Jun 6 2019 The Grand Story of the Bible - How Faith is Lived Out
23rd June 2019
There were several questions from last week – I’d like to try to clear up some confusion – so the first part will be the Bible-Geek people – and the second part will be more practical. We have been told that Satan is the prince of this world – and that is clearly taught in Scripture, but also that all earthly authority is established by God and Christians are to be in subject to authorities. So that creates a conundrum.
Even though God established authority structures in the world – that does not mean He approves of them. When you look at the Old Testament and even the history of Israel – God is unhappy with the authority structures of Israel. God often judges or removes authorities throughout Scripture. In Israel, He was often judging and removing authorities!
This video lays a foundation for how this works.
Divine Council – The Bible Project:
A little background:
Psalm 82:1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
Wow! What is he saying there? The word god – that is a problem there – we have transformed the word god from what the word means in the Bible.
God – Elohim – a generic word for God – has taken His place in the divine council – and the word is no different from ‘the gods’ there.
Elohim – any divine or spiritual beings – there are like 12 different categories.
The Bible takes YAHWEH – the divine spiritual being above every spiritual being and none can compare – He is the creator of all.
Our understanding of monotheism has been shaped by our post-resurrection advantage. It was not shaped until after the resurrection.
We know the other gods to be the other spiritual beings that are being worshiped as God
The Unseen Realm – Michael Heiser – John has read his books and gone to his conferences – and if you have more interest – you can read the book.
Deuteronomy 32:8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided up humankind, he set the boundaries of the peoples, according to the number of the heavenly assembly (divine council). For the LORD's allotment is his people, Jacob is his special possession.
At the tower of Babel – there are 3 falls in the Bible – the Garden, the Flood – and Babel.
Genesis 3 - The earth is corrupted – kicks them out of the garden – then people get wicked and God starts over with the flood.
Then Babel – He turns humanity over to humanity – and the divine council is given charge of certain regions and people.
Abraham – God basically says – you want to have your own gods – go for it. But I am going to take Abraham as my special possession – and God creates Israel – His special people.
In each of those ‘falls’ – there was an inappropriate mixing of divine beings and humanity. We live in a spiritual world. There are spiritual beings fully engaged in this world – and we have a hard time getting our heads around that because we think of pitchforks and horns – but that could probably not be further from the truth.
4:19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.
Our struggle is not against people – but against the human and spiritual forces. There is a fine line between being subject to authority structures and understanding the evil that is behind all of them and acting appropriately.
We are in a spiritual battle – again – the battle is not with the person at work that bothers you – it is not with the person who was elected that you didn’t vote for! The battle lies with the forces of evil. You could do a whole 3 month series on the spiritual weapons of our warfare -
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day…and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace… in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith
I’d like to look at the gospel of Jesus and the shield of faith in our spiritual battle. The gospel is a critical weapon of ours. He talks about the gospel as being shoes – so it is an action weapon. It is to be carried out – carried with our feet into the world – to be in the world but not of it. That is one of the ways we engage in this battle – as we enter into this world – we carry the gospel with us. If that is such an important weapon – and it is – there are some questions that should come up in our minds.
What is the gospel? That is the first question.
Second – how do we present it? This will sound like Christianity 101 – but it is important to understand this – it is our weapon – we are not going out shooting people with our weapons – we are loving them.
The gospel is good news – breaking news! An announcement!
The issue with the word – we think it is a Christian word – but wrong – it is NOW – but the word was used in the Greek language long before Jesus came to earth.
They would send out people to proclaim good news – like in the Greek or Roman army – General so and so has won a great victory – bringing captives with him – So the gospel was that announcement – or the announcement of a new king.
30 BC – they found tablets in Greek – the gospel of Augustus Caesar – the son of god – will bring peace to the world! Sounds just like when Jesus gets here.
We have been talking about this grand narrative – this great story – and what has happened – the story of the gospel has been replaced by a plan of salvation – which tends to be a formula for how to get saved. We have booklets and bullet-points that explain this path of salvation. And that is all good – the booklets and bullet points are true and good and can lead someone to Christ – except they tend to be incomplete – leaving out parts of the story – usually they leave out the resurrection – and the goal is a call to receive Jesus into our hearts – that is why often decisions are made and they don’t last! They fizzle out! We have all seen that. It is critical we get back to understand the full story of God. The first gospel message – the martyrdom of Stephen – and then he gets stoned and killed for it! That is why we stopped doing it that way! Just kidding.
This grand river – this great story flowing to the sea – we are telling people – come into the river and get into the flow – people are joining this grand narrative – moving with it – people come in and join in the story – they are not joining a church – I mean, they may do that – but they are becoming a part of the story!
the gospel is the power-releasing story of Jesus’s life, death for sins, resurrection, and installation as king, but that story only makes sense in the wider framework of the stories of Israel and creation. The gospel is not in the first instance a story about heaven, hell, making a decision, raising your hand after praying a certain prayer, justification by faith alone, trusting that Jesus’s righteousness is sufficient, or any putative human tendencies toward self-salvation through good works. It is, in the final analysis, most succinctly good news about the enthronement of Jesus the atoning king as he brings these wider stories to a climax
This current gets us focused on Jesus – not the rules and everything around that – but our lives are centered on Jesus. And Jesus can be left out of our how to do the Christian-life life. How to do the Christian-life? It is ALL ABOUT doing it WITH JESUS. That is the gospel.
1 Peter 3:19 He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
Peter goes back to the chaotic waters and tells the story from there. We can go to any point in the biblical story – and from that point can show how it all leads to Jesus and redemption.
Second – we need to understand the whole story and we need a better definition of faith.
In general – the plan of salvation thing – has turned faith into an intellectual assent of a certain set of truths – As long as I believe this this and this – I’m good – but there is more to it than that:
Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Scholars have studied this out – there are 3 aspects of faith
Intellectual assent and knowledge of certain truths
A public proclamation of Jesus as Lord. That is not a work – that is what FAITH IS. Jesus is God – the Messiah – the Lord of the earth – and no one else is! The whole thing with the Elohim – He is the king of kings – the Lord of lords!
Baptism played an enormous role in the proclaiming. It was an introduction to the community – but it could cost them their lives. Baptism was a pledging allegiance to King Jesus – NOT to king Caesar.
Faith – is sometimes translated as allegiance or loyalty – that is a good translation.
Our daughter in law – who is from the Philippines – ON July 9 – will become a citizen. She will pledge allegiance. Faith is pledging allegiance to a new king.
3rd – Faith is lived out naturally – we can’t have faith and it not do anything to us – it does something to us and then we live it out in our daily routine. We don’t work for it – we work it out!
If something happens in our lives – it is only natural that it works out in our daily routine.
I am going to give you a ridiculous comparison – Faith is a Steelers fan becoming a Browns fan - or vice-versa – Let’s say this couple has a son – and he becomes a five star recruit – and he chooses the college of his choice – The Ohio State University – and, like, 3 years later – he becomes a first round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns. At the moment those parents learn this truth – have ASSENT that their son is a Cleveland Brown – at that moment – it will wholly change their allegiance. It will change the color of clothes they wear – it will change their place of worship! Not Heinz Field – but First Energy Stadium!
This is ridiculous – but that is what faith does – it transforms the hearts.
Early second century:
“For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. Inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.
We should be fully comfortable living here in America – and we should be fully uncomfortable living here in America.