Bad to Good

Redemption is usually seen as a doctrinal subject referring to Christ’s payment on the cross for our sins. Redemption includes that but God redeems a whole lot more than that.

God redeems some sin as well. Here are a few examples:

1) The curse on the earth caused death. Death can be beautiful in creation. Fall colors, dead trees can look cool, not to mention that death provides fertilizer to create life.

2) Abram had a bunch of stuff when he parted company with Lot. A good portion of the stuff Abram had was given to him by Pharaoh when Abram lied about Sara!

3) David’s sin with Bathsheba lead to the birth of Solomon, the wisest man ever.

There are other examples as well. None of these things excuse sin. Fall colors do not make up for Adam’s sin, lies are not OK as long as you get stuff to use for God, and good kids do not eliminate adultery.

But it’s still cool how God can use our idiocy to create something good. Ultimate example:

4) A bunch of guys crucified the Son of God and it worked out to our eternal redemption.

It doesn’t get any better than that! It also does not excuse the guys who crucified Christ. Woe to him who took part in that. Imagine what good God could do with all good!? That will be the believer’s eternity.

God and Steak

As I read the Bible I find more and more reason to love God. He’s great, He really is. He’s even great all the time.

Here’s my latest observation about how great God is and how much I can’t wait to see Him and spend eternity near Him: steak.

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Steak is great. One of the best parts about steak is how good it smells on the grill. One of my favorite parts of grilling steak is how I smell like a grilled steak for hours after. I don’t shower for days, until the last vestiges of steak aroma are covered up with, uh, other aromas.

Noah got off the ark and he sacrificed some of the clean animals, of which he brought spares. It says that God smelled the cooking meat and was pleased. I know, I know, He was pleased because Noah was righteous, yeah, yeah, yeah.

He was also pleased because animals on fire smell really good. The theme is consistent throughout Scripture: God likes the smell of burning meat. I do too. I’m just like Him in that way. I wonder if heaven will smell like steak on the grill?

Is God Good All the Time?

One of my joys in life is to take commonly said statements and refute them. Makes me feel superior. Here’s one that has bugged me for a long time, the dumb song that repeats endlessly that “God is good all the time.”

I understand the sentiment, I know all things work together for good, but do we really experience God being good to us all the time? I think not. God can be pretty downright bad at times, has been so many times.

Ask all the folks in hell. “All things work together for good” is a great phrase, but it aint the whole verse. It works together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose. In other words, not all things work together for everyone. As in, not all the time.

Even Job admitted the bad stuff happening to him was from God. God was good to Israel and those that love Him, not everyone, not all the time. God our Father disciplines us, and no discipline for the moment seems enjoyable.

Get this one. Psalm 18:25, 26, “With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.”

I’m sure you think I’m picking lint with this. That’s fine. I think the song is sung by many for whom it is not true. I think we should be careful the message we are sending with the eighteen bazillion repetitions in our songs.

He Shall Never See Death

Again trying to get more value out of my seminary Greek.

People have wondered about John 8:51 many times, including the guys who first heard it. Here’s what is said, “Verily, verily I say unto you, if a man keep my sayings, he shall never see death.”

Greek point 1: Verily is sometimes translated truly and is the Greek word “amen.”

Greek point 2: The final phrase in the Greek verse is “into the ages,” a phrase that is often translated “forever.” In other words, in the Greek the verse ends like this, “If a man keep my sayings, he shall never see death, forever.” Notice this makes it into zero popular translations.

Greek point 3: When Jesus says people won’t see death, what does he mean? Many believers have died, seen death. The key to finding out what he meant is to examine the word “see.” There are at least six Greek words that can be translated “see.”

This one is an academic kind of see, to ponder, consider carefully. In other words, one who observes the words of Jesus Christ will never have to worry about death! The believer is an indifferent spectator of death. The unbeliever is forced to examine death, see it, fear it, worry over it. Keeping the words of Christ frees you from that worry.

Cool.

I Will Never Leave You

Hebrews 13:5 is quoted by many. It’s thrown around all over the place, even by people who it doesn’t apply to. Saw it in a new way the other day.

I took Greek in seminary, lots of it. I sometimes feel I wasted my time and money on it. Occasionally I will delve into it, try to find something cool to make me think I got my money’s worth. Hebrews 13:5 in Greek gives my tuition expenses some value.

I will never leave you” is the first phrase. Leave does not mean “leave.” The word “leave” actually means uphold or sustain. The KJV translators tried to convey the double negative of the Greek into the verb.

Double negatives in Greek do not make a positive, they make a doubly strong negative. The double negative should say “I will not, I will not leave you” Or, even better, “I will not, I will not cease sustaining you.”

Some Greek tuition value right there. But the last phrase, “nor forsake you” is different in the Greek too. When we read Hebrews 13:5 we think he’s saying the same thing twice: he won’t leave or forsake. In reality he’s saying two different things. God won’t fail to sustain us nor will He leave us.

The second part, “nor forsake you” actually has a triple negative in the Greek! Triply negative. In other words, a guy could legitimately translate Hebrews 13:5 this way:

For He Himself has said, I will not, I will not cease to sustain thee, I will not, I will not, I will not forsake thee.”

Cool.

Literally Annoyed

There is entirely too much arguing in my house. The main cause of arguing is due to children taking things too literally. This conversation will serve as my for instance:

KID: “Dad, what time is it?”
ME: “Five o’clock.”
KID: “Nuh-uh, it’s 4:58.”

That, right there, is the main content of much of the childish conversation in our home. It is unnecessary and stupid. First of all, 4:58 might as well be 5. Second, if you can tell me it’s 4:58 and not 5, why did you ask me?

I recently lectured my children, with many other timely examples, on this issue and told them that I was helping them put away a childish attribute, which will serve them well.

I then proceeded to tell them that the church is made up of stupid conversations like this. As a pastor I get much of this sort of thing every day. Work with me people.

–When I say that dispensationalism went off the deep end: this does not mean that I am not a dispensationalist or that dispensationalists are heretic scum.

–When I say that all believers will experience a process of growth and victory over sin: this does not mean I believe in perfectionism, cessationism, Pharisaism, legalism, etc.

–When I say that grace is overblown to the expense of holiness: this does not mean that I think grace is less valuable, worthless, antinomian, worm infested rot, etc.

People who jump to conclusions based on their hyper-literalness are acting like 7-year olds. This does not mean I have anything against 7-year olds. It means that 35-year olds should be more mature.

Rather than getting hyper-literal, just be literal and listen to what was just said.

Why I Don’t Blog About Evangelism

The Internet Monk had a post critiquing the spirituality of the blogosphere. Although I could take or leave most of his critique, one did get me and it’s one I’ve thought on before.  It’s his number two criticism and I was somewhat surprised that someone else had the same observation, it goes like this:

With all the Facebook, Twitter and blog feeds that report on every mundane detail of life, how come so few reports include something about evangelism? Why don’t we read Twits like, “I talked to someone about faith in Christ today. They cussed me out.” Or, “I struck up a conversation with a guy about not being drunk with wine but filled with the spirit.”

I imagine the Christian defensive response is what mine was, “Well, that’s just arrogant. When we do good we’re not supposed to tell people.” Apparently when we do bad or irrelevant we should tell everyone though.

One glaring problem with blogging and Twitting and Facebooking is that it reveals the inane lives we live. It reveals the level of narcissism we all live in. It reveals just how little we care about others and how much we care about others knowing about us.

Anyway, I know why my Facebook, Twitter and blog don’t bring up evangelism sessions: I don’t have many. I speak this to my shame.