Friday, December 31, 2010

Matt 24 watch, 114: "Fear God, and dread nought"

The title of this post -- culmination of the miniseries here, here and with side-branch here -- is taken from the motto of HMS Dreadnought (1906), the battleship that on being commissioned (after being built in an unprecedentedly short period: "a year and a day") instantly obsoleted the battle fleets of the leading powers, and was the declaration of the British Admiralty that they were determined to prevail, come what may, or must.

As the Royal Navy's HMS Dreadnought page summarises:
HMS Dreadnought, named after a ship of the line at the Battle of Trafalgar, gave her name to a revolution in naval warfare. Built in Portsmouth Dockyard in just over a year, she was the best-armed and fastest battleship in the world when completed in 1906. At a time when battleships usually mounted only four big guns and an array of smaller weapons, Dreadnought's ten big 305mm guns made all other battleships out-of-date. Powered by new steam turbines she had a top speed of 21 knots, 3 knots faster than battleships with traditional piston engines . . . . In the same way as HMS Warrior almost fifty years before, the construction of Dreadnought was intended by Fisher to deter Britain's enemy, in this case Germany, through a demonstration of technological excellence and to indicate that any challenge to British naval supremacy would be futile.
 This video slideshow gives a good summary:

 For, under the militaristic Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany had embarked on a programme of naval armament, building up a large high seas fleet that challenged the then traditional British supremacy that had played so great a part in securing the peace since Napoleon's final defeat in 1815. In addition, Germany built the (commercially unsuccessful) Kiel canal as a naval short-cut that would allow rapid switching of the German Fleet between the Baltic and the North Sea, so it could meet both the British and the Russian fleets in rapid succession.

So menacing was the threat that the Royal Navy, under Admiral Jack Fisher, was forced to rethink its traditional three-ocean deployment: the Home Fleet to secure the home seas and the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Fleet to secure the route to India, and a fleet in the Indo-Pacific to secure India as the jewel in the Imperial crown. (And, in so securing the three major oceans, Britain secured the freedom of the sea lanes for global commerce; so, despite the sins of imperialism, there were great benefits to the world, that helped trigger the wave of prosperity that since the late C18 has brought great benefits to the whole world.) 

The strategic re-alignment led the British to ally themselves to Japan and to closer ties with the Americans to secure the Pacific. They were forced to depend on the support of their traditional enemy for over 200 years, France, to secure the Mediterranean links in the chain to India. In turn, that led to the army staff talks of 1905 that -- less than a decade later -- would lead to the British army's deployment to Flanders Fields in defence of Belgium and France. Further to this, it led to Britain being aligned with Imperial Russia (both directly and through France's alliance to counterbalance Germany's weight), thus setting up the triple entente.

And so, out of the response to the Kaiser's provocation, we can see the looming outlines of the First World War, and the grim realities of the C20 just past, as the Great War led to the appallingly bloody destruction of the world of that time, the rise of Communism on the ashes of a collapsed Russian Empire, and of Nazism out of the bitter poisonous miasma of a defeated and humiliated but not humbled Germany.

In that horrible progression, one of the key opportunities foregone to move to a less dangerous world was the Kaiser's refusal to take the hint of the British resetting the status of the battlefleets to zero with the construction of HMS Dreadnought; which because of the increment in size, even took the Kiel canal out of the reckoning.

In short, this was a point of decision, and once the Kaiser determined to take up the challenge, it was the point of no return that set Germany on the road to the naval clash with Britain that would culminate at Jutland in the First World War, 

. . . and in the Battle of the Atlantic in the Second. (Which, was in reality an extension of the First, with Germany and Russia under new management.)

Thus, the ill-fated Kaiser stands out as an example of the domineering political strongman who so marks -- and mars -- the course of history, ever since the first, Nimrod.  The type illustrates the prophetic force of our Exhibit B; the Leopard-like, seven-headed, ten-horned and ten-crowned Beast from the sea of Revelations 13:

(Permission: "Art used by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992." [Image source here; as a part of a gallery of illustrations of the Revelation of John. Note the context of the similarly seven-headed Dragon of Rev 12:2, the Beast from the Earth and the Idolatrous Mark of the Beast System.])

Let us read the key text:
  Rev 13:1 Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadem crowns, and on its heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule. 3 One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; 4 they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?” . . .  7 . . . He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, 8 and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed . . . . 

 11 Then I saw another beast coming up from the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but was speaking like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the ruling authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, the one whose lethal wound had been healed. 13 He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven in front of people 14 and, by the signs he was permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, he deceived those who live on the earth. He told those who live on the earth to make an image to the beast who had been wounded by the sword, but still lived. 15 The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. 17 Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast – that is, his name or his number. 18 This calls for wisdom: Let the one who has insight calculate the beast’s number, for it is man’s number, and his number is 666. [NET]
 Now, in biblical, hebraic thought, the sea is typically a source and scene of chaos, from the chaos of the primordial world, to the flood of Noah to the sea-storms of Jonah, Jesus and Paul. So, the idea is that out of the chaos of the peoples, there arises a beastly empire that is unified under a strongman political messiah who seizes power and is aggressive and supreme in things military. The nature of that strongman is shown by the number: the numerical value of Nero Caesar, i.e this sort of evil ruler is like unto the demonically mad, bloodthirsty, cruel despot, Nero. Politics is blended with corrupt, deceiving religion, and both unite to control commerce, sot hat if you do not take the licence of the system, you are not permitted to even be able to eat. Thus, too, the conscience and soul are to be brought under the bondage of those who domineer the system, and who are inspired by the demonic Dragon who lives to express his ancient enmity to God.

 All of this was ever so familiar to C1 Christians living under the shadow of persecution. It doubtless will find culmination in a final, ultimate evil empire led by a demonic strongman, the notorious Antichrist. But as John warned in his epistles, already the spirit of antichrist is roaming the earth. 

Like unto that, the spirit of the beast -- as is unfortunately all too apparent -- is already roaming the earth, and can even take the guise of an unholy alliance between popular, charismatic, messianic politicians and apostate churches or ideologies led by false teachers and false prophets. Such will reveal itself by invariably leading to demonic state control that through unjust law or decrees and/or economic control, intimidates and tyrannises upon the conscience.

God's answer to such -- short of the final Beast -- is plain from what he did at Babel, when Nimrod, the first such strongman, set up a united kingdom and apostate religious system based on the astrological ziggurat-temple known ever since as the Tower of Babel:
 Gen 10: 8 Cush was the father of Nimrod; he began to be a valiant warrior on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. (That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.”) 10 The primary regions of his kingdom were Babel, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, 12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and the great city Calah . . . .
Gen 11: 1 The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary. 2 When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves. Otherwise we will be scattered across the face of the entire earth.”  5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building. 6 And the LORD said, “If as one people all sharing a common language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be beyond them. 7 Come, let’s go down and confuse their language so they won’t be able to understand each other.”

 8 So the LORD scattered them from there across the face of the entire earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why its name was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the language of the entire world, and from there the LORD scattered them across the face of the entire earth. 
That is, a major reason why God created diverse peoples with different languages and races was to hinder such an evil unification under a demonic strongman. So, while we should seek amity and mutual respect in peace across the whole earth [not least, that is the context in which the gospel spreads best], we should respect diversity of nations and use a balance of power alliance to hinder the rise of evil strongmen and associated domineering religions, ideologies or economic systems. And, any time a rising threat to that balance of amity and power looms, we should take due note in good time to restrain it before it gets out of hand.

In our time, the Caribbean arguably faces two such threatening trends: 
(i) the militant evolutionary materialistic, atheistical [or agnostic], amoral, post-christian, dechristianising Secular Humanism allied to various Christian apostasies and neo-pagan movements that looms across our northern horizon, and 

(ii) from the east, we face totalitarian, militiant IslamISM (as sharply opposed to ordinary, peaceful people seeking to serve God and man best they know how, who have been raised under Islamic religious traditions).
 Events over the past two decades should suffice to show that these threats emerged as the major challenges, once Communism faded from the scene with the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. 

With that background, we will be better prepared to address a specific point of concern.

That specific issue we need to address in this post is tied to the first of these threats. Namely, the ongoing sustained, determined attempt to homosexualise marriage. That, in the teeth of the traditional consensus that our Creation-rooted nature as male and female -- complementary sexes playing distinct roles in procreation -- and the needs of child nurture for a stable family unit for decades -- justify marriage on terms much as Jesus of Nazareth summed it up in Matt 19:
Matt 19: 3 Then some Pharisees came to him in order to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful to divorce a wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” 8 Jesus said to them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way. 9 Now I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery.” . . .  [NET]
Thus, marriage in the scriptures -- and by general consensus across religions, cultures and civilisations up until the radical secularists figured they could subvert the consensus in decaying Western Culture through dominating key institutions such as the judiciary, the major entertainment and news media, the college campus and key parts of legislatures -- was that marriage is the life-long covenantal bond between man and woman in which procreation and child nurture take place. The foundational, stabilising institution of the community and the civilisation.

The scriptures also lay bare the root of this movement that seeks to subvert marriage. 

[And I need to put it on the record before, predictably, disciples of Saul Alinsky with his angels-us, demons -those- who- differ- with- us divisive tactics resort to slander, denouncing and accusing of "hate speech" (which has already been criminalised as a thought crime in several crucial jurisdictions): to diagnose, in order to gently correct through democratic means by the power of free speech before ruin results, is not to hate; it is trying to stop a disastrous slide over the cliff.]


Rom 1: 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things [in the old days, idols in temples, now too often images in museums, textbooks and "science" documentaries on TV or the Internet, cf here].

 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 
 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give [we can safely add: or even demand]  approval to those who practice them. [ESV] 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32
Plato, in his The Laws, Book X, speaks in much the same vein. 

We may hear this great Greek Philosopher say such [even from within the classical pagan culture, though of course Plato subtly stated his doubts], in the voice of the Athenian Stranger come to Crete and talking about the collapse of Athens through the course and aftermath of the Peloponnesian war, with men like Alcibiades being fingered in no uncertain terms by Plato:
 Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view!] . . . .

[[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [i.e. domineering political ideologies and movements], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [such ideologies lead to tyrannies], and not in legal subjection to them.
Such sharp words, though an accurate diagnosis of how cultures in ever-deepening rebellion against God spin totally out of control, are hard to bear.  

They are the bad news for rebellious, willfully en-darkened and conscience-benumbed man. However, sound diagnosis and prediction of untreated consequences are the first steps to proper treatment and cure.

So, let us immediately balance them with some other words from the same apostle that, though they are also painful -- surgery is a painful experience; but if the doctor does not cut, he cannot heal -- they are words of encouragement, redemption and hope:
 1 Cor 6: 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous  will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [note the company] 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Thank God for grace and hope in Christ!

Now, what has happened is that sight has been lost of the primary focus for marriage: the sound propagation of the race from one generation to the next, providing a stabilising context for procreation, nurture and giving a launch into life. Also, providing an independent, natural focus of loyalties that the state should respect, similar to how Christ points out that we should give what is Caesar's to him, but not what is God's. 

(Whenever Caesar oversteps his bounds as God's servant to guard the civil peace of justice, he is in the wrong and should be prophetically corrected. If he then defiantly wages war on or oppresses the peaceful, law abiding people of the community, lower magistrates should act with the people, under God, to restrain and if necessary replace him; for which, in the grace of God, in our day the free press and the ballot box are effective and peaceful means. [Cf more detailed discussion here, here and here.]) 

Instead, marriage -- in many hearts and minds -- has been turned into a temporary, attraction-based convenient, state-supported arrangement for one's personal enjoyment. This is a grave error, and is responsible for the rising tide of divorce and illegitimacy that are plagues on our communities, and even churches.  Fellow men, if you love her, marry her in a solemn covenant under God [and, respect her chastity!], then stand by her and your children and your solemnly pledged word, for life. That is a real man!

But in a climate that has already put marriage and family stability under pressure, we now see a determined move to take the next step: legitimise -- under false colour of law -- sexual passions twisted out of the natural Creation order, and lock that perversion into law. In my heads up of recent days, I spoke to that, and to a first step, the homosexualisation of the key institutions of the sword in the USA, a pivotal nation in our civilisation:
Now, in recent days, there have been several portentous developments, such as the ongoing homosexualisation of the US military. (Cf. WND's collection of responses by veterans, here.)
(That is, as Mr Obama delivers on some of his promises to a key cluster of backers, the homosexualists, the second shoe has now dropped on the agenda behind the don't ask, don't tell policy imposed on a reluctant military in the early 1990's. Through what is now plainly a first phase, penetration, a network of homosexual agenda activists has now been powerfully put in place in the military, the media and the government. So, now, the open homosexualisation of the strongest military in the world can proceed apace. The direct implications are troubling, as military members will be indoctrinated in the claimed "normality" of homosexual behaviour, and in the slanderous claim that to have a moral or conscience objection to such behaviour is to be a hateful bigot, comparable to a racist or a Nazi or an Inquisitor such as Torquemada. This also provides precedents -- and the muscle -- to back up the ongoing attempt to homosexualise other government agencies and international bodies, thence also marriage. After that, predictably comes the onward criminalisation of those who object, through the already in-place thought control hate crimes laws. In my considered opinion, if these two steps get through in so pivotal a country as the USA, the damage to our civilisation in its current form will be irreparable, and will lead to chaos, unresolvable conflict and collapse as civil consensus disintegrates. The sort of slander-driven open persecution hinted at in the Manhattan Declaration recently highlighted in this blog,  is therefore now looming over the horizon.) . . .
This is madness, and if implemented would (over the span of a few decades) predictably lead to such chaos due to family disintegration and the rise of a street-gang culture of youths desperate for a family substitute that desperate people would demand a strongman as political messiah. Historically, people in chaos will accept tyranny as a better alternative.

And, we know just where that sort of ill-advised political messianism points.

For, the beast-system ever rises out of the chaotic sea of the distressed peoples.

What is more, we are already on the track to such disintegration, through the ever rising breakdown of marriage and family. What homosexualisation of marriage would do in the North, is to render the breakdown legally irreversible and backed up by state power. Through hate speech law, those who object on conscience will be slandered as hateful bigots and as deniers of "rights," thus fit subjects for prosecution and suppression. (Cf legal analysis challenge to such homosexualisation here.)

And, in the south, if you want aid or trade, then you have to accept the strings that come with it. If you doubt me, observe this excerpt from the Governor of Montserrat's Christmas message for this year:
. . . Challenge yourselves to find the courage to reject the false prophets and to chart a new and inclusive course for Montserrat. One where individuals take responsibility for their actions, work together for the public good and welcome and acknowledge the assistance that Montserrat has had and continues to receive, both from countries and from individuals who come here to serve Montserrat. Forget about where they come from, or the colour of their skin, their religion or lack of it or sexual preference. Put simply, without those people this island has no future . . . 
Now, there is of course some merit in what is said, including some of the corrective remarks; though there is an unfortunately far too broad-brushed and dismissive tone. 

But, it is utterly out of order, destructively uncivil, and deeply hostile to link racism [which rejects the common image of God implanted in us all] with principled -- not merely prejudiced -- objection to far more specifically choice-based, morally loaded issues such as evolutionary materialism and its inherent destabilising amorality [exposed since Plato's The Laws, Book X, 360 BC], and the equally destabilisng twisting of sexuality into unnatural forms. 

However, from the chief spokesman of our Queen and Her Majesty's Government, Montserrat's principal aid partner in the aftermath of a devastating volcanic eruption, we find a not so subtle ultimatum: take our social-cultural agendas as imposed (most recently through the new Constitution pushed on us through the FCO) or else.  

In short, we face a serious challenge indeed; one that it may seem a daunting task to face and address.

But, we have a word of encouragement as we do so under the grace and boldness of God: 

"Fear God, and dread nought!" END 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

1 Chron 12:32 report, 66: A call to arms (and, a cry from the heart)

Pardon, I have been busy over the past few days. I need to follow up on the work- in- progress triple-post, but in the meanwhile, and as a further preparation,  I want to refocus our attention as a strategic people of God in our region.

Pardon, therefore, an adapted -- and somewhat augmented -- excerpt from an email I just sent to a dear Brother over in Barbados:


>> My current emphasis projects as we turn the corner to 2011 are:

1: A systematic theology course, now working up unit 4 mostly, do check out the work in progress:

--> Notice the haplogroup maps for Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA and what the spatial distribution says when linked to Gen 10 - 11. (Notice how the conventional timing estimates are [in my view, on confidence in the scriptures] seriously off, i.e. we have reason to suspect C-14 on v. long term trends beyond about 3,000 years ago, etc)

2: I am now trying to work in tables of contents with hot in-page links into the IOSE course, having come up with a technique through the above mentioned course; cf here:

3: At the KF blog, I am doing a mini series working towards dealing with what I think is the tipping point for our civilisation: homosexualisation of marriage in the USA. (Once such is embedded in law, education, public opinion and policy that unjustly criminalises Bible-believing Christian faith and much else, a lot of terrible consequences will follow.)

Start here:

Notice the heads-up briefing in a nutshell sent out Sunday last:
Now, in recent days, there have been several portentous developments, such as the ongoing homosexualisation of the US military. (Cf WND's collection of responses by veterans, here.)
(That is, as Mr Obama delivers on some of his promises to a key cluster of backers, the homosexualists, the second shoe has now dropped on the agenda behind the don't ask, don't tell policy imposed on a reluctant military in the early 1990's. Through what is now plainly a first phase, penetration, a network of homosexual agenda activists has now been powerfully put in place in the military, the media and the government. So, now, the open homosexualisation of the strongest military in the world can proceed apace. The direct implications are troubling, as military members will be indoctrinated in the claimed "normality" of homosexual behaviour, and in the slanderous claim that to have a moral or conscience objection to such behaviour is to be a hateful bigot, comparable to a racist or a Nazi or an Inquisitor such as Torquemada. This also provides precedents -- and the muscle -- to back up the ongoing attempt to homosexualise other government agencies and international bodies, thence also marriage. After that, predictably comes the onward criminalisation of those who object, through the already in-place thought control hate crimes laws. In my considered opinion, if these two steps get through in so pivotal a country as the USA, the damage to our civilisation in its current form will be irreparable, and will lead to chaos, unresolvable conflict and collapse as civil consensus disintegrates. The sort of slander-driven open persecution hinted at in the Manhattan Declaration recently highlighted in this blog,  is therefore now looming over the horizon.) . . .
My biggie issue, though, is that there are some underlying issues we need to think about, seriously. 

Maybe we can best express and address them as an agenda of pointed questions, with some background scriptures:  

1: Do we recognise the magnitude of the geo-political, and spiritual tidal wave surges headed our way from the North [aggressive, militant Romans 1 world dechristianisation of our civilisation] and the East [equally aggressive militant IslamISM], and what we will have to do to brace for and stand the shocks then resurge to rebuild our region, and help others across the world?

2: Do we understand how strategic we are as the people of God in the Caribbean, as Bible based Christians drawn largely from the 10/40 window nations and reforged under the gospel in this region?

3: With the next major cultural-ethnic root-groups and links being to the nations of the now increasingly militantly apostate north?

4: That over this decade ahead, we will have to rise to meet the challenges in our region and across the world, or else suffer some serious, damaging setbacks?

5: Why are we so often asleep at the wheel, or else outright blind to the signs of our times, and even if not blind, so tardy in learning, developing confidence in analysis and analysts, evaluating strategic action concepts, then acting decisively?

6: Do we not understand that there is a reason why key strategic thinkers have always taught that time is a vital resource that cannot safely be squandered? (Opportunity never knocks twice, a stitch in time saves nine, and many other proverbs capture this key point.)

7: Do we know why Napoleon dismissed the Austro-Hungarian empire thusly: the Austrians are always late, first with payments and at length with armies?

8: Do we understand what that habitual tardiness repeatedly cost the Austrians in the face of a Napoleon, then later on as they had to deal with the impacts of those repeated crushing defeats over the next 100 years; ending up with the sorts of unresolvable conflicts that triggered the first world war through the assassination of their Archduke -- Crown Prince -- Ferdinand and his wife on a visit to a Balkan province, in Sarajevo, in 1914?

9: Do we really appreciate that if one does not seize the initiative, and act on a sustained basis, others who do not have our best interests in mind will take it, and the course of events will then put us on a decidedly defensive stance in an increasingly difficult even hostile situation?

10: That, we cannot sit back and wring our hands over lack of capacity, when we have in the Internet and in resource people, more than enough to begin a programme of transformative education and training, and in the many many young people and older ones sitting in our pews a potentially decisive strategic resource?

11: Do we really understand Eph 2:8 - 10 (I notice, we ever so often do not read or cite v 10)? 

Let me cite, from the Amplified Bible:

Ephesians 2:8-10 (Amplified Bible)

8For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved ([a]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;
    9Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law's demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]
    10For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), [b]recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
  1. Ephesians 2:8 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
  2. Ephesians 2:10 Arthur S. Way, Way's Epistles: The Letters of St. Paul to Seven Churches and Three Friends.
I read that in light of the fullness theme that so dominates that book, and see therein a call to walk in a good life and a life of service that fills all around it with Christ, having reformational and transformative impact on our community and world.

And, that this is a calling upon EVERY Christian disciple.

For, we may see Eph 1:17 - 23 (and beyond, 4:9 - 24):

Ephesians 1:17-23 (Amplified Bible)

17[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,
    18By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),
    19And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength,
    20Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places],
    21Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.
    22And He has put all things under His feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church [a headship exercised throughout the church],(A)
    23Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself].
Cross references:
  1. Ephesians 1:22 : Ps 8:6

12: Do we really understand and take such scriptures to heart?

Let me conclude with Eph 4:9 - 24, what I have called the operational form of the church's mandate:

Ephesians 4:9-24 (Amplified Bible)

9[But He ascended?] Now what can this, He ascended, mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth?
    10He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).
    11And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.
    12His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church),
    13[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [[a]full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ's own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.
    14So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of [b]unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead.
    15Rather, let our lives lovingly [c]express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
    16For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love.
    17So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds.
    18Their [d]moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness) that is [e]deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature].
    19In their spiritual apathy they have become callous and past feeling and reckless and have abandoned themselves [a prey] to unbridled sensuality, eager and greedy to indulge in every form of impurity [that their depraved desires may suggest and demand].
    20But you did not so learn Christ!
    21Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him],
    22Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion;
    23And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude],
    24And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.
  1. Ephesians 4:13 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.
  2. Ephesians 4:14 Literal translation: "dice-playing."
  3. Ephesians 4:15 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.
  4. Ephesians 4:18 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.
  5. Ephesians 4:18 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.
In short, the gospel mandate implies personal and familial transformation, through the church, leading on to a reforming, transforming impact on the community and civilisation in the teeth of the onrushing winds and waves of deception and artful manipulation to the perceived advantage of those who are in fact spiritually, morally and mentally en-darkened dupes of the same dark, murderously deceitful and destructive spiritual prince Paul talked about in Eph 2:1 - 3:

Ephesians 2:1-3 (Amplified Bible)

Ephesians 2

 1AND YOU [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins    2In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God].
    3Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God's] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.
It is time to wake up, wise up, rise up and walk in the ways of Christ, by his word, in the power of his Spirit, through his church, truthing it in love, power, and purity!>>

As I look back on this augmented excerpt, my mind comes back to two key scriptures about responding to the times:

1 Chronicles 12:32 (Amplified Bible)

32And of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs; and all their kinsmen were under their command;
And, by way of a saddening contrast:

Matthew 16:1-4 (Amplified Bible)

Matthew 16

 1NOW THE Pharisees and Sadducees came up to Jesus, and they asked Him to show them a sign (spectacular miracle) from heaven [attesting His divine authority].
    2He replied to them, [a]When it is evening you say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,
    3And in the morning, It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and has a gloomy and threatening look. You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
    4A wicked and morally unfaithful generation craves a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Then He left them and went away.(A)
  1. Matthew 16:2 Some manuscripts do not have the rest of verse 2 and all of verse 3.
Cross references:
  1. Matthew 16:4 : Jonah 3:4, 5
So, now, are we correctly reading the signs of our times, so that we know what we should do, and are we building up the capacity to do what we must?

Are we acting without undue delay to walk in the good things God has laid out in advance for us, and has called us to do?
If we are excessively tardy and make excuses that keep on postponing fulfilling our call and potential under God, could we find ourselves taken captive and forced to do these things, from below, in a new Babylonian captivity -- similar to how Israel of old was finally broken from backsliding into idolatry and forced to spread the light of the call of the one true God to the nations, through defeat, painful exile, enslavement and dispersed captivity?

As always, the Esther 4:12  - 14 Mordecai moment challenge -- spoken with the voice of a captive in exile, and forced to seek to serve God in the face of adversity and utterly hostile (indeed, in the person of Haman, genocidal)  threats --  is:

Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Matt 24 watch, 113: On the core warrant for the Gospel as a call to repentance, reformation and transformation of civilisations

It is not common that this blog sees multiple posts on any given day.

However, the issue now before us, as of the heads-up in the last post is of such magnitude that a further foundational post is needed for some very painful things that need to be said.

Not, least, so that what is being said will in the end break through the now routine, fallacious, and poisonous but too often effective rebuttal attempts by the trifecta fallacy of distraction through red herrings, led out to caricatured distortions through strawman caricatures, soaked in slanderous demonisations and ignited through snide or incendiary rhetoric to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere. For, in a Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals world, it is now sadly routine to motive monger, slander and dismiss as "hateful," "intolerant," "narrow-minded" and "bigoted" -- or worse -- those who object to the conflation of liberty and license driven by the amorality and radical relativism of evolutionary materialism. All, in service to to "might and manipulation make 'right' . . . " approaches to public policy and foundational institutions in our civilisation.

But in fact, truth is truth: that which says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not. [Aristotle, Metaphysics 1011b.]  Liberty, in turn is utterly distinct from law-unto-oneself license regardless of consequences to others or the community, and right is right.

But to ground this, and to justify speaking from a specifically Christian view and a scripturally informed conscience, to call to repentance and reformation, we must first contend for and ground the truth of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. For, once that faith is grounded, then we can confidently trust the teachings of Christ, his Apostles and the Prophets who prepared the way for Messiah. And, on the strength of that confidence, we can set about building a bulwark against what is now upon us, so that we may brace for and stand the storms ahead, then help to rescue, preserve, recover and eventually rebuild amidst the wreckage.

A storm is already looming over the horizon, and time is now very limited.

So, now, let us pause to summarise why we may be confident that he faith once for all delivered to the saints will be a reliable bulwark in the hard and stormy days ahead, and in the harder yet days beyond when we will have to rescue, recover, preserve and rebuild. As was already done before when the classical form of our civilisation collapsed.

An excerpt from an in preparation course will be helpful:


>> Generic theism is plainly a credible worldview, but does this extend to the historical foundations of the Christian Faith itself? 

In short, what are the pivotal facts?

This must be our focus, for, it will always be possible to tease out strands of text and point to real or imagined difficulties, provoking doubts and maybe dismissals without sober consideration of the key warrant for the Christian Faith. Indeed, there is a major wave of current skepticism that does just that. But, to try to reject a cumulative case by pointing to the slenderness or weakness of the individual fibre may well fail to see the cumulative effect of the core warranting case; i.e. it commits the fallacy of composition.

For instance, sometimes it is objected that the Christian faith is like a set of buckets with holes in them, so one cannot carry water. But, if we stack the buckets so one stops the hole in the next, the resulting composite bucket will often be serviceable to carry water. The key lesson: a whole is often stronger than the individual part, as it takes advantage of how partly strong, partly weak parts can work together to build on strengths, compensate for weaknesses and counter threats.

So, we must turn instead to assessing the cumulative strength of the core warrant for the Christian faith.

Namely, the record and reality of Jesus of Nazareth as the scripturally prophesied, crucified, risen Messiah, Saviour and Lord. Once this is firmly established, it puts all difficulties -- and, by the very nature of the case, there will inevitably be many such -- in proper perspective.

Australian scholar Paul Barnett, in his Is the New Testament History?, provides an excellent place to start building our answer. He does so by giving us a summing up of the composite, consensus view of early non-Christian sources from late C1 to early C2, on the roots of the Christian faith and its characteristics:
On the basis of . . . non-Christian sources [i.e. Tacitus (Annals, on the fire in Rome, AD 64; written ~ AD 115), Rabbi Eliezer (~ 90's AD; cited J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth (London: Collier-Macmillan, 1929), p. 34), Pliny (Letters to Trajan from Bithynia, ~ AD 112), Josephus (Antiquities, ~ 90's)] it is possible to draw the following conclusions:

1: Jesus Christ was executed (by crucifixion?) in Judaea during the period where Tiberius was Emperor (AD 14 - 37) and Pontius Pilate was Governor (AD 26 - 36). [Tacitus]

2: The movement spread from Judaea to Rome. [Tacitus]

3: Jesus claimed to be God and that he would depart and return. [Eliezer]

4: His followers worshipped him as (a) god. [Pliny]

5: He was called "the Christ." [Josephus]

6: His followers were called "Christians." [Tacitus, Pliny]

7: They were numerous in Bithynia and Rome [Tacitus, Pliny]

8: It was a world-wide movement. [Eliezer]

9: His brother was James. [Josephus]
[Is the New Testament History? (London, Hodder, 1987), pp. 30 - 31.]

The pattern in these sources is instantly familiar. That is, the NT accounts plainly fit into a recognisable historical pattern of facts we may credibly establish through a range of quite early non-Christian sources on the C1 origins, claims and spreading of the Christian movement.  Though, of course, the primary Christian sources give far more details than one would expect from sources that mention such facts in passing as they go on to make their own points. 

That external support should not be surprising, given that (as Barnett goes on to observe, pp. 37 - 41) in the very first cluster of writing sub-apostolic church fathers -- Clement of Rome [c. AD 96], Ignatius [c. 108] and Polycarp [c. 110], 25 of the 27 books in the New Testament are cited or alluded to, as authentic and authoritative scripture. [Only the two rather brief works, 2 Jn and Jude, are not cited or alluded to.]  In short, the onward textual history of the NT documents begins in the 90's, i.e. within living memory of the Apostles, and it continues in an unbroken chain of custody to the origin of printing. 

Similarly, from the days of Sir William Ramsey on, the NT documents have received considerable (and sometimes, unexpected) archaeological confirmation.

Also, while the original documents -- as is usual for classical works -- have long since perished, there are altogether over 24,000 NT manuscript copies, nearly forty times the next best, Homer's Iliad with 643 copies; 10 - 20 copies dating to a thousand years after the event being far more typical. A significant number of these NT manuscript copies date to the first three hundred years after composition (again, exceptional) and the earliest generally accepted fragment (the Rylands Papyrus, P52,  c. 125 AD with John 18:31 - 33 and 37 - 38) dates to the edge of the first century:
This chain of custody and independent external support decisively undercuts the arguments of the remaining fringe of radical scholars and skeptical popular writers who would date these works to ~ 100 - 160 AD.  The overwhelming evidence is that the NT documents come from the First Century. 

In particular, when we look at the historical backbone of the NT, the Luke-Acts two-volume work, we can easily see that Acts cuts off at 62, and does not record the deaths of James [62], Peter [c. 65], and Paul [c. 67 - 68].  Nor does it mention the Jewish revolt of 66 or the destruction of the Temple in 70. All of these would have been highly material to its line of discussion, so we can credibly date it -- at least as a "first edition" -- to 62- 63 AD. The "prequel" Luke, probably dates to c. 60 AD, and Luke was in Palestine with Paul in 57 - 59, so he had opportunity to interview eyewitnesses (especially the women who play such a key role in that work) and consult the eyewitness documents he speaks of in his preface, Lk 1:1 - 4.  Since Mark is generally seen as one of these sources, that dates Mark to c. 50 AD, Also, the passion narrative in Mark casually speaks of "the high priest" as though he were still in office, which would suggest a date for this part: c. 37 AD.

So, if we lay hyper- skepticism driven by anti- supernatural prejudices aside, there is no good reason to doubt that the NT documents, considered as a body, are primary and highly trustworthy sources, datable to the lifetime of eyewitnesses to the events and teachings recounted. Thus, it is a fair conclusion to hold that they are authentically rooted in and accurately reflect the core testimony, message, teachings and general history of the C1 church.

But, such anti-supernaturalism is indeed a material issue.  

To cogently address it, the key question is the central miracle reported in the NT, the resurrection of Jesus, which we have already seen was credibly prophesied c. 700 BC in Isa 53.  This miracle has been the focus of considerable and quite harsh scrutiny over the past several centuries, but today the following twelve "minimal facts"  are considered firmly established by the majority or in some cases even nearly all NT scholars:
1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
2. He was buried.
3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.
4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).
5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).
6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.
7. The resurrection was the central message.
8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.
9. The Church was born and grew.
10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.
11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).
12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic). [Cf. Habermas' paper here and a broader more popular discussion here.]
The classic "alternative" skeptical explanations have deservedly fallen by the wayside, and as we saw in the previous unit, the now favoured "spiritual body" visions fares but little better against the credible facts of the text.  Once the tomb was empty that first Easter morning, something has to reasonably explain -- 
  • the missing corpse and the empty tomb, 
  • the convincing appearances to the disciples [altogether over 500], 
  • those to the circle of women,
  • that to his family [who were previously skeptical to the point of fearing their eldest brother insane], and 
  • that to Paul in his earlier career of arch-persecutor, as well as 
  • the inability of the Jewish and Roman authorities to produce convincing evidence to scotch reports of a risen messiah,
. . . and it has to do so without undue strain or obvious anti-supernaturalist bias that leads to accepting what would otherwise be preposterous.  In this, we should recall that as ordinary men and women of typical common sense rationality, the fishermen, farmers, house-wives and tax collectors in Jesus' circle of followers would be able to tell a live man from a violently dead one, and they could also tell which of two events came first.  

It took no miracle to see, converse and even eat supper with Jesus. Nor did it take a miracle to see him crucified, speared to ensure death, taken down and buried in the famed borrowed rich Sanhedrinist's tomb -- unlikely to be recounted unless true! -- then sealed therein and guarded. 

The miracle lay, rather in the implications of the timeline sequence: Jesus was crucified and buried first, then after that, he reportedly met, spoke to and ate supper with his disciples on the following Sunday evening and on the Sunday evening after that too. In this last event, he reportedly invited Thomas the doubter to insert his hands into the fearsome, but now evidently powerless wounds.

So, on the credible minimal facts, either the core witnesses were utterly misled by an inexplicable delusion, or they were just what they understood themselves to be -- witnesses of the truth. 

As Peter preached in the very first Christian sermon:
Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know – 23 this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles.  But God raised him up, having released him from the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held in its power . . . .

"32 This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it.  33 So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear . . . . 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” [NET]
And, if the apostles and those with them in the core circle of 500 witnesses were indeed witnesses of the truth, the millions ever since who testify to having met God in the face of the risen Christ are also witnesses of the truth.

A truth that potentially has revolutionary, transforming impact for us, our lives, communities and world. 

A truth that demands our sincere response of repentance and trust in God through the crucified, but now risen Christ, and guided by the scriptures that authentically record that truth, starting with the Old Testament that he so highly regarded, which sets the context for Messiah, and prophesies his coming. Then also, continuing through the New Testament that reliably reports his life, teachings, passion, death as Saviour, and triumphant resurrection as Living Lord who shall return as Judge, but even now intercedes for us before the Throne of Grace. 

Indeed, let us hear and heed the final counsel of the Apostle Paul to his son in the faith, Timothy, even as he faced imminent death at the hands of Nero for his bold witness to Christ:
 2 Tim 3:12 . . . all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom  you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God  may be competent, equipped for every good work.  
2 Tim 4: 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound1  teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith . . .  [ESV] >>

We have been warned.

And, with the key warranting case for the faith once for all delivered to the saints in hand, we may confidently lay out the principle for personal, familial, and comunity reform under the gospel:
  Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 

18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!- 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,  which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. [ESV]

  And to that, we must next turn.  END