The transfiguration was before Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. After—and because of—Jesus’ resurrection, the promised Holy Spirit came, and Peter had something much better to preach (see Acts 2:14–37; 10:34–43; 2 Peter 1:16–18). The transfiguration pointed to Jesus’ future resurrection and glory. John wrote his whole gospel and Apocalypse perhaps recalling that “we beheld his glory” (John 1:14).
The transfiguration of Jesus is documented by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Each records that Jesus Himself spoke about it (Matt.16:28–17:9; Mark 9:1–9; Luke 9:28–36). Jesus spoke of the transfiguration both before and after that unique event when His human body underwent a temporary transformation. The Synoptic Gospels indicate that the transfiguration had a particular relevance to those disciples who witnessed it and were forbidden to speak about it for a while. We will use Jesus’ statements to consider the transfiguration.
The Kingdom of God
First, Jesus mentions the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matt.16:28, emphasis added). All three evangelists connect the transfiguration with the kingdom of God. Luke describes it as “the kingdom of God”; Mark adds the words “come with power”; Matthew mentions “the Son of Man.” In spite of these minor but significant variations, they all place this saying immediately before the transfiguration.
Matthew and Mark record that Jesus and His disciples were in the region of Caesarea Philippi (Luke mentions no location) when He asked them for common views about His identity. His gracious words and powerful deeds had raised the question of whether He was the promised Messiah. The replies assigned Jesus the honored category of a notable prophet. He then turned the question to the disciples, asking, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter’s reply that He was God’s Messiah was wiser than he knew. He protested vehemently when Jesus informed the Twelve of His impending rejection and crucifixion. Peter was thinking of messiahship in the same way as his fellow Jews, who expected merely a prophet or a national deliverer, someone like Theudas or Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:36–37). Peter was reproved as emphatically as he had been declared blessed. The disciples were informed that not only did a “cross” await Jesus because He was God’s Messiah, but “a cross” also awaited all who followed Him (Matt. 10:38; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).
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By David Mathis — 6 months ago
When God opens our eyes, and ears, we encounter his majesty. We hang on his words, as some did when he taught in the temple (Luke 19:48), and we testify in awe, with those officers who confessed, “No one ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46).
Lightning can be majestic. That is, from a safe distance. Or from a secure shelter that frees us from the threat of electrocution, and allows us to enjoy the spectacular show.
The concept of majesty first brings to mind great sights, like distant lightning. Whether it’s a scenic vista of purple mountain majesties, the skyline of a great city, the dazzling beauty of gold or precious jewels, or the grandeur of a royal palace and its decorum, we typically associate the noun majesty, and its adjective majestic, with stunning glimpses, panoramas, and sights.
Majesty captures a greatness, power, and glory that is both impressive and attractive. And as with lightning, what is majestic from a safe distance can be terrifying when right overhead, without shelter. And so it is when the living God showcases his majesty at the Red Sea—his enemies panic with fear (Exodus 14:24), while his people, whom he rescues, know themselves safe and praise his majesty:
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble…Who is like you, majestic in holiness,awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?Exodus 15:7, 11
Yet when Scripture mentions the majesty of God, the reference is not exclusively to the visible. Thunder, not only lightning, also may strike us as majestic, when we don’t find ourselves exposed and at risk. And so, as Scripture testifies, God’s voice is majestic.
His words ring out with divine greatness, and tangible goodness, in the ears of his people. His speech is both authoritative and appealing, imposing and attractive. His voice both cuts us to the heart, and makes our hearts thrill. His words wound us in our sin, and we welcome it in the Spirit. God’s majestic words, spoken and written, surprise and delight his people, even as his enemies cower at his thunderings. Their fear is terror; ours is reverent awe and joy.
His lightnings enthrall his saints. As does the thunder of his words.
Greatness of His Word
Consider, first, the greatness of “his majestic voice” (Isaiah 30:30).
No voice speaks with such authority—or anywhere even remotely close to such authority—as the voice of the living God. His words, unlike any other words, are utterly authoritative, and on every possible subject he chooses to address. Like no other mind and mouth, his words are not limited to an area of expertise. His expertise, as God, is all things, without exception.
But the greatness of his word includes not only his right to speak on any given subject (and every subject), but also his ability to speak to the most important subjects and do so extensively, and perfectly, and have the final say. He not only takes up far-reaching, bottomless, eternal, truly great topics, but he never speaks above his head, or out of his depths, as even the world’s greatest minds do when they come to the topics that matter most.
God never speculates. He never overreaches or overextends his knowledge. He never over-speaks. As God, he may publicly address any subject matter he chooses, and with unassailable authority, and he does so perfectly, every time, in all he chooses to say and not say.
In Scripture, he does give us an extensive word, but not an exhaustive one. He chooses to limit his spoken revelation to a first covenant and then a new one, 66 books, and 30,000 verses across the span of a millennium and a half. However, he chooses not (yet) to speak to every possible subject in his created world and beyond, but to speak with both clarity and repetition, despite the trends and undulations of every generation, to the realities that are most timeless and essential. And in doing so, he cues his people in on the subjects and proportions of his focus that prove most important in every time and season.
By Thomas D. Hawkes — 2 years ago
Written by Thomas D. Hawkes |
Monday, May 9, 2022
Slander is so effective because we often want to believe the worst about others. Why is this so? People want to feel good about themselves by judging themselves right or righteous. “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom. 10:1) Rather than looking to Christ to make us righteous, we pursue self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is the basis of all human-made religion, and indeed, much of human activity that drives us into conflict.
The Definition And Use Of Slander
Slander is powerful, effective, and deadly. Slander, to be slander, must meet two simple criteria: it must be false, and it must damage the reputation of the person slandered. Miriam Webster defines it thus: “The utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation.” One minor note: slander is spoken, and is generally distinguished from libel, which is the written form of slander.
Why is slander so often used? Simply because it is amazingly effective. In politics, slander often takes the form of a science, called negative campaigning, or more popularly, mudslinging. Rick Farmer, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science at the University of Akron who has studied the impact of negative campaigning ads, says, “They’re very effective . . . people have a cynical view of politics and tend to believe the negative very quickly.” Research has shown that people remember longer and are more deeply swayed by negative statements.
Slander is as old as humanity, literally. Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve included a slander against God. “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Gen. 3:4–5).
Satan slanders God by subtly suggesting that God’s motive in forbidding them to eat the fruit was actually self-protection, not protection of them. Satan impugns God’s motive for giving his good command. Satan’s accusation was a lie. God’s motive was not self-protection, but rather love for his creation, humanity, to protect them from sin and death.
Satan’s lie also harmed their view of God. This first lie meets both the criteria for slander. And it worked. Adam and Eve stopped trusting God and trusted Satan instead, following his leadership to sin, death, and destruction. We see the result of the first slander all around us! Slander’s impact is unchanged today: sin, death, and destruction follow slander, naturally.
Slander is also as current as the cancel culture. At the very heart of the modern, social-media-enabled cancel culture is good old-fashioned slander. Why reason with an opponent when one can just obliterate him on a blog? Why bother to engage with another human being when one can entirely dehumanize them with lies on Twitter? Cancel culture has perfected and legitimized slander as the art form of the day. Invited by the attack of one person, soon a virtual mob assembles to finish off the hapless victim, much like a pack of wolves descending on its prey.
Why Slander Is So Effective
Why is slander so powerful? At least two things make slander so effective: the power God has given to the spoken word, and our sin nature which welcomes slander.
God has given great power to the spoken word. He spoke and all creation came into being. “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Heb. 11:3).
Jesus demonstrated the power of the word when he calmed the sea. “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39). He demonstrated the power of the word when he raised Lazarus from death. “‘Lazarus, come out.’ The man who had died came out” (John 11:43–44). Jesus was the Word incarnate. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
Created in God’s image, God has given astonishing power to our words. God has given us the power to speak and define reality by naming things. “And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name” (Gen. 2:19). God has given us the power to speak and with our words to bless or to curse. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Rom. 12:14). While we often discount the power of our words, God has given the spoken word great power.
Second, slander is so effective because we often want to believe the worst about others. Why is this so? People want to feel good about themselves by judging themselves right or righteous. “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom. 10:1) Rather than looking to Christ to make us righteous, we pursue self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is the basis of all human-made religion, and indeed, much of human activity that drives us into conflict.
Apart from faith in Christ, there are two ways we seek to judge ourselves righteous. We may pursue it positively, so to speak, by achieving, or appearing to achieve, through boasting. Or we may try to feel right about ourselves by tearing others down, through negative comparisons or outright slander.
Although we are not supposed to find our worth in this world by tearing others down, our fallen human nature, even the remains of it in believers, is eager to do so. “There have been men in the world that have sought to make themselves out of the ruins of other men. This did Judas, and some of the Pharisees” (John Bunyan, Seasonable Counsel or Advice to Sufferers, 23).
It is easy and efficient to build ourselves up by tearing others down. It is even easier to allow others to do it for us. Hence our proclivity to believe slander.
The slanderer does our work for us. All we must do in order to feel better about our rightness in the world is to simply accept the slanderer’s critical evaluation of their target. This has the added benefit of making us appear to be a caring and concerned listener, supporting the “victim” who has been “wronged” by the person being slandered. It is a win for the slanderer and a win for the person accepting the slander. And a loss only for the target of the slander. This is why we relish slander: it enhances our sense of self-righteousness.
Because of our desire to feel self-righteous and the power of the spoken word, slander works with deadly effectiveness. Consider the case of Naboth and Jezebel. In 1 Kings Chapter 21 King Ahab tries to buy the vineyard of Naboth. Naboth refuses to sell it because the land is his family’s inheritance.
King Ahab goes home sulking. His Queen, Jezebel, hearing his dilemma, proposes a simple solution. She wrote letters, in her husband’s name and with his seal, to the elders and leaders of the city where Naboth lived, Jezreel. “And she wrote in the letters, ‘Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death’” (1 Kings 21:9–10). She tells a lie designed to destroy the reputation of Naboth, a slander.
The plan worked perfectly. For the simple effort of a little slander, Jezebel and Ahab destroy the reputation and life of Naboth and steal his inheritance. Jezebel and Ahab win without breaking a sweat. We see the power of slander at work!
Dr. Thomas D. Hawkes is a Minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and serves a Director of Church Planting for the ARP Florida Presbytery, and as Lead Pastor of Christ ARP Mission in Fernandina Beach, Fla.
By Kurt Mahlburg — 2 years ago
Dr Jereth Kok’s case is now an iconic Australian story in the woke crusade against Christians in medicine. In describing this crusade, John Steenhof explains that “doctors and other health professionals are increasingly being forced to align with a cultural-left agenda through creeping limits imposed by Codes of Conduct.” He warns that the Medical Board of Australia is increasingly held captive to critical theory and leftist groupthink.
Dr Jereth Kok has been suspended from practising medicine for over two years for voicing Christian and conservative viewpoints on social media. In this exclusive story, see the ‘evidence’ that AHPRA may use to argue for Dr Kok’s permanent de-registration later this year.
Dr Jereth Kok, a Melbourne-based family GP, was indefinitely suspended in August 2019 for expressing sincerely-held Christian beliefs deemed ‘wrongthink’ by the Medical Board of Australia. Barred from seeing his patients for almost two and a half years, Dr Kok’s exile began after an anonymous complaint about his use of social media.
The Daily Declaration can now reveal screenshots of Dr Kok’s latest ‘crimes’ compiled by AHPRA. A collection of new posts (some of which appear below) will form part of the agency’s case against him later this year when they could argue for a permanent ban to end his 15-year medical career.
All bar one of the Facebook posts that have been added to Dr Kok’s rap sheet had specifically been shared by him in a non-public visibility mode, meaning that only a limited audience could view them on the platform.
“An Excellent Doctor” With a Clear Record
Addressing topics such as abortion, transgender ideology and Victoria’s ‘conversion therapy’ ban, Dr Kok’s recent thoughtcrimes were posted to social media after his suspension. It therefore appears likely that AHPRA will seek to indict Dr Kok for views he expressed while no longer serving the community as a doctor.
The Daily Declaration can confirm that Dr Kok has not paid any registration fees or been issued with any registration documents in the period during which he shared the new posts in question.
John Steenhof, who will be defending Dr Kok, told the Daily Declaration that “the impact of AHPRA’s investigation on Jereth and his family, including the loss of livelihood, has been profound.” Steenhof also clarified that there is nothing else against Dr Kok’s name to disqualify him from practice:
There has never been a complaint against Jereth about his patient care. By all accounts, Jereth was and would continue to be an excellent doctor. The medical profession is poorer for his absence, particularly at a time when there is a critical shortage of practicing doctors in Victoria.