30 July 2010

Question of the Week:
Generational Sin?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future. We make discoveries about ourselves."
~ Gail Lumet Buckley

"The LORD God [is] merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."
~ Exodus 34:6-7 (NKJV)

"Does this biblical curse still exist today?"
Bud Ezekiel

As surely as the Lord is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth—yes, sin is indeed visited upon successive generations.

This is most obvious when people imitate the same sin they observe in the world, often in a context which makes sin look normal. Another explanation for the same negative behaviors occurring in multiple generations is genetic predispositions being passed on in the flesh. (Those related to some forms of mental illness are one example; the human disposition to sin is another.)

But what about spiritual factors? The Bible says God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). When otherwise inexplicable forces seem to be powerfully at work for evil, presence of the devil (a demon) is a possibility. Evil spiritual forces may even follow a generation in the person separated from a parent, such as by death or adoption.

The person belonging to Christ is inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and need not fear being possessed by a demon. Yet we can still be influenced, tempted, and attacked by demons:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
~ 1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV)

God has not left us powerless against sin:

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

Iniquity is visited upon our generation by the devil, the world, and our own flesh desires. Knowing that the devil is an adversary out to get us should prompt daily training with the spiritual armor provided by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18). Such practice readies us to defeat temptation, regardless of its source.

A closing thought is that with God, even His curse works for our good.

Christians will face sin which feels irresistible. We are then frustrated by seeming inability to overcome sin and its inevitable suffering. But like a pregnant woman compelled by love to overcome the temptation to take in unhealthy substances which can hurt her child, the realization that our sin hurts others besides ourselves works together with love to compel us to muster the resistance we cannot otherwise find.

Those in Christ are members of one body. Any sin to which we yield is visited upon our natural and spiritual family. There is no such thing as a sin we can "get away with."

Tomorrow (Saturday) on Building His Body: window">Generational Blessing. Next week's question will be about the different words for sin / kinds of sin, and about overcoming sin. Please see my follow-up comment below.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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23 July 2010

Question of the Week:
Who Killed Jesus?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Who killed Jesus? ~ Anonymous

I offer these questions in reply: Who didn't kill Jesus? Exactly what killed Jesus?

The scheme to kill Jesus was empowered by satan. (Luke 22:3-4)

The betrayer Judas arranged for Jesus to be seized and killed. (Matthew 26:14-15)

The leaders of the Jews orchestrated the execution of Jesus. (Matthew 27:1-2)

The people of Israel had gathered to Jerusalem for Passover, nearly rioted to demand Jesus' death, and declared that His blood should be upon them and their descendants. (Matthew 27:20-25)

Pilate clearly willed to release Jesus, affirmed Jesus as King, and washed His hands of Jesus' blood—yet gave the consent by which both the individual Roman soldiers under his command and the Roman government carried out the crucifixion of Jesus. (John 19:16-22)

Jesus Himself submitted to death despite His power to escape it (Matthew 26:53)—not because it was His will (Matthew 26:39-44), but because it was the will of His Father:

Yet it was the will of YHWH to crush Him with grief of suffering.
When You make His soul a sacrificial offering for sin,
He shall see His seed,
He shall prolong His days.
The will of YHWH will prosper [triumph] in Him.
Isaiah 53:10 (author; full context: Isaiah 53)

God set in motion all these events because there was no other way to remove the guilt of our sins and triumph over death:

... without shedding of blood there is no pardon for sin... [Christ] has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself... Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
Hebrews 9:22,26,28 (NKJV)

The "many" for whom Jesus died is all humanity. Thus we might see ourselves responsible for His death only as part of the collective human race—except that each of us has sinned as an individual and is therefore personally guilty.

Exactly what killed Jesus? The above verse of Isaiah 53:10 says Jesus was crushed with chalah, a Hebrew word for sickness of grief or extreme suffering. Medical science and Scripture indicate that Jesus likely died neither as a result of bleeding to death nor of the suffocation which accompanies crucifixion, but of extreme grief. For more details, see "Broken."

Please allow me to suggest that when we resist the touch of the Lord in our lives, we fail to show appreciation for Jesus' death and continue to cause Him grief.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Image from the movie "Passion of the Christ," © 2004 Icon Productions

16 July 2010

Question of the Week:
How Should Marriage be Performed?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"Chains do not hold a marriage together.
It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads
which sew people together through the years."
~ Simone Signoret

What does the Bible say about how marriage should be performed? Are marriages outside the Church valid?
~ Rachel Hirst, Port Orange, FL

If there's a topic offering more room for misunderstanding of Scripture than the Trinity and the sovereignty of God combined, it would be marriage.

Though the first question (above) is how marriage should be performed, it implies a query about how to perform the weddings by which marriage is established. Let’s address both.

The Bible (particularly Song of Solomon) describes how couples of ancient Israel were joined in marriage—but Scripture does not give actual instructions on necessary components of a wedding.

Marriage itself was established when the Lord created Eve, in a passage later quoted and confirmed by Jesus. The verses are most familiar for their use in wedding ceremonies:

But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.... Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said:
"This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man."
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
~ Genesis 2:20-24 (NKJV)

The Bible goes on to say a great deal about how men are to treat their wives. Several places address women about their attitude toward husbands. Throughout Old and New Testaments, it is clear that God established marriage as a most sacred institution, and that He thoroughly abhors adultery and divorce. Reverence of marriage is emphasized as a portrait of the covenant relationship the Lord makes with His people.

Who has authority to validate marriage?

Marriage between a man and woman is the family institution which stabilizes civilizations, and societies in which marriage breaks down also crumble, so the state is one entity with a reasonable interest in establishing marriage, where no church sanction is sought. However ...

Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
~ Proverbs 11:14 (NKJV)

The man and woman who respect God do well to ask the counsel and blessing (officiating) of church authority. Responsible church leaders of all denominations will actively guide couples to neither enter nor exit marriage without the most serious consideration.

I am aware that the Roman Catholic Church goes beyond offering counsel, and that it denounces marriage by Catholics performed “outside” the church. However, since I consider the Bible the first and final authority on matters of faith, I suggest that a valid marriage covenant is established when a man and woman:
• reverence marriage as a permanent relationship established by God;
• exchange formal vows before witnesses; and
• give themselves to one another in physical union.

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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09 July 2010

Question of the Week:
Seven Day Creation?

by Anne Lang Bundy

“Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”
~ A.W. Tozer

Does a person have to believe that the world was created in seven days in order to go to heaven?
~ Russell, Port Orange, FL

Nope. But it sure is the shortest and safest route.

If a person believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ contained in the pages of the Bible, it will bolster faith considerably to also believe the entire Bible as God’s Word. The moment a person begins to pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe, no point of faith—including salvation—can be certain.

Evolution masquerades as science. It is an absurd and rapidly crumbling theory of atheism, in conflict with both science and the Bible. A culture brainwashed to accept evolution as fact will have difficulty believing the opening pages of the Bible which describe the actual creation.

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Genesis 1:31 (NKJV)

If the Bible can be discounted on page one, why believe anything else it says? It isn’t difficult to believe that the earth was created in seven days, because science thoroughly supports that fact.* The Bible goes on to assert quite outlandish ideas which completely defy science:
• the woman Mary conceived a child by divine word without a man;
• Jesus was raised to life after being dead for three days and nights;
• Christians will one day be instantaneously transported into the sky without any vehicle.

Today’s question could also be viewed this way:

How much of the Bible must a person believe and understand to secure eternal life? How does a person determine which details of Scripture are critical to faith, and which ones supplement faith?

Neither theologians nor committed Christians will all agree on all those answers this side of Heaven’s gates. The points of Scripture I personally consider critical are contained in my
Statement of Faith.

If I could choose a single biblical point to show Scripture's irreconcilable conflict with evolution, it is the emphatic assertion (recorded in both Old and New Testaments) that death did not exist anywhere in creation until after humans sinned. Evolution demands that life evolved from billions of years of death before man and sin existed.

* For those interested in creation facts from the Bible and science, showing their agreement with one another and their conflict with evolution, you may find a handful of them over at my blog,
Building His Body.

© 2010
Anne Lang Bundy
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02 July 2010

Question of the Week:
How to Hear the Holy Spirit?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"I still have many things to say to you,
but you cannot bear them now.
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come,
He will guide you into all truth."
~ John 16:12-13 (NKJV)

How does a person know the voice of the Holy Spirit?
~ T. Anne

The same way one knows any voice—by being familiar with it. But of course, the Holy Spirit must also speak to be heard.

My experience and the testimony I’ve heard from other people is that to hear God speak audibly (with the ear) occurs on only the most exceptional occasions. (If that happens, there’s no doubt about Who has spoken.)

My experience and the testimony I’ve heard from other people is that the Holy Spirit speaks words like a breath heard in the heart alone.

Part of prayer is talking, but richest prayer includes hearing. Many people have told me that they don’t hear God speak when they pray. I would offer the following reasons for that:
• we don’t listen quietly enough
• we don’t listen long enough
• we talk too much to listen
• He is silent for a reason
• we confuse His voice with other voices
• we don’t recognize His voice
• He is speaking without words

We live in a loud world. Retreating from noise makes it easier to hear from God. Listening long enough is another. Quieting our own desires (our will) is perhaps most important of all, because until we lay aside the will within us, it usually drowns out hearing God’s will.

Which is one of the reasons God may simply be silent—He knows we’re not ready to truly hear what He wants to say. We might pray for a long time, telling Him what we want, and never reach the place of asking what He wants. But if we do ask what He wants, and are ready to do whatever it is, I’ve never known Him to remain silent or unclear.

If we are in prayer and hear (feel) someone speak but aren’t sure whose voice it is, making assumptions is unwise. It could be the Lord, or our own will—or the voice of the devil, who certainly makes himself heard. If it was the Lord, waiting for Him to confirm Himself is better than assuming He spoke.

We better recognize the Lord’s voice by spending time with Him. The more time we spend in prayer and reading the Bible, the more sensitive we become to His voice and language. The more time we spend listening to the world, the more difficult it is to discern Him.

I have also known the Spirit to sometimes speak without words during prayer. He will gently turn my attention where He wishes it and fill me with such clear understanding that I know it is truth. I think of it as "the light bulb goes on."

Any good relationship is far more than talking to a person. It is talking with a person—talking mingled with listening. In relationship with God, one listens attentively for His voice, knowing He wants to be heard.

When one deeply loves God and sits quietly in His presence, even His silences can be quite pleasant.

"And the sheep follow [the shepherd], for they know his voice... I am the good Shepherd... My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."
~ John 10:4,11,27 (NKJV)

© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
Art image: "Pentecost" (1732) by Jean II Restout
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