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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.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Friday, April 06, 2012
My God and King
I didn’t prepare a “Good Friday” post to put up today, but I tell you reader, this is a holy day for myself and my family. It is the day when we solemnly recall what our God and King endured in order to secure our redemption from sin. This He did, even while we hated Him. Nothing can compare to this love, and no amount of trying will ever reciprocate it in full. We receive it, we remember it, and by grace we give our God and King what glory we can while dressed as we are in sinful, mortal coils.

Thank you God my Father, for loving me, and sending your Son (my Lord Jesus), to redeem me even when I was Your enemy. You know my heart, that it longs to rise to exalt you as you deserve, and that it looks forward to the day when I shall look upon the face of my Redeemer, and shall know Him even as I am known by Him.

What a day! What a glorious day that shall be!

Until that day we remember you Lord, in your suffering on earth, in your receiving the wrath directed at our sin, and this in order to secure us for eternity.

You are most worthy of all praise.

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posted by Daniel @ 9:42 AM   0 comment(s)
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Paul adjusts the focus...
After introducing both himself and the topic upon which he is about to write, Paul explains that all men are sinners, and therefore justly condemned by God (Romans 1:18-32). This is the first step in a larger argument that Paul is making. It behooves us, as thoughtful readers, to follow the logic of the argument that Paul is building.

Having established that sin is universal, and universally condemning, Paul, in Romans 2:1-11, introduces the next rung on the ladder of his argument: a general conclusion based on his first observation. Here Paul reasons that those who pass judgment on other sinners condemn themselves, because they themselves are just as sinful as those that they are condemning for sin.

Paul’s argument shouldn't be difficult for any reader to follow. The rapist who demands that the thief be put to death is hanging himself. We get that. Paul has a purpose in laying these facts out before hand. As I said in the previous post, Paul understood that many of the Jews who were converted to Christ had received their Messiah without fully understanding that they had moved out of the Mosaic Covenant, and into Christ's covenant. He knew these same Jewish Christians were still zealous for the Law, and more, that unless these converted Jews understood the doctrines of grace, they would not only continue in their ignorance - they would also (as those whom the Gentiles around them were looking to for guidance in the faith) lead others into their own confused theology.

So I am reminded, when I read this far, of how the prophet Nathan confronted David's adultery by tricking David into condemning himself (see: 2 Samuel 12 for account). I say, I am reminded of this because that is exactly what Paul is doing to the Jewish believers who would read this epistle. These Jewish believers had accepted Christ, but were still looking to the law for righteousness. Paul is building a case against this error in particular. We see this as Paul begins to explicitly apply, starting in Romans 2:12, what he previously was implying.

See here in Romans 2:12-29, how Paul paints the same conclusion (again) using the Law of Moses as his brush and the Jewish convert as his canvas? The Gentiles who did not have the Law perished on account of their sins, just as the Jews who had the Law were judged guilty by it. Paul's argument, in case you're missing it, is that becoming a Jew does not improve this situation, because the Jews still sinned, even though they had the Law.

If you understand Paul's argument up to this point, you won't be derailed by his (seemingly) sudden fixation with circumcision. When a male Gentile converted to Judaism, circumcision was the final, and defining act of his conversion. It marked the moment the Gentile became a (proselyte) Jew. Remember that Christianity, at this point, was largely misunderstood by both the Jews and the Gentiles. Many viewed Christianity as simply the most correct (or simply the most recent) form of Judaism. That was the major hang-up of the Judaizers - it wasn't that they fixated on the surgical procedure (circumcision) - they were fixated on the Gentile’s conversion to Judaism (hence they were called "Judaizers”).

When Paul speaks of circumcision, he isn't alluding to the surgery, he is alluding to the idea of the Gentiles having to become Jews first (in order to become Christians afterwards). When Paul asks, in Romans 3:1, "Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?" It is like asking, "Then what advantage has the Jew, or what is the value of becoming a Jew?"

Paul answers his own question: the value of being a Jew is that the Jews were the keepers of God's truth. If you were a Jew, you had ready access to this truth, even if you did not avail yourself of that access. In fact, if you did not avail yourself of it, that is, if you were unfaithful to God, God remained faithful to you. That was the Jewish advantage: they were entrusted with something that depended upon God's faithfulness, instead of their own (c.f. Romans 3:1-8).

In what can only be described as a masterful economy, Paul closes this thought in a way that both introduces a line of reasoning that he will rely upon heavily in the chapters to come, and simultaneously silences the objections that may otherwise have been raised at this point.

I hope to do these thoughts justice in the next post.

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posted by Daniel @ 11:31 AM   1 comment(s)
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Paul Anticipates Trouble
I want you to notice something in Acts 24. There we find Ananias' attorney (Tertullus) accusing Paul before (Procurator Marcus Antonius) Felix at Ceasarea. Note that Tertullus describes Paul as a ringleader of sect of Nazarenes (c.f. Acts 24:5). We see that word, "sect" (Greek: αἱρέσεως), used to describe both Sadducees (Acts 5:17) and Pharisees (Acts 15:5); that is, we see this word being used by Terullus (and by extension: the High Priest Ananias) to describe Christianity as a Jewish sect.

Why did the High Priest think Christianity was just the latest Jewish sect? Because those Jews who had converted to Christianity still considered themeselves to be Jews. Ananias was spiritually and theologically blind. He did not understand that the New Covenant that God had promised previously through such prophets as Jeremiah and Ezekiel had not only arrived but even now was replacing the Mosaic Covenant. Ananias saw only a new and wayward teaching that needed to be silenced.

Before I say that we shouldn't marvel at this blindness, as though Ananias was especially blind. Consider Peter's reaction to Christ's command in Acts 11:4-10:

But Peter began and explained it to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. - [ESV]



Peter was so shocked by this command that he (initially) refused to even entertain it! Nevertheless God used Peter to usher the Gentiles into the kingdom, even though the Gentiles were not keepers of the law! You would expect with that kind of one-on-one instruction, and having been used to bring those who were not law keepers into the kingdom, that Peter would have understood that the laws given to Israel through Moses were no longer in effect because they belonged to a covenant that was no longer in effect. You would think that Peter would have grasped sooner, rather than later, the understanding that what was handed down from Moses, was incompatible with what had been received through Christ. You would think that Peter, having entered into the new (and better) covenant, would have put aside the old one like a hot potato...

Yet at Antioch, Peter played the Jew, as it were, when Judaizers came from Jerusalem to Antioch, and sat apart from the Gentiles at meal time. It was there, at Antioch, that Paul had to rebuke Peter, because Peter began again to set aside the New Covenant in order to observe regulations from the Old (Mosaic) Covenant.

If Peter himself - the man God used to bring the Gentiles into the kingdom - had a difficult time transitioning from the Mosaic Covenant to the New Covenant, it is fair to conclude that it was no easy thing for a Jew to accept the notion that the Mosaic law had served it's purpose, and was no longer binding.

This tidbit of information is germane to our study of Paul's letter to the church at Rome. Those Jews who had converted to Christ in Rome would have considered themselves Jews (who had received their Messiah); and what's more, Gentiles joining themselves to this church at Rome would have understood themselves to be becoming Jews, albeit Jews who understood that Christ was their Messiah.

With that in mind, consider the Gentile who was converted (or converting) to this form of Judaism (Christianity). Whom do you think the Gentiles would be looking to for their primary instruction in Judaism, other Gentiles converts, or those (converted) Jews at Rome? I mean, if you want to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese, and go so far as to move to China, do you then seek out a teacher among those who are themselves still learning the language? No. You (typically) seek out instruction from a native speaker of the language.

So too the Gentiles in Rome who had converted to Christianity, would have regarded the converted Jews as their primary instructors in the faith. That's an important thing to keep in mind, because as Paul labours to bring the believers at Rome into obedience of faith. He has to contend with the errant (though popular) notion that Christianity was just the latest sect being sewn into the existing fabric of Judaism.

Before Paul could really get into meat of his message, he would have to untangle this particular knot, and do so in a way that gently disarmed (beforehand) any anticipated "Jewish" arguments to the contrary.

Specifically, Paul needed to show those Jewish believers that Judaism had misunderstood the purpose and scope of Law, as delivered by Moses. To do that end, Paul begins, In Romans 1:18 to show that law not only [1] did not make anyone righteous, but more importantly, [2] could not make anyone righteous.

More on this in next post.

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posted by Daniel @ 11:14 AM   1 comment(s)
 
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