Wednesday, April 30, 2008

BUT - we're talking about JESUS

Jesus is our everything - and that statement, while broad, is met with agreement in my experience. But - to say Jesus is COVENANT - well, not so much !

Problem - we don't know "covenant" and what we do know just doesn't actually apply to our situation. That's our focus today. If you see a "Covenant church" as you drive in the neighborhood, we generally say, "That's what covenant means" - and they DO have their definition of Covenant.

My presentation from 40 years of thought is: Jesus is covenant - funny way of talk ! What does that mean ? For starters, my broad concepts a few days ago need to be explained. Let's start with THE original Promise, "In Him, all nations of the world will be Blessed."

NT fulfillment is explained in several places. I mentioned the thought by several of God's special people (read those "of the Remnant") that Jesus was several things: HE was "The Promise"; HE was "Born King"; He was "the hope of Israel"; He was "Salvation"; (His very name - closer to Joshua - means Savior or deliverer) and other concepts surround His birth. Since we don't have "royalty" as a structural concept, we don't actually know much about the implications. "Born King" implies Jesus was King from birth - and He was. Don't forget, however, that He was also here to be our Representative and sometimes we have to realize to which role we are referring. OR - we can pit one verse against another and both be right, or wrong !

My focus - Jesus is The Promise of God - and the New Covenant (NOT like the Old, Jeremiah 31) is focused in what Jesus did. God uses the OT much of the time to set up principles which He later fulfills in Christ and He chose to make Christ have ALL Preeminence. So let's focus on some of those principles . . .we've mentioned the fact that Jesus claimed to be "the bread which came down out of heaven" John 6:35-58. He claimed to "The water of Life"as well as "The Way, The Truth (reality) and The Life" - but in that context He taught - "NO one comes to the Father but BY ME" - and that is the concept for which we are looking. Can we substitute "by My teachings" in place of "by Me" ? Sure - as long as we don't ruin the concept - Jesus used the Hebrew concept - the teaching represents the teacher. But - don't make it the other way around and make the "teaching" more the focus that the One who claimed to be "everything" [that's my interpretation of the Way, the Truth (reality) the Life"]. . .so, Jesus is the focus and He is the New Covenant. How can we prove it ?

Prove is a funny word - it generally means "I bet you cannot show me I am wrong" - and I am not going in that direction at all. In fact, I am simply trying to focus on plain things Jesus said and early writers wrote to explain Salvation and Life. One little point for today - the Genitive, sort of like the word Genesis - deals with Source and shows Possession. Several places include a phrase I ran into in a few translation classes in Greek - "faith in Christ" was actually "the faith of Christ" - and my question was, "What difference does it make ?"

Well - not so much, IF we know what the phrase was before it was changed. Because if we are saved by the Faith of Christ - then for us, faith IN Christ is a proper response. But - (yeah, I'm too much of a stickler at times) if we make faith a SELF focused thing - then Christ gets left out and that is simply wrong-headed. Plus - it has many implications for salvation and life. Verses like Romans 3:22, Galatians 2:16, 20; 3:22; Philippians 3:9 - can be made to have little focus on Jesus, instead we are focusing on our own trust in Him as the source of Salvation. We do need to trust Him. And - our whole lifestyle deals with that concept . . .but salvation focuses on His faith as our source of Salvation. That is one reason He is covenant, and called "The promise" . . .and our Savior. More to come . . .

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Question - why so long ?

A question was asked about why we take so long to share stuff - when it isn't that big of a deal to SOME ?

The answer is "others" . . .and allow me to share as a Christian psychologist today . . .change comes very slow to many "christians" and others wonder "why?" while some who have no qualms about "change" just "put the pedal to the metal" and GO FOR IT !

68% are listed in a study I was involved with as "SLOW to change" - does that give us any insight into why a leader might think twice about just flipping the switch on change ? After all, God made that 68% to give the "body" stability . . .slow to change means "not quick to run off half-cocked".

NT doctrine includes stable concepts especially for this quality . . .and when Paul introduced the qualities of "ONENESS" in Ephesians 4 - he set the stage with other mindset qualities - "all lowliness, patience, meekness, forbearing one another in agape, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace"

My personal opinion here is that original "dreamers" desired this mindset . . .but disciples of the "dreamer" do not always have it . . .and sometimes "reformers" become restless to "get the show on the road" and lose some of the original goal for people, so people sometimes get lost among the rules.

Christendom needs the whole body to be involved . . .

So - when I started "dreaming" and serious study 4 decades ago, I also ran into friends who absolutely could NOT see my thoughts in any cogent form . . .so as I (not enjoying rejection, don't you know) started putting this down on paper, well, I decided to love first, love second and love last. That caused me to keep redoing my approach . . .knowing that any change is rejected to SOME degree by 68% . . .PLUS another little chunk don't trust any idea they didn't come up with themselves . . .and another group resists anyone who comes across as "selling" anything. Remember - all this has a positive element to it - stability.

SO - how do we ever get anything done ? Well - slowly . . .and with love first . . .second and last. That is one reason I believe God designed "pastor-teachers" to be part of the building up of the body. God wanted shepherds . . .not butchers or even "cowboys".

I close today with a section of Scripture that "stopped me in my tracks" 40 years ago and has had influence on me ever since: "the Lord's servant must not quarrel, but be kind to everyone, gently instructing, forbearing, correcting with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know reality." 2 Timothy 2:24-25.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Back to BASICS

What have we said so far ?

God chose to give Jesus all preeminence. . . huge undergirding principle. Even things like "the manna that came down out of heaven" and "the Rock that followed them" - was Christ, not to mention Christ was the creator of the world, Colossians 1:16.

Jesus Himself claimed to be "The Way, The Truth, The Life" - and at least to some degree the subject of Scripture, John 5:39. BUT - we jump over some Scriptures too fast . . .so back up with me - it is one Scripture which changed my mind about where Jesus should be put in our focus.

THE Way . . .means He didn't come with a way - rather He IS the Way. What ?

THE Truth . . .means He didn't just speak Truth, but is in fact, Truth - Reality is a closer conceptual construct to Greek thinking . . .so think about Jesus as being The Reality ! What ?

Life - THE Life - well, we don't stumble over that too much, except those who think life comes from His words and His words are the Bible. NO - His words are in the Bible, but HE is The Life - and we don't get it simply by reading the Bible - but rather, like He told the Pharisees of His day - Come to ME . . .for Eternal Life. Am I putting down the Bible ? Of course not - just allowing the Bible to do what God designed it to do - bring us to Christ; teach us The Christ; be IN the Christ.

I found out I had really been disrespecting Christ by not allowing Him to be who He is and said He was . . .some might call that an innocent oversight - but innocent oversights are sometimes not so innocent from students of the Word.

Isaiah 42:6; 49:8 - doesn't say Jesus would come WITH a covenant . . .but He was sent for a covenant. The NIV gets part of the emphatic part of the sentence by translating it - "Sent to be a covenant".

We do need to deal with little contradictions of concept - Jesus is God by one definition but He was also our representative, so He had to be human - contradiction. But - God loving us enough to gave Himself up in the Person of Jesus - represents a contradicition to philosophers and even to Jesus' own disciples. O K - we might call it an apparent contradiction - but we do need to face the fact that God designed His plan so that man wouldn't know it without a large dose of Humility ! After all - as Jeremiah wrote - "We know the way of man it not in himself - it is not in man that walks to direct his own steps" and Paul agreed that the "world in its wisdom did not know God"

Jesus - in reference to God is the reality . . .Paul called Him the "image" of the invisible God. John explained that "no one has ever seen God, the only begotten has made Him known" so that when Jesus said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father" we sometimes try to explain it away. A quandary - a conundrum . . .and problem ? NO - not for covenant people. Why not ? Well - simply because that is their conceptual language. Jesus had to be our representative - but He also had to be God's representative . . .and the only one who qualified to be that occured only one time in all history !

What is the concept ? In covenant wars - like the David and Goliath story - each nation chose a Champion to represent their nation. This champion had to be one of them - an Israelite for Israel and a Philistine for Philistia. (So - the Champion who lost, lost it for the whole nation.) David knew that, but he knew much more - he had apparently read Deuteronomy and realized that fearful people were NOT supposed to even be there . . .they were to go home. So - Saul shouldn't have been out there either . . .but God did have a champion, an already anointed King who knew what Kings do . . .in the Power of God - they WIN ! God's champion in Israel had to be an Israelite and a faith person . . .he had to believe the Battle belonged to God, not mankind's might. Saul didn't know that and if the chronology of 1 Samuel was correct, David already knew His own anointing and God's future plans for him. So - Scripture helped David know the Battle was the Lord's and Goliath had no chance !

That, is the concept of a Champion or Hero (some versions use the word - we don't sometimes remember the classical meaning of the word Hero.) It is important because God will have a huge quandary . . .how to raise up a Representative to deliver mankind from the Fall in Eden. And - much like His great-great grandfather, Jesus will win - in the power of God and the victory is for those He represents - US ! (Oh yes - He had no weapon in His hand - it seemed.) God had Jesus ready - anointed to die before the foundation of the world . . .Ephesians 1:4ff. 1 Peter 1:20.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Communication of concepts . . .

Translation is DIFFICULT . . .maybe even impossible. Like our Philosopher friends say "You can't step in the same river twice" is supposed to be TOPPED by "You can't step in the same river ONCE" - and they are both trying to make the same point.

Greek has a structure of "emphasis" in every sentence - to one degree or another. So - to write a sentence without somehow noting that is not a full translation. But - in English, it is sometimes thought to be SHOUTING to even capitalize any word. I deny this . . .but I should at least explain what I am saying and HOW I say it - so we can have some communication . . .I try to write like I talk - but "someone" comes along and decides my accent of strange - aye ? Even after he knows I'm raised in Canada - he says, "What's the aye thing ? It bugs me !" To which us Canadians reply - "Is that right aye ?"

Well - I've been in Texas for a few years (OK - about 45 or so) - so I don't use the "aye" thing much . . .in fact I'm sort of a Texan to ME . . .which is met by "HEY, if you're not BORN here - you ain't Texan" Well, I chose to be born close to my mother . . .and she was in Canada at the time - so sorry !

For those of you who cannot stand the WAY I communicate . . .I apologize "going out the gate" - and I will try to be less vociferous . . .in typing . . .my children had an ongoing bet about how long before someone said anything . . .problem is, they also knew that only a few FRIENDS would actually READ this . . .so they were 3 days OFF . . .

So - it was NOT a complaint . . .just a love tap or two . . .and I appreciate all of you who did it and will do so in the future. I LOVE response . . .and I won't ignore you - remember, I might be seeing if YOU love unconditionally and permanently too ! (Yes - I do not like putting the exclamation mark close to the word - the question mark either ! AND - those extra spaces can add up ! Well - sorry - I am 65 and cranky - just kiddin' - the 65 is right . ..but I am a joker - so read with a smile to START with . . .and laugh out loud at the end ! OK ?)

I am weaning myself off capitals . . .no, they are NOT shouting . . .they person who came up with that is an idiot . . .whoops ! AND - since I have enriched text - I will try - TRY to use bold and italics more instead . . .

HOWEVER - sorry - however - Hebrews were one of the most emotional nations ever . . . and Greeks KNEW - whoops - knew - how their sentences were structured - we, well, those of us to try to say it fully - are hamstrung to some extent - and so - struggle with me a little if you will. I do not want anything to diminish a focus on JESUS . . .HE is my life ! BUT - the responsibility of communication IS on the one talking or writing - so I receive your love and resolve to do the best I can - given my age and deteriorating mental conditions . . .plus the inability to be more creative or less creative - whatever you wish ! And - by the way - my Danish dad (rest his soul) used to gripe at me all the time about what he called BLOCK LETTERS. I didn't know until after he died what I was doing that he was so upset about. So - besides all my other problems - I am SLOW.

BUT - I love you - unconditionally and permanently - so allow me to end today with a comment about that. Agape - was a word the Greeks had, but used seldom . . .so Bible context redefined it and taught us a NEW concept - God's love. Most Christians cannot accept that God accepts unconditionally because they don't really intend to . . .so they ignore that whole part of the Bible. Problem is, once we do that, we miss out on a large facet of God's character and relationship with us. During my 65 years, I have had over a thousand people at one time or another tell me they just couldn't accept that God might LIKE us - even though the verse was "God rejoices over you with singing" . . .so sometimes we have to leave people in their mindset until they receive enough information to re-educate their conclusions.

Allow me to ask you to "forbear" me in love - Ephesians 4:1ff. commands that . . .but, just do it because God IS Love and - guess what - HE runs you now . . .and me too. If I could inject that concept into Christendom - the world would change TODAY ! Thanks to those who have commented - and as I promised a couple friends - I'll try from time to time to make a blog LITE - even humorous - so this is one of those . . .I hope my Irish friends are not the only ones laughing - or for those of you who are too dignified - smiling . . .because THEY might well have had a snifter or two anyway with their pint. . .sorry ! And - for those in Scotland, well - I'm a Bourbon guy . . .sorry - slipped back into a former life for a second there !

We say "good morning" or "Good day" (Aussies get it down to a half syllable amazingly enough) - but the original was "God be in your morning" - so English researchers tell me. WOW - so much communication is watered down . . .quite a challenge . . .but I LOVE it . . .and I love YOU - unconditionally and permanently.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Message = Jesus

It always amazed me that so MANY things point to JESUS in the Old Testament and yet so many of US don't allow the concept to have its end - JESUS. Teachers were quick to point out the concept of Hebrews 1:1 as "God spoke to us in 'SON'" - JESUS is God's message to us. Then, they quickly got to HIS WORDS and those of His followers as THE message.

Well - I have decided (wow - I must be important !) that it is OK to stay with JESUS . . .and I do believe GOD said that to US - OUT LOUD . . ."This is my beloved Son" YES - He also said "Listen to HIM" - so what did JESUS SAY ? For our purposes HE said, "I AM The Way, The Truth, The Life - NO ONE comes to the Father BUT by ME". The message is about HIM - His identity; HIS performance; His provision of Himself as THE ultimate answer . . .and our way to Father.

It seems to me that John 14:6 may well fulfill Isaiah 42:6; 49:8 . . .where BOTH Isaiah passages indicate that Jesus would be "sent for a covenant". And - allow me to confess that when I "ran into" these verses accidentally about 30 years ago - I could scarcely breathe for several minutes - so they probably mean much more to ME than they do to you at this point ! So - get YOUR Bible and read them and see if God speaks to YOU . . .

I am not relying on a fanciful argument to make my points . . .but simply my prejudice that JESUS is EVERYTHING . . .and yes - several people have actually told me that I overemphasize Jesus. My response to that is - "Thank you ! I needed that !"

Well - I am an excitable person in one area - those great passages about Jesus in Colossians 1:15ff. and Philippians 2:5ff. 1 Timothy 6:14ff.2 Corinthians 5:17ff. - really thrill me. I am unashamedly a JESUS MAN ! So - when I see that much of our discussion is about things that are NOT JESUS - I get a little frustrated. Don't misunderstand - I believe the whole Bible . . .and I study it ALL - but "out-of-context" concepts made all important isn't my MAJOR focus. That's one reason I waited so many years to share my study on Jesus as Covenant - I didn't wish to be irresponsible with the whole Bible. AND - many have already told me they have no idea what I am trying to say - so I expect my poor communication will continue. So - let's take our time . . .

For TODAY - allow me to share one more facet - Paul uses the word "Promise" to be an undergirding principle of God's eternal purpose . . .especially Galatians 3:16ff. and that PROMISE was to Abram and TO HIS SEED - Christ. So - the question is - what is the Promise God made to Jesus and Abram at the same time ? More on that - next time . . .

Friday, April 25, 2008

Covenant means . . .

Maybe definitions are the scourge of the earth . . .because many Greek students try a "new" translation with their Greek dictionary and absolutely miss abut 60-80% of the CONCEPT. So - when we attack the word "covenant" we can miss it by about a million miles. So - what makes ME think I am doing any better ?

Well, I'm aiming at a CONCEPT . . .that fits Biblical themes . . .so I'll let you judge for yourself. I do wish YOU to know that I know the problem and it is at the heart of MANY disagreements about doctrine and biblical interpretations . . .

Covenant means agreement about something . . .but the word I am using means a SURRENDER to God's will by saying something very similar to what Mary said when she was challenged with the situation of being pregnant without help of a man - and not married yet ! After the angel presented her with the IMPOSSIBLE situation, her response was my theme for LIFE - "May it BE to me, even as YOU have said." That is the kind of agreement humans should have in a deal with God.

That response is involved in the Hebrew concept of obedience and FAITH - one who has faith "hides himself under the one he responds to for protection and relationship. We note it in the Bible many times in a short-form - simply "I am your servant" . . .the long form was "You may do with me whatever you wish" - and is similar to our raising our hands in surrender . . .the concept had three Hebrew words and ideas - (1) listen towards a speaker; (2) run towards the one who speaks; and (3) hide oneself under the one we respond to . . .for protection.

So - OUR short form Biblical concept for today is - Hebrews 1 says "God spoke to us in a son" - which makes JESUS HIMSELF the message. We hear HIM and run to hide ourselves UNDER HIM for His protection and identity . . .which is another story we will get to later.

If we read ALL the OT, we would see dozens of PICTURES of JESUS . . .in prophecy as well as feasts and sacrifices . . .and don't forget- HE was the manna come down from heaven and the rock that gave them water.

If we trace the history from a legal perspective, the idea of "covenant" involves PROMISE. First year law students learn that . . .it's just part of the idea in history. HOWEVER - don't forget, if we are to get ideas, we pretty well have to see them played out in the Bible to know God's mind. We've twisted all kinds of meanings (besides "faith-obedience") and generally we end up getting the focus on US . . .and the concept of PROMISE just won't do that . . .it focuses on GOD. Once we see and accept that the Bible is about JESUS - maybe our focus can be sharpened in that direction. As Paul told the Colossians 2:9 "ALL the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in HIM BODILY" . . .plus Paul wrote that God gave HIM preeminence in all things . . .Colossians 1:18.

For today - think one thought - JESUS is the Promise of God . . .to US. My short form concept of that is: Jesus is covenant . . .but that's our pilgrimage together !

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Mostly, friends have asked me " Where did all this come from ?" AND - they meant - "what far-out off the beaten path material have you now wandered into - you freak you !"

My response was - "Yeah - the Bible - so strange !"

Well - it IS strange - from almost any point of view . . .and from my perspective much more strange if we take it in its original presentation . . .and the Hebrew roots which were caused and controlled by GOD . . .as HE showed up one day in a vision and said to Abram "I AM your shield and exceeding great reward" (Genesis 15:1) THEN - Abram talked to HIM in the vision and found out God would give Abram an heir out of his own body and WHAM - the Bible says - "Abram believed God and IT was counted to him as righteousness" Strange - very strange . . .all you do is ask God a question - believe an impossible answer - and BANG - you're RIGHTEOUS !

No wonder, though, Abram was called the "Father of Faith" - he was an idol worshipper in UR of the Chaldees . . .why choose him ? AND - why would he respond to a VISION experience ?

Well - this simple quandary produced in me a desire to trace the concept through the Bible and understand what God was doing ! Sure - I knew Adam and Eve got a PROMISE after the Fall that she would have a descendant who would bruise Satan's head . . .(strange - the Promise was actually addressed to the SNAKE !) BUT - New Testament writings refer back to THE PROMISE and focus on Abraham . . .so I started there . . .even though it flowed back to the Garden and forward to US ! More to come . . .

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Maybe I should call it a FLOG . . .

I have decided to "corner myself" - and beat myself into submission to share my thoughts with YOU - my Covenant Friends . . .either in prospect or actuality . . .so YOU can call it "Covenant Concepts" or the FLOG !

I would like to share how I came up with the concepts of covenant 30 years ago and how the concepts gradually were chipped away until the sculpture emerged . . .or IS emerging . . .I expect to share NEW ideas and change some things as we go along . . .

Your friendship is valuable to me - but it is UNCONDITIONAL - and PERMANENT - so you never have to read my "stuff" or respond to anything . . .I share with the intent of challenging your mind - but that would be YOUR choice.

My name is Verner . . .I am 65 . . .a psychologist and minister of many years - married to Linda for 35 years . . .4 children and 3 grandchildren.

My counseling and preaching is generally "free" . . .but sometimes people have blessed me with expressions of love after they have been taught or helped.