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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Double Crucifixion. Part XI - A Figurative Nightmare
If you haven't done so already, you may want to read the posts which preceded this one (for some context):
     I, II,III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, and X.
In the last post we spoke of a literal spin on the word tasting, today we look at the figurative spin for following:

He or she had tasted the heavenly gift (whatever that is)

I said in the last post, with pithy merriment (I hope), Ambiguity thy name is "tasted" and thy nickname is "heavenly gift" - meaning only that there are almost as many ways to imagine the meaning of this passage as there are vivid imaginations. Let's not be daunted by such thoughts however, and plod on, grouping as much together as will make our work efficient without losing too much depth, or so I hope.

Okay, so if the word "taste" here is figurative, we should also note the definite article ("the") in front of the word "heavenly", which may be suggesting a specific heavenly gift, as opposed to heavenly gifts in general. Perhaps it is a one time event, or maybe a single quality or one particular abstraction. Whatever the case, lets begin by looking at the various specifics it could be.

What if the heavenly gift refers to eternal life in Christ Jesus, (c.f. "the gift of God" in John 4:10, Romans 6:23)? If this is the case, then by tasting the heavenly gift, our hypothetical person has either come into contact with something akin to eternal life in Christ Jesus, or has in some capacity been exposed, either personally, or through another, to the eternal life in Christ Jesus.

If tasting the heavenly gift means that our hypothetical person personally possesses eternal life, then we are talking about a believer, but if it means that someone else's eternal life has touched him or influenced him in some way - it is may or may not be talking about a believer.


Yet the heavenly gift may also mean the person of the Holy Spirit Himself (c.f. Luke 11:13, Acts 2:38). In this case, the argument runs pretty similar to the idea of eternal life. If tasting the heavenly gift means that you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, then it refers to a believer, and if it merely means that you benefit from, or come into contact with the work of the Holy Spirit in someone else's life - it doesn't prove one way or the other whether you are a believer or not.

Some likewise interpret heavenly gift to mean "spiritual gifts". Here too we are left with much ambiguity. Both those who performed miraculous gifts, and those who were the direct and even indirect beneficiaries of the gifts "tasted" of them - for all who sees a dead man raised to life "tastes" the heavenly gift,... right? Which is to say, if it refers to heavenly gifts we can't be sure it means a believer.

Even were we to come up with an hundred or more interpretations of this particular phrase ('tasted the heavenly gifts') We really have only two possibilities - either tasting the heavenly gift refers to the genuine conversion of the believer, or some phenomenon associated with being in proximity to genuine believers. To get more dogmatic that this (at this level at least), is premature.

We will look back at our survey later and see if we are able to draw more conclusive answers when we look back on all this, but for now, let's say this category was likewise "Inconclusive" - at least until we have decided upon one particular interpretation, since some of the ways in which we might interpret this phrase are conclusive.

I don't want to drag it out, but I don't want to be frivolous either. We have a few more to do, and I hope to get them all in the next post - You may be tempted to start drawing conclusions about where I am going with this - but hold off on that for a while. All we are doing is asking the text some questions and answering them in all possibly honesty. We shall start interpreting our answers after we have made them, and not before.

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