Genesis 3.1-6 & Luke 10.21 – Pride and Salvation
Posted: 28 May 2010 in Genesis, Luke
And he [the serpent] said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may [not] eat….. of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die….. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat….

 

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.

This episode in Genesis, commonly known as the fall, is a story of human pride and rebellion against God. In idiomatic Hebrew the phrase “knowledge of good and evil” referred to the wide sweep of knowledge in general, and not just to a knowledge of morality.

We, in common with the rest of our species, do not want to live in dependence upon God. Instead we would much prefer to arrange things for ourselves, and that requires that we eat at the tree of knowledge. This project has had mixed results. It has brought us (for instance) the benefits of medical science, but it has also brought us the H bomb, and, with it, the likelihood that we will wipe ourselves off the face of the planet sometime in the next two or three centuries. Perhaps even this one.

In his prayer to the Father Jesus makes it clear that there is no point in us trying to engineer our own salvation. Salvation is something which can only be wrought by God, and for that reason it is only available to those who are prepared to live in dependence upon him. Being wise in our own eyes will serve us ill here. Instead we can only embrace the wisdom of God in trust and obedience. It is a wisdom which is scarcely comprehensible to us, but it is the only one which can lead to our salvation.

This is a theme widely echoed in Paul’s epistles (cf 1 Cor 1.26).

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Tags: obedience, original sin, pride, salvation, the fall, trusting in god

2 Timothy 3.16 – Authority of Scripture
Posted: 27 May 2010 in 2 Timothy

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

There is much in the Bible that is inimical to the spirit of the age. Whilst it must be recognised that the Bible was written between two and three thousand years ago, and some of what is in it is culturally conditioned, there is much within it that isn’t. Doctrines such as Predestination, the limited scope of salvation, and the uniqueness of Christ, are ones which the modern mind is likely to have problems with. For liberals, amongst whom I would include myself, there is the constant danger of deciding that a doctrine is hard to swallow, and that the Bible therefore cannot mean what it says.

Nevertheless, the Bible, is meant to be authoritative – especially amongst Protestants, but also amongst Catholics. There is nothing to suggest that any of these doctrines are time conditioned, so they, as well as others like them, must be accepted as revealed by God. To do otherwise is to sit in judgment upon the scriptures inspired by him, and therefore to sit in judgment upon God himself.

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Tags: authority of scripture, bible, inspiration of scripture

Proverbs 16.4 & Colossians 1.16 The Purpose of Creation
Posted: 26 May 2010 in Colossians, Proverbs

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.

If ever we are tempted to think that the world was made for our benefit, these two verses can put us right about that, and also put right the man centredness of much modern theology and religious thinking.

The world is not here for our benefit, but to fulfill God’s purposes, whatever they may be, and we are here to do our part in fulfilling those purposes.

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Tags: purposes of god

Leviticus 3.2 – Vocation
in Leviticus

And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.

Here reference is made to the fact that Aaron’s sons had the exclusive right to execute the priestly office in ancient Israel. As Hebrews has it, “No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God.” The central idea here is that of vocation, and of allowing God to determine the role we are to fulfill in life. We can spend many long years trying to arrange things for ourselves, and get nowhere, but sooner or later we must surrender to God’s will.

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Tags: call of god, obedience, vocation, will of god

Leviticus 1 – Worship in the Old Testament
Posted: 25 May 2010 in Leviticus
The sacrificial system set out in Leviticus could be understood as a crude attempt to buy off a wrathful God. However, there is a more charitable way of understanding it, and that is as an attempt to honour God by gifting something to him. 

In a sense, the fact that worship in ancient Israel cost the individual something, could be viewed as an indication of theological seriousness.

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Tags: praise, worship