Can I Have Some Bread?

What kind of father doesn’t give his son bread? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m continuing my look at what Tyler Vela has shown and commenting from my view as a divorced man as well. This time, we’re going to look at Matthew 7. In this passage, Jesus asks that if your son asks for bread, will you give him a stone? If he asks for a fish, will you give him a snake? If a wicked father gives good things to his children, how much more will your good Father give good gifts?

To start with this, I want you to know that your Bible has a major difference from the originals. There is something that they have that was not written in the original documents. At this, I wonder if any atheists could be booting up their blogs and their video equipment so they can write and make YouTube videos and podcasts about this. An apologist is going to admit a major problem with the Bible!

You’re going to be disappointed.

I am simply talking about chapters and verses. Matthew did not start out and write “Chapter 1, verse 1.” Those numbers weren’t added until later. They do have a benefit in some ways in that it’s easier to find one isolated statement. There is a downside in that we can read chapters and not connect them to earlier chapters.

In Matthew 6, Jesus has been talking about being provided for and that includes basic staples. Food, water, and clothing. He does not mention luxury goods. I don’t see any reason to think that that changes after Matthew 6.

There are plenty of reasons to not give some good gifts. Something could be good in and of itself, but bad for a child. A lollipop could be fine for many children, but not for a child who is diabetic. Some good things could be too expensive. Sometimes a parent might want a child to learn some discipline and self-control and save a good gift for when something good has been done, such as not giving money until chores are done.

Yet Tyler is asking about something simpler. Can God show me that He loves me?

That is a real and noble desire. Yet as I see it, God has already done that. The question is “Why is He not believed on the basis of the cross and the resurrection?” I understand doubt. Doubt is real, yet is God obligated to give us extra special revelation if one is not accepting what He has already said? As Jesus said, if they do not believe the Scriptures, they will not believe even if someone rises from the dead.”

What is most important to ask about this is “Why is this doubted?” I can’t claim to know the answer, but let’s consider a guess. What if you think “If my wife didn’t really love me and could betray me so quickly, why should God be different?” That is something that needs to be worked on and therapy can be a great way. However, it also has to be asked “Why is she being given that power that her voice speaks louder than God’s on an authority basis?”

Let’s suppose it was because of a wrong done on your part that led to the divorce? I say this to cover both ends. If you are the wronged party, you can wonder if you are lovable. If you are the party that did the wrong, you can wonder if God could love and forgive you. Again, Scripture says if you have repented, He has. You have to figure out why you feel otherwise.

One problem if God does do something special and exceptional for you alone to show He loves you is that if you have an underlying issue, it can be a temporary fix. If that happens, then you would need an experience over and over again. This can get the idea of being hooked on a feeling or hooked on an experience.

What also has to be asked is why we have the standard often that if God doesn’t do what I think He should, then He doesn’t love me? Those kinds of conditions for love are dangerous put on anyone. That can also lead to the dissolving of a lot of marriages. A husband can say, “Well if my wife really cared about me, she would do XYZ.” It could be sex, letting him watch sports on the weekend or go fishing with friends or buy a new video game. A wife could say if her husband cared about her, he would help with the chores or assist with the kids or bring home flowers or know what she really wanted for Christmas. Both partners could even be right, but the conditional is a killer.

Keep in mind, none of this is meant to be a cure-all. Issues about struggling with the love of God, or anyone else for that matter, cannot be answered by a simple blog post. However, I do hope this can be a key that could lead someone to understand what is going on with them and come to conclusions.

I also want to stress that I can understand this concern that God doesn’t love you. I have gone through it. I suspect most every Christian who takes his Christianity seriously has gone through this as well. This is another way the church needs to talk about this issue. Maybe more people could be helped if they saw they weren’t unusual.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/17/2017: Seth Ehorn

What’s coming up Saturday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of us grew up doing Scriptural Memorization. Before too long, we found out that the New Testament quotes the Old Testament a number of times. Understandable. Yet is it always a clean cut quotation? What about when we come to the question of composite quotations?

If you’re like me, you thought composite quotations weren’t too common. There’s the one in Matthew 27 and the one in Mark 1, but that’s about it. Right? If that’s what you thought, then like me, you thought wrong. Composite quotations also include long listings of quotations such as are found in Romans 3. Composite quotations are also not just found in the New Testament, but are found in the literature outside the Bible with the authors there giving composite quotations of the works that they admire.

How can we learn more about these composite quotations? What do they have to say about the reliability of the Bible and it’s handling of Old Testament quotations. Why is it that we hear so little about this kind of topic if it’s really much more prevalent than we thought? If you uphold inerrancy, does composite quotations have anything to say about that?

In order to discuss these, I am bringing on someone who has done extensive work in this area. He has co-edited an entire volume on this work and it is a major focus of area for him. His name is Seth Ehorn and he’ll be here with us to discuss the topic of composite quotations. So who is he?

Dr. Seth Ehorn took the PhD from the University of Edinburgh in New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology in 2015. Currently, he is Visiting Assistant Professor of Greek Language and New Testament at Wheaton College, Illinois.

When we look at some composite quotations, we see that they will can take two different books of the Bible and yet attribute it to one author. Is this a problem with the text? It is an error? Many of the skeptics we meet would say that this shows a contradiction in the Bible. Many Christians would sadly take the same route and go with most any theory to avoid what they think is an error in the text. What does it really mean?

How is it that others saw the practice? If the apostles and their companions are using this process, would they be accused of mishandling Scripture? Would the Jews have said that this was an illicit move, or would they have said it is a move that is acceptable and yet they still would not agree with the conclusion?

We could also ask how widespread this was before and after Jesus. Before Jesus, were the rabbis of the time ever engaging in composite quotations and do we find them in the Dead Sea Scrolls? After Jesus, did the church fathers ever do anything like this?

I hope you’ll be joining me for the next episode. We’re quickly working on getting prior episodes up so don’t worry about your podcast feed. Things should be back to normal before too long! Please also go and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Blessed Assurance

What do I think of this book by Pastor Eric Douglas? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

blessedassurance

Eric Douglas sent me a copy of his manuscript “Blessed Assurance” for a review. It’s a work meant to help the Christian out who struggles with the question of if they are truly “saved” or not. The book is a relatively short read. You could probably read it in a couple of hours and it depends on exegeting select verses from 1 John to make the case.

I do think Douglas is in the right with much of what he says. I do agree that there are many people who have several good actions, but they have no commitment to Christ. These are the kinds of people who are talked about in Matthew 7.

On the other hand, there are too many people who “prayed a prayer” and their life shows no devotion to Christ whatsoever and they just want to look back at an event and say “Yeah. I’m good” and then move on from there.

This situation unfortunately happens in many of our churches where we have placed an emphasis on conversion and have not placed one on discipleship. In fact, dare I say it, but if we placed more emphasis on discipleship, it could be that books like Douglas’s wouldn’t need to be written. I am glad that they are. I am just saddened that they need to be.

I do think Douglas has a sound approach to 1 John, though I probably wouldn’t hold to the same views as many evangelicals, such as I do think apostasy from Christ is possible. I’ve seen too many ex-Christians to think otherwise.

I also do think that Douglas does get right the kind of worrying that people in this situation go through, with a fear of Hell, and of course, it’s usually in this case a strong fundamentalist interpretation of Hell. (To which, again, more discipleship is the ultimate answer overall.)

I also agree that doubt should not be seen as an enemy. I like how Douglas in the book stresses that we need not run from questions like “Does God exist?” or “Is the Bible true?” or “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” Douglas is certainly right to say this doubt can lead to a greater commitment to Christ when we follow through and do the research!

So where do I think improvement needs to be made?

I think there could be more said in response to passages like the Matthew 7 “Depart from me. I never knew you.” People in the position of doubting salvation usually see themselves as the exception to the rule. They might say “Well Pastor Douglas, I think you’ve certainly made your case, but you know, if Jesus will say that to anyone, it’s going to be me.”

The first way I’d deal with this is getting people to realize that while their feelings and emotions play a role in the Christian life, they are not a determiner of if one is saved or not or even if one has the love of God or not. In fact, I would contend that the true Christian is often one who serves not only when the feelings are not there, but when the opposite feelings are there.

For instance, in marriage, when we feel a great love for our spouse, it is very easy to serve and adore our spouse, but when our spouse has done something to really annoy us, it is very difficult to love and serve them, and yet that is what we are required to do anyway.

In our Christian walk, we are guaranteed to go through all the phases. There will be times where we delight in serving Jesus and there will be times that that is the last thing we want to do. The question is not how we feel, but what is our duty, what are we called to?

The second way is I’d point out that 99.9% of the time that when I meet someone who is worried about their salvation, I can rest assured they already have it. The reason that they care so much is because of the purpose Christ has in their worldview. A lot of times people want to debate the question of eternal security. I say just make it simple. Just trust Christ and you don’t have to worry.

In conclusion, I think Douglas has taken care of the Scriptural side, but I think in a future addition, I’d add in a bit to deal with the side of the emotions running away with the reason as that is the root of the problem. An excellent resource on this can be found in the work of Gary Habermas on doubt. You can get two of his books for free on the topic at his web site of GaryHabermas.com.

I do think this work can help those who are struggling as I’ve said. I’d just like to see more expansion on dealing with the emotional turbulence that such a person is going through at the time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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