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Chutzpah, Jesus' Word for Faith revised.

What does "faith" mean?

What does it mean to believe?

That's a pretty important question for anyone interested in being a serious Christian because so many of the Bible's promises are conditioned on faith. For example:

Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

One of the best explanations of what Jesus meant by the word "faith" was advanced by Robert Lindsey. LIndsey is one of a group of scholars including David Flusser, Brad Young, Marvin Wilson, Shmuel Safrai, Joseph Frankovic and others who are working to explain how the words of Jesus would have been understood by Jesus' audience, i.e. first century Jews. Along these lines Bob Lindsey suggests that the English word which best corresponds to the actual word that Jesus used for faith is  "chutzpah." Here's a nice explanation of this I came across from a book by Francis MacNutt called, Healing. Mr. MacNutt used to be a Catholic priest and has a pretty well known healing ministry. Here's the blurb about "chutzpah" from his book:

"A few years ago I got an entirely new understanding of faith that has been most liberating. It came from the late Bob Lindsey, who had been pastor of the Narkiss Street Baptist Church, the largest English-speaking church in Jerusalem. Bob, a Southern Baptist, became involved in the healing ministry and himself had been cured of diabetes through prayer. Bob studied the gospels with a Jewish rabbi and really understood the Hebrew culture in which Jesus lived. So when Bob was visiting the States I thought he would be the perfect person to ask: "What is the meaning of 'faith,' as Jesus himself would have understood it?

" Without hesitation Bob said, "Chutzpah." Now, chutzpah is a Yiddish slang term meaning something like 'nerve' or 'brass,' 'extreme confidence in action.' In today's terms a person with chutzpah is someone who 'goes for it.' A classic Jewish story about chutzpah describes how a boy murdered his mother and father, and then threw himself at the mercy of the judge on the grounds that he was an orphan. Now that's chutzpah!"

So when Jesus tells us to have "faith" when we pray, he means for us to have confidence, boldness, assuredness, even brashness. The English word which I think best defines "chutzpah," is audacity. To have faith is to have audacity. To have faith in God is to be bold, assured and brash. To have faith in prayer means to be audacious in praying. Most Christians have little confidence in receiving what they pray for. Most think of prayer as  thoroughly unreliable. They have absolutely no idea if their prayer will be answered. In other words, where prayer to God is concerned, they lack chutzpah, they have little faith.  The Christian with chutzpah, on the other hand has a confidence so bold, so brash, so assured of receiving what he has asked of God that most Christians would consider him to be arrogant and impertinent and presumptuous and they might even say, "What Chutzpah!"

Let me show you from one of Jesus' parables, the one normally referred to as the Parable of the Importunate Friend, that this is exactly the attitude that Jesus expects us to have when it comes to prayer.

Continue reading "Chutzpah, Jesus' Word for Faith revised." »

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Jesus Became Poor So You Could Be Rich

2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

This is my favorite prosperity scripture.

-It’s in the New Testament, so you can’t argue, as many like to do about the prosperity promises from the Hebrew Scriptures that it's just for the Jews.
-It’s meaning is clear. Too clear perhaps for those driven into paroxysms of hate by us prosperity preachers and who are, as result, also driven to correct and amend it.
-It follows the typical redemptive pattern of Jesus substituting himself for us:
Galatians 3:13…being made a curse for us…14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ…
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
-It fulfills the covenant God swore to Abraham and his descendants, e.g.:
Deuteronomy 8:18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
- It’s good news for the poor, and they could really use some good news and Jesus said he came to proclaim good news to the poor:
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…
- And it speaks to the most important concern in the lives of all but the super-ultra-spiritual, i.e. money.

In spite of all that, most Christians immediately reject the plain meaning of this scripture. I’ve had people in my own church, people who like my ministry, come and say to me after the sermon, “But pastor you know that scripture doesn’t really mean that.” Well, in fact, I know that it does mean that. So I want to demonstrate that the plain meaning of this scripture is indeed the correct meaning. To put it another way, I want to show you that 2 Corinthians 8:9 means what it says.

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Still More Greek Philosophy vs. Christian Doctrine

I post these quotes mostly for my own amusement, but also because most Christians have very little conception of the influence of Greek Philosophy on Christianity. And many of those who promote this syncretism think it is a good thing. They are not offended by accusations that they have imported Greek philosophy into Christianity but are proud of it. They think it's a good thing. See for example, Pope Benedict's Regensburg speech.

Anyway here's another quote about the negative effect that Greek Philosophy has had on understanding the words of Jesus and Paul. This is from pg. 168 of the paperback version of Marvin Wilson's wonderful book, Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith:

Continue reading "Still More Greek Philosophy vs. Christian Doctrine" »

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Imperial Valley Christian Center, P.O. Box 3336, El Centro, CA 92244