Many researchers have created false memories in normal individuals; what is more, many of these subjects are certain that the memories are real. In one well-known study, Loftus and her colleague Jacqueline Pickrell gave subjects written accounts of four events, three of which they had actually experienced. The fourth story was fiction; it centered on the subject being lost in a mall or another public place when he or she was between four and six years old. A relative provided realistic details for the false story, such as a description of the mall at which the subject’s parents shopped. After reading each story, subjects were asked to write down what else they remembered about the incident or to indicate that they did not remember it at all. Remarkably about one third of the subjects reported partially or fully remembering the false event. In two follow-up interviews, 25 percent still claimed that they remembered the untrue story, a figure consistent with the findings of similar studies.
What then can help guarantee a good memory? Notice that events which are traumatic are questionable. Notice that distant, vague events are questionable. Compare that to events which take place over a period of time, events which are witnessed by multiple persons, events subject to objective independent corroboration. And with the case of the Scripture, Jesus speaks of receiving supernatural assistance of the Spirit. John 14:26
(Got a question from one who heard that “eternal” means a very long time. Therefore, the “eternal life” offered by Jesus may only be a very long life which could end at some point in the future. This is the brief response I wrote)
God does not offer “eternal life” as a shadow or a trick or some temporary thing. God holds eternal life up as one thing so valuable that it is worth losing our life to gain this eternal life. It is better to be hated, abused and murdered and gain this eternal life, than it is to have every good thing which could be had in this world.
The fact that God offers it to us, should give us comfort. If God offered a life which might run out, then it would disturb our peace:
It is an endless and everlasting life. Such as are once possessed of it shall never be dispossessed again. If man be designed to enjoy a chief good, and this chief good must content all our desires, it must also be so firm and absolutely immutable as to secure us against all our fears; for a fear of losing would disquiet our minds, and so hinder our blessedness.
Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 11 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1873), 366. God has not offered a very long life as our supreme good. God has offered us a life which is both never-ending, but also which belongs to a differ age, the age to come. Both of those things should give us comfort.
First, when we speak of “eternity” and God, we must out of our heads the idea that “eternity” is a very, very long time. This is hard for us to do, because we only have only experienced time in this way. In Romans 8:20, Paul explains that the creation – the entire universe that we could know – “was subjected to futility”, it is vain, it is running down (Eccl. 1:2, Gen. 3:19).
This matches what we know about the universe from observing it. Physicists talk about “Time’s Arrow”: the universe is running in one direction, and it is running down (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow_of_time). So when we talk about “time”, we think of a succession of moments and an increase in entropy.
Stephen Charnock in The Existence and Attributes of God writes
We must conceive of eternity contrary to the notion of time; as the nature of time consists in succession of parts, so the nature of eternity in an infinite immutable duration. Eternity and time differ as the sea and the rivers; the sea never changes place, and is always one water; but the rivers glide along, and are swallowed up in the sea; so it is time by eternity.
There is a great deal of discussion and speculation when it comes to what eternity actually means. Eternity – and infinity — are very strange and very hard concepts. God is called the “everlasting” or “eternal” God (Rom. 16:26), he is the eternal king (1 Tim. 1:17). That is why in Revelation we read that God was, is and is to come (Rev. 1:8, 11:17).
When we start to think of concepts like “eternal life” (John 3:16), we have to realize that when it comes to divine things, we are not speaking about very long things.
It is true that sometimes the words translated “eternal” or “everlasting” sometimes have the idea of very long, or indefinite, or “age”, or “aeon”. That, however, should not trouble us. When we speak to one-another we often talk about something “taking forever”, when we mean 20 minutes. We will say that it was “an eternity”.
But we can also use the word “forever” and understand it to mean something which cannot end. When we use the word “forever” or the word “eternity” we can tell what we mean – and we expect other people to be able to understand us easily. We do this, because can understand the context and the use. We understand that sometimes a word is being used ironically, or emphatically. So if I tell my wife, I will love you forever, I mean to underscore the intensity of my commitment: even though we both know that neither of us will literally live forever.
The same thing applies to uses in the Scripture – the Bible is written in ordinary language. So in Genesis 9:16, God makes “an everlasting covenant” to never flood the earth again. But we also know that God will one day re-create the entire universe (2 Pet. 3:7). Therefore, we know that this covenant to never flood the earth will hold true throughout the duration of the earth’s existence, but the covenant does not mean that God will keep the earth in existence forever.
Or in Genesis 17:8, God promises Canaan as an “everlasting possession” – we quickly see the problem of simply using the word without consideration (even if we decided we would think about it forever).
So, in some places the word aion/aionios means a long time ago: Luke 1:70, As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old (aion).
In context we can tell it cannot mean “forever” – that would result in nonsense.
By contrast, in 2 Corinthian 9:9, we read that God’s righteousness endures forever. We can’t say that God’s righteous will last a long time and then wear out. Or God’s throne is “forever”. (Heb. 1:8). If God’s throne is not going to last, God is not much of a God.
What I want you to see here is that you cannot fear that our promised eternal life will wear out in the distant future merely because the word “aion” could mean a very long time. Our word “forever” can mean “a long time”. The way in which a word could be used does not tell me how it is being used.
Second, when it comes to eternity and God, our normal concepts of time simply do not apply.
How then is the word “eternity” used when it comes to our “eternal life”?
It would make very little sense to say that you will live “forever” and it to be only a very long time. Life is something which one either has or does not. If life is everlasting, the word “everlasting” or “eternal” would not be ironic/hyperbole (“it took forever to get home”).
It could be emphatic: and there is a sense in which it is. It does not merely mean continual and without end: it means life which belongs to another age: thus the language life of the Age, or Aeon would point toward not merely a long life, but a life which belongs to the age to come, to “eternity”.
But perhaps the most important aspect is that the idea of “eternal” life is contrasted with death. Consider John 6:51 & 58. In this passage, Jesus is contrasting the bread eaten in the wilderness (manna) which himself as the bread of life. Jesus notes that the fathers ate manna and died (“Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and died” John 6:49). Yet the one who eats Christ “will live forever” (John 6:50). He repeats the same idea in John 6:58: they ate and died, but “he who east his bread [Christ] will live forever”. If Jesus is merely offering an extremely long life, this argument fails. Jesus’ offer is something that cannot end, or his argument is a lie.
This argument is stronger when you consider the other concepts and images which are used to complement the idea of “eternal life” in John 3:
That is the immediate result of the love of God for the world: the mission of the Son. His ultimate purpose is the salvation of those in the world who believe in him (eis auton, not en autō as in v. 15). Whoever believes in him experiences new birth (3:3, 5), has eternal life (3:15, 16), is saved (3:17); the alternative is to perish (cf. also 10:28), to lose one’s life (12:25), to be doomed to destruction (17:12, cognate with ‘to perish’). There is no third option.
A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 206. Eternal life runs parallel to born again. We cannot be “unborn”, therefore, by analogy we do not un-live.
Second, the contrast is made to death and destruction. If we will die, then the offer of “eternal life” makes no sense if “eternal” only means very long time.
John 1:11 (ESV)
11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
How to preach this.
There are three parts to the verse
An action: he came
The recipients of the action: his own
The response: rejection
I. He Came
a) If he came, he was not there before: why the absence? (Gen. 3)
b) The waiting for the Messiah
c) There was no ability to compel God to come (the idea of compelling God is at the heart of idolatry)
d) Parallels to the parables (e.g. Luke 19:11)
What a wonder is here:
a) The Incarnation
b) The distance between dark & light, creature & Creator
a)His own by creation
b)His own by covenant/promise
c) Contrast, those under the New Covenant will receive him — these will come by conquest
a) They could see him
b) Killed him
c) They did not understand (1 Cor. 2:8, 2 Cor. 4:4)
d) This will turn to judgment
John 7 comes immediately after the feeding in the wilderness of John 6, where Jesus claims for himself the status of the bread in the wilderness. He also says,
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. http://esv.to/John6.35
Jesus is walking around in Galilee: there is not much direction indicated (though not pointlessly). He cannot go to the Feast of the Booths (a feast which signifies, in part, wilderness wandering).
Like Moses, Jesus cannot go the capital lest he be killed.
Jesus performs miracles to those who will not believe it is God’s work (like the miracles of Moses which did not convince the Pharaoh).
The people murmur about Jesus (and thus about God).
Jesus is the water (just as Moses had to give them water).
They do not do the Law which Moses gave (unlike Jesus who does the will of his Father).
They ask if Jesus could be the Prophet foretold by Moses (Dt. 18).
Something to flesh out later.
These are very rough draft notes on John 15:2. I just want to be able to find them again.
The question is whether the phrase “he takes away” can mean, God the Father sees a branch dragging on the ground. He picks it up (a perfectly possible translation), he raises it, so that he will be up off the ground and there the struggling branch will be able to bear fruit.
The word airei merely means to pick up and usually move. It translates the OT nasah bear and so it has a very broad range of meanings. Cicero made a joke about Augustus: “we need to Airei Augustus” which means we need to raise him: first raise him in political power and then raise him onto a cross to kill him.
πᾶν κλῆμα ἐν ἐμοὶ μὴ φέρον καρπὸν αἴρει αὐτό,
all branches in me not it is bearing fruit he raises [?] it
πᾶν τὸ καρπὸν φέρον καθαίρει αὐτὸ ἵνα ⸂καρπὸν πλείονα⸃ φέρῃ.
each the fruit it is bearing he cleanses it for the purpose/with the result that fruit more it may bear
(The participle pheron mean that the action of bearing is subordinate to what God does about it.)
There are two clauses which are coordinated by “kai” (and). Kai coordinates two separate clauses which have the same value — neither is subordinate to the other. It tells us nothing about whether we should translate the language into English as “and” or “but”.
The question is whether there are three categories of branches or two in the passage: bearing/not bearing [because dead], or three: Living branches which bear and do not bearing, and non-bearing branches.
In the remainder of the passage he contrasts between living and dead branches only. That would lean toward the same two categories in this sentence.
Next point, the first clause (every branch that does not bear fruit) is missing the “in order that” (hina) and the conclusion
If a branch does not bear fruit, he picks it up [______________]
If a breach does not bear fruit, he cleans it off, hina it will bear more fruit.
What is the purpose that God airei the not bearing branch? It must be implied from the passage. It can’t be implied from the next clause: bear more fruit, because it has not given any fruit at all.
And, what is the difference between raising the branch and cleansing the branch? Wouldn’t cleansing include, if necessary, encouragement (which is what the Airei means lift up argument is)?
If does not bear, then Raise (?)
If does bear, the cleanse.
If you are not in me, you will not bear.
If you remain in me, you will bear.
Those that remain are those that bear.
Those that do not remain, are those that do not bear.
Those that do not bear = those that do not remain.
They picked up and thrown out.
Those that do bear=those that do remain
They are cleansed and they will ask/glorify/bear
As I go through it, I can’t see how there can be this third category of branches — non-bearing, true branches. I think the appeal is that “prune” sounds wholly painful. But cleanse does not need to be negative. It can be mean to clean a wound, pull weeds, run off monsters, purify blood. Notice also that the cleansing takes place by means of the word I have spoken. Also in chapter 13, Jesus cleans the disciples by washing their feet.
All of the encouragement which is sought with the attractive “he lifts up to help” interpretation of verse 2 is already present in “he cleans” in verse 2.
Final argument: I have never grown grapes, but I am willing to bet that grapes will still fruit if the vine is on the ground. I am thinking about tomatoes which grow best — for human consumption — when the branches are kept off the ground, but the tomato will still fruit even if the branches are on the ground.
John 13:34–35 (ESV)
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
But be assured there is no Easter joy in the resurrection to the man who, the instant he conceives the Mediator as having been removed, knows nothing of Mary’s anguish, who does not feel himself to be unhappy, helpless, and wretched, with an intensity of feeling like hers. The first condition of participation in the joy of the resurrection lies in this, that after a man has been thoroughly convinced of his lost state, he passionately thirst for the grace of God and the assurance of eternal life,—that he feel and confess all the world can offer to relieve this craving is inadequate. As it was with Mary Magdalene in the instance before us, so he will never attain inward peace until he have met One who came down from heaven to earth, not only to announce in God’s name pardon to sinners, but who confirmed the cheering message in a manner that commended itself alike to both head and heart. And this One has appeared. The soul which finds itself in despair as to all human counsel and comfort, and yearns for some fixed grounds of hope, will infallibly and speedily discover Him in the Lord of the resurrection, and having done so, will ask nothing further of heaven or earth.
Friedrich Wilhelm Krummacher. The Risen Redeemer.
The Resurrection by Titian
A harmony of the fear and great joy found in the Resurrection Accounts. As a trained lawyer (who practice for 18 years), I show how the evidence both fits together coherently and thus presents compelling proof for the resurrection as a historical — albeit remarkably strange — event: