Day 354 (Dec. 20): Faith is key to salvation, Old Testament heroes were rewarded for their faith, others suffered and died for their faith knowing they would have a better eternal life, God disciplines those He loves, there is a peaceful harvest after suffering the pain of discipline, listen to God so you don’t miss God’s grace, God to shake the earth so only the unshakable will remain

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.

Hebrews 11-12

Questions & Observations

I could write observations for every verse in this reading.  All the reminders of the OT and how they have come to fruition in the whole picture of God’s word were so enlightening!  God is blessing us with so many answers and insightful closures at the end of the Great Book!

Q. (Hebrews 11:1): Let’s try this again: I don’t understand the virtue of hope.  Why should we hope for something if we believe it will happen?  To me hoping signifies doubt.  But, the teachings of the Bible encourage hope.

A. As this passage alludes to, the line between hope and faith gets fairly blurry, but I confess I do not understand in what sense you feel that hoping for something involves doubt — hope is very opposite of doubt.  God has give us a vision in the Bible of how life can be when we follow after Him instead of our own desires, but again, we live in that tension of “already” but “not yet”.  So we have seen how things can turn with God’s help, but they have not “turned” yet, so to speak, for many of us.  But we believe that there is a better future, a better world, etc. for us (and our children, and grandchildren, and…), and that I think is the basis of hope.  We seek and desire the world to come, the rewards of our labor, and the purging of sin/evil from the world — Revelation will cast a vision of — but we know that it is not yet here.  So we wait, but we wait hopefully, not pessimistically.  C. S. Lewis had this to say about hope:

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.

Q. (Hebrews 11:6): So to ask questions is to seek and by asking does not mean that I am weak in the Spirit, rather that I am trying to clear up confusion so I can gain understanding and BE closer to God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.

A. Yes, I would say that is correct.

O. (11:26): When a believer says, “Look up,” I have thought it just meant to consider God when I deliberating about something.  But, here we see it has more meanings like, “Keep your eyes on the eternal prize.”  And greed for the joy we’ll have in heaven is a great reason, but it has earthly goodness in it by actually bringing joy to your life and others.  Making others happy, makes me happy, makes God happy and vice versa: you get happy from others and God gets happy all over.  Making God happy makes me happy.  “Looking up,” always thinking of our heavenly home can get us through the hard times on earth and helps us make the right choices to get there.

Q. (12:7-9): What is divine discipline?  Does this mean that when something hurts us that we are being punished?  So, we should rejoice because if God punishes us, we know He loves us and is working to set us straight?

A. What the writer is arguing here is that the suffering and persecution that Christians often face (not from God directly) should be seen as discipline and instructive training for our own spiritual development.  Many who have suffered greatly under persecution achieve a level of faith that is difficult for us to even comprehend — God used (but did not cause) the situation and the persecution to deepen the faith of those who were suffering for the Gospel.  And as the passage reminds us, Jesus Himself is our example of how to persevere in the midst of suffering: He is our example and the truest Son of God.

O. (12:14): This reminds me of the Jackie Robinson story when instead of getting irate at the people persecuting them, he turned the other cheek.  He won his battle by staying true to his goal, having endurance and then many could see that he was no different from them.  If we let our oppressors ruffle our feathers and they see us get irate, then they are not seeing the Jesus’s love.

Q. (12:27-28): By unshakable, I would take it that “sin” and Satan have no power over us?

A. The power of sin will be broken (as we will soon see in Revelation), and the Kingdom that God will establish will be eternal, not finite as this world is now.

Day 349 (Dec. 15): Paul tells Timothy to keep his eyes on Jesus, put trust in God — not money, Paul gives instructions for Titus in Crete, teach moral living, Jesus and God gave us life we didn’t earn or deserve, Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful

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.

1 Timothy 6:11-21

Titus 1-3:15

2 Timothy 1:1-18

Questions & Observations

Q. Can we assume that as Paul ages, he knows he needs others to continue his work.  How did Paul get to be the lead apostle?  Paul was smart to encourage others to continue teaching.  He shouldn’t do it all himself.  I just wonder the danger in doing too much.  It makes me think, and be serious about it, that I need to always take time for my kids.  So many times I get so busy with life and think, “the kids will be OK.  Allie can play by herself while her sister is doing homework and I’m making dinner.”  But, night after night of that can’t be good.  Paul didn’t have children, so he didn’t have to consider who he is leaving at home when he was touring the map.  Wasn’t it Paul that said it’s wise not to marry if you want to spread the Word?

A. Paul did not consider himself the “lead” apostle — there really wasn’t such a thing anyway — all the apostles had their own callings, and Paul’s was to be the apostle to Gentiles.  And while Paul did say that if you want to give your whole self to ministry, you can’t be married, there are certainly people who are married but who are ALSO called to ministry.

O. (1 Timothy 6:20): This reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend who goes way back.  I asked him if he had read the Bible.  He said, “yes, it’s a good book.”  That’s not quite how I view the Bible.  I hadn’t talked to him in a long time, but tomorrow is his birthday, so I called him today.  I mentioned that I’m near the end of my Bible-in-a-year blog.  I don’t know what brought it up, but he said the Bible contradicts itself a lot.  Now, that I’m near the end and have a lot more Bible knowledge thanks to God and Rob for explaining, I can say that it appears to contradict itself, but if you know the entire Bible, it does not contradict itself at all.  It just feels good to have more clarity of Bible stories.

A. As we’ve mentioned from time to time, such knee-jerk reactions tend to be a way to minimize what the Bible actually has to say.  It is very easy to look at scriptures that say different things and bluntly say, “ha, contradiction!”  But such assertions frequently miss depth of reading issues, context, and the need for an intelligent reader who will accept that sometimes the Bible does say things that would appear contradictory in different places — if you don’t know any better.  The sad part is how many Christians have bought into this lie.

Q. (Titus 1:1): The truth that Paul is talking about is that Jesus resurrected and is the Messiah?

A. Well, that’s part of it.  The truth is the whole of the gospel message, including that Jesus died for our sins, was raised/resurrected to new life, and — most importantly for this question — desires to be in relationship with each of us.

Q. (Titus 1:5-16): I take it that Crete has a few problems?

A. Crete was considered by many to be an island of stupid savages who did nothing but fight and drink.  It was the butt of jokes in the rest of the Roman Empire, so much so that the term “Cretan,” used to mean a moron or idiot, comes from a person born on this island.

Q. (Titus 2:3-5): Am I supposed to give up the notion that I am not equal in authority with my husband?  And, Paul says that women encourage others to work in the home.  What does that mean for women today?  Are we supposed to follow suit?  Sometimes, I think it would be easier to work at home — I’m not saying it’s an easy job, I’ve done it for the last 8 ½ years.  But, the kids do need taken care of and loved.  And, it is so hard to find a job after being out of work that long.  Today’s middle class is designed to where families can live a more comfortable life with two incomes, or they may need two incomes to pay the bills.

A. I’m not sure where you see “not equal in authority” in these verses, but we’ve talked about this a fair amount: some denominations would say, “yes, but ONLY in terms of preaching authority within a church.”  Others see verses like this as a relic, and discard them.  I’m not going to tell you which “way” to see it, because there’s more than one right way, and I have no problem with that.  Now as to your other questions, you need to be careful about how you interpret what Paul is saying.  Paul was speaking to a society in which women were not full members, and were not able to conduct business, own property, or be seen as equals to men.  All of those things are radically different today, and so we must take that into account.

Now, one of the biggest problems we have as a society is that we do not take the time to properly invest in our kids, and part of the reason for that is we look down upon women who work from home.  Other women in particular see them as “wasting” their lives when they could be breaking glass ceilings or otherwise asserting themselves in what they see as the men’s world of work.  I see nothing wrong with women working outside the home, especially if the husband is unable to (a situation my wife and I have been in a time or two), but we must be willing to understand that such a decision has a cost on the next generation, especially if both men and women work outside the home.  And what you are describing about the middle class, with the expectation of being a two-family income, often comes with crushing amounts of debt — something the Bible does not endorse.  Many families are FORCED to be two-income families by their debt load, which certainly limits the families’ ability to invest in the next generation or be generous in the ways that God expects.  While I do see benefit in being in a stable, two-income family, I see great costs in it as well (not to mention great stress!), some of which are not properly taken into account when men and women start a family.

Q. (2 Timothy 8b): So it’s potential suffering now for believers and get rewarded later with eternal life?  But, in other places in the Bible, it says that faith can be rewarded with a rich life.  Is it that we never know what we are going to get?  Like a box of chocolates, it’s all good!

A. The idea that God will richly reward you for being a Christian is a modern notion, which would have made no sense to Christians for thousands of years.  The life of a radical Christian would very often set that person at odds with society, and persecution has often been the result (just off the top of my head, read about the terrible persecution of the Anabaptist movement by both Catholics and other Protestants).  We should be following after God NOT for the rewards He can offer — which comes dangerously close to the Prosperity Gospel — but because His way is the true way.