Archive for the ‘John’ Category

Italian Magnum Opus

November 27th, 2011

In A Brief History of Time, Carl Sagan introduces the Cambridge Professor of Mathematics, Stephen Hawking,  by saying something thoughtful:  “We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing about the world” (ix).  Maybe Sagan was speaking more of himself than for Christians (see Romans 1:19-21).  But, it does appear that he had a valid point.  Our problem with a purely Marlamaterial position of the world is that it is strongly tilted toward a set of presuppositions which exclude outside forces  (namely the Lord God) from the git-go.    That is why, when people sometimes state, “I believe in Science,”  they are actually admitting to a higher power that is observable.  An immediate problem here involves the nature of God being spirit, not chemical or a mere force field (John 4:24).  So, end of discussion, right?

The world from a physical standpoint does have four fundamental forces: (1)  Gravitational  (2)  Electromagnetic  (3) Weak Nuclear, and (4)  Strong Nuclear.  The Bible writer to the Hebrews, in 1:3, 10-12; 10:3 , presents Christian faith as including a  cosmological view of things.  So, those forces for Hawking are contained; while for Christians they are contingent.  Allowing for this data, we may move into the discussion of God in history.

There appear to be some firm components in the mind of the apostle Paul.  One such idea is that God is at work in the world.  But, even before Paul, we may delve into what Jesus himself thought of the world.  What kind of a place is it neighborsanyway?  For, to think as Jesus thought, to feel as he felt, and to see as he saw , we will need to acquire his set of beliefs (or, belief system).  John 5:17 captures this assumption in a  few words. Jesus believed that the Father was at work in the world, and that he was also involved in this magnum opus.  When the gospel is preached and people respond in baptism, they are raised by the power of God out of the watery grave of Christian baptism.  This is the Lord’s  continuation of John 5:17.  This is furthermore a call to believers to participate in the work of God (opera in Italian), by submitting to his plan.  If it begins here, commencing in baptism, it takes the believer far away and yet nearer to the one who calls.  This may be seen in Philippians 1:6, where the work of God in history has high continuity with John 5:17 and Colossians 2:12.

Why then emphasize making new friends or teaching worldview to bambini in Italy?  Of course, it is part of the plan!  Sagan and Hawking have done their homework and have gained the plaudits of men.  But, they have also limited their world with the rejection of any divine working in cosmos or history.  That is because of the Science, right?  Think again.  Sagan may know why stars twinkle (to the human eye), but we know why they shine on (Rom. 1:19-21; Ps. 19:1-6; Mal. 4:2; Dan. 12:3).    The great Italian Magnum Opus does not belong Albertaexclusively  to Columbus, Galileo, or Fermi.  The sub-atomic level may appear random; neutrinos, for example.  But, the speed of light is still a constant (300,00 kilometers per sec.).  Dare to participate in the drama.  Jesus will meet you there (Jn. 5:17; Col. 2:12; Phil. 1:6).  Pronto?

“I Am Heathcliffe!”

June 21st, 2009

“Nelly, I am Heathcliffe!  He’s always in my mind…

as my own being”

(Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights)

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”

(Galatians 2:20)

In Emily Bronte’s nineteenth century English novel, Wuthering Heights, we encounter the expressed feelings of Cathy about Heathcliffe. An English literature professor once remarked about this Bronte piece that it was too melodramatic and thick to be real.    Perhaps, the scene where Heathcliffe begins to dig up his Cathy’s grave with his bare hands is over the top.  But, love does strange things.  What are we going to do with Paul’s Galatians 2:20 statement?  Is that also mere hyperbole?  Or, does love actually compel us to do strange things when we are passionate about what matters?  Before we dismiss this  loving sync in a relationship, consider the following adapted chart of John 17 (The Reformation Study Bible, ESV, ed. R.C. Sproul (Ligonier Ministries: Orlando, 2005), 1546-about Jesus’ desire for a deep and devoted relationship with his disciples.

Subject Father to Son Son to Believer

Unity                                      vv. 21, 23                                vv. 21, 23, 26

Glory                                      vv. 22, 24                                v. 22

Love                                        vv.23, 24, 26                           vv. 23, 26; 13:1

Purpose                                   vv. 18, 23, 25                          v. 18

Knowledge                              v. 25                                        vv. 3, 8, 25, 26

In the words of the song, Poured Out Like Wine, we have the question

“Would you be so one with Me that you would do just as I will?”

-Robert M. Housby


May 14th, 2009

(100-600 Levels)

“The heavens are the Lord’s heavens,

but the earth he has given to the children of man”

(Psalm 115:16)

On the 100 Level, providence involves-

1.    Definition

2.    Usage (Acts 24:2, from pronoias)

On the 200 Level, providence involves-

1.        A reference to God in the world (Eccl. 3:1-11)

a.   Hebrew world view believes in purpose on earth (3:1)

b.   And, transcendent purpose in heaven (3:11; Isa. 55:8-9)

2.        Christian world view unites God’s purpose in Christ (Eph. 1:10)

On the 300 Level, providence involves-

1.         A long and loud praise of God’s universal providence (Ps. 104)

2.         Psalm 104 begins and ends with a summons for the individual to participate in this providence (104:1,35).

On the 400 Level, providence involves-

1.         The comprehensive terminology of heaven (shamayim; ouranos)

2.         Our deepest reality is that we were meant for heaven-made for earth (2 Cor. 5:1-8)

On the 500 Level, providence involves-

1.         Kingdom of God in personal dailiness (Matt. 5:45; 6:25-34; 10:29-31)

2.         Kingdom of God in personal discernment of kingdom reality (Matt. 13)

On the 600 Level, providence involves-

1.         Living 100-600 level revitalization (Finding your place in His plan)

2.         Revelation 11:15!

-Robert M. Housby

Devotional Readings From Brother Lawrence’s,Practicing the Presence of God

April 10th, 2009

[We use the name which this Carmelite kitchen monk went by-“Brother Lawrence,” in the sense of Acts 2:37, where “brethren” is used in a generic sense]

In the area of Christian devotional literature, the classic work by “Brother Lawrence,” Practicing the Presence of God, is certainly worth your time to read.  Surely Lawrence was ahead of many when it comes to a personal spiritual life.   Notice some sample quotes below, from Lawrence:

“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen…I possess God as if I were on my knees.”

“You need not cry very loud, he is nearer to us than we think”

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed”

“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual walk with God.  Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it; yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive”

These quotes serve to make us aware of why we do what we do in the name of Christ (Psalm 116).

-Robert M. Housby

The Comforter

April 2nd, 2009

“The Road goes ever on and on,

Down from the door where it began,

Now far ahead the road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

(Bilbo Baggins. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  The same poem in another version occurs in The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship)

The Spirit is called in John 14:16-“another Comforter” (ASV, 1901).  The Greek is Paraclete. The Amplified New Testament includes a parentheses in Jn. 14:16 with additional phases of meaning associated with the Greek term Paraclete-“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever” [emphasis mine, RMH].  So, we see that this term has a wide array of significance.

Two major concepts about the Spirit appear in John 14:16-17

1.       The Spirit’s constant presence is promised to future followers of Jesus after his death and resurrection (Jn. 16:19-22,28).

2. This Spiritual presence will be a constant communion among future believers (see esp. 14:17 and 2 Cor. 13:14).

Wherever the road leads, the Comforter will be our comfort (2 Cor.1:3,4).

-Robert M. Housby

The Gospel Must Be Accepted

February 19th, 2009

“Behold now is the favorable time; behold now is the day of salvation”

(2 Cor. 6:2)

The gospel was meant to be accepted (2 Cor. 11:4).  The gospel must be accepted because it was meant to be accepted; meant by the Lord to be received by men (Acts 11:1; 1 Thess. 2:13).  The appeal of the gospel always has urgency and expectancy within its message (2 Cor. 6:2).

1. Accepting the gospel is an individual affair.  Notice the emphasis upon “each one” in 2 Corinthians 5:10, and throughout the New Testament.  Individual responsibility is clearly meant.

2.Accepting the gospel entails ownership. Ownership also infers responsibility-a right of possession.  2 Peter 1:1,3,4,8,12, etc.  indicate ownership by verbs such as-“have obtained,” “granted to us,” and “you have.”

3. Accepting the gospel means accepting the consequences of following Christ (1 Pet. 4:12-19).

My son has a personal web site which displays the Sphinx of Egypt; the Eiffel Tower of Paris; and the Tower of Pisa.  All of these are places which he has visited in person.  They are not mere hopes nor dreams; but for him they are realities, facts, moments of his life.  Is the gospel such a reality for you?   Have you owned it yet?

Robert M. Housby

The Reason for Your Own Birth

December 26th, 2008

“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have

come into the world”

(John 19:37)

“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work

that you gave me to do”

(John 17:4)

We often refer to the life of Christ as a life of a designated destiny (Jn. 17:4; 18:37). But, we sometimes forget that as followers of the Christ we, ourselves, are to have that same sense of royal destiny. Consider this divine destiny for every believer as taken from the Gospel of John:

A. The Christian has not only been born, but has been born again (Jn. 3:1-8).

B. Once Jesus said, “kingdom,” and he did (Jn. 18:36), the entire royal Davidic program became current and electric (cf. Jn. 12:13).

C. This program of designated destiny was meant to include his followers (Jn.18:36,37; “everyone”).

D. Now, we have our own work to do (cf. Jn. 9:4; 12:26; Eph. 2:10).

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, birth, John, New Testament, Topical Tags:

Should Doctrinal Diversity Be Celebrated?

September 20th, 2008

“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way”

(Proverbs 19:2, NIV)

The apostle Paul said, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Jesus, himself, said, while on earth-“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one…” (John 17:20).

1 Corinthians 1:10 and John 17:20 are just some of the New Testament exhortations to base unity upon the name of Christ and the apostolic word. This admonition, however, has been set aside by a celebration of doctrinal diversity. But, one might ask, what’s wrong with doctrinal diversity? After all, we celebrate diversity within college circles and Olympic venues from London to Beijing. The main problem with doctrinal diversity is that it is not built upon a base of approved biblical knowledge. Paul uses this same critique in Romans 10:2, “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” To base one’s religion upon zeal without knowledge has long been wrong (Proverbs 19:2; Hosea 4:1,6; 1 Timothy 6:20).

Doctrinal diversity should definitely not be celebrated nor commended. Celebration should be based upon zeal with knowledge.

-Robert M. Housby

The Biblical Background of Heaven: shamayim and ouranos

June 15th, 2008

I. The Greek Classical View of Heaven (Acts 14:8-18)

A. “The word always has a double reference” (Kittel, 497).

1. Cosmological sense (starry heavens)

2. Theological view (habitation of the gods/myth)

=>”The gods have come down to us” (Acts 14:11)

B. Ouranos meant both physical and metaphysical in Greek culture, and eventually came to denote by the New Testament period a guiding principle (as astrology in the Roman World). This concept of heaven became a flurry of philosophical activity from Homer, Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Plato, and others. In fact, Plato taught that heaven (ouranos) was the starting point for absolute knowledge (Phaedrus, 247b).

II. Old Testament/shamayim

A. shamayim is identified with raqia (Gen. 1:6-8)

B. a place of fixed references (Gen. 1:14; Ps. 119:89)

C. The Bethel Story and the dwelling place of God (Gen. 28)

D. The God of heaven formula (Deut. 26:15; 32:40; Ex. 9:29,33)

E. Source of all blessing (Gen. 49:25; Deut. 33:13; 1 Ki. 8:35)

F. Especially salvation-history (Dan. 7:17)

III. New Testament/ouranos

A. Jn. 3:9-12; 6:33 Jesus’ source

B. Acts 1:9-11; 2:34 Jesus will come again

C. 2 Cor. 5:1-9 Heaven holds all to me

D. Eph. 1:3 etc. The Christian’s position

Robert M. Housby

Guidelines for New Testament Worship

December 23rd, 2007

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth , for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”

(John 4:23-24)

Most would agree that it matters how one worships (John 4:23-24). Still, the guidelines for New Testament worship are being challenged today by many would-be followers of the Lord.

Five prominent and seductive areas in which Christian worship is being displaced today include:

1. Non-verifiable worship (“Now, where’s that in the NT?”)
2. Talent -based worship (“Who gets to go to the mic?”)
3. Entertainment based worship (mechanical; clapping; etc.)
4. Validation object (God or Man?)
5. Feedback (Effectiveness is marked by 2,3,4 above)

What is the scriptural source of authority for worship? If it is older than the NT, it is too old (Heb. 8:8-13). If it is newer than the New Testament, it is too modern (Heb.12:28-29). Authority derives from Jesus (Matt. 28:18). So, if worship is not “in Jesus name”—that is, by his authority, it cannot be legitimate (see Col. 3:17).

In contrast, NT worship is scripturally verifiable; privileged not talent based; heart based rather than hearer based; directed to God not man; and feedback comes from the Lord—his word-based will.

– Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, John, New Testament, Worship Tags: