Happy Birthday Mr. Aurelius (9/9/219-10/275 CE
Roman emperor Aurelian was assassinated at 61 years of age. He ruled Rome during the Crisis years, occupying the throne from 270-275. He is credited for essentially saving Rome from its numerous hungry adversaries that threatened the empire on all sides and is the namesake of Orleans in France, and eventually New Orleans in Louisiana USA.
Alaric Watson, in his book Aurelius in the Third Century writes,
“As an administrator, he had been strict and had handed out severe punishments to corrupt officials or soldiers. A secretary of his (called Eros by Zosimus) had told a lie on a minor issue. In fear of what the emperor might do, he forged a document listing the names of high officials marked by the emperor for execution and showed it to collaborators. The notarius Mucapor and other high-ranking officers of the Praetorian Guard, fearing punishment from the emperor, murdered him.”
[Aurelian and the Third Century, 2004, New York: Psychology Press. p. 113-116.]
Maybe we should just get rid of God too. He is apparently going to punish all liars and sinners of all shades and has made a list which He may be checking twice.
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and another book was opened – the book of life. So the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds.” Revelation 20:11-15
Political figures are run out of office by folks that fear their liberties are being erased despite great benefits restored under their leadership. A few cabinet administrators and some members of the royal guard got rid of Aurelius for fear of loss in their own lives.
“Yeah, Aurelias did some good things but he’s so…errgh(whatever)! If we can just manage to get rid of him, we can have things the way we want.”
From the beginning we have thought that way about God too. If we can get rid of Him, then maybe we can also get out from under the threat of punishment based upon His strict accounting.
Hmm, has this crossed my mind before?
The privileged saint by faith in Lord Jesus, thinks differently and has this to go by…
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” Hebrews 4:14-16
Don’t dismiss Him, embrace your loving God!
Grace today y’all
Inerrancy and the absence of whoops in Jesus’ assessment of the Old Testament.
Matthew 5:17-20 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
1. The Master’s intention (17)
To fulfill it is an impressive goal. I assume He meant both the precepts of the Law and the prophesies. Not only has nobody ever done it, making this claim to the ability to do it audacious, but only one is imagined to be able to and that one is their Messiah. Only one will match the requirements found wrapped up in the intricacies of the sacrifices to outperform the rallied hopes the former system fueled.
We might call Him a superman. If He can pull off fulfilling the Law in its details and slightest directives, then it would be like leaping over the tallest building. The impossibility of anyone other than Him accomplishing the fulfilment of the Law of Moses on this level of perfection led the Lord to say through the pen of the Apostle Paul,
“No flesh shall be justified by the works of the Law (Romans 3:20).”
2. The Master’s impression of the Law (18)
Not one jot or tittle, not one iota is to pass until all is fulfilled indicates He valued it all even to its finer point as the Law of God when it was first given to Moses and now just the same in the first century 1400 years later. Of course, this is His high view of Scripture as it consists in his day. His elevated view is also perceived in His warning to those that might try to diminish the Law and cause their children and students in university to think lightly about it. He regarded the force of the Law to be as potent then as it ever was. It had lost none of its relevance for the modern Jew, or for the world at large in search of the true nature of God and an accurate accounting of Him.
It would probably be helpful to the discussion on the question of inerrancy as it applies to modern translations in circulation today to note that the Old Testament version most likely in use by Jesus’ audience for this message was the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures from around about 200-130 BCE. It is also true that the Hebrew Scriptures themselves had undergone numerous rewrites or copies and errors were made, human errors such as what we now call typos. Copyists had strict rules to go by for their process, but errors are us and they occurred. Yet Jesus used the jot and tittle reference despite this and insisted we get past that issue and regard it - as He apparently did - insignificant to the question of inerrancy.
When it comes down to it, the bigger question to answer is whose word will we take as Gospel on the matter?
3. The Master’s indictment (20)
The Master’s indictment of us who may be judged under the justice of it appropriate anywhere in the world, is seen in His comparison using the Pharisees as His high mark. His representation of the Pharisees as achieving a high level of proficiency in keeping the Law of Moses means He perhaps regarded them as the best there is at it. He might have meant in His day for the sake of example for his contemporary audience, but maybe He means they rank up there with the best of the best ever. Anyway, they were impressive that way. The other inference in His words that is really more than mere inference, is that anyone who thought they needed to be perfect in keeping the Law to make it in the kingdom of God, every Jew’s happy hope, were going to be disappointed. To be more righteous, or using the wording in the text, to “have a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees,” is set the bar so high in the view of the common Jew as to put it out of reach. The Pharisees were not, for all their effort and emphasis upon it perfecting the life-by-Law ticket themselves.
Is He pointing then to something, or someone else we should set our hope upon?
Here’s a clue or two…
"Now, apart from the Law a righteousness from God is disclosed... which is through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ..." Romans 3:21, 22 [NET]
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh for sin…” Romans 8:3
[The flesh literally means our body, but metaphorically our human frailty prone to indulgence; Likeness to sinful flesh but without sin Himself - cf. Hebrews 4:16]
“For God loved the world in such a way as to give His unique son that whoever believes in Him should not die without hope but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16 [paraphrasing mine]
Enjoy your Bible with an absence of whoops
Grace today y'all
“When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.” Proverbs 4:3-6
Solomon offers us a peek into his early childhood relationship with his dad King David of Israel. Solomon was the first surviving son of David with Bathsheba. His choice of words seems to favor his dad’s attempts to pass along to him some good instruction infused with a strong emphasis on gaining wisdom.
Something at first Solomon was apparently keen to do.
As far as the wisdom of Solomon goes, he was gifted a special amount in reward for his humility and lack of material greed. He was renowned for it. His attitude would change though because over the span of 40 years as the power of his position wore down his resistance to temptation his capacity for wise choices slacked.
“He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.” I Kings 11:4-8
His dad had suffered something similar, even though throughout his life he was said to have been in tune with the heart of God. It can happen to all of us and usually does when we finally achieve some sense of power in the little kingdom we rule over.
David had a few, okay several wives prior to Bathsheba and a mistress to warm him in his old age. Not nearly so many as Solomon who seemed to do whatever he did to some extreme. I suppose I am inclined to judge David more harshly than I should. Solomon once quipped, “Two are better than one, because… if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?” Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
The Lord had warned the kings of Israel not to collect wives, even those of the household of other kings for the sake of international relations, because they would turn their heads away from Him. But, as we know so well,
“There is a way that seems right to a person – a king – but the end of it is the way of dying and death,” so “Keep your heart with all diligence because from it springs the water of life.”
Proverbs 14:12; 4:23 [rendition mine]
How we keep our hearts as dads makes a whole lotta difference when it comes down to the available content of good, unsullied things we will have in store to pass on to our children, particularly those passed on by example.
Grace today y’all
When we think of how trustworthy the Bible is to consistently tell us the truth, it concerns us whether-or-not errors can be found that could discredit its reliability. Inerrancy is a term used among students of Scripture that means the Bible has the benefit of the doubt. Some prefer the word infallible, perhaps thinking it to provide more wiggle room. My choice is inerrancy because it respects the exactitude we expect from our Most High God, a challenge He will one day be seen to have mastered. Those that have a high view of Scripture regard the Bible we read to be without error - and not glibly so, or without sufficient warrant.
Paul wrote a final letter to his protégé Timothy for his encouragement. In it he insisted,
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for doctrine (that establishes the footing of Christian assemblies), reproof(of error), correction (of our error) and for instruction in righteousness (what is right for proper living in the eyes of our creator).” II Timothy 3:16 [parenthesis mine]
The Bible Paul read was Israel’s Bible. What he had to work with as an apostle with apostle’s credentials, is concepts he gained from the Old Testament Law and Prophets coupled with what the Spirit of God revealed directly to him, the traditions of the young Jewish assembly, the word of the apostles whom the Lord trained in person, and Luke’s research. In anyone’s estimation, it’s a pretty great accomplishment for Paul to live under such duress and threat to life and yet in all his days leading right up to his beheading retain his high view of the Lord’s word through these different channels. He was executed without recant.
Peter also retained an indominable high view of his Bible. As the first of the Lord’s apostles (sent ones) to be given the reigns of leadership in the Christian movement, Simon Peter was honored the burden of carrying the keys to the Lord ‘s kingdom, to approve the various groups that would respond to their story. In his second letter we find these words written just a short time prior to his crucifixion,
“No Scripture is of private interpretation, but holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” II Peter 1:19, 20
In fact, all the apostles that witnessed the resurrection of Jesus died with their testimonies intact. At least a few of them had the opportunity to read some of what the earliest authors of the Gospels had written and affirm it with their blood.
In the third chapter, Peter in this same letter will go on to rate Paul’s letters to the various assemblies abroad as Scripture in their own right (II Peter 3:15).
This is not to infer the inerrancy question is a small matter to contend with.
So, Luke for one, tells us in his opening introduction to his gospel the pains he took as an author to get all the facts down accurately. He apparently spoke to a number of reliable sources for the events, teaching points and dialogue to provide Theophilus the best possible representation of the Lord’s actions and words. Each of the four Gospel authors did similarly but with their own flair and reason for writing. The honest scholar recognizes this as well as the fact that ancient historians often viewed their work differently than modern and particularly western reporters. It meant more to them to convey a story for its meaning in an order that befitted their purpose or helped their culture saturated readers memorize the essentials.
Another mistake too often made is to assign a mentality of deception for the sake of delusion to the authors. They wrote their testimonies and expositions based upon ethics derived from the Law of Moses. They were forbidden, as we all are, to give false witness. All the stories and accounts in the Old Testament fall under this rule (Romans 2:17-24). Paul’s own rule of thumb that he passed along was “Search the Scriptures and see if what we said fits what they say, and examine all things, prove them and hold fast to what you find to be true.” Acts 17:11; I Thessalonians 5:21 [attribution and paraphrase mine]
Following this line of defense, the fact that we have four Gospel records supports an argument toward inerrancy. The old rule of two or three witnesses fits here. The Lord saw to it we had not just three but four records by four different authors (two of which were eyewitnesses), obviously not in collusion, as assurance the testimony they bore was valid.
The inerrancy of the Bible is to be judged accordingly.
The Bible is arguably the most amazing book we have ever possessed and has withstood the fiery blasts of its critics with its integrity intact for over 3 millennia. It seems like more evidence of its wonder and inerrancy comes to light every year. The stamp of divine authorship is, as we say, on every page.
The same rock that is the foundation for a believer is a stumbler for the rebel in heart. The one that trusts in the Lord’s word as conveyed to us in the Bible, builds his or her life upon solid ground.
Grace today y’all