October 20, 2017

Five NT texts that guide my journey

Road-to-Emmaus

A few weeks ago, I followed the example of Pete Enns and wrote a post on ten of the texts from the Hebrew Bible that have guided me in various ways on my faith journey. Today, let’s do a list of NT texts. We’ll start with five today and maybe add some more later in the week.

And wow, will this be tough. I will try to stay away from some of the more familiar passages, even though there are many that immediately come to mind: verses from the Sermon on the Mount, for example. I don’t want to downplay these treasures of the Church, but I would like to point out some verses that have become personally meaningful to me, touching my life at key points in my journey.

IMG_0772-1021x1024 Philippians 3:10: that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

The epistle to the Philippians preoccupied me for much of my young adult life, especially when I was in Bible College. There are so many wonderful passages, and I could have listed: Philippians 1:6, 1:21, 2:5-11, 2:12-13, 3:7-9 (the immediate context of the passage I have chosen), 4:4-9, 4:11, and so on. The entire letter is refreshingly joyous, despite Paul’s imprisonment and the challenges the Philippians were facing. Philippians portrays a remarkable “partnership” in the Gospel (koinonia) between the apostle and the church that is evident in every line, and the pastoral heart of Paul really comes out as he encourages them to live as humble servants of one another and their neighbors. Philippians gave me my earliest pastoral sensibilities and helped me fall in love with the church, ministry, and missions.

The passage I chose for today is at the heart of what I learned from this letter about being a Christian and laying one’s life down for others. This journey is about knowing Jesus, suffering with him, experiencing the powerful hope that comes from his resurrection life; dying daily in Christ and being raised to walk in newness of life.

IMG_0772-1021x10241 Peter 2:1-3: Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

The first series of sermons I did as a pastor were from the epistle of 1 Peter. I don’t know how much the people benefited from having a 22-year old novice up front acting like he knew what he was talking about, but one thing was clear, the material he had to work with was good and nourishing.

I chose this passage to share with you today because it describes the childlike delight I had in those days studying the Bible. I was truly like a newborn baby crying for milk. I was just about as mature too. What I didn’t see then in these verses is that learning from God is not just about careful exegesis of texts. The “pure milk” of the word is meant to address all that “malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander” in the life of the one feeding on it. Growth is not simply a matter of intellectual expansion, but of personal enlivening. I know well that my knowledge far exceeded my grasp of the spiritual formation God intended for me. Still does.

paul-apostle1IMG_0772-1021x1024Galatians 3:23-29: But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

This is the passage that drove the nail in the coffin of dispensationalism for me.

Why? Dispensationalism teaches that the Church is a “parenthesis” in God’s plan and that, after the Rapture, God will resume working with Israel in the Kingdom Age. However, in Galatians 3, Paul gives an overview of history which teaches that the Mosaic Law was actually the parenthesis — a temporary custodial measure that God put in place until he fulfilled his promise to Abraham in Christ. Christ is the fulfillment of Israel, the New Israel, and those who are in him are the recipients of the Abrahamic promises.

This was not merely an academic matter for me during my early studies and ministry. The circles in which I moved were strongly dispensational and the churches where I sought to minister required agreement in precise detail. This text made a major breach in what I had been taught, and before long there was no looking back.

IMG_0772-1021x1024Luke 24:30-32: When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?'”

The road to Emmaus. As I have explained in other posts, in my mind this Gospel narrative has come to represent a template for the Jesus-shaped life. Such a life is eucharistic. It sets forth the pattern for the way we meet together as believers, gathered around the Word and Table. It shows that the resurrected Christ is in our midst, even when we fail to recognize him, and that he patiently accompanies us in our blindness until we see.

He comes to us personally. He walks beside us. He sympathizes with our sorrows. He converses with us. He enters our homes. He has communion with us. He sends us to share his good news.

Luke 24 may be the most perfect narrative of the gospel and how we experience it in all the Scriptures.

IMG_0772-1021x1024Romans 6:1-4: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

For many years, in my understanding of Romans, chapter 6 was the passage where Paul started to talk about “sanctification.” I have a different view of all that now, but this text was and continues to be one of the most important parts of Scripture for me when it comes to defining who I am and how I should live as a Christian.

If Luke 24 describes the Jesus-shaped life in eucharistic terms, then Romans 6 says that it is a baptismal life. And I have only come to fully appreciate this since embracing the Lutheran tradition, with its constant encouragement for me to remember my baptism. In evangelicalism, the “baptism” spoken of here is most often defined as a spiritual baptism, making us one with Christ, rather than water baptism. I now find that to be an unsupportable distinction and believe that there is a whole lot more water in the NT than non-liturgical Christians allow.

The thing I appreciate about the liturgical traditions is not only their different understandings or practices of baptism, but the fact that believers are constantly encouraged to remember the event as a defining moment in their life and salvation.

This is my identity: I am a baptized Christian. I have died with Christ and have been raised to walk in newness of life. As Luther comments in the Small Catechism, referring to this text: “It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

Comments

  1. Of all you listed, Mike, the Romans text is the real heart of the matter. And it is why I am a Lutheran.

    And it is widely poo-pooed by much of the Christian church.

    The Lord does it ALL for us, in the external Word. Which most surely means Baptism, also.

    Thanks.

    • flatrocker says:

      Steve,
      So who’s doing the “poo-pooing?”

      (after re-reading this question sorry if that line sounds like something from a Dr. Seuss book. Just not sure how you draw a conclusion that this is a “widely” mis-perceived belief of the Christian Church)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        When all you have is a hammer…

      • Are you kidding?

        Where I’m from 99.999% of non-denom/Baptist/free-will Christians do NOT believe that God does anything at all in your Baptism.

        So then…the whole thing turns into a spiritual progression, navel-gazing, become a better Christian project.

        Makes me want to puke (what they have turned Baptism into).

    • The Lord does it ALL for us

      Prove it.

      • OldProphet says:

        Will the Lord get my coffee in the morning? My toast? Will he go out and do my job? Pay my taxes? Words and phrases have meaning. Truly, this issue is why Evangelicals sound foolish and uneducated sometimes

      • LOL. Kinda reminds me of a comment made at my church’s men’s fellowship this past Saturday. Someone said, “God works everything for His good.”

        I turned to the guy next to me and mouthed, “Prove it.”

        Yes, I’m the resident skeptic.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Someone said, “God works everything for His good.”

          Tell that to someone who’s just been crippled for life and/or lost his family in a natural disaster, major car crash, plane crash, or mass shooting. Or someone who’s just been diagnosed with advanced cancer, ALS, Alzheimers….

        • Rick Ro, the guy in the men’s fellowship was quoting Romans 8:28, and if he was aware of that, that’s how he would have “proved” it. But in a practical matter, HUG’s questions are certainly valid. I’m reading some Philip Yancey lately and he asks some of the difficult questions too. Not always as colorful as HUG though.

      • “It is finished.”

        Oh…except for you, StuartB.

        You had better get busy.

  2. petrushka1611 says:

    As the Galatians passage put the nail in the coffin for dispensationalism for you, the Luke passage did the same for the typical Independent Baptist view of “communion” for me. I wish I could coax every fundamentalist church I know into replacing the altar call with the Lord’s Supper. And I know that when I am in a mental and emotional position to attend a church regularly again, there’s no way I’d go unless it had the Lord’s Supper at least once a month.

    There is something more that happens at that breaking of bread than just a mere picture. I don’t know what all it is any more than I understand how all the nutrients from regular food keep me alive, but I don’t need to know all of it. I’m fine just knowing that my God is there, whether over, under, in, around, or whatever inadequate preposition you choose.

    • ….and they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread.

      This is the heart of my Catholic faith, knowing that Christ is fully present in the Eucharist, and that His soul, body, and divinity can enter my body, no matter how ragged and in need of repair this particular “Temple of the Holy Spirit” is. This is my faith, my fuel, my fulfillment, and my future.

    • Very interesting parallel you have drawn between the ‘alter call’ and the Holy Eucharist of the historic, sacramental and liturgical traditions. Eucharist is the original alter call, “I urge you therefore to present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your acceptable worship.” I am not certain how it is that American fundamentalism employs the use of the language since having largely rejected the richness and depth of the metaphor in all but its most diluted implication. I agree with you.

    • I echo your thoughts and conclusions. My only add on is that the sermon is the ‘heart of the matter’ for many protestant versions of the faith, or perhaps the worship experience, or some blend of both. You have options, though, of groups that hold a high view of communion, but I’m sure you know that already.
      Sometimes I’ll visit at a body that has a low view of communion, and the short shrift makes it harder (for me) to take than no communion at all.
      Let HIS kingdom come, I’m sure the LORD is still active in all of us.

    • I attended a church that only took communion when someone got baptized.

      It was not a very healthy church.

  3. Growth is not simply a matter of intellectual expansion, but of personal enlivening. I know well that my knowledge far exceeded my grasp of the spiritual formation God intended for me.

    Part of my spiritual explosion back around the turn of the century was when I was finally forced to acknowledge how much I had defined personal spiritual enlivening with theological intellectual expansion. The realization that the latter does not guarantee the former was shattering, but necessary.

  4. Two passages I have loved for years. The first is a summary to me of my seeking and my life; the second is the story that shows me how much Jesus loves those who love others and what true humility is.

    John 6:68: Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

    Matthew 8:5-10: When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

    Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

    The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

    When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

  5. CM, I agree especially with the Gal. 3 passage. If people really understood what Paul is saying there, and his argument in Galatians overall, dispensationalism would be gone tomorrow. Correctly understanding this passage clears up a lot of other ‘mysteries’.

    The translation you quoted is not the best however. The Law, Paul says, was the ‘paidagogos’. That was a guardian (typically an older slave) placed in charge of a young male (from 7 to 17 years of age) whose job was to keep him out of trouble – protect him from older males (think pederasty), accompany the child to school and make sure the father was getting his money’s worth (from the teacher he was paying to educate the child), and instill some basic principles (much as a nanny would today). The ‘paidagogos’ was not a tutor or teacher, and the preposition in v. 24 (‘eis’) is almost certainly temporal (‘until Christ came’; not ‘lead us to Christ’ – ‘lead’ is inferred from the ‘eis’ if translated as purpose). The ESV has a much better translation, and one that fits Paul’s argument much better, both as to how he views the Law (temporary, and applying to Israel only), and its purpose (not to ‘lead us to Christ’ but as Israel’s ‘paidagogos’ until Christ came).

    ‘So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.’

  6. Mike,

    Good stuff! One tangential comment as I went back and reread your writing about the Hebrew bible texts. Re Genesis 32:25 – as I have continued my Jesus journey I have become increasingly leery of any Christian who does not walk with a limp.

    • G. Campbell Morgan once responded to a parishioner who raved over a young preacher’s sermon, “Yes, he is gifted, but he will be better after he has suffered.”

  7. Thanks for sharing those, CM.

    A few of my own:
    Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV) – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

    This chunk of scripture was huge for me in deciding to follow Jesus as I was living in deep worry and anxiety at the time. An overwhelming sense of peace came over me as I read this and contemplated following Him. This is my go-to passage now in realizing Jesus wants us to live without fear “Be unafraid, as I am unafraid,” he says to me.

    Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message):
    “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

    “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” is one of THE BEST lines in the Message’s version of the Bible. This tells me Jesus wants our walk with Him to be relaxed and graceful. I keep turning to it when I feel pressured to “do more,” and I continually offer it to those who I see on the verge of burnout.

    Matthew 23:13-38
    The “Woe to you” section, where Jesus calls out the Pharisees for bad religion. I examine those continually to make sure I’m not becoming a Pharisee and preventing people from entering His kingdom or making “converts” twice a son of hell as I am. It’s a great way to examine how your own church is doing, too.

    Hebrews 1:3a (NASB)
    “…He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.”

    Jesus. The radiance of God’s glory. The EXACT representation of God’s nature. Okay. I got it! That means that everything Jesus did and everything Jesus said was a PERFECT REFLECTION OF GOD’S WILL! So that means, I better read the gospels frequently, more frequently than the epistles or the OT, to make sure I get who Jesus is and what He does and why He does it.

    Mark 15:34 (NIV)
    “And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).”

    There are reasons why Jesus cries this out as he’s dying, but one thing I get out of it is that he truly might have felt forsaken, which means I can feel forsaken, too, and know that I’m really not. What freedom that brings!

  8. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    This is the passage that drove the nail in the coffin of dispensationalism for me.

    Yet in Born-Again/Nondenoms, Dispy is the Only True Way. I was five years in-country before I found out there were other things than Darbyite Dispy. THAT’s how widespread it is, like it was dictated by God word-for-word in Kynge Jaymes Englyshe.

    • Try almost 30 years for me. Such has been the overwhelming amount of dispy churches that “teach the Bible”.

  9. OldProphet says:

    HUG, once more you are spouting out non evangelical
    ,broad stroke verbal nonsense. I’ve been an evangelical for over 30 years and have never been in a dispensational teaching church. Never. And I don’t believe in that teaching ever. The many types of churches within today’s evangelical tradition is vast and different so all attempts from you or others to pidgeon hole me or others I know in a single theology is insulting and poor scholarship.

    • Here in the upper Midwest, you can’t avoid them.

      • OldProphet says:

        Yeah, but I live in SoCal, aka “God’s Country”. We are too smart for that theological nonsense

        • Right, you’ve gotten Aimee Semple McPherson and John MacArthur instead.

          • It’s amazing how quickly “grace to you” can become a slur and insult out of that group’s mouth…

          • OldProphet says:

            Hey Stu, consider yourself trolled! Hello Calvary Chapel! Biggest Dispensational teachers on the planet and based here in SoCal. !

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Calvary Chapel completely DOMINATED the SoCal Christianese AM airwaves throughout the Seventies and Eighties. Each CC franchise had its own radio show. Over and over and over the air, There Was No Salvation Outside Calvary Chapel.

          • “Grace to you” as you get clubbed over the head with the Law.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          All my time in-country was in SoCal.

          Dispy was Universal, and The Rapture was Any Minute Now. Don’t Be Left Behind!

    • So your comment to HUG is a joke?

      • OldProphet says:

        Hi Numo. No, my comment to HUG was serious. I am offended when one belief is ascribed to a whole group of people. Not ALL evangelicals are dispensationalists. All RC priests are not bad. All Baptist pastors are non charismatic. All evangelicals don’t believe in a 7 day creation. Numo, I respect what you say. Does every one believe in everything their church teaches? Probably not. I don’t By the way, my comment to Stuart was a satirical comment. Should have put a \ or lol on it. I apologize if it offended you

        • OP, I guess you are not familiar with HUG’s background and locale yet.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Time In-Country: The Peak of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and Christians for Nuclear War, with a new Rapture Scare every time you turned around.

            Locale: Ground Zero for Calvary Chapel — Papa Chuck in Costa Mesa, Raul Rees in West Covina, and other CCs and at least half a dozen other Anointed Pastors (except for Lonnie Frisbee) who dominated the Born-Again Media in the area.

          • You were the evangelical version of special operations officer Benjamin L. Willard. The only thing missing was Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz, his bald pate rising up out of the dimly illuminated water…Doors psychedelia playing in the background,”This is the End, of all romantic plans, the End….”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “The Horror… The Horror… The Horror…”

            “Never get out of the boat never get out of the boat never get out of the boat…”

        • OldProphet, if you’re an evangelical in this country, dispensationalism loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. What I mean is, you can’t avoid it even if you’ve never heard of it. It has permeated our culture, evangelical, secular or otherwise, and it’s time we identified it and exposed the crud that’s in it.

          Some of it’s not bad, such as the breakdown of history into distinct epochs for our understanding—but most of it ranges from the ridiculous to the heretical. And ironically, there are resemblances of darwinism and marxism in there. These three grew up together and there was a lot of cross-pollination. Again, it’s time the cards were put on the table.

  10. Chaplain Mike, regarding your nail in the coffin. What do you do with Ephesians 3:1-11? That a mystery was being revealed that, up until then, had not been told to the sons of men. I believe from this, and many other passages, that this indicates the Church. It does not absorb Israel any more than it means that all Gentiles become believers. Obviously to this day there is Israel and there are Gentiles (unbelievers) and there is the Church. And God’s way of “dealing with” each of these groups is unique. Yes I am a Dispensationalist and yes I am a Lutheran. My pastor knows that in this area we do not agree. Yet he also was gracious enough to acknowledge my journey and welcome me into his congregation.

    • This is obviously more than we can deal with in the comments, but my short answer is that you are misreading what Paul I saying in Eph 3. The promise of God to bring his blessing to all nations is integral to the promises to Abraham and precedes the Mosaic Law. The OT, as well, is filled with prophetic visions of all nations worshiping the Lord. When Paul says it was “not made known” he cannot mean it was never talked about. I take it to mean it had not been revealed as a reality in the world. The very job of the apostles, as he says in Eph 3, was to announce that the day had arrived in Christ. I see no contradiction with Gal 3.

      Perhaps others will want to chime in.

    • Obviously to this day there is Israel and there are Gentiles (unbelievers) and there is the Church.

      Can you defend this Biblically? I hear it from Darby and others, but I don’t see it in Scripture. Rather, the complete opposite. There was one people of God (Israel), now there is one people of God (the church, many of which belonged to Israel). It’s all one family. It’s all one tree; there was never a second tree.

      • It seems quite obvious that there is still an Israel and both religious Jews and non-religious Jews to this day. And certainly the fact that there are unbelievers seems obvious. Or I should say people who are not Christian believers. There are countless belief systems in our world.

        If I am understanding your “second tree” reference I would send you to Romans 11. So I still see 3 entities if you will. Israel, the Church and Gentiles.

        By the way Dispensationalist belief goes way back, it was not “invented” by Darby. That would be like saying that Martin Luther “invented” justification by faith” as that doctrine had gotten “buried” by the Catholic Church of his time. As Chaplain Mike stated it would take more space and time to explain than would be appropriate in the comments but if you are truly interested, in my opinion the definitive work on the subject is “Maranatha Our Lord Come!” by Dr. Renald Showers of the Friends of Israel. Nothing else that I have read even comes close to the detail and thoroughness of this book.

        And no. I have not read the Left Behind Series.

        • Except, it’s more like “Jesus/Church and The Gentiles”. Only two. Only ever been two.

          And yeah, Darby brought his unique brand of dualism and invented dispensationalism. He absolutely did, or at least he’s the best to call the Father of Dispy. It’s not good to be cute and say he couldn’t have invented it because it’s found “all throughout the Scriptures” or something.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I think Dispy was Darby’s way to reconcile all the discrepancies in a single monolithic Spiritual Engineering Manual of unbroken literal Fact, Fact, Fact. His approach was to split the discrepancies into different “Dispensations” that were internally consistent.

            Kind of like Calvin some 300 years before and Medieval Scholastics before that, he tried to create a completely-airtight Theology, where everything was consistent and made sense. Doctrine, Doctrine, Doctrine, Fact, Fact, Fact.

        • I would recommend taking a closer look at Hebrews chapters 7 and 8. The relationship of Christ to the older covenants explicated there is very interesting, and has major implications for those who hold to a dispensational view of divine history.

    • What Paul says in Eph 3:1-11 is this: ‘that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel’. What was hidden in the OT (or at least not made clear, as Paul says) is that the ‘People of God’ would include both Jews and Gentiles, both as heirs to the same promises (those made to Abraham, and the promises of a ‘new age’ made by the OT prophets), on an equal basis – through faith in Christ (rather than physical descent).

      If you read the argument in context (beginning in 2:10), it becomes even more clear.

      In Eph 2:12 Paul reminds his Gentile readers that ‘you were at that time [before Christ came] . . . alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world’. Note that they (and we Gentiles) were ‘alienated from the commonwealth of Israel’ and ‘strangers to the covenants of promise’ – meaning these were exclusive to Israel (before Christ came). Now that Christ has come, Paul says in Eph 2:19, ‘you [Gentiles] are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God’. The ‘household of God’, the People of God, is no longer limited to those believing Jews (or national/ethnic Israel), but also includes believing Gentiles, and the Gentiles are incorporated in the ‘People of God’ as ‘fellow citizens’.

      If you look back to Eph 1, the ‘spiritual blessings’ Paul mentions in 1:3-14 all echo the privileges/promises of Israel – a ‘chosen’ people (v 4), ‘predestined to adoption as sons’ (v. 5 – cf. Ex. 4:22), ‘redemption through his blood’ (v.6 – a clear reference to the Exodus), ‘inheritance’ (v. 10, 11, 14), the ‘promised spirit’ (v. 13 – cf. Ezek. 36:25-27, and Paul’s statement to this effect in Gal. 3:14 – Christ became a curse so the promises to Abraham might come to the Gentiles AND the Spirit come – fulfilling Ezek 36:25-27).

      Ephesians is probably the one book you definitely don’t want to use to support dispensationalism. One can try to ‘explain’ all this away by seeing the ‘church’ as a ‘parenthetical entity’ (though the Greek word ‘ekkelsia’ is the same word used of Jewish synagogues and the ‘assembly’ of Israel in the LXX close 100 times – any significance there???), but one has to work real hard at avoiding the obvious to do so.

      1 Peter is pretty clear as well: ‘you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession’ (1 Pet 2:9) – if one didn’t know Peter was talking about Christians, one would naturally assume he was talking about Israel, especially since he is quoting Ex. 19:5-6 (LXX), with some allusions to other OT passages specifically about Israel.

  11. flatrocker says:

    OP,
    Setting aside HUG’s provocative (at times) observations, what then are the eschatological teachings of a non-dispensational evangelical church?

    • And where does this church exist in America?

      • turnsalso says:

        The pastor at my church ca. 2003-2006 wasn’t a dispensationalist, and the first time I ever heard of anything else. Specifically, he believed the Revelation to be an apocalyptic or allegory or myth, rather than a history of the future. I never heard his view from the pulpit; only from my mother expressing displeasure at this fact.

        I suspect that he was rather like Michael Spencer in watching what he said so as not to rock the boat and get himself fired (our youth program watched the first couple Left Behind movies around the same time); the ruling caste–I mean, uh, Board of Elders–had to come up with some other reason for that.

      • turnsalso says:

        Having said this, I don’t really know where he ended up after that; somewhere near Cincinnati was the last I knew.

    • Not all premillenialists are dispensational. Others are considered “classic” or “historic” premillenialists.

      Personally, I’ve become a pan-millenialist (it will all pan out in the end).

    • I did not write this obviously but it is the best overview of the different eschatological beliefs within the different churches.

      Different Views on the End of the World
      By Chris Schang
      One of the central questions asked in the last days is how will the world end? And when will it happen? Are there any end times signs that will show us that we are getting close to the end of the age? These questions have often stumped students of the Bible as they try to analyze what the Bible says about the end times. In fact, it is often said that many people simply skip reading the book of Revelation because they feel it is too hard to understand. Despite the confusion that surrounds Bible prophecy, the truth of the matter is that we can understand a general frame of reference about the last days and how they will be fulfilled. Revelation described many of the judgments that will be representative of God’s wrath on the Earth during the tribulation period. As we recall, the tribulation period is not for the church, but it is a time of punishment and judgment for unrepentant sinners and unbelieving Israel. The descriptions in Revelation includes wars, hailstones, earthquakes, supernatural judgments and other horrible images that just boggle the mind.
      Despite the negative effects of the judgments of God, at the end of the tribulation period Jesus returns and defeats his enemies. The earth is renovated and a 1,000 year millennial rule is established. however, despite the clear cut explanations of how the end times will play out, like everything else, there are different views on how the end of the world as we know it will occur. We will attempt to cover the various views and explain the one we think best fits the overall picture from the Bible.
      The four main views of the end times are dispensational premillennialism, historic premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism. Each of these views differ on major points of the end times. The most distinguishable differences in the various views is when Jesus will return in regards to the 1,000 year millennial reign that occurs at the end of the tribulation period. Some views even argue whether this reign is a literal one or not.
      The primary scriptural reference for the Millennium, the 1,000 year reign of Christ, comes from Revelation 20:1-6.
      Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
      And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
      But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This [is] the first resurrection. Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
      Dispensational Millennialism – this view is the predominant view that this writer takes and believes that it is the most accurate of the four end times views. The dispensational millennialist believes that the rapture of the church takes place before the tribulation period as the Bible declares that the church is not destined to wrath, but to salvation through Jesus Christ. This view believes that Israel and the church have different destinies in the end times. The church is to be raptured to Heaven to the special place that Jesus has made for us, while Jews will occupy the land of Israel on the earth. The church is also said to be co-rulers with the Lord Jesus during the 1,000 year millennial reign. The dispensationalist millennialist also believes that the future Antichrist will appear during the end times to make a seven year peace treaty with Israel and eventually break that treaty at the mid-point of the tribulation period. The Antichrist will be the most wicked and evil man to ever live. He will eventually be indwelt by Satan himself. In regards to the tribulation this view believes that the church is rapture to Heaven before the start of the seven year tribulation period, also referred to as the 70th week of Daniel or the Time of Jacob’s (Israel) Trouble.
      This view sees Armageddon as the final rebellion against God before the Second Coming of Christ and that the church is absent from this conflict. The Second Coming is seen by the dispensational millennialist as occurring at the end of the tribulation period or 70th week of Daniel. Regarding the resurrection it will occur in three stages with the first stage consisting of the resurrection of the dead believers at the rapture, the second stage will be the resurrection of the Old Testament saints as well as the tribulation martyrs at Jesus’ Second Coming.
      Finally the third stage of the resurrection will occur at the end of the millennium and will be the unbelieving dead from the history of mankind. The dispensational millennialist believes in three distinct judgments with the first one happening at the rapture, the second happening at the Second Coming, and the third judgment at the end of the millennium. The 1,000 year millennium will occur at the end of the tribulation period and that Jesus rules literally from Jerusalem.
      Historic Premillennialism – This view tends to see the rapture as happening as part of the Second Coming. The church is seen as “spiritual Israel” fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel. The antichrist is seen a person who will oppose Christ during the end times and persecute the Jews during the great tribulation period. This view also sees the Antichrist as a personification of satanic power. In regards to the tribulation the historic premillennialist sees the church going through the tribulation period. Armageddon is seen as the final conflict before Jesus establishes the Millennial Kingdom. They see the church as being present during Armageddon. The Second Coming is seen as establishing the Millennium. The resurrection of the dead is seen in only two stages, one occurring at Jesus’ Second Coming and the other at the end of the Millennium. Since the historic premillennialist sees the church going through the tribulation period they do not see a resurrection of the dead at the rapture, for they believe that will happen at the second coming. This is certainly not the case. Judgment of believers is though to occur in two stages, once at the Second Coming and the other at the end of the Millennium. The do not believe in a judgment at the pre-trib rapture, as the see the rapture happening at the Second Coming. In a final regards to the Millennium the historic premillennialist sees Jesus visibly reigning on the Earth from Jerusalem with both New and Old Testament believers. They believe that the curse will be lifted at this time as well.
      Amillennialism – The Amillennialist views sees the rapture of the church as part of the Second Coming. Why the Lord would rapture people to Heaven to then immediately send them back to earth is beyond me. The church is seen as the “spiritual Israel” fulfilling the ancient Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel. They believe that the church has replaced Israel. In regards to the Antichrist they believe that he represents satanic activity through the history of mankind.
      The door is left open to a person assuming the role of the Antichrist at the end of the age though. This view also believes that the church will go through the tribulation period. The amillennialism views is similar to the historic premillennialism view in that they see Armageddon as the final conflict of good vs. evil at the end of this age and that the church will be present at this conflict. Fortunately, this is not so. The church is definitely raptured before the outpouring of God’s wrath which begins at the tribulation period.
      The Second Coming is seen as establishing a new heaven and a new earth, not a renovation of the existing earth as the scriptures describe. This view believes in only one general resurrection of the dead that will occur at the Second Coming. The amillennialism view believes that there will be only one judgment of mankind at the Second Coming. and as far as the Millennium is concerned the amillennialist believes that there is no literal 1,000 year rule of Jesus from Jerusalem.
      Postmillennialism – This view pretty much ignores the rapture. The postmillennialist sees the church and Israel as having two distinct destinies in the last days. The view also tends to see the church as the “spiritual Israel” which is similar to the historic premillennialism and amillennialism views. They are likely to believe in replacement theology as well. Concerning the Antichrist they believe this has already been fulfilled. They also see the Antichrist as representing satanic power throughout the church age. The Bible does declare that there will be a “spirit” of antichrist in the world, the end times is clear that a man will rise up in the last days and declare himself to be God on earth. The postmillennialism view also sees the current church age as the tribulation period. While the Bible does indeed tell us that we will experience trials and tribulations on earth, the Bible is clear that there will be a literal seven year tribulation that will be the worst seven year in mankind’s history with unprecedented chaos and destruction as God pours out his wrath on unrepentant sinners and unbelieving Israel. Armageddon is as a picture of Christ leading his church to glorious victory over it’s enemies by preaching the Good News or the Gospel to everyone on Earth. The Second Coming is seen as happening after the Millennium. The resurrection of the dead postmillennialists believe will happen at the Second Coming. Judgment is seen as occurring at the end of the Millennium. They believe that there will only be one general judgment of all people. And finally, in regards to the Millennium the postmillennialists believe that the preaching of the Gospel or Good News will establish the Millennial Kingdom on Earth. The postmillennialists believe that we have to make the earth suitable for Christ’s return by converting everyone to Christianity. And they believe that until we do, Christ will not come back.
      After looking at these various views of the end times, it is clear that the only view that is fully in harmony with what the Bible says about the end times is the dispensational premillennialist view that sees a literal fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Afterall, the First Coming of Jesus Christ was fulfilled literally as the Bible declared, so why should the Second Coming be any different? The answer is that it won’t be any different. We already see evidences of the literal fulfillment of Israel being reborn in the end times just as the Bible foretold as well as many other signs that indicate that the literal return of the Lord Jesus is verily at the door.

      • Despite the negative effects of the judgments of God, at the end of the tribulation period Jesus returns and defeats his enemies. The earth is renovated and a 1,000 year millennial rule is established.

        Notice that this is assumed without a single shred of evidence. Followed by critiquing different views, but only from the safety of the initial assumption. We already know the truth, let’s see how silly others are when it’s so clearly spelled out.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And then Satan is loosed once more for a Second Final Showdown.

          (Or is this a summary restating the chapters before?)

          • OldProphet says:

            Yes, Satan is loosed to attack New Jerusalem with his army and eventually Jesus gets fed up with it and comes out and destroys them all. As if some random army of demons can lay siege to the Lord of Glory in a city? That’s how Lindsey said it. That interpretation still sounds looney today.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            In the past couple years, I’ve come to the conclusion that that scene at the end is a summarized recap, restating the chapters before with different imagery. In Classical Hebrew, parallel repetition (using different imagery each time) is done for emphasis — AKA “This Is Important”.

            You could probably say the same about the Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, Seven Thunders, etc. Repeating the scene using different imagery each time for emphasis.

      • Side comment…it’s really easy to get people to not believe a position when you play against their fears…what, you don’t believe Jesus won’t literally return and literally reign on a throne for 1000 years? don’t you want him to? isn’t he your savior AND lord? what kind of christian doesn’t want a physical jesus ruling on earth?

        etc…

        that’s neither here nor there, just noticing it in the rhetoric.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Been there, done that, wanna see my scars?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          what, you don’t believe Jesus won’t literally return and literally reign on a throne for 1000 years? don’t you want him to? isn’t he your savior AND lord?

          And Remember:
          “All Who Were Not In The Book of Life Were Cast Into The Lake of Fire”.

          “It’s Too Late
          To change your mind;
          The Son has come
          Any You’ve Been Left Behind!”
          (any minute now… any minute now… any minute now…)

          (And that “savior and Lord” should be “PersonalLOORDandSavior”. That’s how I always heard it phrased, as if it were one word.)

      • “After looking at these various views of the end times, it is clear that the only view that is fully in harmony with what the Bible says about the end times is the dispensational premillennialist view that sees a literal fulfillment of Bible prophecy.”

        Adrienne, with all due respect, I’ve heard that since the early 1970’s, and it still doesn’t ring true. Sorry.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Adrienne, with all due respect, I’ve heard that since the early 1970’s, and it still doesn’t ring true. Sorry.

          Same here. Almost word-for-word from then to now.

          Yom Kippur War Rapture Scare, 1973.
          Comet Kohoutek Rapture Scare, 1974.
          Rosh Hashanah Rapture Scare, 1975.
          Jupiter Effect Rapture Scare, 1981.
          88 Reasons Rapture Scare, 1988 (the one that finally burned me out).

      • Adrienne, i think the article you pasted in would work better if it wasn’t written from a dispensationalist pov, and didn’t use dispensationalist terms (like “Rapture,” for example).

        As is, it is revealing in terms of what the writer believes others think, as opoosed to what others *actually* think.

        I’m Lutheran myself, and if pressed to describe my views, would say: Christ returns. End of this world’s story.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Adrienne, i think the article you pasted in would work better if it wasn’t written from a dispensationalist pov, and didn’t use dispensationalist terms (like “Rapture,” for example).

          The LONG single block of text without any easily-visible breaks between paragraphs doesn’t help. That sort of format says “In-Your-Face Kook Rant” no matter how legit the contents.

      • Adrienne, after reading that, I would advise against trusting that author’s description of differing views on eschatology. There are great sources out there for that, and he ain’t one.

        Just to name a few things concerning amillennialism where he is clearly wrong:

        “Why the Lord would rapture people to Heaven to then immediately send them back to earth is beyond me.”

        Amillenialists don’t believe in a rapture at all. Nobody “goes to heaven” to avoid the judgment on earth in this view.

        “They believe that the church has replaced Israel.”

        Not true. Generally anyway. Maybe some do. But this is more often an accusation used to insinuate anti-semitism among people who disagree with dispensationalism.

        “The Second Coming is seen as establishing a new heaven and a new earth, not a renovation of the existing earth as the scriptures describe.”

        If amil insists on inaugurated eschatology, and I’ve never heard otherwise, then this is not true at all either. The “New Heavens and the New Earth” (Biblical phrase) is seen as a renewal of the existing order and creation, not its destruction and replacement, a la Harold Camping. That view (total destruction of everything) tags along far more often with dispensationalism than any of the other views, in my experience.

        I’m not as well informed on postmil, but based on his ignorance of amil, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I can throw him.

        Also, sophisticated debaters don’t begin a description of the opposing view, and then interject personal opinions on why it’s not true midway through their explanation. Sophisticated theologians and writers give the views with which they disagree the best possible construction, look for all the strong points, and then show from their view why they believe it to be wrong. I.e. they don’t throw in “Fortunately this is not true” in the middle of their explanation. I realize the guy may just be trying to give an overview, and assumes his audience agrees with him, but that doesn’t really speak well to his depth of understanding of differing viewpoints.

        But if he’s truly just giving a summary overview, then this concluding sentence is unacceptable:

        “After looking at these various views of the end times, it is clear…”

        He did not “look at” anything, he hacked his way through things and ignored subtlety as much as possible. And nothing become clear from what he presented, partly due to the lack of Scripture that these four views draw upon.

        I haven’t read it, but I’ve heard Jonathan Menn’s “Biblical Eschatology” clearly describes each view and explains their Biblical support. In any case, I’d go quite a bit deeper than Mr. Schang’s explanations here.

      • Frankly, after 130 or so graduate credit hours spent in evangelical seminaries, I have to admit: I don’t even take dispensational premillennialism seriously. You have to butcher so much of the text to even come close, and even then you have to embrace philosophical presuppositions that were alien to the human race prior to the 1800s or so. It is just shear nonsense, and the hucksters who peddle it should be embarrassed.

        • One of my seminary professors (back around 2000) noted that before the mid-1970s, virtually all evangelical seminaries were dispensational. However, about that time a number of things started to dawn on theologians and Bible scholars. First was the influence of the Dead Sea scrolls and the light they (and other Jewish documents from around that time) shed on the first-century world, and what the debates of that day really were. Second was the realization that more Christians had died as a result of persecution in the 20th century than all previous centuries combined. This made people rethink the very American idea that God would deliver his people from ‘tribulation’ – dead is dead, and ‘tribulation’ doesn’t get much ‘greater’ than that. By 2000, there were literally a handful of evangelical seminaries still holding strongly to dispensationalism (e.g. Dallas [and progressive dispensationalism has softened the view there somewhat], Talbot [and apparently they hold it pretty loosely]). Hopefully in another generation it will be looked back on as a historical curiosity, as it is in most of the world today (the British often refer to it as ‘that quaint American theology’).

  12. Dana Ames says:

    N.T. Wright has commented that he wonders what the shape of (particularly Protestant) theology would be if, when looking at St Paul, the theology had been built on Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians rather than Romans and Galatians…

    Ch. Mike, what if the vast majority of the times “the word” is used in the NT, it is referring to Christ Himself, not just in St John? I came to this, the Orthodox, view a bit before I began to be interested in Orthodoxy. Try that meaning on in this verse, particularly in connection with the last verse of ch 2, and the echo of it in the paralellism of “if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” There is also this connection of meaning as one proceeds into ch 2, with St Peter talking about Christ the cornerstone. The focus is on Jesus, and how to act because of who he is, not so much on writings… Once I started doing that, it felt like my understanding of the letters of the NT went down an elevator shaft – in a good way – about 10 storeys deeper.

    Dana

    • I don’t see “word” in this verse so much as the Bible per se, but more as the revelation of God, and probably in this context, specifically related to the apostles’ teaching of Christ. At the time I was first studying it, I would have identified it with the Bible alone. The concept of God’s word in scripture is more rich, complex, and profound than most of us know, and of course, it all comes together in Jesus the Word.

  13. Just a brief, general word about dispensationalism as I understand it, i.e. the Spirit does or does not do such and such in a given era. To place a box around our current time in history, or any other for that matter, and make a pronouncement about what God will and will not do through the Spirit strikes me as the height of arrogance or ignorance or both. From the scriptural record we can say that He basically never does things the way He’s supposed to. You might say He is the ultimate rule breaker so I think it is basic fear of the open ended, unpredictable nature of things that propels us into structure building mode. That gives us a way to put parameters on the unfathomable. I had this thought some time ago but it just came back when reading today’s post. Making a theology about the moving of the ‘wind’ is probably less accurate than predicting the weather and many a picnic has faced ruination on the basis of those calculations.

    • And perhaps I have misunderstood the term ‘dispensationalism’. I’m referring to the exercise of spiritual gifts, etc.

      • P.s. My comment was made irrespective of any other comments as I had not read any before posting. Only now do I see there is a conversation going on about this so forgive me if I have insulted anyone speaking out of ignorance. My comment only refers to the concept that there can be a defining of what gifts of the spirit can be exercised at what periods of history. That sort of thing.

  14. How did this article turn into a thread of comments on dispensationalism? LOL.

    • Because that was one of the points made in CM’s original post.

      • I know that. But he had a lot of other points and thoughts, too. I guess dispensationalism is a lightning rod for some, eh?

  15. StuartB~ If you show up on Judgement Day on the side of the Accuser in the case of Aimee Semple McPherson, you’ll find me standing beside her. No quarrel about the flamboyance, the staging, the episode(s?) of dalliance. My first five years of commitment to Jesus were spent in a Foursquare Church and I am grateful, cherish the memory. Wouldn’t go these days other than to visit, but without that start I might not be here today bantering with you. I’ll leave the assessment of Aimee’s true heart up to Jesus but I would bet in her favor. My own heart seems to have some glitches and dark corners, so I tend to give slack.

    Whatever the outcome, I’ll buy you the beverage of your choice afterwards. Maybe HUG will be there too and the offer is extended to him, OP too, okay, everyone reading this, but not your whole church. There are limits. I thought Adrienne as a dispy Lutheran had expanded my range of possibilities but then I remembered the guy in my Lutheran Bible Study who had a book by John Hagee he was touting. I guess Jesus meant what he said when he said whosoever. We’ll see if that includes Aimee. Seeya there, if not before.

    • I have no idea if Aimee was or was not a Christian. However, I believe most of her theology is dangerous, and for my sake, I’ll stay away from her and warn others to take a closer look as well. I’d do the same to anyone who believes in a progressive revelation through prophesy.

  16. I snuck my primary NT passage in under the radar in the OT discussion. Well not quite, someone caught me. Jesus summed up OT Scripture as loving God, loving your neighbor, adding “mind” to the OT ways we love God, which may be the basis of this whole Protestant imbalance emphasis on intellectual understanding and conformity as the core of belief. No, the Pharisees had a handle on that one long before there were Protestants, tho I guess in a way Pharisees WERE Protestants.

    It is my belief that if things fell completely apart and the head of the Statue of Liberty was found sticking out of the sand on the beach, if all you had was Jesus’ summation of Scripture as loving God and neighbor, it would take you Home. This is echoed by Paul, James, and others. All these other matters we speak of add to this, but they can’t replace this. And if anyone wants to say that loving God and neighbor is too simple, I would assume they had never tried it.

    • OldProphet says:

      The funny thing is, Charles, that I met the Lord and was converted in a Foursquare church!

  17. “The thing I appreciate about the liturgical traditions is not only their different understandings or practices of baptism, but the fact that believers are constantly encouraged to remember the event as a defining moment in their life and salvation.”

    Here is the odd thing: though I can re-member my baptism through an act of imagination, working from my experience of what it has been like to watch others be baptized (mostly infants), and by trusting that it was in fact done, as testified by my little baptismal certificate that I still have after all these years, and on the basis of the witnesses (many of whom are now deceased), I can in fact not actually remember my baptism, because I was an infant and have no memory of the event. I can, in fact, only imagine the event, as I can only imagine my birth. Sadly, my powers of imagination grow dimmer and dimmer the older I get.

  18. So do all these comments sorta prove that the NT is a mindfield? lol

    Back in high school, I spent an entire month reading the book of Colossians, over and over, while using Warren Wiersbe’s Be Complete guide. I had gone through my first bad breakup, and literally walked through my junior year of high school in a haze. To this day, I remember very little of it. Every day was me every second literally talking/praying to God. Depressed? Trauma? Something…my family had uprooted and moved states the previous year, I had gotten sick for a while, so lots of things going on.

    Looking bad, I don’t believe I was spiritually healthy at all, despite reading more scripture and praying more than ever. I was literally useless and checked out. But the experience of diving deep into that book left a mark. In some ways good, in some ways bad. Certain passages in it probably did immense damage to my growth as a young man, covered under the idea of “denying self” and walking in the Spirit.

    So when pressed on favorite NT passages, I’d just point out the book of Colossians. It’s pretty good.

    As a child, Revelation was a favorite, but it got too real during the Left Behind height. I’ve never been a big fan of the Gospels. I remember having epiphanies reading the latter chapters in Romans as they seemed to break all the legalism and bs in my life. I’ve been on my knees crying when alternative understandings of Romans 6-8 are enforced. I still want to know why Luther hated James so much.

    No, I’m more of an OT fan. Give me Job. Give me Ecclesiastes. And at the end of the day, give me Psalms 40:1-3.

    • I liked Colossians as a newbie Christian, too. Now, my favorite Pauline epistle is Ephesians, though I love the story of Philemon. Hebrews is my favorite non-gospel NT book.

      And I’m with you in the OT. I read Ecclesiastes as a new Christian and it remains a favorite. The honest struggle and admitted meaninglessness of life solidified for me the trustworthiness of the Bible, and still does so today.

  19. “In evangelicalism, the “baptism” spoken of here [Romans 6:1-4] is most often defined as a spiritual baptism, making us one with Christ, rather than water baptism.”

    I recently heard someone express this opinion for the first time. I thought it was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard.

  20. Christiane says:

    I suppose one text I have come to especially appreciate is the one in the Book of the Apocalypse (Revelation), this:

    “and the sea gave up the dead that were in it” (from chapter 20)

    and the reason is that my husband of many years has the privilege of a Navy burial at sea . . . so that verse is comforting to me

    I suppose the other verses I hold close also are connected to those I love . . . this:

    “21At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” (from the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 10)

    and the reason is a son with Down Syndrome who helps bring toys to those in his group home who cannot walk and are stretcher bound . . . my boy understands ‘kindness’, and that for me is worth more than the world’s wisdom