Monday, January 30, 2012

Concerning Hobbits

I'm sorry, this blog is normally for theological purposes, but when I heard this, I couldn't help but pass it on.

"The Mayans weren't counting down until the end of the world in December 2012, they were counting down until the release of the Hobbit."

'Nuff said. Carry on,

Your Brother in Christ,

"But concerning that day or that hour, ino one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
Mark 13:32

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Witnessing: My Testimony? Or Christ's Testimony?

Grace and peace be with you all in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

::Note:: This will more than likely be the last post you ever read on this blog... for the next three months, so read it and comment on it, and I will write again int three months! ::End Note::

In keeping with the whole theme of evangelism that I started in the last post, today I will be discussing the term "Testimony." There are several different Greek words used: μάρτυς (Martus-witness), μαρτυρία (Marturia-evidence given (record, report, testimony, witness)), and μαρτύριον (Marturion-something evidential, evidence given (to be testified, testimony, witness)). As previously stated, however, I am no Greek scholar (after I learn Japanese I'm going to start on Koine Greek...), but what I can notice from Strong's Dictionary, is that each of these words can mean witness. I do know that the meaning of a word is decided by the context it is in (Greek has no grammar regarding the order of words in a sentence, instead relying on the words used to convey the meaning of the sentence), therefore, I know that depending on the context different translations of the word would be ruled out, so I cannot say it means all of these things all of the time.

So, first rule of Bible interpretation, context (the second happens to be context as well, and the third... well, you get the picture). Let's take a look at how Jesus told his disciples to apply these words, and then how the Apostles applied these words. Matt. 24:14 is the first place we see one of these words used in the new testament, but going on our three rules, we need to back up a bit and take a look at what is happening around this one verse. As you read through the passage, keep this question in mind: what is the testimony that Christ is referring to? Our story, or the Gospel (Christ's story)? Matt. 24:3-14 "3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" 4 And Jesus answered them, 'See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.'" What is the Testimony? The Gospel of God's Kingdom (if you saw that reading through the passage, congratulations!). What is the Gospel of God's Kingdom? The fact that Christ changed my life? Maybe. But the stronger argument here would be that it is the story of how every person on this earth is a sinner, dead in their fallen human nature, enemies to God. And, while we were still sinners, God sent his one and only son down to earth to live and then die the most painful and excruciating death ever invented, so that we could receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Crucifixion was so painful, we invented a word specifically for it (Excruciate comes from crucify). That, my friends, is the good news.

You may be thinking, "Revelation 12:11!" Ok, Revelation 12:11 "And they have conquered him by the blood of the lamb, and the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." (emphasis added). Ok, but the verse starts out with a conjunction ("Conjunction junction, what's that function?" "Hooking up words and phrases and clauses." (Yes, I just quoted Schoolhouse Rock on a theology blog)) Therefore, we can deduce that there must be a connected phrase before this verse. Revelation 12:7-11 "Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8  but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9  And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world--he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10  And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.'" Here we see that the Dragon (Satan, The Devil, the Accuser of the Saints), is thrown out of heaven, and that the power of God's kingdom and authority of Christ have come, by the blood of the lamb, and the word of their testimony. What leads to the cleansing of sins and defeating of the Devil? Acceptance of the blood of the lamb that was shed on the cross for our sins. How does one come to this acceptance (faith)? Romans 10:14-17 "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!' 16  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?' 17  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." My story is not the word of Christ. The word of Christ is the word of Christ (yes, very profound).

Next, you may be thinking "Joe, you quoted Kristen Williams saying 'Testimony is just a fancy word for "Heaven touched earth right where I'm standing, and I'm different as a result."'" Why yes, I did, and I also went on to use Revelation 12:11 to back it up. This is one of the reasons that I started this blog, so I could grow in the knowledge and understanding of the Word of God, and have everyone else benefit as well (and in many cases teach me). Since that post (wow, it was only three months ago) I have come to the realization that there is a time and a place for my story, and far more times and places for Christ's story. The writing of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 9:16b really grabbed me "Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel." Yikes! Think about it. The Apostle Paul new the Old Testament like the back of his hand, he was zealous for the Lord (going so far as to persecute the church, whom he viewed as heretics). But upon conversion, all he talked about was Jesus, Jesus Jesus... If the Apostle Paul didn't get a get-out-of-jail-free card when it came to his preaching, then why should any of us get one?

As I said previously, there is a time and a place for our testimonies. But when we are witnessing to a group of unsaved individuals, it would be more effective to preach to them about the cornerstone of the Christian faith, our savior, Jesus Christ. The church did just fine with Christ for the last 2,000 years, and if you look at the history of the Catholic church, you can see what happens when we try to introduce human ideas, so why should we depart from preaching only Jesus Christ and him crucified for our sins now?


Joe Anderson

Pelagianism is the default setting of the human heart; the religion of self-salvation. -Michael Horton

Acts 4:11 & 12 "This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Into the East

Greetings to you all in the name of Christ Jesus Our Lord!

I hope this first post of the New Year finds you all safe and well, and I pray that all of you have an amazing 2012, in which you grow in the knowledge and understanding of our God and his inspired Word, the Bible. I hope that this year you all live, knowing that each day could be your last (especially if the day happens to be December 21st, 2012).

As the title suggests, I may be heading into the East, by heading west of course, but still into the area we have referred to as the Far East. My younger brothers and I are applying for a six-month internship at our church, which would take us on a mission trip to Japan at the fulfillment of the six months. Please pray that we may be accepted, raise the funds necessary, and that we would be able to be living examples of the love of Christ. Only approximately 1% of the population of Japan are Christian, so what is more important than prayer for us is prayer for the people of Japan.

I pray that everyone on the team can follow the examples of the Apostles and other early Christians, and preach Jesus Christ and him crucified for our sins, and teach the youth of Japan that all are born dead in trespasses and sins, that none are righteous (no, not even one (except for Christ, that is)), and that all need to come to the repentance and forgiveness of sins by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone. I pray also that we can accurately communicate what it means to "believe in" Jesus, and finally, that we can communicate the need for them to get a Bible, and read it every day.

That being said, I would highly recommend all of you go and read the Great Commission, it can be found both in Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 1:6-11. All Christians are called to fulfill this last commandment of Christ, whether it is in your home, neighborhood, school, county, state, nation, or abroad, like Japan.

The goal for this blog, especially in this coming year, as I prepare for the mission trip, will be to help equip you to fulfill this mission, by getting you into the word. You will not agree with everything I say on this blog, I can guarantee you that! But, if you come across something you find questionable, search the Bible and back up your belief! Then come and post it here, so we can all read and learn your views, and then go and back up our beliefs. Please do not let the wall of disagreement come between us, but let the disagreement fuel you on to learn more.

Finally, expect the blogging here to drop off significantly for the next three months. I will try to do one blog post a month if I can, but I'm doing my last quarter at the community college here, and I really need to concentrate.

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,


Joe Anderson