Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Correct Grammar Exposes the Truth about Life

Adjectives formed from nouns have the same basic meaning as their noun.
For example, the noun 'truth' has an adjective 'true' which may be illustrated with "a statement that contains the truth is a true statement".
Another example could be the noun 'day' and its adjective 'daily' which may be illustrated with "each day we wash the dinner dishes, so washing the dishes is a daily chore".

The English words 'age' and 'eon' are nouns that refer to a period of time, often a very long period of time, which has a beginning and an end.
Unfortunately in English we don't have a simple single word adjective corresponding to the noun 'age', although 'eon' does have the rarely used 'eonian'.


The closest we can come to a "single word" adjective for the noun 'age' might be 'age-during' or 'age-lasting', or we might try to use an adjectival phrase like 'belonging to the age', 'pertaining to the age', 'during the age', 'of the age' or 'for the age'.

As difficult as it is to find an adjective for age that we are comfortable with, we should never use words like 'forever' or 'everlasting' - words that convey the idea of never-ending, nor a word like 'eternal' - a word that conveys the idea of no beginning and no end.

In the New Testament, the Greek noun that translates into age or eon in English is 'aion' and its corresponding adjective is 'aionian'. Possible uses might be: We are living in the aion of the church, so we are the aionian church, and, Believers will live and reign with Christ in the coming aion, so they will have aionian life.

Unfortunately, most of our popular English Bibles quite wrongly translate 'aionian' in the Greek as 'eternal' in English. And this error causes us to miss the distinction between eonian life (life during the ages) and eternal life (life after the ages have concluded).

Here are a few examples of using eonian correctly.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him should not perish but have eonian life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eonian life.
[John 3 : 14 - 16 NIV corrected]

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eonian life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. [John 5 : 24 NIV corrected]
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’“Then they will go away to eonian punishment, but the righteous to eonian life.”
[Matthew 25 : 44 - 46 NIV corrected]


As you know, because of Jesus' death on the cross, everyone will receive eternal life eventually (at the end of the ages), but only believers in the gospel will receive eonian life in the coming millennium, illustrating that although God is the Saviour of the world, there is something special for believers. [see 1 Timothy 4 : 10]
That special
something is eonian life, life that continues through the coming eons.

So correct grammar reveals the difference between eonian life and eternal life - between life in the kingdom ages for believers and life in eternity beyond the ages for everyone. Indeed, without this correction, it is difficult to find the millennial kingdom anywhere other than in Revelation 20. 


(I am beginning to use 'eonian' more and more in recent times, instead of the other age-related options, because it is just one word and because it closely resembles the Greek 'aionian'. Having said that, I am tempted to create my own word: age-ian, which looks very strange but is growing on me.)

Blessings Barry

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

God's Great Steering Wheel

I have taught my four sons to drive. 
That teaching began when they were quite small. They would sit on my knee behind the steering wheel as we drove deserted country roads or the longish driveway from the front gate to the carport.

They had their hands on the steering wheel and (mostly) looked out the front window as we travelled. They thought they were driving the car and it was totally in their control.


But, of course, I was driving the car, deciding where we were going and how fast we were travelling. I also decided on how much force I allowed my son to exert on the steering wheel, depending on whether he was trying to direct us where I had previously decided to go or not.

Our prayer life is a bit like this.
God knows where He is going and how fast He wants to get there. And He does allow us, indeed invites us, to put our hands on the steering wheel. How much effect we have on the steering wheel depends on whether we are heading in the same direction He is or not.

So if we want to be effective in prayer, we need to be on the same page God is. We need to know His will regarding the subject of our prayer so we can pray "in Jesus' Name" and be gently placing our hands on His steering wheel.


Praying for something that is not in God's will is as useless as my son trying to pull the steering wheel in a different direction to where I have chosen to go. I will just "out-pull" him with my stronger grip.

So how do we know God's will?
First, we need to know what God has revealed about His intentions in His Word.
Second, we need to spend time (in prayer) asking God what he wants us to pray for before we begin asking for things to be done.

I often answer the question, "How do you get all your prayers answered?" with the one-word instruction, "Cheat!"
Find out what God is planning to do, and pray for it to happen.

A beautiful example of this cheating is demonstrated by Daniel in the Old Testament.

... I was studying the sacred books and thinking about the seventy years that Jerusalem would be in ruins, according to what the LORD had told the prophet Jeremiah. [Daniel 9 : 2]
What had Jeremiah prophesied?
This whole land will be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. [Jeremiah 25 : 11]
and
For Yahweh says, “After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.
[Jeremiah 29 : 10, 11]


With this information about God's plan, Daniel continues :

And I prayed earnestly to the Lord God . . . [ Daniel 9 : 2, 3 ]
You can read the whole prayer in the following verses.
A Biblical example of cheating! Knowing God's plan and praying for it to happen.


It gives me great peace to know God's will cannot be overridden by the will of any of his children.
Can you imagine the chaos if God granted every request, especially those prayers that ask for very different (even opposite) outcomes or actions from God in the same circumstance?


We need to gently place our hands on God's Great Steering Wheel if we are to get all our prayers answered, and be co-workers with Christ in the Body of Christ.


Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Step On The Way

Because this Blog is centred around God's extravagant grace, most of the posts touch on some aspect of the eventual, universal, reconciliation of mankind to God; which fulfills God's role as the Saviour of the world. (1 Tim 4 : 10)
Today's post highlights the salvation of Israel, a step on the way to the salvation of the world.

There are many references to this event in the Old Testament, like Psalm 130 : 8 and Psalm 103 : 2 - 3, together with King David's confidence of his expectation to be "dwelling in the house of the Lord for ever" in Psalm 23.

In the New Testament, the most descriptive mention of this event is in Romans 11, just after Paul illustrates God's faith community using his wonderful Olive Tree allegory.
He tells us that although Israel has stumbled, she will not be rejected, nor has she fallen beyond recovery.
In fact, God has used her stumbling to bring salvation to the Gentile, the non-Jewish, nations in order to make Israel envious or jealous.

Paul then says ...

"Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way, all Israel will be saved."
So Israel will be saved after the full number of Gentiles has come in.

Come in to what?
The context of Romans 11 is the Body of Christ, God's faith community, the disciples or followers of Jesus, illustrated by an olive tree.
So when the Body of Christ is complete, then all Israel will be saved.


(Paul is not talking about the salvation of the world at the end of time, at the consummation of the ages. He is talking about the Body of Christ, the Church, the believers who are chosen as a first group, before the kingdom ages begin, for life and administration responsibilities in those coming ages.)


And we are living in the era or age when the Body of Christ is being filled; so at the end of this age, when this filling is completed, all Israel will be saved.
Looking at the world situation, and the Middle East in particular, it is difficult to imagine how this event might happen.
I certainly don't know *how* it will happen: all I know is that it will - because God's Word has declared it. And even that is a strain for many people.

Let me illustrate.
Suppose a mother says to her child, "You will be in bed by 7.30 pm.".
The child starts thinking, "How does she know that? There's no way that's going to happen. I still haven't finished my homework, I haven't fed the dog yet, or cleaned my teeth."
So how does mother know?
She knows because she has previously made that decision and will make sure that it happens.

So how does God know that all Israel will be saved?
He knows because he has previously made that decision and will make sure that it happens.

We have a role to play in completing the Body of Christ. That's one of the reasons we have been called, chosen early, before the rest of the world who come to God later.

One aspect of that role is sharing the good news that God loves us and does not count our sins against us - because Jesus has already died for the sins of the world.
When we share God's good news, others who have been chosen to complete the Body of Christ will hear it, be given the faith to believe it, be drawn to Christ and added to his Body - in the same way we were.

Each time that happens the Body of Christ will get that bit nearer to completion and Israel's salvation will be that bit nearer too.
When all Israel are saved, the next part of God's plan for his creation, the kingdom ages, will commence with the Olive Tree having administration responsibilities that we are currently in training for.

Blessings, Barry




Sunday, July 8, 2018

Free Will Torpedoes the Gospel

First of all, let's be clear about what the Gospel is.
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.
[2 Corinthians 5 : 19 NLT]

Most churches would claim that they faithfully proclaim this gospel message.
But many don't.
Their main message is:

We are all sinners with our sins standing against us.
We have a choice. 
If we repent of our sins and we accept Jesus as our Saviour we will be forgiven and secure peace with God and a place for ourselves in heaven.

However, if we refuse to do this, we are forever lost, alienated from God, and on our way to everlasting torment in hell.
The difference between heaven and hell as an eternal destiny is determined by our freewill choice.
In Chapter 2 of "The Really Good News About God" (beginning on page 78) I deal quite extensively with the common concept that mankind has freewill by showing that, at best, we have limited freewill.
I have also addressed this topic in several earlier posts. You can find these by typing freewill in the search box on the right.
 

Today's post deals with a serious consequence of this belief in freewill.
It torpedoes the gospel !
Let me explain.
The salvation message of many churches is that because we are sinners, our sins stand against us and, unless we do something about it, we are on our way to everlasting torment in hell.
And this where our freewill comes in. We can freely choose Jesus or not.
If we use our freewill to choose Jesus, we are forgiven for our sins and we avoid that terrible hell consequence.


In other words, our freewill choice saves us. Unless we make that choice, we are lost. Jesus doesn't save us; our freewill choice does!

Wow! How subtle is the deception.
The truth is that God, through Christ, is the Saviour of the world.

We struggle and work hard, because we have placed our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all and especially of those who believe.
[1 Timothy 4 : 10 GNB]

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
[1 John 2 : 2 NIV]

Jesus has done it all - with absolutely no assistance from us.
Salvation is a done deal because of what Jesus achieved on our behalf.
That is THE gospel.
 

We must not dilute what Jesus has achieved by claiming he needs our assistance to complete the deal or to put the deal into effect.
 

Blessings, Barry

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Eternal Life Has Always Been God's Plan

In the previous post I mentioned that "eternal life is a given for everyone because of what Jesus achieved on the cross".
Yes, this is true. Remember ...

God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.
[Ephesians 1 : 9, 10 GNB]

So then, as the one sin (Adam's) condemned all people, in the same way the one righteous act (Jesus') sets all people free and gives them life.
And just as all people were made sinners as the result of the disobedience of one man, in the same way they will all be put right with God as the result of the obedience of the one man.
[ Romans 5 : 18, 19 GNB]

And let's also remember that it is our job (the already chosen's job) to present this good news to the world. Churches often spend so much time telling people what they must do to be saved (see previous post) instead of telling them they are saved already.
And all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
That is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. And he has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.
[2 Corinthians 5 : 18, 19 EHV]

But just as amazingly we are told that this has been God's plan from the very beginning, before time began, before the world was created, yes, even before any of us was born - it's not a Plan B or something God has added to his agenda for the world.
The Bible mentions this pre-determined purpose of God often.
Here's an example.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
[Ephesians 1 : 4, 5 NLT]

If this has always been God's plan, and He created the heavens and earth (and you and me) as the vehicle for its happening, then we can confidently expect it will happen.
Some of it in some ages, some of it in others, but at the end of the ages, the plan will be complete.

Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.
[1 Corinthians 15 :28 NLT]

Let's get busy sharing the "message of reconciliation" we have been entrusted with. Let's be telling people what Christ has done for them so they might love him and be given the faith to join the Body of Christ.

Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Eternal Life is Not on Offer

At the beginning of Chapter 5 in "The Really Good News About God" I mention preachers who ask their congregations, "Where will you spend eternity?"- a question designed to prepare the audience for a "fake news" promotion.

If those preachers understood that Jesus died for the sins of the world (1 John 2 : 2), 

that God is the Saviour of the world (1 Timothy 4 : 10),
that Jesus came to save the world (John 3 : 17) and
that God no longer holds people's sins against them (2 Corinthians 5 : 19),
then they would not ask such a silly question. 


They should all just know the answer: we'll all be together with God.
Eternal life is a given for everyone because of what Jesus achieved on the cross.

An interesting way of saying this is : If you are a descendant of Adam, then you have eternal life.
Really?
Yes, 1 Corinthians 15 : 22 says, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."
(Beware of people, including some translators, who change the order of the words in this verse to support their claim that not all who die because of Adam will be made alive because of Christ.)
I like using the CEV version of this verse, because it makes the order of the words harder to change,  "Adam brought death to all of us, and Christ will bring life to all of us."

For many people this will not happen until the conclusion of the ages.
They will live their life on this planet giving God no consideration at all, will die, will remain asleep until the resurrection at the end of the realm of time, when, among other things, death is abolished and only life remains - eternal life with God.

Now, about this fake news or fake sales promotion.
Preachers who are trying to sell "eternal life" are trying to promote something to people they already have.
"You need to confess your sins, you need to repent, you need to be baptised, you need to join our church, you need to ... and you will be saved, get eternal life," is a frequent line of approach.
But the fact is: we don't need to do anything now to get eternal life - it's a done deal, for all descendants of Adam.

So what justification is there for preachers to offer eternal life to people?
Unfortunately, poor translation of our English Bibles.
Most of our popular translations of the New Testament mention eternal life 42 times which gives preachers the Biblical backing for asking their question.
However in all of those 42 occasions, the underlying Greek word is aionian, which means "belonging to/during the eon or age", not "eternal". **

For example, look at 2 Peter 1 : 11 from two popular translations (ESV and NIV) and two literal translations (YLT and CLV).

  • For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (ESV)
  • and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (NIV)
  • for so, richly shall be superadded to you the entrance into the age-during reign of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (YLT)
  • For thus will be richly supplied to you the entrance into the eonian kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (CLV)
Given that Jesus is going to hand over His kingdom to the Father at the end of the ages (1 Cor 15 : 24), it is impossible for His kingdom to be eternal, just age-during or eonian, showing how obvious is the translation error in our popular translations.

So the offer really being made is for eonian life, life during the ages, life in the kingdom of Christ, life in the Body of Christ during the remaining eons, and not having to wait till the end of the ages when all will receive eternal life.

So what about those verses that say you have to be a believer to have eternal life?
Correctly translated, they are saying you have to be a believer to be in the Body of Christ, to have life and rule with Christ through the coming ages.
And what a blessing that will be!

Blessings, Barry

 ** To read more about this wrongly translated word, go to our webpage at www.ibtechservices.com.au, enter Main Website, click on The Bible image, click Bible Background, click on Translations, and read about Nouns and Their Adjectives.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Languauge of Salvation

I think some of the language relating to salvation needs some fine tuning, and the date when we were saved needs a major correction.

Many a person will say something like "It was on the 3rd December 2009 when I decided to invite Jesus into my heart and become a Christian".
And we praise God for such a person's experience and their inclusion in the Body of Christ, becoming part of the first fruits of God's great harvest.

Let's assume this person's name is Shirley.
Then may I suggest we rewrite this description of Shirley's experience in more Biblical terms, not to be petty, but to help us understand God's ways a little better.

Firstly, we were all saved about 2000 years ago when Jesus died, was entombed and rose again in about 30AD. (Notice I didn't say Jesus was buried because he wasn't, he was placed in a tomb.) Shirley was saved at that time - she just didn't realise it or had been given the faith to believe it until 2009.

"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died." [2 Cor 5 : 14]
And
"one who has died has been set free from sin". [Romans 6:7]
Sometimes an enthusiastic evangelical Christian will ask a new acquaintance, "Are you saved?", which demonstrates a limited understanding of what happened on the cross. If Jesus was successful when he died for the sins of the world then it should be obvious that the new friend is saved, even if they are not aware of it.
God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them, and entrusting to us this message of reconciliation.
[2 Cor 5 : 19]

Jesus praying to his Father: 
"I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do." [John 17: 4]
And on the cross, just before he died, Jesus said,
"It is finished." With that, he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.
[John 19 : 30]

So Shirley was saved when Jesus finished his work on the cross about 2000 years ago.

Secondly, Shirley did not choose God, but God chose Shirley, just as he chose his first disciples. [John 15 : 16]
He chose her to be one of His first fruits, by drawing her to Him and giving her the faith to believe the good news on that December day.

People cannot come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me. [John 6 : 44]
(And Jesus promised that everyone would eventually be drawn, see John 12 : 32)

So here's the rewrite:
"It was on the 3rd December that God gave me the faith to believe that Jesus died on the cross to deal with my sins and has chosen me to serve him in the Body of Christ."
And she may well add, "What a joy and privilege that was, and still is."

So is this being petty?  I don't think so.  It recognises the full value of what Jesus accomplished on the cross and corrects our theology by putting God in control, not us.
I am more persuaded by the Biblical doctrine of God's sovereignty than the mainstream church's doctrine of mankind's free will.
However, I know I am in a fairly small minority as we have been indoctrinated with the "free will" message for so long, both inside and outside the church.

Blessings, Barry