Engineering Blunder: A Tunnel with No Exit

Living in Colorado, I am well aware that the Eisenhower Tunnel is one of the highest tunnels in this country. It is also unique in that it is about one mile in length. I remember the first time I tried to hold my breath through that tunnel; it was one occasion where I couldn’t see the light at the end soon enough. Have you ever tried to hold your breath through a tunnel?

Even if you can’t relate to this strange tradition, maybe you have at least experienced the proverbial ‘light at the end.’ Did you ever consider how you would feel if you entered a tunnel, but never came out? You may be surprised that John considers this question in his gospel…in a way.

In John 3:15-21, John has recorded what are perhaps Jesus’ most famous words (3:16). These seven verses are here to inform you that belief in Jesus is only half the picture. Jesus says your belief must be coupled with action, or else you will not be saved through Him (3:17). In 3:19-21, you will find that those who do not exert this required action are those who do not come to the light, but remain in darkness.

Discover for Yourself:

Step One – Circle words such as: ‘believe,’ ‘believes,’ or ‘believed’

Step Two – Circle words such as: ‘come(s),’ ‘deeds,’ ‘does,’ ‘practices,’ or ‘wrought’

Looking at your markings, you will discover that Jesus has placed strong emphasis in action…coupled with belief. Jesus wants you to come to the light by both believing in Him and practicing the truth (3:21). If you do, ‘it may be clearly seen that his [i.e. your] deeds have been carried out in God’ (ESV 3:21b–addition mine).

Jesus died for the whole world (3:16-17), correct? You are in the world, correct? If these statements are correct, then Jesus died for you. Will you make the simple switch to be saved through Jesus by believing in him and by practicing the truth? Will you come to the light?

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Why Storks Have Good Maternity Insurance

I’ve always wondered why the stork is the pretended bringer of babies. The best I can come up with is that most women prefer to believe their child is a gift from above…and not a curse from some other animal that crawls on, or even burrows beneath, the ground. That would seem to put a lot of pressure on these weak-legged creatures, wouldn’t it? In my mind, at least, I am thankful that the stork waits for each person’s decision that the delivery time is right. Otherwise we might be seeing America begin to sue the likes of North American wildlife. What about you?

Have you ever thought of any possibilities as to why we think children come ‘from above?’ One at least, may be because of what we read in John 3:1-15.

Here, John wants us to know that Jesus’ signs were not meant to merely perform miraculous works, but that they had been performed because they contained a spiritual aspect that can be understood.

Jesus’ signs show not only that he came from God (3:2), but also that anyone else who chooses to be ‘born from above’ will see, and be with, God (3:3; 3:31 – the same word is translated ‘again’ in verse 3 and is translated ‘from above’ in verse 31).

John repeats Christ’s teaching that a person must be born from above. Only those who are born of water and the Spirit (3:5) are born from above. The element of water is found in the later context (3:23; 4:1-2), and the Spirit is found in the immediate context (3:6-8).

Consider the physical parallel: a human child is born as a result of seed and the act of ‘coming out of.’ In the same way, a spiritual child of God is born as a result of the seed implanted by the word, and ‘coming out of’ the former way of life through ‘the womb’ of baptism.

Being born from above brings new, spiritual life (3:3; cf. 18:36). The effects of a new birth can be seen in a new spiritual life (3:8). In sum, your spiritual rebirth will cause you to become a child of God (1:12; 3:6).

Will you not make the simple switch to be born from above? Will you consume his word and submit your life to him to be made new? What is stopping you from becoming a child of God and seeing God’s kingdom?

Gospel: A Focal Point in the Roman Epistle (5)

< Part Four

Studying the words euangelion and euangelizo within the book of Romans has been of great value based on three primary areas of rationale. The first is that God’s disposition is now more fully appreciated. The Lord took special care to ensure the very best for His creation. His own endurance against the earlier rejection of His prophets, the rejection of His power, and the rejection of His Son should give every person assurance that His gospel message will demonstrate the same patience towards all today. The portrait of the gospel pictures a quality love, owned by the Creator, exhibited for all time.

Secondly, the study was valuable because it stressed the importance of man’s responsibility in the procedure of sharing the gospel. Paul very precisely demands the best from God’s children in action, in mind, and in heart as they prepare to preach the gospel. Drawing from the powerful thought that the Lord gave His best, the gospel message deserves the best from those who distribute it.  Messengers should preach the good news boldly and fully. Every messenger should never keep the good news from anyone, nor speculate who will or will not accept it.

Finally, the study was most valuable because it broadened the objective of the good news to more than just spiritual salvation. Though the gospel serves the very important purpose of providing salvation, the concept is often taken for granted. The study served as a reminder that God’s purposes extend beyond keeping somebody from death, but that He desires that all will know His happiness and His righteousness even while they live. He not only wants to help people live, but wants them to thrive. He wants people to exercise the freedom of choice and yet know completely why His judgments are what they are.

After examining the usage of euangelion and euangelizo in the book of Romans, Christians can have a better understanding Paul’s deeper message from Romans. Two major reasons Paul wrote the book of Romans was to inform his audience that no one is righteous without God, as well as to say why all sinners need His grace and mercy.  The deeper message from Romans branches from Paul’s concern for each person to become completely aware of the role of the gospel in his or her life. He wants all people to know that the gospel is the source of salvation for all men (Jew and Gentile). He wants all people to know that the true worth of the gospel lies in its power to fuse the created with the Creator (1:16). His words echo the same urgency of the Lord’s portrait, purpose, and procedure of the gospel which He authorized in Matthew 28:18-20. Both are calling all Christians to proclaim the glad tidings of good things to every nation.

After absorbing the full portrait, procedure, and purpose of the gospel, Christians should be better enabled to apply the good news message to their lives. They should better understand that His perfect plan to save humanity was the one determined long ago, and that the same message is being communicated today. Since God communicates with His creation, Christians should know that He desires to be a relational Creator, and the only way for them to know what He says is to read His gospel. The insurmountable value of the gospel is not held within the fact that it is spoken, but in the fact that there is an audience. Christians should be more convicted just as much about their being among the audience as they are about their being the messengers. They should better hold themselves accountable for their attributes, attitude, manner of preaching, and knowing why they speak what they speak. Christians should be more excited for what the gospel communicates as it truly is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

Gospel: A Focal Point in the Roman Epistle (4)

< Part Three

The third major venue is the purpose of the gospel. That is, the gospel is the message of benefit for each person. The purpose of the gospel, then, is supported by four major points found within the book. The first point is found in Romans 1:16. Here, Paul concludes that the gospel is for salvation. The second point, mentioned in the very next verse, is that the gospel reveals God’s righteousness (1:17). The third point is made in 2:16, when Paul asserts that God will use the gospel as the means by which He will judge the secrets of men. The last point, given in the last chapter, pronounces the gospel as the mechanism by which Christ establishes men (16:25). In conclusion, the purpose of the gospel serves to portray the nature and justice of God in order to emphasize how He provides for the needs of His creation.

What value, then, is the portrait, procedure, and purpose of the gospel? Consider part five.

Part Five >

Gospel: A Focal Point in the Roman Epistle (3)

< Part Two

The second major venue is the procedure of the gospel. That is, the attributes of the gospel need a way to be expressed. The procedure of the gospel, then, can be outlined into three methodical steps. The first of the methodical steps begins with the messenger.

Paul catalogs the attributes and attitudes which the messenger must exhibit. First, the one who brings the (euangelion) gospel, according to Romans 10:15, must hold the attribute of being sent; in other words, the messenger has a responsibility to complete.  The same verse suggests, secondly, that the messenger is attributed with beautiful feet, provided on the condition that he delivers the gospel message. Next, the messenger of the gospel, according to 15:20, holds an attitude of aspiration–he directs his ambition to preach (euangelizo). Finally, the messenger holds the attitude of a servant, because Paul says he ministers as a priest (15:16).

Additionally, the messenger must hold a fourfold attitude. According to Paul in the first chapter of Romans, the one who preaches the gospel must first be one who is set apart (1:1). Second, he must be servant-hearted (1:1,9). Next, he must also be eager to preach (1:15). Finally, perhaps most importantly, he must not be ashamed of the gospel (1:16). The procedure of the gospel, then, cannot be satisfied if the messenger does not hold the proper attributes and/or the required genuine attitudes.

The second of the procedural steps involves the manner of preaching. That is, the good news cannot be known if a messenger merely keeps it to himself. This is why Paul urges verbal proclamation in Romans 10:14-17. He argues that people cannot believe the report of glad tidings and good things if no one speaks the report! Perhaps this is why he said he preached the gospel fully (15:19). If either there stands no qualified messenger, or there stands a messenger with no courage to boldly proclaim the good news, the procedure of the gospel may never be fulfilled. If however, there is a messenger who fully proclaims the message, the procedure of the gospel lacks one more step.

The third of the procedural steps requires an audience to whom the gospel message can be taught.  The messenger who exists is a great blessing. A better blessing is a messenger who boldly and completely proclaims the message. The best blessing is the messenger who boldly and completely proclaims the message–outside a padded room. In this epistle, Paul classifies the audience of the gospel into two ironic groups: 1) All people and 2) Certain people.

On one hand, the text discloses that the gospel was preached in multiple cities and countries (1:15; 15:19). As such, Jews and Greeks (that is, Gentiles) were among those who heard the gospel (1:16; 15:16). In addition, Paul implies another group in 15:20 when he writes about “not building upon another man’s foundation.” By going places where the gospel had never been publicized, Paul includes within the audience those who had never before heard the gospel. Therefore, Paul was determined that everyone would hear the good news because he was going everywhere to as many people as possible. On the other hand, Paul’s writings convey that even if every person heard the gospel message, only certain people would receive it. To whom did he say the gospel is the power of God? To those who believe (1:16). What did he imply about the gospel in 10:16 and 11:28? He implied that people can reject it. The procedure of the gospel, therefore, is a three-step operation. Not only does it require a credentialed messenger who must communicate in a particular manner, but it also needs an audience by whom the spoken message can be heard. This is the only way the gospel has potential to complete its procedural objective.

Part Four >

Gospel: A Focal Point in the Roman Epistle (2)

< Part One

Within the book of Romans, the usage of gospel (euangelion and euangelizo) can be discussed in three major venues: The portrait of the gospel, the procedure of the gospel, and the purpose of the gospel.

The first major venue is the portrait of the gospel. That is, the personality of the gospel is fabricated by its primary characteristics. The portrait of the gospel, then, can be subcategorized into three component parts. The first component part is the quality of the gospel. Paul, for example, begins the letter to the Romans outlining what the gospel is all about.  After matching Jesus, the one who enables grace and obedience by the (euangelion) gospel of God (1:1-5), he later calls it the power of God (1:16).  The gospel is made up of glad tidings and good things (10:15,16). The gospel is about the glad tidings of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (16:25). Paul is concerned about ministering (the good news of) Christ to the Gentiles (15:16). The portrait of the gospel is formed first, then, by the quality of its message; what better message than the saving power of Christ?

The second component part is the owner of the gospel. The gospel, according to Romans, is owned by several people. Paul book-ended his message, giving ownership of the gospel to God (1:1; 15:16). He also calls it the gospel of His Son (1:9). By far, however, Paul most frequently refers to the gospel as his own (1:1; 2:16; 16:25). This is significant because Paul is placing emphasis on quality of ownership. He is saying his gospel is the gospel of truth because it is from God the Father and God the Son. He is not saying he came up with this gospel, but that his gospel holds no error. Therefore, the portrait of the gospel is upheld sufficiently by no better owner than by the one Almighty God.

The third component part is the history of the gospel. Paul’s prominent focus is in two areas: A) on the gospel promised and B) the gospel preached. First, he comments that the gospel was “promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures” (1:2). In addition, the content of 10:15 is especially noteworthy as Paul recites the words of Isaiah who said, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness” (Isaiah 52:7). Therefore, on one hand, Paul recognized that the gospel had not been fulfilled when Isaiah wrote that passage; on the other hand, he also understands that the gospel was fulfilled in Christ (1:2-3). The promise of the gospel was given, and fulfilled.

Second, Paul not only implies that the gospel was preached in the past (in accordance with evidence above), but also states that the gospel is preached in the present. As a result of having made the decision at one point to preach the gospel (15:20), Paul endeavors to (euangelizo) preach the gospel in the present tense (1:9,15; 15:19). Paul is doing his part to fulfill peace and happiness by preaching the same good news foretold by the inspired prophet. The history of the fulfilled gospel clearly provides an enduring and unchanging piece to the portrait of the gospel. The portrait of the gospel has never altered in form because of how it has been given.

Part Three >

Gospel: A Focal Point in the Roman Epistle (1)

Few concepts of Scripture surpass the value of the gospel. This one key word displays God’s authority, wisdom, nature, and, of course, His wondrous love. More inspiring however, is the fact that God shares His gospel with His creation because He is a relational Creator. He wants His creation to know all the good that He is. He has shown His gospel’s true worth both in history and in literature, especially through the events of the Old Testament, extra-biblical literature, and the New Testament.

First, during Old Testament times, the Hebrew term besorah meant “to bring news,” “to bring good news,” or “to tell, or announce” (Koehler 163). Essentially, the word described a person bringing news to another person, and was often used in the positive sense. For example, 1 Kings 1:42 is one of many Old Testament examples in which not only general information is transmitted, but also one in which good news is emphasized (Friedrich, TDNT 707). In Psalm 40:10, the word is used positively in a religious sense rather than a physical sense. In this single verse, the writer talks about faithfulness and salvation, but also observes the opposite in that the Lord’s lovingkindness and truth should not be concealed. A significant parallel to note in both cases, is that a messenger is proclaiming his message to an audience (Friedrich, TDNT 708).

Next, the secular compositions show that much of this original meaning remained in tact as time progressed. For example, the Septuagint, Philo, Josephus, and Palestinian Judaism all maintain the idea of “announcing good news.” Some however, watered down the essence of the divine before suggesting, in addition, that besorah could include not only “salvation” but also “salvation for all men” (Friedrich, Abridged 267-268). These positive qualities would all later be translated into the Greek New Testament text.

Finally, the Greek New Testament equivalent of besorah is, in the noun form, euaggelion (εὐαγγέλιον). In the New American Standard version, there are 76 occurrences in 73 verses. In addition, the verb form euaggelizo (εὐαγγελίζω) occurs 54 times in 52 verses (Logos). The noun form is translated into English as “gospel” every time, and the verb form is translated “preach” almost 90 percent of the time (Logos). Though many Bible authors use both words, the Apostle Paul’s attempt to convey the meaning of the gospel is perhaps best exemplified in his letter to the church in Rome. In 16 chapters, he uses the noun form nine times and uses the verb form four times (Logos) to create his working definition.

Paul’s working definition for gospel is, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The word can be translated from three different Greek words, each stemming from the root ‘eu’ meaning “good” or “well” (Strong 33). Such being the case, however, that only two of those words were used within the Roman letter, the following analysis will explore the definitions for that pair only. The chief definition of the first word euaggelion (εὐαγγέλιον) is, “God’s good news to humans, good news as proclamation” (Bauer 402). The verb form euaggelizo (εὐαγγελίζω)–notably the later Greek form of euaggelizomai (εὐαγγελίζομαι)–can be defined either generally, meaning “to bring or announce good news,” or more specifically, meaning “to proclaim the divine message of salvation” (Bauer 402). This background will serve as a foundational platform on top of which further study can be built.

Part Two >