Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
O. (Romans 8:18): This sounds like the ultimate Christmas gift. I feel like I’m a little kid waiting to unwrap presents! Paul’s writings keep getting more and more exciting.
O. (8:23): This verse makes me calm. I know we are supposed to give God our stress, worry and grief, but sometimes it’s hard to remember. And, the weight of it is still there even though we have the Holy Spirit. And, to have the sin removed from us too will be like unloading a constant life-long annoying burden.
Q. (8:26-27): It’s amazing that the Holy Spirit is such a great, insightful friend — or a parent — that does stuff for us that we don’t even know about. Rob, I think I’ve asked about the Holy Spirit and the Trinity and you have put me off. Ha. Can we discuss it now? Also, my hubby has a good friend that is a Jehovah’s Witness. They don’t believe in the Trinity and I don’t think they believe in that the Holy Spirit is separate from God. They believe that it’s the spirit of God and not really a third of the Trinity. That’s hard to explain. Help me here?
A. As we have discussed, the word “Trinity” does not occur anywhere in the Bible, it is a concept that is created out of the Church’s ongoing understanding of who God is. It mostly comes from the understanding of these two facts, which are ironclad orthodoxy for Christians: there is only one God, and each person of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are called God in the NT. We also note that Jesus’ command to baptize is instructed to be in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or Ghost if you’re old school. Jehovah’s witnesses — the name comes from Isaiah 43:10-12 — have their own translation of the Bible, called the New World Translation, and their positions that they hold come from the way that they translate specific passages. Their argument is that that they are restoring the “true” ancient Christianity that frankly was never the “true” Christianity to begin with. JWs see the Holy Spirit as being a “force” of God rather than an actual person, but I simply don’t see you how can read John 3 — where Jesus describes the Spirit having a mind of its own — and see the Spirit as being a passive force of God.
The major concern I have with JWs in general is the fairly cult like behaviors that they conduct their church by: there is no personal exploration of scripture (you are told what to think), and the very domineering way that the leaders control their congregations, called Kingdom Halls. Overall, while they present a very passionate and righteous exterior, they are hiding some, frankly, dangerous cult-like behaviors and strange rules that worry me for those who are trapped within its clutches.
Q. (9:10-16, 22): I’m lost here on this Abraham and Isaac discussion and the question Paul asks about God being fair. But, in reading v. 22, it sounds like God knows the heart of people and He uses the people “destined for destruction” (who are already hardened to God’s way) to highlight those who have a good heart. I too thought God was being unfair by choosing some and not others, but like v. 20 says, who am I to question God? And, the pottery example helps explain it.
A. Regarding Abraham and Isaac, what Paul is pointing out here is that even though Abraham had many children (including Ishmael that we know of), God still referred to Isaac as his “one and only son.” That means that God was using a different criteria for what constituted a “son”, since God obviously knew that Abraham had other sons. That’s what he means: just because you were born as a biological child of Abraham’s line did not mean God considers you a “son of Abraham.” You’ve got the rest right, though I freely confess this is a difficult passage to understand exactly.
Q. (9:32): The great rock is God’s law? There is one scripture here that supports God telling them to trust in Him. But, to me, most of the OT was pushing the law. Or, was that just the Israelites trying to please God through trying to obey the law. And, thus, it was empty obedience? When they did sacrifice, most times they made the physical sacrifice, but lacked the emotion of it.
A. No, the rock is Christ, and most of the Jews stumbled over this Rock and rejected it.
Q. (10:13): What does it mean to call on the Lord?
A. He’s talking about professing faith out loud — part of the Baptism ritual if you recall- public declaration — declaring that one is trusting in God’s mercy for salvation, the core of the Gospel message.