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His Master's Voice
Copyright © 2008 - All rights retained by author
Written by: C. W. Booth

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

For the Joy, or, Instead of the Joy?

A friend of mine who works at Answers In Genesis wrote the following on his personal blog (http://whatdoesthescripturesay.com):

Iíve been blessed by Wuestís word studies and commentary over the last few years. Ö It stated the second half of Hebrews 12:2 like this, "who instead of the joy then present with Him endured the Cross, despising the shameÖ" Which is strikingly different than the usual translation of "who for the joy set before Him endured the cross". (Tony Ramsek, March 23, 2008, http://whatdoesthescripturesay.com)

Tony goes on to explain how this translation of the Greek behind Hebrews 12:2 is a more natural lexical - theological fit with the rest of the Scriptures than other translations. What motivated Jesus to die for us? I find the clarity of other passages informative: His oft repeated love for His followers moved Him to sacrifice Himself and His desire to obey the Father caused Him to go to the cross. He clearly did not succumb to the cross out of His own personal interests (Philippians 2:4-9), nor did He please Himself by going to the cross (Romans 15:3). Therefore, whatever the best rendering of Hebrews 12:2, it must accommodate the plainly revealed motives of Jesus as discussed above.

Coincidently, as I read this, I was also reading Henry A. Virklerís excellent book, Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation. Virkler, though not commenting specifically on Hebrews 12:2, confirms that other Scripture provides the genuine motivational impetus by which believers today should follow Jesus. And it has less to do with attaining rewards (like personal joy and pleasure) but everything to do with our love of the Lord.

Peter asked the Lord, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" Jesus assured Peter that they would be amply rewarded for their service, but then went on to tell the Parable of the Laborers. In this context it can be seen that Jesusí story was a gentle rebuke to Peter, a rebuke of the self-righteous attitude which says, "See how much I have done (I was not unwilling to give up all and follow You as this young man was). I should certainly get a large reward for my great sacrifice." Jesus was gently rebuking Peter for possessing the attitude of a hireling--"What am I going to get out of this?"--rather than recognizing that the motive for service in the kingdom is to be love. (Virkler, page 165-166)

Certainly, with Jesus as our model to imitate, we should be serving not with an attitude of "What am I going to get out of this?" but "Am I loving God and others by my service?" Rewards will surely sort themselves out in Heaven (whatever form those rewards will happen to take). But our service on earth is to be consciously driven by a desire to please God (Hebrews 11:6, 13:16), our gratitude to Him for the salvation we receive (Hebrews 12:28), and our love for God and others (Matthew 22:36-40). With regard to Hebrews 12:2, it would be a strange form of hermeneutics that would contradict all these passages so as to have the man, Jesus, motivated to serve primarily by His own self-interest in acquiring joy for Himself. Jesus, as man and God, submitted to the Father in love, going to the cross humbly to serve Him and to gain the joy of salvation for us. It is that servantís heart of self-sacrificing loving humility that we are to mimic.

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:14-18)




Thursday, April 17, 2008

Conveying Truth

Some years ago I wrote an essay, but never put it on the Web, until recently. It explored the question of which is true: that most useful meaning in a conversation is transmitted in the words used, or, through the tone of voice and hand gestures used. What communicates the essential core meaning (what matters the most to the sending of the intended message)?

A brief excerpt of the essay follows. To read the entire essay, go to http://thefaithfulword.org/whatyousay.html :

Relate this to the Bible and to church. God did not leave us video tapes or DVDs of the apostles and prophets recorded live as they delivered their messages. All 100% of the meaning and content of these messages are communicated by way of their written words... He gave us the instructions in text form only. All the Bible is in text form only. (http://thefaithfulword.org/whatyousay.html )

Are we really missing 93% of the intended meaning in Godís Word? What role does nonverbal communication play in conveying truth to others? What is your opinion?


[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online April 17, 2008. As such, it was subject to public commentary as is customary with blogging. As a practical matter, I normally delete the comments entered on the blog site when building this essay archive. If you wish to read the comments posted by others about the essays, you are invited to go online, read them, or post your own comments.

However, on a few occasions the comments and perhaps my own responses to the comments are so core to understanding the essay, or the implications of the essay, that I have chosen to incorporate them, as I have done below.]

Comments to the April 17, 2008 post entitled: Conveying Truth

Begin Comment 1 from Commenter One:

I haven't been on the blog for a long time. I know someone who does not hear my words but receives my nonverbal communication and it drives me crazy.  Granted there is non verbal communication going on, but it often seems as if the words are totally ignored.  Now, on to your article.  I did read "What you say" and I am wondering if there is a difference between verbal communication and written communication.  The people doing the study said verbal.  Concerning verbal I think it's not just 7% but who knows for sure how much it is?  Written communication gives us time to review it and meditate on it, which is a great benefit above verbal communication. also the one writing needs to be sure he/she is communication his/her intent solely with words.  Of course if it's saved on tapes review can take place--oh well, not sure what I think about all of this.  This is my opinion such as it is.

Posted 4/25/2008 2:59 PM

End Comment One

Begin Boothís Response to Commenter One:

Good observation about verbal being audible and wondering how that relates to Scripture.  Two comments.  1) Scripture contains an abundance of conversations which were originally spoken audibly.  2) Scripture is God's means of communicating to us as part of our living relationship with Him.  We pray, He often illumines our hearts with His Word, a way of responding to us. 

Regarding point 1), if 93% of the meaning of verbal (spoken) conversation is really non-verbal, then 93% of the meaning is lost to us when Scriptures record those conversations.  I find this improbable, as I do not believe that God would waste time recording something that is virtually meaningless.  Everything that He has recorded is rich in meaning and always accomplishes everything He intended it to accomplish when we read it.

Point 2), His Word is a light to our path, how dim would be that light if only 7% of its meaning is available to us.  His Word divides joint and marrow, spirit and soul, how dull is that cutting instrument if only 7% of its meaning comes through because we cannot see the hand gestures of the surgeon. 

Concentrate first on the precision of the words you use, carefully crafting them to be edifying, kind, gentle, encouraging, corrective, and loving (benefiting the hearer) in nature.  This is where the core meaning lies.  After you have given thought to the words and what you want them to do, it is acceptable to think about voice tone and hand gestures, but know this, your words are where the lion's share of the meaning resides.

Thanks for the observations!

Posted 4/26/2008 11:15 AM

End Response to Comment One



Monday, April 21, 2008

Celebrating Passover

This Saturday past was the beginning of Passover for many Jewish households. Our family celebrates a home "representative" (symbolic) Seder almost every year, to remind us of the roots of our Christian faith. This year we celebrated on Sunday the 20th, with six friends, only two of whom have previously observed Passover with us. It is always a blessing to see how the Passover picture of Christís sacrifice touches believers who have never experienced a Seder before.

Unlike other years, we added a ceremonial hand washing. This turned out to be the most somber moment of the evening. Everyone had their hands "washed" by someone else, and in turn, washed anotherís as one person read the entirety of John 13:3-17. This idea that we are clean already in Christ, and have need only to confess our sins to restore our fellowship with God, and that we are responsible to our fellow Christians to encourage them on their Christian growth was quite striking as we participated in the hand washing. As a result, a fairly significant discussion about foot washing ensued after the Seder. What a blessing!

Adding the hand washing extended the celebration by ten to fifteen minutes. My wife informed me that it took a total of 55 minutes this year. It is my preference to keep the entire Seder under 30 minutes. Over the years I have added more Scripture reading to our "script." I am uncertain what to do next year. Already, I feel we are omitting so many passages to keep the time manageable. This will require some thought and prayer.

Here is a link to our present Seder script (without the hand washing) and the recipes my wife used: http://thefaithfulword.org/seder.html

A second link explains my views on the propriety of celebrating Passover: http://thefaithfulword.org/passoverfaqs.html

Feel free to leave a comment about your own Seder experiences.




Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Bitterness of Sin--Illustrated

During our last Seder, as I have become accustomed to doing, at element four (the bitterness of slavery / sin as represented by a horseradish mixture), I instructed the participants to "load up a matzo with horseradish and eat it, so as to bring tears to your eyes." One gentleman at the end of the table had never been to a Seder before. He took my instructions ever so literally and scooped up every last bit of the tablespoon of horseradish sauce from his plate and ate it in one bite.

As he did that, the rest of us, having delicately dipped our matzo into the sauce and taken a bite, were also experiencing a burn unlike many I have endured before. My wife had changed the horseradish mixture this year for an unexpectedly more potent version. As we all grabbed for our grape juice, the poor gentleman at the end of the table was turning bright red and was virtually unable to speak. After downing his own glass of grape juice, tears pouring from his eyes, he explained that he had never actually eaten horseradish before.

After he regained his composure, he noted, "I will never forget the bitterness and pain of sin again!"




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