Issue #32

Saints Judging Angels, Starfish Stories, See How Good It Is, and more...

Issue #32
Photo by Alistair MacRobert / Unsplash

Bible Study: Hebrews Part 5 (1:4–6) — The Firstborn Son

This week we are finishing off the introduction of Hebrews and taking a look at the first few quotations of the Hebrew Scriptures, which are often misunderstood.

Jesus Is the Inheritor of the Excellent Name

In verse 4, we find out why Jesus can sit down at the right hand of the Father in verse 3: because he has inherited a more excellent name than the angels. I think this leads to a few questions:

  1. What is this name?
  2. What does it mean to inherit a name?
  3. What does it mean to “become superior to angels?”

What the name is, is not immediately clear. But we can do some deductions. Whatever this name is, it’s something that he earned. His inheritance and glorification at the right hand of the Father come because of his making purification for sins.

Keep Reading→

Explore the Scriptures 📖

What Does It Mean for the Saints to Judge Angels? | Kyle Dillon 📃 →

The apostle Paul delivers several stinging rebukes to the believers at Corinth over the course of his first epistle. But perhaps the most interesting comes in 1 Corinthians 6:2–3. There we learn that due to their divisiveness and worldliness, the Corinthians have compromised their Christian identity by pursuing selfish gain through litigation against one another in secular courts. Such conduct betrays values that are no different from their pagan neighbors, so Paul reminds them of their ultimate destiny in Christ in order to expose the absurdity of their conduct.

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! (1 Cor. 6:2–3)

It’s an argument from the greater to the lesser. If they will one day judge the world and the angels, shouldn’t they be capable of handling relatively minor disputes among themselves?

What makes the passage so surprising is Paul seems to assume his readers are already aware of their role in the final judgment. He twice asks the rhetorical question, “Do you not know?” And yet, if it weren’t for this very passage, how many Christians today would know? What exactly does it mean that we will judge the world and the angels? What else does the Bible have to say about this? And what does this mean for us practically today?

Dillon is certainly right that it’s a mysterious passage to many. He explains four different ways that this passage has been understood. Personally, I tend to agree with view four, also championed by scholars like Dr. Michael Heiser, author of The Unseen Realm 📚, but all are possible.

Many Christians just want someone to tell them the “right” view, but then the “right” view depends on who you ask! Learn why the various views are held, and decide for yourself.

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Christianity Is True ✝️

Could It Ever Be Rational to Believe in Miracles? Debate between Tim McGrew and Zach Moore | The Bible and Beer Consortium 📽 →

This is a lengthy debate between two scholars on the topic of miracles. The atheist, Dr. Moore, admits that it may be rational to believe in a miracle, but can’t define a case in which it would be. Dr. McGrew, the Christian, tries to give a rational filter through which to think about miracle claims. He claims that the best historical miracle claim is the resurrection of Jesus.

Frankly, I cannot imagine being so skeptical as to deny any miracle claim put before me, but I’m certainly biased by my own experience of God and belief. I was shocked to find out that hundreds of millions, if not more, people around the world claim supernatural contact or miracle experiences. When talking to an audience about the possibility of miracles (the few times I have) I have asked if others have experienced miracles. The number of people who believe they have has amazed me.

The long question and answer session near the end contains some really good questions.

Jesus and the Mythicists (Part One): Digging for Truth with Dr. Craig Evans | Associates for Biblical Research 📽 →

In a two-part series, the ABR team talks with Dr. Craig Evans about Jesus Mythicism. Jesus Mythicism is a (generally) popular-level atheist claim that Jesus not only wasn’t God but that he never existed at all. He was a myth.

This view is generally ridiculed even among unbelieving scholars, and very few academics hold the view (I can probably count them with one hand, compared to thousands on the other side). Nevertheless, the view is attractive to less sophisticated atheists and popular on the internet. It may be a view you come across and should be prepared to talk about.

Part 2 is here.

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Read and Reflect 📖

Starfish Stories | Matthew Loftus 📃 →

those of us who wish to love others encounter a large set of problems. There are some obvious needs for food, shelter, or immediate medical care that can and should be met, but outside of disaster situations where people are otherwise helpless, there is a persistent debate about how meeting immediate needs ought to be balanced alongside developing the structures and virtues necessary to keep that need from arising again. While I think it is clear that there are some basic needs that everyone ought to be guaranteed, Christians of good faith disagree strongly on how those needs ought to be met and even those who agree on how those needs ought to be met disagree even more vehemently about how to advocate for the political and social structures of provision and security.

Those disagreements are complex and cannot be easily dismissed with an appeal to ideology; even if one truly believes that Full Communism or the Free Market or “more people just believing in Jesus” is the answer that truly addresses “root causes,” there is still a complicated web of institutions and structures that must be influenced towards human flourishing. Full Communism will not prevent domestic abuse, the Free Market will not preserve natural spaces as they ought to be, and mass conversion will not create a more just healthcare system. There are needs that must be met for people in a variety of ways, many of which are resistant to simple solutions.

This is a challenging article, but well-written. How do we approach a culture in which important issues are so sharply divided and those who disagree are vilified?

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

Knowing Your Heart and When (Not) to Follow It with Craig Trowel | Crossway 🎧 →

The “heart” is a rather mysterious bit of biblical terminology. Part of the reason is that it has several different usages. Craig Troxel and Matt Tully break down what the heart is (biblically), and when we should (or not) follow it.

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Challenge Your Brain 🧠

The Moral Argument as a Scientifically-Minded Approach to Understanding God | Jan Shultis 📃 →

Last week, an experienced and prominent physician told me that faith was utter nonsense, and that only empirical study has value. He expressed irritation at people of faith, any faith, who “obstinately cling to things they say are true and happened thousands of years ago because they say they are true and are unwilling to consider proof.” I asked him what he would think of a group that agrees with him about the value of explaining faith, that craves intellectually rigorous and defensible answers and seeks them out, but that comes to different conclusions from his because we value many types of evidence. He is a researcher, after all – could he with any intellectual honesty brush aside the conclusions of people as intelligent as he and better studied in a particular area? What did he think of this new thing I described; what did he think of apologetics?

“I think,” he replied after a pause, “apologists sound like scientists. I would tell you that if they, if you, seek intellectually defensible answers, then you are in the realm of science. You have moved beyond faith at that point, which means that you make more sense to me, but that you cannot come to any conclusion that does not have facts.”

I do not agree with this doctor’s extremely exalted view of science. I noticed his consistent and mistaken notion of faith, and his narrow view of what constitutes evidence. I thought of how very modern is the notion that science and theism are at odds, and of everything I know about the historical validity of the Resurrection. Data flooded my brain and arguments poured into my mind, but not onto my lips. The Spirit formed more simple words.

Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

See How Good It Is (Psalm 133) | Wendell Kimbrough and Sandra McCracken 🎶 →

The song Sandra and I wrote, based on Psalm 133, no doubt gathered its energy from the joyful experience of that weekend. “See how good it is gathering with friends, welcoming the stranger in. See how good it is!”

But Psalm 133 is one that, if you just picked up a Bible and started singing it, would very quickly mire you in confusing imagery. There’s oil running down the beard and making a mess all over the clothes of some guy named Aaron…

Turns out what we’re viewing here is an ordination service. Aaron is being anointed as priest—one who is uniquely called to represent God’s love to the world. But wait! This poem isn’t about Aaron’s ordination. It’s about our ordination as priests of God to the hungry, lonely world around us.

And what is it that precipitates our ordination into this glorious priesthood? “When God's people live together in unity.”

It’s a beautiful article and a beautiful song.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
— Matthew 5:43-45 (CSB)

Joel Fischer