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Author Topic: Good News Of Great Joy?
Sa:ji:sdo:de
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Writing to his friends in Colossi; Paul said:

"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Col 3:3)

The Greek word for "hidden" is krupto (kroop'-to) which means to conceal (properly, by covering)

"you have died" catches my attention more so than krupto because it indicates that the Bible's version of Christianity is a lethal religion. It quite literally, in some mysterious way that I don't quite understand; made Christ's believing followers participants in his crucifixion rather than merely observers.

†. Rom 6:3 . . Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

†. Rom 6:6 . . Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him

†. Gal 2:20 . . I am crucified with Christ

†. Col 3:3 . . For you died when Christ died

In other words; in lieu of facing justice at the Great White Throne event depicted at Rev 20:11-15, God has given people the option of facing it on the cross with Christ.

Q: How might somebody obtain this option about which you speak?

A: Easy. Just find yourself a private moment and pray something like this:

"God: I'm a sinner. I would like to take advantage of your son's death."

If perchance somebody out there in cyberspace is feeling a tug within themselves to pray like that, don't stifle it because there's no telling if and/or when you'll ever feel that tug again.

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Sa:ji:sdo:de
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†. Matt 19:16-17 . . Now someone approached him and said: Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life? He answered him: If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.

That was a valid answer; and were someone to actually keep the commandments, they'd be rewarded as Jesus said. But the catch is: one's obedience has to be consistent. In other words: they can't get by on keeping the commandments some of the time, nor even most of the time; no, it's all the time or no time at all. God is not pleased with half-baked obedience. Failure to obey the commandments at any time results in death rather than life.

†. Ezek 18:20 . .The one who sins shall die.

†. Rom 6:23 . . For the wages of sin is death

†. Rom 2:6-13 . . God will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life. But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath.

. . .Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God.

. . . For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Well; if you were to ask me; there's neither good news nor joy to be had in that message; it sets the bar pretty high; but it gets worse.

†. Matt 5:20 . . I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Actually, the Pharisees were very pious and very proficient at keeping the commandments. For example the apostle Paul. He was a Pharisee; and a really top-notch one at that.

†. Phil 3:6 . . As to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

But the problem associated with the Pharisees is that their kind of righteousness is a personal righteousness; which-- even as superior as theirs was --is still not good enough to obtain salvation.

†. Rom 10:1-3 . . Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God on their behalf is for salvation. I testify with regard to them that they have zeal for God, but it is not discerning. For, in their unawareness of the righteousness that comes from God and their attempt to establish their own [righteousness], they did not submit to the righteousness of God.

The righteousness of God is humanly impossible to duplicate, which is why it's an imputed righteousness rather than a righteousness produced by effort. In other words: the righteousness of God is an endowment; viz: it's a gift free of charge with no strings attached.

†. Rom 3:22 . . The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus.

†. Rom 3:9 . .And be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the Commandments,. but that which comes through faith in Christ; the righteousness from God.

Now, with all that under our belts, it's very easy to see that the common interpretation of Php 2:12 is in error because nobody, not even Popes and/or super duper nuns like Mother Teresa, no matter how devoted, nor how hard nor how long they work at it, will ever succeed at producing a personal righteousness equal to the righteousness of God because they're only human while He's divine.

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Sa:ji:sdo:de
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Q: How did the apostles Paul and Peter obtain this elpis hope about which you speak? Upon what did they base their confidence?

A: Their confidence was based upon trust; and actually, so is mine. Let me explain.

I have no truck with the Watchtower Society, but there is one area of their belief system where they and I are in total agreement: Jesus is not a failure. In other words: Jesus was, and he still is, a faithful and reliable servant in all with which God has assigned him.

†. John 5:30 . . I do not seek my own will but the will of the One who sent me.

†. John 6:38 . . For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.

†. John 8:29 . .The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.

Now with that, here is one of Jesus' assignments with which I have the utmost in confidence that he will not fail.

†. John 6:39 . . This is the will of the One who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what He gave me

Were Jesus to lose even just one head of the sheep that his Father gave him; he would fail to satisfy the will of the One who sent him.

FYI: Sheep don't just wander into Jesus' fold. No; God rounds them up and drives them to His son for safe keeping.

†. John 6:44 . . No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him

†. John 6:37 . . Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,

The major difficulty thwarting the anti-OSAS crowd is their inability to trust God's son. It's really just that simple; and their inability to trust him clouds their judgment to the point that they actually end up insinuating that God's son is not the good shepherd he claims to be. In their minds eye, he is an incompetent slacker whose shepherding skills could use some improvement.

Q: Why is it that so many people identifying themselves as Christians are unable to rely upon Christ's competence as a shepherd?

A: Because they are not his sheep.

†. John 10:26 . . You do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.

You see; in order to get into Jesus' sheepfold, it is absolutely essential to believe in him. It's the one prerequisite that can't be waived. I don't mean just to believe the things you hear about him and/or that you read about him, but to believe in him as a reliable person.

This is similar to what intelligent people do at election time. They cast their vote for the candidate that they most believe in. Not everyone votes like that of course. The dummies often vote for candidates merely on the basis of their gender and/or the color of their skin regardless of their trustworthiness and/or the quality of their executive abilities.

People unable to believe in Jesus' shepherding competence are of course not his sheep-- quite the contrary; they're slated for the lake of brimstone depicted at Rev 20:10-15 where, along with the anti-OSAS zealots, they will be summarily terminated via a mode of death akin to a foundry worker falling into a kettle of molten iron.

†. John 3:18 . .Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,

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Sa:ji:sdo:de
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I grew up a Catholic boy and attended catechism to the level of Confirmation. I must not have been paying attention to the nuns who taught the classes because for quite a few years I was under the impression that Christ was a tragic victim of circumstances beyond his control and that his crucifixion served no practical purpose except to make me pity the man.

I mean; every Sunday I looked around the church at the gloomy stations of the cross hanging on the walls. How was I supposed to derive good news of great joy from those? And it seems that every artistic representation of Jesus' mom-- the statues and the paintings --depict her as blue, sorrowful, forlorn and depressed. Not even so much as a lick of optimism.

The lack of cheer in Catholicism is prevalent at every turn: even the communion service is a downer; and it really shouldn't be. According to John 6:54, Jesus' flesh and blood is supposed to endow people with eternal life. I should think that would certainly make people happy, but no; it doesn't. They all return to their seats looking as if they were just sentenced to ten years in prison for bank robbery.

Well; you can imagine my delight, as well as my relief, to finally learn that the purpose of Christ's death was to satisfy justice on my behalf in such a way as to spare me the inconvenience of dying for my sins in the reservoir of brimstone depicted at Rev 20:11-15 where people are on track to be terminated by a mode of death akin to a foundry worker falling into a kettle of molten iron.

According to Dan 12:2 and John 5:28-29, there is only one resurrection allotted per person; which means that people sentenced to death in the lake won't be coming back because they will have used up their one resurrection to face justice at the Great White Throne event.

FYI: Though people will die in the lake, their remains won't be totally incinerated but instead will be preserved as perpetual nourishment for a curious species of fire-proof worm.

†. Isa 66:22-24 . . All humanity will come to worship me from week to week and from month to month. And as they go out, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me. For the worms that devour them will never die, and the fire that burns them will never go out. All who pass by will view them with utter loathing.

A worm that thrives in fire is pretty amazing, but not unreasonable. The 4-inch Pompeii worm lives in sea water temperatures of 176° Fahrenheit: hot enough to kill salmonella and sanitize an egg. So I guess if God could create a worm like the Pompeii, it shouldn't be too difficult for Him to create worms that like it even warmer.

But then, the properties of fire are easily circumvented by the genius who created them. For example: fire totally incinerated the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah but left unscathed a desert shrub that Moses encountered in the Sinai outback while tending his father-in law's sheep. (Ex 3:1-3)

Compare Dan 3:8-27 where a blistering hot fire didn't even so much as singe the clothing of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego while slaying the guards that threw them in the furnace.

Isa 66:22-24 suggests that the worms will never run out of something to eat; which means that the human remains upon which they'll feed will never be used up. How so?

There are incidents in the Bible where small amounts of foodstuffs were miraculously extended. One example is 1Kgs 17:8-16 where a tiny bit of flour and oil nourished Elijah and a widow woman, and her son, for a good many days during a time of prolonged drought.

Another incident is at 2Kgs 4:1-7 where a certain widow's husband died and left her deeply in debt. God extended her last pot of oil sufficiently to sell off enough to retire her debts, thereby saving her two sons from slavery.

All those human remains floating around out there in the lake of brimstone will likely resemble a ghastly cranberry bog at harvest time. That should be quite a scene to behold.

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Sa:ji:sdo:de
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I was loyal to Rome and its doctrines until I was 24. But though I cast a vote of confidence in Rome's doctrines, I was mostly lapsed and didn't practice them.

My eldest brother went on to become a priest, and today he's a semi-retired Friar who is no longer confident that a hell exists. I don't know why he feels that way; we don't talk much about things like that.

But unlike my eldest brother, I have never even one single moment in my entire 72+ years doubted the existence of hell and eternal suffering. Ironically, it was my dread of that very thing that led me to part company with Rome.

President Obama published a book in October of 2009 whose title includes the words: The Audacity Of Hope.

The usual understanding of hope is something like crossing your fingers and praying for the best while in the back of your mind dreading the worst. An audacious hope is sort of like that. It's a hope against hope; viz: an irrational pursuit of something out of reach on the slim chance you might get lucky and actually attain it.

The apostle Peter's understanding of hope was very different.

†. 1Pet 3:15 . . Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.

The Greek word for "hope" in Peter's command is elpis (el pece') which means to anticipate (usually with pleasure) and to expect with confidence. Note the elements of anticipation, and expectation, and confidence.

In other words: Peter's hope wasn't audacious. No, he wasn't crossing his fingers and praying for the best while in the back of his mind dreading the worst and/or irrationally pursuing something out of reach on the slim chance of attaining it. Not Peter, no, he looked forward to an excellent afterlife; and he fully expected to get it; no problem.

So, unless someone knows for proof-positive, beyond even the slightest glimmer of sensible doubt, that their afterlife future is safe and secure, then of course it is impossible for them to comply with Peter's instructions seeing as they would not yet have the kind of hope about which he wrote.

†. Rom 12:12 . . Rejoicing in hope.

When people are praying for the best, while in the back of their mind dreading the worst, they have absolutely no cause for rejoicing; no; but they do have plenty of cause to fear the unknown.

Writing to his friends in Ephesus, the apostle Paul said:

"Remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh, were without hope"

How many hopeless Gentiles are we talking about? Well, for starters; as of 2014, there were approximately 1.3 billion Roman Catholics worldwide. None of them, not even the Pope, had the kind of hope that Peter had. Why not? Well the rest of the verse reads like this:

"And without God in the world"

I am pretty much forced to conclude from Peter's and Paul's writings about hope that Roman Catholicism is a religion very much like the one described in Rev 3:14-22 where Christ is depicted standing outside a church banging on the door trying to get someone's attention to let him in.

†. Luke 2:8-12 . .The angel said to them; "Don't be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy"

Well; let me tell you something: when somebody has the kind of hope about which the apostles Peter and Paul wrote; they've got the great joy that the angel was talking about; no doubt about it.

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Sa:ji:sdo:de
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†. Luke 2:8-12 . .And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

. . . But the angel said to them; "Don't be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today, in the town of David, a savior has been born to you; he is Messiah, the Lord."

Not every Christian denomination heralds a Xmas message that qualifies as "good news of great joy". Several announce a version that is neither good nor joyful at all; but is actually bad news indeed because their message-- although adequately announcing the reality of divine retribution --fails to tell of a guaranteed fail-safe, sin-proof, human nature-proof, Ten Commandments-proof, bad behavior-proof, apostasy-proof, reprobate-proof, God-proof, Devil-proof rescue from the wrath of God. Roman Catholicism, the very centerpiece and public image of Christianity, can't even guarantee safety for its own Popes nor for its outstanding nuns.

Friday, April 8, 2005; millions of Catholics around the world-- including Cardinals, Bishops, and Monsignors --prayed for Karol Wojtyla during his funeral. Let me point out something that should go without saying: if someone has already gone on to eternal life; is it really necessary to continue praying for them? Of course not. They'd be home free. The millions of Catholics left behind would be the ones in need of prayer; not Mr. Wojtyla. But the sad reality is: no Catholic, not even a Pope, knows for sure where they're going when they cross over to the other side.

If Popes and super duper nuns like Mother Teresa are in danger of missing out on eternal life, then what "great joy" does news like Rome's gospel have to offer John Q and Jane Doe pew warmer? None, no joy at all. The best they can do is cross their fingers and pray for the best while in the backs of their minds dreading the worst.

The angel announced the birth of a savior. Webster's defines a "savior" as one who rescues. You've seen examples of rescuers-- lifeguards, firemen, cops, emergency medical teams, Coast Guard units, snow patrols, and mountain rescue teams. Rescuers typically save people who are facing imminent death and/or grave danger and utterly helpless to do anything about it.

Of what real benefit would the rescuer of Luke 2:8-12 really be to anybody if he couldn't guarantee a fail-safe, sin-proof, human nature-proof, Ten Commandments-proof, bad behavior-proof, apostasy-proof, reprobate-proof, God-proof, Devil-proof rescue from the wrath of God? He'd be of no benefit to anybody. No; he'd be an incompetent ninny that nobody could rely on.

But, if a rescuer were to be announced who guaranteed anybody who wants it, a completely free of charge, no strings attached, guaranteed fail-safe, sin-proof, human nature-proof, Ten Commandments-proof, bad behavior-proof, apostasy-proof, reprobate-proof, God-proof, Devil-proof rescue from the wrath of God, and full-time protection from future retribution; wouldn't that qualify as good news of great joy? I think just about everybody would have to agree with me that news like that would not only most certainly be good; but also cause for celebration, and for ecstatic happiness.

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Posts: 1245 | From: Oregon | Registered: Jul 2016  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator


 
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