Natural Revelation and Biblical Revelation

Natural Revelation and Biblical Revelation

The Bible didn’t need to tell us about natural revelation because those things are a part of the human experience.  The Biblical writers simply codified those things or wrote them down.  Natural revelation is self-evident truth.  A self-evident truth is a truth that God has made known to all men that are in their right mind and whose intellect has not been hardened by rebellion or perverted by worldly philosophy and religion.

In contrast, to natural revelation, Biblical revelation are truths that are made known through the revelatory acts of God; the most obvious revelation is the sending of God’s son in the person of Jesus Christ.  In His life and work we see and learn things about God that go beyond natural revelation.  In this study we are mainly interested in natural revelation.  However, in the life of Christ we often see a confirmation of natural revelation.

The first natural revelation that I was aware of in my life was that there is a God.  That’s a self-evident truth that is programmed into everyone i.e. hardwired to believe when they come into the world. However, that self-evident knowledge can be destroyed by human pride and the demonic beliefs of the human heart.  Numerous atheists have told me that they became an atheist when they were in their early teens or younger.  This may be the case because the Scriptures say, “that foolishness resides in the heart of a child”. Moreover, I believe they told me this to impress me with their intellect.  They did not, for they were speaking from their imagination and bias, not their intellect.  A child’s mind is not capable of making an intellectual choice about the existence of the God, because the child’s mind cannot understand the concept of the true God.  Most likely the god they believed in and rejected was like Santa Claus.  However, even this rejection is even dubious.  The god they rejected was too small and sadly there are many adults who still have a similar small God.  They don’t believe in God, because their God is too small.

The lesson that there is a God is codified and taught in Genesis 1, “In the beginning God created.”  However, Genesis does not argue for the existence of God, it assumes his existence and also reveals something about his nature.  The first chapter reveals that He is a God that likes order and structure.  In that chapter, He separates order from the chaos.  He does it through his Word (information); in this act he reveals that He is a God of order, which is reflected in the physical and the moral order of things and in the very nature of man who was created in His likeness.  We see in the creation story a perfect balance between chaos and order.  In the universe He left just the right amount of room for free will and randomness.  God’s cosmos is perfectly balanced in all things, in light and darkness, in order and chaos.  Humans, that were later created in his image and likeness, were commanded to keep things in order on planet earth, which is His nursery for growing and training of the sons of God.  When we let our lives get filled with chaos and darkness we miss the mark of fulfilling our purpose and being truly human; then we find ourselves alienated from God, others and even our own selves.  In this regard, Genesis 1 is a call for humans to put and keep their lives in order and balance in a world of chaos.  In doing this, they reflect the image and likeness of God.

Yes, there is a God and from natural revelation I learned that I am not him.  How do I know that? I know it because I have limits and He does not.  In chapter 2 of Genesis, man is created in the image and likeness of God.  However, Adam and many of his descendents fail to recognize that just being in the image and likeness of God, does not make you God.  They failed to see their limits.  My shadow has somewhat of my likeness, but it’s not me.  In fact, it’s a very poor likeness of me.  Man in his present form has a blurred and distorted image of God.  The true image of God is seen in Jesus Christ.  In Christ, the image of God is, and will be, restored to man. When you are studying the Old Testament story of man, you are basically studying the shadow of God in which God is veiled.  Have you studied your shadow lately?  Remember that you only see your shadow when the sun is shining.  Your shadow is most visible when you are comparing yourself with Jesus, who is the light of the world.

The Apostle Paul says of the Resurrected Christ, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”(Col 1:15-19)  In saying this the Apostle Paul is pointing out that Christ is the true Adam.  He is the true likeness and image of the eternal God in bodily form.  In the resurrection when time is fulfilled God will restore to men who are in Christ, the image and likeness of God. That is why the Apostle John could say that, “when he comes we shall be like him.”

Let me share with you some reasons why I know  that I have limits and that I am not God.

I cannot do anything I want because when my wants conflict with some other  persons wants, e they are my limits (people). Especially, if it’s a 250-pound man. I once heard a man say that you cannot stop the man with the plan. What if someone has a plan to stop that man with a plan?

I cannot have everything I want because my “want-to” appetite is too big and when my want to-appetite is too large, I have found the trouble and my limits. That is why so many people are overweight, and in debt up to their eye balls.  Their appetite, or will is too large.  They have not  completely learned the lesson of life; there is a God and they are not Him.  God gives children their parents to demonstrate to the children what their limits are.  Good parents will place limits on their children.  If children are not taught limits when they’re young by their parents, other people (300-pound pound gorilla boss) with more power than them, will place limits on their will or want-to’s.  So place limits on your children early, and save them the pain of learning the hard way.

I cannot be anything I want to be.  I can identify as being rich but that doesn’t make me rich.  Many Americans live as though they’re rich.  Let me share with you some good advice; stop living as though you’re rich; most of you are not. Also, please stop identifying as the opposite sex.  Identifying as the opposite sex is not going to make you into that gender.  You can dress up and pretend to be, but that does not change your biology or your DNA.  Just like you can dress up to be a millionaire, but that doesn’t make you a millionaire.

I am limited by my IQ, which translates as; I am limited by nature.  Natural law teaches us that we have limits.  Learn this simple lesson from nature.  God gave us only two hands.  If you get your hands too full, you’re miserable.  This means that your if your hands are full you must put something down before you can pick something else up.  By all means test your limits but learn to accept the real ones.

I also learned through natural revelation that there is something in the world called the Trouble.  It’s like the air that we breathe.  It is in us, and all around us.  That is what Genesis, chapters 2 and 3, teach us as well.  Paul refers to the Trouble as sin and death.  He is not  talking about personal sin or morality, he is talking about the powers of sin and death who are the source of the Trouble.  We see the beginning of the Trouble in the conflict  of Adams will, with God’s will.  Then in chapter 3 of the book of Genesis, we see the Trouble entering human relationships in the story of Cain and Able.  When there are conflicting wills between man and God,  or man and other humans, there is the Trouble.

Both the Bible, and natural revelation teach us that we are limited by our conflicting desires or will, and that this conflict is this source of the Trouble.  In the book of James, we find this plainly stated, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” ( James 4:1-3).

It is a self-evident truth that conflicting wills and appetites are the source of the Trouble.  As stated before, this is not a biblical revelation, it is a natural revelation that is obvious to all men who are in their right minds.  The Bible simply codifies it and in so doing, amplifies it to help humans become more aware of the Trouble in their lives, and substantiation that we are not God.

In conclusion, we can say that if you reflect on nature and how we react to the human condition you can plainly see that biblical revelation and natural revelation teach the equivalent wisdom.  So, the book of nature and the book of God teach basically the same things about God, man’s behavior and the human condition.  There is a God, we are not him and there is the Trouble that depicts the whole of the human condition.

 

Why I Go To Church

Why I Need the Church and the Bible

Some people wonder why they would ever need the Church or the Bible.  Why not just go for a walk on the beach or climb a mountain and meet and worship God there?  Can you not experience God as well or perhaps even better in nature than at Church or from reading the Bible?  I do not doubt for a minute that you can experience God in nature, for I have done that myself.  Nature has a way of opening the human spirit to the Divine.  Our experience of God while in nature often seems more real than anything that we may experience at Church or from reading the Bible.

I have found that when I wish to travel to a place, I want to know everything about it. I will read everything I can about it, and I will try to find people who have been there and are able to answer questions about that particular place.  I find myself filled with questions.  What is the best way to get there?  What should I see?  What should I avoid?  What should I wear for clothing?  You see, I do not want to be surprised.  I want the best trip possible.  I especially do this when I go for a hike in the mountains, for I do not want to get lost.  The harder the climb, the more research I do.

Going to church and reading the Bible are like the research one would do for a journey unto a very high and often dangerous mountain.  For me, it seems only natural to talk to as many people as possible who are on or have made the journey.  I once went to Africa and climbed Kilimanjaro.  I called everyone I could find who had made the climb, even complete strangers, and asked them about the mountain and the trails.  I wanted to be ready for anything.  I wanted to make it to the top.  When Christians gather at church, it is mainly to talk about the journey and to study the map.  They consider their map to be the Bible.  The strong and knowledgeable ones among them who have been on the journey a long time do not attend church solely for themselves, but also to help the young and weaker ones among them.  They want everyone to get to the top.  They share with them the trails to avoid and the ones to take.  They make sure that the young ones know the map and the right and best guides who can help them on their journey.

Let me say something about the map.  It is true that sometimes people get the map mixed up with the real territory.  When that happens, people often spend more time reading the map than moving on in their journey.  I know some people who are always reading and talking about the map, but never seem to get too far along on the journey.  They seem to have confused reading the map with the journey.  This is truly sad because it confuses people about the reasons for the journey and the purpose of the map.  Of course, on the other side of the coin are those who feel they can do okay without a map, compass, or a guide.  These folks often end up in a briar patch lost, cold, and hungry.  They often spend a great deal of time backtracking and wandering around aimlessly.  However, some of the stronger ones seem to get along fairly well without the map, but when asked where they are, they often do not seem to know.  The little ones and weak ones without the map and compass often just die or quit.

Because the journey is often long and hard, the map at times can be quite hard to read.  It does have a lot of details about the journey.  It is there to help and is very important.  However, it can be confusing to someone not too skilled in map reading.  When the journey gets difficult, it is then a person needs to remember the training in which the guides taught him about how to use the map.  It is even better if travelers have cell phone, so they can call a guide for further directions on how to make best use of the map.  We always need to remember that the map is a piece of paper that only reflects the territory.  It is not the territory.  We also need to remember that the map was made by a lot of people who have made the journey and left us their story about it.  When we read the map, remember that those who wrote it were all on the same journey, but not all used the same trail and all did not make it to their destination.  Like in nature, some trails are better than others and a bad choice can cause you to lose your way or even perish.  Yes, some died on the journey without making it to top or back home.  This is another reason why we should study the map; we want to know that we are on the very best trail.

If you are not a member of a church, let me suggest that you find someone, maybe some of your friends who are on the journey and ask them about the church they attend.  Ask them if they study the map and if its members are excited about the journey.  If they say yes to both questions, you might want to check it out.  You can also begin the journey by getting a Bible and start becoming familiar with what it teaches.  You do not need to understand everything—just start reading it.  A good place to start is the Gospel of John.  If you do not know of anyone who is able to help you, you can write me, and I will be glad to help.  I often have map reading courses at my office or even in people’s homes.  If you would like to attend one, let me know.  You can reach me at lyleduell@gmail.com

The Maine Constitution and The Right To Bear Arms

Image result for gun control Maine

The Maine Constitution and The Right To Bear Arms

Article I, Section 16. To Keep and bear arms. “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.

The constitution of the State Maine (1820) was not written to regulate the citizens of the state of Maine. It was written to regulate the government of the State.  In other words, the constitution is not saying that a citizen of the state  cannot question the right to bear arms, but it is saying that a government officials that have sworn an oath to up hold the Constitution of Maine cannot even question the right of Maine citizens to own and bear arms.

You might be asking yourself how could government every change this section of the Constitution? The simple answer is that it could not change this section of the Constitution without breaking the law.  The reason for the concreteness of this section is that the writers believed that the right to bear arms (to protect yourself) is a self-evident truth that no rational person would dispute. If a person is not rational they should be removed from government.  If you do not believe in self-evident truth, well take it up with the founding fathers.

Also note that it does not say members of the militia has right to bear arms, but rather ‘Every citizen has the right to keep and bear arms’. It also does not say that we have the right to keep arms for hunting only. Be sizes who bear arms against dear and moose. I think the Maine Constitution being the forth state constitution to be written and being review by Jefferson is a great commentary on the meaning of the US Constitution.  Leave it to Mainers to make it simple.

Call to action: If you hear a Maine official questing the rights of Maine people to keep and bear arms, turn them into law enforcement for breaking their oath of office and the law of the State of Maine, which is its Constitution.

Points to ponder: What does ‘arms’ mean? What does the phrase ‘bear arms’ mean? Who would the people be ‘bearing arms’ against?  What are the limits to bearing arms? Can a person own a rocket launcher or a tank?  Who is to determine the limits of bearing arms, the people or government officials?  Who is the government, the people or the officials?

The Rock of Matthew 16:13-18

The Truth about The Rock of Matthew 16:13-18

“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

There has been much debate about who or what the rock is that Jesus promised to build his church on.  Some say that it’s the apostle Peter, others say it is the faith of the disciple.  Let me suggest what that truth is; it is the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God that comes through the work of the spirit in the believer’s heart that is the true rock (1 John 2;27, 5;10 KJV).

If the rock is Peter or the disciples faith it is based on something that is weak and flimsy.  The rock that Jesus is talking about cannot be destroyed or stopped by the powers of hell.  It cannot be overcome, overthrown or destroyed because it is the work of God through his Spirit and the everlasting gospel.  It is the gospel of God that creates faith in the hearts of those who believe it. The apostle Paul says, “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.  He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 NIV.

This interpretation fits well with the conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus in John 3 where he told Nicodemus that a man must be born again to see the kingdom of God.  The new birth is the work of God through the Spirit in the hearts of men and cannot be understood or overcome by the world (John 1:5 RSV, 1 John 5:4 RSV).  “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God; children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13 NIV.

 

The Book of Hebrews and the Sabbath Rest

The Book of Hebrews and the Sabbath Rest

Heb 3:7-4;11

 

Because the section of scripture we about to study is so larger you should get your Bibles out and follow our study along in your own Bible. This section of scripture if not written by the apostle Paul can  surely be traced to his thinking  and is therefore, like many of his writings can be hard to understand and is subject to misunderstand. One of the things that will help us to avoid an erroneous interpretation is to keep the immediate context of this section in view, which is the book in which is found and the overall context of the Bible.

The book of Hebrew was a lengthy letter sent to a group of Hebrew Christians who were contemplating going back to Judaism or at the very least bring Judaism into the Christian Faith. In the letter, the writer warns them that to do so would mean the loss of their salvation which salvation he refers to in chapters 3 and 4  as the Sabbath-rest. This problem of bring the law or Judaism into the church was no new problem. The apostle Paul addresses it in many of  his writings. For example, we see it in the book of Galatians when he says to that church “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:4-5). In the book of Ephesians, he calls the law the dividing wall of hostility, which separates believers. ” For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,  by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations (Eph 2:14-15).  From this, we can gather that the overall context of the book is a warning against apostasy and arguments demonstrating that Christ and the gospel are superior to Judaism and the law. Keep this in mind as we study together.

First let me point out that this section of Scripture is not talking about the Sabbath day per say[i]. Its focus is on the consequence of  disobedience and reward of obedience. It is about what the writer calls “Today.”  The expression “Today is used in 3:7, 3:13, 3:15, and twice in 4:7. It seems to be an expression that the writer uses to denote the Christian dispensation, i.e. the time between the resurrection and the second coming of Christ. He refers to this dispensation in verse 3: 8 as a time of testing and compares it to the 40 years that the Israelites were tested in the wilderness. He continuously admonishes these Hebrew Christians not to follow the example of their forefathers in unbelief  and disobedience.

His line of thought runs like this, the Israelites were tested for 40 years on their journey from the land of Egypt to the promise land, which was the land of rest from their trials and temptations. However, the major did not enter the land of rest[ii], because their faith failed the test and they were found to be unbelievers, who did not trust God. Christian are to take heed to their example and persist in faith, or they too will miss the eternal rest of God.

In this section of Scripture, the writer uses the Old Testament story of the wilderness wanderings of the Jews as an allegory that points to the last day or the Christian dispensation and lays down a basic rule for interpreting the Old Testament. He says in 10:1 “The law[iii] is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves.”  We can gather from this that much of the Old Testament is a preview of what is going to happen in “Today” or the Christian dispensation. To take the old as the reality is to miss the wholly point of the narrative in the Old Testament.

With this rule of interpretation, we can look at text and see how the writer speaks of two separate rest and uses them both to point to the eternal salvation that we have in Christ. He speaks of the rest that God entered into at the end of creating the earth 4: 4.  He also talks about the Canaan land rest, which was promised to the Hebrews that obeyed God in the wilderness; that number was two Caleb and Joshua. All the rest fell in the wilderness and never entered the land of rest.

In verse 4:8, we find a key verse, which confirms our interpretation. “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day” Here the writer is saying that Joshua leading the Israelites into the promised land did not fulfill the promise of a rest for the people of God. It would take a different leader, Jesus the Christ, and would have to be a different rest, which he calls the Sabbath-rest. The expression Sabbath-rest is the author’s way and the Holy Spirit way of pointing out that the new rest is the ultimate and final rest. In this, we have a better Leader, a better covenant and a better rest. I can hear the writer saying to these Hebrews who were contemplating going back Judaism,  why in the world would you what to go back to Moses and the law, and to observing the shadows when the reality is here in Christ ” Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col 2:16-17). LD

[i] The word Sabbath means rest. The Hebrews were command by God under the Old covenant to rest on the seventh day and to do no work. The Sabbath day was a memorial of God delivering them from the land of Egypt (Deut 5:12-15). It was a day of rest and not worship in the tradition sense of worship. The lack of working was the worship. The Hebrews worshipped in the tradition sense in the tabernacle and Temple, and then later in the synagogue. That is, if they were within a Sabbath day’s journey from these place of worship.

[ii] Deut 12:9 “For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.KJV

[iii] What is the law referred to here? The Jews in the first century view the entire Old Testament scripture as the Law. The law was the covenant made exclusively with the nation of Israel and was never given to the whole world (Deut 5:1-5, Rom 7:4-8, 1Cor 14:21).