“Wisdom Cries Out” by Mark DuPré

This is an article my friend Steve recommended.
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“Wisdom is crying out to be heard, and is lifting up her voice where we are most likely to be.
This is not the conception we often have of God’s wisdom.”

 

This brings to my mind a section of scripture that to me has a lot of overlooked significance. It’s a reference I’ve highlighted several times in the past.

“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved…” (2 Thess 2)

God is not hiding, or making Himself hard to find. He has made Himself known and continues to make Himself known. We need to be sure that WE want to know Him.
Do we love the truth?
Do we want to love the truth?

Mark DuPré

Wisdom Cries Out

Proverbs 8:1-5 Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice?
She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet.
She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors:
“To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.

Finding God’s wisdom is something we all desire. But how to get it, where to find it—these can be challenges. But before we try to figure out a repeatable formula of how to find it, it might be good to take a look at the scriptures above. Wisdom, in fact, isn’t as elusive as it seems. It’s looking to find us.

We often think that wisdom is buried, like treasure, and we have to seek it that way. Yes, it’s more valuable than…

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God’s Glorious Gospel.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21: 1-7)

The matter of the new heavens and new earth can be quite overwhelming.
It is God’s ultimate intention.
It is the very last revelation God has given to us.
He has not revealed anything beyond the establishment of that new creation.
We can get very caught up with THIS world and OUR lives that we forget that God is moving towards something beyond the here and now. Even the (wrong) perception of “heaven” being our eternal destiny tends to keep our minds fixed on this world, giving the impression that everything will continue on as always: the only difference being a change of residence from earth to heaven as we each reach the end of our earthly life.

The fact is that this world is coming to an end. This world was NEVER intended to be permanent. It was GOOD when God created it but it was never intended to be His BEST.
From the beginning this world had a limited use. It could never go on forever. This can be seen in God’s command to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…”
Has anyone ever considered what the outcome would be if man had never sinned (and therefore death had not been introduced) and had continued to be fruitful, increasing in number… how long would it have taken for the world to become impossibly crowded?
That makes it clear that the maintenance of this world was never God’s intention.

Scripture shows us that God’s ultimate goal has always been a new heavens and new earth which will be the home of righteousness. That is the climax of God’s revealed plan for His creation.

The current creation ALWAYS had a potential for sin. The new creation will have NO potential for sin. The potential for sin was necessary to ensure that God could obtain a willingly obedient people to adopt into His family. Willingness requires the provision of a genuine choice. Such a choice also presents the possibility of wilful disobedience. That of course was the outcome when Adam and Eve willingly disobeyed God’s sole prohibition in eating the forbidden fruit an act that led to condemnation for all men.

Of course God was not taken by surprise. He had foreknown Adam’s sin and a plan for man’s redemption had been ordained even before the world had been created. This plan is glorious beyond our comprehension. It enabled the salvation of mankind without being dependent upon anything within mankind. Sinful man could do NOTHING to bring himself again into right relationship with a Holy, just and righteous God. But God didn’t leave man in that helpless and hopeless situation. While man had no power to save Himself, God was more than able and willing.

It is impossible to adequately describe God’s means of saving mankind. Words like glorious, amazing, brilliant and extraordinary are all inadequate. It has incredible breadth and countless facets, all of which turn the focus back on the redeeming creator instead of the redeemed creature.
He has provided a way through which all of mankind has the opportunity to be freed from the sin that has separated us from Him. That way is an expression of God’s mercy, His love and His justice. It is not arbitrary and favours no individual above another. Mankind is given both freedom and responsibility, making us accountable for our sin but giving us the opportunity to be freed from it. God’s justice demands that sin be punished, and in His mercy He Himself took the punishment for our sin.

All of this is part of God’s grand plan. It all fits together. From the initial creation followed by Adam’s sin right through to the destruction of this world and the creation of a replacement. Every part of the process has a reason. Everything is leading up to God making His home with a family chosen from among mankind; from all ages and from all nations, tribes and tongues.

And who is chosen to become part of this “grand plan”? Those who have trusted in His Son and His righteousness instead of trusting in themselves and their own self-righteousness; those who through the working of the Holy Spirit have recognised how unworthy they are and have sought and submitted to His mercy; those who rely on Him to forgive their sins and to cleanse them from unrighteousness; those who will receive the gracious gift He has freely given.

No matter how much I have tried I continually fail to glimpse the glory of God’s gospel. At times it seems like I’ve almost grasped part of it – but when I try to put it into words no language seems sufficient to translate that partial glimpse into something tangible. I think all of our attempts to put the indescribable into words will continually fail until we meet Him face to face..

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.(Rom 11:33-36)

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An article I originally posted 5 years ago.

Description or Definition? :Terminology’s Effect on Theology

After recommending Jeff Weddle’s article yesterday, this is something I wrote addressing a very similar topic.

Again, please follow the link (labelled “view original post”) to access the whole article.

Onesimus Files

(Edited/updated version of an article written 4 years ago for my old blog site.)
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Description or Definition? :Terminology’s Effect on Theology

I have a particular aversion to non-biblical terminology being used to describe biblical beliefs. I think inevitably that such terminology will begin to DEFINE our beliefs instead of merely describe them.

Take the phrase “Total Depravity”.

To the Calvinist this means a total inability to respond to God prior to regeneration. It goes much further than merely describing man’s separation from God due to a sinful nature. The Arminian understands the term in a slightly different way, allowing the sinner to believe in God PRIOR to regeneration in response to the Holy Spirit’s conviction through the hearing of the gospel.

Personally I prefer to have man’s condition described as being: “bound over to disobedience” as per Romans 11. At least with the biblical definition there is a scriptural context revealing the reason for…

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Theologians Diminish Grace

Another excellent and perceptive post on Jeff Weddle’s blog.

Please follow the link at the end (where it says “view original post”) and read the WHOLE article on the anti itch meditation site.

anti-itch meditation

Satan has focused a lot of his deception on the word “grace.” Grace is an abused word. It’s possible another word carries more theological baggage, but I can’t think of what that word would be.

Theology is an attempt to make the simplicity of God’s Word, something the faith of a child can grasp, and make it confusing so you feel like you need the Initiated Few.

You know when you’re walking into Confusing Theology Land when biblical words start getting adjectives stuck in front of them.

“Will” is an example. “Will” simply means a desire. God’s will is what God desires. It’s quite simple.

It remained simple until theologians became a thing. Now it’s not just “God’s will,” now it’s God’s

Decretive Will
Permissive Will
Sovereign Will
Desiderative Will
Directive Will
Perceptive Will

There could be more, it depends who you ask. Also some of the above may…

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Seals and Trumpets and Bowls – oh my!

A lot of the teachings that influenced my early Christian life presented the book of Revelation as a mostly chronological account of future events, terrible judgements on the earth, that the church weren’t expected to experience personally because we would be removed from earth beforehand.

This removal occurred through an event known as “The Rapture”, a snatching up of believers from the earth to be with Jesus. While many Christians wouldn’t disagree about the expectation of some version of this future event, there is a deal of disagreement about when it will happen.

My introduction to “The Rapture” was through a pre-tribulation mindset, meaning as I said above, that believers would be taken from the earth prior to the terrible events described through much of the book of Revelation, a period defined as “The Tribulation”, or “the Great Tribulation”.

I don’t recall when or why I started to question that common belief, maybe it was a realisation that throughout Christian history, believers have already experienced extreme persecution and suffering, so why should my generation be different (the rapture was always expected to happen at any time, within my own lifetime)?

I decided to see what scripture said. It was the first time I’d actually undertaken a search of the scriptures for myself, to check what I’d been taught.

 

 

I found that some parts of Revelation are strictly chronological, but a lot of it isn’t. I also found it brought to light problems with what I’d been taught.

 

In this post I want to look very briefly at what I see as the most clearly chronological parts: the progression of God’s final judgements released from Heaven, onto the earth, depicted through the opening of 7 seals, the blowing of 7 trumpets and the emptying of 7 bowls.

I’m not going to look in specific detail at each judgement. I want to address the general issue of how those seals, trumpets and bowls relate to each other. I can only hope that readers will carefully consider what I say below, and check it with scripture (and let me know if I’ve overlooked or misunderstood something).

 

Those earlier teachings tended to draw a strict, straight line of 7 seals followed by 7 trumpets, followed by 7 bowls. Since then I’ve come across other ideas but could never see the validity or the logic of their arguments.

So what did my own study suggest to me?

 

When each of the first six seals are opened, it leads to some kind of event happening on earth, but at first reading, the seventh doesn’t seem to do anything like the previous six, there seems to be no effect on the earth:

“When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour”…

However, as we read on it can be seen that the opening of that seal ushers in the Trumpet judgements, which DO result in judgements upon the earth.

“And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets… So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”

I believe that the biblical text describes the opening of the seventh seal as releasing the following trumpet judgements.

 

Like the first six seals, the first six Trumpets result in various catastrophic judgements on the earth, and then (like the last seal) the seventh trumpet seems different. There appears to be no specific, separate judgement released by its sounding, instead  “there were loud voices in heaven” – (note the contrast between these loud voices in heaven with the silence in heaven after the seventh seal).

Those voices announce that: “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

After a lengthy interlude the bowl judgements are described. Just as I suggested that the result of the seventh seal is the ushering in of the seven Trumpets, I’d suggest that the blowing of the seventh trumpet brings about the ensuing bowl judgments.

 

In very simplified terms, I see that the trumpet judgements are the result of the seventh seal being opened, and likewise, the bowl judgements are the result of the seventh trumpet being sounded (and by progressive association, the bowls are also linked with the opening of seventh seal).

The following chart is something I drew up over 30 years ago. At the time my ideas were still being shaped by some of the terminology I’d picked up through those popular teachings of the time; such as “The Great Tribulation”.  I’d now suggest that term, as well as the other label “The Wrath of God” be ignored on this illustration. I not only find them irrelevant, they potentially mislead. I include the diagram for it’s overview of the seals, trumpets and bowls, rather than the smaller details.

Following is a rough diagram I drew up more recently as a simplified illustration. What this diagram shows that isn’t evident in the above, is that the final completion of all of the seals, trumpets and bowls, coincide at the same point in time: at the return of Jesus, represented by the final vertical line.

 

I recall I once described aspects of these judgements as resembling those Russian dolls that stack within each other, with the Bowls being stacked within the last trumpet, and the seven trumpets being stacked within the last of the seals.
However that illustration was denounced by one reader, because (he said) the word doll comes from the word idol, and therefore my use of it bordered on the demonic.

 

Someone might ask what the point of this speculation may be – does it really matter?

Maybe not to you or to others, but it helped me make sense of something.

And here we come back to the topic of the previous post and its darkened sun, blood moon and falling stars.  That event is described in Revelation as the result of the opening of the sixth seal, clearly long before the majority of the expected “Great Tribulation” events promoted by those teachings I’d previously believed; and yet Jesus had stated that this would happen “immediately after the tribulation of those days“, soon to be FOLLOWED by the sending forth of His angels with a great trumpet “and they will gather together His elect from the four winds from one end of the sky to the other”.

 

Compare this to: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

And with this:  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

 

[note: these possibly/probably coincide with that last vertical line in the second illustration above]

 

At the least, I think what I’ve written about above well and truly blows a lot of traditional teaching of the rapture and “The Great Tribulation” out of the water. The timing required for those teachings isn’t backed by what scripture says.

But more than that, it helps me make sense of the timing of the Lord’s return, and the gathering of His saints, revealed in those other parts of scripture quoted above.

 

In the traditional teachings I’d previously held, there seemed to be a significant gap between the events of the sixth seal (dark sun, blood moon, falling stars) and the blowing of the seventh trumpet (rising of the dead and the catching up of those still alive) – and what about the post-last trumpet bowl judgements? – but when I recognised the above described relationships between the seals, trumpets and bowls, the perceived disconnect seemed to be mostly resolved .

NASA Memories

As someone in primary school when the “space race” started, Astronauts and space travel were part of the excitement of growing up.

I wasn’t aware of most of the early manned NASA missions, but I recall when some of the Apollo missions were brought to class attention by a student teacher.
I’m not sure which mission was the first we followed, but the interest was maintained until the early moon landings starting with Apollo 11.

What I remember most about that first landing, was being in a crowded Catholic Club, where a small black and white TV was surrounded by club patrons as we waited to see man land on the moon for the first time. It must have been a weekend night, and my dad’s cricket team had gathered there for post-match drinks with their families.
From memory the TV coverage wasn’t anything exciting – and I seem to recall that the actual landing was broadcast as a message of text across the screen, telling us that “Eagle has landed”. In a way it was an anticlimax. Where were the pictures?

I don’t recall when I first saw any actual footage of Armstrong and Aldrin stepping onto the moon. I have a feeling it was a long time after the event.

Over the decades my interest in the space program remained, not obsessively enough to follow everything going on, but enough to keep an eye on major developments. I was also interested enough that had the impossible happened, and I’d been given the chance to board a NASA mission, I wouldn’t have hesitated. At the time, I even believed I would have eagerly boarded a shuttle mission the day after the Challenger explosion if I’d been given the opportunity.

Now approaching 60, even the wildest dream of becoming an astronaut has long gone, and my age would be the least of the disqualifying factors.
I’ve recently been listening to a series on NASA podcasts that have included details of Astronaut selection. Apparently, for the latest recruitment intake of 12, they received 18,000 applications. Those finally selected had multiple degrees, and an incredible breadth of extreme life experience. After listening to the podcast I had to wonder how any individual could fit so much into the first decade or two of adult life.

[https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP]

Today marks the 49th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 8, crewed by Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, William Anders (Lovell would later go on to greater fame as the commander of the almost disastrous Apollo 13 mission).

Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to leave earth’s orbit, and its crew were the first men to travel to the moon and back.

 

Entering lunar orbit on Christmas eve, the crew each read parts of the creation account from Genesis 1.