Reflecting on my Experience with Christians on Campus

Christians on Campus UT Austin

In a sense we’re all Timothys. We learn from those who are ahead of us- our spiritual fathers and pioneers in the journey we’re on. We are inheritors, and we have a debt of gratitude to pay off. I am especially indebted to the people from Christians on Campus at the University of Texas for the experiences that have shaped my faith and guided me in my pursuit of Christ and the church.

Christians on Campus is a startlingly vibrant and eclectic group of Jesus lovers who truly believe “what starts here changes the world.” They present diverse and dynamic opportunities for students to grow spiritually through eye-opening Bible study, daily fellowship, engaging outreach, and living in community. This certainly was my first impression of them as a freshman.

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Evidence for Luke’s Emphasis on the Humanity of Jesus

heads of greek statues

I recently finished reading through the gospel of Luke again. Luke really intrigues me. I’ve mentioned before how the unique characteristics of Luke made him a perfect channel for presenting Christ’s aromatic human living. Luke’s emphasis on the humanity of Jesus really stands out in the passages unique to his gospel.

Here are a few of them:

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The Humanity of Jesus

humanity-of-jesus2

The gospel of Luke presents, in detail, the incomparable and indescribable human living of the God-man Jesus Christ. Since such a life had never existed or been observed before, it is difficult to categorize.

Holy? Godly? Righteous? Kind? Loving? Humble? Ethical? Noble? All fall short and leave something wanting.

Aromatic is a good word to describe our perception of it. We detect something and yet can’t quite discern what we are experiencing.

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Characteristics of Luke

Saint Luke by Simone MartiniI am now in the book of Luke and I am paying particular attention to the humanity of Jesus as the outstanding characteristic of this gospel.

Witness Lee defines it like this,

The record in the Gospel of Luke has a particular characteristic. This characteristic is that Luke always shows us in the Man-Savior the mingling of the divine attributes with the human virtues to produce the highest standard of morality for the New Testament jubilee.

The beauty and loveliness of Luke’s Gospel lies in the stories and sayings he records, which vividly capture the interaction between Jesus’ human and divine natures. This interaction produces a unique kind of morality, a quality of conduct that is supremely right and good. When a human being comes into contact with that species of conduct, he or she experiences a liberating salvation.

The following quote from A. T. Robertson sums up well some general thoughts I am keeping in mind as I read. It particularly touches on, what can be called, the principle of incarnation by highlighting aspects of Luke’s person.

According to this principle, what the Lord wants to reveal and impart, He does through a human channel. However, the human vessel needs to match the content of the ministry that flows through him. In this way there is no separation between what one is and what one does. Otherwise, we may build up some by what we do, but tear down more by what we are. The most important thing in the work is the person.

So, here is Luke…

He was the most versatile of the Gospel writers. He was a Greek, a Christian, a physician, a man of travel, a man of world-outlook, sympathetic, cultured, poetic, spiritual, artistic, high-minded… The breadth of his literary equipment is thereby shown. He not only uses many medical terms common to technical circles, but he has the physician’s interest in the sick and afflicted, as shown in the large number of miracles of healing narrated. His interest in the poor is not due to Ebionitic prejudice against the rich, but to human compassion for the distressed. His emphasis on the human side of the work of Jesus is not due to Ebionitic denial of the Divinity of Jesus, but to his keen appreciation of the richness of the human life of the Son of God.

His rich and varied vocabulary reveals a man who read and mingled with the best life of his time. He wrote his books in the vernacular, but the elevated vernacular of an educated man touched with a distinct literary flavor. His poetic temperament is shown in the preservation of the beautiful hymns of the nativity and in the wonderful parables of Jesus in chapters 10, 15-18. They are reported with rare grace and skill. Luke is fond of showing Christ’s sympathy with women and children, and he has more to say about prayer than the authors of the other Gospels.

His cosmopolitan sympathies are natural in view of his training and inheritance, but part of it is doubtless due to his association with the apostle Paul. He comes to the interpretation of Jesus from a world-standpoint and does not have to overcome the Pharisaic limitations incident to one reared in Palestine. It is a matter of rejoicing that we have this book, called by Renan the most beautiful book in the world, as a cultured Greek’s interpretation of the origin of Christianity. He thus stands outside of the pale of Judaism and can see more clearly the world-relations and world-destiny of the new movement.

With Luke, Jesus is distinctly the world’s Saviour. The accent on sin is human sin, not specifically Jewish sin. John in his Gospel came in his old age to look back upon the events in Judea from a non-Jewish standpoint. But he rose to the essentially spiritual and eternal apprehension of Christ, rather than extended his vision, as Luke did, to the cosmopolitan mission and message of Jesus, though this did not escape John. The Gospel of Luke thus has points of affinity with Paul, John and the author of Hebrews in style and general standpoint. But while Luke’s own style is manifest throughout, it is not obtrusive. He hides himself behind the wonderful portrait of Jesus which he has here drawn in undying colors.

(International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Gospel of Luke”)

What does the gospel offer? 23 Eternals

At the most basic level, what the gospel offers is a solution to the fundamental problem of human existence- vanity.

As many intellectual objections man may have to the Bible or as much disdain he may harbor for the shortcomings of Christianity throughout history, the basic promises in the gospel should be a beacon of hope to those unmoored in the sea of absurdity.

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What is the Gospel? Scot McKnight Interview: “The King Jesus Gospel”

Frank Viola recently interviewed New Testament scholar Scot McKnight on his book The King Jesus Gospel.  I have written recently on 9 aspects of the gospel that go beyond justification or heaven and this interview in a way follows a similar line of thought.

The gospel isn’t a “plan” as much as it is a Person.

Yes, the gospel is a plan. But this plan transcends the common understanding of many Christians. Your personal salvation is not the grand goal of that plan, especially if salvation is merely understood as going to heaven. The plan from God’s point of view is something like this: “How can I impart this Person into millions of chosen yet fallen human beings so that I can be glorified?”

The plan and the Person coincide.

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Psalm 90: Dwelling in God to Escape Vanity

grey beach

If you missed my last two posts, Does Science Incriminate the Bible? and Why Can’t Science and Faith be Friends?, I suggest you read them first before continuing on to this one. I have been following a loose but developing line of thought throughout them.

This third post picks up at the assumption that science/life is all there is, i.e. there is no supernatural, spiritual, or eternal elements to the world and human experience.

The most basic human condition is inescapable vanity.

The biggest muscles, atrophy. The sharpest minds, dull. The prettiest faces, wrinkle.

Nothing not only doesn’t satisfy eternally, but nothing even lasts eternally. Man is confronted, not merely conceptually, but actually in experience with his mortality and resulting vanity.

The days of our years are seventy years, or, if because of strength, eighty years; but their pride is labor and sorrow, for it is soon gone, and we fly away.

-Psalm 90:10

If a newborn child could think rationally upon birth and came out of the womb with the full ability of the creative use of language, he might ask his parents on his first day, “What can I expect to gain out of all this?” His mother may look off to the side, pause, and then answer sheepishly, “Seventy years of labor and sorrow.”

Psalm 90:10 describes the quantity and quality of human life.

The quantity of life that we can expect is 70-80 years. Monaco, population 30,500 in July 2011, has the highest life expectancy in the world, at 89.73. So, 3500 years later, Moses’ word still stands. The quality of life we can expect isn’t much better- labor and sorrow.

O Jehovah, cause me to know my end, and the measure of my days, what it is. May I know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as mere handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before You; surely every man at his best is altogether vanity. Surely man goes about as a semblance; surely they bustle about in vain: he heaps up riches yet knows not who will gather them. And now what am I waiting for, O Lord? My hope—it is in You.

-Psalm 39:4-7

Modern technology however, masks man’s true condition.

We can cover up the quantity of life with our new available quality of life.

Just think how difficult cooking, childbearing, and life in general were just 100 years ago. In these events, man felt the sagging weight of his mortality. He felt the transience. Moses, the writer of Psalm 90, surely had a poignant sense of this, trudging around the wilderness for forty years while leading the children of Israel. The rawness of human life reminded man that “it is soon gone, and we fly away.”

Technology may be a welcomed form of temporary relief or distraction, but it ultimately has no recourse against the fall.

The promise of a technological salvation is empty. The gospel of Steve Jobs ends up being little more than ingenious entrepreneurship. Apple’s original logo of the bitten, forbidden fruit imprinted with a rainbow, a Biblical symbol of hope and promise, implies that technology can reverse the effects of the curse. But this only creates false hope.

The most it can do is mask the symptoms. Even if modern medicine gives man a little extra strength to extend his days, what does it benefit him? It’s pride is labor and sorrow. Even if man could live to 969 years, the longest recorded life span in the Bible, what would he have to boast of in the end? ” We bring our years to an end like a sigh (Psa. 90:9).”

O Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.

-Psalm 90:1

Only by dwelling in the eternal God, can our finite life have eternal value and satisfaction. The Christian was “regenerated unto a living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3), a hope contingent on the life of God. A multifaceted hope for this life and the next. To be a Christian is to believe into God. This meets not just a religious need but a very human need.

Dwelling in God is the only solution to the human condition.

Why Can’t Science and Faith be Friends?

A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and the committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put.[1]

–Bernard Ramm

Despite many eminent scientists, who know a whole lot more than the rest of us, who have not merely ceded to the idea of God being plausible or necessary but have fully embraced Him, the friendship between science and faith still seems to be tenuous.

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Does Science Incriminate the Bible?

Recently I have been following a few blogs discussing the historical reliability of the Bible, the historicity of Adam, and questions on the compatibility of science with the Bible.

Christians should not feel threatened by science. Science, in the sense of the way things are and the processes that govern them, is God’s work as much as the Bible is. Actually, both are God’s means of revelation- general and specific (Rom. 1:20, 2 Tim. 3:15).

However, some of what is touted as scientific fact is scientific speculation, assumption, or a leap to conclusions. One common instance of this is the claim that humans descended from chimpanzees because we share 98.6% of our DNA with them. While the latter may be fact, the former is speculation, not science. And this scenario can play out and repeat endlessly as science observes more of the visible universe.

But it is abundantly clear that science can not answer all the questions.

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