Yesterday I made a new post at:

http://paulfpavao.wordpress.com/

It’s about my idea for a Once Saved, Always Saved Study Bible to be issued one chapter at a time on my blog as I have time.

I was satisfied with how WordPress.com handled that relatively large, very formatted post, so I have decided to move their permanently and consolidate my blogs there.

If you come here in the future, change your bookmark to

http://paulfpavao.wordpress.com/

That will take you to the home page of the new blog

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I promised to write the history of the early church in story form. I poured my guts into it today; what a labor of love! This is just the start, but I am–until you readers say otherwise–very proud of the results. (Probably should repent for that.)

I didn’t write it here. I wrote it at PaulFPavao.wordpress.com.

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I’m testing WordPress.com (rather than the WordPress.org software that I’m using here on my own web host).

So my next post, on predestination and Calvinism, is now at:

PaulFPavao.wordpress.com

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Christians have been accused of a “holier-than-thou” since the beginning of time. _The Octavius_, an early Christian debate, portrays a Roman pagan saying …

Yes, that’s another thing. Christians think of themselves as good, and they promise to themselves a blessed and perpetual life after death, but to others, since they are unrighteous, eternal punishment.

Today, we would be quick to say we are not better than others. In fact, when Christian History magazine did a reenactment of the debate, they changed Octavius’ answer to the accusation to our modern one. Here, however, is the early Christian accusation to being better than those who live in the world …

Only a profane man would hesitate to believe that those who do not know God are tormented deservedly, because it is no less wicked to be ignorant of the Parent of all than to offend him.
   And if you wish to compare Christians with yourselves, then even if in some things our discipline is inferior, yet we shall be found much better than you.
   You forbid, yet commit, adulteries; we are born men only for our own wives. You punish crimes when committed; with us, even to think of crimes is to sin. You are afraid of those who are aware of what you do; we are afraid even of our own consciences, without which we cannot exist.
   Finally, from your numbers the prisons boil over, but there is no Christian there unless he is accused on account of his religion or has deserted it.

Is that us? Is that me?

Octavius boasted that “we” are afraid even of our consciences. Am I afraid of my own conscience, or do I cut corners on a regular basis?

Do I—do we—believe that we can live as described above?

And if we do, if we really live holier than the world in such a marked way, dare we answer the world the way Octavius did?

I submit to you that we can. Are we not telling the world, when we preach the Gospel to them, that our Lord Jesus can make them better? In fact, he can transform them into a new creature that is a child of God, partaking in the divine nature. At least, that’s what we say we believe.

If that is true, then Jesus makes us better. We say it because we want those who see our lives and hear our Gospel to believe that they can be better. Do we risk insulting our Lord and the power of his Gospel when we say that we are not better?

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A while back I posted about a single verse Bible study method. I thought I’d actually apply it, and share it with you. Not everyone has an easy time making Bible study be effective for themselves.

  1. Write the verse down. (I actually handwrote the verse rather than typing it.)

    Psalm 139:1-2 (NAB): LORD, you have probed me you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.

  2. Mark the repeated words so they’re distinct.

    LORD, you have probed me you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.

  3. Write down the 6 question words:

    Who, what, when, why, where, how

  4. Ask 3 questions about the verse:

    • Who is this about

      It’s about God and it’s about me, working together. Reminds me of Php. 2:13: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure.”

    • What should my reaction be
      • Reverent fear
      • Walk circumspectly (paying attention)
      • Feel protected and watched over
      • Guidance for me is individualized; made for my thoughts. I’m not stuck with generic guidance for the human race, but God will make his will known to me in a way I can understand it.

    • How does God do this with everyone?

      God is greater than we can imagine. He fills the universe. Even his love and care for us, no matter how much we think we understand it and are awed by us, is far greater than we can understand. Every attribute we consider a quality, God has without limits. He is infinitely patient, infinitely forgiving, infinitely selfless. Though he teaches us to praise him, even that is for us, not him. He is never offended or angry except for our benefit.

  5. How does this humble me?

    • I am always exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
    • I am watched over and cared for; I am not my own caretaker.
    • I am humble in myself, but I can boast in God.
    • I can even boast in the great benefit of the care of God, that others might be compelled to come into that care.
    • All are seen in this way by God, but not all reap the benefits because not everyone listens. For others, our boasting in Christ is to bring them to want to listen to him.

I hope that from this you can get insight into this Bible study method, into Psalm 139:1-2, and even some insight into me. Everything I look at will be touched by my unique perspective and personality. So will everything you look at. It’s something to be joyous about. God knows your thoughts, so if there’s anything unique about you that needs to be changed, he’ll let you know.

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This was originally a thought jotted down for myself. I thought I’d share it. It is not tempered, nor is there any effort to take into account mitigating factors. It was written for me, and I haven’t edited it.

Here it is:

Modern preachers repeat and plead, repeat and plead. They know they are talking to those that are not disciples. They have to plead and grab attention so that the person in the pew might consider what they have to say. They have to repeat their points, use many illustrations, and do everything they can to drive their lesson into the memory of the hearer (and to make sure it’s interesting).

Why? Because their hearers are not taking notes. Their hearers are not going to jot down beneficial spiritual truths and meditate upon them at home.

The clean are those who chew the cud and walk carefully upon the way. Those who take notes and consider what they are taught, they are the clean because they chew the cud. Those who apply these things to their lives and thus become wise, they are those who part the hoof.

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This post is an answer to an email, which explains how it starts:

I’m really not sure why you think I rely heavily on the book of Barnabas. My Sabbath page (http://www.christian-history.org/sabbath.html) refers readers to the Sabbath Quotes page (http://www.christian-history.org/sabbath-quotes.html) where I have quotes from 8 early Christian writers, all from AD 225 and earlier. The most quotes are from Tertullian, so I’m somewhat confused by your accusation.

The problem with what you say about Jesus rising on the Sabbath is that no one agrees with you from that time period. Since the 19th century, there are those who have argued that Jesus had to be crucified Wednesday and rise on the Sabbath so that there were really three days and three nights. In antiquity, though, no one even addresses that question. They simply state that he was crucified on Friday and rose on the first day of the week.

Barnabas (pseudo-Barnabas) does have the most interesting take, calling the resurrection of Jesus the 8th day, but he is hardly the only one who states that the Lord’s Day is Sunday.

I hope you understand that to the early Christians, they were not keeping Sabbath on Sunday. They were celebrating the resurrection. The Sabbath taught by the second century church was not on any day. It was a perpetual Sabbath of obedience, rest, and holiness in Christ at all times, something that is possible for spiritual Israel. It is only fleshly Israel that could sanctify one day per week. We can sanctify every day by living in the rest of Jesus Christ as Hebrews 4 teaches.

As far as the Bible goes, Colossians 2:16 is simply irrefutable. I know that seventh-day keepers try to change it into Sabbaths that occur during feasts, but they are ignoring the Bible in doing so. “Feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths” is a common phrase in the Hebrew Scriptures referencing the yearly, monthly, and weekly sacrifices. Paul would have known that. Suggesting that he meant anything other than the weekly Sabbath in that verse is indefensible.

I have no objection to fleshly Jews, who have come to be grafted back into the spiritual tree that is Israle, keeping the 7th-day Sabbath. The apostles almost surely did as well, as did the Jerusalem Christians. I would hope that they learn from Hebrews, though, that this should be passing out of their lives as they move from the Law directed at the flesh to the Law of Christ, which is for spiritual children of God.

Finally, you said something about the 10 commandments. I have two answers.

  1. The 10 commandments are old covenant. We are not under the Law of Moses. The handwriting of ordinances that was against us have been nailed to the cross.
  2. Nonetheless, Christ expanded and filled up the Law; he did not abolish it. I keep all of it the way Jesus taught in Matthew 5:21 and forward. I keep the Sabbath by living in perpetual Sabbath. I do not murder by behaving in love and not hate by the power of the Holy Spirit. I do not commit adultery by refraining from lust, again because I am under grace and thus empowered to do so.
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    Also, all feedback is welcome. Thank you!

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I haven’t had time to do much of anything throughout August except get moved into our new house in Cordova (a Memphis suburb). I still have in mind to make a post, or a few posts, on the story of the church.

However, someone shared a Bible study method that I want to share with you. All of us could use some “pop” put back into our love for the Scriptures every now and then. This was an interesting technique for studying 1-3 verses a day and making sure that you’re getting some real spiritual food every day.

First, you’ll need a journal for this. Don’t wait to get started until you get around to buying a journal, though! Use a piece of paper. Don’t let a purchase stop you from building yourself up in God’s Word.

1. Pray (of course)
2. Write the whole verse out. Don’t skip this step. There is benefit to it.
3. Write the words “who, what, when, where, why, how.”
4. Highlight repeated words in the verse. Matthew, the person who suggested this method, uses different colored highlighters to mark each word that is repeated with a different color. He suggested using different shapes (circle, diamond, square, oval) if you don’t have highlighters (or crayons, which I prefer to highlighters).
5. Write three questions about the verse. Use the question words from step 3 to help you create the question, as well as taking note of the repeated words. For example, “Why does God emphasize and repeat the word ‘truth’ in Jn. 8:32?” Or, “How does truth set us free?”
6. How should this humble me?

The last point was very interesting to me, and Matthew cited Deut. 8:1-15 to point out that God’s commands and God’s dealings with us are meant to humble us. I recommend looking at those verses.

Gotta go!

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I like to say that history is, by definition, the most exciting stories and interesting facts of all time. As a result, I try to create my Christian History web site with stories that make … no, allow history to be exciting and interesting.

By nature, however, I am a debater. My whole family is. My kids inherited it, and my wife probably has been that way her whole life, too. I know she’s even more of a competitor than I am, and I’m a somewhat fierce competitor by nature.

So now I’m debating with my uncle(!) on Facebook. We’re trying to keep it civil, but the topics are pretty hot, and we have very different perspectives on Christianity.

It has dawned on me that the problem is my storytelling. It’s absent in such a debate. I am speaking from a context of the history of the whole church all the way back to the apostles. Most Protestants have no clue about that history. As a result, they are shocked to find out that such important background to their faith could have been withheld from them.

So let’s tell the Christian story. I’ll give references where it’s easy to do so. If there are references you want that I did not supply, please request them in the comments.

The Christian Story

Before the beginning, there was only God. Inside of God was his Word.

Note: the Greek word for “Word” is Logos, and it can mean message, word, reason, or thought. It is the basis for our English word “logic.”

At some point, before the beginning began, and in some way that we cannot understand, God gave birth to his Word. The Word became the Son of God. The Son was not separate from the Father, but he came forth from the Father like a stream comes from a spring. Both share the same united substance (water), but yet there is a spring and there is a stream.

So the Son sprung from the Father, sharing his substance (divinity), which cannot be divided, yet being a different person than the Father.

Through the Son, his Word, the Father created everything, the visible and the invisible. (In the early days of the church, it was understood by all that God first created all matter—”the heavens and the earth”—then formed it into something recognizable.)

The Father fills all things. He can never be confined to a place. He cannot be seen (Jn. 1:18). The Father thus always interacted with his creation through his Word.

When God walked through the garden with Adam, that was the Word. When God appeared to Manoah, the father of Sampson, that was the Word. He was the fire of the burning bush who spoke to Moses, and he was the Captain of the Host who appeared to Joshua. He was the angel who accompanied the Israelites through the desert as a cloud by day and a fire by night.

When Adam and his race went astray, God began again with one man, Noah. When Noah’s descendants went astray as well, God picked a man, Abram, through whom he would build a nation to bless the world.

God took Abraham’s descendants on a long journey, spending 400 years in Egypt and 40 years wandering through the wilderness as a punishment for their lack of faith. He gave them a law, and he called them his own.

For 1500 years Israel, God’s nation, labored under the law, experiencing blessings when they obeyed and judgments when they did not. All this time, God was teaching not just them, but us, a lesson about man and about God.

In the fullness of time, God sent the Word, his Son, in a human body, born of a virgin. There he received the name Jesus, “Yahweh is Savior,” because he would save his people, and all mankind, from their sins.

The Creator of all became a man and was confined to a place so that he might end the race of Adam and begin a new one.

He came and he fulfilled the law that came from Moses. He brought a divine influence into the world that would begin to affect the world. He was baptized by John to purify baptism so that we might be purified by baptism as well. He died so that he might deliver us from our sin. He entered death so that he might conquer it, as a man, on our behalf, then he rose again to reign from the right hand of God.

His reign is accomplished through those who believe in him. Those who come to him, he gives authority to become the children of God. He literally recreates them. In baptism, they are buried with him, dying to the old life from Adam, and they are raised again to a new life in him, being partakers of his divine nature.

Infused with the Holy Spirit, these Christians no longer live under the tyranny of the flesh, but they are enabled to overcome. Life feeds them from heaven, and they no longer live by law, but by the Spirit of God who lives in them.

These Christians are Jesus’ body. When he was on earth, he had one physical body confined to one physical location, through which to bless the earth by revealing the power of his kingdom. Now, though, he lives, by the Holy Spirit, in each and every Christian, enabling his reign to multiply.

This is the background to Christianity and to the Church.

I know I left things out. Some of you could have told this story better. I was careful to include some details that were commonly accepted among second century Christians, but almost unknown in our day, so I hope that was interesting.

In the next few posts, I want to cover the story of what the apostles did with the words that were given to them by the one who is called The Word (Jn. 17:8,20).

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I haven’t posted on here in quite a while. We’ve been traveling, taking our kids to camp, preparing for a move to Memphis, trying to fit in work and looking for buildings to move our growing business to. Hectic but joyful time.

In the same time, we ran a special on my book, In the Beginning Was the Logos, and released The Apostles’ Gospel and How to Make a Church Fail. I’ve been trying to figure out how to turn our Revolutionary War site and our soccer site into more profitable “infopreneur” sites. We attract loads of traffic at both sites, but I’m not a very motivated money maker. I’d rather put out information than be a marketer.

So, speaking of information. Someone asked me why I ever post about evolution, since it might harm someone’s faith. As I thought about it, that part of me that loves truth rose up. I believe that all truth is God’s truth because Jesus is the Truth.

So here was my response:

Evolution

I post things about evolution because evolution happened whether we Christians like it or not. Better to hear it from me, who sees no relation between believing in evolution and believing in God, than from atheists who love the false Christian theology that makes rejecting evolution the only way to believe in the Bible. They love it because they know they have plenty of ammo to reach any Christian who actually wants to look at the evidence for evolution.

It is impossible for an honest Christian to deny that evolution happened if he is willing to spend the time it takes to examine the scientific evidence. The only way to do that is to say, “Well, Genesis says it didn’t, so I don’t care about the mountainous, one-sided scientific evidence for evolution.”

I’m not the only person who cannot do that. So, I was persuaded by Christian liars, like Gary Gentry (ref) and Henry Morris (ref), and Christian circus barkers like Kent Hovind, to take up the cause for a young earth. I’m not the only one who’s been persuaded by them to do so. I thought they had prepared me for a defense of the Bible in arguing with the “evilutionists.” Boy, was I surprised to find out they had been purposefully lying and not one of their trainees could avoid getting their butt kicked in a debate unless there was a serious time limit on the debate (like under 2 hours). With time to go back and forth for weeks, read books, look at newspaper reports, and see extended debates, it became obvious that one side was looking at the evidence and the other side was sticking their head in the sands, slandering, misquoting, and often outright lying.

I’d rather Christians hear it from me than on the internet or from their geology professor in college. Or maybe we Christians can just stay out of scientific fields like geology, or make sure we never leave the classroom because those who do, and are honest, know that evolution happened.

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