Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Death And Life: Romans 5:8-11 Part Two

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (All Scripture quotes-ESV)

What does it mean that we were enemies?

Being someone’s enemy doesn’t mean not being a friend, or having some disagreement. Being an enemy indicates being in the other camp, or on the other side when the line is drawn. It may be active enmity with hatred or hostility in word or in deed-or it may be passive. It still puts us on the other side.

So who are God’s enemies? The Bible tells us -Sinners. God has hostility towards evil and sin because of His holiness. Romans 3:23 says we are all sinners.

The World appeals to our focus on pleasure without regard to others or to the things of God. Romans 8:6-8 says
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

In James 4:4 we see the danger in caring more for the things of this world, than for the things of God-
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

There is no middle ground.

But it doesn’t stop there-as enemies of God we face His wrath & judgment. This is not out of some pettiness on God’s part. It is because of His holiness, and ultimately to the good of His people. God’s love and His wrath are not mutually exclusive. Many people emphasize one at the expense of the other.

In Romans 5:10 we see God loving those under wrath—and taking steps to save them, through reconciliation. In part 3 we'll look at that reconciliation.

(Part one is here.)

Labels: , , ,

Arguments Creationists Should NOT Use

In light of the comments on my Ephesians post, I may write one on evolution and creation. But in the meantime check out this article at Answers in Genesis.

Arguments we think creationists should NOT use

Labels: ,

Thomas Watson on Affliction

To know that nothing hurts the godly, is a matter of comfort; but to be assured that all things which fall out shall co-operate for their good, that their crosses shall be turned into blessings, that showers of affliction water the withering root of their grace and make it flourish more; this may fill their hearts with joy till they run over.
—Thomas Watson

Labels: , ,

Stuff in my profile-history

If you look back a bit you'll see the first installment where I blog on the stuff I've listed in my profile. Now it's time for history.

I am interested in history for a few reasons--among them is agreement with the warning that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.
This can be especially true in Church history. There are many errors and heresies that jsut keep getting recycled because we don't know out Church history.

I also enjoy the stories and the drama we find there.

I can enjoy a story that takes liberties with history depending on how it's done.
If it takes itself too seriously and goes way off base--that is distracting.
But if done for fun or as a fantasy story it can work.

But overall we need demarcation between what is intended as real history and what is not. The most annoying deviations from history for me are the ones where history is altered to make it more palatable today or to promote a contemporary issue. Leave it alone--tell a new story.

As long as history isn't presented as merely a list of dates and events I will probably be interested in it.

Labels: , ,

Simply Humorous Reading

Little Known Facts about James White

James White even links to it on his blog.

Just don't take it seriously.
Because it isn't supposed to be.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ephesians 2:1-7

When I was newly Reformed Ephesians 2:8-10 was a passage I used a lot. It is a great passage (Although too often verse 10 is neglected.) But I wanted to remind you of the verse leading up to that wonderful passage-they are wonderful words themselves.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

(Verse 8-10)

Labels: , , ,

Book Recommendation-TRUST AND OBEY Obedience and the Christian Don Kistler General Editor

Reading "Trust and Obey" for the first time, all those years ago, was an eye-opener for me. It is a compilation edited by Don Kistler ofSoli Deo Gloria Publications. S.D.G. (now part of Ligonier Ministries) reprints many writings by the Puritans, and those who followed in their footsteps. They also publish books like Trust and Obey, featuring contemporary authors writing on the same theme. Here the theme is stated in the sub-title, “Obedience and the Christian.”

On the book’s back cover is this comment by John MacArthur, “The relationship between faith and works is one of the most puzzling questions every Christian must face. Here is where doctrine and theology get most intensely practical.” The book’s introduction states, “It is our intention as publishers of this work to remind the church of the propriety of good works...though our works of obedience are of no consideration in procuring justification, or in obtaining a title to eternal life, they are most important in offsetting those fatal and opposite extremes, legalism and antinomian licentiousness. The former infringes on the glory of grace, exalts self and wounds our peace. The latter turns the grace of God into wantonness, hardens our conscience, and renders us worse than unbelievers.” These statements summarize the book quite well.

“Oh How I Love Thy Law!”, by R.C. Sproul, starts off the book. He shows the connection between the Old and New Testaments. Both testaments speak about law and grace, and the difference between them. The gospel starts in the Old Testament and is fully developed in the New. He addresses those who would say, “Are you crazy? We live on this side of the cross. We don’t sit around and delight in the law of God.” He answers, “If you are a Christian, you do. (delight in God’s law). And if you do not delight in the law of God, don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you are a regenerate person. Don’t think that the gospel which frees you from the curse of the law is a license for you to despise the law or ignore the law.”

Michael Horton is up next with, “Filthy Rags or Perfect Righteousness?” He looks at metaphors Scripture uses to describe salvation. He focuses on the metaphor of wearing someone else’s clothes. Starting with Adam and Eve, he shows how we wear Christ’s righteousness. It is not our good works that save, but that we are wearing His righteousness. He goes on to show the relationship between truly wearing Christ’s righteousness and obedience. If you are truly saved you are being sanctified, and it shows. He comments, “Thus, the whole of our Christian life is a constant process of realizing God’s judgment and justification, moving from self-loathing to fixing ‘our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2)”

John MacArthur’s chapter, “Obedience: Love or Legalism?” is quite similar to his books “The Gospel According to Jesus” and “Faith Works”. Both of these books are also well worth reading. MacArthur writes about some of the reaction to “The Gospel According to Jesus,” and addresses whether we obey God out of love or out of duty. He writes, “I agree that it is possible to place so much stress on the duty of obedience that we lose sight of the joy of it. After all, the Christian’s obedience should be a delight...Nonetheless, the danger of overemphasis is very real on both sides of this truth. It is not quite right to say ‘We obey out of love for Christ...and not out of duty.’ Duty and love are not incompatible motives.” In dealing with how duty can become legalism he deals with what duty is and it is not. He wraps up by showing how Christian obedience is different from legalism.

In “The Obedience of Faith,” John Armstrong deals with obedience as a fruit of faith. He looks at what came out of the Reformation in regard to obedience. He also looks at various aspects of salvation. I do not agree completely with Armstrong in all of what he writes here, but I do agree that the various aspects of salvation can never be fully separated. True repentance will bear fruit. Even the thief on the cross in Luke’s gospel has fruit. He defends Christ.

“Legalism and Antinomianism: Two Deadly Paths off the Narrow Road,” by Jonathan Gerstner was the highlight of the book for me. Starting with the final judgment he quotes Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:23, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” Gerstner sets up his look at the two sides by writing, “Christ does not warn those He knows of the danger of departing. He warns His disciples to see if they are truly His disciples. One can do remarkable, even miraculous deeds in Christ’s name, have a complete confidence that one is in a state of saving grace, be bold enough to greet Christ on Judgment Day, and never have a living relationship with Him.”

His chapter has descriptive titles for the sections including, “Legalism: The Ugly Bribe to the Holy Judge” and “Classical Antinomianism: The Heresy of the Justified Pig”. He also looks at the legalism Paul addresses in his letter to the Galatians, abuse of the term “legalism,” and modern twists on both legalism and antinomianism (including the unbiblical interpretation of the carnal Christian). He brings it back to Judgment Day, and gives us the flip side of “Depart from Me”-for believers-“Abide with Me, I always knew you.”

In “Glad Obedience”, Joel Beeke and Ray Lanning look at what they call the didactic (teaching) use of the Law in showing us how we ought to live. They include a look at the Sabbath. This can be a controversial topic. I do not agree with all of their conclusions, but agree with the spirit of what they are trying to do. They end by quoting John Calvin, “Let us therefore live for Him and die for Him. We are God’s: let His wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God’s: let all parts of our life accordingly strive toward Him as our only lawful goal.” (from “Institutes of the Christian Religion” 3.7.1.)

Overall this is a thought provoking and informative book I highly recommend. It needs to be read to be fully appreciated. I found the best chapters to be Gerstner’s and MacArthur’s, and the weakest to be Armstrong’s. With references to scripture and hymns, Don Kistler wraps up the book in a postscript. His concluding words are well worth repeating-“Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). “Do not be deceived. Judas heard all of Christ’s sermons, yet he is in hell today, tormented by that which he heard and to which he failed to respond. Those who will one day see Christ are those who obey Him from the heart-not to earn His favor, but evidence His favor. Soli Deo Gloria!”

Labels: , , , ,

Death And Life: Romans 5:8-11 Part One

(I wrote this in March 2003--shortly before Easter. I have made some updates, clarifications and other minor changes--but writing shortly before Easter influenced some of it, and I left that in.)

I like Easter-in fact it’s my favourite holiday—mostly because of what we celebrate-The death and Resurrection Of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Although I must also confess I have a sweet tooth, and the abundance of candy at that time is test of my self control. Still this ranks way behind the resurrection.)

I have no problem with setting aside a special time to celebrate and acknowledge His resurrection, but we need to celebrate His death & resurrection every day, and not put it in a box we take out once a year—and I’ve met professing believers who feel that way—they have a problem, for example, with singing what they see as “Easter songs” at other times of the year. I say why can’t we celebrate that He is risen! In fact without the death & resurrection of Jesus Christ, the gospel would be meaningless. In I Cor 15:14-18 Paul says as much—If Christ is not risen our faith is vain, and we are still in our sins. That’s a good reason to celebrate every day that He is indeed risen.

And it’s His death and resurrection that give sharing of the gospel, and of who Christ is, meaning as well. If a sermon or essay or book would be meaningless or worthless without the death & resurrection—It’s an Easter sermon or essay or book in a sense. May all the sermons we hear be in that sense—Easter sermons, their meaning is connected to the death and resurrection Of Jesus Christ.

I’ve titled this “Death and Life”. But saying “Death and Life” sounds a bit awkward to me, and perhaps it sounds awkward to you as well. My tendency would be to put them in the other order -life and death-which we’re more used to hearing. It’s the order we experience them chronologically. But the focus here is on Jesus Christ, not on us, and Romans 5:8-11, especially v.10-speaks of Christ’s death and life in that order-chronologically. In Romans 5:8-11, Paul is addressing believers who are in Rome, and in contrast to his other letters this is a church he did not plant, with leaders he had not ordained or even met. He had very little direct contact with the people there at the time he wrote these words-

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (ESV)

( Listen to it here. )

In the context here, the “we” Paul addresses are believers. He is not excluding the possibility of unbelievers coming to a saving faith in Christ. He does refer to how it is possible for that to happen, but the beneficiaries of this verse are believers-and the benefactor is Christ.

In verses 9 and 10 there is a parallel. Christ saves us from the wrath of God by His blood in verse 9 and in verse 10 we are reconciled to God through His death. There is also a contrast between them. Vesre 9 is a legal statement about believers’ standing with God because of what Jesus has done-we are justified and saved form wrath. Verse 10 which I’ll be focus on, is the personal side of things, We are reconciled with God.

I want to consider 3 questions –which have some overlap
1. What does it mean that we were enemies?
2. What does it mean that we (believers) were reconciled to God by the death of His Son?
& 3. What does it mean we (believers) shall be saved by His life?

(Next- Part 2: What does it mean that we were enemies?)

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, August 07, 2006

Augustine quote-regarding free will and grace

In his work Retractions, while referring to his dispute with Pelagius over free will & grace-Augustine wrote-
In trying to solve this question I made strenuous efforts on behalf of the preservation of the free choice of the human will, but the grace of God defeated me.

This debate is still going on. I'll side with Augustine on this one.
Augustine was not saying we are robots (well he couldn't have back then--but the contemporary equivalent.) But he is saying the grace of God defeated his efforts to get around it. God's grace is not bound by human will or ability.


Labels: , ,

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I've been found out...

Well, as a blogger.

In a previous post, and in a comment or two I noted I should tell my pastor about my blog.

Last Sunday at a Church picnic my Pastor's wife asked me point blank if I blogged. Well, as a Christian I'm not going to lie. Then my pastor asked if I was "Pilgrim."

Well that's what I get for commenting on his blog as Pilgrim, and linking to it.
(Plus we visit many of the same blogs, and I've left comments on them.)

Now I wasn't trying to hide anything, but I wanted to see how this blog thing would work before telling others.

Well I get way more visits than comments, but other bloggers say the same thing.
I'm not a regular blogger, but neither are a lot of bloggers I enjoy reading.
So how's it going?
Well enough I suppose, I get some very nice comments.
Although I will try to post more often.

Well enough about me, I think I'll go prepare a book review or something.
(And a list of others I should tell about this blog.)


Episcopalians urge against diocese breaking away

I saw a link to this on James White's blog. In one way it's hardly surprising given recent history. In another it boggles the mind.

Here's the story. It's a reaction to those within the Episcopalian Church in the USA that want to be under the authority of more religiously conservative bishops. There are those that oppose them. And in their opposition they say things that make me shake my head, things like this-
"We take no position on Scripture or theology or morals," said Donna Bott, a leader of a group called Episcopal Voices of Central Florida, which sponsored the meeting. "We are just Episcopalians."
It brings up a question in my mind-If you take no position on Scripture or theology or morals, then why do you exist? What's the point? Why do you call yourself Episcopalian?

The history of the Episcopalian (Anglican) Church contains many Godly men and women through the years. Did they care about Scripture, theology or morals?

You bet they did.
Here's J.C. Ryle for starters.
Here's a list of writings by Ryle from CCEL (mentioned in the LOTW post below.)

Labels: , , ,

Things in my Profile-Part 1-Theology

In a new series that I will post from time to time I will go through what I have listed in my profile, and hopefully explain why it's there, and what use or value it has. Partly in case you were wondering, and partly because they are things that interest me.

I'll start from the beginning-
The first thing I listed is under interests-Theology.

Why do I like theology?
1-If you love someone you want to know more about them-if you love God you should love theology. Yes, you can overdo it. You can get so involved in theology that you ignore God. You can forget to put theology into action. But let's not go too far and treat theology as a hindrance to loving God and serving Him--they should work hand in hand.
2-I love to read, and theology makes for interesting reading. It stimulates my mind, and it gives me things to think about-both wonderful and not so wonderful.
3-It can be corrective in my beliefs, actions, motives and thoughts. This helps me to better serve God and man. It is a protective against a danger mentioned in #1 above.
4-In the hands of a gifted author or speaker it can be exciting. Yes, exciting. Theology is the study of God, and by studying it I learn great things about God- things that excite me about His love, grace, forgiveness, etc.
5-It can drive me deeper into the Word. Why should I take an aithor or speaker's word for it--what does God's Word say?

I'm sure I could go on longer--but those are major reasons I enjoy theology.

Labels: , , ,

Logical Fallacies

Here's a site that lists various logical fallacies. I would recommend all bloggers bookmark this site or one like it, so they can review it from time to time to avoid these fallacies on their blogs and when commenting on other blogs.

Logical Fallacies.
If you ever catch me using one of these--please call me on it.

Labels: , ,

The Return of LOTW

Here are the new Links of the Whenever (whenever I post them--formerly Links of the Week)

First up-
Christian Classics Ethereal Library. You may be aware of this already, maybe not. It's a compilation of Christian Writings across centuries of Church history. It's useful for research, learning, and devotion. There's both good and bad here-but mostly good. The not-so-good and bad is interesting from the historical viewpoint. It shows we keep making the same errors, giving credence to the saying that those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.

Second up-
Logoserver. I've already expressed my interest in sports logos, here's a site that has a large number of new, old and in between logos. The quality isn't always great, but it shows a lot of logos and also shows the graphic development of logos over the years (for example, many late 60's to early 70's logos are obvious to guess when they were designed). It also shows the logo characteristcs of various sports-for example:
1)Baseball & Basketball logo designers seem more prone to gratuitous use of baseballs and basketballs in their logos than hockey logo designers feel compelled to throw in a puck.
2)Roller Hockey logos tend to be garish and/or tacky.

It's not the necessarily the best logo site out there--but it is probably the most exhaustive.

Labels: , , ,