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God’s Sovereignty in Salvation

The Sovereignty Of God – 

from The Scholars Corner

Ephesians 1:1-6 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful  in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Paul was Called and Chosen. He did not choose God. He fought against him.

Struck down on the Road to Damascus on his way to kill Christians.

Did You Choose God?  No, God chose you, if indeed you are in Christ…

There is Great Peace in knowing God has chosen you, not because of your good deeds, but because of his Love for you and his Mercy towards you. You did not earn his favor any more than Paul did by his murderous rage and rebellion; yet God has mercy on him. In fact Paul says that because he was the “chief of sinners”

1 Timothy 1:12-17 “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.”

What then, are we free to receive God?

What does it say:

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,  not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

What about sin? If God is in control, why is there sin in the world?

God is indeed sovereign, but in his sovereignty, he allows us freedom to resist his will and to sin.  It is not what he desires, but what in his sovereign power he allows.

Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

We are his ambassadors of peace.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling  the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

But what of those who refuse?

Even Judas had an opportunity to repent. While Jesus got down on his knees and washed Judas’ feet, even then he made an appeal for his repentance:

John 13:11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.”

Yet He gives faith to whom he chooses.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

Is God unjust to give faith to some and not to others?  Does God decide on a whim? No!

In our effort to make God friendly towards us, we forget that he is the sovereign judge of human souls and he knows what is in man’s heart.

Jeremiah 17:10 I the LORD search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

God revealed his judgment of the Pharisees in their judgment of Jesus!

Those who rejected saw JESUS and Refused HIM… they saw the face of God and wanted no part of him. For Jesus said, “he who has seen me has seen the Father,” and “I and the Father are One.”

But He has mercy towards all who want Him and are broken!

He knows if there is a longing for righteousness and for love, where there is compassion or hate… what’s more he knows if there are wounds or circumstance that drive one to sin and rebellion.  The abused child, the loss of a spouse, the victim of rape or war or disease or disaster.

To one on the cross next to him, he gave grace, but to the other who despised him, he went to hell in his own hatred.  To the prostitute he has mercy, but to the religious in their pride he sent empty away.

Luke 23:39-43  One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,  saying, ‘‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’’ And he said, ‘‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’’ And he said to him, ‘‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’’

One saw an innocent man being killed for a crime he didn’t deserve, but saw his own guilt;  the other mocked his suffering and had no compassion on the innocent…

Which one are you?   If you have not received Jesus, will you continue to hold off?

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Meryl Streep and Hollywood vs. The Rest of Us.

There is a good reason that actors and journalists are not respected, liked, or believed by the rest of middle America. They delegitimize the values of everyone who disagrees with them, and then have the audacity to claim the moral high ground and pretend that the ONLY good beliefs are their own. All the while, they claim to be tolerant and open, and especially more tolerant and open than anyone who holds different views than their politically correct and accepted ones.  Yet they can’t imagine that anyone else might have a legitimate point. So, they end up talking among themselves and never actually hear the beliefs of anyone who disagrees.

That is one of the major reasons the press and the pollsters got it so wrong.  They were talking to themselves in an echo chamber.  Everyone they talked to agreed with them.

It isn’t the fact that they disagree with the rest of us that is so annoying. It is the fact that they assume that because we disagree, that we are deplorable. That just makes us mad. It is so disrespectful, they just do see how to us they come across as so arrogant. It makes us disgusted.

Then Ms. Streep shows how completely she has imbibed of the Kool-Aid:  she repeats the meme from the Democrat/News Media outlets, a pure slam piece, as if it is fact and true, when it is clearly not:  Donald Trump did not mock a reporter’s disability.  But to repeat fake news as fact shows how and why the media’s slavish service to Democrat talking points causes such mistrust among the rest of us.

The media are not unbiased seekers of truth, but shills for leftist political causes. All the brouhaha and outrage over “fake news” is only by the left, which doesn’t realize or won’t admit that its own outlets are so biased that they are  also fake news.

So, the Russians released fake news… all that did was balance out the fake news from the major media: the Clinton News Network (CNN), All Barak Channel (ABC), National Barak Channel (NBC), etc…    And so what if the Russians tried to influence the election?  China funneled lots of money into the Bill Clinton campaign through its intermediaries. They all have an interest in influencing our democracy. It is nothing new.

And finally, as Americans, we are not worried about “foreigners.”  We are worried about foreigners with bombs, who are gang members and rapists and murderers (like the notorious M-13 from Mexico). We are worried about ISIS fighters being smuggled in over our borders with dirty bombs. We are not worried about immigrants. And yes, we are worried about Muslims from chaos areas that are using our compassion as a way to sneak in terrorists (just as they have already done in Europe).mrz122216-color_orig

So, yes, Hollywood, and yes, Ms Streep,  we would rather be considered deplorable than eat at the same pig trough that fills your palette. You think we only voted for Donald Trump because we hate the disabled and have no compassion for anyone but ourselves? Think again. You make your living by pretending to be other people, and you make lots of money doing it – more than most. And you want to tell us what to think and what to believe? Just whom do you think you are???

To the rest of us, you come across as smug, self-satisfied, judgmental, condescending, and self-righteous.  Everything you used to accuse of the religious conservatives, you yourself have become.  And that is the difference between us. Unlike you, we know we are not good. We are sinners and only God is Good, only God is right and only God is righteous. That means  we know that you are not good either. You are just pretending to be… just like you do in the movies.

#MerylStreep #Hollywood #Journalists #Media #Trump #FakeNews #RussianHacks #foreigners #muslims #terrorists #dirtybomb #M-13

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Justice League International – Claremont Review of Books

Justice League International: “Review of Justice Stephen Breyer’s new book, The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities – By: Brian Callanan

Claremont Review of Books.
Posted: August 10, 2016
This article appeared in: Volume XVI, Number 3, Summer 2016

Excerpt:

Writing the Court’s lone dissent in the 1999 case of Knight v. Florida, Justice Stephen Breyer relied on no less an authority than the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe to support an inmate’s claim that his long wait on death row—prolonged by his own appeals—made his punishment unconstitutional. Justice Clarence Thomas pounced: were there a shred of support for the right to a speedy execution “in our own jurisprudence,” he wrote, “it would be unnecessary” to rely on foreign sources. Breyer later confessed that invoking Zimbabwean precedent was “what one might call a tactical error.” Maybe so. But the practice caught on, and a working majority of the Court now periodically uses foreign legal sources in U.S. constitutional cases.

To his credit, Breyer is the only Justice who has seriously attempted to explain the practice. Some years ago, he joined with the late Justice Antonin Scalia to debate this and other legal flashpoints. Since judges in constitutional democracies around the world often face “problems” similar to those confronting American judges, Breyer argued, why not consider how they solved those problems? “It will not bind me,” he said, “but I may learn something.” Scalia answered that the opinions of foreign judges should be irrelevant to originalists and non-originalists alike: modern foreign sources have no bearing on the Constitution’s original meaning, and even those who wish to see the Constitution evolve through judicial decree surely want it to reflect the views of the American people. Breyer never quite mustered a clear response. Rather than advance a theory of interpretation legitimizing the use of foreign law, Breyer treats this practice, in the words of NYU School of Law’s Jeremy Waldron, as a “matter of getting a little bit of help here and a little bit of help there…”

Justice Breyer’s book reveals a frightening elitism in our most esteemed judiciary. It seems that many of our supreme jurists fail to recognize that the Constitution is a contract between the American People and our Government, NOT a contract between the citizens of this country and any other nation, except as it deals with international treaties. Because this concept is eroding, those in power would like to use international treaties to deprive the people of their Second Amendment Rights, and could just as easily be used to eradicate the First Amendment as well. Since these two amendments were specifically designed to restrict the encroachment of the people’s rights by the Federal Government, it is a question whether any treaty could be so used. Since these rights belong to the people and not the Federal Government, the government has no right to give away those things which do not belong to it in the first place. However, after reading of Justice Breyer’s willingness to disregard the fundamental meaning of our constitutional contract, it is likely that neither the First or Second Amendment will survive in any form the Founders so intended if international laws are to used with prejudice against our own people. The liberal elites would love to have it so.

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The Media Has No Right To Complain about Donald Trump

The media has no right to complain about Donald Trump… They created him. It is funny to watch the “news” commentators almost apoplectic over Donald Trump and the things he says. Even more frustrating and upsetting to the “elite” (who know so much better than the rest of us yokels what we should think, believe, accept and do), is Donald’s popularity among the American people. There is a Brexit revolt taking place in the USA and a developing backlash against the elites and pundits who think they know what is best for us. The complacency of the ruling class over Islam, illegal immigration, transferring of jobs overseas, and erstwhile persecution of Christian values, is creating a fundamental backlash of the little guy towards the establishment, whether that be Republican or Democrat. The media overlords are incredulous, but also starting to realize that you can only push people so far until they decide they have had enough and are “mad as hell and not going to take it any more.” So the Donald, with his attack on political correctness and the PC police has gained a large following among those who feel like their voice is not being heard.

PeytonPlaceThe media is upset with Donald’s crassness, his shock and awe, his loose mouth and questionable morals. But if you want to look at the root of this degradation of our culture, you have to look no further than the media and the entertainment industry. When I was growing up, the evening programming among the major channels (ABC, CBS, & NBC) regularly included things like symphonies, plays by Shakespeare and G.B. Shaw. The comedy was family friendly with things like I Love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver and Dick Van Dyke. The pop culture entertainment was tame, the high-brow culture educated the people. But beginning in 1964, the powers that be decided to go for titillation and put on serial show called Peyton Place… a show about infidelity, adultery, and fornication. It got good ratings and the race to the bottom began. It turns out that if you start appealing to the lowest common denominator in human nature: lust, greed, and violence, you can not only get a big audience for your advertisers, but you can train the people to respond impulsively to whatever commercials are put in front of them. Without thinking, they will buy products because it makes them feel good about themselves and will begin to vote for the one with the best slogans and sound bites, regardless of whether their policies will work or not. In fact, since about the time of the show Cheers, almost every comedy has had fornication as its central theme. Who is sleeping with whom outside of wedlock. Compare today’s comedies to Lucy, and you can see the decline in cultural standards. Aside from internet pornography, with cable tv, you can get all the nudity and sex on the screen you want. And if you really want to dish into the crudity of our times, watch Jerry Springer or Maury Povich for a deep dive into the dark side of humanity without morals.

Enter the Donald. With his emotional appeals, his brash character, his unrestrained tap into popular anger, he is playing to the very audience that YOU have created.

I have a friend, whose sister used to work for ABC News in NYC. She saw story after story killed that did not meet the agenda of the network power brokers, who desired a particular political outcome. They did not want people thinking rationally about the issues, and they did not want to present both sides of the story, which would allow people to make up their own minds. In other words, they fed people only what they wanted the people to hear, see, feel and believe. It is no different today. Only it isn’t working as planned. They have created a monster and they cannot control him. But they are also starting to see push back from the very people they sought to control.

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Beware the New Smartphone Text Message Banking Scam

I got a priority message on in text on my Smartphone this week. It came to my phone number. It looked legitimate sort of, except that I don’t have any relationship with JP Morgan.
Found out that there is a new scam going on using banking and your phone for text messages. Here’s an article on ABC:

http://abc13.com/archive/7594105/

Here’s what it looked like.

Phishing Scam on SMS

Be careful of what you open on your smartphone. I just thought I’d pass this info along. It was a new one to me.

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Samson Agonistes – The Donald

“If I had my way, I would tear this whole building down.” – Samson and Delilah – Bob Weir, The Grateful Dead

SamsonI don’t know if God has appointed Donald Trump to win the presidency. I know he is making a lot of people mad, but I see a lot of similarities to the Story of Samson from The Judges.

Donald is impulsive, immature, self-centered, vengeful…
He has a weakness for women…
It is all about the hair…
Everyone is afraid he is offending someone and the powers that be (media, the Republican Establishment, etc.), but he don’t care.
We are being ruled by Philistines (Political parties that can’t do or fix anything, plus a judiciary that makes up rules as they go).
And he may be being used to “tear this whole building down.”

Judges 14:1-4 “Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up, and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your kinsmen, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me; for she pleases me well.” His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD; for he was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.”

The Philistines killed Samson’s wife and father-in-law. And he went on a vengeance streak:

Judges 15:7-11 “And Samson said to them, “If this is what you do, I swear I will be avenged upon you, and after that I will quit.” And he smote them hip and thigh with great slaughter; and he went down and stayed in the cleft of the rock of Etam. Then the Philistines came up and encamped in Judah, and made a raid on Lehi. And the men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?” They said, “We have come up to bind Samson, to do to him as he did to us.” Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so have I done to them.””

You see, the people were afraid of their rulers. They cowered in fear and didn’t want anyone to cause trouble with the Philistines because it came back on them. So they preferred to live in quiet slavery. Eventually Samson was betrayed by his second wife, also a Philistine, named Delilah. (He wasn’t the smartest cookie in the box.) The Philistines captured Samson and blinded him and set him to work at a millstone to grind wheat.

Judges 16:22-30 “But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved. Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice; for they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” And when the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has slain many of us.” And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may make sport for us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he made sport before them. They made him stand between the pillars; and Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” Now the house was full of men and women; all the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about three thousand men and women, who looked on while Samson made sport. Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be avenged upon the Philistines for one of my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars upon which the house rested, and he leaned his weight upon them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it. So the dead whom he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain during his life.”

Samson tore down the whole political structure with his dying last stand. If God wants to shake our political foundations, Donald Trump might be just the man to do it.

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Book Review: The Jewish Gospel of John

The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel  by Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eysenberg makes a very convincing case that a primary audience for the Gospel of John was the Samaritan community, who were considered outcasts and heretics by both Judean and Galilean Jews. He makes a strong case that the word Judean, or Judeans, referred to the particular religious ruling class in Jerusalem, and their emissaries throughout Israel.  Back in 1981, Geza Vermes wrote Jesus the Jew, where he successfully argued that the Gospel of John preserves an inter-religious conflict between Judean (which is translated into the English word Jew) and Galilean Judaism. In other words, Jesus did not have a problem with his fellow Jews as such, but with the religious and political hierarchy based in Jerusalem, which was Judean.

Dr. Eli refines and extends this thesis, explaining that politically and morally corrupt Judean leadership saw Jesus as a threat to their power structure. Although Jesus himself was from the tribe of Judah, his political allegiance was Galilean. So when Jesus spoke of his opposition among “the Jews,” he was not speaking of the race or the religion, but of the ruling class based in Jerusalem.

Post-resurrection, the evangelists wrote their Gospels to reach different communities: Matthew wrote to the dispersed Hebrews, Luke to the greater Roman/Gentile world, and John targeted the Samaritans. Dr. Eli points out the significance of the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4, where she is not only the first person to believe he is the Messiah, but she leads her whole town to the same conclusion. Jesus stays for several days with this outcast, even untouchable, community, where he is gladly received, in sharp contrast to his rejection by his own country’s leadership. Whereas most Galileans and Judeans would take extra days of travel to avoid going through Samaritan territory, Jesus traveled freely through it. The book provides many more examples of both the political and the religious conflicts surrounding the Samaritan and Judean divide and how John hoped to bridge that gap.

Dr. Eli’s major point is that Jesus saw the Samaritan community as part of the “lost” tribes of the Northern Kingdom, or of Greater Israel. And Jesus had come as King and Messiah for all Israel.

I read and enjoyed the book and agree with its main theme, but I think there is more to it than only a Samaritan Gospel. What Dr. Eli under-emphasizes, I believe, is just as important.  While definitely a Samaritan outreach, I believe the Gospel was also written as an outreach to the Greeks, and not simply the God-fearers.  While the God-fearers clearly play a key role, there are elements of the book that are so clearly written in a Greek milieu that the Greek unbelievers also have to be clearly in mind.

I read a book back in seminary (the title escapes me) which showed how clearly John used the Greek tragedy-drama format in the story of the man born blind (John 9).   I found two more recent resources that focus on the Greek dramatic elements in the structure of the Gospel.

Dialogue and Drama: Elements of Greek Tragedy in the Fourth Gospel 

GOSPEL OF JOHN FROM THE STANDPOINT OF GREEK TRAGEDY (PDF)

My argument basically is as follows: 

1. The Greek of the Gospel is so thoroughly Greek and so elegant that it relies upon double-entendres only available to the Greek speaking audience.  The classic phrase “you must be born again” in Greek also means “born from above.”  (John 3) The confusion of Nicodemus relies upon this misunderstanding of what Jesus is saying, missing the point that he must be born from above by the Holy Spirit.

2. While Jesus is the light that has come into the World, darkness has not apprehended, overcome or comprehended the light (John 1:5), all those meanings are translations of the single Greek word.

2. “In the beginning was the Word…” The use of the Word/Logos/Memra, while thoroughly Hebrew in its origin (showing John 1 is related to Genesis 1 and creation by the Word), the use of the Greek word, Logos (or Reason), is also written to answer Greek philosophy within the cultural context of the Greek worldview.

3. The use of Greek dramatic structure in the Gospel points to an audience entirely familiar with Greek tragedy and Greek cultural life.

4.  Finally, the attempt by Greek God-fearers to see Jesus provides the pivot point of the Gospel wherein Jesus realizes that in order to fulfill his mission of being a Light unto the Gentiles, he must die. It is this very encounter that causes him to say:

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12: 20-24).

So, my conclusion is that Dr. Eli’s thesis is right but so is the thesis that the Greek audience as part of the intended purpose.  Since this Gospel is most likely the last one written, the barrier between Hebrew and Greek would already have been broken. Paul has had converts all over the place and John is living in a multi-cultural city by this time. It would make sense to want to reach the Samaritans, but it seems clear that the wider Greek and Gentile culture was also in mind.

I would definitely recommend this book, however, for the strength of what it offers in understanding the additional dimensions of John’s Gospel.

Shared from The Scholars Corner

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