the power of internal conflict

internal conflict is one of the most difficult conflicts to resolve.  the conflict involves no one else but yourself.  it is a conflict of principles you both uphold in your mind and believe in.

when these two principles are headed on a collision course, you are torn inside to make a hard choice.  what you choose either gives you pleasure or shame.  depending on how consequential (historically) you are and the choice you make is, it has the power to make you either famous or infamous.  but for ordinary people, it may just be a matter of receiving approval or being dismayed.

the greatest historical figure — jesus christ — had his moment of internal conflict.  it is recorded in the gospels.  it happened in the garden of gethsemane as jesus contemplated his death.  “Father, all things are possible to you, take this cup from me, yet not what i will, but what you will,” mark 14.36.  jesus had both the right to live and a choice to die. this was the internal conflict he wrestled with.  he chose to die, not because death was a pleasant choice, but because it was his father’s will.  it was his ultimate pleasure to do his father’s will, though it meant giving up his own life.

hours after the above event, a moment of internal conflict — a crucial decision will bring infamy to another man.  pontius pilate’s mind was screwed by his internal conflict — to free jesus who was innocent thus satisfying his noble sense of roman justice, or crucify him to appease the clamor of the jewish mob, satisfying his ignoble political desires.  he chose the latter.  pilate ordered jesus to be crucified.  “wanting to satisfy the crowd… he had jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified,” mark 15.15.  pontius pilate goes down in history as the all-infamous magistrate.

with great power comes great responsibility.

the psalms of the old testament are full of expressions of the internal conflict that the godly man experiences.  a couple of psalms that immediately come to mind are psalm 73 and 42.  there are many other psalms.

in psalm 73 the writer expresses his internal conflict in this manner: why do the wicked (who forget God) prosper and are enriched while those (himself) who fear and serve God suffer and are chastised all day long — is God indeed good to those who fear him?  i envied the arrogant, when i saw the prosperity of the wicked… in vain i have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. all day long i have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments,” psalm 73.3, 13, 14.

the internal conflict of the writer in psalm 42 bears some relation to that of psalm 73.  both of them ask why things do not appear to be happening according to what they believe about God or who they believe God to be — a good and faithful God the those who fear and trust him, and an avenger to those who forget him.  but in psalm 42 the psalmist’s complaint does not stem from the apparent prosperity enjoyed by the wicked, but on God’s apparent inaction to save him, thereby giving his enemies fuel to mock him and his religion (faith in God).  “i say to God my rock, “why have you forgotten me? why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” my bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “where is your God?”” psalm 42.9, 10.

one other passage (not in the psalms) is in habakkuk, where the prophet says, “thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity; wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously?” habakkuk 1.13.  habakkuk’s mind was wrecked by a different kind of internal conflict.  his internal conflict was provoked by seeing events not directly happening to him, but to nations at large.  nonetheless, it was equally difficult to resolve.

in all three instances, the internal conflict is resolved by faith — steadfast, unwavering faith.  faith that believes what God revealed about himself — he is holy, just, faithful, and kind — in spite of appearances toward the contrary.

“i have set the LORD always before me, because he is at my right hand, i shall never be moved,” psalm 16.8.

servant or son?

in luke 15.11-32, jesus tells the parable of two lost sons.  below is a broad look at the general theme the parable deals with, viz, repentance.  the parable takes us to consider repentance in quite a different light…

how do you see yourself — a servant or a son?

the older son sees himself as a servant — “these many years i have served you,” (literally, slaved [gk. douleuow] for you) was what the older son said to his father, (v.29.)

but the younger son, the prodigal, did similarly — “let me be as one of your hired servants,” [gk. misthiown — hired servant] was what the prodigal son intended to say to his father, (v.19.)

in this regard, they stood on the same platform with respect to their father — the older son saw himself as a slave in his father’s property, the younger son would return as an employee, a hired servant who earned his keep (for food, v.17) and who lived outside the father’s property.

but the father saw both sons as sons, and acted in a similar way, appropriately, to each of his sons, ie, stooping down to both, in acts of humiliation.

when the older son would not come inside the house, because he was angry, it was such a disgrace.  but the father went outside to ask him to come inside, (v28.)  it was such a shame.  but instead of showing displeasure and indignation, the father’s love brought him to act in humiliation.

when the younger son took all his possessions and wasted them in prodigal living, (vv.12, 13,) he brought shame to his father.  and when he returned home, his father instead of showing displeasure and indignation against the prodigal’s misdeeds hiding his face from him, he went outside and ran to meet him — hugged and kissed him, (v.20.)  this (a nobleman running) was regarded in those days as an act of humiliation.  an act of humiliation, brought about by a father’s indescribable love.

thus, in each case, the father’s indescribable love brought him to stoop down in an act of (public) humiliation.

the obvious change in the prodigal’s words, i.e., the difference between his intended speech (v.19) and actual (v.21,) is the strongest argument for a change of heart — repentance.  when the prodigal deleted the clause ‘make me as one of your hired servants’ from his speech, it was clearly in response to the out-poured love of his father that he had just witnessed — his father running out to meet him, hugging and kissing him — love demonstrated in humiliation, (v.20.)  the prodigal son accepted the father’s offer of grace, of sonship renewed.

the parable ends with the father pleading with the older son — ‘son, thou art ever with me, and all that i have is thine,’ was the father’s unqualified offer, (v.31.)  this prompts the careful reader to ask, ‘will the older son (also) accept the father’s offer of grace, of sonship?’

how do you see yourself — a servant who slaves away, or a son who accepts grace (love demonstrated in humiliation) as the basis of sonship and its blessings?

 

Could Self-Programmed Robots — AI — have produced the iPhone 8?

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According to a recent Press Release, proponents of the Evolutionary Binary Processes (EBP) group have claimed that the latest iPhone, the iPhone 8, was a product of Evolutionary Binary Processes.  EBP adherents believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI,) namely, self-programmed robots were responsible for the re-design and manufacture of the latest iPhone model.

Spokesperson for EBP, Professor Eve O. Lucian, has (in fact) gone so far as to state that, not only the iPhone 8, but all other iPhones in the series, evolved and were manufactured by these self-programmed robots without direct interface from human hands.

“We have good reason to believe that AI manufactured these iPhones without direct interface with human hands,” Professor Eve O. Lucian asserted.  She did not elaborate further on her pure conjecture.

But, evidence has resurfaced supporting the claim of Creationists, that all iPhones were directly made by human hands; and did not undergo advanced ‘inflation’ from a single cell, namely, the original iPhone prototype.  (Creationists are obviously those who believe that human hands — directly or through interface with machines — made all iPhones.)

In his end note speech at the annual AI Summit held at Silicon Valley, Bill Doors III, co-founder of Microhard Corp., repudiated the notion that AI or self-programmed robots already have the capability to manufacture smartphones apart from human interface or without direct human intervention.

“We are not there yet,” Doors closed.

Doors also presented a compelling discovery — a Trojan Horse (a concealed microscopic copyright symbol only the maker can identify, that ensures any attempted claim made against the original manufacturer can be disputed) — at the Summit, bolstering claims that the iPhone series was created by human hands, and not products of advanced Evolutionary Binary Processes, AIs.  The written evidence is incontrovertible.

Close examination of samples of the iPhone series, on high-powered pneumatic microscopes, revealed they had a Trojan Horse stamped on each component.  Written in Chinese characters were symbols that read…

MADE BY THE CHINESE.

Ancient Stone Tablets Unearthed

Archeologists recently unearthed two tablets of stone believed to be written by Divine fingers.  They were discovered in caves near the Old Sea.

According to the inscriptions found at the top, which appear to be the Preface to the whole document, what it contains are eternal moral commandments: “These 9 Commandments — not 10 — are the Eternal, Moral Law.  They are binding on all mankind, past, present, future; Jews or Gentiles; saved or unsaved.”

AC Entolay, a leading expert on The Law, underscored how important this new discovery is, and what implications it carries:

“This is of utmost importance,” he said, “because these freshly discovered tablets of stone establishes what we have only been theorizing for centuries, ie, that The Decalogue is still binding… all 9 of them.”

There are those who believe that the Ten Commandments given by Yahweh to Moses on Mt.Sinai are binding on all men.  These are the Covenant Men.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that the Ten Commandments have been abolished and is now obsolete — Christ putting an end to it.  These are the New Covenant Men.

The discovery of these two tablets of stone containing only 9 Commandments is now shaking the foundations of both the Covenant Men and the New Covenant Men.

A spokesman of the New Covenant Men, GG Dumps, commented, “We were all caught with our pants down!  We have to give this a new name.”

RS Giffer, who has seen the new discovery, made this observation, “Upon close inspection, it appears that the tablets of stone have been glued together.  They may well be the original document that Moses broke, which was written by the finger of God, but has carefully been put together without the missing pieces.”

According to RS Giffer, the Preface appears to be a recent addition: “The first tablet was obviously missing major chunks.  No.4 was nowhere to be found, ie, the inscriptions only had 1, 2, 3, & 5.  The Preface was obviously written over the original, probably when the tablets underwent repair.”  It takes exceptional skill to put a spin on a very old artifact and make it universally applicable.

But, it might take time before the air clears and the dust settles on this latest pieced-together artifact.  One question, however, looms regarding the broken pieces: Will they find the rest?

What About the Sabbath? (2 of 2)

The Christians’ gathering on the first day of the week was entirely different from the Jewish Sabbath which was still widely observed by the Jews at the time.

First and foremost, it was a voluntary act.  There was no prescription at all to begin with.  The first reference to a coming together of Christians is in Acts 2.  Here we are told that they “continued daily with one accord in the Temple,” v.46.  They were there not because they heeded a command.  We are simply told that the disciples continued steadfastly in “the Apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers,” v.42.

The first reference to a coming together of the disciples on the first day of the week is in Acts 20.7.  Acts 20.7 records the gathering of the disciples at Troas on the first day of the week “to break bread.”  The way the “coming together of the disciples to break bread” was described indicates it was a normal occurrence.  Here Apostle Paul preaches.

The other reference to a first day of the week gathering is in 1 Cor.16.1.  Here, Apostle Paul gives instruction to the church, “concerning the collection for the saints,” for them to do it on the first day of the week.  It is noteworthy that the practice of coming together on the first day of the week was already widespread at this time.  This is clear as Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians was merely a reiteration of his instruction to the churches in Galatia, “As I have given instruction to the churches in Galatia, so do ye also.”  It is not unreasonable to imply that this was the prevailing practice among the churches then.

Thus, aside from the breaking of bread, a collection was gathered as the disciples came together on the first day of the week.  There was also (at least on one occasion in Troas) preaching/teaching.

 

Three instances make the first day of the week stand out.  First, the risen Jesus met with his disciples twice on the first day of the week — first, on the day of the resurrection itself; then the following week.  What was intended to be the retreat of fearful, cowardly disciples turned out to be the first coming together of disciples for Christian worship.  It became a time of meditation, reassurance, and empowerment for these first witnesses.

Secondly, the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, although special to the Jews, was made uber-special to Christians because it was the day the Holy Spirit was first poured out (Acts 2.17) and appeared in “a mighty rushing wind and flaming tongues as of fire” (Acts 2.3-5.)   It was also the first day of the week.

And thirdly, John describes a certain “Lord’s day” in Revelations.  There he says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,” and from then on began seeing visions, that eventually became The Revelations.  This phrase, the Lord’s day, is generally recognized as referring to the first day of the week, the day when the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them.

This is, by and large, the reason I believe Christians gather together and meet for worship on the first day of the week, ie, Sunday.  Not because it is the Sabbath day, but because it is the Lord’s day.  The belief that the Lord’s day and the Sabbath command have no vital connection, aligns me with NCT thought.

But this does not lay down a prescription, ie, for Sunday worship.  What began by the liberty of the (S)spirit, cannot degenerate into a law of the flesh.  Sunday worship, although desirable and most natural, is not absolute.

This was exemplified in Acts 2.46a.  Here we are told that the first Jewish converts (disciples) “continued daily with one accord in the Temple.”  They met daily.  And they met according to the liberty of the (S)spirit, not according to the bondage of the flesh.  There are other recorded gatherings of disciples in the Book of Acts but we are not told that these were invariably on the first day of the week.  There are no other records that the disciples came together to break bread except in Acts 20.7.  There are also no other texts that indicate the disciples came together for the collections on the first day of the week except in 1 Cor.16.1, 2, referring to both the church in Corinth and the churches in Galatia.

Sunday worship is desirable and natural, being commemorative of the day Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples.  But Friday is equally an acceptable day of worship, as no specific day was prescribed or commanded in Scriptures to be the day of worship for the NT church.

“God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth,” John 4.24.

What About the Sabbath? (1 of 2)

(NOTE: I did not study NCT because I wanted to be an adherent; I searched the Scriptures and discovered that my view had major similarities with what NCT teaches.)

NCT adherents do not keep a Sabbath day, ie, remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy is not in their list of what God desires of them as Christians.

The argument re: the Sabbath becomes passe if you consider that the Ten Commandments was intended only for the Jews.  Subsequent reiterations of and indictments about not keeping Sabbaths in the Prophets are clearly against the Jews only.

A singular example in the time of Nehemiah (Ch.13) makes this evident.  At the time, merchants from Tyre came to the city (Jerusalem) and sold “fish and all manner of ware on the Sabbath” (v.16) to the children of Judah.  Nehemiah rebuked them.  He rebuked both “the nobles of Judah” (v.17) and “the merchants and sellers” (vv.20, 21.)  His rebuke showed a clear understanding of the nature of the Sabbath command.

First he said to the nobles of Judah, “Why do you profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath!” (vv.17, 18.)

Then, later, he said to the merchants and sellers, waiting for the city gates to open so they can sell on the Sabbath “Why lodge ye about the wall, if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you!” (v.21.)  These merchants and sellers were obviously not under the Sabbath as the Jews were.

There is a far more important reason why I don’t believe in keeping Sabbaths.  Sabbath keeping was never taught in the NT.  Nowhere in the NT — in Acts and especially in the epistles to the churches — is there any reference to, examples of, or instructions on Sabbath keeping for the church to follow.  None at all.  Thus, neither is there any warning or rebuke towards Christians breaking or profaning the Sabbath.

There is, however, sufficient evidence to support the notion that the church, as a practice, gathered and met on the first day of the week.  It appears to have been made the initial pattern set by the apostles.  However, to say that this gathering of Christians on the first day of the week was according to the 4th commandment is a far stretch of the imagination the Apostles obviously never actually taught.  The Christians’ gathering on the first day of the week was entirely different from the Jewish Sabbath which was still widely observed by the Jews at the time.

Why New Covenant Theology?

A glimpse of New Covenant Theology (NCT): Why I identify myself with NCT?

When I was still a Reformed Baptist, I saw this “new” teaching, NCT, as antinomian (anti-Law.)  Now that I identify myself with NCT, I know why Reformed Baptists see this teaching as antinomian (tongue-in-cheek.)

It is antinomian not against the idea of Law in general, but as pertaining a very specific Law, namely, the Ten Commandments.  NCT holds to the belief that the Ten Commandments were given by God specifically (only) to the Jews — it was God’s covenant with the Jews.  The Ten Commandments was given, not to all mankind in a general way, nor to Christians in a spiritual way; but to the Jews in a special covenantal way.  It was given to the Jews after God delivered them from Pharaoh in Egypt, before God brought them to the Promised Land.

Exodus 34 records the LORD giving instructions to Moses re: the covenant.  In vv.27 & 28, the passage reads, “And the LORD said unto Moses, ‘Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.‘  And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water.  And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.  It is clear then that the Ten Commandments are the covenant of the LORD with Israel — the Old Covenant.

(By the way, the tables written by the finger of God… that was broken by Moses.  The 2nd Edition, as described in Exo.34… that was written by Moses.)

The writer to the Hebrews describes this Old Covenant in these terms: “In that he saith, a new covenant, he hath made the first old.  Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away,” Heb.8.13.  He goes on in Chapter 9 to describe the major divisions of and essential items in the Jewish Temple (Tabernacle) in detail.  One of the items in the Temple, located inside the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies, are the two tables of stone where the words of the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments were written.

The writer argues that all these things being part of the Old Covenant were mere types and shadows, and have now been done away with because the reality (the anti-type) in the person of Jesus Christ has now appeared and is now here.

Someone might ask, But if you do away with the Ten Commandments, what is your Rule of Life?  Answer: The Law of Christ or The Law of Love.  Jesus said it in this manner: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; And love your neighbour as yourself: On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”  But isn’t Jesus referring there to the two tables of the Ten Commandments?  No, apparently not.

Apostle John, addressing believers in particular, hones in on the unique source from where obedience to these two commandments emanates.  He says, “This is his commandment: To believe on the name of his son, Jesus Christ; and to love one another, as he has given us command.”  No one can in fact love God, much less love him with all his being, that is, unless he first believes on the name of Jesus Christ.  All love emanates from this first grace of faith — whether it is love to God, love to fellow believers, love to neighbour, or the extreme challenge, love to enemies; it all flows from this first grace, viz, faith in Jesus Christ.  It likewise sustains its impetus by subsequent grace, viz, faith.  Thus, the law of Love, the law of Christ is all of faith, from first to last — all of grace.  Alongside and against this, “there is no law.”

So Apostle Paul could say, “I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Gal.2.20.