had felt the elephant, the raja went to each of them and said to each, ‘Well, blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an elephant?’

“Thereupon the men who were presented with the head answered, ‘Sire, an elephant is like a pot.’ And the men who had observed the ear replied, ‘An elephant is like a winnowing basket.’ Those who had been presented with a tusk said it was a ploughshare. Those who knew only the trunk said it was a plough; others said the body was a grainery; the foot, a pillar; the back, a mortar; the tail, a pestle, the tuft of the tail, a brush.

“Then they began to quarrel, shouting, ‘Yes it is!’ ‘No, it is not!’ ‘An elephant is not that!’ ‘Yes, it’s like that!’ and so on, till they came to blows over the matter.

“Brethren, the raja was delighted with the scene.

“Just so are these preachers and scholars holding various views blind and unseeing…. In their ignorance they are by nature quarrelsome, wrangling, and disputatious, each maintaining reality is thus and thus.”

Then the Exalted One rendered this meaning by uttering this verse of uplift,

    O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
    For preacher and monk the honored name!
    For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
    Such folk see only one side of a thing.

John Godfrey Saxe(1816-1887) poem is a modification of this parable.

Early Church’s Understand of Genesis 1:26

The Epistle of Barnabas is a letter written circa  70 – 130 A.D probably by an Alexandrian Jew in the period of Trajan and Hadrian. In this letter we find an early church understanding of Genesis 1:26.

For it is written concerning Him, partly with reference to Israel, and partly to us; and [the Scripture] saith thus: “He was wounded for our transgressions, and braised for our iniquities: with His stripes we are healed. He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb which is dumb before its shearer.” Therefore we ought to be deeply grateful to the Lord, because He has both made known to us things that are past, and hath given us wisdom concerning things present, and hath not left us without understanding in regard to things which are to come. Now, the Scripture saith, “Not unjustly are nets spread out for birds.” This means that the man perishes justly, who, having a knowledge of the way of righteousness, rushes off into the way of darkness. And further, my brethren: if the Lord endured to suffer for our soul, He being Lord of all the world, to whom God said at the foundation of the world, “Let us make man after our image, and after our likeness,” understand how it was that He endured to suffer at the hand of men.(Epistle of Barnabas, 5:1b-10, Ante-Nicene Father Vol.I)

“For it is concerning us that the scripture says that he says to the Son, “Let us make man after our image and likeness, and let them rule the beasts of the earth, and the birds of heaven, and the fishes of the sea.” And the Lord said, when he saw our fair creation, “Increase and multiply and fill the earth”; these things were spoken to the Son. “(Epistle of Barnabas, 6:12, The Apostolic fathers)

The “us” in Genesis 1:26, as believed by early Christians, is the Father speaking to the Son.

Sources:

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. 1885 (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (139). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

Clement I, P., Clement I, P., Ignatius, S., Bishop of Antioch, Polycarp, S., Bishop of Smyrna, & Lake, K. (1912-13). The Apostolic fathers (P. Clement I, S. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, S. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna & K. Lake, Ed.). The Loeb classical library. London; New York: Heinemann; Macmillan.

2 Marks Of A Noble Apologist

Seeks Proofs Of Her Faith

A noble apologist seeks proofs of certain doctrine of her faith not for the sake of attaining to faith by means of reason, as Anslem of Canterbury once said, but that she may be delighted by understanding and meditating on those things which she believes and always ready to convince any one who demands of her a reason of that hope which is in her.

A noble apologist is driven by an active love of God that seeks deeper knowledge of God. Faith seeking understanding.

Aware of Her Context

A noble apologist is aware of what God is already doing in the culture she trying to share her faith. As Paul, she labors to communicate the Gospel truth into a language, beliefs, values, symbols, traditions and practices that are already familiar in her given culture.

She is gifted with an ability of turning the ears of her listeners, in a given cultural context, into eyes to see the truth of the Gospel that could not easily be seen or understood because of cultural diversity.

A noble apologist walks in wisdom toward outsiders. She makes the best use of the time. Her speech is always gracious, seasoned with salt, so that she may know how she ought to answer each person. (Col. 4:5-6)

Question: What other marks are essential for Christian Apologist to faithfully fight the good fight, finish the race, and kept the faith?

The Case For The Resurrection

Last week Credo House offered Michael Patton and Mike Licona’s 10 +1 less than 4 minutes video clips that easily and wonderfully answers the objections for The Case for the Resurrection.  Michael R. Licona, a New Testament Scholar, answered 10 Myths offered against the case for the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Introduction: This is just one of the many myths about Christianity that millions of people have bought into. But one thing remains certain — Jesus died on the cross and rose again 3 days later. That’s not just faith — it’s FACT — and there’s a strong historical foundation to support this.

Myth #1: Contradictions in the Gospels

Myth #2: Pagan Parallels in the Mystery Religions

Myth #3: The Fraud Theory Continue reading