Sunday reflection: John 20:19-23

posted at 10:01 am on June 8, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussionPrevious Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here For previous Green Room entries, click here.

This morning’s Gospel reading is John 20:19–23:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Today is Pentecost Sunday, in which the gift and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are celebrated in Christian churches around the world. Earlier this week, Jews celebrated Shavuot, the Jewish Pentecost, which commemorates the gift of the Torah by God to the nation of Israel. My friend Jeff Dunetz calls this his favorite holiday in the Jewish faith. In both traditions, Pentecost becomes an invitation to live within the blessed life of God, a way of separating ourselves from our own impulses toward sin and self-idolization and to look outward rather than inward by putting God’s love at the center of our hearts.

Two of our readings today touch on the gift of the Holy Spirit. In today’s Gospel, Jesus appears shortly after the Resurrection to return to the disciples and show them their faith has not been in vain. In this passage, Jesus prepares them for their mission as the Church by breathing upon them the Spirit, giving the disciples — soon to be Apostles, or those who go forth — the power to forgive sins. This is in effect an ordination, which transfers the authority over sin that had been considered the sole province of God Himself to the Church. This grant of authority would make even more provocative a claim than Jesus’ earlier claim to be able to forgive sin — which angered the Pharisees and led to His persecution and crucifixion.

We see the first Pentecost, though, in the first reading in Acts 2:1-11, where the gift of the Holy Spirit is much more profound. In this case, the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles and bears gifts of His own. The Apostles, who were not especially learned men, suddenly began to speak in the languages of all those around them. They became eloquent when prophesying about “the mighty acts of God,” and expert in exegesis of the Scriptures. Later in Acts, one of the first deacons of the Church — Stephen — would become so eloquent and dedicated in his proclaming of the Gospel that he would become the first martyr of the Church after the Resurrection.

The true gift of the Holy Spirit works through us in two ways, as these passages show. First, they bring us together into the Christian Church, the better to do the will of God as one body. The Holy Spirit also works within us by granting us particular and individual gifts, which are intended for use by each of us to do His work as well within the one body of the Church. We have collective gifts as the Church — the ability to forgive sin, as in the passage from the Gospel — and individual gifts with which we serve to build the Church in our own missions.

What are these individual gifts, and how best do we understand them? That question has been around ever since the beginning of the Church, as our second reading makes clear. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12 to the community in Corinth in part because the Corinthians have turned these gifts into an issue for envy, which apparently created a competition of sorts for the gifts that the people perceived as the most valuable. Today’s reading only touches on a small part of Paul’s attempt to scold the Corinthians into accepting the gifts given by the Holy Spirit as equally valuable and part of God’s will rather than their own, but it still includes this reminder: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.”

There are ways to discern on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but we don’t get to pick and choose them ourselves. That impulse to envy those gifts or be especially covetous of one over another should have us asking ourselves what we hoped to serve with that gift — the Church or our own ego. More fundamentally, Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians, the gifts of the Holy Spirit come from God’s will for us, rather than our own will. We have an obligation to discern those gifts, but only in humble acceptance of what they are and to put them to use for His will and not our own.

I have been especially blessed in my life to see the Holy Spirit’s gifts at work collectively in the Church as well as individually. The papal conclave in 2013 was an unforgettable experience for many reasons — you haven’t traveled until you’ve traveled to Rome, let’s face it — but chiefly for the front-row seat of this demonstration of the power of submission to the Holy Spirit. No one pretends that papal succession has been perfect over the two millenia since Peter traveled to Rome, because those involved in the succession have at times put their own love of power and their own will above that of God. When the process unfolds in humility and service to God’s will, it produces amazing results. Not everyone agrees with Pope Francis’ approach and attitude on certain issues, but there is little doubt that the Holy Spirit’s gift to the Church has propelled Catholicism into a new relevance, and has the media around the world discussing Catholic teaching more than ever … even if they’re usually (a) getting it wrong, or (b) erroneously believing it to be new teaching.

The experiences with individual gifts are not as easy to describe, but they are more powerful and persuasive because of the personal nature of those experiences. I’ve seen people who either discern a gift and suddenly become passionate about using it in service to their faith, or unwittingly stumble onto their gifts when they are surprised by their natural ability to exercise them. In my own life, I’ve seen too many coincidences where a particular piece of knowledge or teaching comes to my attention, only to have an acute and unconnected need to understand and express it to believe that they are all coincidences.

At the same time, I sometimes realize how the Corinthians must have felt when they saw some of their fellow Christians exercising their own gifts of the Holy Spirit when I see the same in my parish, or in the Catholic social media, and I suddenly want their gifts instead of those I have been given. I lament that I didn’t choose this path or didn’t get the talent to perform in some other way, especially when seeing someone truly gifted and truly committed to using those gifts to lift others in faith. That, however, is a form of ingratitude for those gifts given to us by God, and a rejection of His will in favor of our own desires and conceits. And that is the nature of sin itself.

Fortunately, though, we have the Holy Spirit with us to form our hearts and help us resist that sin. This should orient us outward rather than inward, toward service to God and others rather than service toward ourselves. That itself is the greatest gift we are given, and one shared by all who open their hearts to it. Pentecost Sunday should remind us of this great gift, and propel us to share our gifts with each other to build up the Church and form our communities and the world at large in faith, hope, and charity. We are given the Holy Spirit in charity for faith and hope, after all. We should proclaim that in as many or as few tongues as we have at our command.

Today’s image is of a mosaic of Pentecost in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool, UK (20th century).


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Blessed Pentecost Sunday, everyone…

OmahaConservative on June 8, 2014 at 10:09 AM

May the Holy Spirit descend upon all Christians. We need it now more than ever. History repeat itself. Then they were afraid of the Jews. Today we’re afraid of our secular/humanist/God-denying ‘progressives’ who use Government and the law as a battering ram against us.

conservative hispanic on June 8, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Even Obama can be forgiven? I would like to see what penance he would get.

celtic warrior on June 8, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Ed, whatever your gifts are, I am glad that you share these posts on Sundays. I consider that your gift to me, and for that, I am grateful.

Lucky Pierre on June 8, 2014 at 10:22 AM

My favorite song about the Spirit

Not a great rendition, but the words are sublime.

Dolce Far Niente on June 8, 2014 at 10:38 AM

We should proclaim that in as many or as few tongues as we have at our command.

…I know someone who is doing …his part… and walking the walk!

KOOLAID2 on June 8, 2014 at 11:41 AM

I’ve seen too many coincidences where a particular piece of knowledge or teaching comes to my attention, only to have an acute and unconnected need to understand and express it to believe that they are all coincidences.

Don’t be so sure they are coincidences. Or am I misunderstanding?

dogsoldier on June 8, 2014 at 11:55 AM

I was disturbed when Pope Francis invited Muslims to the Vatican today to pray, then I realized it is Pentacost Sunday! He is a clever fox, God bless him!

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

ctmom on June 8, 2014 at 11:55 AM

dogsoldier on June 8, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Maybe I just didn’t write it clearly, but I don’t believe they are coincidences. ;-)

Ed Morrissey on June 8, 2014 at 12:13 PM

ctmom on June 8, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Sure would like to better understand what you mean by that.
*scratching my head*

pambi on June 8, 2014 at 12:26 PM

I prefer not to get into detailed doctrinal discussions, but Ed, your Catholicism is showing. The original language makes clear that each disciple was given authority to forgive sins, not the group, and nowhere in scripture is this authority transferred to any church or other individuals. Afterwards, Paul shows us that we are forgiven on the basis of accepting Christ as our Saviour, not by any religious organization or individual. Saved by grace was not the saving message when Christ imbued the power of forgiveness to the disciples. That a church and its representatives can forgive sins is a grave error in the Catholic church and is not accepted by any means by the various Protestant churches, but even more, it is antithetical to the plain teaching of Paul’s writings that we are saved by grace through faith in our acceptance that Christ died for our sins. We do not need any other intercessor. My apologies, but I strongly believe that this error must be challenged whenever it is promoted. I do not mean to attack the Catholic church.

HiJack on June 8, 2014 at 1:40 PM

One thing I want to add to my post to enforce the idea that only the disciples were given authority to forgive sins is that Christ blew on them that power giving them their authority. That should provide enough proof that they, and they alone, were selected for this authority.

HiJack on June 8, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Never mind that it’s Pentecost Sunday.

Never mind that our church celebrates Confirmation of our youth on this Sunday.

Oh no, it’s Ghey Propoganda Sunday according to our pastor because is upset the United Methodist General Conference keeps voting to “exclude some people”.

Nutstuyu on June 8, 2014 at 2:01 PM

“Strive to move away from untruth towards truth.”

~ Atharvaveda

DarkCurrent on June 8, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Nutstuyu on June 8, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Oh my.

pambi on June 8, 2014 at 2:16 PM

You Oughta Been There

kcewa on June 8, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Happy Pentecost!

workingclass artist on June 8, 2014 at 3:44 PM

I was disturbed when Pope Francis invited Muslims to the Vatican today to pray, then I realized it is Pentacost Sunday! He is a clever fox, God bless him!

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

ctmom on June 8, 2014 at 11:55 AM

He’s a Jesuit…

They can be sly that way….

workingclass artist on June 8, 2014 at 3:46 PM

“Strive to move away from untruth towards truth.”

~ Atharvaveda

DarkCurrent on June 8, 2014 at 2:04 PM

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” -Jesus

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

non-nonpartisan on June 8, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Ed Morrissey on June 8, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Neither do I. :)

dogsoldier on June 8, 2014 at 5:16 PM

Beautiful, Ed. Thanks.

In my own life, I’ve seen too many coincidences where a particular piece of knowledge or teaching comes to my attention, only to have an acute and unconnected need to understand and express it to believe that they are all coincidences.

So true. God bless all here.

Elisa on June 8, 2014 at 6:50 PM

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

ctmom on June 8, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Amen. Love that prayer. Too bad we only seem to here it at Pentecost.

Elisa on June 8, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Elisa on June 8, 2014 at 6:53 PM

*hear

Elisa on June 8, 2014 at 6:58 PM

“Strive to move away from untruth towards truth.”
~ Atharvaveda
DarkCurrent on June 8, 2014 at 2:04 PM

ROFL irony overload

Murphy9 on June 8, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Beautiful, Ed. Thanks.

In my own life, I’ve seen too many coincidences where a particular piece of knowledge or teaching comes to my attention, only to have an acute and unconnected need to understand and express it to believe that they are all coincidences.

So true. God bless all here.

Elisa on June 8, 2014 at 6:50 PM

Yes and thanks, Elisa. My one exception is to add that “they are all not coincidences.” And why faith is so significant: without faith or when faith is tested or, worse, at a low point, it’s tempting if not inviting to question the reality and substance of what otherwise can be assumed to be “coincidences.”

Fine line between trusting in God’s Holy Spirit and questioning one’s perceptions, but faith is the key to doing the former. In my experience, I add.

Yes, God bless all here.

Lourdes on June 8, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Lourdes on June 8, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Hi, Lourdes,

I agree that faith and trusting in the Holy Spirit is the key to everything.

But I just want to clarify something. I was quoting Ed and agreeing with him by saying “so true.” I should have made that clearer in my post.

PS. I went to Lourdes when I was 6 and St. Bernadette made such a big impression on me that I took Bernadette as my confirmation name. I always loved the name Lourdes. Second cousin named Lourdes.

Elisa on June 8, 2014 at 9:40 PM

Elisa on June 8, 2014 at 9:40 PM

Sweet.

Lourdes on June 8, 2014 at 11:32 PM

Hi, Lourdes,

I agree that faith and trusting in the Holy Spirit is the key to everything.

But I just want to clarify something. I was quoting Ed and agreeing with him by saying “so true.” I should have made that clearer in my post….

Elisa on June 8, 2014 at 9:40 PM

Yes, I realized that reading your comments. I just added some of my own to the original statements.

Lourdes on June 8, 2014 at 11:33 PM

Even Obama can be forgiven? I would like to see what penance he would get.

celtic warrior on June 8, 2014 at 10:21 AM

.
How does the Roman Catholic Church interpret Isaiah 43:25-26 ? … Or Jeremiah 31:34? . . . . .
.
Or Hebrews 8:12?

Hebrews 10:16-18?

Psalms 103:12?

Those aren’t the end of it, but they’ll do for a start.

listens2glenn on June 8, 2014 at 11:55 PM

@listens2glenn:

I’ll give one passage that you raised a comment, and that is http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%2043:25-26&version=NASB Isaiah 43:25-26.

Perhaps you think that the Catholic Church holds Itself as “savior”? The understanding of that passage is that Christ is Savior and no others. In my experience with some Protestants, they assume that it’s the Church who assumes some sort of hierarchy over Christ, in that regard and others, while that’s not been what I know of Catholicism (the Church does not presume it’s hierarchical over Christ, the Church doesn’t on it’s own “Save” any soul, it is Christ who saves souls, “the power of Christ commands”…

I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding among some Protestants about the Catholic Church, at least based upon some of the things I’ve heard and read by some.

Lourdes on June 9, 2014 at 12:07 AM

Second on the list from “Listens2Glen” is this:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+8%3A12&version=NASB

Hebrews 8:12
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.”

I don’t understand questions about that, however. Very straightforward.

That’s GOd’s forgiveness for those who confess and are sorrowful for their sins.

Maybe it would be more informative if you would make your questions known, specifically, about those and other passages you mention there.

I’m only trying to understand here, that’s all, no criticism.

Lourdes on June 9, 2014 at 12:12 AM

Ed, your writing is so meaningful for the Pentecost Sunday that I have copied and saved it for further reflection. Thank you

chai on June 9, 2014 at 7:08 AM

Repent America, repent…………

crosshugger on June 9, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Lourdes on June 9, 2014 at 12:07 AM

Lourdes on June 9, 2014 at 12:07 AM

.
I’ll take full responsibility for failure on my part, to express the point behind the question(s). Reading back over my comment, that was a pretty big/huge/mega/monstrous/gigantic/enormous … oversight.
.
I was making a criticism of the idea/concept of “penance”. That’s all.

It’s an OLD … debate, and really has no bearing as to whether an individual person has a true relationship with God, or not.

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 8:21 AM

I rarely comment on these Sunday Reflections, but on this one, I feel it is imperitive that I do.

Pentecost Sunday is more than just about the Gift of the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) that is given to the church, but it is the birthday of the Church.

It is the day that Holy Spirit was first outpoured. It was the day that the power was given. It was the day that when the 120 in the Uppoer Room, including Mary, the mother of Jesus (Acts 1:13-15) was filled with the Holy Ghost, as well 3000 more after Peter preached the first message.

And the most exciting thing about it, is that this gift is for everyone. Even today, hundreds are receiving this baptsim of the Holy Ghost every week right here in North America, found in Acts chapter 2. This promise was not just for the early church, but Acts 2:38-39 clearly says that it is for everyone.

ConservativePartyNow on June 9, 2014 at 9:33 AM

ConservativePartyNow on June 9, 2014 at 9:33 AM

.
Thirty five to forty years ago, this was a MAJOR point of division among Christian believers. It definitely seems to have gotten less so, in more recent times.

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 10:09 AM

HiJack – How does your contention that the power to forgive sin was the Apostles’ and theirs alone jibe with Matthew 16:18-19?

“‘And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’”

The church would tend to have an ongoing nature that wouldn’t expire with the first Christians, would it not? It also sounds as if The Lord was giving Peter the power to shape the Church and how it would operate going forward, with Heavenly authority.

Nutstuyu: I was baptised Catholic as a baby but never had any involvement in that church, going to a variety of different protestant churches sporadically throughout my life. The last one I attended before returning to the Catholic faith was Methodist. Your posting about how your minister chose to celebrate Pentecost Sunday reminded me perfectly of the “do what you like; no judgements; it’s all about luuuuuuuuuv” tripe that turned me off from that church.

I was seeking the truth. I understood that there is right and wrong, good and evil, whether it’s convenient or what we want or not. I sensed that basing a religion on what’s popular is folly, and wanted something with more permanence to it. Then I looked at who was always on the vocal and right side opposing the latest secular progressive outrage from the Obama Administration.

I was called back to the Catholic Church, and completed RCIA confirmation this Easter. As you seem to have some of the same exasperation I had with Methodism, you might consider looking into Catholicism.

If some of the notions you’ve heard about Catholicism turn you off (“They worship Mary! They worship saints!”) — and they did me — take the time to learn for yourself. It’s little different than some liberal saying no one should ever listen to Rush Limbaugh, without ever having listened to him.

FishingwFredo on June 9, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

non-nonpartisan on June 8, 2014 at 4:19 PM

If anyone but Jesus had said that it would sound like megalomania.

But Jesus was the only begotten son of God, so it must be true.

DarkCurrent on June 9, 2014 at 3:38 PM

If anyone but Jesus had said that it would sound like megalomania.

Yes, and…? lol

But Jesus was the only begotten son of God, so it must be true.

DarkCurrent on June 9, 2014 at 3:38 PM

You don’t have to believe He was the only begotten son of God. Your doubts about His nature don’t bother those of us who know the truth. If you knew the truth, you’d already know this. Keep looking for it. =)

non-nonpartisan on June 9, 2014 at 3:50 PM

You don’t have to believe He was the only begotten son of God.

non-nonpartisan on June 9, 2014 at 3:50 PM

He certainly was the only one, for certain technical reasons beyond our human understanding.

DarkCurrent on June 9, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

non-nonpartisan on June 8, 2014 at 4:19 PM

.
If anyone but Jesus had said that it would sound like megalomania.

But Jesus was the only begotten son of God, so it must be true.

DarkCurrent on June 9, 2014 at 3:38 PM
.

You don’t have to believe He was the only begotten son of God.

non-nonpartisan on June 9, 2014 at 3:50 PM

.
He certainly was the only one, for certain technical reasons beyond our human understanding.

DarkCurrent on June 9, 2014 at 3:54 PM

.
No scripture references mentioned . . . . . . . how do either one of you know what you stated, to be true?

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 7:30 PM

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 7:30 PM

John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 1:14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God,* who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.”

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Elisa on June 9, 2014 at 8:46 PM

You don’t have to believe He was the only begotten son of God.

non-nonpartisan on June 9, 2014 at 3:50 PM

He certainly was the only one, for certain technical reasons beyond our human understanding.

DarkCurrent on June 9, 2014 at 3:54 PM

Your emotion-based sardonicism is not bringing you closer to the truth, away from untruth. Why don’t you understand this?

non-nonpartisan on June 9, 2014 at 8:57 PM

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 7:30 PM

.
Elisa on June 9, 2014 at 8:46 PM

.
Dang blast it, Elisa … I wanted one of them to answer … : )

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 8:58 PM

No scripture references mentioned . . . . . . . how do either one of you know what you stated, to be true?

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Dang blast it, Elisa … I wanted one of them to answer … : )

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 8:58 PM

Huh?

I knew I was quoting the Bible, and DC was referencing it when he mentioned “only begotten son,” showing his awareness. I think you need to rework your point.

non-nonpartisan on June 9, 2014 at 9:11 PM

Huh?

I knew I was quoting the Bible, and DC was referencing it when he mentioned “only begotten son,” showing his awareness. I think you need to rework your point.

non-nonpartisan on June 9, 2014 at 9:11 PM

.
I know that you know the Bible.

But I was hoping you and DC would provide [Book, chapter:verse(s)]
.
Okay … mostly DarkCurrent, actually.

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 9:23 PM

I know that you know the Bible.

But I was hoping you and DC would provide [Book, chapter:verse(s)]

You could have done as Elisa did. It might have been easier. =)

Okay … mostly DarkCurrent, actually.

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 9:23 PM

I think he knows the Bible well enough. He just doesn’t like what it says lol

non-nonpartisan on June 9, 2014 at 10:19 PM

I’m so confused. lol.

Elisa on June 9, 2014 at 10:40 PM

non-nonpartisan on June 9, 2014 at 10:19 PM

Elisa on June 9, 2014 at 10:40 PM

.
Okay, continuing . . . . . do we agree that Jesus ceased being the ONLY … child of God, on the day of Pentecost? … Or not necessarily?

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 11:08 PM

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 11:08 PM

There are 3 ways of being a child of God. 2 are slightly different from each other and the 3rd is very different.

We are all God’s children. Even non-Christians. Even Atheists.

As Christian, we are adopted son’s of God and Jesus is therefore our brother by adoption. He is the “firstborn.”

But Jesus alone is God’s actual Son, in the normal way we think of a father. “only begotten son.” Jesus’ only “biological” Father is God, in that He had no earthly biological Father. (All his human DNA came from Mary and the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” Mary.)

And only Jesus has this specific relationship with God the Father. “The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.” However, while Jesus entered time and space around 2,000 years ago and became the Father’s only begotten Son here on Earth. Jesus, “the Word,” always was with God before that point and all things were created through Jesus.

The Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, always was and always will be, just like God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

See the beginning of St. John’s Gospel, to follow.

Elisa on June 9, 2014 at 11:46 PM

John 1:1-4,14:

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be

through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;

the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it. . . .

. . . . . And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,

Elisa on June 9, 2014 at 11:48 PM

Elisa on June 9, 2014 at 11:46 PM

Correction:

The first 2 ways are not “slightly” different. They are both VERY different from the 3rd way that relates to Jesus.

But there is also a significant difference between being God’s child, as all men are created by God and loved by God.

and being (as a Christian) an adopted Son of God. A “Child of God.” Because as adopted son’s we are “heirs” with Christ. And being an heir is everything, because it is salvation for eternity.

Note: I am a firm believer that we do not know who all of God’s elect are right now here on earth. I believe that some are called by God later in life to all His truths and that it is even possible (in the final moments between life and death) for Christ to reveal Himself personally to an individual for acceptance. But we must always respond to His call to truth when the Holy Spirit places that search and faith in our hearts. Because there are no guarantees that we will have a chance later. “God is not mocked.”

But one thing is for sure. In Heaven there is only truth, no untruth. So all will believe in all God’s truths in Heaven. One true faith. So, I believe all will believe in the Trinity in Heaven, according to God’s merciful and just plan for all His elect. Perhaps in ways we do not see right now.

Elisa on June 10, 2014 at 12:09 AM

There is only one begotten Son of God.

Christians are adopted son-and daughters-of God.

Unbelievers are not sons/daughters of God. Nowhere, in the Bible, are unbelievers referred as such.

davidk on June 10, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Jesus is the Elect of God. Christians are “in Christ” (the theme of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians) and become the elect.

The Reformed/Calvinist teaching that x number of people are elected to salvation and y number of people are elected to damnation is in error.

davidk on June 10, 2014 at 3:29 PM

There is only one way of becoming a child of God. Only by having saving faith in Jesus does one become a child of God.

Jesus is the eternally begotten Son of God. There never was a time when He was not The Son of God.

davidk on June 10, 2014 at 3:33 PM

13“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.” Matthew 7

davidk on June 10, 2014 at 3:37 PM

The Reformed/Calvinist teaching that x number of people are elected to salvation and y number of people are elected to damnation is in error.

davidk on June 10, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Are you prepared to present your proof of that?

DarkCurrent on June 10, 2014 at 4:06 PM

There is only one begotten Son of God.

Christians are adopted son-and daughters-of God.

Unbelievers are not sons/daughters of God. Nowhere, in the Bible, are unbelievers referred as such.

davidk on June 10, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Oh? Unless “offspring” doesn’t include “sons/daughters,” Paul doesn’t agree with this.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.” -Acts 17:24-29

non-nonpartisan on June 10, 2014 at 4:37 PM

The Reformed/Calvinist teaching that x number of people are elected to salvation and y number of people are elected to damnation is in error.

davidk on June 10, 2014 at 3:29 PM

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Are you prepared to present your proof of that?

DarkCurrent on June 10, 2014 at 4:06 PM

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[2Peter 3:9]

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 7:05 PM

Unbelievers are not sons/daughters of God. Nowhere, in the Bible, are unbelievers referred as such.

davidk on June 10, 2014 at 3:24 PM

.
Oh? Unless “offspring” doesn’t include “sons/daughters,” Paul doesn’t agree with this.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.” -Acts 17:24-29

non-nonpartisan on June 10, 2014 at 4:37 PM

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The Bible (and I mean including everything Peter said) does not teach the “brotherhood of man”, or the “fatherhood of God”.

[1John 3:9-10]
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When you repent, and accept Jesus as Savior, you are “born again” (re-conceived, actually) in spirit.

That’s where it counts. The spirit is primary.

When you repent, and accept Jesus as Savior, you experience an opposite, or ‘reciprocal’, or reverse of what happened to Adam, when he ate the forbidden fruit. Adam died in spirit and lost his relationship with God.

You and I are “born again” (I still think “re-conceived”) in spirit, and re-established in right standing, and relationship with God, when we repent and accept Jesus as Savior and LORD.

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 7:53 PM

I’m saving a link to this thread, for now . . . . . in case anyone cares.

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 7:58 PM

listens2glenn on June 9, 2014 at 11:08 PM

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There are 3 ways of being a child of God. 2 are slightly different from each other and the 3rd is very different.

We are all God’s children. Even non-Christians. Even Atheists.

As Christian, we are adopted son’s of God and Jesus is therefore our brother by adoption. He is the “firstborn.”

But Jesus alone is God’s actual Son, in the normal way we think of a father. “only begotten son.” Jesus’ only “biological” Father is God, in that He had no earthly biological Father. (All his human DNA came from Mary and the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” Mary.)

And only Jesus has this specific relationship with God the Father. “The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.” However, while Jesus entered time and space around 2,000 years ago and became the Father’s only begotten Son here on Earth. Jesus, “the Word,” always was with God before that point and all things were created through Jesus.

The Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, always was and always will be, just like God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

See the beginning of St. John’s Gospel, to follow.

Elisa on June 9, 2014 at 11:46 PM

.

John 1:1-4,14:

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be

through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;

the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it. . . .

. . . . . And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,

Elisa on June 9, 2014 at 11:48 PM

Correction: (to Elisa on June 9, 2014 at 11:46 PM)

The first 2 ways are not “slightly” different. They are both VERY different from the 3rd way that relates to Jesus.

But there is also a significant difference between being God’s child, as all men are created by God and loved by God.

and being (as a Christian) an adopted Son of God. A “Child of God.” Because as adopted son’s we are “heirs” with Christ. And being an heir is everything, because it is salvation for eternity.

Note: I am a firm believer that we do not know who all of God’s elect are right now here on earth. I believe that some are called by God later in life to all His truths and that it is even possible (in the final moments between life and death) for Christ to reveal Himself personally to an individual for acceptance. But we must always respond to His call to truth when the Holy Spirit places that search and faith in our hearts. Because there are no guarantees that we will have a chance later. “God is not mocked.”

But one thing is for sure. In Heaven there is only truth, no untruth. So all will believe in all God’s truths in Heaven. One true faith. So, I believe all will believe in the Trinity in Heaven, according to God’s merciful and just plan for all His elect. Perhaps in ways we do not see right now.

Elisa on June 10, 2014 at 12:09 AM

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When you said “three ways of being” at the beginning of your 11:46 PM comment, I believe that is saying ‘three definitions’ or ‘three categories’ of being a child of God.

But I still disagree with it. (insert what I said at 7:53 PM to non-nonpartsan, here)
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I don’t believe we have any disagreements over the scriptures you referenced from the first chapter of John’s Gospel.

But I could be wrong.
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We are BOTH … “adopted” and “born of God,” when we accept Jesus as Savior.
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I don’t know what you mean by “But we must always respond to His call to truth when the Holy Spirit places that search and faith in our hearts. Because there are no guarantees that we will have a chance later. God is not mocked.”

I would insist there is a “guarantee”: ….. when a dead spirit leaves it’s human body, it goes straight to the place “prepared for Satan and his fallen angels.”

When a spirit that is “quickened” (made alive in God, by Jesus) leaves it’s human body, it goes to be with the LORD.
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I guarantee those.

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 8:44 PM

The Bible (and I mean including everything Peter said) does not teach the “brotherhood of man”, or the “fatherhood of God”.

[1John 3:9-10]
.
When you repent, and accept Jesus as Savior, you are “born again” (re-conceived, actually) in spirit.

That’s where it counts. The spirit is primary.

When you repent, and accept Jesus as Savior, you experience an opposite, or ‘reciprocal’, or reverse of what happened to Adam, when he ate the forbidden fruit. Adam died in spirit and lost his relationship with God.

You and I are “born again” (I still think “re-conceived”) in spirit, and re-established in right standing, and relationship with God, when we repent and accept Jesus as Savior and LORD.

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 7:53 PM

davidk made a factually false statement about the Bible, which I corrected. Paul acknowledged that we are all offspring of God. This means He is the Father of us all.

While it’s true that the spiritual aspect of humans is primary, it isn’t only important aspect we possess. God loves all of His offspring, even those who reject Him-this is not an insignificant truth which should be downplayed.

non-nonpartisan on June 10, 2014 at 8:51 PM

non-nonpartisan on June 10, 2014 at 8:51 PM

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I re-state that neither Peter, nor Paul, nor the Holy Spirit Himself, said that God is the father of all mankind.
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“Love” has nothing to do with whether we are God’s children, or not.

There is no doubt in my mind that God loved every person who is in hell, right up to and through the gates.

If all we needed is for God to love us, then we’d all become born-again today, and start the Millennial Reign of Jesus tomorrow.

Repeating : … [1John 3:9-10]

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 9:46 PM

I re-state that neither Peter, nor Paul, nor the Holy Spirit Himself, said that God is the father of all mankind.

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 9:46 PM

This is patently false. Can you read? lol

’As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring…” -Acts 17:28-29

Paul said in the Bible we are all God’s offspring i.e. His children-he wasn’t speaking to believers when he said that. I’m not going to argue about it.

non-nonpartisan on June 10, 2014 at 10:10 PM

I re-state that neither Peter, nor Paul, nor the Holy Spirit Himself, said that God is the father of all mankind.

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 9:46 PM

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This is patently false. Can you read? lol

’As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore since we are God’s offspring…” -Acts 17:28-29

Paul said in the Bible we are all God’s offspring i.e. His children-he wasn’t speaking to believers when he said that. I’m not going to argue about it.

non-nonpartisan on June 10, 2014 at 10:10 PM

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Okay … I lose. (trudges off, moping and sulking)

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 11:48 PM

Okay … I lose. (trudges off, moping and sulking)

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 11:48 PM

Note that Paul didn’t say, “we are all His spiritual offspring.” I’d be in full agreement with you if he had. =)

non-nonpartisan on June 11, 2014 at 12:10 AM

I didn’t mean it that way. S/h/b this.

Note that Paul didn’t say, “we are all His spiritual offspring.”

non-nonpartisan on June 11, 2014 at 12:12 AM

non-nonpartisan on June 10, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Let me amend my statement. No where does the Bible teach that all are children of God. Paul does not teach that.

davidk on June 12, 2014 at 7:34 PM

non-nonpartisan on June 10, 2014 at 4:37 PM

At the Areopagus Paul lectured unbelievers. He was telling them that the Unknown god to whom they had erected monument (it was a CYA thing for the Athenians–they had many gods and they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss one) was the God he, Paul, served.

In the Athenians’ reasoning they were all offspring of a god, so Paul used their reasoning against them.

Basically, Paul said, “You believe x (all are offspring of a one of these many gods we recognize). And since you believe x then y (your god has these attributes: “we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination”).

Many things are at play here. Paul is a trained rhetorician and philosopher speaking to trained rhetoricians and philosophers (and naturalists). Paul used various rhetorical devices and appealed to cause and effect to make his argument.

Basically, Paul said, “You believe x (all are offspring of a one of these many gods we recognize). And since you believe x then y (your god has these attributes: “we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination”).

They followed him and apparently were considering seriously what he was saying until he mentioned Jesus’ resurrection. Some then wanted to hear more, but the hardcore naturalists blew him off. Kinf of like around here.

Paul was not teaching and did not believe that unbelievers are the offspring/children of the Most High God.

(Jehovah Witnesses make the same kind of error when they claim that the Bible teaches more than one God.)

davidk on June 12, 2014 at 8:08 PM

The Greek poet Aratus wrote, “Let us begin from Jove. Let every mortal raise
His grateful voice to tune Jove’s endless praise.
Jove fills the heaven — the earth — the sea — the air :

I We feel his spirit moving here and every where.

And we his offspring are. He ever good
Daily provides for man his daily food.
Ordains the seasons by his signs on high,
Studding with gems of light the azure canopy.
What time with plough or spade to break the soil,
That plenteous store may bless the reaper’s toil,
What time to plant and prune the vine he shews,
And hangs the purple cluster on its boughs.
To Him — the First — the Last — all homage yield :
Our Father — Wonderful — our Help — our Shield. ”

The Athenians referred to Paul as a “seed picker” which is the literal meaning of the Koiné Greek usually translated “babbler.”

With his rhetorical skills and knowledge of Classical Greek poets show them he was not just a “babbler.”

davidk on June 12, 2014 at 8:29 PM

18-21. certain … of the Epicureans—a well-known school of atheistic materialists, who taught that pleasure was the chief end of human existence; a principle which the more rational interpreted in a refined sense, while the sensual explained it in its coarser meaning.

and of the Stoics—a celebrated school of severe and lofty pantheists, whose principle was that the universe was under the law of an iron necessity, the spirit of which was what is called the Deity: and that a passionless conformity of the human will to this law, unmoved by all external circumstances and changes, is the perfection of virtue. While therefore the Stoical was in itself superior to the Epicurean system, both were alike hostile to the Gospel. “The two enemies it has ever had to contend with are the two ruling principles of the Epicureans and Stoics—Pleasure and Pride” [Howson].

What will this babbler say?—The word, which means “a picker-up of seeds,” bird-like, is applied to a gatherer and retailer of scraps of knowledge, a prater; a general term of contempt for any pretended teacher.

a setter forth of strange gods—”demons,” but in the Greek (not Jewish) sense of “objects of worship.”

because he preached Jesus and the resurrection—Not as if they thought he made these to be two divinities: the strange gods were Jehovah and the Risen Saviour, ordained to judge the world.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

davidk on June 12, 2014 at 8:30 PM

Verse 18. – And certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers for then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, A.V.; would for will, A.V.; preached for preached unto them, A.V. and T.R. The Epicureans (so called from Epicurus, their founder) and the Stoics (so called from the στοά, the colonnade or piazza where Zeno their founder taught) were the most numerous sects at Athens at this time; and their respective tenets were the most opposite to the doctrines of the gospel. Encountered him; σύνεβαλλον. In Acts 4:15 it is followed by πρός, and is properly rendered “conferred;” here it is followed by the dative, and may be understood to mean “disputed” (συμβάλλειν λόγους). It may, however, not less properly be taken in the sense of a hostile encounter of words, as Luke 14:31, and frequently in classical Greek. This babbler (σπερμολόγος); literally, a picker-up of seeds, applied to a crow (Aristoph., ‘Ayes,’ 232, 579). Plutarch too (‘Demet.,’ 28) has σπερμολόγοι ὅρνιθες, birds picking up seeds. Hence it is used of idle hangers-on in the markets, who get a livelihood by what they can pick up, and so generally of empty, worthless fellows. Hence it is further applied to those who pick up scraps of knowledge from one or another and “babble them indifferently in all companies” (Johnson’s ‘Dictionary,’ under “Babble”). A setter forth of strange gods. There does not seem to be the least ground for Chrysostom’s suggestion that they took Anastasis (the Resurrection) for the name of a goddess. But the preaching of Jesus the Son of God, himself risen from the dead (ver. 31), and hereafter to be the Judge of quick and dead at the general resurrection, was naturally, to both Stoics and Epicureans, a setting forth of strange gods. Χένα δαιμόνια are “foreign deities,” or “daemons,” inferior gods. The word καταγγελεύς, a setter forth, does not occur elsewhere. But the nearly identical word κατάγγελος is used by Plutarch.

Pulpit Commentary

davidk on June 12, 2014 at 8:34 PM

12 But to all who did receive Him,
He gave them the right to become children of God,
to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born,
not of blood,
or of the will of the flesh,
or of the will of man,
but of God.

John 1

davidk on June 12, 2014 at 8:39 PM

At the Areopagus Paul lectured unbelievers. He was telling them that the Unknown god to whom they had erected monument (it was a CYA thing for the Athenians–they had many gods and they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss one) was the God he, Paul, served.

In the Athenians’ reasoning they were all offspring of a god, so Paul used their reasoning against them.

Basically, Paul said, “You believe x (all are offspring of a one of these many gods we recognize). And since you believe x then y (your god has these attributes: “we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination”).

Many things are at play here. Paul is a trained rhetorician and philosopher speaking to trained rhetoricians and philosophers (and naturalists). Paul used various rhetorical devices and appealed to cause and effect to make his argument.

Basically, Paul said, “You believe x (all are offspring of a one of these many gods we recognize). And since you believe x then y (your god has these attributes: “we shouldn’t think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination”).

They followed him and apparently were considering seriously what he was saying until he mentioned Jesus’ resurrection. Some then wanted to hear more, but the hardcore naturalists blew him off. Kinf of like around here.

Paul was not teaching and did not believe that unbelievers are the offspring/children of the Most High God.

(Jehovah Witnesses make the same kind of error when they claim that the Bible teaches more than one God.)

davidk on June 12, 2014 at 8:08 PM

I don’t agree with your reasoning. Paul literally conceded their point to them, contradicting what I highlighted, and then went on to further explain it.

non-nonpartisan on June 13, 2014 at 9:29 PM

non-nonpartisan on June 13, 2014 at 9:29 PM

Fair enough. Good conversation.

davidk on June 13, 2014 at 9:34 PM