Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What About John 3 : 36 ?

Several years ago, I posted "Jottings from John" on the blog, which included several verses that described God's inclusive and universal plan to save all his creation through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.

Today let's discuss John 3 : 36, a verse usually promoted to disprove this plan.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them. [NIV]
As usual, I need to challenge the translation of the Greek "aionian" into the English "eternal" and replace "eternal life" by "life in the ages". I will also add "this" to help link the second reference to this life later in the verse.
So my adjusted NIV translation becomes ...

Whoever believes in the Son has life in the ages, but whoever rejects the Son will not see this life, for God's wrath remains on them. [BV]
which is not far from the Young's Literal Translation ...
He who is believing in the Son, has life age-during; and he who is not believing the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God does remain upon him. [YLT]
So we see that this verse is not referring to the eventual outcome of God's plan, with many of his creation lost forever, but to the kingdom stage where only those chosen to believe in the ages (during the realm of time) will be experiencing life, while the others not seeing life until the consummation of the ages.

And this conclusion is consistent with what John said earlier in Chapter 3 (verse 17) ...

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. [NIV]
I am much more comfortable believing our God of love and mercy will fully achieve his purpose for the world than believing many of his creation will overturn his plans for them through their current unbelief.

Blessings, Barry





Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Firstfruits and the Harvest

This is an important topic that will be addressed in detail in our next book "The Really Good News About Jesus". However, we'll just mention it here using two key references. 

As you are probably well aware, one of my favourite verses is 1 Timothy 4 : 10, which is in the sidebar on the Blog and therefore appears beside every new post.

That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially  of those who believe. (NIV)
Apart from assuring us that God has decreed that all of his creation will be saved and live in harmony with him (and each other) in eternity, it also shows the distinction between those who are believers in their time on this planet and those who are not.
The believers are the firstfruits of the eventual harvest of all. They are those especially chosen for knowing and appreciating the saving grace of God in their earthly lives and been given the responsibility to live as ambassadors for Christ having the really good news to announce. (See 2 Cor 5 : 18 - 20)


Another reference that makes the same distinction as 1 Tim 4 : 10 occurs in Romans 3 : 21 - 22 (when translated correctly).

And now apart from the law has the righteousness of God been manifested, testified to by the law and the prophets, and the righteousness of God is through the faith of Jesus Christ to all, and upon all those believing, ... (Young's Literal Translation)
The distinction is indeed clear in a good, literal translation - the righteousness of God is to all (eventually) but upon believers (in the realm of time). 

Interestingly, this distinction is obscured, even omitted, by many modern translators who do not wish to admit that God's plan is to save all, and who restrict salvation to those who become believers during their earthly lives.
Compare the verse quoted above from YLT with this one from NIV.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. ... (NIV)
Why do so many Christians, including many modern translators, want to portray our loving God as such a sadistic monster when Jesus has already fully paid for all our sins and God has clearly revealed his plan to save all at the end of time? (See Ephesians 1 : 9 - 10)

The Firstfruits are NOT the Harvest. The firstfruits are few: the harvest is plentiful.


Blessings, Barry

PS.  You might also have noticed another example where popular, modern translations attribute the righteousness of God in which we stand to our faith in Christ, rather than to the faith or faithfulness of Christ, as we discussed in the previous post.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Faithfulness of Jesus

Have you ever wondered what our future would be like if Jesus never came to our planet 2000 years ago, or if Jesus did come but found his mission too difficult to complete?

He certainly found it difficult.
"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me." (Matthew 26 : 38, 39 NIV)

But He did see it through - he was faithful to the plan the Father had assigned to him. And, as a result, we have been saved and will live beyond the grave.

In this sense, Christ's faithfulness has saved us and given us life. Yet, most of our popular translations of the Bible credit our salvation to our faith rather than Christ's.

Popular, dynamic equivalence translations and paraphrases usually give the false impression that we are the active participants in achieving salvation rather than Jesus by translating "the faith or faithfulness of Jesus" as "faith in Jesus".

Here are three examples just from Galatians.


Chapter 2 Verse 16 

  • ... know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, ... (NIV and similar in most modern translations and paraphrases)
  • Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law ... (KJV and similar in most literal translations)

Chapter 2 Verse 20

  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV et al)
  • I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (KJV et al)

Chapter 3 Verse 22

  • But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (NIV et al)
  • But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (KJV et al)

Clearly we are not justified by works of the law, and not even by the "work" of faith, as the modern popular translations infer.
Grace is grace; we are freely given justification, salvation, life, and so much more. We are even given the ability to believe so that we can receive them now and so become the firstfruits of the eventual harvest. Because of Jesus' faith/faithfulness, he guaranteed reconciliation for his whole creation, ensuring the complete harvest (after the kingdom age during the millennium).


Blessings, Barry

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

What We've Been Taught Has a Powerful Grip

Hi Everyone
I have been out of action for many months due to health issues, but that is about to change.
I had major back surgery last year and a quintuple by-pass operation this year so I have been unable to sit at my desk for any length of time or even be bothered concentrating on reading the newspaper.

But I have been passively listening, rather than actively participating in discussion or debate, and I have been hearing a similar story over and over.
"The main thrust of your book that all humanity will be reconciled to God eventually is well supported by Scripture and persuasively described in your book BUT it is quite the opposite to what I have been brought up to believe."

And, I have to say, I held a similar view until I began to look at the Biblical evidence for the complete success of Jesus' sacrifice for the sins of the world on the cross of Calvary. I too believed what I had been taught - that people who left this planet as unbelievers would spend eternity in a place called hell where they would be tormented unmercifully.

I was uncomfortable with this outcome, especially under the supervision of a God of love, but my pastors and ministers were all preaching the same message, often weekly at the Sunday evening gospel service, so it must have been correct, was my silent response.
So I completely understand what these people are now saying to me.
However, they at least have "The Really Good News About God" to present the true Biblical story, which I and others of my vintage did not have.

So, now that I am almost three months post-heart-op and getting stronger, I am preparing to take up the challenge of making God's really good news more readily available, especially on the internet.
This blog, the website and study guides for "The Really Good News About God" are going to be my first focus, probably commencing after spending Easter at home and having a brief holiday with friends at Bright at the end of April.

See you in May for the first of the new blogs.
Blessings, Barry

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Study Guide for "The Really Good News About God"

Trust you all had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends as we celebrated the birth of the Saviour, and continues today as we start a new year serving the King of kings.

Due to several other events and challenges that have consumed so much of my time, the Blog has not received any attention for quite a while.
But I have prepared a Discussion and Study Guide for "The Really Good News About God" and would be grateful to receive any feedback from you about its usefulness and possible improvements.
It is in pdf format and can be downloaded using the link http://www.ibtechservices.com.au/DandSGuide.pdf .

The pdf file you download can be viewed on screen (of course) and may be printed in three ways.
If your printer will only print on one side of a sheet of paper (non-duplex printer) then you only have one option.
Your printed copy will be 12 pages printed on 12 sheets of paper in portrait mode (your normal way of printing any document).
If your printer will print on both sides of a sheet of paper (duplex printer) then you have two more options.
You can print a 12 page A4 book containing 6 sheets of paper in portrait mode or a 12 page A5 book containing 3 sheets of paper in landscape mode.
For the 6 sheet A4 book, make sure your printer options are set for portrait mode, duplex printing and the pages are to be flipped on the long edge.
For the 3 sheet A5 book, make sure the printer options are set for portrait mode (YES, portrait mode), duplex printing and the pages are to be flipped on the short edge AND in the print page layout options in your pdf software (probably Adobe Acrobat Reader) brochure or booklet or something similar is selected.

Any comments for improvement of the Study Guide would be appreciated.

By the way, I hope to start writing the next book "The Really Good News About Jesus" soon and I will post bits and pieces of it here as I draft them, looking for feedback as happened during the first book's development. 

Several of you automatically receive an email notification when anything new appears here, but if you want to be removed from that process, please let me know so I don't bother you with my ramblings or requests for comments.

Whether you stay in or opt out, please be assured of my appreciation of your friendship and past input into my thinking and writing. 

 
Blessings Barry

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Immersion Bible Reading

For over a decade, Isabel and I lived in Cairns, in beautiful Far North Queensland.
Although the beaches near the CBD were not particularly attractive, its northern beaches were, and still are.
Even if you were too busy to visit during daylight hours, to grab a serve of fish and chips and head north after dark, watch the moon rise over the Coral Sea and make its wavy reflection travel from the horizon to the exact spot where you were seated at the water's edge, was a pure delight.

As appealing as this was, it still didn't touch the wonder hidden within.
Visiting a beach on the Great Barrier Reef, removing your shoes and poking your big toe into the water, even stripping off and going for a swim, are poor substitutes for donning scuba diving gear and immersing yourself deep into the ocean, where a whole new world of vibrant life and colours exploded in front of you.

I have discovered that reading the Bible is quite similar.
Visiting this library of sacred books occasionally, dipping your big toe into a couple of randomly chosen verses, even going for a swim across the surface of a whole chapter or short book, are poor substitutes for immersing yourself deeply into God's message for us and to us.
Reading a particular passage slowly, thinking deeply about what it is really talking about, is the way to discover a whole new world of vibrant reality in which God is involved in everything that happens.

And we discover not only what God is doing, but how he wants us to be involved in that with him as the Holy Spirit enlightens and challenges us.
Immersing yourself in the Bible is the most exciting adventure I have experienced - even more exciting than conducting weddings under water on the Great Barrier Reef.

I am currently reading Ephesians in this way, using various English translations to make sure I am exposed to as many different nuances from the underlying original languages as possible.
If you don't have a current project on the go at the moment, how about joining me in the Ephesians immersion read and sharing your discoveries with me. 


Blessings, Barry


Reef image courtesy of ipetitions.com

Monday, June 27, 2016

Which Comes First - Salvation or Faith?

"When were you saved?" is a question Christians are frequently asked, especially in evangelical circles. In response, many give a date when they "raised their hand" or "walked to the front" in response to an invitation to be saved in a Christian meeting, or had a life-changing experience in some other setting.
For me, that happened when I was a 12 year old.
But was I saved then?
This raises the question, "What comes first - salvation or faith?"

I think Paul answers that clearly when he tells us that Christ died for sinners, not believers.

But God has shown us how much he loves us---it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! [Romans 5 : 8 GNB]
Jesus paid the price for our sin and therefore we have been declared righteous (in right standing) before God. We have been declared not guilty since the death of Christ.
Paul states this also in 2 Corinthians 5 : 19 ...

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. [NIV]
So our salvation came long before many of us were even born into this world, and well before we believed or had faith.

Many times I have heard an illustration that is meant to show that we are not saved until we have faith, until we believe and confess Jesus as Lord.
I use the same illustration, but in a different way.
Here is the illustration.


Suppose someone puts $1 million into my bank account without my knowledge. I have the potential or opportunity to be rich, but since I don't know the money is there and don't access it, I am still poor. Even if I am told the money is there for me, if I don't believe this news I remain poor. However, when I do believe the news and withdraw the money I become rich, then and only then. 


Most users of the illustration conclude that I need to believe that the money is in my account, and there for me to use, and I need to withdraw it, before I can become rich. I need to do something (or some things) in order to be rich.


However, my interpretation is different.
I am rich the moment the money hits my account. The depositor, the bank manager and any court in the land would confirm that. And when I discover it, and withdraw and use it, I begin to experience the benefits of my newly acquired wealth.

Salvation is just like this.
I was saved when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead 2000 years ago. I wasn't even born then so had no chance of knowing that fact. But when I became aware of it, and was given the faith to believe it, I began to experience the benefits of my salvation.


Salvation is a fact established by Jesus many years ago. It was deposited into my account long before I was born.  My experience of it, its benefits and responsibilities, has been growing from the time I was given the faith to believe it and walk in it.


God gives me the faith to believe the fact of salvation, what Jesus did for me years ago. He would not give me the faith to believe something that did not yet exist. So salvation must come before faith.


This fact helps me see how God will fulfil his plan to save all, as all have already been saved even though only relatively few have been given the faith to believe it and walk in it at this stage.

Blessings, Barry