Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Unforgivable Sin Part IV

The next passage that speaks of the unforgivable sin, is that of Hebrews 10:26

HEBREWS 10: 26
The context of this passage is that of the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus and His blood to forgive our sins. His sacrifice was not like that of the Aaronic priests, whose sacrifice could never forgive sins, but Him with one sacrifice was able to forgive the sins of humanity once and for all. Verses 19 to 26 has a call to the believers to drow near God. These are the reasons for the believer to come closer to God:
1.We have confidence to enter the the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus
2.We have a great priest over the house of God

Now, how is it that one drowns near to God?
1.By having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience
2.Having our bodies washed with pure water
3.Holding unswervingly to the hope we profess
4.Considering how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds
5.Not giving up meeting together
This is the context of the passage, and after that comes our text.
It is important to understand that the second word in the text in Greek is gar; which means, for or because. It is a preposition and is putting together verses 25 and 26. So, it is not a new section that is tarted here, but it is a continuation of the thought from the previous verse.
The word deliberately could also be translated as willfully, or voluntarily. What is it referring to?
I believe that the explanation is given in the following passages.

Whys by which one may sin willfully; Verses 29-38:
1.By trampling the on of God under foot
2.By treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him
3.By insulting the Spirit of grace
Former testimony:
1.Stood faithful while suffering
2.Stood faithful while insulted and persecuted
3.Sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of property for the sake of Christ

It is clear from this passage that it is speaking of people who are Christians and after enjoying the benefits of being save, they go back to the world and are unwilling to come back to God.
The passage then continues with a Calling:
Verse 35: “Do not throw away your confidence”
Verse 36 : “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
Verse 38: “The righteous one will live by faith; And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
Verse 39: “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

The calling is to stay faithful to God, and the faith.

The Unforgivable Sin Part III

Mathew is not the only passage where one will find an unforgivable sin. We find this issue in: Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26; and 1. John 5:16
Analyzing this passages will help us understand the subject better, and on a save ground get to a reasonable conclusion.

This passage has a context of Jesus being the Great High Priest. He was a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. God honored Him, and called Him His Son, and a Priest in the order of Mechizedek Heb. 5:6. He was not only a priest who was different. For He did not need to be continually offering sacrifice like the descendants of Aaron. But Jesus Himself became the source of eternal salvation to those who obey Him.
This is the back ground of our passage today. After this, chapter five finishes and a continuation of the thought is present in chapter 6. It begins with a call to growth. Since Jesus is the High Priest according to the order of Melchisedez, since He is the source of salvation; the believers are to grow to maturity.
After this, the passage continues with a description of people who are Christian and how they are not able to come back to enjoy salvation in Christ. The description of these people is the following:
1.They were enlightened
2.They have tasted the heavenly gift
3.They have shared in the Holy Spirit
4.They have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the coming age

Now, lets analyze this: 1) the word enlightened refers to the influence of Christ in the live of a person. Jesus is the light of the world; John 8:12; and He is the light of men John 1:4. So a person that was enlightened; was a person that was guided by Jesus and had Jesus in his life.
2) The second description of the the fallen individual is that he had tested the heavenly gift. That is to say, he experienced, enjoyed, the gift that is from heaven. What gift is it? When a person had leprosy and became cured, that person was to bring gifts to the priests; Lev. 14:4; Matt. 8:4. The gifts refered to in Lev. Was that of 2 birds, one was killed and its blood was put inside a container with fresh water and was mixed with the fresh water, an the other bird that was alive was to be dipped into the water mixed with blood that was in the container. Then, the person who was healed, was to be sprinkled by the priest 7 times and the live bird was to be set free. The symbolism of the ceremony is that of a person who was dead and came back to life and set free by the Lord. In the same way, the Lord had set the believer free from the bondage of sin and death, and has made him come back to a clean and pure live in Him.
3) This third description is that of having not only the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but also having the Holy Spirit in the person. In other words, the person that is being described has become a partaker of the group that have the Holy Spirit.
4) To taste in this passage means to experience or understand the word of God, and found it to be good. Not only that, but they have also have experienced the Messiah. The time of the Messiah.
With not dought this passage is describing a Christian. Now the passage then says that it is impossible for them to come back to repentance. Now, the question is why? Because nothing will bring that person to repentance; since that person has lost all sensitivity to God. in which case, the issue is that the person does not want to repent, and if some one does not want to repent, it is impossible for that person to be saved; Luke 13:3,5. So, it is impossible to bring someone to repentance if that person does not want to repent.

The Unforgivable Sin Part II

From this Analysis of the word, lets see what some people say the Blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is.

Here are the options:
1. Beyer, (who was the writer of the article in the dictionary corresponding to this word in TDNT) Commenting on the incident in Mr. 3:28-29, which corresponds to the one in Mathew 12:31-32 explains the sin by saying: “It denotes the conscious and wicked rejection of the saving power and grace of God towards man. Only the man who sets himself against forgiveness is excluded from it.” Page 624 vol. 1.

2.M.M. Knappen: “Ascribing to Satan the works of God.”
3. John Wesley: Saying that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Satan
4. A blasphemy of the Spirit of God, in the testimony he hath given to Christ and his gospel; and a total apostasy from the light and convicting evidence of the truth of the Christian religion.” Gospel Magazine V. 321 ff. 1778.
5.Reverend Basil Wood: “Charging Christ with having a devil and with working his Miracles by Satan; while they [the Pharisees] knew in their consciences that he wrought them by the finger of God.”
6. Richard Cecil: “Sinning against the dispensation of the Spirit after the day of Pentecost.”
7. John Newton: The final impenitence.
8. Augustine of Hippo:
He could not accept that a there was not a sin that God would not forgive. So his conclusion was: One sinned unpardonable only when one contemptuously refused to seek the Spirit’s forgiveness. Persistent impenitence was the blasphemy against the Spirit, the one unpardonable sin.
9. Thomas Aquinas
It could be an specific sin, and a general condition of sin.
List of sins that are against the Holy Spirit according to Aquinas:
A. Despair
B. Presumption
C. Impenitence
D. Obstinacy
E. Resisting the known truth
F. Envy of another’s Good.
10. John Calving: “The Resistance of truth with settled malice merely for the sake of resisting (even though they are so seized by its brightness that they cannot plead ignorance).”

John Calving got to this conclusion after analyzing Heb. 6:4-6; Heb. 10:26-29.

11. William Perkins: “A voluntary and obstinate denial of the truth of Christ already known, proceeding from destinata malitia (settled malice) as its root or efficient cause.”

The Unforgivable Sin Part I

Back when I was baptized when I was 12 years old, I was afraid of saying anything about the Holy Spirit, since I understood that the Bible said that the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was an unforgivable sin. I was so afraid of committing a sin that has no forgiveness, to the point that I did not wanted to say anything at all in reference to the Holy Spirit.
Interesting is to know that I was not the only one who struggled with this issue. Through out antiquity, the issue of the unforgivable sin had cost much misery to many people. Many Christians who have thought to commit the sin had lost their peace and their conscience drove them into insanity. A good example of that is the English poet who composed the hymn “There is a fountain fill with blood drown from Emmanuel's vein.” William Cowper believed that he was guilty of the sin, and not even the comfort and reasoning of John Newton (the writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace”) was able to comfort him.
In the mist of this uncertainty, there are few questions that we may need to
answer: Should we be so afraid of saying anything about the Holy Spirit, what is the unforgivable sin? What does it consist of and; is it truly unforgivable? To day, I hope to bring light to the harts that have being wrestling with this subject.

Lets beginning by analyzing the passages were references to an unforgivable sin is made, and then, from the analysis of these passages, we will turn to other 3 passages where we find references to other unforgivable sins. After that, conclusion will be made about what is it that the passages are referring to.

The first time that the idea of an unforgivable sin is presented; is in Mathew 12:31-32 where were read: “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

The context of this passage is that of Jesus casting out demons. When the people saw Jesus healing the person that was sick by casting out the demon, they wonder if Jesus was the son of David. The Pharisees, when they sow what had happened, attributed the work of Jesus to Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Immediately following, Jesus says that a kingdom divided can not stand, and a city that is divided can not stand, so, if Satan cast out Satan, his kingdom is not going to last very long. It is immediately after that that Jesus says that who ever is not with Him, is against Him. And he that gather not with Him, scatter abroad.
In this passage, it is very clear what the unforgivable sin is. That is: Attributing to Satan the works of the Holy Spirit. In this case, the Blasphemy is limited to the words that a person say with his mouth.

Now, it is important to keep in mind that is possible to blaspheme against God, without saying a world. According to The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament TDNT the Greek word blasfemeo in Classical Greek is used in the sense of giving an “abusive speech, misuse of words, personal mockery and calumniation.” In Demosth. 40.17 it speaks of blasphemy against a deity by: “mistaking its true nature or violating or doubting its power.”

In the LXX it is used in reference to “all ungodly speech and action, especially on the part of the Gentiles.” Is. 66:3, 1. Macc. 2:6.

So, according to DTNT one could blaspheme by:
1. Speech
2. Mistaking the nature of a deity
3. Doubting the power of a deity

In the LXX
1. Being arrogant (arrogance implies a depreciation of God).
1. Any bad or unloving action

So you see, Blasphemy does not necessarily means speaking, for one could blaspheme against God by one's attitude, by the understanding of the deity, or by the words that one says.

So, the word in view here, refers to: speaking falsely, doubting, the power of God, lack of faith, an slandered and attacked in their basic faith passed from Christ to His community, attack on the content of the Gospel, Acts, 13:45, Denning Christ in times of persecution, 1, Cor. 10:30; false teaching that pervert the way of truth 2. Pet. 2:2. Since this is the case, it is proper to quote TDNT when in this word comments “The blaspheme does not have to find verbal expression. Any bad or unloving action can contain it, either because it resists the holy will of God or because it causes the enemies of Christianity to calumniate it (1. Tim 6:1; Jm 2:7; R. 2:24; Tt 2:5).”

Is The Bible The Word of God? Part II

In the first entry we spoke on the inspiration of the Scripture and said that it referred to the Divine guidance of the process of writing the Bible. The Lord's guidance was of such kind, that it enable the writer to reflect the mind of God, His will and desires in their writings. Some people may object: saying that that is an easy way out of the Bible being the word of God, and the issue of Inspiration. That is, God (based on their reasoning) either wrote everything in the Bible, or He did not. Yet, there may be a possibility that people who have this idea may have a very limited view and understanding on what Inspiration is. The inspiration of the Bible does not speak of a dictation of the Bible by God to men (although that did happen some times.) It does not speak of an spiritual possession of God to the body of the author so that every word written was literally His (as supposedly was the case with Nostradamus). Then, what does inspiration entails? Certainly Timothy says that “every Scripture was inspired by God.” The Greek term for inspired in the passage is Theopneustos. This word literally means God breathe or God breathe out. This is the only part in the Bible where this term is used, although it was used with frequency by the classic writers and is used once by Josephus. It spoke of the origin of the word and not on the mode by which the word was inspired. That is, the word referred to the fact that the Scriptures comes from God. How did it come from God? The passage does not tell us; yet, the only inference that would explain the divine intervention to the Scripture is that of the divine guidance and protection of the Scriptures through time. Finally, the term also speaks of the fact that God uses His word as a tool to bring forth certain functions and results from His people. I get to this conclusion from the fact that every time that God breathed into men or a thing, it was with the intention of bringing that which was breaded into; to life Gen. 2:7; or to enable the recipients for a certain task Jn. 20:20.
So, through the analysis of the times that God breath into Adam and Jesus to His disciples' one arrives to the conclusion that the breath was for the purpose of life and for a certain goal to be accomplished. So, in respect to the Bible, the Inspiration of such enables it to accomplish a certain goal and to fulfill a certain task. A task that is clearly stated in many different places in the Bible and is summarized in 2. Tim 3:17.
So, to conclude, one could say that Yes, the Bible is the word of God, in that it was guided by God through the process of its creation, and it is inspired by God in that it brings forth the purposes already set my God.

Is The Bible The Word of God? Part I

Every conservative Christian understands the Bible to be the word of God; (and yes, it is a matter of conservative and liberal). Yet, one is to clarify what is it that we mean by "the word of God." Do we mean that the Bible is literally spoken by God? That is to say that every single term and word found in the Bible was spoken by God. Anyone familiar with the Bible knows that not to be the case; for in every book of the Bible we have human mediation. We have a person who explains the story, or facts or circumstances. So, clearly not every word in the Bible was spoken by God. Since this is true; what do we mean by the phrase "the Bible is the word of God." Do we mean that God directed the process of writing the Bible? In this case, the Bible is "the word of God" as far as everything that the Bible contains reflects the mind of God. As you have already noticed, the issue is not as black and white as you may think.
So, the question is; did God in fact guided the process of writing the whole Bible, reflected His mind in it; and at the same time preserved the material written intact as to keep it save so that forever it would be His word? The answer to this question will depend on if you are one of those who believe in the Divine mediation through history of the preservation of the Bible; and this is highly based on faith. So the question remain not answered: is the Bible "the word of God"? Yes; to those who have faith in God's mediation of the Bible. No; to those who do not believe in such mediation. As for me, based on the content of the Bible; based on the archaeological evidence, and the Historical data to back it up, I believe that "the Bible is the word of God." I believe that God kept it pure through time and at the same time, I believe that God guided the process of writing; so that the content would reflect his mind and life. After all, 2. Tim. 3:16 says that the Scripture was God's breathing.

This was short and was not meant to be scholarly, but let me know if you want it more detailed. God bless

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Transformational Power of Service [Part Three]

In serving for nothing in exchange Jesus showed Himself to be different from the world. Every transaction in life takes place in an exchange for something. A person works so that he can receive a payment, the stores provide a product in exchange for money, the company offers its service in exchange for money. In the mind of a logical person service has to be rendered in exchange for another service to give and not to receive is the mentality of the mentally balanced person or of the future homeless person of this community. Wealth and prosperity belongs to those who serve aggressively and receive a lot in exchange, while more service is offered more gain is received. It is for this reason that Jesus point of view of service makes no sense to the worldly person for he says “It is better to give than to receive.” So the question is why is it better for everything in our minds tells us it is worse to give and not receive. But Jesus in His perfect wisdom knows that when the person gives he is giving part of himself to whomever he is serving. Giving takes away the focus from the giver to the person receiving, it allows the Christian believer to die a little bit more when more is given and the goal is to eventually give it all so that the self might die and the divine will of dying to thyself so that Christ might live instead is fulfilled. Serving benefits the server more than the person being served, because Christ becomes more and more evident in the life of the person; identifying with Jesus in the denial of the self. In Philippians 2:8, we find what could probably be the most descriptive verse of the humanity of Jesus, Him being God Almighty emptied himself and became a man. There are a lot of theological arguments as to what extent the Divinity of God was present in Jesus or what “emptied Himself” really meant. One thing is sure in His human state Jesus did not appear to be God Almighty. Jesus denied himself, the same takes place in the life of the believer when he serves because he is not the focus because he is not the one being served, yet it is better to give than to receive because although he might not receive earthly wealth for his service he is certainly gaining treasures in Heaven. That consists no so much of a better reward but a reality of being more like Christ.