When Are You Free?

If you ask most anyone if they want to be “free” they might say, “Sure, who wouldn’t?” If you ask them what it means to be free, they would most likely say something to the effect of being unrestrained in being able to do what they want to do. That idea runs into difficulty when filtered through the Bible, which in turn raises some interesting questions regarding the presuppositions and predispositions of that view. There are a number of key verses/passages in the Bible that address what it means to be free, and how it is attained. We will focus on two, in close proximity, in the gospel of John. Those are: John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” John 8:36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” Let’s follow the time tested method of moving from information, to implication, then to application. In John 8:32, Jesus is making a direct, and very clear, connection. Truth makes you free. Said another way, you cannot disconnect being free from Truth. Both the Bible itself – “The sum of Your word is truth,” (Psalm 119:160) – and Jesus in the bible – “I am the way, and the truth, and the life ..” (John 14:6), declare themselves to be truth. Now we have an implication. When Jesus declares Himself to be truth in John 14:6, in very simple terms it means you cannot be “free” apart from Jesus, as the Apostle Paul notes in Romans 6:15-22. Let us now consider John 8:36, “So if the Son makes you...
The Significance of Sequence

The Significance of Sequence

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SEQUENCE One of the consistent themes of God through the whole of the Bible is “order”. That is “order” as in the noun used to note a specific sequence. That is clearly seen in Old Testament by noting “first” things. There are first born, first fruits, first day, first offspring, etc. The use of “first” carries into the New Testament as well with well known verses such as Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you”. (NASB) Even a basic reading of the bible should confirm the idea that God is rather particular about the “order” in which His commands are observed. His instructions to the Israelites in regard to the sacrifices, and the specific order required when the movement of the cloud during the Exodus dictated the movement of the tabernacle (Numbers Chap. 2-4), are two OT examples. Let us consider a few often cited passages where the “order” is noteworthy: Romans 12:1-2 notes a sequence in the commands that one is to l)”present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice..” 2) “…not be conformed to this world..” 3) “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Luke 9:23 (also Matt. 10:38 and Mark 8:34) records Christ telling anyone who would be His follower to l) “deny himself’ 2) “take up his cross (daily)” 3) “follow me”. James 4:7-8 1) “Submit therefore to God” 2) “Resist the devil and he will flee from you 3) “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” I find these mentioned interesting for the following...
Understanding

Understanding

   In this final part of looking at the correlations and contrasts of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding (as they are mentioned in several instances together in Proverbs), we will consider “understanding”. With respect to the prior discussion on wisdom, it is interesting to note that wisdom and understanding occur together in the same phrase over 25 times in Proverbs in the NAS (New American Standard) translation . Trying to develop a basic definition for understanding can be a challenge. Seemingly, all of the dictionary definitions develop around “comprehension”. A definition I encountered several years ago said “Understanding is the capacity to make experience intelligible by applying concepts and categories”. Although I do not believe it was intended as a biblical definition, it has some valuable applications for thinking biblically. In our discussion on wisdom a suggested definition for wisdom was “Doing things God’s way”. For our discussion I might propose a definition for “understanding” might be “Seeing things God’s way”. One of the noticeable aspects of “understanding” is the variation of its implications and applications in Scripture. The Hebrew word translated most often as “understanding” is the verb [biyn], or one of its derivatives. One Bible dictionary commenting on the OT usage suggests it means ” . to separate, to distinguish. It is perceptive insight with the ability to judge.” It occurs nearly 250 times in the each of the NAS, ESV (English Standard Version), and KJV (King James Version) translations of the OT In the NT their are two words most often translated “understanding”. One is [suniemi], or one of its derivatives — meaning “to gain insight to...
What Knowledge? Part 2 of 2

What Knowledge? Part 2 of 2

What Knowledge? Part 2 of 2 In the prior comments it was noted from Proverbs (Prov. 24:3) that Solomon related knowledge to wisdom and understanding. This session will intend to look more in depth into our understanding of the term wisdom, as we continue to try and identify our thinking in this area. In addition to a closer look at wisdom, there will also be an intent to consider the closing comment on the first session which suggested a fundamental difference in knowing and believing. That is, the former does not necessarily lead to a change in behavior, as does the latter. With that in view, it is hoped a distinction will be developed between acknowledgment/assent or agreement, and obedience. According to The Complete Word Study Dictionary (OT) there are nine Hebrew words that can be used for “wisdom”. Primarily those words suggest technical skill — experience — shrewdness. In the NT version of that same resource there are two Greek words. The primary one is [sophia] — skill in the affairs of life, wise management as shown in forming the best plans and selecting the best means, including the idea of sound judgment. Much like knowledge, there is certainly value in having that type of wisdom. The challenge comes in taking our view of wisdom into the economy of God, especially in meeting the terms He defines as required for a right relationship with Him. As many are aware, a primary theme the apostle Paul addresses in his first letter to the church at Corinth is “the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God” (1 Cor. 3:19)....
What Knowledge? Part 1 of 2

What Knowledge? Part 1 of 2

What Knowledge? Part 1 of 2 There are some interesting thoughts to consider from Proverbs, relative to the more common understandings associated with the term “knowledge”. Beginning in chapter 1, v.7 it says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. It occurred to me that the using one’s knowledge of the Bible, as in playing a game of Bible Trivia, does not tend to develop an association with the fear of the Lord. Continuing on in chapter 1, v. 29, it says “Because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord”. Again, the thought came to mind; who hates knowledge? On the contrary, it is often that we are overly fond of our knowledge. That is why the apostle Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 8:1 that “Knowledge makes arrogant”, or “puffs up” (ESV). Moving ahead to chapter 12, v. 1, it says “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid”. Now that one is a difficult connection for the standard woridview! The author of the book of Hebrews notes in 12:11, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful …”. Even when we continue with the balance of the verse – “yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”(NASB), it is still difficult to say we love discipline, let alone connect it to a love of knowledge. Another valuable lesson we can learn from Proverbs is how Solomon relates knowledge to wisdom and understanding. First, it is significant to note the chronology of the terms....