Archive for July, 2017

One God

The Shema
The opening verses of Genesis 1 it is stated, “And God said,” “God saw,” “God made,” “God created.” The plural “God,” ELOHIM is used with singular verbs. Each time the compound name, JEHOVAH ELOHIM, is used Jehovah is singular yet is linked with the plural, ELOHIM, indicating a divine unity.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and thou shalt love the LORD with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6: 4, 5

This among Jews is called the “Shema,” meaning to hear.

A literal translation of verse 4 would read:
“Hear, O Israel: Jehovah [singular] our Gods [plural] is Jehovah ECHAD (echad = a unity).

The Hebrew actually says “our Gods” (plural). The Hebrew plural for “our Gods” is ELOHENU, from ELOHIM which is the plural of ELOAH.

The Hebrew word, ECHAD is used: “Jehovah our Gods is Jehovah ECHAD.” Admittedly it is right to translate it as “Jehovah our Gods is ONE Jehovah,” so long as we understand that ECHAD means “one” collectively or unitedly, not one as an absolute digit. That adjective, ECHAD, derives from ACHAD which means to unify or to collect together. In the Old Testament, I find that it occurs well over SIX HUNDRED TIMES, so we easily can ascertain its common use and meaning.

The Hebrew language has an alternative word for “one,” i.e., YACHID which does not often occur in our Old Testament, but is the word used whenever an only one is meant. When a compound “one” is meant to be emphasized, ECHAD is the word used as in the Shema.

What the Shema actually says is literally, “HEAR, O ISRAEL, JEHOVAH OUR GODS IS JEHOVAH A UNITY.”

In the “Thirteen Principles of the Jewish Faith,” which is meant to be the standard guide for all Jews, Jewish scholars who framed it changed ECHAD in Deuteronomy 6 to YACHID which means one and only one. Thus completely changing the meaning of the Scripture.

In the “Authorized Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire,” sanctioned by the late Chief Rabbi, Dr. N.M. Adler, YACHID is used of the eternal one, whereas the Tenakh (the Old Testament) never uses that word of Jehovah.

In the prophetic passage of Zechariah 14:9, twice in one verse the collective unit, ECHAD, is used of Jehovah as being a compound or collective “one.” “And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth. In that day there shall be ONE Jehovah, and His Name ONE.”

Most Jews think Christians are tri-theists, worshiping a trinity of deities of whom two are not truly God. Not so, we are as monotheistic as the most orthodox Jew, we worship the same eternal Jehovah and that our Trinitarian worship of Jehovah we own originally to their own Jewish Scriptures.

Free Will

“God’s greatest gift to man in all the bounty He was moved to make throughout creation – the one gift the most close to His goodness and the one He calls most precious – is free will.”
Dante Alighieri in “Paradiso”

This is a simple succinct insight into a view of the “FREE WILL” of human beings as noted in Ephesians 1.
As they have done for centuries scholars continue to debate the issue. This is not an attempt to make such an important and complex issue seem simple. It is a brief insight into one aspect of the issue.

In a debate every point has a counterpoint. This is an attempt to make a point, not to deal with the counterpoint.
As a strategic sidebar to this issue God’s sovereignty must be acknowledged. His priority and preeminence is unimpeachable. What follows is predicated on the concept that God in His sovereign will determined to give human beings a free will. This is, “according to the good pleasure of His will” Ephesians 1: 5.

The issue was determined “before the foundation of the world” Ephesians 1: 4. Prior to the “cosmos” (KATABOLES) being created how, upon sinning, human beings could be redeemed was determined. God “predestined,” that is, He predetermined the destiny of individual humans. (Don’t stop here.)

Predestined translates the Greek word PROORIZO, which was a surveyor’s term meaning to “mark out a boundary.”

In the shaping of America surveyors went through a region of the South and marked off a boundary and designated all within that boundary as “Georgia.” All living within the boundary were Georgians.

Before the dawning of creation God marked out a boundary and said all who voluntarily enter it should be saved. That boundary is noted several times in Ephesians 1 as being “in Him,”

“In Him,” “in Christ,” “in Him,” and in verses 11 – 13 as, “in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

Those within the boundary of Christ are predestined to share His destiny. They are those who “first trusted in Christ,”those who “having believed” in Him should be saved.

Man’s ability to “trust,” that is, choose is attested to by the Scriptures that follow .
God in His sovereignty allows human beings the choice.
By God’s grace we determine the action. God determines the results.
God decrees. Man decides.

Throughout the Bible God is depicted as choosing. Being sovereign He obviously has a free will to choose who and what He pleases.

Starting with Adam and Eve, who chose between eating or not eating of the tree in the midst of the garden, human beings have been making choices. They would not have had this free will were it not given them by our sovereign loving God.
A classic example of free will is the charge given by Joshua to Israel, “…choose for yourselves this day who you will serve….” The people responded “…we will serve the Lord….” Joshua 24: 15 & 21 Meaning, we will of our own free will serve the Lord.

Logic makes it clear man has a God given free will. That logic is based on the fact that biblically and currently human beings make choices, therefore it can be concluded from this that man has the ability to chose.

God is sovereign. Again it deserves to be said, man would not have free will had not God acting in His free will, given it to him.

God in His grace and by His sovereign will elected, that is chose, to give man the right and ability to choose. Man therefore is a free moral agent responsible for his choices. The following Scripture passages show this principle to be logical.

Deuteronomy 30:19
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

2 Samuel 24:12
“Go and tell David, ‘Thus says the LORD: I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.’”

1 Chronicles 21:11
So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Choose for yourself,’”

I Kings 18:23
“Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it.

2 Kings 10:3
“…choose the best qualified of your master’s sons, set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house.”

Job 9:14
“How then can I answer Him,
And choose my words to reason with Him?”

Job 15:5
“For your iniquity teaches your mouth,
And you choose the tongue of the crafty.”

Job 34:4
“Let us choose justice for ourselves;
Let us know among ourselves what is good”

Job 34:33
“Should He repay it according to your terms,
Just because you disavow it?
You must choose, and not I;
Therefore speak what you know.”

Psalm. 65:4
“Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.”

Proverbs 1:29
“they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the LORD…”

Proverbs 3:31
“Do not envy the oppressor,
And choose none of his ways;”

Proverbs 12:26
“The righteous should choose his friends carefully,
For the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Isaiah 7:15
“Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good….”

Isaiah 7:16
“For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.”

Isaiah 56:4
For thus says the LORD:
‘To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,’”

Philippians 1:22
“But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.”

Luke 10: 42 “Mary hath chosen the good part….”

To “decide” is to chose as the king of Israel said, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.” I Kings20: 40

“Bachar,” translated “chose” and its derivatives are used for: men choosing wives (Ge 6:2); Lot choosing the cities of the Plain (Ge 13:11); often of kings and generals choosing soldiers for their prowess (e.g. Ex 17:9; Jos 8:3; 1Sa 13:2; 2Sa 10:9; 17:1). The most important uses of bachar are these: of Israel choosing a king (1Sa 8:18; 12:13); of moral and religious choice: choosing Yahweh as God (Jos 24:15,22), or other gods (Jud 5:8; 10:14); the way of truth (Ps 119:30); to refuse the evil and choose the good (Isa 7:15,16); compare David’s choice of evils (2Sa 24:12).

Paul testified before Agrippa of the heavenly vision given him: “I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” Acts 26: 19. He had a choice and chose to obey.

To accept a thing indicates there was an alternative not accepted. This requires a choice. Accept, acceptable, acceptably, acceptance, acceptation, accepted, accepts, and accepting are listed 64 times in the Bible. Each act required a choice.

To “determine” a thing, a selection has to be made requiring a choice. “Determined” appears 30 times in the Bible.

To judge is to choose. Repetitiously persons in the Bible are said to have judged. Thus, they had to make a choice.

In all of these and more instances persons used their God given gray matter to exercise their will freely.

This and nothing else detracts from God’s sovereign will. He is free and able to do whatever He chooses. These and many other verses depict human beings as making choices. They would not have that ability were it not given them by our sovereign God.

It is the reader’s choice as to whether or not to chose this concept. The alternative is that things are arbitrarily imposed on persons by God. Conditions in the world make it impossible to believe their happening is the design and desire of our sovereign, righteous, and loving God.

Our Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus has been appropriately celebrated, but it leaves a lingering question. Jesus’ resurrection is spoken of as the “first fruit,” meaning there is more to come. That “more” is the incredible teaching that every dead believer will one day be resurrected.

Eusebius of Caesarea wrote of a time when Christians were being persecuted by the Romans. In an effort to refute the resurrection, the Romans left the corpses of a large number of Christians unburied for some time before burning them and scattering their ashes in the Rhone River. As their ashes were washed away a boastful Roman said, “Now let us see if they will rise again!”

Perhaps science has now given us a hint indicating how God may do it.

As a chaplain for Holland America Cruise Line, I met a most interesting Swiss scientist who had worked on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project, the largest atom smasher in the world. It is the biggest experimental facility ever built. Located under parts of France and Switzerland the LHC consists of a 16.777 mile ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of atomic particles.

He indicated it was so complex and powerful it was feared by some it might destroy the earth.

Put on your diving helmet because here is where the results go very deep. They identified a new particle sub-atom particle called Ds3, a meson; a type of unstable particle consisting of one quark and one antiquark. In the likelihood there is anyone who does not know what a quark or antiquark is, I sure didn’t, they are the most basic building blocks of matter that make up protons and neutrons. They are held together by a strong interaction, a force, that is one of the four fundamental forces of nature. This is called entanglement.

Long ago Einstein conceived of such a possibility as, “the spooky part.”

Let me say an explanation of resurrection cannot be explained by a mathematical formula or scientific theory, but a glimpse of a potential explanation can be gained. The God factor is the ultimate answer.

Scientists sent pairs of entangled Ds3 photons through a network of fiber-optic tubes to locations approximately seven miles apart, north and south. At this distance the behavior of one particle correlated with the behavior of the other. When compared the paths of each member of the pair they were the symmetrical. Though the particles had many paths they could have traveled through the tubes, what one particle did the other did. By some means the particles communicated with each other affecting the movement of the other from some distance.

This is the process of entanglement. It ties together the most fundamental particles composing reality. A conclusion was that when photons, electrons, atoms interact they are tied together sharing a single “experience,” losing the separate existence.

Thus, though the Romans scattered the atoms, all the Ds3 relationship of the body stayed in touch. The reconstruction of the resurrection body would begin with Ds3 gathering the atoms which constituted the body parts.

This explanation of entanglement and resurrection is far too simple. No one will ever know the mechanical means that results in the resurrection, but this affords a hint. By whatever means Jesus’ acclaim stands:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me though he may die, he shall live.” John 11: 25

The Shroud Of Turin

The authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, the alleged burial cloth of Jesus Christ, has long been contested, and will be. I have found a clue that settles the issue very clearly for me.

Recently I had dinner with Dr. Shimon Gibson, the archaeologist who oversaw the prestigious dig on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. He also found the John the Baptist Cave and has dug in Hinnom. Gibson’s next big digs will be the Roman praetorium in Jerusalem and another within the Armenian section of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in an attempt to validate the site of Jesus’ crucifixion.

The Valley of Himmon is referred to in the Gospel of Matthew as “the Field of Blood.” The area is punctuated with Roman period tombs carved out in caves in the rocky hill side.

Over the years portions of shrouds have been found throughout Israel, but never had a complete shroud been found intact in Jerusalem until Dr. Gibson found one in a burial cave in the Valley of Hinnom. Radiocarbon data and artifacts indicate it is from the time of Jesus.

Ancient writings describe shrouds from the era, but there had been conclusive evidence confirming the writings until now.

This Jerusalem Shroud is completely different from the Shroud of Turin.

The weave in the fabric of the shroud found by Dr. Gibson is the simple two-way weave common in the Bible era. The Shroud of Turin is made of fabric using the twill weave which experts say did not come into existence until around 1000 A.D. Twill weave is made by diagonal threads in parallel ridges.

The Shroud of Turin consists of one single piece of cloth whereas the Jerusalem Shroud is comprised of more than one piece.

It is fair to inject that Barbara Frale, a representative of the Vatican, recently reported computer analyzed photographs discovered faintly written on the Shroud of Turin in Greek, Latin, and Aramaic the words “Jesus Nazarene.” The validity of this claim is questionable in that the fabric on which it was written was not existent in the time of Jesus.

The shroud found in Jerusalem was wound around the corpse of a man whose analysis reveals likely had leprosy and died from tuberculous. Logically that is the reason he was still sealed in a burial chamber.

A big distinction between the two shrouds is the Shroud of Turin consists of one 14ft by 3ft twill weave cloth that didn’t come into existence until the Middle Ages. The Jerusalem Shroud, indicative of the partial shrouds of the era, consists of more than one piece. The napkin like facial piece was to allow for the possibility the person buried was not really dead. In such an event it could be blown off and the person call for help. Medical science was not advanced to the point persons could be conclusively proven dead.

The contrast of the two shrouds is distinct. The facts shared here will be weighed by some against the date supporting the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin and the debate continued. Often is heard, “But what do have to say about…?” If many principles allegedly support the legitimacy of the Shroud of Turin and one reality proves it impossible, for me that means, “Case closed!”

This evidence convinces me the Shroud of Turin is a mystical and matchless work of art, but not the actual burial cloth used to entomb Jesus. Artifacts are important if they are artiFACTS.

The Gnostic Gospel of Peter

Until 1886 rumors of an apocryphal Gospel of Peter existed. However, no proof of such existed until 1987 when a large 8th Century fragment of what is alleged to be the Gospel of Peter was found in a tomb in Akhmim in Upper Egypt. Subsequent copies were later found in Egypt. Scholars have concluded it was written in Syria between 100 – 130 AD.

The Gospel of Peter is a fragmented work consisting of 14 paragraphs comprised of 60 verses. It has no inscription indicating Simon Peter was the author. It is even doubted it is a Gnostic work.

Around 200 AD Serapion, one of the first to write of the book, initially endorsed the writing as trustworthy. After future deliberation he decided members of the Docetic cult had added material supportive of their doctrine. It is colored throughout by teaching of cultic groups existing at the time of the writing, but not existent in the Bible era.

An example relates to Jesus having no pain on the cross. The Gnostics taught Jesus had no physical body, He was only a marage. The concept of no pain supports their heresy that His sufferings were not real, but they merely appeared to be so.

The work’s account of Jesus death depicts Him being “taken up” from the cross. This further supports the Docetic belief that He, having no real human body, could not die.

A lack of knowledge of prevailing Jewish historical customs further discredits the work. Priests and scribes are represented as camping out in the cemetery at Jesus’ tomb. Because of ritual impurity no priest or scribe would have done so.

In summary it is an expanded pseudo account of Jesus’ post-resurrection life. It begins when the trial of Jesus is ending. The Jews are depicted as desiring for Jesus to suffer agony. The Jews are said to have prevented His legs from being broken and hasten his death to extend His agony. It indicates the Jews belatedly bemoaned their actions saying, “Then the Jews and the elders and the priests recognizing what great evil they had done to themselves, began to grieve and say, ‘Woe on our sins, the judgment and end of Jerusalem is near.’” Conversely many Jews responded repentantly.

At His resurrection Jesus is represented as being accompanied by two men surrounded by a bright light from the tomb.

The stone unaided rolled away from the tomb by itself. The two men entered to accompany Jesus’ exit from the tomb.

Upon exiting the two men were so tall their heads reached the sky. Jesus was of such height His head reached into the heavens. A floating cross came out of the tomb and a voice from heaven enquired of the cross, “Did you preach to those who sleep?’ The cross answered, “Yes.”

Numerous evidences indicate “The Gospel of Peter” post-dated the “Gospel of Matthew” and it’s author was heavily dependent on Matthew and the Revelation.

Internal evidence reveals it contains a number of second century legends, the time of its authorship. The author was evidently reliant on secondary sources whereas the Four Gospels were written by first person eye witnesses. The Gospel of Peter offers no reliable insight into the life and time of Jesus as do the Four Gospels.

A qualification for a book to be included in the Bible was it must have been written by an apostle or someone associated closely with an apostle. The Gospel of Peter being written in the mid-second century does not meet this standard. For that and many other reasons the Gospel of Peter was not considered worthy of inclusion in the New Testament cannon.

Trump’s Hyperbole

“You have to respect the office even if not the man.”

Who said it? Representative John Lewis on NBC “Meet the Press” March 8, 2015.

Of whom was it said? Barak Obama. Has Mr. Lewis suffered memory loss?

Flawed as he is Donald Trump is our President. The mantle of leadership rests on his shoulders.

His most ardent supporters must concede he is flawed. Fortunately flawed people can be high achievers. Abraham, liar, Moses, murderer, David, adultery, all had major character deficits yet were achievers. Consider also Trump’s competition for the office is rumored to be flawed.

There is one area Trump exceeds them all. He is the master of hyperbole. His use of such adjectives as the greatest, the best, the most, perfect, and other kindred comments can not all be accurate. Detractors will exploit them. Most who exaggerate anticipate their listeners will accept their embellishment as intended for emphasis not reality. When listeners interpret overstatements as literal truth, conflict occurs.

Hyperbole goes well in a hunting camp, but not in the Oval Office. To say a deer weighed a ton doesn’t mean it weighted exactly 2,000 pounds, it means it was a big deer. To say there were a million and a half people at an event doesn’t mean there were exactly 1,500,000 people there, it simply means there was a very large crown.

Another unbecoming trait is President Trump’s vanity. The minimization of the personal pronouns, I, me, my would be welcomed. They punctuate the comments of an egotists and no one is favorably drawn to a solipsist. His accomplishments are many. However, it is unbecoming for individuals to exalt themselves.

If he doesn’t change these uncomplimentary traits, will the public become impervious to them, and instead give attention to the type government he forges? Hopefully he will settle into a more becoming role as President. I pray his achievements will attract more favorable attention than does his personal unbecoming demeanor.

There is a anti-Trump segment of our society that will be difficult to placate. Many of those who did not favor his candidacy seem to think no one did. Much of the opposition is manufactured, even paid for. They who have been so insistent on everyone being inclusive are now highly exclusive. The “Women’s March” is exhibit A. It should have been called the Liberal Women’s March in that they excluded pro-life women’s group and men.

Our culture is not what it once was which means it can change. It is at a point where it must change for the good or it will degenerate. Basic is Jesus’ teaching to love one another. He did not tell us to agree with one another. Lamentably we are at the point where if you don’t agree with the vocal dissenters there is something wrong with you. The Christian ethic contains basic principles common to most faiths. The diminution of the faith community means less regard in society for its ethical system and its crown jewel, love.

Love one another is now defined like a slightly older sister who responded to her little sister’s question as to what love one another means by saying, “You are one and I am another, and you are supposed to love me.”

We will never all agree with one another. Neither will we all love one another. However, we must all learn to be civil with one another or we will destroy one another.

Trump On Leadership

A vital part of the art of leadership is the ability to unite those being led.

America is commonly considered to be divided. That means the nation has not been led in recent years. President Obama has been concerned about his legacy and the press has queried as to what it will be. His legacy is he divided the nation.

President Trump has inherited a divided nation. His election is not the cause of protests and riots, it is merely the occasion for them. The spirit of nonconformity has been perking under the surface for some time waiting to boil over. Occasional instances of it bubbling to the surface have been seen recently.

President Trump has a challenge like few presidents before him. He is doing things differently and proposing new and innovative ideas. In summary, things are changing.

When there is change a part of the brain known as the amygdala is activated. It is involved with our emotions, survival instincts, and memory. When change occurs it involuntarily calls for a fight or flight response. Then reason must kick in helping a proper response to be reached. Without it an irrational response often occurs. The amygdalas of America are overloaded at this time. Some want to fight, thus protests and riots. Some want to engage in flight, thus withdrawal and refusal to be involved, even moves to Canada.

The great majority of Americans are reasonable and willing to wait to see how the new administration is going to perform.

If the reformation proves to be positive, things will revert to a more harmonious society. However, even if things do dramatically improve there is a significant segment of our society that will not be placated. They don’t know what civility is. Unimaginable as it seems there are millions who have never been part of a positive productive group. They don’t know what it mans to live congenially with persons unlike them.

Link a large number of these with persons who professionally incite protests and riots and violence erupt.

If there is a positive productive new era to emerge the voices of the dissidents will be diminished.

Amid our past presidents, good and not so good, are a variety of types and temperaments, but never one quite like President Trump. However, such a broad spectrum of leaders has been used to the advantage of the nation to give cause for optimism regarding President Trump being a positive force to lead our nation to a reset of values.

Charting a new course involved change and that brings us back to the amygdala and the fight instinct being stimulated.

Some are inevitably going to react like spoiled children who have had their favorite toys taken away.

There is the irrefutable spiritual component involved in which many believe, as did Benjamin Franklin, that “God governs in the affairs of men.” How and to what extent varies. An analysis by Pew Forum reveals 92 percent of Congress are professing Christians. Nine members of the President’s Cabinet are Christians. There are other faith groups involved with kindred political values. Couple that with the fact 72 percent of the American population are Christians and surely there is enough spiritual guidance to be gained to help transform and unite our nation.

Like it or not, I saw a poster recently with a likeness of Jesus in the background and the caption: “Someone did interfere, rather intervened, in the election, and it wasn’t the Russians.”

Mr President, No Longer “The Donald”

Donald Trump is no more just Donald Trump. He is President Trump, our President, the President of the United States.
Will he disappoint us? Emphatically, yes. I disappoint me. Admit it, the person who looks back at you from your mirror at times disappoints you.

What are we to do when he does inevitably make decisions of which we do not approve? Don’t give up on him without giving him a chance to make many needed good decisions. Judge by the entire body of work, not just an individual action.

If at times you are prone to give up, remember what America was doing was not working. Something had to change. Change, even good change, is uncertain and unsettling.

I had a dear friend who was governor of Louisiana. He told me the faith community really supported his election. In the campaign he had taken a number of strong stands against some of the scrofulous characters in the state. He said the first time when in office he made a decision that disappointed members of the faith community they abandoned him. After that he rarely heard from leaders of that genera.

While in office he made a number of decisions that did not favor those who were morally tainted. Nevertheless, when he made decisions not favorable to them they did not abandon him. They kept in touch, kept coming back offering support, and befriending him.

If members of the faith community and other pro-Americans abandon President Trump when he disappoints them, and he will, they will be the losers.

We are a large diverse society and no one can please everyone all the time. There are elements in our nation no one can placate without fully capitulation to their demands. An example of this was the recent mob street protest in Atlanta. A member of the Justice Department who was in the room with Mayor Reed when he met with leaders of the group told me the demands of the group were reasonable, but the protesters were not. They swore at, cursed the mayor and shouted their demands. Even as he tried to calm them, they continued their remonstrance.

Michelle Obama recently said, “Now we know how it feels to have no hope.” If she and her minions have lost hope, her loss of hope has given a legion of others hope. The cadre of the hopeless needs to give the new administration time to prove itself.

Dealing with the different attitudes in America is going to be challenging. The money mongers who make a living by stirring up strife and create havoc are not going to give up their enterprise easily.

Benjamin Franklin noted “…God governs in the affairs of men….” In doing so historically He has used some most unlikely characters. Cyrus, King of Babylon, not the most principled of rulers, is spoken of as God’s “shepherd” (Isaiah 44: 28).

That does not imply God approved of all Cyrus did. That moniker was used of Cyrus regarding him being used of God to enable Israel to be freed from slavery.

Donald Trump is by no means a paragon of piety, a talisman of tact, a model of morality, a champion of courtesy, a guardian of grace, or the beau ideal of a statesman, but….

He can be used of God in His governance to achieve many things needed in America, i.e., the composition of the Supreme Court. That reality gives a lot of folks hope.

Russian Hacking

Every indication is the Russians tried to interfere with our elections. There is now proof they did and by invitation.
The year was 1983 and the invitation was to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. V. Andropov. The appeal was from Senator Edward Kennedy. A record of the interchange was recently discovered when the archives of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin were opened to the public.

Kennedy was candid in proposing a mutually beneficial deal. He would give Andropov insight into how to deal with President Reagan. Reciprocally the Soviet leader would aid the Democratic party in opposing Reagan’s 1984 presidential election.

Unbelievably Kennedy would aid the Russians in telling them how to enhance their propaganda against Reagan. He offered to arrange for Andropov to visit America and have several TV interviews to make “a direct appeal…to the American people….” Upon success in these interviews Kennedy would endeavor to have representatives of the major US TV networks contact Y. V. Andropov appealing for interviews in Moscow to pursue the undermining of Reagan’s campaign.

Kennedy’s overtures made it obvious he was ambitious to deal with Andropov who was the Vladimir Putin of his day, a former director of the KGB and primary leader in both the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the suppression of the 1968 Prague Spring. Sound familiar.

This action interchange occurred in 1983 shortly after President Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire.”
There is no evidence Andropov every acted on the proposal. He died within eight months.

Historian Paul Kengor has observed, “The document has stood the test of time. I scrutinized it more carefully than anything I’ve ever dealt with as a scholar. I have showed the document to numerous authorities who deal with Soviet archival material. No one has ever debunked the memorandum or shown it to be a forgery.”

This is only one revelation of Russia being involved in our election. There should be no surprise that using high tech methods they tried to do so in our most recent election. The important thing is we recognize they always will try to gain their advantage and not with our elections only.

Thomas Jefferson, the apostle of liberty is quoted as saying, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Though the quote is thought to have been made originally by John Pilpot Curran, it was soon credited to Jefferson. It matters not who said it, truth is embodied in it.

It is such vigilance that has prompted President Truman to issue a temporary ban on immigrants from some countries deemed to be terrorist hot beds.

In the “Congressional Research Service,” Kate M. Manuel reported the following on January 23, 2017.

Trump’s ban is for three months. President Obama had a six month ban on people coming in from Iraq. As a matter of fact Obama issued nineteen different bans. President Clinton, referred to people wanting entrance as “aliens” and aggressively said certain ones should be banned. Twelve times he issued bans. His statement mirrors that of Trump.

Presidents Reagan issued five bans. Presidents Carter and Chester Author likewise imposed temporary bans.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department suspended, without presidential action, all applications for people from Iraq for six months in 2011.

If critics are going to confront President Trump, they should at least be honest and allow him equity.

Trumps Inauguration

President Donald Trump now has the title “Elect” removed. He is our President. As he spoke rain began to fall. Franklin Graham introduced his Scripture reading by noting that in the Bible rain is considered a favor of God. Hopefully the shower is an indication of good things to come.

Critics wasted no time attacking. After the speech the first CNN reporter referred to his speech as “dark,” and complained he didn’t pay tribute to Hillary Clinton. May he bring light and show grace even while doing things his detractors detest. The world is watching.

“Good Morning Britain” aired on ITV, Britain’s oldest TV network, came back this week for their third interview. The program is seen in much of Europe. Each interview has related to President Trump.

I am beginning to get a bit of a British accent and have “knees up.” For some reason that is British slang for having a good time.

They enquired about the divisions in America and Trump’s ability to deal with them. I noted a characteristic of a leader is he unites people. America is lamentably divided. A logical conclusion is there has been a lack of leadership or the division would not have occurred.

President Trump is inheriting a divided nation. The division is not caused by President Trump’s election, but his election is the occasion for it. Unrest has been smoldering beneath our social surface. President Trump’s administration will make some changes. Some people will like them and some resent them. Among the latter group are a significant group of nonconformists who are likely to protest and some riot.

Many are persons who have been insisting we be inclusive. Now they are very exclusive. Evidences of this include calling for the dismissal a board member of L. L. Bean, whose grandfather founded the company, because she gave personal money to a PAC supportive of President Trump or threatening the company will be boycotted. The calling for the dismissal of a college president who allowed students to attend the inauguration of President Trump. Congressmen boycotting the Inaugural Ceremony. Those are not inclusive actions.

Regarding President Trump professing to drain the swamp and calling out people I noted that for years I lived among the Cajun people in South Louisiana who had an expression that embodies a philosophy he would do well to adopt; “Don’t cuss the alligators till you get out of the swamp,” and he isn’t out of the swamp.

President Trump is not the prototype of a president we might prefer. He like all before him is flawed. However, as I noted in the interview if his decisions prove to be good the deprecating will decrease.

At the Inaugural Franklin Graham shared this Scripture as an appeal to pray for the President and the nation.

“I exhort first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” I Timothy 2:1, 2.

He may fail the faith community, but the faith community must not fail him by not praying for him.

If you get the idea I am optimistic “Bob’s your uncle,” that is British for “you got it, that’s right.”

As an aside, I am grateful to have been one of only three Southern Baptist ministers to have participate in an inaugural program, Billy and Franklin Graham are the other two.

Who Was Jesus?

THE SON OF GOD
In Scripture Jesus Christ is repetitiously called “the Son of God.” (John 3:16)
Jesus Himself declared, “…I said, I am the Son of God” (John 10:36).
Gabriel told Mary her child would be called “the Son of God.” (Lukej1: 32, 33).
Satan identified Him as “the Son of God” at the time of His temptations (Matt. 4: 3. 7).
John the Baptist spoke of Him at His baptism as “the Son of God” (John 1: 34).
The Centurion at the cross said surely this was “the Son of God” (Matt. 27: 54).

The term is not used in the sense of prodigy, offspring. It speaks of association, not generation. The dictionary as well as Scripture recognizes the title as referring to association, not generation.

James and John were called “sons of thunder.” The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement.”

Today we are often called sons or daughters of America.

Scripture does not call Jesus “a Son,” but “the Son” of God.

Human beings are also called “sons of God.” A different term is used in referring to Jesus as the son of God and human being referred to as a son of God.

The Greek word TEKNON is used in reference to humans. It stresses the fact of birth. We are born again as a TEKNON.

The Greek word HUIOS is used of Jesus. It emphasizes dignity and character of relationship. Thus, it identifies Jesus as deity.

In Jesus the “fullness,” PLEROMA, permanently dwells. The fullness of the Godhead, THEOTETOS, divinity, dwells in

Jesus. Theotetos means not just divine attributes, but the very essence, the nature of God, the totality of who God the Father is, His supreme nature.

Bottom line: Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, God incarnate (in flesh). His eternal pre-creation God nature was manifested “bodily.”

II Corinthians 4:4 records: “Christ, who is the image of God…” EIKON, “the image of God” means He is the perfect visible likeness of the invisible God in both personality and distinctive attributes. He is Immanuel, God with us.

With reference to His relationship with God the Father it is said, “…who being in the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person….” (Hebrews 1:3).

He is said to have been “born of a woman,” (Gelatins 4: 4) meaning “born without human paternity,” born only of a woman, a virgin.

THE DIVINE NATURE OF JESUS CHRIST
Divinity is a synonym for godhood. It is a summary word for the character and capacity of God, His nature.

Deity refers to the very essence of God. It is what and who God is. It is a word which sums up what Scripture depicts Jesus Christ as being. Consider these verses.

“So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophets, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1: 22, 23).

Alfred Edersheim an Oxford scholar put together a list of 456 characteristics noted in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Consider just eight such prophecies and odds of them being fulfilled in one man.

Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
A forerunner was sent to prepare for His coming (Malachi 3:).
Like a king He would triumphantly ride a donkey into Jerusalem (Zechariah 13:6)
Betraying by a companion would result in wounds in His hands (Zechariah 13: 6).
The price of His betrayal would be 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11: 12).
The 30 pieces of silver would be used to purchase a potter’s field (Zechariah 11: 13).
He would offer no defense at His trial (Isaiah 53:7).
His hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22: 16).

The chance of all eight being fulfilled in one man is 10 to the 17th power, that is a number followed by 17 zeros.

If just 48 prophecies were to come true in one man that would be 10 to the 157th power. For that to happen it has been compared to finding one designated grain of sand in the Sahara Desert.

By these prophecies Jesus Christ’s biography was written in advance to clearly identify Him as the object of them and thus Immanuel.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1: 1).

The Greek word translated “Word” is “Logos.” To understand the meaning of a word observe how it was used and what it meant at the time of its use. Philosopher Philo, writing at about the same time the Gospel of John was written used “Logos” to mean all that is known or knowable about God. That is Jesus.

The Greek text of John literally means, “Before time began to begin the Word (Jesus) was.” Einstein’s theory of relativity proved time had a beginning. John is saying before time began Jesus was eternal.

Jesus, the Word, was in His very essence God.

He was with God the Father personally.

Paul exhorted ministers “to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Whose Church is it? God’s. How did God get it? He purchased it. With what did God purchase it? His own blood. When did God shed blood? On the cross in the person of Jesus.

Romans 9:5 notes “…Christ came, who is over all, the eternal blessed God.”

We are exhorted in Titus 2: 13 to be “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior.”

Greek grammar requires for two words used together such as “great God and Savior” to refer to one and the same person.

Thus, Jesus is the great God.

One of the most summary passages regarding Jesus’ nature is I Timothy 3:16.

“Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was Manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up into glory.”

A resulting question is what is He to you? Is He a bloodless theory, an abstract theory, a historical figure? Or, is He your Savior?

He becomes such when we accept these facts and trust Him to forgive our sins, be our Savior, and become our Lord? These simultaneous acts result in our salvation.

It is expedient thereafter to find a fellowship of Christians with whom to identify in a church where you can learn and grow in faith and knowledge.

THE MYSTERY OF THE TRINITY
The Trinity is the most enigmatic Christian doctrine. The nature of the Trinity is the signature mystery of life.
One of the residual blessings of heaven will be we will gain an understanding of the Trinity. Until then this mystery will continue to confound and challenge our understanding. The best we can do is to acknowledge it and try to illustrate the doctrine. Not being able to understand the mystery and glory of the Trinity should cause us to marvel over the grandeur and grandiose nature of our God. We should rejoice to know our God is more complex than we. Rather than being perturbed by our lack of understanding we would do well to join Jesus who speaking a spiritual mysteries said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight” (Matthew 11: 25, 26).

Our difficulty in understanding the Trinity arises out of our inability to conceive of the heavenly form of the three. We use the word “person” or “persons” for them and that invites a vison like our human form. Whatever form it is it is different from our own and unknown. In heaven we will know and it will be a reasonable and all glorious form.

At best the Trinity is a mystery.

In Pilgrims Progress a character is asked if in reading the Bible he ever came upon passages he did not understand. He acknowledged he did and when further asked what he did on those occasions. He replied, “I just thank God He knows more than I.”

We must humble ourselves to the same degree in considering the Trinity.
The Tri-unity consists of three entities that can not be combined to make one. They are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — God.

The three are distinct yet one in essence and will that cannot be divided. The essence, that is the nature of one is the nature of the other, they are each co-divine. The will of one is the will of each of the other two. The singular will cannot be divided. The three are one composite unit. They abide in perfect harmony.

In this use “nature” is what one is, that is their essence, while a “person” is who one is.

God has left traces of His Trinitarian being in nature, therein illustrations abound of one in three.

The smallest unit of matter, the atom, is diverse yet one unit. The word “atom” means “indivisible,” or “that which can’t be divided,” yet it consists of three components: neutron, proton, and electron. Each exists to constitute the atom. The distinct particles of an atom are diverse each having its own purpose and traits attracted to each other and bonded.
Likewise, the members of the Trinity have their own characteristics and roles. They are bonded by undiminished love. Scripture notes “God is love,” not “God loves or” or “God is loving.” His essence is love. To be love means embodying perfect love as its source.

An atom cannot be divided into smaller units and retain the characteristics and traits of the original.
H2O exists as three. As a liquid it is water, as a solid it is ice, and as a gas it is a vapor. Having one nature it exists in three-forms.

Saint Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the trinity. Having three petals it is one shamrock.
Time consists of past, present, and future, yet the three aspects are one thing “time.”
If three match heads are placed together and struck there is one flame yet three matches.
Math hints of three in one: 1 X 1 X 1 = 1.
The three are each three in one and one in three.

During an era when nations worshiped multiple gods what is known as the Hebrew Shema was penned: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Historically Jews have repeated it together in the synagogue. In some areas they repeat the word “one” (echad) over and over in a loud voice as though defying the doctrine of the Trinity. This Scripture does not contradicts the doctrine of the Trinity, it confirms it. The Hebrew word “echad” refers to a compound unit. It reveals a plurality of more than one. It is used instead of another Hebrew word for one, “yacheed” which speaks of a single unit.

Critics of the doctrine of the Trinity say one can never be more than one. In speaking of marriage the word “echad” is used when it is said, “…a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2: 24). Two, husband and wife, become one. The two comprise one unit. If in the human realm two can become one, in the spiritual world three can be one.

Some older uses of the word “echad” help to understand its meaning. Originally it had a dual meaning: “one” and also “alone.” Gradually the word use began to be used as one only. A clearer understanding to the monotheistic use of the text reads: “Only the Lord is God: there is no other God.” This was in part to set Judaism apart from the polytheistic gods of surrounding nations.

The first name used for God in the Bible is Elohim and though grammatically plural it is used as though singular. The plurality of the name is further indicated in Genesis where God is represented as saying, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1: 26).

The Hebrew name for God, Elohim, and the “us” in the text are both plural forms. These plural pronouns reveal the tri-unity, God as one unit.

The word Trinity is not used in Scripture, yet the principle is taught by Scripture. Biblical revelation is the only adequate source to affirm belief in the Trinity. It is not accessible by human reason.

Jesus commissioned His disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28: 19).

Observe “name” is singular, yet it refers to three subjects. They constitute a tri-unity, the godhead.

Jesus said to a group of critics, “I and my Father are one” (John 10: 30). Modern critics say Jesus meant they are one in spirit, desire, and purpose. The context reveals this is not what Jesus meant. Persons who claimed to be God were punished by being stoned. The fact the crowd sought to stone Him indicates they knew He meant He and the Father were a unit, one, He was God. This was a general claim and a popular criticism of the time, “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal to God” (John 5: 18).

Other text join the glossary supporting the tri-unity.

“He [Jesus] whom God [Father] has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the [Holy] Spirit by measure” (John 3: 34).

“To the pilgrims … elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus” (I Peter: 1: 1, 2).

“I [Jesus] will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Holy Spirit], that He may abide with your forever. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him of knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14: 16, 17).

“But when the fullness of time had come, God [Father] sent forth His Son [Jesus], born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because your are sons, God has sent forth the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba, Father!’” (Galatians 4: 4 – 6).

Responding to the question related to whether we will see three entities in heaven Gregory of Ninzus wrote in the fourth century, “When I contemplate the Three together, I see but one luminary, and cannot divide or measure out the undivided light.”

The form of the Triune God is cryptical, confirming there are things beyond human comprehension. The Trinity is ultimately transcendent and incomprehensible.

This mystery remains as a stimulus to our faith.

WILL WE SEE GOD THE FATHER?
Will we actually see God the Father in heaven? Will His essence be manifested?

Scripture teaches, “God is a spirit,” meaning His essential being is not “visible.” God “who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power” (I Timothy 6: 16).

Moses and certain Old Testament characters beheld “the form of God.” Though God’s essential deity is invisible there is an outward form in which His invisible majesty has on rare occasion been manifested. The mystery of how He will be manifest in heaven remains beyond our need and capacity to understand.

It is fitting to exodus the study of this topic with this benediction.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (II Corinthians 13: 14).

A true Christian seeks:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
The love of God the Father,
And the communion of the Holy Spirit.
As the three persons of the Trinity are inseparable so these three blessings come as one.

A Resurrection Revelation

Globally in celebrating the resurrection the Christian community celebrates and event equivalent to the sun rising in the west. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only holiday celebrated 52 times a year. Such was the intent of Sunday becoming special to millions.

The resurrection above all else is what encourages Jesus’ followers. It validates the reason for hope amid life’s challenges. Certain aspects of the resurrection not obvious to a casual reader of the New Testament account reveal an incredible aspect of the event.

Various New Testament writers give slightly different insights to events. That is proof there was no collusion. The variances do not conflict, they actually compliment each other.

The moving of the stone from the entrance of the tomb by different authors reveals the scope of the action.
In ordering his scholars to compile the most exact language possible Alexander the Great had no idea how he was enabling clarity and understanding.

Joseph of Arimathea and accomplices “rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher.” Matthew used the Greek word kulio which means “to roll.”

Mark uses the same root word to indicate where the stone was once it was removed. He added the prefix ana which means “to role up hill or an incline.” Such an incline at the entrance of tombs was common. It enabled the stones to be rolled into place to seal the tomb.

Luke used the same root with a different prefix, apo, meaning to move a great distance. When the women came to the tomb they were musing over who would move the stone. They found it had been apokulio, moved away some distance.
John used a different prefix, airo, which meant “to pick something up and carry it away.”

Combined the account is more complete. The combined meaning is the stone had been picked up by the angel and moved a great distance away up hill.

For devotees that means that when God does a thing He does it in a big way. The stone had not just been tilted aside, it was moved a great distance up hill.

The purpose was not to let the resurrected Jesus out, but to let others in to see what had happened.

John is the most detailed of the gospel writers. He noted the cloth used to cover the face of Jesus’ corpse was neatly folded and in place. This is a signature observation, in that era when a monarch left the table if he left his napkin crumpled on the table it meant he was not coming back. If he left it folded, it meant he would return. This simple sign speaks of the return of Jesus.

These insights are offered as an encouragement to believers and an explanation to those who do not share their faith as to why the faithful have such joy and hope. They rejoice that when the courts of man condemned Jesus to death the appellate court of heaven reversed the decision. C. S. Lewis, well known British scholar, and man of letters wrote: “Jesus has forced open a door that had been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because he has done so.”

The story of the resurrection ends not with a funeral, but a festival. Not with a casket, but with a celebration.