They Will Not Be Convinced Even if Someone Rises from the Dead

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

-Jesus telling a parable (Luke 16:27-31)

Wait, hold up Jesus—you’re telling me if a person literally saw a dead man in front of them, it wouldn’t convince them to change their ways? I mean, that seems pretty extreme and it sounds like it would work pretty well.

At least, that’s the way it seems…

But then if you think about it, people explain away the supernatural all the time now a’ days, just as I’m sure they found a way to do in Jesus’ time. Today we call people psychotic for having visions and try to check them into a mental hospital. We see people healed from an infirmity and so we turn to science and express the power of the brain over the body. We watch the Spirit knock people to the ground and send them into convulsions and we call it a seizure. We see people overcome with emotion and attribute it to a charismatic speaker. We see tons of people experience the same thing at the same place we refer to it as shared psychosis.

There are all kinds of variables when it comes to this stuff. Sometimes it’s God, and sometimes it’s people. Sometimes it’s supernatural and sometimes it’s science. But when the supernatural does happen, you’d be surprised how far we can go to try to disprove it.

I once accompanied a professor to Chicago where he taught a group of people about the power of the Holy Spirit and supernatural gifts. This was the first time I had seen a demon manifest. While at this event, a friend of mine on our ministry team told me about one of his own friends who had turned away from God after having seen all of this kind of stuff. He may have even experienced the Holy Spirit do supernatural things to him in more tangible ways than I had at that point, but for whatever reason, he turned away from God (or at least from the belief in God’s supernatural power and presence). Once you’ve been to the places where that man has been, you have to disprove a lot of your own experiences to disprove God.

Heck, I once saw probably a hundred people get slain in the Spirit in a fire tunnel in Alabama. Not only would I have to disprove my experience of watching that happen, but I’d also have to disprove every one of their own experiences!

I have learned how difficult it is to express the supernatural ways of God to many Christians (let alone nonbelievers). I’ve even learned how difficult it is to express the supernatural ways of God to people while I’ve been asleep, dreaming!

For example, when I was still dating my wife I dreamt that she, like Mary, had been made pregnant by the Holy Spirit. You can imagine that I suffered from a lot of emotion in this dream.

“WHO ON EARTH IS GOING TO BELIEVE THAT!?” I asked God as I could feel my entire life falling apart in the dream. I knew no one would ever believe that it was the Spirit that made her pregnant. They would blame me or someone else. Only she and I would know the truth that God had done a miracle. My parents wouldn’t believe me. My friends wouldn’t believe me. I’d no longer be able to go into ministry because people would think I had sinned and that I was a liar.

Again, this was a dream, but for a brief moment I felt the intense pain that Mary and Joseph must have felt. It was an amazing miracle, but no one believed. And furthermore, my life was greatly affected by it.

The reason this subject is really on my mind right now is because of another dream I had this morning. In it, I had commanded a dead man to come back to life and he did. It was an incredible miracle. He sat up slowly in his casket and looked at me. Only one other person saw it happen. He then got up and we left the building to go around town. It seemed at times that people who knew him saw him alive again and didn’t even think twice about it because they how impossible it was.

But despite this being an amazing miracle, I knew that when people noticed the body was gone I would be accused for being an organ harvester or something since I was the last one by the casket. Somehow my life was at stake for having raised the dead through the power of God. I would be imprisoned and science or logic would prove how the man was never actually dead and that the doctors and morticians who claimed him dead were being sued and fired. I knew there were going to be tests done to make sure that this was the same man who had died and not some kind of double. There would be blood tests taken and dental records matched.

This dream got weird real quick and despite how much of a miracle the dead man and I knew the situation to be, it only looked grim for me. I learned very quick that bringing the dead back to life is a lot more disruptive than you might think. Look at what happened to Jesus after he raised Lazarus from the dead:

So from that day on they plotted to take his life. Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. (John 11:53-54)

You know, I’ve prayed many prayers trying to convince God that if He just did something supernaturally crazy, people would come to Christ. I’ve heard plenty of stories in which this has happened so when I pray for it, I hope He’ll respond in power. But to my surprise, Jesus has an interesting reply to my request:

“If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

I’m not saying don’t ask for miracles. I am saying, however, that God has many other ways of making Himself known: Moses, the prophets, and even you.

You are buried with Christ and made alive in His resurrection. You are the dead man who was raised again. You can be a walking miracle to others by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Apollos: Christology

Tonight at Apollos we’ll be addressing what I preached on yesterday for a little bit. That being said, I’ve created a hand out to go home with all of the Apollos students. You too can have it if you’d like. It addresses the whole idea of God being fully man and fully human. It’s got some of deeper research included in it as well as a bunch of points and ideas I used in my message yesterday. You can download the High Quality PDF or the Low Quality PDF. The difference is only a few megs so I suggest the high quality version if you’re internet is anything but dial-up.

Last Christmas Standing

I don’t know if you’ve seen Tim Allen’s new show Last Man Standing at all, but so far it has been pretty funny. This past episode was an especially good one on forgiveness. I never really watch it expecting to think, but this one at least engaged my thoughts and had me cracking up at the same time.

There’s one conversation in particular about mid show that had me laughing out loud and wanting to include it in my next message on forgiveness (and imagine this being said somewhat jokingly incase you can’t catch it in the text):

“Dad, I was sort of thinking, you know you make everyone go to church every week and listen to sermons about forgiveness.”

“So?”

“So… maybe you should just forgive Ryan.”

“(Scoffs) That’s what you take away from church? Forgiveness? Wow. What about the vengeful God? All that Isaiah stuff, huh? Rain toads on people. Rivers into blood, harden the heart of the pharaoh. How come that didn’t sink in? That’s my God.”

“Not mine.”

And so if you wanna crack up and think about forgiveness a little bit, check out the latest episode. You can currently watch it for free on Hulu or buy it on iTunes.

Speaking of Christmas, here’s a little random Christmas gift from my friends and I:

God of the Weather

I was the last to wake up. Perhaps my snoring awoke the rest of them early, I don’t know. Either way, I arose from my bed, tossed on some clothes, and headed down to the hotel lobby to eat honey buns and watch the weather channel like an old man. Good times them weather channels.

Except of course when they tell you there’s a tornado coming and your fearless worship leader had stated the weather prediction to be otherwise.

But we’re all so thrilled to be there, we could care less about the weather. We’re going to The Ramp! You don’t just drive all the way from Michigan to Alabama and then let some rain and a tornado get in the way!

And fortunately, the tornado didn’t get in the way. Granted, it was headed our way, it still left us alone because the power of God is much stronger than the fiercest wind! And that’s not the first time something like that has happened to me. However, the storm headed towards Hamilton, Alabama was a bit more intense.

This one supposedly had winds up to 3 times the amount that Hurricane Katrina had, so you can imagine the insanity! But we worshipped our butts off all morning, not even knowing it was coming and God saw us. The weatherman must have been confused when he announced that “when the storm reached Hamilton, it was met by hostile environment.”

An environment hostile enough to turn away this storm?

Yep.

And people cheered and screamed and shouted as the prophetic call went out to say that we are the hostile environment. We are the storm stoppers. We are capable of fighting even the biggest of storms because we have the power of God on our side. I wonder what Hamilton would have gone through if The Ramp wasn’t around.

While we still got a ton of rain and some stormy skies, Hamilton, Alabama remained perfectly in tact on April 24th. Below is the Weather Channel’s documentation on the day. You’ll see that it while bad weather was coming, it never got as bad as the weather did in surrounding areas.

Finding God in Man Trips

(As always, I suggest you read this on my blog where it looks nice.)

Yes, it’s an odd subject but it’s true. My brother takes man trips all the time. Him and a bunch of friends load up the “Az” (short for Aztec) and take off up north to our grandpa’s cabin for their annual Manfest. There they have some of the oddest adventures you could ever think of…

Don’t believe me? Just watch this video.

Well I had bought a new CD this past Tuesday which rivals my favorite album of all time, “This Binary Universe,” by BT. And it just so happens that this rival CD I just got is BT’s brand new album called “These Hopeful Machines.” It’s two hours of amazing goodness, but I had yet to really sit down and listen to all of it. And as I was showing my friend Eric it, I came up with the idea to take a road trip that night and listen to it straight through.

For whatever reason, he decided to 60% agree with the idea. Soon we had a line up of people who were going to go with myself:

Jake Sinkovitz: He’s a hairy fella with a screamo edge. While he often times spends his time rocking out on the electric guitar, you can also find him chilling in his room playing on his manta ray infected macbook.

Brad Moss: If Brad was a superhero, he would shoot people with guitar rays of light and his catchphrase would be, “All hearts clear?” He would then laugh and begin to jump to the music he was playing, only to accidentally burst through the ceiling like a rocket.

Eric Grzyb: He’s twin #2 and while we are fairly certain his origins are human, one cannot help but speculate otherwise given his drumming abilities. It has been speculated that he may well be related to the drumming race of Pluto. However, speculations have been shot down somewhat since the revelation that Pluto is no longer a planet.

Andy Grzyb: While it may be thought from this picture that twin #1 is a model, alas, he is not. Instead he can be found forcing others to model for his graphic design work and rocking out on whatever instrument strikes his fancy. However, the most important characteristic of Mr. Andrew would have to be his dancing skills. It’s a little known secret, but if you ask him to break it down, you would be surprised.

And so this septuagint (I think I may have just used a theological term to define “a group of 5″…) of men hopped in the car, prayed, and round 10:30ish PM, began to depart for Lake Michigan. But first, they grabbed some Bizzle Kizzle rather than some McDizzle at the passionate request of twin #1.

Several miles later, the septuagint arrived at their destination at the very moment BT’s album came to an end. It was perfect timing. Seriously. We literally parked the car at the exact second the 2 hour album ended. We then hopped out of the car to have a God experience.

There’s something about nature that always confuses the crap out of me. I come to realize how much of a Genius God is. ESPECIALLY when I go to Lake Michigan in the winter time. The waves freeze over and begin to grow and grow as they become more like glaciers. The ice is thick and it seriously looks like Antarctica (not that I’ve ever been there or anything).

Yeah, that’s a pic of me standing on Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes. See the wave to my right?

Moving on, we made our way across some giant icy rocks and onto the frozen lake. We climbed the iced over waves until they finally came to an end. And let me tell you, the view was breathtaking at the top of that final giant wave.

When we reached the top all we could see in front of us for miles was black waters meeting a black sky with random icebergs scattered throughout. It was too dark to take a picture seeing as how it was 1 in the morning, but it kind of looked like this:

Miles and miles of that. It was truly a God moment staring out at such a view with a bunch of dudes. We then returned to our car to sing loudly the tunes of P.O.D. and MuteMath before arriving home about 4:00 in the morn just so classes could start 3ish hours later that we would have to attend (*cough* Jake *cough*). It was great fellowship, great music, and a great God time all around. If you care to relive our badly lit experience, feel free to watch the video below (or click on the thumbnail to watch it on youtube).

Oh yeah, and say something spiritual.

The Christological Debate

One of the widely disputed theological arguments is found in the Christological debate. In this debate there are two main viewpoints. The classical view begs to say that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. He had some of the divine attributes of His Godliness, while at the same time He also had some of the attributes that a human has. In Classical thought, this is what made Jesus fully God and man. The kenotic view on the other hand, says that in order to become fully human, Jesus had to relinquish His divinity. This view still believes that He was fully God, but the difference is that He removed Himself from the areas that made Him God. Personally, I have come to find the kenotic view to be a much truer reading of the text as I see Jesus’ humanity overwhelm His story.

This view of Jesus relinquishing His God-side comes from Philippians 2:7 when it is stated that Jesus “emptied Himself.” Many classical believers argue that there is no proof as to what it is that Jesus is emptying Himself of. One author from The Handbook of Bible Study presents this argument: “It was a lowering, an emptying, to go from living as God lives to living as a slave lives.” It seems that we can’t accept the idea of Jesus becoming fully human because too often we think that focusing on Jesus being more human than divine is a bad thing. But in actuality, it gives more praise to God. A God who is willing to give up His own being in order to get the job done, shows a much stronger view of God than many views do. The Bible Knowledge Commentary points this out quite well in reference to the Gospel of John. “John presented the Incarnation—God manifest in the flesh—as the foundation of the gospel. This is the “glory,” not the “problem,” of the Fourth Gospel.”

I believe that one of the reasons people have a hard time adopting the idea of kenosis is because they do not understand the power of the Holy Spirit. After all, if we say that Jesus was fully man and gave up His divinity, then how exactly did He perform healings among many other things? The answer to this question is that He did these things through the power of the Holy Spirit, which He received in Matthew 3:16 through baptism. It was the divinity of the Spirit that He operated out of instead of His own Godliness as He had set that aside. And yes, I would go so far to say that it was out of His relationship with God and the Holy Spirit that He was able to walk on water and command the weather.

Jesus lived His life in step with God and through the power of the Spirit, as we see throughout the gospels, which goes to prove the kenotic view all the much more. For if Jesus ever exercised His divinity, He would have no reason to even try to connect with God through different forms of spiritual formation. What would be the point in fasting for 40 days (Mt. 4)? Why would Jesus find time to be in solitude with God or pray to God if He could hear His Godly side (Mt. 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; Luke 22:41)?

One of the obvious replies from a classical believer would be that Jesus did so to show us how to live our lives as Christians. However, when I read these passages I do not see a man praying to simply demonstrate something, but praying with a passion that can only be found in true search of God. When He found Himself in the garden of Gethsemane, He did not sweat drops of blood on command (Luke 22:44). No, He was obviously under a lot of pressure and undergoing some intense prayer. And the fact that this intensity lead Him to even ask God to take His cup from Him (Luke 22:43) demonstrates that this prayer was genuine and not simply prayed for the sake of an example. It was a prayer made out of true anguish, demonstrated by the blood He sweat.

However, that is not to say that Jesus’ life was not lived out as an example to believers. Actually “Being both God and man, Jesus simultaneously revealed God’s will for human life and reconciled sinful people to God through his own perfect life and death,” as the Tyndale Bible Dictionary points out. I believe that this is a view that kenotic and classical believers can both agree on, as we all agree that Jesus was both God and man. But it is in my opinion and the kenotic’s that He lived this example out with humanity overwhelming Him rather than out of the divinity He relinquished, making His example all the much more real.

But if this statement is true, then that means we have to deal with one of the biggest objections to the kenotic theory: how did Jesus do so many divine and miraculous things if He was just a human? If we dive deeper, we find our answers. John 14:12 states Jesus as saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works that these he will do…” (NASB). With this verse in mind, we come to see not only that Jesus did supernatural things as an example to believers, but that He did so outside of His own divinity. I say this because the rest of us are obviously not fully God or even partially God, yet we are expected to do greater things. Therefore, we will operate out of the same Spirit in order to do the same things. And if you want to go deeper than that, we could also mention that in the Old Testament, Joshua prayed that the sun would stop moving (Josh. 10:12-14), Elisha brought a dead boy back to life, (2 Kings 4:32-35), and prophets all over the place predicted the future. These can all be related to some of the things Jesus did and these men were completely human.

 

Bibliography

Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). Tyndale Bible dictionary. Tyndale reference

library (632). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.

Karleen, P. S. (1987). The handbook to Bible study : With a guide to the Scofield study

system. New York: Oxford University Press.

Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible

knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:268). Wheaton, IL:

Victor Books.

 

Notes on Genesis 1

Here are some notes I’ve taken on Genesis 1. There are some suggestions I make and some questions I ask. Feel free to disagree or question my thinking and please realize that some thoughts I am just throwing out there—not meaning to make a solid point.

Verse 1

  •       No mention here of God making hell

o      Perhaps hell was not a part of the plan

o      Maybe hell is everything that God’s creation is not

o      Since Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten from the tree, maybe hell wasn’t necessary yet

  •       I wonder how long it took to create the heavens and how far apart that creation was from the creation of the earth

o      Are these “heavens” possibly a reference to the immense amount of space, or is it a reference to God’s kingdom?

Verse 2

  •       It almost seems like there is a day zero in creation. While the Creation Poem tends to talk about what God made everyday, it says here that God moved across the waters in the darkness.

o      Perhaps God made water and darkness on this day, but it’s creation is removed from the style of the rest of this chapter

o      This “day zero” image paints a great picture of how our lives end up looking when we don’t live our lives the way God made us to live them. We get lost in darkness, tossed back and forth by the violent waves. So when we don’t live our lives a way God meant, with every piece of creation, we can end returning to only a piece of creation.

  •       God is mentioned here as being in Spirit form

o      The “of God” seems to say that God possesses a Spirit and that God consists of more than just that one aspect

o      Perhaps this is what we know as the Holy Spirit

Verse 3

  •       God speaks light into existence

o      The sun is made later which makes this passage interesting

o      Perhaps God had programmed light into things like fire on this day

o      We now have the opposites of light and darkness

o      The idea that God made light on the first day is HUGE because it’s a great description of the things that He would later do and it’s a great story to say that God came into the darkness of our world and gave us hope in His light

o      The fact that light was made means that color has now also been created, which is incredibly important in many different areas.

o      God being portrayed as light separates him from the darkness we know

Verse 4

  •       God recognized light as “good”

o      This word is more than an adjective-it’s a moral

  •       In separating light from darkness we see this analogy of God being light becoming even more built

o      God and darkness are separated and cannot mix

o      Darkness cannot overcome the light

Verse 5

  •       God names the light “day”

o      Is this in the sense that I would shine a flashlight on someone and say I was shining day on them?

o      Or is this the actual day time?

  •       One evening, one night, one day

o      We see here that the concept of time has already been created even though the solar system hasn’t yet been created

o      So what marked evening and night on this day?

  •       God also named the “night”

Verse 6

  •       Waters are separated above and below by an expanse in between them

o      This expanse is the sky

o      There is a great theory on the water in the sky actually being a ball of water covering the earth and not just clouds

o      How much water must we have had on the earth before this?

o      Opposites are mentioned on this day

§       Water above

§       Water below

o      God speaks this into existence

Verse 7

  •       This verse reiterates the last one

o      Same idea with different words

o      This verse is the action to God’s speaking

Verse 8

  •       The NASB translates this sky between the water as “heavens”

o      Was the “In the beginning” referring to sky or Heaven?

  •       God names the “heavens”
  •       A second day passes here-although I’m still unsure as to how

Verse 9

  •       The waters gather in one place so land can appear

o      Does this verse support Pangaea?

o      Or did the waters gather in different places and allow land to appear?

  •       “Dry land” is distinct from wet water
  •       God speaks this into existence
  •       Water has been mentioned every day so far

Verse 10

  •       God named the land “earth”
  •       God named the “gathering of waters, seas”

o      Water itself is water, but more specifically the gather is the sea

Verse 11

  •       The word done on this day continues longer than the others
  •       God makes thousands of species of vegetation

o      The first reproduction system on earth is found in plants

o      The plants seeds are everything to them. If they don’t spread it, they won’t survive

o      God made several different ways of reproduction for plants

o      The fact that trees have fruit seems to say that they are offering themselves as food to others

  •       God spoke all of this into existence

Verse 12

  •       This verse is a repetition of the last verse

o      It is the action that comes when God speaks

  •       What God speaks, is “good”

Verse 13

  •       The third day passes

Verse 14

  •       God speaks space into existence

o      Although the stars are incredibly far away and stretch so far, it seems that God went and put them in place just for the sake of the earth

o      It seems here that God has created time

§       But since time has already been passing, perhaps He has just made a way to mark it

§       This day God made a galactic calendar

o      These lights were placed in the midst of the “heavens”

§       This seems to refer to the sky which seems to infer that the water in the sky is much farther than we expected

o      The purpose of these lights is to be “signs for seasons and for days and years”

§       God built beauty into this purpose

Verse 15

  •       The lights gain another purpose

o      “To give light on the earth”

§       How much light do stars alone give to earth?

Verse 16

  •       The creation of the sun and moon are specifically mentioned here

o      The sun governs the day

§       The sun is the bigger light

o      The moon governs the night

§       The moon is the smaller light

§       Now even when it is dark, God’s light will still penetrate the earth

Verse 17

  •       Mention of the sun and moon being in the expanse of the heavens
  •       Purpose: Give light to the earth

Verse 18

  •       More purpose for sun and moon:

o      Govern day and night

o      Separate light from darkness

Verse 19

  •       Day four passes

Verse 20

  •       God continues working on life

o      The first animals are created

§       Those that can fly (birds)

§       And those that can swim (fish)

o      The birds are meant to fly through the expanse of the Heavens, but not so far into the expanse of space

Verse 21

  •       God makes “great sea monsters”

o      Perhaps this is referring to certain kinds of dinosaurs?

o      Or maybe just whales and what not

o      Why does it specifically mention “sea monsters” here?

§       Perhaps in comparison to “every living creature that moves.” Whether big or small, God was the author.

  •       God made the first animal reproduction system and it is unique from others in certain ways as well

Verse 22

  •       Reproduction is seen here as a “blessing”

o      It seems that later in Genesis humanity will view it in the same way

  •       Although meant for flying, birds are also the first earth dwellers

Verse 23

  •       The fifth day passes

Verse 24

  •       God creates animals specifically meant for land

o      Cattle

o      Creeping things

§       Bugs, I imagine

o      Beasts

§       What distinguishes beasts from cattle?

§       Perhaps these are dinosaurs?

  •       God speaks all of this into existence so easily

Verse 25

  •       The reproduction system of land animals is pointed out here

Verse 26

  •       Man stands out from the other land creatures
  •       Man is made in God’s image

o      Perhaps not necessarily a physical image as we often think, but instead a reflection of character. Perhaps we are made to be exactly like God

§       The “according to our likeness,” furthers this statement

  •       God made man in “our” image

o      Perhaps a reference to the Trinity?

§       There has been mention so far to the “Spirit of God” and God

o      Or perhaps speaking from a position of royalty or superiority

  •       Man is meant to rule over the rest of the living creatures

o      Over the sky creatures

o      The water creatures

o      And the land creatures

Verse 27

  •       A repeat of ideas in one sentence which tends to portray great importance:

o      “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them”

§       The idea of the Trinity or “us” is no longer seen in this passage, unless of course that is the point. To show that all three parts are exactly the same in nature to God

o      The rest of this verse also reiterates this statement, but furthers it at the same time

o      The word “created” is used in this passage three times

  •       The distinction between male and female is made here which no other animal was pointed out in such a way

o      Perhaps God wants the reader to know that the male or female, we are still made in God’s image above all else

Verse 28

  •       God mentions reproduction again to be a blessing
  •       Purpose for humanity:

o      Multiply and fill the earth

o      Subdue the earth

o      Rule over fish

o      Rule over birds

o      Rule over every land creature

Verse 29

  •       Originally meant to be vegetarians?

o      Human’s food selection:

§       Plants yielding seed

§       Trees with fruit

Verse 30

  •       Food for beasts, birds, and every land creature:

o      Every green plant

§       Also vegetarians

o      Why are beasts and ever land creatures mentioned separately?

Verse 31

  •       Creation is seen as not just “good,” but as “very good”

o      This is out of sequence with the rest of the poem

  •       The sixth day passes