Ethics: Holiness

13 04 2018

Holiness 

Leviticus 11:44-45 (WEB)

44 For I am Yahweh your God. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am holy…. 45 For I am Yahweh who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

1 Peter 1:12-16 (WEB)

13 Therefore prepare your minds for action, be sober, and set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ— 14 as children of obedience, not conforming yourselves according to your former lusts as in your ignorance, 15 but just as he who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all of your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy; for I am holy.”

 

Refer to the entry for 15 March 2018 for the Introduction to this series.

Advertisements




Ethics: Faith

8 04 2018

Hebrews 11: 1-3, 6 (WEB) 

11 Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen. 2 For by this, the elders obtained testimony. 3 By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible….

Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.

 

Romans 14:23 excerpt (WEB)

23  … and whatever is not of faith is sin.

 

Refer to the entry for 15 March 2018 for the Introduction to this series.





Ethics: Love

2 04 2018

Love

John 15:11-13 (WEB)

11 I (Christ Jesus)have spoken these things to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be made full. 12 This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Note: the words within parentheses have been added by this editor for clarity.

1 John 3:23-24 (WEB)

23 This is his (God the Father’s) commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he (Jesus) commanded. 24 He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the (Holy) Spirit which he gave us.

Note: the words within parentheses have been added by this editor for clarity.

Romans 12:9-11 (KJV)

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord….

1 Corinthians 13 (WEB)

13 If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don’t have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don’t have love, I am nothing. If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don’t have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known.

13 But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love.

 

Refer to the entry for 15 March 2018 for the Introduction to this series.





Easter Wings

31 03 2018
Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
            Decaying more and more,
                  Till he became
                        Most poore:
                        With thee
                  O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
My tender age in sorrow did beginne
      And still with sicknesses and shame.
            Thou didst so punish sinne,
                  That I became
                        Most thinne.
                        With thee
                  Let me combine,
            And feel thy victorie:
         For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

 George Herbert





Ethics: the Golden Rule

28 03 2018

The Golden Rule:

Matthew 7:12 (WEB) 

12 Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

Refer to the entry for 15 March 2018 for the Introduction to this series.





Ethics: the Greatest Commandments

22 03 2018

Matthew 22:36-40 (WEB)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

1 John 4:19-21 (WEB)

19 We love him (God), because he first loved us. 20 If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.

Note: the word in parentheses has been added by this editor for clarity.

Refer to the entry for 15 March 2018 for the Introduction to this series.

 





Ethics: Saint

17 03 2018

This essay is the foreword of a work-in-progress entitled A Handbook of Fundamental Judeo-Christian Ethics. Excerpts will appear here in coming days as blog entries.

IMG_0783

Saint.

To many people at this time within the 21st century, the word is little more than a moniker, a name with a certain sound, but virtually no sense. Saint Regis. Santa Monica. San Luis Obispo. Camille Saint-Saëns.

Others may think of the word in a manner more or less in accordance with Roman Catholic doctrine. A Christian of ultimate virtue and profound achievement can be awarded the title … like earning a knighthood.

The word is Roman. This is to say, the word comes from the Latin sanctus, referring to that which is sacred. In ancient times, Latin was the language of Rome. In medieval times, Latin became the dominant language of church, school, and state in western Europe; it was a major means of communicating across ethnic and national lines among educated people. This helps explain how the word puts in appearances in both testaments of the Holy Bible (the Authorized Version of 1611 especially).

The Old Testament―the Tanakh, also called the Mikra―is Hebrew and written in Hebrew (although a few passages employ the related language Aramaic). The English word “saint” translates chasid, which means “kind” and “pious,” and the set of words qadosh, qaddish, and qodesh, which mean “holy.” Holy in Hebrew harkens back to the meanings “set “apart” and “separate” and “separation.”

Except for Luke (also known as Saint Luke), all the authors of the New Testament were Hebrews. Their texts, however, were written in Greek, the primary inter-ethnic language of most of the Roman Empire. The Hebrew concept of set apart/holy is the meaning of the Greek word hagios, which was translated into the English word “saint.”

And what does sacred mean? That word harkens back to consecrated, dedicated, separated, and devoted.

These are the meanings one must keep in mind.

The word “saint” is employed some five dozen times in the New Testament of the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible, also known as the King James Version. Even a casual reading of the texts reveals that―in most instances, if not all―the word does not refer to an elite few Christians, to a kind of spiritual nobility within the Church. As Saint Paul wrote, all of God’s chosen are called saints; all are called to be saints.

So, what is it that a saint does?

Saint Paul wrote in one epistle to Christians, “Therefore I urge you … by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2 WEB).

This is what it means to be set apart, separated, dedicated, and devoted. Paul goes on in his text to epitomize what such devotion does.

And that is the purpose of this text.

The 21st century is far removed from the Middle Ages. Indeed, to refer to these times as modern is now becoming archaic. What used to be called Christendom, even if the designation was more fanciful than factual, is becoming ever more post-modern … and post-Christian.

Some people of the Occident may yet refer to themselves as Christian even as some people of Islamic persuasion refer to all, often in a pejorative sense, as Christian. Mohammed at one time referred to Christians as people of the book, and the book he had in mind was Scripture, Holy Writ, the Word of God. It is evident that Mohammed did not experience enough saintliness among the Christians (and Jews) he encountered. Christians, and Hebrews before them, had failed in their duties to testify with fidelity regarding the God of Exodus 34:5-10. The result? Another book: the Quran, also known as the Koran, and another religion.

And what of the Bible? Do people today who yet profess themselves Christian know what is in it?

In the 20th century, most people in the Occident could at least state some of the Ten Commandments. Most could recite the words of Jesus that came to be called the Golden Rule. Most could say some of what the angels said to the shepherds outside Bethlehem after Jesus was born. Many could state some of the Shepherd’s Psalm. Many could recite the Lord’s Prayer. Some could even quote John 3:16.

In the 21st century, however, it seems the only text of Scripture too many people know is this: “Judge not”… and that out of context. (Note what was said by at least one old Bible teacher, “A text out of context is a pretext.”)

Ignorance is not bliss; it is dangerous. Long ago God said through His prophet Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

God said through His prophet Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

And God went so far as to tell His prophet Jonah that the people of Nineveh had become so ethically challenged that they did not know their right hands from their left.

Individuals, communities, societies, and civilizations cannot afford to neglect, forget, or reject the Word of God. This is especially true for those who profess to be people of God.

Christ Jesus said to those who claim to follow Him, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Those commandments are scattered throughout the Holy Bible. That includes the Old Testament as well as the New. After all, Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the (teachings of the) prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” His apostles later taught disciples of Jesus to obey the Spirit of the Law.

And it was written by Saint Paul the Apostle, “So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom the whole building, fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22 WEB).

This book arranges a comprehensive selection of commandments from the Holy Bible into what the editor hopes is a handy format.

  • Part 1 lists those commandments this editor considers prime directives: superintending precepts that govern the understanding and application of all the others.
  • Part 2 presents The Ten Commandments along with references to subordinate precepts pertaining to each command within that Decalogue.
  • Part 3 presents the Gospel in brief and with the focus on answering the essential question asked by the Philippian jailer, “what must I do to be saved?” The answer orients on faith: obedient trust and trusting obedience.
  • Part 4 organizes a comprehensive catalogue of ethics by subject (using contemporary designations) in alphabetical order.
  • Part 5 provides a number of the Holy Bible’s summary statements regarding ethics.

The book makes no pretense of being a formal treatise on that aspect of philosophy called ethics. For such work, readers may consult:

  • Archibald B.D. Alexander’s Christianity and Ethics
  • Karl Barth’s Ethics
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics
  • Jacques Ellul’s Ethics of Freedom
  • Carl F. H. Henry’s Christian Personal Ethics

This book simply quotes what the Holy Bible itself has to say regarding right and wrong, good and evil, wise and foolish. Commentary is kept to a minimum.

It is written, “be diligent to present thyself approved to God―a workman irreproachable, rightly dividing the word of the truth…” (2 Timothy 2:15 YLT).

That word workman refers to more than what is required of someone undertaking a study. Thinking something through is necessary and proper, but there is more to be done. Working something out in word and deed, as well as in thought, is also necessary and proper. As Saint James wrote, “be doers of the word, and not only hearers.”

If the task sounds daunting, it is. But sainthood is not a status and state only a few can attain. There is help for all who are called to be saints. It is written by the prophet Zechariah, “ ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ saith the Lord of hosts.”

Hear what Saint Paul wrote regarding this Spirit.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace … the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God … (I)t is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be. Those who are in the flesh can’t please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his…. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him…. (T)he Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered. He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit’s mind, because he makes intercession for the saints according to God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified” (Romans 8: 5-9, 16-17, 26-30 WEB).

This Spirit is the same Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Comforter and Counselor, Christ Jesus said would “guide you into all truth.”

“Receive the Holy Spirit!” Jesus ordered His apostles, and “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,” He said to them forty days later.

“Quench not the Spirit,” Paul the Apostle orders the saints. “Be filled with the Spirit,” he also orders.

It is this Spirit who inspired Holy Writ, the Scriptures that can make all saints “wise for salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17 WEB).

Let it be so.