We had a lot of discussion and participation, and I thank everyone who read our journal, and especially those who commented. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, and a very merry Christmas/Hanaukka/Quanza/<Whatever you celebrate> and a happy new year. I hope to see you all again in January.
Obedience to God:
1. Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2. Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
3. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
15. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
17. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
2. Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
4. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
10. And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that He would do unto them; and He did it not.
As we see in the first verse, this was God talking to Jonah. In the second verse, He tells Jonah where to go. Ninevah was the capitol of Assyria. Jonah is to go there and "cry against it." Jonah was supposed to go to Ninevah and show them that they were living in a way that angered God, and urge them to cease their "wickedness." It is important to note that Ninevah was notorious for killing missionaries, and they didn't like Christians. As we see in the 3rd verse, Jonah didn't obey. Instead, he decided to go to Joppa and catch a boat to Tarshish, rather than go to Ninevah. Tarshish is a Sanscrit or Aryan word, meaning "the sea coast." It was a city on the coast, probably in what is now Spain. Almost everywhere Tarshish is mentioned in the Bible, it is referencing it's great wealth and many ships. The sea started raging and as we see in the 15th and 17th verses, Jonah was cast into the sea for his disobedience, but even in his punishment, God took care of him. God prepared a "Great Fish," which we usually assume to be a whale, to swallow him so that he wouldn't die. Jonah would not have had to go through this if he had trusted God. As we see in the verses from Chapter 3, he did finally go to Ninevah, and the people repented, and God did not destroy them.
Obedience to Authority Figures:
15. And Moses spake unto the Lord, saying,
16. Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation,
17. Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
20. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.
These verses in Numbers tell us that God has set the pastor up to have authority over the church. This also applies to other authority figures. The Bible also tell us to be obedient to the laws of the land (Render unto caesar what is caesar's...)
Jonah probably doubted God when it came to going to Ninevah. He probably thought, "Those people will never repent. They'll just kill me as soon as I walk into the city. Even if they do let me talk, I'm not a great preacher that can reach an entire city." These are usually the things we use to rationalize our disobedience: Doubting God, fear of others opinions, and doubting self. Had Jonah just obeyed, he would have had a much better experience. It tells us in Gen. 22:18 that Abraham was blessed because he heard and obeyed the Lord's voice.
I haven't heard from glh or Eugene, so they may add to this later, or post an addendum, or just participate in the discussion.
One of the most important concepts of the Christian faith is the message of Salvation. This journal entry will present the Biblical teachings on this very important and crucial topic along with some questions for reflection.
Introduction by glh:
Often in life, we have a tendency to look around and wonder what exactly it is we are here for. Think about your own life. In the difficult times that you've experienced, have you ever pondered questions such as: "Why am I here? Is there really a God? Am I good enough to get to heaven? Is there life after death?". All of these questions can be answered by the Bible.
First, regarding the Bible- no other religion has such a complete and holy book as Christians. Man couldn't have written it if he would of, and he wouldn't have written it if he could of. The Word of God says that man is a selfish, sinful creature and that--apart from God-- he can do nothing. There are so many laws in the Old Testament given by God that man could never fulfill them. Anyone claiming that a man would have written the Bible doesn't know the contents of it. No other book has seen so many detailed prophecies come true and not one fail.
At any rate, so many people in this day and age struggle with the questions of life as aforementioned. The message of salvation below will attempt to address these kinds of important "life questions" based on the Bible and what it has to say.
The message of salvation:
1.About man and how he got here
God originally created the first man, Adam, and had true fellowship with him. Adam was a perfect human being and was given a free will. Shortly thereafter God created woman because Adam needed a "help meet for him" (read Genesis 2 for more detail). Later on, Adam and Eve decided to break the one rule that God gave them- eating fruit off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Ever since then, sin entered the world and has existed.
2.It is important to know that man is sinful and separated from God.
God is HOLY and JUST, and we are not-- according to the Bible. No matter what you do as an individual, there is just NOT ENOUGH that can be done, by human standards, to avoid having sin.
Romans 3:10- "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:"
Romans 3:23- "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"
Romans 5:12 - "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"
1 Corinthians 15:22- "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
(Please take time to read the chapters that I have quoted)
3.Positionally, as a sinful person EVERYONE deserves to be separated from God
Anyone who has a job knows that a "wage" is what you earn. This is what the Bible says what sin will earn man:
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When the world has come to an end, the Bible also talks about a day of judgment that ALL men will face.
Here is what Revelation 20 has to say about the day of Judgement:
 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
A picture of Eternal Separation (in Hell) is given by a parable of Jesus in Luke 16.
 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
4.Although man is worthy of eternal separation from God, there is Grace.
Fortunately, God has provided, through His Son Jesus Christ, a means of which it is possible to be saved from Hell and eternal damnation.
 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, came to this earth to reconcile man to God.
 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Verse 19 Rom 5 also shows that Adam- the man who brought sin into the world was covered for by Christ-- who takes away sin.
 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Another very important Truth found in the Bible is that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way in that man can be saved.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
1 John 5
 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
Although Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he also overcame death for US and he rose again on the cross. This is a picture of a Christian's new, resurrected life in Christ.
1 Peter 1:
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
5.It is not just enough to know the scriptures, you must personally believe ON the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many people "believe" in God and even accept that what He has said is Truth. But it is important to consider James 2:
 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Hence, it is not enough to just believe in Jesus. In order to be saved, you must believe ON the Lord Jesus Christ and accept the gift given by grace, through faith. Grace is defined as an "unmerited favor", or in other words, something we don't deserve. Faith is, as defined by the Bible:
 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
And no man can ever claim that he did anything to earn salvation, per Ephesians 2:
 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
So how can someone actually be saved and spend an eternity with God? Can *anyone* be saved? Here are the answers to those questions, found in Romans 10:
 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Jesus Christ Himself said that He will not cast out anyone who comes to Him in John 6:
 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
According to the Bible, all men have sinned. That includes you and me. When we were born physically, we were all positionally equal in God's grace. But there is a decision that you must make. The decision to believe and accept the good news of Jesus Christ by faith, or to seek heaven by some other route. Regardless, the Bible is very clear about these issues. God desires ALL men to be saved- that includes you.
1 Timothy 2-
 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
7. Practical Application & comments by glh
Please consider making a decision for Christ. If you would like to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior and know 100% that you will spend an eternity with God, you can pray a simple prayer to do this. Feel free to pray these words- God knows the intent of your heart.
"God, I realize that I am a sinner and worthy of going to hell. Yet by your grace you have provided a way for me to be free from my sin. I believe that Jesus Christ has died on the cross for my sins, is resurrected, and now sits at your right hand in heaven. I gladly accept this free gift of your grace. I thank you that by accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior that my sins are now fully paid for. I invite you to come into my life and show me the way to go from here. In Jesus name I pray, Amen."
Asking Christ into your life will mean a change will occur. You will have the Holy Spirit as a counselor and have a desire to do the things of God. You will be a child of God! If you believe you are a Christian but have been living in sin, you may want to ask yourself if you have ever really accepted Christ. However, once you have made the decision to trust Christ as your Savior you never have to re-accept Him.
8.Some final questions:
I have some questions to propose now that the Bible has hopefully addressed many that you may have had. Please seriously ponder these.
What if the Bible really is true? What would that mean in your life given the scriptures above?
What do you believe will happen to you when you die?
What are you counting on to get to heaven?
Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If not, why? If you have, are you living a life for Him?
9. TechnoLusts thoughts:
John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." To me, that pretty much tells me that if you want to go to Heaven,
which is where the Father is, you must believe in Jesus. And not just that there was a man or a prophet called Jesus, you must also accept him as your personal savior. I have heard it said many times what a good "scam" Christianity is. That faith means there can't be any evidence or it ceases to be faith. I liked the verse above that says "the evidence of things not seen." That tells me that there can be evidence.
A lady was talking about a book called "A Case for Christ" on Monday night, where a journalist (Lee Strobel) was researching Christ, because his wife became a Christian. He came up with the following. The Jews had been following the Law as described in the Old Testament for thousands of years. They made animal sacrifices to cleanse them of their sins. Sin has to be paid for with blood, and the blood of the animals was required.
The Jews were very serious about this.
One day, all of a sudden, THOUSANDS of Jews stopped offering animal sacrifice almost overnight. Something big must have happened. Think of your beliefs, and what it would take to get you to stop doing something you and your family had been doing for generations. So even though we weren't there to see it, we know something BIG happened, because of the reaction.
When you get saved you will change. Suddenly you will make decisions based not upon your wants, but God's plan for you. It is an exciting feeling. If you prayed the prayer like glh had in his section, please email us at the address above (click our username) and let us know so we can pray for you, and offer advice on starting your new life as a Christian.
The English word "Bible" is derived from the Greek 'biblion,' meaning "roll" or "book." A biblion was a typically a roll of the dried inner bark of papyrus, and was widely used in the ancient world. In earlier usage, 'biblion' was not only used for God's word, it could be used to reference books of magic or a writ of divorcement, as well as sacred books. Today, however, the word "Bible" refers to the Book of excellence, the recognized record of divine revelation. In Dan. 9:2 'ta biblia' refers to the prophetic writings. Around the turn of the fifth century was it extended to include the entire body of canonical writings as we now have them. The expression 'ta biblia' passed into the vocabulary of the Western church and in the thirteenth century the neuter plural came to be regarded as a feminine singular. This change from plural to singular echoed the belief that the Bible is one voice from God rather than a multitude of voices speaking for Him. The process by which the various books in the Bible were brought together and their value as sacred Scripture recognized is referred to as the history of the canon. Jesus regarded the Old Testament as an inspired record of God's self-revelation in history. He repeatedly appealed to the Scriptures as authoritative (Matt. 19:4; 22:29). The early church shared this sentiment, but while the Old Testament canon had been formally closed, the coming of Christ created the need for more records. God was once again speaking to us. Since the Old Testament was the Law, and the way things were done under the old covenant (promise, or testament) and Jesus brought a new covenant, the New Testament was born. Viewed as a historical process, the formation of the NT canon occupied some 350 years. In the first century, the various books were written and began to be circulated through the churches. In the second century, heretics such as Marcion created the need for the formation of a definite canon by trying to pass false scripture as God's Word. Valid Scripture was separated from Christian literature on the basis of such criteria as apostolic authorship and consistency of doctrine with what the church already possessed. The canon was ultimately certified at the Council of Carthage. Almost as soon as it was canonized, it had been translated into Latin, Egyptian, and Syriac. Today, the Bible has been translated into every known tongue in the civilized world, and even Klingon.
TechnoLust's Personal note: I have often asked how I can be a man of science, knowing the Scientific Method so intimately, and still believe in God. The scientific method tells us that when it comes to things we can not quantify and qualify, we can never really prove a theory. We can prove it wrong, but we can never really prove it correct. Think of the general theory of relativity. It has been tested and tried since Einstein published it in 1920. So far it has held up, and it is generally accepted as law. Now think of the Bible. It has been tried and tested for millennia, and no one can prove the Bible wrong. No one can prove that God doesn't exist, or that the Bible isn't His Word. They have tried, oh, how they have tried. So by that very scientific method that is cited when rejecting the Bible, I defend it. However, this is not the only thing that drives my faith. By the very definition of faith, that isn't it. I have always believed that the Bible is the Word of God, and that is my faith. The fact that I can not disprove it scientifically is just an indicator that I am correct in my hypothesis.
Who Chose What Would be in the Old Testament Canon?
Although there was no official person(s) who determined what was the canon and what was in the canon, believers have received their canon through tradition. In earlier times before the Reformation, people, for the most part, just accepted what the Church believed regarding the canon. This is different from believing that the Church determined what was in the canon. It is noteworthy to understand that without a canon, there is no standard, and thus no Bible.
In the following sections, I will either summarize or interact with D. Wayne Stiles, II, Th.M. On his essay "The Content and Extent of the Old Testament Canon". For a free copy of this essay, please go to http://www.bible.org/docs/theology/biblio/otcanon.htm
The Concept of the Old Testament Canon
According to Stiles, it was well recognized in the past, that there was a distinction between a standard of written text, and non-authoritative text. Deuteronomy 31:24-26 gives an example of authoritative text. Other believers would often refer to a standard, saying "as it is written", or "according to Scripture", or "it is written". Although, tradition doesn't prove something to be correct, it should not be discounted either. Except Ruth, Song of Songs and Esther, the canonicity has been attested by so many diverse beliefs [Semitic, Hellenistic, Pharisaic, Essene, Christian]. In short, the concept of a canon existed well before Christianity.
The Construct of the Old Testament Canon
Luke 11:51a KJV "From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias,"; 2 Chronicles 24:21 gives the account of the stoning of Zechariah.
Often times, people disputed the canonicity of certain books. For many people, this would imply that the canon was still open. According to Stiles, this implies that they were widely considered canonical. People won't waste time disputing about uninspired texts.
The following paragraphs are quotes from J.P. Holding from www.tektonics.org/tekton_05_01_01.html
The idea of a "canon" did not originate with the Israelites. They had a model to go on, one which was in circulation in Egyptian and Mesopotamian society. Vasholz [Vash.OTOT, 3-4], using the example of the Poem of Erra and other documents from the 12th to 8th centuries BC, notes these four core (commonsense!) steps:
These essential "canon concepts," then, were "there for the taking" at the time when the OT was being put together and involves no radical innovation or supposition of historical invention. The ancient "canonical" concept appears in its earliest form in the OT in Exodus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 31:24-6, where emphasis is made upon preservation of material as a memorial and as a witness. This is the seed from which an OT canon, or set of established books, grew. [Comf.OrB, 53]
The next piece of data comes from Josephus' description of the Jewish holy books in Contra Apion 1.8, dated c. 93-95 AD. After clearly identifying the Pentateuch as the work of Moses [Rost.JOHC, 24; Leim.CHS, 32], Josephus writes: From the death of Moses until Artaxerxes...the prophets who followed after Moses recorded their deeds in thirteen books. The remaining four comprise hymns to God and rules of ethical conduct for men.
With that in mind, let us count together to reach a plausible assessment of Josephus' 22 books:
The following paragraphs were summarized from "The Institution of The Christian Religion", by John Calvin. For a free copy of his writtings go to http://www.bible.org/docs/history/calvin/institut/httoc.htm
The Authority of Scripture
The Bible does not need human or Church authority to approve what is scripture. It is something that is recognized automatically. Calvin asks, "As to the question, How shall we be persuaded that it came from God without recurring to a decree of the Church? it is just the same as if it were asked, How shall we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter? Scripture bears upon the face of it as clear evidence of its truth, as white and black do of their colour, sweet and bitter of their taste."
Influencing Thoughts in the Bible
Moses claims to be from the tribe of Levi. Yet, he freely shares the details of Levi's sin in Gen. 49:5,6 which gives the entire tribe a bad name. A good name is important in any time period, yet this would have been more important that time period.
The following is from Eugene T.S. Wong. Yes, that's me!
A Philosophical Approach
When should we just accept what others tell us?
"You can't prove to a blind man, that light comes from the sun, despite all the science & technology that we have available." -- Eugene T.S. Wong
Many skeptics will challenge us to prove that the scriptures are from God. Proving it is pretty much impossible, let alone easy. Even if it were provable, what makes the skeptics think that they can see the proof? It is one thing to prove that light comes from the sun, and another to prove it to a blind man. We have all the scientific equipment that we need to confirm that sun gives light, yet the blind man will always be able to come up with challenges to us regarding our beliefs about light and the sun.
Likewise, it is the same with the Bible. Some people see that it is the truth, by accepting what they see in the Church, and thus accepting what the Church claims. This would be true for almost any organization that isn't spiritually related. Those who don't like what they see in the Church are less likely to accept the Bible.
This should really encourage us to take to heart Titus 2:10. "...that they may adorn the doctrine of God our saviour in all things". Let us, therefore, adorn sound doctrine.
Who's crazy idea was this?
That would be mine. (-TechnoLust) I noticed that there are a great many journals about religion and moral issues around. Most people are very vocal of their opinion. I have always felt that God would use me to reach people in nontraditional ways. I felt that this would a good way for people to get together and discuss their ideas and beliefs with anonymity. Many people are more willing to talk about religion if it is anonymous.
What makes you think this will work?
Why a shared account? Why not just do it your journal?
Some of my
Why do this on slashdot?
Several reasons... All of the people that I think would be interested are already here. People who might otherwise never come to something like this might stumble across us here. The interface is familiar. Most people that would be interested are going to be on
How are you going to deal with the ever-present trolls?
We will maintain a "friends" list of people who are posting in the journal, and a "foe" list of people who are trolling this journal. If you want, you can turn "friend of friend" & "foe of friend" modifiers on, and read at +1 or higher, so you won't see the trolls in the journal. Since this will be religious discussion, I imagine we'll get some bad trolls.
Why don't you guys do a lesson about...?
If you would like to participate in preparing Bible study topics or suggest a topic of study, email us at the address above. If you have questions, send those, and we will try to periodically do a Q&A session. If you would like to help, but don't have ideas for a topic, then pray for us.
So, are you guys starting a cult, or do you just think you are so perfect you need to tell everyone else how to live?
No, we don't want to start a cult, or the First Church of Slashdot. [If you are interested in joining a slashdot cult, click here.
There's no religion topic icon, so are you randomly picking an icon when you post?
No. We will try to pick an icon that somehow relates to the lesson. It may even be that a
A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems. -- P. Erdos