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Bonhoeffer was always thinking about thinking. He meant to see things through to the bottom, to bring as much clarity as possible. The influence of his father, the scientist, is unmistakable. But the difference between his thinking now and in the future was that now, despite his being a theologian and pastor, he didn’t mention God’s role in the process or God’s will. Still, what he said here in his diary curiously and clearly presaged the famously difficult decision he would make in 1939, trying to determine whether he should remain safely in America or sail back to the terrible Terra Incognita of his homeland. In both cases, he sensed that there was a right decision, but that ultimately it wasn’t his. Later on he would say it explicitly: that he had been “grasped” by God; that God was leading him, and sometimes where he preferred not to go [Metaxas in Bonhoeffer, 70].
The Irrelevance of the Gospel: A Quote from John Dickson in his TGC article “The Myths of Progress and Relevance”
The true relevance of the gospel is found in its studied irrelevance to any particular culture, whether ancient Corinthians or modern New Yorker. We do not need another message that affirms what we already think in all our foibles and cultural particularities. We surely need one that is free to challenge, rebuke, frighten, and enlighten us, as well as comfort and affirm us when appropriate. That message is the gospel. It is precisely because the gospel was not crafted to endorse ancient Athenians or modern Americans that it is wonderfully relevant to both.
While continuing some wonderful reading this morning, I was seized by a thought. The significance of “faith” cannot be ignored as one reads through Romans 4:1-5:5. An appropriate question for interpretation in such a faith-rich text is “What is faith?” My own personal study has led me to believe that faith in the OT and NT is best described by the word “loyalty.” Such a description best prepares the Christian to interpret and understand the relationship between faith & works.
I am also reading volume one of Iain H. Murphy’s biography on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. As a youth living in the Welsh city of Llangeitho, Lloyd- Jones recalls the churches in town to have large congregations and strong tradition but void of the glory of God.
This caused me to pause and consider the Church in my day and in my contexts. Consider with me. Does the current generation “need” doubt as part of their seeking God in faith? That is, is it becoming more and more necessary to cause a congregation(s) to question itself with a message – say – on how the glory departed from Israel in Ezekiel’s day because the people’s loyalty turned from YHWH to other gods and other things? Are we living in a day when our local churches need provoked about the genuineness of their loyalty to God in Jesus Christ? I think the answer is a resounding, “Yes.”
Do you ever feel like a failure? Of late, such feelings have been magnified in my inner man. I have been painfully aware of past, present and potentially future failures. Making matters worse, I have been reading through 1 Samuel—just finished today—and Saul’s life is one with which I wish I was not able to identify . . . but today, I am. I told a couple of my best friends the other day that Saul seems to always act out of fear—particularly fear of failure (with references to his role over the people of God)—instead of relying on YHWH. Just today, I read the culmination of his continuous fear and failure. YHWH would not make himself known to Saul in any way, so he turns to a conjurer of spirits,
And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor” (1 Samuel . . . pause—my baby girl just threw up on me—okay . . . 28:6–7).
We know the rest of the story (if you don’t, read the rest of 1 Samuel). Saul continuously acted out of fear, and it eventually led to YHWH removing him and putting another in his place (wow vomited on and pooped on in one blog post—that’s my girl).
As a man desirous to be useful to God in his mission, this is perhaps my worst fear—to fail God and become unemployable in his work. As strolled down the panorama of my brief life, fear and failure are strung throughout. I wept when I did not make the Junior High basketball team two years in a row; I wept when I did not make the varsity basketball team; I didn’t finish a B.S. in Chemistry (this admittedly is complicated); and now much bigger things are at stake; will I be a faithful husband? Will I be a faithful father? Will I finish seminary? Will I stop learning? Will I get my doctorate? Will I be a faithful and employable pastor and teacher? Oh man. I think about these things a lot.
When I find myself in the midst of a struggle, I generally turn to Jesus’ life, and I always find an example of faithfulness in the midst of struggle. His faithfulness unto death is the strength for the believer to participate in Romans 12:12. However, sometimes I need an example of someone who has blown it big time to encourage me in the grace and mercy of God. Saul is not what I would call an encouraging example. It’s like the dude was predisposed to blowing regardless of the grace and mercy given to him (I realize that’s a theologically loaded statement).
So, I found this word—ἥττημα. It is used in the New Testament twice and in the Old Testament once. The OT example . . . not encouraging . . . basically, YHWH is a warrior who will bring defeat to the young men of Assyria—not a pleasant notion if you ask me. The two NT references are a bit more encouraging to those of us who know we are naught but failures desperate for God’s grace, mercy and strength. First, Romans 11:12,
Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
Paul speaks of the failure of Israel with regard their role in God’s mission as that which resulted in riches for the world. Further, their failure does not appear to be final, rather a restoration is promised to the failing people of Israel. Second, 1 Corinthians 6:7,
To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
The Corinthians were failing to live out the fullness of the Christian brotherhood. They were not able to handle their disagreements with their own community, and instead, they took their arguments to the judges of the world. While they were failing in the Christian life (and not only in this way!), the apostle still reminded them that,
you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).
If adulterous Israel and immoral Corinth can be employed by God for his mission, then perhaps there is hope for all of us. May God remind us of the Spirit given to the Christian so that we may be faithful like the Lord Jesus and remember his kindness when we are not.
Check out this video:
I am enrolled in an exegesis course on Mark at DTS this semester. We just finished introductory matters and are about to head into the text – I am pumped! One of the course requirements is to read one commentary (from a predetermined list set by Dr. Wallace) of our choice. I have chosen to climb the great depths of Joel Marcus’ 2 volume commentary on the Gospel in the Anchor Bible Series.
Toward the end of his nearly 100 page introduction, Marcus has a section entitled, ‘The Place of Mark in Christian Life and Thought’. I found one statement quite simple but quite profound. The following is under the subsection ‘Mark in the History of Religions’:
“Mark’s particular way of interpreting these writings, moreover, follows in the footsteps of Old Testament exegesis of Jewish writers. The God whose advent the Markan Jesus announces, to whom he calls his hearers to turn in penitence and faith, the God whom he trusts to raise him from the dead (an un-Hellenistic concept), is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (cf. 12:26), and not of the philosophers.”
This comment follows a note that Mark only quotes from the Old Testament, which seems to me a quite profound statement in light of the buzzing conversations regarding Mark’s employment of popular rhetoric (Marcus goes against this recent trend – at least according to his introduction).
So, I have wanted a new theme for the blog for quite some time. Here it is! All of the Widgets (for things like my favorite links, a calendar of posts, the rextweet, etc.) can still be accessed at the bottom of the blog home page. Simply scroll all the way down to find them. I like the wide/open format for the posts, which causes them to serve as the central focus of the blog. Hopefully, you like it too . I have also translated the title instead of transliterating the Greek and changed up the sub-title a little bit to reflect my growing understanding of the message of Mark’s Gospel as well as what I want the blog to be. That’s all. Now I just need to get the Bagnall series completed. Until then.
On a global scale folks, we’re rich. Have you given to the Disaster Relief needs around the world in our day?
Matthew 25:31–46 (NRSV)
Matt. 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Thanks for stopping by Eutheiai Triboi today. I am in the midst of a busy spell, so please forgive the lack of posting. After this weekend, a “normal” pace should return to life (is there a such thing?).