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.