Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Salvation Question!

Jews are well-known to always answer a question with a question. The story goes of a Jewish fellow and a non-Jewish fellow walking down the street, and the non-Jew says to the Jew, “How come you guys always answer a question with a question” and the Jew replies: “So what’s wrong with that?!”

Questioning, of course, is central to learning and growing. And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good” (Matthew 19.16-17a).

Questions are very powerful tools for making decisions and solving problems, for inventing, changing and improving our lives as well as the lives of others. The question of eternal life is certainly a big question and it seems that most everybody is looking for an answer to it. Even the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were diligently studying the Scriptures in order to possess eternal life (John 5.39-40). What’s up with that?

Questions allow us to make sense of the world. Certainly the young man’s question to Jesus assumed that eternal life could be achieved by doing some good thing but it also assumed that eternal life was the paramount thing to get.

Yet Jesus’ reply did not expressly focus on salvation. Rather Jesus obliged the young man to think more seriously about the word good. Answering a question with a question can sometimes trigger something to get us moving in the right direction. “Only God is good,” Jesus said. By emphasizing the goodness of God Jesus questioned the man’s idea of goodness. You see, goodness is found in relation to God, not by ‘good deeds’ of our own devising. In other words, Jesus is asking, “Do you believe that I am good and therefore that I am God?”

Think about it! Surely salvation is good! But if Jesus is good, then He is God, and knowing Jesus (His Person & Work) is far better than salvation. No! Even more, knowing Jesus is salvation (John 17.3).

Any questions?

enjoy, ron

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Monkey Around?

Prince Charles is quoted as saying, “I learned the way a monkey learns - by watching its parents.” Perhaps so but I wonder who learns fastest, the Prince or the monkey?

According to recent scientific findings, when it comes to serious mental powers like short-term memory, young chimpanzees can significantly outperform the Prince at some short-term memory tasks.

In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.” After all, scientists have the video to prove it. And one of the lead researcher’s says that chimps seem to have something akin to "photographic memory," at least for short-term tests. Don't believe it? Well, then, here’s a way for you to test yourself against the chimp. Just click the link below for a video test.

Click: Test yourself against the chimp!

FYI: Rules of the Game: First, researchers in Japan taught six chimps--three 5-year-olds and their mothers--to recognize and order the numbers 1 through 9. Then they taught them to play a memory game.

In the game, the numbers would appear randomly on a video screen. The object was to touch them in order: 1, 2, 3, etc. But there was a catch. As soon as the chimps pressed 1, the rest of the numbers disappeared, covered over by white boxes. So they had to remember where they had seen the numbers and touch the white boxes that covered them.

Results of the Game: Not only could the chimps do this just as accurately as college students, they could do it faster, too. So the scientists devised another test, to see who could remember and order five numbers that flashed on a screen for just fractions of a second. Result? Another chimp win.

PS. Once I entered a free-style dance contest as a teenager. I won! My prize? A Monkees Album! "Hey hey we're the Monkees, People say we monkey around. But we're too busy pushing buttons to put Prince Charles down."

Once I was a tadpole beginning to begin,
Then I was a frog with my tail tucked in,
Then I was a monkey in a banyan tree,
And now I am a professor with a Ph.D

Enjoy, ron

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Excommunicate Luther!

"Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me, Amen..." (Martin Luther)

On this day in 1521, Pope Leo X issued the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem, excommunicating Martin Luther, the German priest whose questioning of certain Roman Catholic practices initiated the Protestant Reformation.

Luther fought the good fight of faith to the very end. Seized by a crippling heart attack, Luther eulogized before his death, "When I die, I want to be a ghost... So I can continue to pester the bishops, priests and godless monks until that they have more trouble with a dead Luther than they could have had before with a thousand living ones."

Here is a short biography with links:

1483 (November 10) Born in Eisleben
1505 Monk in Erfurt
1512 Doctor of Theology in Wittenberg
1517 Nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church
1521 Outlawed and exiled to the Wartburg
1522 Return to Wittenberg
1525 Married Katharina von Bora
1534 Published the complete Bible in German
1546 (February 18) Died in Eisleben

Through faith in Christ, therefore, Christ’s righteousness becomes our righteousness and all that he has becomes ours; rather, he himself becomes ours. Therefore the Apostle calls it 'the righteousness of God' in Rom. 1:17; For in the gospel 'the righteousness of God is revealed…; as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by his faith.' Finally, in the same epistle, chapter 3:28, such a faith is called 'the righteousness of God': 'We hold that a man is justified by faith.' This is an infinite righteousness, and one that swallows up all sins in a moment, for it is impossible that sin should exist in Christ. On the contrary, he who trusts in Christ exists in Christ; he is one with Christ, having the same righteousness as he. It is therefore impossible that sin should remain in him. This righteousness is primary; it is the basis, the cause, the source of all our own actual righteousness. For this is the righteousness given in place of the original righteousness lost in Adam. It accomplishes the same as that original righteousness would have accomplished; rather, it accomplishes more.” (Luther – Two Kinds of Righteousness)

Enjoy, ron

Note: A site devoted to interactive annotative study of the writing of Martin Luther can be searched here.

Note: On this PBS site there are a number of interesting offerings included with a documentary titled Martin Luther: The Reluctant Revolutionary.