Thursday, May 28, 2009

What about Sin?

May 24, 2009
Sunday School at Newberg Friends Church

The Perfection of Humans

Remember God who gives you all pleasant things; fear God, serve God, put nothing ahead of God, do what God has said to do, what is right and good, what God tells you to do every day

When suffering comes, remember God, worship God, submit to God, serve God, put nothing ahead of God, do what God says to do

Learn from suffering to be obedient, complete the work God has given you to do

This is human perfection.

So what about sin?
Job’s perfection was not sinlessness, but was instead that he feared God and turned aside from evil, left evil undone (eschewed, KJV) and he went out of his way to do good, to do God’s will.

Job 7:21 Job asks God why God does not pardon Job’s transgressions and take away his iniquity
Job 13:23 Job asks God to show him his iniquities, sins, transgressions; he asks why God hides from him and holds him as an enemy
Job 31:33 Job said that he did not cover his transgressions, as Adam did

“transgression” also includes rebellion, trespass, sin, fault
“iniquity” also includes a depraved action, crime, sin, fault, guilt, perversity
“sin” also includes misstep, slip up

Jesus’s perfection was complete obedience to God and complete dependence on God; as a result, he was sinless, despite being tempted to take matters into his own hands

Now an interesting case study: David—First installment, after his anointing and before becoming king

Here's the case for placing David in the category of "perfect"

1 Kings 9:4 God says to Solomon, “if you will walk before me with integrity (perfection) of heart like your father David, and in uprightness do what I have commanded you, keeping my statutes and judgments, I will establish your throne. But if you quit following me, quit obeying me, and turn aside to worship other gods, Israel will be destroyed”

1 Kings 11:4 In his old age, Solomon turned away his heart after other gods (the text blames his wives), and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God as was the heart of David his father

1 Kings 15:3 Abijam walked in the sins of his father Rehoboam (idolatry), and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God as was the heart of David his father

1 Kings 15:14 Asa’s heart was perfect with the Lord all his days (he removed much of the idol worship, though not all); however, Asa bought a military alliance with Syria with gold and treasures from God’s house; this reliance on human help rather than on God was reprimanded by the prophet Hanani, whom he threw in jail (2 Chronicles 16); the writer of Chronicles also follows up by saying Asa went to doctors rather than the Lord for his diseased feet

2 Chronicles 25:2 Amaziah did what was right in the sight of the Lord but not with a perfect heart—he followed some of God’s laws, but he adopted the idols of Edom as his gods, despite the fact that the God of Israel gave him a military victory over Edom, and he did not repent when a prophet confronted him

The framing of David as perfect centers around his unswerving devotion to God; his heart was wholly given to God; complete, undivided attention to doing what God asked of him

How does this show up in his life after he is anointed as heir to the throne but is not yet king?

1 Samuel 16:13 Samuel anointed David in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord came on David from that day forward

David played his lyre for Saul to relieve his suffering from being tormented by evil spirit after the spirit of the Lord left Saul; apparently David did this somewhat anonymously

After David went out and killed Goliath, Saul discovers who his father is

Saul puts David over part of the army, and David is wildly successful at killing Philistines; the people celebrate, saying “Saul has slain his thousands, David his ten thousands” and Saul becomes angry and quits trusting David

Saul tries twice to spear David while David plays the lyre

Saul gives him a command of 1000; he is again successful, becoming beloved by the people and feared by Saul

Saul hopes David will die in battle against the Philistines; he gives David his daughter Michal in marriage, hoping this will make David a target for Philistine hostility; plus the bride price is 100 foreskins ☹; when David brings them back, Saul fears him more

Then after a battle with Philistines which David won, Saul tries again to spear him and David’s wife Michal warns him to flee for his life, which turns out to be a needed thing

Saul's son Jonathan warns David that Saul is planning to kill him again

David flees to the wilderness with about 400 (his family, everyone who was discontented, in distress, in debt, sort of like Robin Hood); he sends his parents to Moab to be safe

Saul slaughters all but one of the priests who gave David bread and the sword of Goliath; the one who escapes joins David. He has an ephod, whatever that is, and they consult it for what to do next

1 Samuel 23: David inquired of the Lord, so David and his men went and did what God said; this sort of thing happens repeatedly; the point is that David does what he is told by God to do

1 Samuel 24: This is a funny story in some ways. Saul is pursuing David in the desert, and he steps into a cave to relieve himself. In this very cave are hiding David and his merry men, who urge David to kill Saul. Instead David spares Saul’s life, only cutting off a bit of his robe to show Saul that he could have killed him. He says, "I will not touch the Lord’s anointed." This shows David's submission to God’s will and God’s timing. Unlike MacBeth, he does not let his anointing go to his head, so to speak.

David says to Saul, "May the Lord judge between us; may the Lord avenge me on you, but I will not do it for myself"; this shows David's willingness to trust God to make things right

Saul admits: you have repaid me good for evil

1 Samuel 26 David spares Saul’s life again, saying, “The Lord gave you into my hand, but I would not touch the Lord’s anointed.”

Sometime later, Saul and Jonathan die. David becomes king.

David’s prayer "Who am I? "in 2 Samuel 7 reveals him to be humble, reverent, grateful, praying according to what God has revealed.

Main thoughts about what made the anointed-but-not-yet-king David perfect in his heart: His undivided will to do what God tells him; his refusal to avenge himself when he has the opportunity to do so; his respect for God that involves not taking things into his own hands but trusting in God's sovereignty and timing

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Perfection in Humans: What Is It?

Sunday School from May 17, 2009
Perfection in Humans: What is it?

Other meanings of the words translated “perfect” from Strong’s concordance: complete, safe, peaceful, perfect, whole, full, at peace, complete, lacking nothing in strength, beauty, sound, wholesome, ordinary, quiet, complete, morally innocent, having integrity, brought to end, finished, complete, having integrity and virtue, mature, completed, mended, equipped, put in order, made ethical, Make complete, make perfect, achieve goal

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him. (NRSV)

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. (KJV)

1 Kings 8:61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God 430, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day. (KJV)

Therefore devote yourselves completely to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day (NRSV)

Matthew 5:48 Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect; be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect

Luke 6:36 Be merciful as your father in heaven is merciful

Matthew 19:21 If you wish to be perfect (rich young ruler)

Luke 6:40 (blind leading blind, mote in eye)
A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. (fully qualified->perfect)

Hebrews 2:10 Jesus made perfect through suffering

“It is finished”—it is completed, it is perfect

What does perfection mean with reference to Job?

Complete, lacking nothing in strength, beauty, sound, wholesome, ordinary, quiet, complete, morally innocent, having integrity

Job 1:1, 1:8, 2:3
Job blameless and upright, feared God, turned away from evil

First response to losing everything: Job 1:20-21: Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, fell on the ground, and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Second response to personal illness: Job 2:10 “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?”

Job humbly takes both good and bad as from God’s hand and worships God in his sorrow.

Job describes his life of integrity (sounds a lot like Sermon on the Mount, James, parable of the sheep and goats):
Chapter 29:12ff, 30:24ff, 31:1ff
governed his eyes with regard to women, not adulterous
told truth, not deceitful
did not abuse the earth
did not conceal his transgressions
made unrighteous people behave themselves
did not exercise his power to the harm of the powerless
responsive to complaints of slaves
did not rejoice when enemies failed
did not curse his enemies
Actively compassionate, generous
delivered the poor and the orphan who had no helper
gave to poor, shared with orphans, upheld the widow
eyes to blind, feet to lame
father to needy, championed cause of stranger (immigrant)
did not turn against the needy
wept for those whose days were hard
grieved for the poor
gave clothing to the needy, opened doors to the traveler
Nothing above God
did not trust in gold
did not worship sun or moon

God refers to him in 42 as “my servant Job” who has “spoken of me what is right” and says that he will have mercy on Job’s friends when Job prays for them, despite the fact that they said wrong things about God

Jesus—also referred to as perfect in the NT (see Hebrews reference above): what does perfect mean with reference to Jesus?

Obedience, God comes first

John 4:34 My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete (perfect) his work

John 5:36 the works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me

John 17:4 I glorified you on earth by finishing (perfecting) the work you gave me to do

John 17:23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one (made perfect)

John 19:28—fulfilled (perfected) the scripture; John 19:30 “It is finished” “It is perfect, it is perfected” “Perfect” “Teleo”

Hebrews 5:9
Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

The temptation of Jesus reveals where he was perfect:

He responds to the temptations with quotations from Deuteronomy. In context, these reveal important aspects of his perfection.

Humility, dependence on God, obedience to God, focused attention on what God wants
Deuteronomy 8:2-3 Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

God comes first, no attempt to coerce or manipulate God, obedience to God
Deuteronomy 6:14, 16-18
Do not follow other gods because God who is present with you is a jealous God
Do not put the Lord your God to the test
You must diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God and his decrees
Do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, so that it may go well with you

God comes first, God isthe source of all
Deuteronomy 6:12-14
God gives good things you did not earn, take care you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of slavery; The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear

The Perfection of Humans
Remember God who gives you all pleasant things; fear God, serve God, put nothing ahead of God, do what God has said to do, what is right and good, what God tells you to do every day

When suffering comes, remember God, worship God, submit to God, serve God, put nothing ahead of God, do what God says to do

Learn from suffering to be obedient, complete the work God has given you to do

This is human perfection

Thursday, May 14, 2009

God is Perfect: what does that mean

Sunday School on Perfection and Sin, May 10-June 7 2009

Week 1—What does it mean when we say that God is perfect?

What emerges is that Perfection is Mystery

These came out of class discussion and the scriptures: Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 103, Job

Aspects of God humans view as (potentially) positive:
Not devious
No mistakes
Faithful—keeps faith

Aspects of God humans view as (potentially) negative:
Wants to win
Inescapable—no deliverance is possible from God
Responsible for everything
God cannot be accused by a human, is not accountable to humans
God does not immediately or necessarily set oppression right
Not deceivable

Aspects of God humans cannot really understand:
Not separated, not divided from God’s self or not self divided against self
Different from creation, different from creatures
Infinite and unending
With and in creation and creatures
Not bound by time

God creates, sustains, destroys, renews
God kills, makes alive, wounds, heals wounds
God holds in God’s hand the life of every living thing
God makes God’s self known to humans
God creates wonders, causes natural disasters
God is on the side of the oppressed

My notes from the scriptures:

Moses’s poem about God Deuteronomy 32
His work is perfect, his ways are just, a faithful God without deceit, just and upright

He is father, creator, maker, establisher

He divided the nations, fixed their boundaries

For Israel, sustained, guarded, shielded, cared for, guided (eagle and young), set up, fed, nursed,

God’s response to Israel’s idolatry: jealous, hidden from them, provoked, angry, punishing; however, God will not blot Israel out for God’s own sake because onlookers will think their gods have conquered. God will be avenged, and God’s people will be vindicated.

“There is no god beside me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; no one can deliver from my hand.”

David’s poem about God Psalm 103
Forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies, works vindication and justice for oppressed, makes God’s self known, has mercy, is gracious, is slow to anger, abounds in steadfast love, does not accuse forever, will not be angry forever, does not deal with us as our sins deserve, removes our transgressions, has fatherly compassion on us, remembers we are dust

(Psalm 104—Creator, provider, destroyer, renewer)

The Book of Job—one main theme is perfection

Job 42:7—God says, “What Job has said about me is right.” So we do well to see what Job says about God.

Job 7:17—God makes much of human beings, watches humanity

Job 9:4—God is wise in heart, mighty in strength, cannot be successfully resisted
Removes mountains, shakes the earth, prevents the sunrise, seals up the stars, stretched out heaven, trampled the sea, made the constellations, does great things beyond understanding; snatches away, who can stop him

Will not turn back his anger—he crushes me without cause; he destroys both the wicked and the blameless; he will not hold Job innocent, he is not a mortal, no one can be delivered from his hand

Job 10 God is responsible for Job’s condition
Job 12;10 In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being

Wisdom, strength, counsel, understanding, sovereign, strong and wise, brings prosperity and takes it away

Job 13 Majestic, dreadful
Job 19 God will be on my side eventually, God will redeem me

Job 24 Oppression of the poor occurs, and God does not set things right
Job 28 Only God is wise; 28:23-28

In Job 38. God shows up to talk with Job. God does not answer Job’s specific questions about why Job is suffering.

Instead, what we see is that God takes pride in the creation—look at what I have made and keep making

Look at the monsters I have created—aren’t they cool

Job’s response 42: 2
God can do all things, God’s purpose cannot be thwarted

Matthew 5:48 be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect—immediate context: makes sun rise on evil and good, sends rain on righteous and unrighteous, loves those who love him, loves those who hate him

Hebrews 11:3 worlds were framed (were perfected) by the word of God

Perfection with regard to God:

God is completely God
God is complete in God’s self
God is complete in knowledge
God’s perfection includes creator, provider, destroyer, renewer
God’s perfection includes creation of monsters, free will, natural upheavals
God’s perfection includes care for humans, interest in them, and care for all creation, including prey and predator
God is above, God is within; God loves the wicked; God loves the good; God takes it badly when humans revere anything above God; God is sovereign

This is the perfection of God

Next week: the perfect human(s)

Job and Jesus