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超自然研究的沉寂与复兴

〈马太福音〉六章13节     不叫我们遇见试探;救我们脱离凶恶(恶者)。因为国度、权柄、荣耀,全是你的,直到永远。阿们!

二十世纪初期有一些人已经不再相信有鬼魔的存在,他们已不再相信超自然的存在。二十世纪中叶,德国斯图加特大学(University of Stuttgart)有一位重要的神学家写了一本关于精神病与鬼附的书,专门研究《圣经》记载被邪灵附着的事蹟。超自然的研究在当时并不是显学。

一九一七年,美国神学家饶申布士(Walter Rauschenbusch, 1861–1918)写一本名为《社会福音的神学基础》(Theology for the Social Gospel)的书,书中说:「历史上根本不存在《圣经》记载的鬼附事蹟。四卷福音书之所以讲论鬼附的事,是因为福音书的作者不明白所谓的鬼附其实是精神失常者会有的表现」。

饶申布士的思想与奥地利佛洛伊德(Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939)的心理学同出一辙。佛洛伊德用很现代化的字眼重新解释《圣经》,既不相信良心的存在,也不相信魔鬼的存在。两人都用精神衰弱、精神失常、精神病等病理特征诠释耶稣时代的鬼附现象。当这些所谓的新学术出来时,许多神学家追随时代的潮流,赶紧将神学改头换面,深怕自己被认为是落伍的思想家。

饶申布士走了一条不需悔改的信仰道路。他不相信耶稣的死是代替性的死,不相信耶稣的宝血能洗净人的罪,也不相信鬼魔会附在人的身上。他用心理学解释这些现象。但讽刺的是,就在饶申布士写那本书的时期,中国山东出现了一位名叫古约翰的人(Jonathan Goforth, 1859-1936;编按:著名加拿大长老会宣教士、奋兴布道家,先后在中国的山东、河南、河北和东北宣教长达四十八年之久,曾为中国东北教会带来福音大复兴。摘自:《华人基督教史人物辞典》)。

What An Effective Witness for Jesus Does

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 9:24-34.  Let’s go!

John 9:24-25 (NIV) 
24  A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25  He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

On verses 24-25:  When questioned again by the Pharisees, the “once was blind but now I see” man is not afraid to testify about what Jesus has done in his life.  He didn’t claim to have all the answers. Rather he simply boldly shared his experience about the difference Jesus made in his life.  To be an effective witness for Jesus, you don’t need to have all the answers, but you do need to be willing to share your story.

John 9:26-34 (NIV) 
26  Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27  He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
28  Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses!
29  We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
30  The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes.
31  We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.
32  Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.

设立逃城的爱

〈申命记〉 19:2-3 要在耶和华─你 神所赐你为业的地上分定三座城。要将耶和华─你 神使你承受为业的地分为三段;又要预备道路,使误杀人的,都可以逃到那里去。

从该隐杀亚伯开始,人类就不断地自相残杀。在挪亚生了三个儿子之后,神看到世界败坏,地上满了强暴。就像该隐的子孙拉麦,对他妻子说:「壮年人伤我,我把他杀了;少年人损我,我把他害了。」因为人属乎血气,终日思想的尽都是恶,因此神说:「我的灵就不永远住在他里面,然而他的日子还可到一百二十年。(创6:3)」从那时开始,人类的寿命就越来越短了。神的灵虽然不要永远住在人的里面,但是神的灵依然要住在人的里面一百廿年。假如你讨厌一个人时,就会想尽办法不要和他在一起;但是即始年日缩短,神的灵依然要和祂所赐予生命气息的人在一起一百廿年。当然,为了某些原因,我们不能活到一百廿岁,那也没有办法。

神的爱是如此坚定。即使看到人心里思想的尽都是恶,也要想办法帮助他。犹太人的拉比认为,逃城的用意不是为了庇护,而是为了赎罪。因为在〈出埃及记〉廿一章13节说:「人若不是埋伏著杀人,乃是神交在他手中,我就设下一个地方,他可以往那里逃跑。」拉比Philo认为,神不会挑选一个无罪的人去执行夺取他人性命的任务,因此在神把某人的性命交在肇事者手中时,肇事者之前很可能已犯了某些罪,所以神才会挑选他成为取他人性命的「工具」。例子:「就如人与邻舍同入树林砍伐树木,手拿斧子一砍,本想砍下树木,不料,斧头脱了把,飞落在邻舍身上,以至于死。」因此,肇事者的流亡就是他的赎罪祭。

倘若肇事者在未到逃城之前就死掉,他们的尸体还是要送到逃城,埋在那里。倘若肇事者比大祭司早死,那么他的尸身也必须葬在城,直到大祭司死掉才可搬走。即使肇事者能活到当时的大祭司死去,得到自由,此后也不可以作官。

Not Afraid to Identify with Jesus

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 9:13-23.  Let’s go!

John 9:13-16 (NIV) 
13  They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 
14  Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 
15  Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” 
16  Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided.

On verses 13-16:  In response to Jesus giving sight to a blind man on the Sabbath day, some Pharisees fixate on their little rules – how Jesus healing on the Sabbath was a violation of their Sabbath day rules – all the while missing what really matters to God.  May we not make the same mistake.  May I not be so focused on my own little man-made system being challenged that I miss the big things that God is doing. 

像摩西的先知

〈申命记〉 18:15  耶和华你的神要从你们弟兄中间给你兴起一位先知像我,你们要听从他。

在《圣经》里,这是一句很重要的预言。因为这句预言,伊斯兰教(回教)认定穆罕默德就是摩西预言的那位先知,但事实上是否如此?

在以色列人要进迦南之前,摩西有太多话要交待。他带领以色列人四十年,有时生气,有时愤怒,有时委屈,有时焦急。但是他最害怕的还是以色列人进迦南后忘记神的话,得罪神。因为他明白神的心意,也明白百姓的反复无常。人对神的信心不足,往往是因为自己的短视,以及不相信神对他们的爱。其实从神的教导里,就可以明白耶和华是一位怎样的神,从而产生信心。在这章里摩西讲到三方面的事,第一方面是照顾利未人。

在旧约里,神要求利未人服侍祂,也要求以色列人供应利未人的需要;在新约里,神呼召人事奉祂,也要求信徒供应那些蒙召之人的生活需要。因为他们都是放下了地上的工作,不再为自己积存产业,都是在世界上无份无业之人。现在有一些教会也注意到传道人退休之后的问题,因为教会没有退休金的作法,有些传道人退休之后,生活十分困苦。在旧约里,当犹大王离开神去拜偶像时,往往神的祭司就会缺乏供应;要等到有敬畏神的王重修圣殿后,祭司的生活才又得到供应。

从神对祭司的预备,我们可以看到神对服侍祂之人的关怀。「凡献牛或羊为祭的,要把前腿和两腮并脾胃给祭司; 初收的五谷、新酒和油,并初剪的羊毛,也要给他。」倘若每个百姓都这样做,祭司们的生活何用愁呢?神并没有向我们要求很多,祂只要我们「将当纳的十分之一全然送入仓库,使我家有粮,以此试试我,是否为你们敞开天上的窗户倾福于你们,甚至无处可容。(玛3:10)」

A Big Reason Why God Allows Suffering

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 9:1-12.  Let’s go!

John 9:1-3 (NIV) 
1  As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 
2  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 
3  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

On verses 1-3:  When the disciples saw a man blind from birth, the disciples immediately assumed that the man’s blindness was somebody’s fault.  The only question for them was “Who is to blame?”  But Jesus didn’t play the blame game.  Instead, Jesus explains that the reason why this man was born blind was not due to this man’s sins or his parents’ sins, but so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.  What can we learn from this?  When God allows pain in your life, it is not because God is not there or He doesn’t care, and it’s not necessarily because you have sinned.  Rather God allows pain and hardship ultimately because He has plans to display His power and glory through your life in ways that neither you nor others could have foreseen.  Pain is a canvas on which God loves to paint His glory.

耶和华所憎恶之事

〈申命记〉 17:15 你总要立耶和华─你 神所拣选的人为王。必从你弟兄中立一人;不可立你弟兄以外的人为王。

在〈申命记〉 17章里,摩西谈到了一些神所憎恶的事。今年的四旬节从2月17日开始。四旬节的意思是从圣灰日星期三开始算40天,共六个星期,到复活节的前一天的一段时间,一同来思想和记念耶稣受难的意义。在这段时间内思考耶稣为何要受难,以及我们当如何远离神所憎恶之事,实在很合适。

神最憎恶的事就是祂的子民或儿女远离神去敬拜事奉别神,以及审判中要按神的律法,并听从神的判语。比较特别的一点,便是教导以色列人要怎样立他们的王。

有位在查经班学习了一段时期的慕道友问过一个问题:「假如神设定了一夫一妻制,那为什么以色列人的王都娶了那么多老婆?」他从大卫开始到所罗门,如数家珍。可见有很多慕道友对《圣经》的知识并不差。

在这章经文里,神提到以色列人立王和做王的规矩。

1. 立王的时候,要立神所拣选的人为王,这人必定是以色列人,他们的弟兄,而不是外邦人。在美国想竞选总统也要在美国本地出生才行。不晓得有没有哪个国家选领袖时,会去找一个外国人来当?除非是被压迫,否则大概都不会这样做吧。
2.神说,这个王不可以为自己加添马匹;也不可以为要添马匹而带百姓回埃及。马匹只是君王想要的财富之一。有了马匹可以增强作战的能力,但是即使为了增强战斗力,也不可回埃及。因为马虽然是为作战之日预备的,得胜乃在乎耶和华。因此,大卫说:「有人靠车,有人靠马,但我们要提到耶和华──我们神的名。(诗20:7)」 神所要求的便是王对神要有信心。

The Most Important Question You Will Ever Answer

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 8:48-59.  Let’s go!

John 8:48-59 (NIV) 
48  The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” 
49  “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 
50  I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 
51  I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 
52  At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 
53  Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” 
54  Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 
55  Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 
56  Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” 
57  “You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 
58  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 
59  At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

On verses 48-59:  Here in these verses Jesus makes some incredible claims:

–        Jesus claims that if you obey his word, you will never die (v51)

–        Jesus claims that he has special knowledge of who God is (v55)

以色列的三个大节日

〈申命记〉 16:15在耶和华所选择的地方,你当向耶和华─你的 神守节七日;因为耶和华─你 神在你一切的土产上和你手里所办的事上要赐福与你,你就非常地欢乐。

我们刚过完春节,再来就过元宵,华人过节和以色列人过节有何不同呢?为何我们必须认识这些节日,这些节日对华人信徒有何意义?

华人过节,除了吃,还是吃,主题就是:吃,聚在一起,吃! 可能有时候小朋友会问过春节的意义,吃元宵,吃粽子的意义,对于那些故事和传说,很可能每个人都有不同的故事,也都是当成故事。

但是以色列人的节日很特别,是神定的,不是人订的。所以每一个节日都有不同的历史意义,使以色列人记得他们和神的关系。

逾越节、七七节(五旬节)、住棚节,是耶和华神指定以色列成年男子要上耶路撒冷的三大重要节日之一。

逾越节,本是神定的以色列的新年,一年之首,因为神在这个月带领以色列人出埃及,脱离为奴的生涯。后来因为以色列国和犹大国都被灭亡,被掳到巴比伦的犹太人回到耶路撒冷后,加上好几个原因,逐渐把新年和吹角节放在一起了。

逾越节的隔天便是除酵节的开始,除酵节一共有七天。以色列人进入应许之地后,除酵节的第二天定为初熟节。初熟节便是耶稣复活的日子,所以复活的主耶稣成为睡了之人初熟的果子 (林前 15:20),第一个从死里复活、不再死的人。在《圣经》里,从旧约到新约都有人从死里复活,包括先知以利亚、以利沙救活的童子,耶稣救活的拉撒路,这些人的肉体都从死里活过来,但后来又都死了。唯有耶稣是从死里复活,不再死亡的第一个。耶稣的复活使我们明白了永生的真实,也使人脱离死亡的辖制,所以这些节期都表明神和人相互的关系,不只是和以色列人的关系。

Jesus, God’s Perfect Offering

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 8:12-20.  Let’s go!

John 8:12-20 (NIV) 
12  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 
13  The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.” 
14  Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 
15  You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 
16  But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 
17  In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. 
18  I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.” 
19  Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 
20  He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.

On verses 12-20:  I find it powerful and interesting to think that when Jesus said these things about him being the light of the world (v12), giving people the light of life (v12), passing judgment on no one (v15), and standing with the Father (v16), Jesus said all these things “in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put” (v20).  In other words, even as people were giving their imperfect offerings for God, Jesus was right there, being given as God’s perfect offering for people.