Easter Sunday Sermon – Our Certain Hope

Empty tomb with three crosses on a hill side. Easter 2018 Acts 26:6-8 Acts 26:6-8 “And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” We are all aware that some words we use every day, may have completely different meanings in other languages. The word “gift” in English is the German word for poison. Trombone in French means Paperclip. And I’m told that “In Hebrew our English word pronounced ‘me’ means who, our word pronounced ‘who’ means he, and our word pronounced ‘he’ means she and ‘dog’ means fish. Not only is this true with other languages, English words which have been around for a long time can change their meanings too. When I was young, if something was hot, it only meant that it had a high temperature. Then hot become cool. And cool become hot. And Michael Jackson taught us that bad was good. Green’s Dictionary of slang says “good” can refer to alcohol, phencyclidine, heroin or marijuana. Not only that, but over time the word NICE in English originally meant silly or simple – it was NOT a compliment. And the word SILLY originally meant that which was blessed or worthy instead of foolish. NAUGHTY originally simply meant you had naught, or nothing. You were poor. It can be confusing can’t it? And among many Biblical words which have changed their meaning over time, 2 especially have suffered a most sad and even destructive metamorphosis: FAITH, and the word I wish to key in on in this text… Read More

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A Good Friday Poem

Come gather with me, brothers dear I’ve longed to sit and dine To eat my final Passover With you I own as mine My time, at last, is now at hand And though I’ve told you so I know you do not comprehend The means by which I’ll go The truth, so hard for you to hear Is, one of you this night Betrays me to my enemies And then will take your flight Each one, not knowing what this meant Asked, Lord, could it be me? The hand that dipped the dish with mine He said, that one is he Then Judas pressing further asked Rabbi, am I the one? And Jesus said, “it’s as you say” The treason had begun ‘Tis then that Jesus took the bread And broke it as He blessed Take eat, this is my flesh For you – He this confessed And then He took the cup to Him And giving thanks He said This is My blood I give for you For sin’s remission shed Now do these in rememb’ring me When I am gone from here For I’ll have nothing more until The Kingdom does appear Then going out they sang a hymn And to the Garden came Where Christ in prayer so agonized In unimagined pain He prayed the cup might pass from Him Three times, He cried it still But more, He prayed – not as I wish My Father, as you will He prayed till angels strengthened Him And heavenly succor came Then prayed His own the Father keep In God’s own holy name Until at last the traitor came With those who take by might Betraying Jesus with his kiss They bound Him in the night And to the High Priest’s mocking courts They dragged and beat and… Read More

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Romans Commentary, Romans 6:1-8:39

This commentary was prepared for Kairos Publications in Buenos Aires. It was composed specifically for the Latin American church. In some cases I have retained the words “Latin America,” at other times I have substituted “the Americas.” The bibliography reflects what is available to the Spanish-speaking church. We will publish it a section at a time, and eventually as an entire pdf file. The reader will notice that its purpose is to explain and apply this wonderful epistle to the church of today. Blessings! Gary Shogren To download the first half of the commentary as a pdf, click here Shogren_Romans 1-8 Commentary IV. The Miraculous New Life in Christ (6:1-8:39) Ask citizens of the Majority World, “What is the main human dilemma?” and they might respond with legitimate concerns: economic inequality, or perhaps corruption, political oppression, lack of education, destruction of the environment. But according to Romans 1-5, our most basic and universal and intractable predicament is that we all, Jew or Gentile, are cut off from God through deliberate or even unconscious rebellion, meriting his anger. The only solution is forgiveness and reconciliation, freely offered through Christ. All other issues are secondary, all further discussion mere commentary. “While Romans 5 speaks of this new life as a life of peace with God, Romans 6 speaks of it as a life free from the dominion of sin” (Cevallos y Zorzolli, p. 114, our translation). Paul begins with the question of whether Christians should go on enjoying sin, since God is going to forgive them anyway. Of course not, he retorts: God demands righteousness of his people, and Christ died to destroy sin, not simply conceal it. But Paul does not simply tell them to drop their old behavior. Rather he shows how they are transformed into a new breed of humanity,… Read More

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New Documentary: “Fragments of Truth”

UPDATE! This was a one night special showing, but I am told it will be out as a video. You can sign up here to get the announcement when it is due out. I am extraordinarily excited about a new documentary on the manuscripts of the New Testament. This is a topic I teach on, and I can tell you that this is based squarely on the best historical research, by the world’s top experts (Craig Evans, Dan Wallace). That is, it is not one of these “Ancient Aliens”-style productions we usually see in the media. This is especially helpful to counteract these weird ideas, that old manuscripts are somehow a Roman, Gnostic, Alexandian Cultic plot to destroy God’s Word. Tell your friends! Better than the next Marvel movie! In the United States, you can reserve your tickets through Fandango. p52 is one perhaps the oldest known scrap of the New Testament. And it is starring in the new Fragments movie. Advertisements Share this: Like this: Like Loading… Related Open Our Eyes Lord

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When News is not News

I invite you to read two news articles: ARTICLE #1 – Eco-Terrorists Attack Clean Energy The millennials have finally gotten off their couches, but unfortunately it was to get involved in illegal mischief. This Lancaster Against Pipelines group trespasses into energy projects in order to get themselves intentionally arrested. Their new Satan is the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, a natural gas conduit that will convey clean, cheap energy over several states. In October 2017, 23 were arrested, and in January three more. Atlantic Sunrise’s website demonstrates with factual data that, “Not only will construction create job opportunities, but the development is expected to increase economic activity by $1.6 billion in project regions.” But apparently their “green” enemies would prefer to ship jobs and investment overseas, to protest that which they do not understand, while depending on their parents to pay the mounting heating bills. The company has had to hire outside security in order to protect their project. Several guards from Global Security repeatedly asked the LAP protesters to vacate the private property, but in the end they had to call the police to arrest these hoodlums for criminal trespassing. Atlantic Sunrise also alleged that their high-pressure tactics were tantamount to terrorism. ARTICLE #2 – War Against Christmas Rolls On:14-year-old Christian arrestedfor singing carols The secular culture has been waging a war against Christmas for years. Already it’s not permitted for cashiers to say “Merry Christmas” to their customers. Public schools can’t state that Christmas is the commemoration of Jesus’ birth. The White House has a “holiday tree.” Nativity scenes are banned. And now the forces of leftist political correctness have claimed fresh victims. In December, a 14-year-old was arrested, and an adult who was with him was convicted and fined $200. What was their crime? They had taken home-made Christmas cookies to… Read More

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Revelation 1-9 Recap – Getting our Bearings

Revelation Part 20 – Recap Revelation Ch. 9 Having just covered this unusual chapter in 2 parts, someone asked if I might do a brief recap to help put it all together. I thought that was a stellar idea. At the same time wanted to show you just how and why I arrived at some of the interpretive decisions I made, with the hope that it will be both useful and encouraging to each of you in your own study. While there is no question Revelation is a challenging book, with just a few key ideas under your belt, there is no one here who cannot read it without great understanding and profit – as long as we avoid assigning arbitrary meaning to the symbols and pictures it contains. So today will be a bit different as a sermon as I attempt to explain some of the methodology of approaching it. Basic Method: Questions. Are the symbols self-explanatory or even common to John and his first readers? Are they explained in the immediate text? Are they explained elsewhere in the Bible? Do the concepts accord with other clear Biblical teaching? What is certain?     What is reasonable?      What is mere speculation? I try to be careful to tell you where that is the case on my part. Quick recap up to Ch. 9. Ch. 1 – Introduction & Commission Chs. 2-3 – The Letters Ch. 4 – The Throne of God Ch. 5 – The Lion, the Lamb and the Scroll Ch. 6 – Opening the 6 seals (Revealing and enacting) Ch. 7 – Sealing the Saints Ch. 8 – The 7th Seal and the 1st 4 Trumpets Ch. 9 – The 5th & 6th Trumpets  /  What can we know for sure, and how do we know it? 1. Books… Read More

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Revelation Ch.9b – Seeing the Invisible

Revelation 9:13–21 Daniel 2:1-45 Seeing the Invisible We are currently in the 2nd portion of Revelation ch. 9. As we saw last time, a pretty challenging chapter due to the nature of its imagery. Once again, we are approaching this structure of Jesus addressing the 7 churches in Asia as they were in John’s day; moving on to Jesus opening the 7 seals of the scroll which lays out and begins God’s final program for judging sin and rewarding His saints; and now the sounding of the 7 trumpets which appear to be warnings and enlargements on the way God’s judgments will take place; and then on to the 7 bowls which seem to be the actual final events being accomplished. And just as John reminds us in his own 1st letter, 1 John 2:18 “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” – All the way through this book of Revelation we have this dynamic of the very final things yet to come, but in some capacity we’re are already experiencing some of those things now. I believe this 9th chapter gives us a real sense of that. This of course is fully in keeping with Jesus’ words to John in Rev. 1:19 “Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.” Because Jesus reveals Himself several times as: Rev. 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” We should expect this back and forth between things which are already history, some things contemporaneous with ourselves and some things yet… Read More

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Book Review: Lisa J. Radcliff, Hidden with Christ – Breaking Free from the Grip of your Past

Ideally, a young girl should grow up surrounded by love; the adults in her life should be dependable; they should respect boundaries; they should alleviate fear rather than stir it up. We instinctively feel that all of these shoulds ought to be a given. But the sad reality is that a large percentage of girls, and boys, are sexually abused. It has been repeated so often that it has achieved the status of a mantra: Most molesters are people known to the child, be they relatives, family friends, teachers, community leaders, and even religious leaders. And to multiply the evil, many in society and church have chosen the path of least resistance, going on the presumption that adults are more believable than children; that men are more believable than women; that abuse is caused more by the victims’ behavior or dress than the choices of the perpetrators. Lisa Radcliff has lived this whole narrative, being sexually abused as a child and then spending decades learning to unravel her experience. Abuse left her with a cluster of fears: not just fear of (some) men but also fear of bridges, enclosed places, bees, bats, tractor-trailers. “Fear monopolized my life,” she reports. That picture hardly seemed to match the Lisa that I have known for more than 25 years. Lisa in my mind is a woman who is quick to serve church and community, God-fearing, and bold to the point of sassiness. I never would have guessed that she had such ugly experiences as a child. No-one ever does! reports Lisa. But she has taken the hard and brave step of telling her story: that she was regularly abused by a local man, a friend and neighbor who enjoyed a sterling reputation in the community. She could not convince the adults in her life… Read More

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Romans Commentary, Romans 3:21-5:21

This commentary was prepared for Kairos Publications in Buenos Aires. It was composed specifically for the Latin American church. In some cases I have retained the words “Latin America,” at other times I have substituted “the Americas.” The bibliography reflects what is available to the Spanish-speaking church. We will publish it a section at a time, and eventually as an entire pdf file. The reader will notice that its purpose is to explain and apply this wonderful epistle to the church of today. Blessings! Gary Shogren To download the first half of the commentary as a pdf, click here: Shogren_Romans 1-8 Commentary III. Salvation in the Gospel of Christ (3:21-5:21) Paul has moved step by step to reach his goal, “that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God” (3:19b); he needed, as previously noted, approximately 68 verses to close everyone’s mouth. But now that he has arrived at the solution for the human dilemma, he needs fewer than 10 verses. This disparity reveals what was the mindset among the Roman Christians – no-one doubted that salvation was through Christ; some may have doubted that Christ was indispensable for Jews (in Spain? in Rome?) who were faithful to Torah. A. Salvation may come through only one channel – Christ’s death, and faith in him (3:21-31) 3:21-22a Paul now reiterates the heart of the gospel that he announced in 1:16-17, that it is only through Christ, and faith in him, that one can experience the righteousness of God, now “revealed” (compare 3:21 with 1:17) in human history. It is testified by the Torah, but comes “apart from the law”, that is, apart from doing what it commands. The phrase “faith in Jesus Christ” has come under new scrutiny, since Paul’s intention is less clear than the NIV… Read More

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Romans Commentary, Romans 1:18-3:20

This commentary was prepared for Kairos Publications in Buenos Aires. It was composed specifically for the Latin American church. In some cases I have retained the words “Latin America,” at other times I have substituted “the Americas.” The bibliography reflects what is available to the Spanish-speaking church. We will publish it a section at a time, and eventually as an entire pdf file. The reader will notice that its purpose is to explain and apply this wonderful epistle to the church of today. Blessings! Gary Shogren To download the first half of the commentary as a pdf, click here: Shogren_Romans 1-8 Commentary II. The Coming Condemnation of All (1:18-3:20) Paul’s goal is to prove that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23) and that even more fatally, any and all sin is eternally disastrous for Gentile or Jew. Foremost of course he is addressing the Christians of Rome, whether they are Jewish or not. But on another level, Paul is talking as if he were addressing an imaginary synagogue audience (see our description of “apostrophe” under 2:1). In 1:18-32, he first speaks about Gentile wickedness, in a way that his hypothetical synagogue would have certainly appreciated. It is precisely what the young rabbi Sha’ul would have heard or preached before he encountered Christ. Then, beginning in 2:1, he speaks to that same imaginary audience of Jews about how their own sins are enough to bring down God’s wrath on their heads. It is human nature that we feel most happy when someone judges the sins of “them” or “Those Others,” especially if we are left in peace with our own behaviors. It is not hard to find a modern parallel: Once there was a small country church, and two elderly women would always sit together in… Read More

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Will There Be Law In Heaven?

This is the question I recently posed in two of our New Covenant Theology groups on Facebook, inviting thoughts and discussion. I will reveal my reason for asking that, along with my own thoughts. Interestingly, the response from both ‘sides’ of the ever-ongoing ‘law for believers’ debate is in agreement – a resounding ‘No’! In support of that, the consensus seems to argue that as law is to do with the control of sinful behaviour, and there will be no sin in heaven, there will thus be no need for God’s law. Indeed, Paul says to Timothy: “We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” (1 Timothy 1 vs 9 – 11) It is not difficult to see where this conclusion comes from, and I agree with the argument. But, strangely, I do not agree with the conclusion. I think there will be law in heaven. Follows my explanation. Priesthood and Law Hebrews is key when we are considering the old covenant. There is an important statement in chapter 7 which, I believe, helps us to answer my question. Verse 12 says: “For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.” The writer’s argument is contained in the preceding verse: “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come,… Read More

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Living for the Lord – Bareback!

Thinking about the difference between old covenant lifestyle, under the Law of Moses, and new covenant lifestyle in the Spirit of God, perhaps we struggle to find the agreement between obedience and our freedom in Christ. The vigorous, ongoing debate between the respective views over whether there is or there  is not a ‘law’ in play for believers contrasts two legitimate desires. On the One Hand … Those who want to insist there is such a law are concerned with our obedience to God, in committed and specified choices and activities in our Christian living. Thus, they say, there have to be law-like commanding going on in the New Testament Scriptures which function in the same way as Mosaic Law did in the old covenant, binding the believer in law-like function, and holding him accountable. There is, then, a definitive prescribing in God’s word for our lifestyle, which stand against any thought that we can just do as we ‘feel’ the Spirit is leading us. … And On The Other … Those who want to emphasise that we are not under law, but rather under grace, and that we are to live lives led by the Spirit who indwells us are concerned to explore, to the glory of the risen Lord, all the joy and freedom, within the parameters of a holy life, unrestricted by the law-keeping of the old covenant. In its place, they argue, is the guiding hand of the Spirit, who imparts not only God’s standards, but the very desire to live to them. Concessions and Allowances There needs to be grace on both sides. For the concern on the other is good. But the tendency is for both ‘sides’ of the argument to push the conclusions of the other to extremes, and then to accuse accordingly.… Read More

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No Law! Yes, Really

David Gay has issued, and very quickly published, in pdf and audio-sermon form, a critique of my comment in the New Covenant Grace group. Sadly, every single one of his criticisms is flawed and invalid. He quotes me: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against such things there is no law (Galatians 5 vs23 ESV). This verse is indisputable. It cannot be implied that Paul only intends to say that the law of Moses alone is not in play – he plainly says ‘NO LAW OF ANY KIND And this indicates that when he says, so many times, elsewhere, that the believer is not ‘under law , he also means ‘ not under any law Not merely ‘no longer under the law of Moses , as some would like to have it, although the Gentile never was anyway. Comments on DG’s pdf. His words in bold: 1. I freely admit that the phrase ‘the law of Christ is not used in any of those passages, but what else can they be referring to? (Quoting various passages) Note: So this is a presupposed conclusion, from elsewhere, which has been imposed on these texts. I, and others, have commented on the passages he mentions elsewhere, and shown how they do not indicate or imply that they belong in a collated ‘law of Christ’. 2. 1. If these two believers are right, this can only mean that believers, not being under any law, are not under the law of the land in which they live, and they do not have to obey it. Note: This is quite evidently not what the original statement is about. The ‘no law’ statement in Galatians 5 is concerned with God’s law, not man’s law. This is a… Read More

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