Monday, June 06, 2011

Some Thoughts On Listening to Christian Radio

Recently I began listening to Christian radio. It was both encouraging and in some ways alarming. It inspired me to return to my old blog so I could put some thoughts about listening to Christian radio in writing.

I began listening to Christian radio at work a few weeks ago. A friend recommended AM 900. I enjoyed the mornings on the station as there is a lot of encouraging stuff, like sermons from Alister Begg and R.C. Sproul. I noticed as I listened to sermons all morning I was greatly encouraged hearing the scripture preached. It helped focus my attention on God during the work day.

Sadly, in the afternoon the sermons end, and there is all sorts of talk radio. One of the programs I found most disturbing was New Life Ministries. In this radio program there are various Christian counselors who help callers, who call in seeking help from their three experts. So often when I hear the caller’s questions I am burdened for them, as the answers they get are often not scriptural. Too often the show states they are giving “Biblical” advice, yet there is no scripture. Their counsel often is secular psychology in somewhat Christianized packaging. I often hear the caller, the advice they are given, and wonder if they have received any real help at all. Very often when I hear the caller speak it makes me want to know if the caller is saved. Yet, the people on New Life Ministries do not often seek to stop and find out first. They dispense advice and do not give the caller much time to respond to the comments. I can’t help thinking about how some of these callers are not even born again, and how they sought “Christian counseling” but have not been pointed to the gospel. I feel bad for these people as they have been perhaps instructed on how to clean “the outside of the cup” but have not had any of the dirt on the inside dealt with. I also think how frustrating it must be for these callers to be given advice on how to change their life, when they may be completely unable to do so because they don’t have the Holy Spirit in them.

It is also alarming to see Christian counselors not probe and go into the deeper and spiritual issues. They trade the power of the scriptures for things that cannot save or heal. If you believe that the Bible is the word of God it seems like a no brainer that one would counsel by it. One familiar scripture comes to mind:
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

What counselor would not love to have a tool that discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart?!? It does not seem like you would need seminary training or Biblical counseling classes to see that. Yet, these people who are called doctors seem to miss what should be obvious to biblically literate Christians.

I could go on. But for the brevity of blog posts I will begin wrapping up. What was disturbing to me about “Christian radio” is how from the same source can come things both proclaiming scriptural truth and at the same time have other programs, that though they don’t state it, deny the sufficiency of scripture by not applying the word of God to people’s lives and problems. My fear is that people will not make a distinction between truth and error as both are coming from the same place. Thinking about this makes me thankful for the sufficiency of scripture and that, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1:3). God did not just give us scripture for something to hear in sermons but he gave us a divine book that we can trust and put into practice in all areas of life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

2 Cor 5: Part 2

The Text

(1)For we know when our earthly tent-dwelling is destroyed, we have a dwelling from God, an eternal dwelling not made with human hands, in heaven. (2) For also in this we groan longing to put on our heavenly dwelling (3) and assuming we put it on we will not be found naked. (4) For indeed, we who dwell in tents groan, being burdened, because we do not wish to be undressed but to be dressed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. (5) He who prepared us for this very thing is God, who gave us the Spirit as a guarantee. (6) Therefore, we are always confident, because we know that when we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord, (7) for we walk by faith, not by sight. (8) Yes, we are confident, and would rather prefer to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord. (9) Therefore, we make it our ambition whether at home or absent to be pleasing to him. (10) For we must all appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ, so that each may receive what he has done in the body whether good or evil. (author’s translation)

The Interpretation

This first verse looks back and explains how the apostle is able to say “we do not lose heart” in 2 Cor 4:16 and it fits in the context of 4:18, where the apostle explains that “we look not to the things that are seen but for the things that are unseen.” Though our outer nature is indeed wasting away, that is not the end for the believer. The believer has an eternal body to look forward to, as part of 4:17’s “eternal weight of glory”. This is a reminder to the Corinthians that the things they currently experience are temporary and insignificant. Therefore, the apostle and anyone who has their hope on the eternal things has no reason to lose heart, knowing that their true treasure is in heaven.

The significance of Paul’s use of oidamen is not universally agreed on. Garland suggests that it may mean that Paul is telling them nothing new, when he explains to the believers that they will receive a glorified body.[1] Harris notes that this does not necessarily have to be the case and states, “…he may be enunciating a truth he expects them to accept as apostolic teaching.”[2] Regardless of whether the apostle expected his recipients to know this truth, the fact that Paul says “we know” gives the believer confidence and certainty that once death does come there will be another, more durable, dwelling from God.

Paul likens the believer’s earthly existence to that of living in a tent. Harris notes how the imagery of the tent would point a mind familiar with the Jewish scriptures to the wilderness wanderings following the Exodus from Egypt, and God dwelling with his people while they lived in tents.[3] This reminds Christians that the spirit of Christ goes with them on their own spiritual pilgrimage of life.[4] The tent imagery should also serve to remind the Corinthians and believers today of the frailty of their current existence. A tent is easily set up and easily dismantled. It is something that is only used as a temporary residence. The metaphor of the tent should have a humbling effect on anyone who places too much value on this current life; due to the transitory and frail nature of the tent compared to the eternal dwelling we have from God. The metaphor of the tent demonstrates the superiority of God’s provision of a dwelling that is not made with human hands to our current condition. The superiority of God’s eternal dwelling is a source of comfort knowing that the Christian looks forward to something better than this world. The superiority of what is to come helped build a case against the false apostles and others in Corinth who found their value and boasting in the current status quo.

Paul describes our future glorified body as something “we have” with the present, active, indicative, third person plural verb ecomen. Commentators have divided opinion on when “we have” a dwelling from God in heaven. Harris lists the options as present possession in heaven or earth in embryonic form, or in the future at death in reality or as an ideal possession, or at the Parousia.[5] It seems more rational to not understand it as current possession since it would suggest that people have two bodies, one unoccupied until death. It seems likely that Paul could still say “we have” in the presence tense because of his certainty and confidence of the promise of the glorified body. It is something that he knows he will have with Christ as the prototype, so without doubt he can speak of having something he does not currently posses because of his confidence that he one day will. Harris notes that receiving the glorified body at the Parousia is the preferable interpretation since it is in the most harmony with the resurrection accompanying the Parousia in 1 Cor 15.[6] Regardless of the exact moment of possession of this glorified body, it gives hope to the saints because we have the certainty of the resurrection. The certainty of the resurrection may be something that the Corinthians did not fully understand even after Paul’s description of the resurrection in 1 Cor 15. Paul’s confident assertion that “we have” a glorified body is another way for him to convey the certainty of this hope. The certainty of the resurrection is another tool the apostle could use in his dismantling of the Corinthians overconfidence in the things that are temporal, pointing them to the proper perspective of the divine and eternal things.

This next statement that “we groan to put on our longed for heavenly dwelling” is the apostles naturally reaction to the truth that we have a better dwelling. The metaphor of the tent is fitting because people who spend time in them often long for a more stable dwelling. Just as a camper will eventually long to return to their house after their trip is over, so too will those who dwell in this tent that is our body. Those who dwell in tents will be uncomfortable in it and long for their more stable dwelling, which is better than what they currently live in.

Though this groaning that Paul speaks of is not the outcome of discomfort, but of longing for what is to come. Garland explains, “For Paul, sighing is the natural language of one whose heart has turned to God and hungers for God’s final redemption.”[7] It is not complaining about how things are not but longing for how things will be. Longing for what the eschatological end should mark the Christian and not complacent contentment with the current circumstances.

ependusasqai is the verb Paul chose to use to describe how the Christian will “put on” their new body. This verb is doubly compounded and some see this as significant and suggest translating it as “over clothed” to account for the double compounding. This is the translation Barnett prefers.[8] Garland cautions against reading too much in the double compound saying, “But such a interpretation puts more weight on the preposition than it can possibly bear.”[9] Since the verb is only used here and in 5:4 it makes it a little more difficult to discern how it should be translated. The context does not demand that it be translated as “over clothed” against “put on” so it would be safer to interpret the verb as meaning “put on” since there is not sufficient reason to assign additional meaning to the verb. It would be too much conjecture to guess how the new body is “put on” and guess that its being “over clothed” would make a difference. The main point here is what the believer currently has will be replaced with what is greater. That the believer longs put on the new body, again, highlights the superiority of the things that are unseen compared to the things that are seen.

The next verse has two textual variants that should be considered. Some manuscripts have eiper instead of ei ge. The other variant concerns endusamenoi. Harris explains that ei ge is to be preferred against eiper because the majority of the witnesses support it, and it is more likely that a scribe would change the ei ge to a eiper to make it conform to Attic Greek.[10]

The other variant is a little more difficult. It would be easy to guess that Paul would not have used endusamenoi because it would get rid of the apparent redundancy of “assuming we put it on we will not be found naked.” Though, this tautology may seem awkward, that is not sufficient reason not to favor it. Metzger points out that external evidence favors endusamenoi, and that ekdusamenoi is an alteration to avoid the tautology.[11]

The exact nature of what it means to be “found naked” is difficult to understand. John MacArthur interprets this to be a soul without a resurrection body, waiting for the Second Coming.[12] Garland sees it differently, “Nakedness, some incorporeal existence is an absurd idea for him because of the resurrection of Christ.”[13] Nakedness then should not be understood as a time when the believer is away from the body, but a state the believer will not have to be found in, because they have put on the new dwelling. Therefore, knowing that “we will not be found naked” is another way of expressing the assurance of the promised heavenly body.

Verse four continues to give more detail to verse two. In this reiteration of the groaning for the heavenly body Paul says, “we are burdened”. Paul is no stranger to being burdened. The apostle himself lists his burdens in this very epistle (4:8-12). The apostle’s burdens and Christian’s burdens today are reminders that creation itself waits its redemption from the current futility of its current fallen state.[14]

The answer to burdens of this fallen state of creation is not its cessation but its redemption. That is why the apostle points his recipients forward to when “we are dressed”, and reminds them that “we do not wish to be undressed.” The end in view is not mortality expired in death but is “mortality swallowed by life”. Garland states it powerfully, “Death is not a liberation from earthly toil trouble; it is itself a problem. Resurrection is the answer.”[15] The running theme of the superiority of the current unseen spiritual reality is apparent. The current world burdens all creation, the unseen spiritual reality, with the hope of redemption is what is longed for by all of creation. This truth advances Paul’s argument against the false apostles and the worldly Corinthians who evaluate the apostle by worldly standards.

The following verse explains that “the one who prepared us for this very thing is God.” eis auto touto could have two potential antecedents. It could refer to survival until the Parousia, or the receipt and possession of the spiritual body. [16] The first option can be ruled out because it assumes that Paul thought the Parousia was very imminent. Though, Paul does look forward to the Parousia, it does not follow that is what the preparation is for. It makes more sense that the antecedent of eis auto touto is more explicit and refers to the receipt and possession of the spiritual body.

That it is God who prepares the Christian for the eschatological hope is a reminder that the believer could not long and groan for the their new dwelling without God working in them toward that end. John Calvin comments on this verse saying, “This is added in order that we may know, that this disposition is supernatural. For mere natural feeling will not lead us forward to this.”[17] This reminds the Christian of Jesus’ words in John 15:5, “ …for apart from me you can do nothing.” Apart from God’s work no one has a natural desire for spiritual things. If one is burdened by this world and groans for eternal dwelling this is a result of God working in that person. This truth could serve as a warning to anyone who does not have a longing for their spiritual dwelling. The lack of this longing and contentment with the world could be evidence of the lack of God’s regenerating work in their life.

Paul informs his recipients that the guarantee of their preparation is the Spirit. This is similar to what Paul says in Ephesians 1:13, “In him you also when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” The Spirit is the first fruits of the eschatological hope of the believers completed redemption. This truth makes the believer confident that he will receive his new dwelling because he already has the Holy Spirit. This down payment evidences the reality on the unseen things that the Christian awaits. The Spirit also works in the believer proving that he has a part in the promised inheritance.

The truth that the apostle Paul expressed in the first five verses allowed him to say in verse six, “Therefore, we are always confident.” Paul could say that he was “always confident” because his confidence was not based on the transitory and temporary circumstances of the world. Paul’s suffering could not inspire confidence if it was viewed only through worldly lenses. The apostle’s worldly conditions of constant suffering are what allowed the Corinthian culture and false apostles to judge him by their false criteria. Though, the apostle was able to say that he was always confident because the anchor of his confidence was the things that are unseen, not the things that are seen. John MacArthur expresses it this way,

Paul was always of good courage in the face of death. His courage was not a temporary feeling or passing emotion; it was a constant state of mind. He faced death cheerfully, with complete confidence. It was not that he did not love the people in his life, but he loved the Lord more. Life for Paul was a race to finish, a battle to win, a stewardship to discharge. Once the race was over, the battle won, and the stewardship discharged, Paul saw no reason to cling to his life. The only reason for him to remain on earth was to serve God.[18]

In the second half of the verses Paul states that when “we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord.” This statement also explains Paul’s confidence, because he seeks to be present with the Lord, and is not finally concerned with the things of this world. Harris also notes that this verse does not mean being in the body means one is not with Christ now.[19] It simply means that the believer in not fully with the Lord in the same way he hopes to be with the Lord after death.[20]

Paul continues with verse seven explaining, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” This could also be a summary of what the apostle had been asking the Corinthians to do as they evaluated the apostle with the wrong set of criteria given to them by the false apostles. They falsely evaluated things by the way things appeared, which for the prideful Corinthian culture, like our modern culture, thinks wealth and prosperity are marks of blessing. The paradigm shift the apostle urges the Corinthians to make is to walk with the eye of faith, as they are to look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. Thus, they would have the proper criteria to judge life, and discredit the false apostles, as they ought to realize the superiority of the unseen spiritual reality.

Walking by faith is also how the believer must deal with the current tension of living in this current fallen world with an eschatological hope of redemption. The promise of a heavenly dwelling will not be realized in this world. This fallen world is far from what we long for. The current world is full of brokenness, death, hurt, and suffering. Without faith it would be hard for the believer to have hope in this world. Hebrews 11:1 explains faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This is what propels the Christian forward in a broken world.

Since Paul walked by faith, again, he could confidently reiterate, “Yes, we are confident, and would rather prefer to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord.” This verse is similar to verse six, but here Paul clearly states his preference of being with the Lord. This parallels Phil 1:24 where the apostle says, “My desire is to depart and to be with Christ, for that is far better.” It is obvious that the apostle is not someone who is suicidal but someone who realizes that being with Christ is far greater than anything this world could offer him. Garland explains his preference, “He longs to move from incomplete fellowship to full fellowship, from indirect, partial, and enigmatic vision to seeing face to face, from unfulfilled hope to fulfillment.[21] This attitude the Apostle Paul had is completely foreign to those with worldly values. Paul, expressing his desire to be with Christ contrasted himself from the false apostles and the unrepentant minority in Corinth who made their boast in their wealth and prosperity in this world. This is boasting in the exact wrong thing. This world has nothing comparable to Christ. If one longs for the world and not Christ his priorities are off, and he may need to test himself to see if he is in the faith, as the apostle later warns in the epistle.

After the apostle demonstrated the superiority of the things that are not seen compared to the things that are seen in the first eight verses, the apostle shifts gears slightly and give his recipients his ambition and motivation. In verse nine the apostle says his ambition is to please the Lord. In verse ten Paul explains that he is motivated by the fact the he will one day be before the Judgment Seat of his beloved Lord.

Paul says, “Therefore, we make it our ambition to be pleasing to the Lord.” The use of “therefore” looks backward to the truth that the Lord has graciously provided every believer an eternal dwelling and redemption from the fallen world. Paul then serves the Lord out of gratitude for all that the Lord has done for him.

Paul’s ambition was to be pleasing to the Lord This is contrary to what the Corinthians and people today often aim to do. The fallen sinful nature has all sorts of idols that it prefers to please rather than the Lord, and is manifested in a number of ways such as having a life devoted to pleasing bosses, friends, family members, peers, or oneself. These are all idols and should be put away to follow Paul’s example of being pleasing to the Lord. Paul’s ambition was to constantly be pleasing to the Lord; whether in the body or absent from the body Paul wanted to please his Lord. Harris points out that too much should not be drawn from verse nine.[22] Since Paul wanted to be pleasing to the Lord outside the body, it should not be assumed that works can be done in some interim state outside the body. Instead one should realize that Paul wanted to always be pleasing to the Lord. Paul wanted to be always pleasing to the Lord and to the Lord only.

Finally, Paul explains the motivation for his ambition. He knew that “we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ.” Paul knew that he must give an account before Christ’s Judgment Seat. The Judgment Seat is the rendering of the word bematos. MacArthur helps explain the significance of the word, “A person was brought before a bema to have his or her deeds examined, in a judicial sense for indictment or exoneration, or the purpose of recognizing and rewarding some achievement.”[23] The knowledge that we will face the Judgment Seat of Christ ought to motivate the believer to have Paul’s ambition of being pleasing to the Lord. This should produce humble reverence from God’s people and fear from the enemies of the Lord. The awareness of this Judgment Seat should motivate people to listen to Paul’s message to walk by faith, and look for the things that are unseen opposed to the things that are temporal. One day the false apostle who judged Paul by their false worldly criteria would be before Christ’s judgment and be judged by the only just judge.

Paul says the result of appearance before Christ is “that each may receive what he has done in the body whether good or evil.” The meaning of this is not easy to interpret. A false interpretation is that one’s salvation would be determined what he has done in the body. This is contrary to the message of the Bible, which teaches the salvation is not the results of works.

John MacArthur helps explain the difficulty in what it means to receive what one has done in the body.

The use of bad does not indicate the believers’ judgment is a judgment on sin, since all their sin has already been judged in Christ. The contrast between good and bad is not one between moral good and moral evil. Bad does not translate kakos or poneros, the words for moral evil, but phaulos, which means “worthless,” or “useless.” Richard C. Trench writes that phaulos ‘contemplates evil under another aspect, not so much that either of active or passive malignity, but rather of its good-for-nothingness, the impossibility of any true gain coming forth from it.’[24]

This quote helps one understand that the Judgment Seat for believers will not be over their sin. Their sin is taken care of in Christ. Instead, the believer will have the usefulness of their works evaluated. If their works are useless then they will receive no reward from them. If their works are useful for the Kingdom’s sake, they have will have their reward. Paul, informing the Corinthians that Christ will evaluate their works, continues to urge the Corinthians to make the needed paradigm shift in their thinking that wealth and prosperity are not marks of pleasure from the Father. This truth should tear down their false criteria by which they evaluate Paul. The Judgment Seat is also a reminder of Paul’s theme that it is better to look to the things that are unseen versus the things are not seen. The Judgment Seat is a reminder of the superiority of what is to come against the current condition. All of this works together in Paul’s argument’s against the Corinthians’ misplaced values and should encourage believers today to walk by faith and not by sight because of the superiority of the heavenly reality compared to the current fallen world of futility.

[1] Garland, 2 Corinthians, 369.

[2] Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005), 369.

[3] Ibid., 370.

[4] Ibid.,

[5] Ibid., 375.

[6] Ibid., 380

[7] Garland, 2 Corinthians, 257.

[8] Paul Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmrans Publishing Co. 1997), 261.

[9] Garland, 2Corinthians, 258.

[10] Harris, The Second Epistle to The Corinthians, 368.

[11] Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. ( New York: American Bible Society, 1994,) 511.

[12] John MacArthur, 2 Corinthians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2003) 166.

[13] Garland, 2 Corinthians, 260.

[14] Cf., Romans 8:18-25.

[15] Garland, 2 Corinthians, 262.

[16] Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 391-392.

[17] John Calvin, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, trans. John Pringle, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003) 219.

[18] MacArthur, 2 Corinthians, 169.

[19] Garland, 2 Corinthians, 264

[20] Ibid.,

[21] Ibid., 265

[22] Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 405

[23] MacArthur, 2 Corinthians, 117.

[24] Ibid., 179.

Friday, February 02, 2007

2 Cor 5:1-10 part 1

Due to the popular demand of a small minority I am making an attempt to reenter the blogosphere. ( Good news maybe to Jeremy Weaver and Brian Joines) I decided to share excerpts from my favorite paper I wrote last semester. The paper came from my 2 Corinthians Greek Exegesis class. This paper is very dear to my heart because God through it pointed me to a text that comforted me during some difficult times. Last semester I had a number of things that brought me some heart ache and perplexed moments. God used this paper to remind me "to look to the things that are unseen and not to the things that are seen". Through it he reminded me of his goodness and that we as Christians can not evaluate life through the way things appear in the current moment, that will only lead to despair. Instead life needs to be evaluated through the lens of Christ. All the promises of God are yes in Christ, and we know that our slight momentary afflictions are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison! This is a good reason not lose heart as we look to the things that unseen not seen.

Part 1 is the Historical Context. Part 2 will be the Text and Interpretation. My footnotes and sources will be at the bottom of the post.


Historical Context

2 Corinthians is the fourth in a series of the Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church. The first letter being a non-canonical letter which is referenced in 1 Cor 5:9 and is often referred to as Corinthians A.[1] Paul is informed while he is ministering in Ephesus of the many problems in Corinth through some of Chloe’s household (1 Cor 1:11). These problems included factionalism, immorality, a right understanding of marriage, disputes over food sacrificed to idols, disputes between men and women over head coverings, proper use of spiritual gifts and a proper understanding of the resurrection.[2] Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (or Corinthians B) to address these problems. This letter had a limited degree of success, which is evidenced by a “painful visit” (2 Cor 2:1) the apostle made to the Corinthians. Paul continued his correspondence with the Corinthians with a harsh letter (Corithians C) that both hurt the Corinthians and brought about repentance (2 Cor 7:8,9). Paul’s third letter did bring about repentance, but the repentance was still not yet universal, and Paul would continue his work with the Corinthians toward restoration, reconciliation and repentance until the Corinthian’s obedience would be complete prompting 2 Corinthians (or Corinthians D).

The Apostle Paul still had many issues of contention with the Corinthians that still need to be addressed as the apostle continued his pastoral ministry of seeking repentance and reconciliation from his Corinthian congregation. Many of these issues are related to Paul defending his competency against the false apostles whose influence undercut Paul’s authority in Corinth.[3] One commentator explains it this way, “…in 2 Corinthians we encounter Paul the apologist, fighting for the legitimacy of his own apostolic ministry.” [4]

The false apostles, who were able to undermine Paul, could play on the Corinthian’s culture for the false criteria to judge the true apostle. Garland states it this way, “ The breach between Paul and the Corinthians was not simply over theological issues but had its roots in the Corinthian cultural values that clashed with Christian values he wanted them to adopt.”[5] Corinth as a rich and prosperous city equated prosperity with blessing.[6] This false assumption caused the apostle problems because of his lowly state, especially compared to false apostles, who appeared prosperous, by worldly standards. Paul needed to bring the Corinthians to a paradigm shift in their thinking, in order to respond to the charges of the false apostles. This response needed to destroy the false criteria of the worldly Corinthians, which they used to judge Paul’s ministry. This response defended Paul’s gospel ministry and allowed the Corinthians to have a fuller understanding of the gospel.

Paul writes 2 Corinthians to bring this necessary change of thinking to the Corinthians. Paul reinforces the biblical truth that it is one’s weakness that makes one strong. He sets himself as an example and shows that his sufficiency is external to himself. Paul refutes the Corinthians “health and wealth” gospel and reminds them that the Christian life is taking up ones cross and following Jesus.[7] Paul demonstrates that worldly status is not the same as divine exaltation. Paul accomplishes this by showing the Corinthians that one’s boasting and blessing can only be grounded in the Lord and not in the temporary and perishable things of this world. This truth should completely destroy any pride in the corruptible, material and transitory things of this world thus vindicating Paul’s ministry and showing that his lowliness is to show God’s power and greatness. This is evident in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 as one sees their currently earthly state contrasted against their heavenly dwelling that the believer will possess in the presence of the Lord.

[1] D.A Carson and Douglas Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 422.

[2]Ibid. , 415-417.

[3] Ibid., 419.

[4] Scott J. Hafemann, 2 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 21.

[5] David E. Garland, 2 Corinthians, The New American Commentary, vol. 29 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers,1999), 30

[6] cf. 1Cor 1:18-29, see also 2 Cor 10-12

[7] cf. Luke 9:23

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Where in the World Is John Babri?

The last time I updated this blog was Feb 10 and many people have been asking what happened to John? Well, life happened. I fully intended to reenter the blogosphere but too much life happened and my blog fell into ruins.

So what was I doing? Well working about 30 hours between 2 jobs (I tutored and worked at Chick-fil-a) and taking Systematic Theology I, Greek Syntax and Exegesis and New Testament II. I also got to connect more with my church in Louisville and make some awesome and amazing friends. Anyway it all kept me out of the blogosphere. Its funny too once you leave you begin to realize that its definitely easy to stay out once the blogging bug wears off.

But now I wanted to let everyone know why I was gone so no one would worry. I also want to thank you for the calls checking if I was ok since I was not blogging, as well as the emails, and comments. I ‘ll also tie up some lose ends. What was up with “Brother Top Ical”? It was a little comedic series I was going to do featuring the audio bloging of my roommate Mike who had a hysterical impression of the stereotypical topical Preacher who makes all his points alliterate but makes sure they are not tied to a text. But unfortunately I will not be doing that since I have now moved back home for the summer and far away from my funny roommate. Ok next question. Will John finish his series on the existence of God? The answer is a definite maybe. I want to especially since I want to share my testimony of how I was converted out of atheism but I am not going to making finishing the series a priority. But continue in periodic installments along with other posts.

Nest question what is John up to now? Well, I finished my first year at Southern Seminary. I love Southern! It definitely was an awesome year. It definitely had its own difficulties and joys . But much too tell. Some highlights though were getting to meet awesome new friends in Louisville, have great professors, I got hear R.C. Sproul in chapel, be part of an awesome church, learn new things, gain a deeper understanding of scripture and grow. It definitely was not all easy though. My schedule was particularly taxing, things were often hectic and it was also very easy to play devil’s advocate with new things that I learned, I also got very sick for 2 weeks this spring. Also this semester I always wrestled with the disconnect of head knowledge and heart knowledge as well often found that knowing more does not always help in knowing God more. I also learned you have to fight to maintain your own spiritual life and that Seminary is not the “promised land”. But overall the experience was positive and I am thankful that God brought me to Southern and with the semester behind me it is easier for me to see the good and realize how good I had it.

What else is new? I started work back at my home Church First Baptist Church of Aurora yesterday! Crazy when I was in Louisville Sunday morning. Things are a little different around the church. My old office now houses 2 people who are not me. But ahwell they deserve it since I left and I am now just around for the summer. My role is going to a little different than it was last year too. I am very excited about this summer. I had a good time connecting with my Senior Pastor yesterday and just talking about this summer. I am anxious to see how God is going to be at work this summer. It is also has been very refreshing just being back at the church and being plugged back into full time ministry.

Will John blog again? Yes. Really ? He has said that before. Yes and here is why: I am going to be becoming up with lots cool material since I am back at my church Plus I want to recover the spiritual discipline of journaling. I also have come to realize when you journal on the computer you can copy and paste it and it will come in handy for other things. (The journaling that makes it to the blog though will of course be edited for content) Lastly, hopefully my blog can also be way for me to keep people back in home (in Louisville) informed on things that are going on in my life. Anyway grace and peace to you all.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Introduction To A New Freind

I want to introduce you to a new freind I met in my recent move. His name is Brother Ical. But he says you can call him by his first name Top. Bless Brother Ical's heart he thinks he is an expositer. I decided to get audio blogger so I could share some of his sermons with you. Let me make this disclaimer: His sermons are examples of what not to do! They also possess no redeeming spiritual value but do have some redeeming comedic value. In my next post you will be able to hear one of Brother Ical's sermons.

BTW: I have not used audio blogger before so bear with me if I have some technical dificulties.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Quick Update

Ok here's my quick update. I am moving off campus into a house with 2 other guys. So I will not be able to check my blog (or email, istant messenger, etc) during the next week or so since we do not yet have internet access yet at my new place. So I will temporarily be exiting the Blogosphere. But to make up for it I continued my series on the existance for God with TWO posts on Monday which you can find below. In other news my blog is almost a year old! So this could a fun discussion topic since my blog turns a year old next month on the 21st how should I celebrate that?

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Anthropic Principle

The Anthropic Principle is relatively new idea that states that the universe was fine tuned to make the universe suitable for human life. The “anthropic” comes from two Greek words. The first is anthropos meaning man or human and the second is topis meaning place. This principle points to how the universe seems to be a place designed to sustain life. The anthropic principle points that the universe displays exact precision in order of the universe that without such fine precision life in the universe would be impossible. This can be thought as variant of the Teleological Argument.

Examples of the anthropic principle are numerous through out science. Here is one that does not take much scientific knowledge to understand. Think of the location of the Earth. If it was a little closer to the sun the Earth like Venus would have been to hot for life as we know it. Or lets push the Earth back in the solar system then it like Mars would be to cold to sustain life as we know it. Are we lucky that the earth is in the exact right place it needs to be to support human life? I offer this as a simple example of how to illustrate this principle

Alister McGrath in his book Science and Religion gives four much more complex examples of “fine tuning” of fundamental cosmological constants.(182)
1. If the strong coupling constant was slightly smaller, hydrogen would be the only element in the universe. Since the evolution of life as we know it is fundamentally dependent on the chemical properties of carbon, that life could not have come into being without some hydrogen being converted to carbon by fusion. On the other hand, if the strong coupling constant were slightly larger (even by as much as 2 percent), the hydrogen would have been converted to helium, with the result that no long-lived stars would have been formed. In that such stars are regarded as essential to the emergence of life, such a conversion would have led to life as we know it failing to emerge.
2. If the weak fine constant was slightly smaller, no hydrogen would have formed during the early history of the universe. Consequently, no stars would have been formed. On the other hand, if it was slightly larger, supernovae would have been unable to eject the heavier elements necessary for life. In either case, life as we know it would not have emerged.

3. If the electromagetic fine structure constant was slightly larger, the stars would not be hot enough to warm planets to a temperature sufficient to maintain life in the form in which we know it. If smaller, the stars would have burned out too quickly to allow life to evolve on these planets.

4. If the gravitational fine structure constant were slightly smaller, stars and planets would not have been able to form, on account of the gravitational constraints necessary for coalescence of their constituent material. If stronger, the stars thus formed would have burned out too quickly to allow the evolution of life (as with the electromagnetic fine structure constant).

These are just some of many examples that show how universe shows fine tuning that makes life possible. It is truley amazing how if certain things were only a degree off there could be no life but everything shows how the universe was made for life everything is with perfect precision all showing that we had a master designer putting the universe in order.

The Other Teleolgocial Argument

I now introduce what I call the “other Teleological Argument”. This can also be called the real “Teleological Argument”. Teleological comes from the Greek word telos which means end or purpose. Teleological Arguments look at how things they have a purpose and work toward an end. The truth of this points us that something is pulling things to and end. The best example comes from Thomas Aquinas' 5th way in the real sense of being an argument being “teleological”. Paley's Teleological argument I presented in the last post inthe series is really specific type of cosmological argument but has become to be known as “The Teleological Argument”. Here is Thomas Aquinas' 5th the "real" teleological argument:

“The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it is directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God (Robinson 35).”

This argument may not be the simplest to understand so I am going to try to illustrate it with an example. I also hope that my illustration will not undermine the argument with my poor ability to illustrate it. Lets take a seed. The seed has no natural intelligence to become a flower (or what ever else a seed will become). But a seed will ultimately become a flower. (Assuming its planted) How does that seed know it is supposed to grow and become a flower. Why does the seed not just stay a seed a in the ground why does it move forward towards its end becoming a flower? How does the seed know thats what it is supposed to do with its own intelligence telling it “Ok now I need to spout, and have petals, and grow.” The seed is moving to its telos or purpose. Why does it do that? Because it is being governed to do so by God. I am going to admit that my illustration is not perfect but what I want it to show is that things work to end. The things that draw them to the end is God.

Blog Pointing

As I surveyed the Blogosphere I saw a number of scriptural type posts that I decided I'd share for this edition of Blog Pointing.I always love seeing scripture explained and how it effects people in their lives. So that is the theme of this Blog Pointing.

One still relatively new blogger who you should keep your eye on is Kenan Plunk. Check out his blog Every Thought Captive. He is doing a series on the Beattitudes. Kenan is definately a really smart spirtual guy.

Check out Al Mohler's Commentary. He writes on what should mark the life of a preacher.

Pastor Steve Weaver's Blog is always a good place to go for scriptural blogging. He continues his great expositions on Romans with From Theology to Doxology an exposition of Romans 11:33-36. With a tittle like that you know its going to be good.

Read The Well of God's Word - Personal Testimony on the last 5 years (Part 3) to read Shawn's personal testimony of man interacting with God's word.

Read Chris Thornesberry's blog Spartan for his introduction to the book of Acts as well as some of his own testimony about God's word and his journey.

With so many blogs where people discuss details of their personal lives its alway great to see Blog posts that look beyond themselves and are about something more than themselves. The Blogosphere is blessed with a lot of people who do that, who as you know are not all mentioned here.