Not rejoicing at another’s ruin

“If I have rejoiced at the ruin of those who hated me, or exulted when evil overtook them . . . . let thorns grow instead of wheat, and foul weeds instead of barley.” (Job 31:29, 40 from Job 31:29-40)

Having run out of things to say, I turn to my friend, Albert Barnes: “Job here introduces another class of offences, of which he says he was innocent. The subject referred to is the proper treatment of those who injure us. In respect to this, he says that he was entirely conscious of freedom from exultation when calamity came upon a foe, and that he had never even wished him evil in his heart. The word “destruction” [or “ruin”] here, means calamity, disappointment, or affliction of any kind. It had never been pleasant to him to see one who hated him suffer. It is needless to remark how entirely this accords with the New Testament. And it is pleasant to find such a sentiment as this expressed in the early age of the world, and to see how the influence of true religion is at all times the same. The religion of Job led him to act out the beautiful sentiment afterward embodied in the instructions of the Savior, and made binding on all his followers.”

I am intrigued with what Barnes refers to as “another class of offences [sic]”. It is very likely that the past few days the excerpts from Job’s statement have been different classes of offenses as found in Jewish law or some other listing; or different classes of virtues. And it may explain why there seems to be a repetition in Job’s statements; these are different ways one might sin when relating to other people. Or different ways to be in right relationship with one’s fellow believer and the rest of humanity.

Had I know there was a pattern to them, I might have commented differently; or been more patient with the seemingly long list of Job’s cries of innocence. And yet, I am also aware of the fact that all of the book of Job may have been a teaching tool for those learning faith, law, and theology. But I am just as glad to move on to the next set of verses from a different book in the Old Testament. And to see what learnings there are for us, gentle reader. Shalom for your day!

What Does It Mean To Know Jesus/God And Be Saved?

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3: 4-6 )

I get quite discouraged when I read such absolutes – “if you sin you don’t know Jesus!” There just doesn’t seem to be much compassion and grace in such statements. And to me, that is what Christ is all about. Compassion and grace, love and forgiveness that overcomes all obstacles. If it were not so, how can we consider our God all powerful and all loving?

Thank goodness (and God) for Barnes whose interpretations and explanations not only echo my own, but examines the text and the meanings behind it. He says,: “Whosoever abideth in him – The word here employed (μένων menōn) properly means to remain, to continue, to abide. It is used of persons remaining or dwelling in a place, in the sense of abiding there permanently, or lodging there, and this is the common meaning of the word, [in Matthew, Mark and Luke] “et saepe.” In the writings of John, however, it is quite a favorite word to denote the relation which one sustains to another, in the sense of being united to him, or remaining with him in affection and love; being with him in heart and mind and will, as one makes his home in a dwelling. The sense seems to be that we have some sort of relation to him similar to that which we have to our home; that is, some fixed and permanent attachment to him. We live in him; we remain steadfast in our attachment to him, as we do to our own home. For the use of the word in John, in whose writings it so frequently occurs, see [other passages from John]. In the passage before us, as in his writings generally, it refers to one who lives the life of a Christian, as if he were always with Christ, and abode with him. It refers to the Christian considered as adhering steadfastly to the Saviour, and not as following him with transitory feelings, emotions, and raptures. “

But Barnes is not done yet; he examines the contention that any one who sins does not know Jesus/God. He says, “Who can maintain that Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob; that Moses, David, or Job; that Peter, John, or Paul, were absolutely perfect, and were never, after their regeneration, guilty of an act of sin? Certainly they never affirmed it of themselves, nor does the sacred record attribute to them any such perfection.” Barnes goes to say that if one sins always, with out remorse or awareness of the consequences, than this is a person who does not know or does not wish to know God. We sin when overtaken by temptation, not because we have turned away from God. It is an awareness of their sins that draw them closer to God and seek to know God even better so that they might not sin again.

There is hope, gentle reader, for us to be saved, and saved again if need be. God and Christ desire our salvation even more than we do. The Divine will not turn away from us. Rest assured in this gentle reader. Selah!

What Does It Mean To Be Saved? Quoting a good authority

“If you know that [God] is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.” (1 John 2:29 )

Gentle reader, the posting for Nov 5th was the posting were I talked about my surgery. And because I write so far ahead, the evening that I am writing this post for Nov 11th is/was actually the day of my surgery – which by the way went easily and something, and my recovery is going very well thank. But I am tired. And since this is a verse that is challenging to write about in depth, I am using a portion of what Albert Barnes wrote about it.

I discovered the writings of Albert Barnes as I looked at different websites that post scripture passages. The Online Parallel Bible is a remarkable site that has a wide variety of translations, and well as a Greek/English Interlinear translation that connects to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. You can find the commentaries by Albert Barnes there as well as a host of other commentators. But Barnes is my favorite.

Barnes says, “if we are righteous, in the true and proper sense, doing that which is right toward God and toward people, to ourselves, to our families, to our neighbors, to the world at large, to the Saviour who died for us, then we are true Christians; and then, no matter how soon he may appear, or how solemn and overwhelming the scenes that shall close the world, we shall not be ashamed or confounded, for we shall hail him as our Saviour, and rejoice that the time has come that we may go and dwell with him forever.”

If I had the energy, I would have said much the same thing. In fact, I might at some point in the future take inspiration from what he and tackle this passage another time on another occasion. But for now I will borrow his words and gladly give him credit.

May you gentle reader praise God for the righteousness that is our God’s alone and do all and only what is righteous in our God’s eyes. Selah!

Peace, Justice, and Nonresistance – Changing from God’s enemies to God’s friends

“For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:10-11 [Emphasis mine])

Albert Barnes’ style of commentary is to comment on sections or portions of the scripture passage under question. His style of doing this is not unique, but coupled with his insights, I find it very compelling. I have excerpted the portion of his commentary where he is talking about the passage I have highlighted. Read this with me, and I will have some concluding remarks.

“When we were enemies – The work was undertaken while we were enemies. From being enemies we were changed to friends by that work. Thus, it was commenced by God; its foundation was laid while we were still hostile to it; it evinced, therefore, a determined purpose on the part of God to perform it; and he has thus given a pledge that it shall be perfected.

We were reconciled – (Note, Matthew 5:24.) We are brought to an agreement; to a state of friendship and union. We became his friends, laid aside our opposition, and embraced him as our friend and portion. To effect this is the great design of the plan of salvation.

( 2 Corinthians 5:1-20; Colossians 1:21; Ephesians 2:16.) It means that there were obstacles existing on both sides to a reconciliation; and that these have been removed by the death of Christ; and that a union has thus been effected. This has been done in removing the obstacles on the part of God – by maintaining the honor of his Law; showing his hatred of sin; upholding his justice, and maintaining his truth, at the same time that he pardons; (Note, Romans 3:26.) And on the part of man, by removing his unwillingness to be reconciled; by subduing, changing, and sanctifying his heart; by overcoming his hatred of God, and of his Law; and bringing him into submission to the government of God. So that the Christian is in fact reconciled to God; he is his friend; he is pleased with his Law, his character, and his plan of salvation. And all this has been accomplished by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus as an offering in our place.”

While Barnes might have a slightly old-fashioned and unusual perspective on this portion of scripture, I think a lot of what he has to say is very good. For example, I am not sure God would have ever considered us the Lord’s “enemies” but we were outside of the perfection of the Divine. Through Christ’s death we are brought into perfect relationship with God. It is part of God’s magnanimous nature that the Lord would seek to bring sinners to right relationship with the Godself. One would not do that with enemies. But God has said to treat OUR enemies as friends, so perhaps Barnes is not to far off at that. And I like what he says about man/humanity needing to their/our part by accepting this overture from God. If it were a “small” gesture on God’s part, for example accepting burnt offerings, we might not be willing to change ourselves to meet God’s expectations. But God offering up Jesus Christ – in a way, part of the Godself – in order to establish peace between God and humanity is too large a gesture to ignore. Or it should be.

And furthermore, if God has done this great thing for us, we should in turn offer peace to others, in remembrance of God and to keep ourselves within God’s expectations. May you gentle reader honor God’s sacrifice by living in peace with others and living in harmony with God. Selah!

Prayer, just a thought away

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. “ ( 1 Thessalonians 1: 2b-3 [Emphasis mine])

When I was a young Christian, I heard it said one should pray without ceasing. I had to wonder, does that mean a good Christian should always be praying, along with anything else he or she might be doing? If so, it seemed like being a good Christian was a lot harder than I thought.

I wonder if Albert Barnes was given that impression as a child. In his commentary on this passage he says of Paul’s professed diligence in prayer, “This is not to be understood literally, but it is language such as we use respecting anything that interests us much. It is constantly in our mind. Such an interest the apostle had in the churches which he had established.“ And even at this, I think Barnes is overstating the case slightly.

I know from having spiritual directees and clients I counseled, I did not think of them constantly, but many things would bring them to mind, and when that happened I would think of them and pray for them remembering their strengths and their challenges. And it was not just directees and clients that I would pray for. It was also family and friends, and those people’s family and friends, and then whole networks of people. I heard of one prayer warrior who kept a prayer diary, and would simply lift up the diary and say, “all the people listed here Lord, bless them, support them” etc. I admit having done that myself a time or two.

“Praying without ceasing” does not mean always having a prayer as background to all other things. It means as the day goes by allowing any and everything in one’s day lead one to prayer; that there is not one event or person that is not prayed about. The prayer warrior never considers themselves “prayed out”, but is moved to pray whatever the circumstances.

Paul says later in 1 Thessalonians (chapter 5 verse 17) to pray continually. I would imagine he would say as he prays for the Thessalonians and all the other churches that were under his care.

May you seeker pray for those things and people who are under your care, and may you be prayed for with the diligence of Paul. Selah!