Johnson U. Essay: PAUL’S VIEWS ON GAINING A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

Firstly, we must accept that Paul’s view—on gaining a relationship with God—is not the same as his view on gaining a tunic or a pot. He would say that once you have the tunic, or pot, you have gained it. And, that your wearing that tunic, or cooking in that pot, does not make it any more yours than it was the day you gained it. His view on our relationship with God is more profound—with complex spiritual ideas over lapping, and some of them still to reach their culmination, even for those who have fallen asleep. Paul believes that a right relationship with God is gained by—perpetually—reliving the actions leading to—and occurring in—the initiation of that relationship.[1]For Paul “gaining” and “maintaining”—in this context—are very closely related.[2]

Paul’s message is that God begat Himself in Jesus, and endured the punishment for our sins so that we could have a relationship with Him—through Jesus Messiah (Rom 1:1–4; Col. 1:17).[3]Paul writes that we all know that there is a Creator—and have his moral code written on our hearts—but choose to ignore this, at some point in our lives (Rom 1:18–32). A. Das cites Gal. 4:29 in noting that the Spirit has something to do with the birth of Christian faith, but does not expound.[4]This is probably because Das also notes that Paul writes that the Holy Spirit enters our lives when we are baptized (Gal. 3:25–27).[5]

Paul teaches that we are seenas being perfect when we believe—and are baptized—in(to) Christ, just as Abraham believed God’s promise (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal 3:2–9).[6]Faith is best seen as when we re-embrace the truth—that “what can be known about God has been made plane to [us],” and that we have turned away from this truth by choosing sin (Rom 1:18–32).[7]So, we re-embracethe Spirit through faith in the Gospel we heard, and we receive the Spirit when we put on Christ in Baptism (Gal. 3:25–27).[8]In this baptism we are justified, and become one with the God Head through Jesus Christ.[9]

The fruit of this new relationship with God, is becoming more like this same God Head we are baptized into (i.e. “sanctification”).[10]It is helpful to note that the OT has shaped Paul’s use of the concept “justification,” so that it is used much less often as a noun, and more frequently as a conjugate of the verb “justify.”[11]This suggests that we should constantly relive/remember the justification process we experienced (i.e. repentance)—to make ourselves more like Christ, who is holy (Phil 2:12). The holiness that the Holy Spirit produces in us has no correlation with status as we have already been statedto be holy by our baptism into Christ’s atonement (Rome 2:25; 5:9; Gal. 3:27). But refers—instead—to the holy character of God that the Holy Spirit produces in our being/living (sanctification) (Phil. 3:3).[12]

Accordingly, as we repeat repentance, we continuously remember our justification in Christ.[13]Each time we remember our justification—in repentance—we understand it better. It’s similar to seeing a great movie when you were a kid. You wanted to watch it again and again. Then it became your favorite, and—before long—you could quote any line. The idea that God came down to us as a man and endured our penalty and excepted us as adopted children into his family is too grandiose foranyone to understand completely (Rom 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). It’s like learning math. The teacher is the evangelist. The material being taught is the Gospel. The students are the Christians. The students are already Christians because they believe in the material, but—even though they’ve seen the teacher perform the steps to arrive at the equation’s solution—they still need to go home and practice. So, they go home and repeat the same kind of equation over and over. Each time they do that type of equation, they understand it more and more. The difference is that the material of the Gospel is supernatural, and each time we remember our justification—through repentance—it produces a reflection of God’s life/character (Rom. 5:3–4; Phil 3:3).[14]This is referred to as godliness or holiness.[15]

On the reverse side of this coin, every time we repent, we trust God with whatever void—or lacking—we were trying to fill with sin. Logically, as we begin to trust God with our lives, we stop trusting in ourselves, and empty ourselves of our sinful character in the process of being filled with God’s character(Col 3:5–17; Phil 3:3).[16]This is what Paul refers to when writing that the Spirit wars against the flesh (Rom. 7:23).[17]It’s like pouring sand into a glass of water. The glass is us; the sand is God’s Holy Spirit; and the water is our fleshly character—that trusts in sin to fulfill our deepest needs, and heal our deepest wounds. The first time we repent—and are baptized, is not the most of ourselves (the water) we will ever loose, as his character (the sand) makes space for itself in sinking to the bottom of the glass (us). Even though, God regards us as having a glass full of sand when we are baptized into Jesus Christ (justification), we have—really—only received the first bit of sand. More and more sand is poured into our glass every time we repent and re-experience the Gospel. The sand sinks to the bottom of the glass because it weighs more, and more and more water is lost. So, each time we remember our justification and repent, our flesh becomes more crucified—like Christ’s, and his Holy Spirit fills us up, similar to how Christ has alwayslived, in—and with—the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor. 5:14–15; 1 Thes. 5:23; Eph. 5:26; Phil. 3:3)[18].

Paul teaches us that the God Head became flesh, suffered, died, defeated death, and raised himself so we could have communion with Them (Rom 8:32; Eph. 1:4).[19]We are—also—to reflect that sacrificial love and give our lives to serve others, just as Christ did (Eph. 5:2).[20]Paul teaches that God will never stop pouring his life into us (Phil 4:3; 1 Tim 1:16; 2 Tim 1:10; Titus 1:2).[21]In the same way that God is relational within the Trinity, and wants us to have a relationship with Him, He also wants us to be in communion with each other—being encouraged in our faith by others, and encouraging them in our faith (Rom 1:12; 1 Thes 5:11; 2 Thes 1:4; Philem. 1–7).[22]The culmination of this relationship is worshiping God (Rom 15:9–12; Eph. 1:14; Phil. 3:3).[23]

SOURCES CITED.

Das, A Andrew. 1995. “Oneness in Christ: The Nexus Indivulsus Between Justification and Sanctification in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.” Concordia Journal21 (2): 173–86.

Martin, Ralph P. “Center of Paul’s Theology.” Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

McGrath, Alister E. “Justification.” Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

O’Brien, Peter T. “Church.” Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Porter, Stanley E. “Holiness, Sanctification.” Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Schnabel, Eckhard J. 2005. “The Objectives of Change, Factors of Transformation, and the Causes of Results: The Evidence of Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence.” Trinity Journal26 (2): 179–204.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2006.

[1]A Andrew Das, “Oneness in Christ: The Nexus Indivulsus Between Justification and Sanctification in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 179; 184; 186.

[2]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 173.

[3]Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology(Westmont, IL: IVP Academic, 2006), 27.

[4]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 184.

[5]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 183.

[6]Ibid.

[7]The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Rom. 1:18–19; all further biblical citations will be in the NRSV, unless otherwise stated.

[8]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 183.

[9]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 184.

[10]Ibid.

[11]Alister E. McGrath, “Justification,” ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 518.

[12]Stanley E. Porter, “Holiness, Sanctification,” ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 397.

[13]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 184.

[14]Eckhard J. Schnabel, “The Objectives of Change, Factors of Transformation, and the Causes of Results: The Evidence of Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence,” Trinity Journal26 (2), 2005: 180.

[15]Porter, “Holiness, Sanctification,” 397.

[16]Schreiner,Paul, 28.

[17]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 184.

[18]Porter, “Holiness, Sanctification,” 398.

[19]Das, “Oneness in Christ,” Concordia Journal21 (2), 1995: 184.

[20]Schreiner, Paul, 25–26; Schnabel, “Change, Transformation, Results,” Trinity Journal26 (2), 2005: 183; Ralph P. Martin, “Center of Paul’s Theology,” ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 94.

[21]Schreiner, Paul, 27.

[22]Schreiner, Paul, 25–26; Peter T. O’Brien, “Church,” ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 129.

[23]O’Brien, “Church,” 130.

Johnson University: Jesus Christ’s Understanding of His Own Nature and Mission.

First of all, let me say that this paper is lacking a lot of important points. But they only gave us five pages (double spaced). Well, at least you know it’s a short read. 🙂 My favorite point is highlighted, below.

JESUS’S UNDERSTANDING OF HIS OWN NATURE AND MISSION

The Jewish understanding of Messiah, in first-century Palestine, was “not uniform,” “sometimes confused,” and seldom carried scriptural connotations.[1] What uniformity canbe observed expects a Messiah with an earthly kingdom, who will rescue Israel from its earthly enemies.[2]Jesus saw Himself as the incarnation of YHWH.[3]Thus, Jesus saw his Messianic reign as greater than this world, just as He and his kingdom are greater than this world; and his mission was to help the world’s understanding of the kind of King the Son of Man was to be, as He did.[4]

The Davidic Messiah took on “super-human and transcendent” qualities and was expected to free Israel from earthly powers, in second temple literature.[5]All three synoptic gospels—and John—record Jesus responding to blind men calling him the son of David—and Jesus reaffirming this title’s truth by healing those men—immediately before his entry into Jerusalem—where He was praised as the “Son of David … in the highest heaven (Mat 20:30–31; 21:9 // Mark 10:47–48; 11:9–10 // Luke 18:38–39; 19:38–40).[6]This shows the crowds understood Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem—on a donkey—as a claim to be the Davidic Christ as well. After this Luke tells us of Jesus’s statement—to the Pharisees—that if the crowds stopped praising his name, “the stones would shout out” (Luke 19:40).[7]

Further,  Jesus confirms his kingship when telling James and John that the Father will choose who sits on the right and left of his throne—in heaven (Mark 10:40 // 20:23), and when telling the disciples that they will sit on thrones—under Him—in the coming Kingdom (Mat. 19:28–29 // Luke 22:28–30).[8]Jesus’s explaining his coming to “bring a sword” (Mat. 10:34), and “fire” (Luke 12:49), echo functions of the coming Davidic Messiah—to judge the earth—in OT and second temple literature.[9]Jesus claims of his mission to save the lost sheep of Israel (Luke 19:10; Mat. 10:6) also fulfill the Messianic function of salvation.[10]

Lastly Jesus confirms Peter’s confession that He is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mat. 16:16–17); “the Messiah” (Mk 8:29–30) “the Messiah of God” (Luke 9:20–21).[11]Note how Peter, Matthew, Luke, and—probably—Mark, understand the Davidic Messiah to come from God—not David. And how Jesus affirms He is the Davidic Messiah—who is from God—in all three cases. It is also important to note that Jesus affirms that Peter’s understanding—that Jesus is from God—was given to him by God (Mat. 16:17).

Further, the question invoking Peter’s confession of Jesus’s Messiahship—in Matthews account—is “Who do people say that the Son of Manis?” Not who do people say that I am? Therefore, Mathew, Peter, and Jesus all understood “Messiah” to be a synonym of “Son of Man.” Given that “the Son of Man” is the title Jesus uses most often—by far—to refer to Himself, clearly shows that he understood himself to be the “Messiah of God.” Though some claim that Jesus was denying his Messiahship when referring to Psalm 110 in Mark 12:35–37—the preceding affirms that Jesus is actually developing its primitive worldly definition into something greater.[12]

“The Son of Man” is a theologically loaded phrase used by many prophets and originating with Daniel,[13]However, it is most completely understood in its Davidic and Messianic contexts, and was shown to refer to the “Son of God”—in second temple Judaism—with the discovery of the dead sea scrolls.[14] Furthermore, at Jesus’s trial, the high priest equates “the Messiah” to being the “Son of God,” and Jesus adds “the Son of Man” to these first two synonyms, in his response to the high priest (Mat 23:63–64 // Mk 14:61–62 // Luke 22:67–70).[15]

Except for Mark 15:34, Jesus always refers to God as Father in the synoptic gospels.[16]“… [N]o one know[ing] the Son except the Father, and no one know[ing] the Father except the Son …” (Mat. 11:27; c.f. Luke. 10:22) adds to this idea that—in proclaiming to be “the Son of God” Jesus is claiming to beGod.[17]Therefore, every time Jesus refers to Himself as “the Son of Man,” He is claiming to be a part of the God Head.[18]It is prudent to note that the previous logical conclusion can be reached from each and everysynoptic gospel. This is important because many—in modern scholarship—refute Jesus’s self-understanding as Emanuel—in the synoptic gospels, to make John’s recordings—of these claims—out to be a later exception to earlier Jesus tradition.

In John’s gospel, Jesus claims to be: “bread of life” (John 6:35, 48) or “living bread that comes down from heaven” (John 6:51); “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12); “the door”—for the sheep (Jn 10:7, 9); “the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11, 14); “the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25); “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6); and “the true vine” (Jn 15:1, 5).[19]Though some would undoubtedly argue, that these descriptions are ambiguous, a few things must be considered first. John’s grouping of these sayings into seven—the number representing perfection—and God—suggests John understood each one of them to be a claim of divinity.[20]In five of the seven, Jesus contrasts Himself from humanity, by claiming to have life in Himself. John’s prologue explains the pre-existence of Jesus as the “Logos,”which he undoubtedly learned from Jesus when—or after—He claimed to be that “Logos.”Therefore, Jesus’s clame to be the Logos is a claim to be God. Jesus also—explicitly claims to have existed before Abraham (Jn 8:58).

The world has not seen God’s heart from the day it ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, to Israel’s exodus, to the turn of the first century. Then God became a man—who knew he was the incarnate God—to help the world understand things as He did; including his Messiahship.[21]Jesus had come to “proclaimed the message of God” (Mark 1:38 // Luke 4:43).[22]The message was that He was God, and had come to save those who accept they have sinned (Mat. 9:13 // Mark 2:17).[23]And that whoever believes that He is God, will be saved (John 3:16). The purpose of the ministry Jesus did for the people’s physical wellbeing was to help them embrace the truth that the Messiah, is the Son of Man, who is the Son of God, who is God. This is so that we can have a relationship with Him. Now that Jesus has revealed his identity as Lord and Savior, we can begin to do this. How can you have a relationship with someone you don’t know or understand?

SOURCES CITED.

Bird, M. F. “Christ.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Bock, D. L. “Son of Man.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Miura, Y. “Son of David.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Schnabel, E. J. “Mission.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Stapleton, Andrew J.  “First-Century Jewish Messianism and Jesus’ Self-Understanding.” Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa30 (2). (2006): 23–40.

Williams, C. H. “‘I Am’ Sayings.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

Winn, A. “Son of God.” Edited by Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013.

[1]Andrew J. Stapleton, “First-Century Jewish Messianism and Jesus’ Self-Understanding.” Journal of Theta Alpha Kappa30 (2), (2006): 24.

[2]Ibid.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Ibid.

[5]M. F. Bird, “Christ,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 116; Y. Miura, “Son of David,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 882; Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,24-25.

[6]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,26; The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version(Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989); All further Biblical citations will be in the NRSV, unless otherwise stated.

[7]Miura, “David,” 883

[8]Bird, “Christ,” 118.

[9]Bird, “Christ,” 118; Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,28–29.

[10]Ibid.

[11]Bird, “Christ,” 118.

[12]Bird, “Christ,” 117; 119.

[13]D. L. Bock, “Son of Man,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 894.

Bird, “Christ,” 117; Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,24; A. Winn, “Son of God,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 888.

[15]Bird, “Christ,” 117.

[16]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,28–29; Winn, “Son of God,” 888.

[17]Winn, “Son of God,” 889.

[18]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,26.

[19]C. H. Williams, “‘I Am’ Sayings,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 397.

[20]Ibid.

[21]Stapleton, “Jewish Messianism,” Alpha Kappa,26.

[22]E. J. Schnabel, “Mission,” ed. Joel B. Green, Jeannine K. Brown, and Nicholas Perrin, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Second Edition(Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; IVP, 2013), 605.

[23]Ibid.

“Revelation” (Sample Assignment).

This is a sample of what I have been learning at Johnson University. This assignment was on “Revelation.” This will take you through what I’ve learned about the first five chapters.

A Simple Foundation for a Complicated Structure (1:1–8).

Revelation is notoriously misinterpreted and attested to be difficult to interpret by even the best of NT Scholars. That is why it seems good to investigate the introduction of this book, thoroughly. “The revelation of Jesus Christ,” in v. 1, could mean it was made by, about, or belonging toJesus Christ.[1]Leon Morris says: “In some way, all of these are true,” but that it probably refers to the “revelation” belonging to God.[2]Jesus then made this revelation known by sending his messanger to his slave, John. This John is already so famous for his testimony of the word of God and of Jesus the Christ (v. 2) that he didn’t need to further identify himself as the apostle in v. 1. Morris makes a good point that John sees this book as scripture as it will be read aloud in church, and that the word prophecy should be viewed as referring to the words divine origin and not as prediction.[3]So those who study it, preach it, hear it and keep it in their lives are blessed. Interesting that when one follows the chain of communication, the message comes from the heart of YHWH and is to be manifest in our own hearts. That sounds like something John (the apostle) would say. After explaining the chain of communication of the message, John switches to an epistolary greeting in v. 4. It is God who wishes the entire church “grace and peace,” and the “seven spirits before his throne” as well. This probably refers to the completeness—or perfection—of the Holy Spirit.[4]This is supported because John mentions “the spirit” elsewhere in the book, the title is followed by “Jesus Christ,” who is obviously the third person of the God Head.[5]This is probably seminal doctrine of the Holy Spirit. John then describes Jesus the Christ as the one who suffered faithfully, raised himself from the dead, and now is supreme ruler over all the authorities of the earth. Jesus “loves us, … frees us from our sins, … [and] made us to be a kingdom [of] priests, serving his God and Father (v. 5–6). First John shows us the complete chain of the message (from creator, to receiver/reproducer), and now he shows us the complete chain of transformation that this message produces; not concluding with service, but with worship (v. 5–6). V. 7 is an example of that worship. The first thing declared to John is that “the Lord God” is supreme, almighty (v. 8). This is probably to separate YHWH from other Greco-Roman gods and/or Pantheism. The communication chain of the divine message, and the description of the transformation process it causes in the “saint,” center around—and are permeated with—Jesus being the Christ. The events of his life, death, and resurrection are the message. That is why John said: “He is the Word” (John 1). All of this ends with the worship of Jesus and the declaration that YHWH is all-powerful and more.

 

Christ as Source and Center (1:9–20).

John is the brother of his audience and shares persecution with them in Jesus (v. 9). Notice how john uses the word “in (ἐνἐν)Jesus” and not, “because ofJesus.” He is their brother in the family of God and “shares, with the church, in Jesus” This means that they are unified, and that unity takes place in Christ. Christ envelops us, going in front of, and coming behind (Ps. 139). John was either in a state of worship/prayer, or in a type of trance (v. 10). It is likely that there isn’t a clear line separating the two, and John may not have even known which of the two he was in. Paul didn’t (2 Cor 12:2–3). More detail here would really provide more reassurance for interpreting the rest of the book, but I suppose the main thing to take away is that his heart was with—and prostrated before—God. A loud voice denotes power, and a trumpet, a magisterial announcement (v. 10). Jesus commands John to communicate his revelation to the churches (v. 11). There He is, reaching out again, to the seven churches listed—and to the entire church that these churches represent (v. 11). The first thing John sees are the seven lampstands that represent the seven churches (v. 12; c.f. v. 20). Then among those churches he sees “one like the son of man” (Jesus), who was finely dressed (possibly priestly), with a head resembling that of aged maturity, eyes that betrayed burning energy inside, feet that portrayed firmness and steadfastness, and a voice—though previously described as similar to a trumpet—is now assimilated to Ezekiel’s description of “the God of Israel” (vv. 13–15 c.f. Eze. 43:2).[6]Jesus had “seven stars in his hands—seven angels to the churches under his authority (v. 16 c.f. v. 20). Were the lampstands lit? Were the stars (angels) supposed to light them up? Morris notes the fact that the stars are in Jesus’s right hand, symbolizes favor and protection, and that the double edged sword—rebuke.[7]So, even though Jesus has a stern message to give to the lampstands—to light them up, the message comes fourth with his favor and blessing. Shining with the force of the sun is meant to communicate a omnipotent strength and probably not beauty, though maybe both (v. 16).[8]Morris makes a powerful argument for the symbolism of this vision when noting that Jesus put his right hand on Joh—that he would have killed him if he was holding “seven stars” in it(v. 17).[9]At any rate, John is so amazed that he isn’t just prostrated at Jesus’s feet, but all of the strength is taken out of him because of the vision. Why shouldn’t it have been? YHWH tells Moses he can’t see God and live, and John is confirming that Jesus is God in this same verse. For Jesus is also “the first (alpha) and the last (omega) (v. 17; c.f. v. 8). Jesus says he was dead, but is alive again, and has authority even over death and hades (v. 18). Then Jesus tells John to communicate this vision to the churches, and to communicate the visions that will follow (v. 19). Then Jesus explains the symbols he saw and commands him to write specific letters to each church (v. 20). So, Jesus explains that the stars are messages to the churches, and then begins delineating these “messages” in chapter 2. All in all, it seems that after establishing that Jesus Christ is in God, John wanted to establish that Jesus Christ was God. Finally, the Holy Spirit should, possibly, be seen as the seven spirits before the throne of God, and the seven stars in the right hand of Jesus.

 

Entire Church, Entire Age (2:1–3:22).

After the vision of the message to the churches, John saw a door (entrance) standing open. The first voice that he heard speaking to him like a trumpet invited him up. This voice must be the voice of the angel (1:1), because it is not the second voice that sounded like “many waters” in (1:15). The angel is introducing him into the vision again. The voice invites John to enter heaven and see what must take place “after this” appears twice in the verse. So, after the vision John was invited into heaven to see what must take place after the vision. We know that the seven churches represent the entire church simply from the use of “seven.” It is also important to note how in each—individual—letter to a church, Jesus wanted the churches (plural) to hear. Further, being that the seven individual letters were recorded in a single scroll—instead of seven individual scrolls—also supports that the seven churches represent the entire church. That the cities of these churches were centers for communications, also betrays John’s desire for these seven individual letters, in one scroll, to be copied and sent to the farthest reaches of the church.[10]

“After this” in 4:1 could refer to the speaking of the letters, the transformation that should take place as a result of the letters, or the entire age of the struggles of the letters. We must consider the last chronological points of each of the letters to determine after whatexactly it is that John is soon to be informed in 4:1. The endpoints of the letters are: “permission to eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God” (2:7), “be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. … [You] will not be harmed by a second death” (2:10–11), “to the one who conquers … hidden manna … white stone … new name” (2:17), “hold fast … until I come … in the end” (2:25–26), “walk[ing] with [Jesus] … if [they] conquer … [Jesus] will confess their name before [his] Father]” (3:5–6), “[Jesus] is coming soon … [church kept] from hour of trial… [Jesus] come[s] soon … conquer … ma[de] pillar in temple … never [leaving] … write on them name of [Jesus’s] God … new Jerusalem … comes down out of heaven from [Jesus’s] God” (3:10–12), “place with [Jesus] on [his] throne. Just as [he] conquered and sat down with [his] Father on his throne” (3:21),  It is important to realize that “to the end” in 2:26 is used as a synonym for “until I come”in 2:25. Thus “conquering” is used with respect to “the end” when “Jesus comes”. Verse 21 of chapter 3 says that “[Jesus] conquered.” It must be referring to the way Jesus endured until the end, just as he commands the churches to do. So, he conquered by enduring until the end of his life, and was then raised up. We must then conclude that the letters, and this entire book, are written to the entire church, about conquering our flesh until the end—when Jesus will return—so that we may be with him in what comes after death.

 

After Death (4:1–11).

Therefore, after John recorded Jesus’s message to endure until death, he looked, and the first voice—probably of the angel—told John that he would show John what must take place after death. Morris says that “after this” refers to only John’s present.[11]These things could mean our present and John’s present, the enduring until the end. For most of the church, the things that “must happen after this” will occur after their death, and for the last, these things may occur after their death—or shortly before it—if they are to die at all. This is unclear. Then this vision is about the end itself or what comes after it. At once John was in the Spirit. This is a contrast of being in the flesh, and resembles the way Jesus talked about the inside of the cup being more important than the outside. Whether being in the Spirit is a type of trance or a state of prayerful worship, it seems that the point is that his heart was open to perceive things as God perceives them. John’s heart was open to the truth, as he himself would put it in his Gospel and letters. After this, he could see in heaven. I overlooked the importance of John’s use of throne. This probably wouldn’t have happened if he would have said: “and there was one seated in a great oval office.”[12]The One on the throne looked like the first and last precious stones of the breastplate of the high priest (Exo. 28:17–21).[13]The rainbow around the throne shouldn’t be viewed as something keeping us from God, because the vail was torn, and the spirit was living in the saints. So, it was an incomprehensible beauty that may echo the eternalness of the new covenant, from an older one after the flood (Gen. 9:16).[14]Around this throne were other thrones with great godly beings—who were adorned by God—sitting on them (4:4). Then the heart of God was shared (v. 5a). In front of the throne was the Holy Spirit (v. 5b). In front of the throne is a symbol of God’s holiness and the holy order it creates when through the Holy Spirit (v. 6). This makes sense because clear glass would have been very expensive, if not still legendary at this time.[15]And the sea is seen throughout the Bible and in this book as a place from which comes chaos and evil. “Eye” can connotate spirit, and these four creatures resemble the mightiest of all creation and are covered in eyes.[16]So it could be that the spirit of all of creation was worshiping the Lord day and night. That certainly would fit well with the rest of Scripture (v. 7–8). The worshiping of all of creation causes the twenty-four great beings, also, to worship the Lord and to remember that it was He that gave these beings their adornments (vv. 9–11). So, John has only seen the magisterial setting of the throne room of heaven, which is already bearing it’s first fruits in the saints, but will come to completion after Jesus comes back.

 

God Is Incarnate in Jesus, and Alone is Worthy and Mighty Enough to Make a New Covenant to Change the Story of the Earth (5:1–14).

For the first time John actually mentions the One on the throne, but only to describe what was in his possession (5:1). I agree with Morris that the scroll must refer to the history and destiny of the world.[17]It being in/on[18]YHWH’s right hand seems to indicate God’s sovereignty, that it was in his right hand may allude to his favor towards the scroll, the lamb who took it from Him, or both. Only Christ was able to break the seals and open the scroll (v. 5). Being able to open the scroll and break the seals must symbolize the Lamb’s atoning for all the sins of the saints which was Him fulfilling the law so that he was a “conquer[or]” and had the ability to open it. Why was John so distraught that nobody could open the history and destiny of the world (v. 5)? Maybe it was because the One who has the power to open the scroll has the power to save people from the end they would have met. Jesus has the authority to open this scroll. Morris makes a good point that “the cross is essential;” what makes Jesus worthy.[19]He is the living embodiment of sacrificial love (God is love) who leads the saints through the second exodus. He was the “Lamb” because he sacrificed himself for us, and the “Lion” because he prevailed over death (v. 5–6). Jesus’s position at John’s first sight of Him—in the throne room—seems to be symbolic of its mediating effects for restoring our relationship with YHWH, seated on the throne (v. 6). The Lamb was one with the almighty (“seven horns”) and was one with the Holy Spirit (“seven eyes”) (v. 6). Morris disagrees, arguing that the “seven spirits of God” refers to omniscience.[20]But elsewhere “the seven spirits” are equated with the Holy Spirit (e.g.; 4:5). “Sent out into the earth” seems to connote God’s affection for humanity—and his desire to save it (v. 6; c.f. John 3:16). Once Jesus exercises his authority to open the scroll, and takes it from the hand of YHWH, the entire throne room worships Him (vv. 8–10). Verses 9–10 are explicitly praising Jesus because of the new covenant. This supports my previous observation that having the authority and power to open the scroll must have some correlation with the changing of the destination of the saints through the new covenant. Then John tells us that “myriads of myriads” of angels worshiped the Lamb (vv. 11–12). Then every creature in worshiped Christ and YHWH (v. 13). The “four living creatures” being the ones to say: “Amen” supports my previous observation that they symbolize the spirit/heart of all of creation. It seems that John repeats the four living creatures and elders—worshiping—at the end of the passage to show that this process is ongoing/repetitive.

[1]Leon Morris, Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 20, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 51.

[2]Ibid.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Morris,Revelation:, 54.

[5]Ibid.

[6]Morris,Revelation:, 58–59.

[7]Ibid.

[8]Ibid.

[9]Ibid.

[10]D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, Second Edition. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 712.

[11]Morris,Revelation:, 88.

[12]Ibid.

[13]Ibid.

[14]Ibid.

[15]Morris,Revelation:, 91.

[16]Ibid.

[17]Morris,Revelation:, 96.

[18]Ibid.

[19]Morris,Revelation:, 97.

[20]Ibid.

April Update

April Video Update (CLICK HERE).

This is just a series of bits and pieces of Christian Chile Mission; hoping—over time—you’ll be able to string a better picture of our ministry together.

Compact Update (Key Points):
1. Beginning to help Mike Boyce and the Bible seminary with more trivial tasks so he can concentrate more on teaching.
2. The semester at Johnson ends in two weeks and I’ll have finished my third class with them.
3. We’ve visited a good number of churches and have a good number planned for this week as well. This relationship building time—while I’m finishing up the semester—will help the messages, I share with them in the future, be more impactful.
4. We’re being intentional about forming relationships with members of our home church, and slowly looking for ministry opportunities in the long term—in the midst of everything else.

Here is the link to our friends—and ministry partner’s—newsletter, that was mentioned in the video:
Cornerstone Chilean Mission
https://cornerstonechileanmission.com...
Their updates will help you understand our ministry better as well—since they overlap in some areas.

ENDURANCE

IGLESIA DE CRISTO (CHURCH OF CHRIST) RENACER (REBIRTH)

For the past six or seven weeks I have been working with Pastor Salomón and the church he serves in the community of El Bosque. We did a Bible Study on the research paper I did as my final project in a course from Johnson University last semester (Click here to check out the paper). The good news is that I’ll be able to use it time and time again with as many churches as possible. The church involved in the study learned a lot, and so did I. Here’s a picture of our Bible study group together, and another young family—who also attended—with their 5 month old. 🙂

 

Daniela and I have also been visiting this church on Sunday mornings as well. Here is a picture of Sunday service (now inside because of the colder weather-it’s winter here), and another photo of Daniela and I at their One Year Anniversary Celebration hosted by the neighboring church in La Cisterna.

 

IGLESIA DE CRISTO – LA CISTERNA

At the church we’ve been working at the longest—in La Cisterna— the current rotation only allows me to share at weekly Bible study once a month. I got to preach the whole thing (my paper) from start to finish. Since I knew the subject so well from all the time spent working through it, I was able to preach right from the Bible without any notes. This was a great benefit for me as I am a slow reader. They understood the message, even through my accent and stopped me when they had questions. We went through it all in 45 minutes and it was a great time. Even though there wasn’t time to fit everything in, everyone kept telling me how good it was and that they learned a lot. It was really encouraging and I think it was a good step in building trust with the pastor and the church. Hopefully next time he’ll allow me a couple consecutive  sessions so more details can be shared and the congregation can get more out of the Scripture. But, if not, we’ll keep “jabbin and jivin” with what God gives us. : )

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Here’s a picture of us at the Bible study. I just said, “With your permission, I’m gonna take a selfie to share with churches that are partnering with us in the United States so they can see that I’m not at home eating Cheetos all day.” Haha. Actually, I don’t even know if we have Cheetos here…….. It’s important to work towards uniting the Global Church, and that’s what I’ll be advocating in  taking more photos of people so they understand that they are not just a number or an object to be kept track of, but rather they are important people that you all are actually praying for, and may even come to meet and serve one day.

IGLESIA DE CRISTO – MAIPO

Iglesia de Cristo Maipo isn’t actually officially a church yet. They’re a group that is being led by our friends Mike and Tabi Boyce and a neighboring couple from their community. They have been working with a group of people and are having a meeting in a couple of weeks to see if people are committed to forming an official church body.

IMG_2365

Mike and Jaime (the other elder/pastor of this forming group) had been teaching on baptism and above is a photo of one of two people baptized into Christ last Sunday. Daniela and I have been visiting this congregation a lot as well.

PASTORS MEETINGS

Mike Boyce has been a key member in organizing the monthly pastor’ meetings, which mostly consists of churches from Southern Santiago. We recently reevaluated our goals and are working to build trust and deeper relationships with one another. This is the first step in the long-term goal of uniting our churches and promoting the Gospel.

Salomón has been picking me up on the way to the meetings and he and I have been getting to know each other more and developing a good friendship. Luis (another local pastor) and I were chosen to present the next theme of the meeting—which is “truth”.  Trust in this group seems to be developing at a slower pace—maybe that’s because we only meet once a month—but it is developing nonetheless. Please pray the momentum continues. I’ll try to take a picture of all of us at the next meeting.

YOUTH BIBLE STUDY

The two youth are still attending intermittently. It appears they both have jobs for winter vacation, and I have a hunch they’ll be working again this Sunday night. I plan on writing them a message with Dani to ask them more about their work schedules and if they’ll continue working once the semester starts up again. We may have to switch up the day of the study to better accommodate them. Which is absolutely fine! That’s what we’re here for  🙂

In other news, I got to talk with a young friend about his use of drugs and lovingly explained that God wants more for his life—and his relationship with Jesus—than one obscured by the effects of drugs. He has visited with us twice since then and we’re hoping that our relationship and trust will strengthen through more time.

JOHNSON UNIVERSITY

School starts soon, and I’m only taking one class a semester for now. We’ll see how ministry continues to develop over the next year. I’ve already learned a ton and I’m excited to keep passing the information along in Chile.

VIDEOS

I should finally be able to start preparing a short video—to show a supporting church who exactly Dani and I are and what we’re doing here. Then after that, I’d like to make a video of the PowerPoint of the Bible study on Corinthians IN ENGLISH and put it on facebook so you all can see the kind of material we’re sharing with the churches.

COMING UP

Also on the list is to confirm Daniela and I’s attendance for the upcoming annual pastors’ retreat. Usually, each pastor is given an opportunity to publicly introduce themselves. This year Daniela and I will take time to explain where each of us are from and in what ways we want to work with the church in Chile. There’s a tendency for pastors to be protective of the leadership position and maybe that’s part of the reason God led me here. I’m not the head honcho type, but I like to find a good head honcho and look for ways that I can support them. I like to try to understand what might be difficult or stressful for them and work alongside them to be a pillar for the church.

Thanks for all your support, in whatever way you give it. Please pray for direction with they youth Bible study. Also, that God would bless us with opportunities to strengthen relationships with pastors and their families here in Santiago and also on a national level at the upcoming pastors’ retreat. Please pray that Daniela and I would be allowed time to introduce ourselves, explain the way we feel lead to serve the church, and express our desire to work with the pastors/ministers.

Peace and grace to you in Jesus Christ.

WISE LIKE CHRIST (Research Paper Taught as Bible Study).

INTRODUCTION.

Literary Context and Form.

1 Corinthians 4:1-13 is the final phase of Paul’s first major argument in The First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:10-4:21).[1]The most imperative issue that must be dealt with—before moving on to other topics—is the factionalism in the church and its causes. These main causes are: Corinthians over-valuing this carnal life; idolizing men (Sophists, other rhetoricians, and the like) and their intelligence; treating God’s apostles who share the gospel—as mere Sophists who share incomplete wisdom; trying to be associated with these men and not hoping in the greater glory—that comes from belonging to Christ in the coming resurrection.

The letter begins with the reproof of factionalism and explaining that divisions based on who they belong to is not logical, because Christ is incomparably superior to those they idolize. This argument is developed by showing how the wisdom and way of the Gospel is a paradigm and the utter opposite of the world’s way. Finally, in chapter 3, Paul openly reveals his, possibly offensive, point that the Corinthians misunderstand leadership—the topic causing the division amongst them,—and explains that the previous paradigm is the true foundation that produces growth into the maturity that makes a “trustworthy” leader (4:2).[2]The following passage (4:14-21) shows that Paul’s recounting of his and Apollos’ suffering and sacrifice—in vv. 11-13a—is a description of the Christian model of leadership that the Corinthians should follow.[3]Nonetheless, the first part of the letter is not just an example of Christian leadership in discouraging factionalism, but also an argument for the Corinthians to value the instructions and proofs in the rest of the letter.

DETAILED ANALYSIS.

Don’t Judge Apostles As You Do Sophists (Vv. 1-5).

Paul’s first goalin the passage is to establish the single criterion by which he may be judged.[4]Verse 1 refers back to his earlier symbolism in 3:5-9[5]in an attempt to show the Corinthians how his apostolic ministry points to Christ as his Master,[6]in light of its battle with them.[7]While v. 2 establishes the apostle is required by the Master to be found trustworthy in that individual’s service. The symbolism here stresses that it is not Paul’s initiative, much less his personal authority,that will be judged but rather his direct submission to the master’s will.[8]

The third verse argues for the Corinthians not to judge. “With me” comes first in the Greek and is contrasting Paul’s views with the Corinthians. The words rendered judgedand judgecome from anakrinō in Greek which has the connotation of vigorous examining, but not pronouncingjudgementas in v. 4.[9]This probably refers to the same kind of examination the Corinthians did when judging sophists.[10]“[A]ny human court” is actually “any human day” in a literal translation, and seems to be introducing “future eschatology”[11]in pointing to the dayGod will Judge us.[12];[13]

Although Paul, Apollos, and the other apostles are servingthe Corinthians, they are God’s servants.[14]Therefore, only God has the right to judge—or “acquit”—his servant, as we see in v. 4. Gordon D. Fee interprets v. 4 as Paul saying that he does not have any “hidden agendas,” but upon review of the text Fee cites, it seems, rather, that Paul is communicating that he does not have any other agenda apart fromsharing the gospel and that there is no higher priority for him.

Context is vital for verse five. By reading this verse in its cultural context we see that Paul is probably prohibiting the Corinthians from judging him as a common rhetor,[15]which exhibits their over-spiritualized eschatology.[16]By reading it in its literary context we see that the “time” Paul refers to is the final judgement that God will make.[17]Paul is obviously not prohibiting the Corinthians from making any judgements, as he exhorts them to think critically and judge other things later in the letter.[18]The darkness here is not a reference to evil or sin, but simply imagery to depict the hidden motive and desires of the heart.[19]In other words Paul is saying—in this verse: “Do not judge me as the supreme master will make the final judgement of all his servants on the last day. On that day, even the inner thoughts of the heart will be known, and I am not afraid.[20]Though maybe you (Corinthians) should be, as we have stopped talking about the less-important outward appearance, and begun to talk about what really matters, the heart.”[21]

Flipping the Paradigm (Vv. 6-7).

Verses 1-5 are the climax of the premises in chapter three, via the culmination of key ideas such as servantimagery and awaiting the final judgement.[22]Contrary to Witherington’s hypothesis that v. 6 should be included with the argument in vv. 1-5,[23]It appears fairly certain that v. 6 explains that Paul is applying these previously demonstrated concepts to himself and Apollos, as a transition to the following passage.[24]

Before continuing, it is prudent to observe some background information about Apollos. He was a well versedand eloquent manfrom Alexandria(Acts 18:24)[25]—educational center of the eastern roman empire.[26]The Greek in the preceding verse indicates Apollos was a “sophist.”[27]1 Cor. 1-4 demonstrates that the principal difference between Paul and Apollos was the manner in which they proclaimed the gospel.[28]Apollos did so with the beautiful words of a sophist, and Paul—while in person—with unimpressive bodily presence and contemptible speech (2 Cor. 10:10).[29]

What is written—in v. 6—most likely refers to OT Scripture. While the Greek appears to translate unclearly, Morris argues: “Paul is saying something like ‘that you may learn in us the “not beyond what is written.”’”[30]Fee sees that Paul’s use of the “[t]he neuter article to… reflects a standard usage: to introduce quoted material.”[31]Barrett goes a step further in noting: “Stands written (gegraptai) is a regular formula introducing Old Testament quotations.”[32]Finally, after considering the context (that “Paul is countering factiousness that included rivalry, quarrels, boasting, and other sorts of bad behavior all too common during the empire among students of rival Sophistic rhetoricians”[33]), and noting that the statement is not addressing a teaching rivaling Paul’s—on the level of sophist evaluation—I agree with all four authors cited in this paragraph that it is most probable that this citation is exhorting the Corinthians to judge their teachers according to the standard of the OT and not as Greco-Roman culture would judge rhetoricians.[34]

Diakrinei—in v. 7—may be a play on words from anakrinō (judged) and krinō (judge) in v. 3.[35]Surely Paul was at least aware of their lexical relation. The term diakrinei connotes a feeling superiority[36](cf; Acts 11:12; 15:9[37]).Thus, the first question of the verse is probably better rendered: “if people were to examine you in the same way that you so arrogantly examine others, who would judge anything superior in you?”[38]

Paul almost certainly means grace—from God—and not anything received from Sophists or teachers of the age, when referring to what the Corinthians received in the last two questions of the verse.[39]This verse is probably intended to expose the roots of the variety of the immoral behavior of the Corinthians—that Paul opposesthrough the rest of the letter—by hinting that the root is also the answer to the last question.[40]

Examine Yourselves, Be Humble, Await Eternity (Vv. 8-13).

Before proceeding to the last section of this passage it is important to note that Corinth was known for adoring the prideful Sophistic message of an over-spiritualized soteriology and contemplating the wisdom by which this message was proved (oratory).[41]They judged one person’s oratory against another’s. The strength of the rhetoric of the words of a person demonstrated that persons intelligence. The point of public oratory was not to support any position, but was an arena for mental battles, similar to the Roman Coliseum.[42]Oratorical contests were also held at these physical battles and other similar games.[43]Corinth held its own Isthmian,[44]Caesarian, and Quadrennial Imperial Games[45]where these same mind-battles would have taken place.

The point of these battles and the message of the sophists was atheistic in its praise of one’s self, and mankind in general. Influenced by Hellenistic philosophy,[46]rhetorician’s at Corinth probably strongly denied afterlife.[47]This evidently changed the gospel—in Corinth—by promoting a sense—if not a fully developed false doctrine altogether—that Christians had reached the culmination of their existence in the superior wisdom exhibited by the sophists and that there was no future resurrection (afterlife).[48]Supporting these suppositions is the fact that Paul spends the entirety of chapter fifteen of the letter arguing for the essentiality of belief in resurrection—and afterlife—to the gospel.[49]

It is likely that v. 8 betrays prominent Stoic beliefs in the church at Corinth.[50]The “already”s in this verse reflect the Corinthians false belief that Christ’s eschatological teaching had already been fulfilled in them.[51]The Stoa—with roots in this era and culture—also believed that spirit was material, and rejected ideas of afterlife.[52]

Therefore, it is most probable that Corinthian spirituality also reflected stoic beliefs that the Corinthians “had been transported into a whole new sphere of existence where they are ‘above’ the earthly, and especially ‘fleshly,’ existence of others.”[53]This context helps us see Paul’s attack of the Corinthians “hav[ing] all they want” and “becom[ing] kings” not only as an assault on their pride but also as denying their over-spiritualized perception of life on earth.[54]Paul’s inclusion of “that we might reign with you” shows—as with receive accommodation in v. 5—that Paul, Apollos, and the other apostles are filled kings looking forward to the true resurrection, and that—in contrast—he judges the Corinthian’s pride and over-realized eschatology to be contrary to the truth of the gospel.

Many observe the possibility that Paul’s use of “spectacle”—in v. 9—refers to making a show of criminals—or Roman captives—that were marched to their death.[55]Meanwhile, C. K. Barrett cites secular literature of the age in arguing that spectacle refers to the Stoic idea of making one’s self a spectacle before god.[56]Barrett claims that Paul contrasts Christ’s way of being a spectacle against the Stoic desire to be a spectacle of beauty and strength as being done in humility.[57]The first scenario seems more likely given the phrase: “sentenced to death” in the immediate context. In either case, the point is that mortals—judging carnal things—is only part of the proverbial picture the Corinthians see. However, they are wrong to be consumed with lust of carnal things and not to notice—or care—that the unseen things are also made a spectacle to unseen angels.[58]

In v. 10 Paul metaphorically contrasts his—and the other apostles’—humility and unrealized eschatology with the Corinthians’pride and over-realized eschatology[59]as he begins to unpack the meaning of being a spectacle.[60]All of the adjectives used to describe the church at Corinth are positive—like popular conceptions of rhetoricians, while God’s apostles are characterized—in sharp contrast—as being weak and shameful fools. The Corinthians themselves prove the latter to be false in their idolizing of one apostle over another. So, the only logical conclusion is for them to question the validity of the former. Thus, the humble and dimwitted message of the omniscient Christ’s salvation (1 Cor 1:18–25)—is placed in sharper contrast with the prideful pseudo-wise teaching of traveling rhetoricians.[61]

From v. 10 to 13a Paul abandons sophisticated rhetoric—no irony, no symbolism, no metaphors—to leave the Corinthians with a more tangible taste of his meek and simple-minded sufferings.[62]It is more probable that this recounting of apostolic reality is a general description of the daily life of an apostle than a narration of some specific trial that Paul had faced of which the Corinthians would have been aware.[63]Supporting this is the succeeding immediate context (vv. 14–17) that classifies these verses as a model for the church to follow.[64]

The wealthy of Roman society disdained physical labor in devoting their time to the virtue of the Sophists.[65]It is doubtless that the work of [Paul’s] own hands had borne strife between he and the Corinthians (see 9:4-18)[66]because manual labor was not viewed as fitting for the free, but for slaves[67]and his self-support also broke the social protocol of the rich providing for the visiting rhetor.[68]Therefore, even though Paul is aware that his socially unaccepted manual-labor-filled lifestyle is a point of dissension between himself and the church, he still mentions it—here—as weighty testimony that the gospel is not mere popular rhetoric, sophistic virtue, nor worldly wisdom.

Verse 13b reverts back to symbolism to put the incomprehensibility of Christ’s message into some type of focus. By taking this paradigm to the ends of its logic Paul actually paints a crystal-clear picture of the infinity to which love can be taken. The two words that either mean—or connotate—world in this verse are kosmos(universe; creation) and ta panta (the coming age; literally—all things).[69]Because there is no word in the OT commensurate to kosmos, it is sensible to suppose this idea to be relatively new and still stretching the minds of the most brilliant rhetoricians.[70]The first term is more specific—though referring to the infinite reaches of space—and yet the second invites the Corinthians to try to understand something even more grand. So, a more accurate—loose—translation—dedicated to contextualizing the message in postmodern Western culture—might be: “we are the trash of tangible reality—the refuse of everything within the borders of your imagination—even until this very moment.”

CONCLUSION

Synthesis and Theological Significance

Though the main purpose of the passage is to discourage factionalism in the church, Paul does this by confronting the Corinthians’ lack of faith in the glory to come after the resurrection. The Corinthians are trying to contextualize God’s apostles to their culture as rhetoricians so that they can place themselves under the name of an apostle and participate in the glory that that apostle might receive due to the way he preaches. So, Paul writes that their striving for honor in this age is contrary to striving for honor in the age to come. Nevertheless, Paul continues: “if you want to make us apostles sages to imitate, imitate our sufferings and see that we are not one against the other, but all together for the glory of Christ.”

Practical Application

The Corinthians were prioritizing this current age over the age to come and were idolizing men over God in fighting for the status of pertaing to them or to be recognized as associated with them. This idolizing and self-exhortation creates factionalism. Though this text surely offers more insights into varying aspects of theology, the main points to take away are that we are God’s slaves and the glory we will have in the resurrection will be incomparably greater than anything we could experience from belonging to—or being associated with—the greatest human. Also, the example that the apostles—and ultimately Jesus himself—have laid out for us is of sacrificial service; and this service is to promote the unity and spiritual growth of the church that are threatened by factionalism.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barnett, Paul W. “Tentmaking.” Pages 979-82 in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Barrett, C. K. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. BNTC 7. London: Continuum, 1968.

Blue, Bradley Byron. “Apollos.” Pages 37-9 in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Clarke, Andrew D. “Alexandria.” Pages 23-5 in Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship. Edited by Stanley E. Porter and Craig A. Evans. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Fee, Gordon D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Revised Edition. NICNT 7. Edited by Ned B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, Gordon D. Fee, and Joel B. Green. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014.

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version.Nashville: Nelson, 1989.

Morris, Leon. 1 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary.TNTD 7. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1985.

Painter, John. “World, Cosmology.” Pages 979-82 in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology.Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006.

Williams, Drake. “Corinthians, First Letter to the.” N.P. The Lexham Bible Dictionary.Edited by John D. Barry, David Bomar, Derek R. Brown, Rachel Klippenstein, eds. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016.

Winter, Bruce W. “Rhetoric.” Pages 820-2 in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Witherington, Ben, III. Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. S-RCS 7. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995.

FOOTNOTES

[1]Ben Witherington III, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians,S-RCS 5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995).

[2]The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989; All further references will be from the NRSV unless otherwise noted.

[3]Witherington, Conflict and Community,136.

[4]Fee, Corinthians,175.

[5]Fee, Corinthians,172.

[6]Barrett,First … Corinthians,99.

[7]Fee, Corinthians,172.

[8]Barrett, First … Corinthians,101.

[9]Morris, 1 Corinthians,76; Fee, Corinthians,175.

[10]Witherington, Conflict and Community,137.

[11]Witherington, Conflict and Community,139.

[12]Barrett,First … Corinthians,101.

[13]Morris, 1 Corinthians,76.

[14]Morris, 1 Corinthians,76.

[15]Witherington, Conflict and Community,137.

[16]Fee, Corinthians,178.

[17]Barrett,First … Corinthians,103.

[18]Fee, Corinthians,177.

[19]Morris, 1 Corinthians,77; Barrett,First … Corinthians,103-104; Fee, Corinthians,178.

[20]Fee, Corinthians,178.

[21]Fee, Corinthians,178.

[22]Fee, Corinthians,171; Witherington, Conflict and Community,136.

45 Witherington, Conflict and Community,136.

[24]Morris, 1 Corinthians,75; Fee, Corinthians,171.

[25]C. K. Barrett, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, BNTC 7 (London: Continuum, 1968), 40.

[26]Andrew D. Clarke, “Alexandria.” Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship,ed. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 23.

[27]Blue, “Apollos,”, 38.

[28]Blue, “Apollos,”, 38.

[29]Blue, “Apollos,”, 38.

[30]Morris, 1 Corinthians,78.

[31]Fee, Corinthians,183.

[32]Barrett, First … Corinthians,106.

[33]Witherington, Conflict and Community,141.

[34]Morris, 1 Corinthians,78; Fee, Corinthians,183; Barrett,First … Corinthians,106; Witherington, Conflict and Community,141

[35]Fee, Corinthians,186.

[36]Morris, 1 Corinthians,79.

[37]Barrett,First … Corinthians,107.

[38]Barrett,First … Corinthians,107; Morris, 1 Corinthians,79; Fee, Corinthians,186.

[39]Barrett,First … Corinthians, 108.

[40]Witherington, Conflict and Community,141.

[41]Bruce W. Winter, “Rhetoric,” Dictionary of Paul and His Letters,ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 821.

[42]Winter, “Rhetoric,” 821.

[43]Witherington, Conflict and Community,12.

[44]Leon Morris, 1 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary, TNTC 7 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1985), 75.

[45]Witherington, Conflict and Community,12.

[46]Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians,NICNT 7, ed. Ned B. Stonehouse, et al., eds., Revised Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 4.

[47]Witherington, Conflict and Community,8.

[48]Witherington, Conflict and Community,8.

[49]Fee, Corinthians,4.

[50]Barrett,First … Corinthians, 109; Terence P. Paige, “Philosophy,” 717.

[51]Barrett,First … Corinthians, 109.

[52]Terence P. Paige, “Philosophy,” 717.

[53]Fee, Corinthians,188.

[54]Fee, Corinthians,187.

[55]Witherington, Conflict and Community,143; Morris, 1 Corinthians,80; Fee, Corinthians,190.

[56]Barrett, First … Corinthians,110.

[57]Barrett, First … Corinthians,110.

[58]Fee, Corinthians,191.

[59]Witherington, Conflict and Community,142; Barrett, First … Corinthians,110.

[60]Morris, 1 Corinthians,80.

[61]Schreiner, Paul,115.

[62]Barrett, First … Corinthians,111.

[63]Barrett, First … Corinthians,111.

[64]Fee, Corinthians,194.

[65]Watson, “Social Classes,” 1000.

[66]Fee, Corinthians,195.

[67]Paul W. Barnett, “Tentmaking,” Dictionary of Paul and His Letters,ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 927.

[68]Barnett, “Tentmaking,” 927.

[69]John Painter, “World, Cosmology,” Dictionary of Paul and His Letters,ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 979-80.

[70]Painter, “World,” 979.

The Dawn

Culture Shock

While talking with Mike this morning he mentioned that recent studies say that culture shock actually comes and goes in waves through the entirety of one’s life as opposed to the previous opinion that it came for a time and eventually went away. Over time as you develop some center the waves become less and less strong. A wave recently passed, and still my “center” is becoming more defined and steady.

Detatched

Recently Dani and I have discovered that we need to be in more structured community and will begin looking for a home church to spend at least half our time in.

Abandoned

It would appear that past missionaries came to Chile, planted churches, and left never to be heard from again. It seems some have kept in better contact than others. It would appear that the past missionaries left some pastors in charge with inadequate formation (preparation), because—in Chile—some Restoration Movement Churches teach Calvinism, others speak in tongues, others perform miraculous healings regularly. In some the men sit separately from the women and in others strange legalistic traditions altering many parts of the service have emerged. Some take communion every Sunday. Most don’t. Some believe baptism is essential for salvation. Some don’t. Certain pastors warn us not to work with other pastors for varying reasons, most of which include warnings that a pastor will take advantage of us. Orthodoxy is David in the Chilean Christian Church and factionalism is Galiath.

So, we have begun to reach out to past missionaries to get a better understanding of the history, so that we can serve the Chilean Church better in the present and future, because if you’re going to climb a proverbial rock wall, it is best to ask the person at the top where tricky situations might be and how they maneuvered through them than to try to do it on your own. If you are reading this and you have been a missionary in Chile, please help us serve better by reaching out to us with your experiences. There are always many sides to the same story and we want to learn from you in humility. BUT WE DO NEED YOUR HELP to be better servants to the Iglesia de Cristo in Chile. cornerstonechilemission@gmail.com

Transparency

I have a great conviction that part of the work we do in Chile is to communicate everything well to our community in the United States as well as with locals in our neck of the woods/field. Over this past year we have started from scratch for developing CCM as “Plan A” obviously didn’t work out. The elders of Cornerstone Christian Church and other mentors and ministry contacts have helped us to find ministry opportunities and now god is blessing much trial and error experience with fruit. We’ve gone back to the Bible and talked about what it says—and does not say—about missions, and have created a solid foundation from which we are now able to work more productively.

I have tried to communicate where we are and where we think we’re going as the ministry was (and is) forming. It seems good to me to share obstacles that we have had, have now, and will have in the future… even when we don’t have the answers. Now Daniela and I are married and growing stronger and closer together everyday because of God’s blessing on our life. We are getting very busy with ministry opportunities. We want to share where we are with you consistently so that you have a better idea of the mission you are supporting and praying for, even if we can’t tell you what’s next. Although we are excited about God’s plans for our future.

God Leading???

What does that mean? How do we know where God is leading and what his plans our for our life. My first thought is, “We don’t.” How could mere men know the entirety of God’s plan for us when His ways and thoughts are higher than our own? Well then, how do we follow God’s will for our life? How do we know which direction we should go?

Here’s what Dani and I are doing to follow His lead: We’re making contacts and pursuing ministry partnerships with anyone who seems to be of a genuine and humble heart; and yes, even if we have some minor doctrinal differences (I promise you won’t find two Restoration Movement churches in Chile that are the same). We’ve been getting to know the nation as a whole, the capital of the country where we reside (Santiago), and more specifically the southern half although we have begun to branch out to the north a little more as well. We are also specifically concerned with the community of La Cisterna that is our local community. We’re working with a lot of people in a lot of different ways with our eyes pealed for any ministry opportunity to pray about.

You’ve probably read that an excellent ministry opportunity in Osorno has presented itself. Yes, the time with Edio and Emma was very VERY good and yet we will still continue to pursue the ministry that God has blessed us with in Santiago. No matter what happens, the time spent with Edio and Ema and the churches of Osorno was a blessing. There church and ministry is so active, Edio and Ema and others do an amazing job of pastoring the community and promoting deep relationships not just with Christ, but with one another as well.

So how do we follow God’s leading or plan for our live? By using our minds to think logically, plan ahead, give ourselves time to pray about and evaluate options way ahead of time, and give God time to open and close doors as He wills. Talking it out with people also helps (wise counsel). No big changes coming soon, but we are planning ahead.

The Proposal

Tonight at 8pm before the prayer meeting I have a meeting with the pastor of Iglesia de Cristo on Capitán Thompson in La Cisterna. We have been working with their congregation more and more over the past year, but definitely have some doctrinal differences. Most of the consistent members of the congregation seem to be  aware of this as well, though we never teach on the subject and consciously avoid the topic so as not to hinder ministry or create factionalism. Though when directly asked, we cannot lie. For example: Dani and I don’t completely deny that people speak in tongues today, but we both agree that if people speak in tongues, there must be an interpreter. I have never seen anyone speak in tongues as the Bible seems to describe it (with an interpreter) and am largely skeptical of the practice. However, I haven’t studied the topic enough to say with absolute certainty that it does not occur anywhere in the world today. I have seen one lead member of the church on Capitán Thompson speak in tongues without an interpreter and that certainly seems unbiblical to both Dani and I. And there are other differences as well.

All that to say that there are some discrepencies and trust has been difficult to build. But tonight I am going to ask this pastor to trust me. I am going to make my case for him to trust me to help him feed his flock, because of Daniela and I’s faithfulness over the past year. He and his family work full-time during the day in the street market and I imagine it must be hard for him to do that and lead the church with 5 meetings a week. It doesn’t seem like there’s much time for anything, let alone sermon prep. Just because we have some different beliefs, doesn’t mean that we can’t work together. So tonight I am going to ask this pastor to trust me more to help him with pastoring his flock.

He might tell me know. He’s a tough cookie. But the fact is that Daniela and I have been faithful to his church and the youth group—and he has permitted us to serve more and more—even though we both have known that we have doctrinal differences since the beginning. He is an intelligent man. So tonight I am going to ask him that he let me do Bible study a different way than the congregation is used to. I’m going to ask him that he warn the congregation that it will be different, and I am going to ask him that he participate in the study to encourage the congregation to participate as well. Honestly, I’m not sure how this is going to unfold, but If God blesses this ministry with Capitán Thompson it could blow everyone involved away. Please pray for God’s blessing and my own humility.

Awake

Since a child I have not slept normally due to an illness related to my eye condition called Hypopetuitism which also causes hypothyroidism. I get tired easily and sleep irregularly. In college I would go to sleep at 6 and wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning to study. I’ve never recovered from that cycle and this sleeping pattern has been bothersome to me these first two years on the field. Now I am getting help and the treatment helps me to sleep during the night like normal people and have energy to get through the day. This has been a huge blessing because I’m not constantly wondering how much time I put in to ministry, calculating sleep hours and second guessing my integrity to our home churches. Now Daniela and I are getting more in routine, more in sync and spending less time thinking about the most efficient way to complete trivial tasks and more time on how to bring the gospel to people. We are both very thankful.

Youth Meeting

Last night we had a great youth meeting. The first words that come to mind to describe it are “raw” and “straight up” :). When we first started teaching I taught the academic way because it seemed to be the best, but now We’re doing a more practical study outlined below:

  1. Read the passage.
  2. What questions do you have about it’s meaning or content?
  3. What do you think is the message of the passage?
  4. I share some of my personal first thoughts and questions about the text.
  5. Consult other educated brothers and sister to hear their thoughts on the text (commentaries).
  6. Evaluate what we have learned.
  7. Now what do you think the text means?
  8. How do you think the text applies to us now?
  9. Let’s pray silently and ask God what He wants to tell us about the text (3 minutes).
  10. What did God tell you?

It’s pretty intense, but was GREAT!! Only two youth came, and that might be the way it is for a while, but if we can keep confronting them with God’s love this way, it will undoubtedly produce fruit. Hopefully they will keep coming. They left somber. Not judged. Not condemned. But I saw the remorse in them that every Christian must feel at one point or another. I reminded one youth as he was leaving that God meets them right where they are. I always tell them, “It is not your task or even within your ability to do ANYTHING to go (or get) to God. Just collapse where you are and let Him save you.” We’re hoping that they come because of personal desire and not social pressures, and that they desire God more each day. Daniela and I are very passionate about their individual situations and challenges.

Smarty Pants

You all know I’ve been studying for a masters degree at Johnson, and it seems that people might get a little too big for their bridges when they use big words. I only want to communicate things the best way possible and apologize if I have come off prideful in the past. Sometimes when I’m explaining concepts that are new to me, I only know how to use the “big” words with which they were explained to me. But we all keep getting better by His grace. Thank you for your patience.

Pride

Why is this post entitled “The Dawn”? Because the past two years have been the night. It has been difficult, dark, and lonely at times, but by His grace we grew through the trial. We started over from scratch and the elders of CCC and others had to be patient with me. Steve Trinkle helped me walk outside and meet people when I was sitting in the apartment, just praying for something to do for God, and ashamed of the lack of ministry that was happening. Steve and others helped me hone in on a specific kind of ministry I’ve always had passion for and gave me tips on how to try things out without damaging relationships after the trial period so that possibilities for future partnership would remain open. None of the ministries we’re doing now were part of the schedule a year ago, and now God is providing opportunities to do ministry specific to the passion God has given me.

But now we have a foundation. Now we have grown in strategy and defining goals. Now we understand the needs of Chileans better and understand that Chileans will always understand that need better than foreigners. Now I’m more confident and capable of teaching by speaking better Spanish and having a solid foundation for accessing modern shcolarship so as not to be led astray. Daniela and I are stronger.

So, this is the dawn. The night has passed for now and Daniela and I are so encouraged by the way God has been blessing our marriage and ministry. The problem is that just when everything is going great, Satan wants to give you a pat on the back and say, “You did it”. Daniela and I haven’t done anything. God is the one who has provided all of the ministry opportunities and mentorship that have helped us get here. So please pray that I won’t become prideful and forget how to rely on our Father.

Daniela

Daniela works 50 hours a week… well actually I don’t know how many hours a week she works. lol. I know I kiss her good bye before the son comes up and she doesn’t get back until it’s down again. So, with a work week like that, how is she supposed to be doing ministry activities all weekend and there not be a missing gringo in Santiago? I’m learning that part of my work is to make sure that we have food in the house so we don’t have to waist time we could be doing ministry activities together, going grocery shopping and running errands. It’s actually even more practical because I just hit the store on the way home from a meeting or activity or something that I’m out doing and that way we don’t take extra trips and we get more out of our time. Please don’t misunderstand me. Daniela does a ton, but I realize that if I take responsibility for more at home we can do more together in the community. That is part of us getting into a better routine and more efficient as a team.

As always, thank you for your partnership. You bless us.

Todd and Daniela

Learning in Osorno

Restoration Movement History in Chile

Edio Carcamo is a seasoned Chilean pastor from Osorno. I believe he was converted by missionaries in the mid 1900’s and he tells me he has learned a great deal from them since his youth. He attended a four-year (I believe) Bible institute in Texas and pastored a church while studying. Since his return to Chile Edio has been living in his home town of Osorno and in full-time ministry. Edio’s connections with the United States and experiences with US culture enable him and his wife Ema to understand my way of thinking better, as I am obviously a Gringo. This enables us to talk about topics that might be culturally sensitive in a way that places what is important to God over our own pre-formed cultural ideals.

For instance, many US churches see plurality of leadership as a set committee of elders, while the term “elder” (anciano)in Chile is often no more than an age indicator, and its more abstract significance as someone of greater spiritual maturity appointed for leading the church is viewed as foreign. Most Chilean churches don’t have elders and the idea of plurality of leadership—as US Americans understand it—seems to be viewed as causing factionalism and hindering the growth of the church.

While conversing with Edio, I noted how the Iglesias de Cristodescribe their pastoral retreats as for “pastors,” “elders” (sometimes), “leaders,” and those “encharged” of the church, and we began to talk about how these terms may—or may not—refer to the same group of people. Let me interrupt the train of thought here to note briefly that the issue of plurality in Churches—and similar culuturally-sensitive topics—is not only Edio and Ema’s concern, nor is it solely my own and Dani’s, but it is the responsibility of the international church. However, I know we all would be honored if God were to use us to reach orthodoxy on a global level—even if we were only a small part of taking one of the first steps in the process.

Community

In general, the Bible seems to promote community and the Idea that God has been in constant relationship (interaction) with Himself as the Trinity since the beginning. We know that “iron sharpens Iron,” “two heads are better than one,” and that the church is for encouraging one another in our walk with the Lord. We know from watching instant replays of the big game that every angle captured adds to the greater understanding of the reality that occurred. In the same way, the church exhorts itself when members share their personal experiences (angles) of God to contribute to the greater—and more orthodox—understanding of Him.

Nonetheless, these experiences must conform to biblical teaching and the orthodoxy of 2000 years of tradition. During my conversations with Edio, Ema, and others I began to understand something a little bit better. I began to perceive more clearly how the Chilean church has something to offer the world too. They have insight into God’s grace as the fruit of the seeds sown by missionaries and native Christians over the past 75 years or so. Yes, I do believe that there are more educational opportunities in the United States—ESPECIALLY biblically speaking. That’s why I desperately want Daniela and I’s children to speak English; so they will have access to greater learning opportunities. However, having said that, academic education is only a pawn to serving the greater goal of maturing in Christ and is not always necessary to achieve this main Goal. Though it is very helpful. Nonetheless, Chileans do have something to say—something to contribute—to the global church.

As such, Daniela and I are trying to converge our privileged access to the vaster theological information and church tradition available in English with our combined (albeit still growing on my part) solid understanding of Chilean culture to equipp us to break down more cultural barriers. We hope to break through these cultural barriers by providing other Chileans with a greater opportunity for participation in the greater—global—body of Christ by providing sound biblical teaching from sermon type to academic, while being sure to focus on the heart of the message of the Bible. That means cross-cultural accountability and working with professionals on both shores to promote generally accepted principals that can be applied to any child of God no matter where they are. Maybe one of Daniela and I’s children will even continue the work one day.

Other Thoughts on International Community

Short-term mission trips are coming to be understood as less and less effective in recent study, but in what sense? It seems that US American Christianity—amidst many other disciplines—is becoming privy to the world-wide sentiment that we haven’t been seen as sharing well with other nations, and now we have begun to rethink our role as the US Church. The idea of planting the seed of the gospel on unsown soil as missions as is being done in other areas of the world—such as the 1040 window—is now incompatible with the Chilean context.

This seed that is still being sown in other parts of the world has already been planted in Chile. But what about watering the seed? This might be described as pastoral care, discipleship, or spiritual formation. Can we put fertilizer on the seed? This might have the form of introducing more academic theological and biblical studies to our brothers and sisters. What about the dead leaves that fall of one plant in the forest and become fertilizer for another? THIS IS PROBABLY YOUR ROLE! These “dead leaves” are our personal experiences of Jesus Christ that fall from our lips to fertilize (produce growth in) the heart of a fellow brother or sister. This might be bilingual church members sharing with one another in person during short term mission trips (Or sharing trips? Or community trips?) and staying in contact through the internet. These trips would still be primarily for producing growth in the church even if the general connotation of “mission” has changed a bit. Interpreters may also be used. The idea of short-term missions might be over as the church has previously understood it, but that does not mean that we cannot have multi-cultural sharing and sharpening relationships with one another in a different context. Even if the community of the international church is more distant and/or more shallow than that which we have with our home churches, the benefits of sharing the experiences are still worthwhile, especially when thinking of long-term global development.

Another thing that comes to mind is sending  young persons to the US to participate in my own—or another church’s—ministry/pastoral internship program where they can get more diverse understanding of ministry to better adhere to the way God prescribes it through the Bible.

Chilean Family and the Church

In the US—and other wealthier countries I suppose—once a child comes of age, they are free to do whatever they want. This is not at all different from the Chilean situation. However, thereisa difference in the child’s ability to be self-sustaining. Chilean—and most of the rest of the world’s family’s—are more dependent on each other to survive. I’ve known this bit for a long time—and maybe the information is not new to you either—but, what I am newly realizing is that different characteristics of society make it easier for US Americans to flee the nest than in most other countries. For instance, houses and apartments in Chile are built with morethan two generations in mind or more than one family in mind, Debt is harder to acquire, and obviously jobs pay less.

What this means for the church is that the “my house, my rules” mentality—at the least—pressures adult children—and the children’s children—to attend church. In some cases they are outright threatened with eviction if they don’t attend. We know that God doesn’t force us to worship him, but wants us to choose him willingly, so when should Chilean parents stop mandating their children to attend church? At the “age of accountability” (when God sees them as an adult)? At 18 (when the Chilean government sees them as an adult)? Somewhere in the middle? Afterwards? MAYBE A GREATER QUESTION TO ASK IS: Is the forced attendance (NOT participation) of the adults encouraging the church or harming it? It seems that a foreigner—newly introduced to these cultural circumstances—should probably listen more than comment on the subject… especially one who has not even had a child yet. So, I’ll just leave this one for all you more experienced ones to chew on for a bit.

A Great Option in Theory

Edio, Ema and I had a great time praying and talking about these and a slew of other culturally sensitive topics that are best considered with the grace and understanding of Christ. My mind was stretched and my understanding grew notably. And so, it appears that one logical option for long-term service in Chile would be for Daniela and I to work with Edio and Ema in Osorno, and to learn what practices and spiritual disciplines have kept the Iglesia de Cristo of Osorno thriving in God’s grace over the years. If it were God’s will that Daniela and I would work with Edio and Ema in Osorno, we would be a great team and possibly even a contribution to the development of missions—in general—over the long-term. But, the bigger blessing would be the huge boost of acceptance by church members of the Iglesia de Cristo—in the region—from working with Edio as the nationally renoun pastor that he is. Finally, nobody likes to make mistakes—especially when people’s eternity is hanging in the balance—so the idea of learning from an educated native—and listening to him recounting his own culturally-relevant human error to help me avoid making the same mistakes—placed alongside the great mentorships that have already been blessing our ministry—seems to be a strong recipe for success.

Moving in Santiago

But, we feel convicted and encouraged to continue our work in Santiago—for the time being at least. There are some activities that haven’t born as much fruit as we would like, but I’m really growing in being able to gauge an audience—whether it be old or young—to present them with that aspect or prospective of the gospel that will help them most where they are. I refer to ONE aspect because, who could capture the entirety of the gospel in a sermon or day or year, when it takes us more than a lifetime to fully mature in it? What IS good to know is that, Edio and the Iglesia de Cristoin Osorno has offered us a ministry partnership, and we are and will be praying about it in the inmediate future.  Please be praying for God’s direction with us over the next while. More to come on the previously mentioned Bible studies soon.

Right Now

Right now—just to give you an idea of the ins and outs of daily routine, I’m processing the recently-learned information from Osorno and writing to you about it, planning the youth meeting for this weekend, scheduling meetings with ministry mentors to talk about ideas discussed with Edio, trying to fix the internet, and continuing through a book that attempts to capture the great spectrum of ideas that should be considered in extracting theological meaning out of the biblical text (exegesis).

Later I’ll go pay a couple of bills. Then stop by the store on the way home to make room for ministry activities during the weekend so Dani and I can attend and serve together instead of shopping. I just try to do as many things in a loop—or outing—as possible so that we are the most productive with our time. Daniela is at work. She has a big event this week to bake a lot for and her and Tabi Boyce are prayerfully considering a ministry opportunity that we will be exploring in greater detail as family units (the Boyce’s and the Kepschull-Vera’s). This weekend there is a multi-church conference held in the north of Santiago to promote inter-church community and orthodoxy. It is organized by the pastor’s meeting I have been attending. As always, there will be more to share soon.

Lastly

Daniela and I were talking last night about how much we love that—at least in our personal relationship—it doesn’t matter that she is Chilean and that I am a US American. It’s not that we ignore it or try to avoid the difference, it’s simply that God’s maturing love in us helps us see past it or through it to what is behind it or at the center of it (the created person). We talked about how cool it would be if that understanding wouldn’t stay confined within the walls of our marriage but, was a model for us to look at others the same way and for other believers to have that higher quality in their own intercultural/international relationships with one another. It seems that Christianity must keep up with the times in forming these uniting relationships that strengthen the global Christian Church though the idea may seem strange—or even unpractical—in the present.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this longer letter and consider the happenings in this neck of the woods. We are very grateful for your support in every way you give it. God bless you all.

Steam

Youth Meetings of Capitán Thompson: Three out of four young people associated—but not attending—Iglesia de Cristo Capitán Thompson (local church) have been attending the youth Bible studies. When numbers are small God has blessed us with the opportunity to engage more guarded parts—of the youth’s life—with the gospel. Though only two siblings came, last night was a success. It was a balanced time of looking at socio-historic factors behind the text—to provide them with the tools and knowledge they need to logically refute claims attacking belief in the Bible’s infallibility, and discussion time that allowed everyone to participate in “iron-sharpens-iron” conversations where we share our  own understanding of the theological significance of the passage and then compare it with commentators. The latter has been the most fun to do, because after giving the youth contextual (whether it be cultural, geographic, or whatever relevant) information, we get to watch them use that information and work out the theological significance of the texts on their own.

Pastors & Churches: I’ve been privileged to attend monthly pastors meetings—for pastors from the metropolitan region—and to get to know them and learn about their struggles, frustrations, and blessings in ministry. Last week we had a great talk about what exactly a pastor is, and the different titles are that Paul gives to this group of people (pastor, elder, and bishop) in Acts 20:17-28. Unfortunately tangents are frequent and last week—though not typically—we digressed into experiential recountings of supernatural occurrences that were counter productive to the goal of the community exhorting itself in orthodox theology through studying scripture—which is more beneficial to the church we serve. The good news is key persons who will keep the group focused on the more beneficial study of scripture should be able to rejoin our group next meeting. The better news is that—irregardless—everytime we meet, we get closer and form stronger unity. Daniela and I are also visiting the churches that the pastors attending the meetings—and others—serve, which provides a more firm foundation for future opportunities to share the gospel with their congregations and whatever other things God has planned.

Johnson University: Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the NT background course. I feel that it is my responsibility to inform you of this as I would like to use some of the money contributed to CCM to retake this course in the fall. I gave it my all, but couldn’t get it done. The good news is that the syllibus probably won’t change much and I am already over half-way finished with the course work. I did, however, earn an (A-) in the NT Research Methods course. And have already translated the final research paper into Spanish. The next step is to get some help editing it to affirm I have a good grip on  relevant vocabulary before beginning to teach it in two churches or so. Right now I’m reading a book of essays from renown scholars who provide direction in bridging the gap from imperial historical analyses and methods of forming theological significance based on these analyses, then a book on the world of the new testament, and one on a Pauline theology. Hopefully I’ll have written a technical paper about how scholars arrive at various dates in Pauls life (for the NT background course) and translated it—and transformed it—into a study on the chronology of Paul’s life to present at one of the monthly pastors meetings by mid (Chilean) Winter and be moving on to the next school project and thinking of the most beneficial way to share the info with Chile.

Strength in Numbers: May the fourth through the seventh Edio Carcamo (experienced and respected Chilean pastor) and I plan to meet and talk about church history, daily pastoral situations of average Chilean pastors, Iglesias de Cristo in the southern region, and what kinds of missionary partnership activities he thinks would be most helpful to the Iglesia de Cristo in Chile. Daniela, Steve Trinkle (associate pastor of Cornerstone Christian Church in Florida), Mike Boyce (good friend, fellow missionary, and on-the-field mentor), and another missionary partner and I are also—separately—in consistent conversation over things like a ministers duty to serve the congregation more than 40 hours a week (that’s what the rest of the church works too), the spectrum of mysticism and intellectualism, how to manage delicate situations, next steps for ministry and other practical advice and clarification of situations and occurrences on the field.. The elders of Cornerstone Christian Church and I also just had a meeting where we could talk about some of these things in more detail.

This post is called “Steam” because CCM has picked up steam. Everyday seems to get shorter and we are challenged to grow in our faith that God is sovereign (to know that tasks and goals cannot be completed on our own strength, but only by trusting in the Master’s strength and love for us to act for our good and his glory). Lastly, Daniela and Tabi Boyce (Mike Boyce’s wife) have been developing a ministry plan for six years or so, and are considering how to take final steps in putting that plan into action. More on that to come as things develop. But for now please be praying for the contribution that they are desiring and preparing to make for the True Kingdom in helping to bring the message of the gospel into Chilean lives.

As always, thanks for your support in every way you give it. You all bring so much more than finances to the table. Though we are thankful for that too, we are also thankful for the time and energy you sacrifice to pray—individually or as part of a mission meeting—as well. God bless you all.

Goals

Capitán Thompson Youth Meetings started up again last Sunday. We’re trying the meetings out in our apartment, now that Dani and I are married, hoping for a closer environment that provides more opportunities for relationship growth. Last Sunday went really well and am excited about using new study techniques learned from Johnson University to share more insightful information about the gospel with the young people. We’re including footnotes in the study guides and encouraging them not to believe everything they hear.

Last week we provided a general outline for the Gospel according to Luke to provide a context for where we left off last year and revisited a key passage that sets the stage for Jesus’s ministry as Luke tells it (Luke 4:14-30). This week we’ll be picking up where we left off, in Luke 5:12 We’ll be studying the passage where Jesus heals the leppor and the following one where Jesus heals a paralytic—lowered through the roof—on a sabbath, and discussing why some commentators place these two passages in different categories of Jesus’s ministry and why others place them together. After studying the passages in depth we’ll ask our younger friends what categories they would place these passages in and why.

Chileans Want to Study: Although Chileans have a desire to study the message of scripture more deeply, accessible resources are NOT plentiful. So in addition to using two academic commentaries on Luke—for the youth meetings—we’ll begin evaluating one online commentary—IN SPANISH—per week. The value of this is two-fold: First it teaches our young people how to think critically about—and evaluate— the insights of theologians. And second, it is helping us to see what kind of free resources are available for Chileans and all of Spanish-America. So far I have not found a lot of good resources. But that’s why we’re going to try one per week to see for ourselves what is good, cited, material—on one end of the spectrum, and what is opinion and conjecture—on the other end.

Wise Council: Meeting with Mike has been a great resource to think through new—and uncharted—ministry waters. Most recently, he encouraged me to have lessons (for the youth) or other teachings (whoever they may be for) done in advance to minimize the risk of parroting new theological concepts without having time to process them. This seems like a great idea to me, and so I’m working on getting the youth Bible study advanced by a week. The idea is that as preachers/teachers we get emotionally attached to our own findings, and so with time to cool down, process, and come back to the material later, we may see things that are unrelevant to the teaching, or things that could be explained better. Very exciting! 🙂 I’m still meeting with other experienced mentors in the field as well.

Johnson University: Plugging away on the last research paper for one course, though it has had to take a backseat the past few days in attempting to get the Bible studies advanced. But it’s going great. I thought this passage—1 Cor. 4:1-13—had to do with being a missionary—that’s why I picked it—but what I’m learning about it’s general application to everyone in ministry is very encouraging. It will be very nice to share it with you all and—hopefully—to turn it into a Bible study for different churches.

Church: Since the Jesús es el Camino Church disbanded Dani and I have been visiting other churches. This weekend we plan to visit a pastor who would like me to show him how to use Logos Bible Software better. We’re planning on spending every other Sunday with the church on Capitán Thompson to encourage the youth.

Osorno: I’m working towards the goal of being able to visit Osorno within the next two months. The plan is to get to know this region of Chile to understand the Chilean context better, and to understand the Iglesias de Cristo on better, on a national level. The pastor I’d like to spend time with is one of the few in Chile who has a degree from a Bible college, and will be able to provide deeper insights into the life of the average Chilean pastor, and explain what would really help them, which may be very different from what I might think would help them. We’ll be working on good questions to ask that will promote the best possible understanding of the daily circumstances of the Chilean pastor. It is NOT probable that I will be putting this information to practical use within the next two years or so, BUT it helps us to take steps in the right direction from the “get-go” so we run less risk of wasting energy and having to change direction in the future.

Goals in Order:

  1. Get youth Bible study advanced by one week and maintain that time to process and come back to the lesson a day or two before for revision that will allow for more sound teaching.
  2. Finish final assignment for research methods corse at Johnson (paper on 1 Cor. 4:1-13).
  3. Finish Into to New Testament Course (40-50% complete).
    1. Write a research paper on the life of Paul, translate it, and share my findings at a monthly pastors meetings.
  4. Begin translating research paper—on 1 Cor. 4:1-13—and work it into a Bible study that will take place over several weeks.
  5. Visit Osorno and ask good questions that will improve understanding of the struggles of Chilean pastors.
  6. Possibly register for Intro to OT for US Summer.
  7. Evaluate ministry to consider beginning to work with the blind and visually impaired.

It’s a lot going on right now, but we’ll just take a day at a time and give it 100%! 🙂

Thanks for all your love and support.

Ps. Back: There are three disks in my back that are sticking out and braking apart. When they are inflamed, they rub against the sciatic nerve and cause varying degrees of pain. I thought the possible surgery consisted of pushing the broken disks back inside to provide some cushion so they wouldn’t hit the nerve. But, the doctor said that they just cut the bad part off, and since there are three bad ones, it’s probable that if they operate on one, a different disc will then begin the same problem.

So, basically, it’s a chronic back issue that I’ll just learn how to manage better over time. Now I know that laying down in the grass for a long period of time is NOT a good idea. lol. The past few days it has been great, but at this precise moment it hurts more. Surgery doesn’t seem to be in the immediate future though. He told me to take an anti-inflammatory every day and hold out as long as possible because it’s better to wait until I’m older for the surgery.