Tag Archives: John

Bible Promise Logic

11 Jan

John 8:31-32  If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free

I’ve been struggling with knowing God’s truth, but not having it make a difference in my day to day life.  Here’s how this struggle looks in a partial syllogism or Enthymeme:

  • Premise:  If you know the truth
  • Conclusion: Then, you will be set free

To complete or make explicit the missing premise in this enthymeme, I can write it like this:

  • P1 – All those who know the truth will be set free
  • P2 – I know the truth
  • Conclusion – Therefore, I have been set free

But here’s the rub:  I DO know the truth about Jesus and how I have a new identity as a regenerate Christian, adopted child of our Triune God.  But I still live in bondage to some faulty thinking EVEN though I know better.

So the syllogism that describes my true, functional condition looks like this:

  • P1 All those who know the truth will be set free
  • P2 I am not free, but in bondage
  • Therefore, I do not really know the truth

Solution?  There’s only one way to be set free.  And that is to immerse myself in the Gospels and pray, asking God to grant me to know Jesus and what He did for me both in atoning for my sins and in fulfilling the law.  The shorthand way to describe that remedy is for me to meditate on just how much He loves me.

A verse I read this morning caused me to see that possibility: 1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.

Maybe I don’t TRUST God’s love for me because I don’t really know it.  I see now that even before my recent frustration with feeling trapped in habitual practices, I was groping for a deeper and more intimate knowledge of God.  I had chosen my 2018 New Year’s Resolution to notice and study God’s glory wherever it comes up in the Bible.

I intuitively feel that the path to liberation lies in going deep into seeing, observing, studying, meditating on the glory of God as manifest in Jesus and being satisfied with who He is and what He has done.

How logic rescues us from false guilt

29 Jun

John 14:15  If you love me, you will keep my commandments

At first reading, I feel convicted.  I must not really love God, for I don’t obey his every commandment.

But that is a reverse and false reading of this hypothetical conditional premise.

Jesus, who instructed his disciples right up until Roman guards arrested him on the eve of his crucifixion, did NOT teach:

If you keep all my rules, then it’ll be true that you love me.

Well, then what was it that he taught?  Here’s both the bad news and the good news (Gospel) of our love for God.

  • No one naturally is capable of loving God, for everyone is born with a birth defect called hatred or indifference toward God
  • If we feel ANY affection for or interest in the biblical God (as described in the Bible), then that is evidence of the Holy Spirit’s saving work in our stony hearts.  Only God can swap out a stiff and impenetrable heart and replace it with a softness and inclination for him.

So what about the ….”then you’ll obey me” clause?

Think of it like this.  When someone loves you and you feel love for him or her, you naturally want to please him or her.  You want to know what they think, what interests them, what they consider important.  So it is with God.  Because he loves us first and then follows that electing and intentional love by implanting in us a reciprocal love for him, we receive new desires and delights.

If it is THAT easy to twist the meaning of a Bible truth through faulty logic, what other realities might we have equally misconstrued?


Gospel logic

18 May

God is able to make all grace abound to you that always having all sufficiency in all things, you may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Cor 9:8

I sometimes struggle with feeling as though I have SUFFICIENT time to do what I want to do – read during a period of the day when I am most alert.

So anytime I hear mention of the concepts of ENOUGH or SATISFACTION, which both can be described as contentment with the current supply, my ears perk up.

The other day, I was thinking about how  I might logically frame my feeling of sufficiency. Here is an initial attempt:

Premise 1: If I have all sufficiency in money, time and health, I am content

Premise 2: God has said that He is able to provide me with complete sufficiency

Conclusion: I should be content because I have access to my sufficiency by asking Him regularly for what I need

If the above reasoning is true, then why might I still struggle with a sense of lack or not enough?

Immediately the Holy Spirit reminded me of the PURPOSE for which God promises to provide me sufficiency.  Not primarily (so it might seem) simply to please myself, but instead to do the work that HE has planned for me to undertake.  In Ephesians, Paul reminds us that we are raised from the walking dead to being alive in Christ to undertake and carry out the works that God has planned for us.

For we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10

(an aside, the Greek word for workmanship is poiema which some have rendered as ‘poetry’)

Okay – so when God gives us grace that translates into sufficiency, He says that it is not for our good pleasure (my reading), but to do the work that He has pre-ordained for us.

Hmm…is that disappointing?  Well, ça dépend! (that depends, as the French say).

Jesus said: My food/meat is to do the will of God who sent me and to accomplish His work – John 4:34  And food is the Greek word broma which means:

  • aliment which refreshes, delights or truly satisfies the mind

It seems that God is VERY efficient.  He has so created work both to accomplish His purposes AND to refresh me. I can be assured that looking to God the Father for what will ultimately satisfy me involves letting HIM assign and organize the work I am to do.

Left to please myself, I might think what I crave for restoration are the time and energy to READ.  But I am beginning to see that maybe I am not wise enough as the created being to know what is best for me.

I’m slowly learning to depend on my Maker to know what kind of high-grade octane nurtures, protects and optimizes my spiritual engine.

high octane

Trotting out the Credential

4 Nov

Sometimes when a person has no solid argument to back his viewpoint, he’ll invoke his status as member of a privileged elite.  Such credentials might be based on education or experience or one’s lofty position in an organization.

But those considerations should carry no weight, as they are irrelevant to one’s position or reasoning.

Here’s a comical example taken from the Book of John in the New Testament.  The set up is this:

  • consider the Pharisees, those ruling religious leaders trying to hold on to limited power granted them by the Roman occupiers
  • then there is Jesus, threatening the status quo with his unorthodox teaching and miracles
  • add to the mix the masses, growing more and more intrigued and swayed by this new rabbi

The Pharisees dispatch a posse of soldiers to arrest Jesus and bring him back to them for questioning.

Let’s pick up with the dialogue upon their return, empty-handed:


The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?”  The officers answered,“No one ever spoke like this man!”  The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived?  Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?  John 7: 45 -48

John doesn’t add their response, but I would have loved to be a fly on the wall back at army headquarters!

If we formulate a syllogism based on the Pharisees’ last question, we get this:

  • Premise 1 –  All (only) beliefs held by the Pharisees are valid and officially sanctioned beliefs
  • Premise 2 –  The belief that Jesus is special is not held by the Pharisees
  • Conclusion – Therefore, the belief that Jesus is special is NOT a valid, officially sanctioned belief

We need to be able to spot quickly, to sniff out the misuse of a credential to bolster a weak or non-existent argument

One clue that never fails to tip us off is when someone sidesteps the issue completely.  Of course there are many ways to do that, all of them Fallacies of Relevance.  Sometimes they work, however, as many a parent will attest.

(Why, Daddy?  Because I said so!)

Logical Gal says Christianity is an evidenced-based faith system

7 May

Evidence-based faith system – does that sound like an oxymoron?

If you’re like a lot of scientific rational people, you might think so.

God apparently doesn’t think so.  He encourages us to check out the evidence and use our faculties of reason (that He, the Creator planted in us)

Reasonable Faith


Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God encourages us with these words:

  • Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord…. Chapter 18:1a

And lest you think that the ‘rules’ changed in the New Testament, Jesus himself invites His hearers to evaluate Him based on the evidence, i.e. His miracles or signs.

John, His closest friend and follower, records these words of Jesus:

  • Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.  (John 14: 11)

So, where does faith come in?  Good question!

Faith is a tricky word.  May non-believers think that Christians base their beliefs on a type of ‘blind’ faith.  They would describe this as believing DESPITE the lack of evidence.

Blind faith


But FAITH can actually be translated by two Greek concepts.  There is PISTIS (Strongs # 4102) which refers to convictions or beliefs.

And there is HOPE.  But this concept is NOT the kind of hope that we talk about in casual conversation as in:

  • I hope I get an A
  • I hope the rain holds off for the picnic

That is called wishful thinking. 

Wishful Thinking Dino

No, HOPE  in Greek is rather the idea of ASSURANCE, EXPECTATION, FIRM FOUNDATION.  The Greek word is ELPIZO  ( Strong’s # 1679)

Here’s how I would explain a Christian’s relationship to God.  Based on a careful evaluation of evidence provided by historical documents and the recorded speech of God, open-minded seekers follow the evidence to where it leads.  They do not limit or filter their potential results through pre-existing biases.  Then when they have a ‘reasonable’ amount of evidence, they put their trust in the God of the Bible.  (And God promises to meet those who seek Him sincerely)

  • Come near to God and He will come near to you. (James 4:8)

Do you have to have 100 % certainty? Of course not.  That doesn’t exist in this life in ANY arena.  When I buy a ticket and board an airplane, I am trusting the evidence of previous flights’ safety records. I have to make a faith-based decision to get on that plane!

Boarding a plane

So don’t think you have to check your brains at the door to investigate the claims of Christianity.  This religion is easily falsifiable. All one would have had to do to sink this world view would have been to produce the body.

But the murdered prophet who claimed that

  • He was God himself (Yahweh)
  • and that  He would come back from the dead after 3 days

DID rise from the dead.  And there WAS an empty tomb.  And Jesus WAS SEEN by more than 500 people in a different but recognizable body (nail holes and all) during a period of 40 days.

And millions of people have been convinced of the truth of Jesus and His claims to put their trust in Him.

Question:  What would it take for you to trust Him today ?

Logical Gal – presuppositions about trials

7 Feb

We all face suffering through trials.

Our pre-existing beliefs or ‘pre-suppositions’ going INTO difficulties determine our conclusions.  And our ‘bottom-line’ reasoning impacts our feelings and how we will react.

My circumstances in my new school setting have been painful this first year.  And they seem to be getting worse.  So I have had occasion to rethink how I view suffering.

Because I have a Biblical worldview, my foundational beliefs are influenced by God’s Word.  But, let me assure you, no matter which worldview you hold, your presuppositions will influence you.  It doesn’t matter that your ‘going into the trial’ beliefs might be different from mine.  I just want you to SEE how our pre-existing beliefs make a difference.  It’s a corollary then that you should EXAMINE your presuppositions to see if they are ones you want influencing your life!!

Here is how my logical mind is working today.  The following are some ‘givens’ or axioms that I have gathered over the years as a Christian:

  1. I am made in the image of God
  2. He is a God of infinite joy, so authentic pleasure and contentment are important to Him.
  3. He has wired me to enjoy what He enjoys
  4. The highest joy/pleasure in the universe is being in His presence when He is glorified. (the Bible affirms this throughout the Old and New Testaments.  **The one sample passage at the end of this post is part of Jesus’ prayer before He was crucified.)
  5. The best seat in which I can see God glorified and thereby maximize my true pleasure, is UP CLOSE, in my life.
  6. The more desperate and dire the situations in my life, the more occasion for God to show Himself strong and amazing.
  7. I am UNABLE to do anything to help myself in this current struggle.  God is my only recourse.  Each additional turn of events that makes things worse is only serving to make the resolution all the more amazing when He does act.
  8. God is infinitely creative and acts in ways that are often unique and beyond my imagination.
  9. In the end, I am REALLY going to be satisfied in God and grateful that He allowed THIS to happen.

Reviewing in my mind my core suppositional beliefs does help.  It takes the anxiety out of the waiting.  I can live without seeing HOW He is going to act.  Since I KNOW His character and how He has acted in the past and what He promises, I am more likely to practice patience.

Question:  What are YOUR presuppositions about suffering?  Do they help you?

**Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.  John 17: 24-26

Logical Gal – descriptive v. prescriptive statements

22 Jan

If you love me, keep my commandments!

If you love me, you will keep my commandments!

What’s the difference?

The first one is PREscriptive – it tells us what to do.

The second one is DEscriptive – it elaborates how something actually is.

In grammar terms, the DO THIS is called the imperative and the THIS IS HOW IT IS goes by the name of the indicative.

As you can see, the verb tense makes a weighty difference.  Welcome to another example of how distinctions can shed light on the meaning of a term or doctrine in this case.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is condemning the Bible because of certain historical events recounted in its pages? They might bring up polygamy practiced by the patriarchs, for example, or rape.  What makes the Bible so believable is that it doesn’t sugarcoat the past.  In fact Jesus’ lineage includes a prostitute, schemers and murderers.  Does it follow, then, that God is promoting these behaviors? Not at all!  This is one way the prescriptive/descriptive distinction is so useful!

But getting back to the 2 translations of the John 15:14 verse at the beginning.  What’s up with having two subtle but very different senses?

The first one is actually an incorrect rendering of the Greek.  The original language in fact DESCRIBES the behavior of a follower and lover of Jesus.  The KJV and the NIV translators, for whatever reason(s), were either unable to understand the verb tenses or unwilling or ASSUMED what Jesus said and meant.

But why would someone want to add a burden to a child of God? (Earn this!)  Because the idea of GRACE, of the gift of a relationship with God that one doesn’t have to work for, sounds too good to be true!

Question: Have you misinterpreted a descriptive illustration for one that is prescriptive?