As the semester concludes, and as the blog posts and fruitful discussions come to a close, I wanted to share with you all the final paper I wrote for my biblical theology class. The thesis of the paper is:

While most reformed Protestants accept the third view of Penal Substitution to the exclusion of Christus Victor, the latter still has value in describing some of what Christ did, as seen in the Gospel of Mark.

Here is the link to the Google Docs version of the paper:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EWgDFXgbAv8Ui0sG8v5YwByEZMr7S4__kwpT5U4CDWo/edit

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I thought I would provide you all with a countdown until May 21st at 3:45, when school will officially conclude!!!!!!

Click Here to view the countdown!

Be sure to comment below with how you plan to spend the first week of your Summer Break!

I personally plan to have as many friends over as possible to enjoy staring at the wall and doing brainless activities.  Otherwise, what’s the point of having friends over after school is done?  I also hope to get a lot of editing done for my movie…

And, since this is a Biblical Theology blog, let me loosely justify this post and tie it to scripture…

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. – Philippians 3:13-14

Making Sense of our Call

Posted: April 17, 2012 in Matthew, Textual Study

This week we discussed Matthew 25:31-46 in class. Please read with me…

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Tell me…is this passage hard to understand?  Not at all.  Sheep, those who do good, giving to the poor etc., go to heaven.  Goats, those who do not do these things, go to Hell.  In class, however, we were asked whether or not we felt comfortable with this judgement concept.

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Sin is Viral

Posted: April 10, 2012 in Hebrews, Textual Study

I have a Macbook Pro.  I enjoyed the entire process of getting it.  But what implications did that one action have?  You may not know this, but every Macbook Pro that is manufactured has parts that were built by the backs of men who are under such hard labor conditions that regular suicides occur.

Sin is viral.  Every sin you commit will have implications throughout time and spanning all races and relations.  Every sin you commit, conscious or not, can have massive effects for people in and of God’s creation.  As we talked about last week, even if you neglect to do the right thing rather than doing the wrong, the consequences for these actions can be great for you and others.  Will these moral actions and implications affect your walk with God?

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Personal and Corporate Sins

Posted: April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

And thus our last break of the year ends…

What’s the significance of corporate sins? If the nation of the United States were to send out it’s special forces to maul a poor innocent Grandma on the street for pleasure’s sake, are you held accountable?

In order to answer this question, we must first make the clear distinction between personal and corporate sin.

–Enter storytelling mode–

Say, for instance, that your family is about to head to the beach to surf like you do every weekday. Someday you intend to make a fortune as a super awesome surfer dude. You’ve got your own board that your ex-convict Grandfather gave you for Christmas, and you eagerly hop into the car, ready to take on the biggest waves you can. As you’re driving along, you decide to write your name and number on the board just in case it is lost. As you search for a good place to write your name, you notice faint writing on the bottom of the board spelling a name you don’t recognize.

Quickly, you flick out your smartphone and google the name. After a bit of research, you find that the man who’s name was marked on the board is a broke surfer that claims ‘surfing is his daily food’ and that he ‘hardly lives on without it’. The article you are reading also states that the man lost his board weeks before you received it. To your surprise, you see a picture of YOUR board in the photo of the man.

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“The gospel we preach shapes the community we create, and the community we create shapes the gospel we teach.”
-Scot McKnight

What if everything you knew about the gospel was wrong? Okay, let’s not go that far, but here’s the idea: the culture we live in and the gospel we preach can change our view on the gospel. For example, Jesus preaches about the poor and the needy in many settings and many occasions. He teaches that we must give up what we have to the poor, and to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. In America, however, where the entire population is rich relative to those in other countries, we are taught either that Jesus is always talking about the ‘poor in spirit’, or that he is speaking metaphorically. Is this truly what Jesus taught?

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“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

(Luke 16:19-31)

“My forgotten, da Bosses will do terrible tings to me TERRRRRIBLE is me going down der!”  Our favorite little Gungan said it right, they’ll be doing terrible things to you if you go down there, and unlike his predicament, those terrible things will last more than a few days.  In fact, they will last an ETERNITY.

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This week in class, we discussed being countercultural.  First of all, let me ask you a question: what does the Greek word Ekklesia mean?  Well, one English derivative of this word is ‘ecclesiastical’, which means ‘of the church’.  Ekklesia, then, essentially means the church, or a study of the church for us as Christians.  This word meant something completely different, however, before Jesus coined the term for his new creation that was the ‘church’.

In Rome, Caesar had conquered many territories.  Keeping these multitudes of people in line and following Caesar would be an insurmountable task in that time period, if it weren’t for ekklesia.  Ekklesia was basically a ‘cult’ in ancient Rome that swore complete loyalty to Caesar, the self-proclaimed ‘Son of God and Lord of all that would come to save the world for the renewal of humanity and the defeat of evil to eventually rise to the right hand of God’ as seen in the writings of that time period.  Does this sound remotely familiar?  Painfully familiar?  Is the connection I’m drawing not forcing you cry out in pain and agony at the sight of such a clear line connecting two concepts joined by the same Greek WORD?

Yes.  Jesus Christ is that ‘Son of God and Lord of all that would come to save the world for the renewal of humanity and the defeat of evil to eventually rise to the right hand of God’, and he asks us to swear our complete loyalty to him being in the church in what he calls the ekklesia.  He chose this term with it’s meaning pre-inscribed for a reason.  Those who were in Caesar’s ekklesia were VERY outspoken, and everyone hated them for it.  There was no doubt in any citizen’s mind of who was in the ekklesia.  It won’t always be easy being in God’s ekklesia, Matthew 10:22 says “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  Standing firm doesn’t mean being a shy old couch potato, standing firm means standing firm.

Ephesians 6:13 states, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”  It doesn’t say to sit down with a bag of popcorn to watch the world go by, it says to STAND, and after you have done everything, to STAND.

You must give the Lord all your devotion, that you will wear the full armor of God to stand against the temptations of this world, and that you may conquer the world for God’s kingdom.  You must join that ekklesia.  You must be heard over the shouts of this world in God’s army.  You must show this fallen world that Jesus, our one and only savior, is Christ the Lord.

Seeing as some of my previous blogs have gotten rather long, meaning less people read them, I’m going to follow an outline with today’s blog.

What is Discipleship?

This question can probably best be answered through reviewing scripture.  Read with me Mark 1:16-20,

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

In this passage, the disciples stop what they are doing, drop their nets and their former lives, and follow Jesus.  They didn’t hesitate, they dropped it right then and there.  There is a visible sense of urgency in this passage that I think we must pay attention to.  If you are to follow your Lord and Savior, you can’t wait around till you are older.  As we covered in the previous post, the disciples were most likely teenagers.  In order to follow Jesus, you must stop what you are doing and give all your devotion to the Lord.

What will it cost?

1. Your worldly possessions/relations – Matthew 19:16-21

If you want to become a disciple of Christ, you must give up your worldly possessions.  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” – Matthew 6:20

“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”

The man asked, “What in particular?”

Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”

The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”

“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”” – Matthew 19:16-21

You must also, then, give up your worldly relations to be truly devoted to Christ.  “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” – Matthew 10:37

2.  Your old self – Ephesians 4:22-24

In this life, we are tempted.  Satan is actively working to bring you to sin and ultimate destruction.  All have their points at which they do not withhold from sin.  This is the old self.  When you commit to a life-long relationship with your Lord and savior, you must simply leave those ways behind you.  You must make a 180º turn and begin your walk in the direction Jesus wants you to go.  Ephesians 4:22-24 says,

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

If you are to enter a Mark 1 discipleship, if you are to devote all that you have, all that you are to your Lord and savior as covered in the last post, then you must put off the old self, and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  This can only come through Jesus the Christ by whom you have been saved.

Therefore, are you ready to stop what you are doing, drop all of your possessions and your old way of life, and follow your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  To what end will you follow him as his disciple?

Alrighty, well this week we were told in class to ‘have fun’ with our blogs.  I decided to do just that.  PICTURES, ILLUSTRATIONS, AND VIDEOS GALORE!!!

In class today, we discussed the Old Testament process through which the Jewish children went through in preparation for becoming a priest.  These children would begin the process described in the group of writings called Misnah, beginning Beth Sepher.  In Beth Sepher, they would begin memorizing the Tora and reading scripture.  At age 10, the students would enter Beth Mishra, in which they would begin seriously memorizing scripture. Let me not make the mistake of understating this, the best and most successful students, by the end of Beth Mishra, will have memorized 39 BOOKS OF SCRIPTURE.  That is 39 books, not chapters, not verses, entire books.  This was incredible dedication and determination, something our culture for young adults currently lacks.  Anyways, those who had gone through the program with flying colors were called Talmidim, or disciple.  They would serve as a sort of ‘apprentice’ or disciple under a prophet or priest, and later on become a priest themselves.

The point of this, though, is to show you how dedicated those Jewish children were.  At age 10 they were already well on their way to memorizing the ENTIRE Tora, and yes that includes Leviticus and Numbers!  They were completely devoted to their work and to the Lord as his disciples.

Now I want you to watch this video about the calling of Simon and Andrew.  There is something wrong with how the characters of Simon and Andrew are portrayed…see if you can tell what is wrong:

I am nearly positive you did not notice the main error in their portrayal, because most people wouldn’t picture Simon and Andrew, the disciples of Jesus, as teenagers.  That means that everything Jesus taught the disciples, all that he commanded them to do, he was telling to a bunch of teenagers (with the exception of Peter).  They were also Talmidim, or disciples, of Jesus.  Jesus commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations in what we know as the great commission, and as teenagers on into their twenties and on until their death, they did just that.  They followed their Lord, they learned from him, and all as men not too much older than me, a 15 year old.

By now, you may be asking why this is important.  When I heard such things in class, I was stuck on the same question.  Now, however, I’ll provide you with an answer.  These points are important because they show us just how dedicated Jesus expects us to be as teenagers, tweens, and even those in the 5-10 age range.  We are all his disciples.  And, in Matthew 28:19, Jesus says, “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.”  I want you to recall, for a moment, how much time and effort the Jewish students put in as Talmidim.  They had committed to memory thirty-nine books of the Old Testament by age 17, that’s just one year older than me and the rest of my class.  I know I have only memorized an average of 100 Bible verses, with Awana and all when I was younger, and I only remember about 15 of them.  When these teenagers about my age, they were able to recite THOUSANDS of verses from memory at that very point in time.  That sure speaks to me on motivation level.

With this in mind, listen through this song by the Newsboys, paying close attention to the lyrics (perhaps as you continue reading the rest of the blog):

Here are the lyrics for this song:

All my world, all I’ve lost
The wrecks I’ve made here
The lives it cost
Your hand restores
Your words make whole
With all my soul
I thank You, I owe You
All my

Devotion
All that I have to give
Here’s my devotion
You’re all that it means to live

All my past, my tainted name
You stole it’s legacy
Of pride and shame
You’re all I love
You’re all I fear
I’m drawing near
To face You, to know You
To show You

Devotion
All that I have to give
Here’s my devotion
You’re all that it means to live

You found me in a shallow grave
You dragged me out from beneath it all
You healed me, saved me
In the nick of time
Your perfect time

You found me in a shallow grave
You called me out from beneath it all
You touched me, saved me
In the nick of time
Your perfect time

I’ll devote all I have to You
I’ll devote all that You’ve made new
All You restored that day You bled
All that You brought back from the dead, oh

Devotion
All that I have to give
Here’s my devotion
You’re all that it means to live

You’re all that it means to live
My Lord my devotion

This is a wonderful song – and it captures the spirit of what I’m trying to say.  Not only does God deserve our praise and faith in him, he deserves our devotion.  And, in fact, he expects it from us.  In Romans 12:1, the author writes, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

(Alright, I’m now only targeting the younger, less scholarly folks in the audience (teens or younger).  Be sure to read this with the preface of what I said above)

I challenge you to read the Bible tomorrow morning, and instead of simply reading through a whole chapter and forgetting the content the next day 70% of the time, I challenge you to sit in your room and memorize one, two, three, or more verses that you read.  Memorize something of an attribute of God so that you may worship him more fervently and reverently.  Memorize something of a trait of one who loves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, that you may imitate it in daily life.  Memorize something about the story of Jesus Christ, his life on earth, his death, his resurrection, etc.  Find a passage that you feel you need to memorize, a passage that you feel you need to hear for whatever reason, practical or spiritual.  Then continue to do this, memorizing a few verses each week.

I’ve begun to do this with myself, and this week I memorized Ephesians 4:1-3 (Here’s the passage from memory):

As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Are you willing to do this?  Are you willing to give all of your devotion, all that you have to give, to the one who created you, and has rescued you from the shackles of sin even through death on a cross?