Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jesus Christ the Son of God Part 2

Jesus Christ the Son of God - Theodore Beza (1519-1605) Part 2

Why it was necessary that Jesus Christ be true God

It was necessary that this same Mediator be true God and not only man (John 1:14, etc); at the very least for the following reasons:

Firstly, if He was not true God, He would not be Savior at all, but would himself have need of a Savior (Is 43:11; Hos. 13:4; Jer. 17:5-8).
Secondly, it is necessary, from the justice of God, that there be a relationship between the crime and its punishment. The crime is infinite, for it is committed against One whose majesty is infinite. Therefore there is here need of an infinite satisfaction; for the same reason, it was necessary that the One who would accomplish it as true man be also infinite, that is to say, true God.
Thirdly, the wrath of God being infinite, there was no human or angelic strength known which could bear such a weight without being crushed (John 14:10, 12, 31; 16:32; 2 Cor. 5:19). He who was to live again, after having conquered the devil, sin, the world and death united to the wrath of God, had to be therefore not only perfect man, but also true God. Lastly, in order to better manifest this incomprehensible goodness, God did not wish that His grace should only equal our crime; He willed that where sin abounds, grace super abounds (Rom 5:15-21). For this reason, while he was created in the image of God, the first Adam, author of our sin, was earthly, as his 'frailty showed well (1 Cor. 15:45-47). Jesus Christ, on the contrary, the second Adam, through whom we are saved, while being true and perfect man, is nevertheless the Lord come from Heaven, that is to say, the true God. For, in essence, all the fullness of divinity dwells in Him (Col. 2:9). If the disobedience of Adam made us fall, the righteousness of Jesus Christ gives us more security than we had previously. We hope for life procured by Jesus Christ, better than that which we lost in Adam; even more so as Jesus Christ surpasses Adam.

How the mystery of our salvation has been accomplished in Jesus Christ

Therefore we confess that, in order to fulfill the covenant promised to the ancient fathers and predicted by the mouth of the prophets (Is 7:14; Luke 1:31,35,55,70) the true, unique and eternal Son of God the Father (Rom 1:3; John 17:5; 16:28; Phil 2:6-7) took, at the time appointed by the Father, the form of a servant. Being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and without any operation of man (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:28, 35), He took human nature with all its infirmities, sin excepted (Heb. 4:15; 5:2). 3.22 The two natures, that of God and that of man, have been united in one Person since the moment of the conception of the flesh of Christ
We confess that, from the moment of this conception, the Person of the Son has been inseparably united to the human nature (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:31,32,35,42,43). There are not two Sons of God, or two Jesus Christs: but One alone is properly Son of God, Jesus Christ. At all times the properties of each of the two natures remain entire and distinct. For the divinity separated from the humanity, or the humanity disjoined from the divinity, or the one being confounded with the other, would profit us nothing.
Jesus Christ is therefore true God and true man (Matt 1:21-23, Luke 1:35). He has a true human soul, and a true human body formed from the substance of the virgin Mary, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. By this means, he was conceived and born of this virgin Mary, virgin, I say, before and after the birth. And all this was accomplished for our redemption.

Summary of the accomplishment of our salvation in Jesus Christ

He therefore descended to earth to draw us up to Heaven. (Eph. 2:6). From the moment of His conception until His resurrection, He bore the punishment of our sins in order to unburden us of them (Matt 11:28; 1 Pet 2:24; 3:18; Is 53:11). He perfectly fulfilled all righteousness so as to cover our unrighteousness (Rom 5:19; Matt 3:15). He has revealed to us the whole will of God His Father, by His words and by the example of His life, so as to show us the true way of salvation (John 15:15; Acts 1:1-2).

Finally, to crown the satisfaction for our sins, which He took upon Himself (Is 53:4-5), He was captured in order to release us, condemned so that we might be acquitted. He suffered infinite reproach in order to place us beyond all shame. He was nailed to the cross for our sins to be nailed there (Col. 2:14). He died bearing the curse, which we deserved, so as to appease forever the wrath of God through the accomplishment of His unique sacrifice (Gal 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb 10:10,14). He was entombed to show the truth of His death, and to vanquish death even in its own house, that is to say even in the grave; He experienced no corruption there, to show that, even while dead, he had conquered death (Acts 2:31). He was raised again victorious so that, all our corruption being dead and buried, we might be renewed in new, spiritual and eternal life (Rom 6; and nearly everywhere in St. Paul). By this means, the first death is no longer to us a punishment for sin and an entrance into the second death, but, on the contrary, is the ending of our corruption and an entrance into life eternal. Lastly, being raised again and then having spoken throughout forty days here below to give evidence of His resurrection (Acts 1:3,9-11), He ascended visibly and really far above all heavens, where He sat down at the right hand of God His Father (John 14:2). Having taken possession for us of His eternal kingdom, He is, for us also, the sole Mediator and Advocate (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 1:3; 9:24), and governs His Church by His Holy Spirit, until the number of the elect of God, His Father, is completed (Matt 28:20, etc). How Jesus Christ, having withdrawn into heaven, is nevertheless here below with His own We understand that glorification brought immortality to the body of Jesus Christ, besides sovereign glory; but this did by no means change the nature of His true body, a body confined to one certain space and having bounds (Luke 24:39; John 20:25; Acts 1:3). For this reason, He took away into Heaven, from our midst, His human nature, His true body (Acts 1:9-11; 3:21). There He shall remain until He comes to judge the living and the dead. But, with regard to the efficacy of His Holy Spirit, as to His Divinity, (by which we are made partakers not only of half of Christ, but of all of Him and all His goods, as will be said soon), we acknowledge that He is and shall be with His own until the end of the world (Matt 28:20; John 16:13; Eph. 4:8). This is what Jesus Christ said regarding Himself-, "The poor you will have always with you, but Me you will not have always." (Matt 26:11); again, after His Ascension, the angels say to the Apostles: "Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven shall so come as you saw Him go away into Heaven." (Acts 1:11). And St Peter says to the Jews that Heaven must hold Him until the time of the restoration of all things. (Acts 3:21). For the same reason, St Augustine, following Scripture, has well said that it is necessary to guard oneself from stressing the Divinity to the point of coming to deny the truth of the body; the body is in God, but it is not necessary to draw the conclusion that it is everywhere, as God is everywhere. There can be no other true religion In this mystery of our redemption, incomprehensible to human reason, God has revealed Himself as true God, that is to say, perfectly just and perfectly merciful. Perfectly just, firstly, for He has punished all our sins with full severity (Rom 3:25; 2 Cor. 5:21), in the Person of Him who made Himself surety and security in our place, that is to say, in Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:6; 1 Pet 2:24). In the next place, He receives us and acknowledges us as His if we are covered and clothed with the innocence, sanctification and perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom 5:19; Col 2:14). On the other side, He has revealed Himself as perfectly merciful, for, finding in us only ground for damnation, He willed that His Son take our nature in order to find in Him the remedy which would appease His justice (Rom 5:8; 1 Cor. 1:30). Freely communicating Him to us, with all the treasures which He possesses (Rom 8:32); He makes us partakers of eternal life, solely by His goodness and mercy, on condition that we take hold of Jesus Christ by faith; which we will develop a little later. But, on the contrary, any religion, which opposes to the wrath of God anything other than the sole innocence, righteousness and satisfaction of Jesus Christ, received by faith, strips God of His perfect justice and His mercy.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pros and Cons of Facebook

ACWI is finally on Facebook!

If you’re on Facebook, please become a fan!
Our page is here – or just search for the full name (not the abbreviation).

And now that I've joined the other 98% of the English speaking world, I've been thinking some about online relationships – virtual relationships. What’s the same? What’s different?

I avoided Facebook for a long time – for a few reasons. Primarily because I was already signed up on, which is designed primarily for business networking. . . building relationships and networks among those in similar industries and careers. . . it’s not so much about simply making friends and building friendships. . . I already receive several emails a week from the different groups I’m a part of on LinkedIn; I didn’t really want more emails. And of course, Facebook would simply be another thing to take up my time and keep me from being productive. And of course, it would mean another website login and password to have to remember.

But I realized a few things: businesses – and ministries – need to go where the people are if they expect to connect with them.

Businesses have to market themselves, they have to advertise and let the people know what a great business they are & what great products they have. In the same way, ministries have to go where the people are; we have to market ourselves. Likewise, we in the church can’t stay where we’ve always been, perfectly safe & comfortable in our own little evangelical corner of the world, and expect the people to come to us. In today’s world, where are the people? They’re on Facebook!

Here are some statistics from a Facebook press release:

  • Facebook has more than 200 million active users

  • More than 100 million users log on to Facebook at least once each day

  • More than two-thirds of Facebook users are outside of college

  • The fastest growing demographic is those 35 years old and older

  • More than 3.5 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide)

  • More than 4 million users become fans of Pages each day

Now for a few of the pros and cons:

  • We are able to communicate quickly & easily with friends, family, and classmates all over the world – or across town. This makes it an efficient and quick way to spread information, to get the word out about an event or a disaster, etc.

    The irony is that none of my side of the family is on Facebook – and they’re the ones who are spread across the country. But my sister-in-law, who lives 10 minutes away, is on Facebook and I’ve chatted online w/ her a couple of times already. . . even though I just saw her family and spent about 7 hrs. w/ them 2 days before setting up my Facebook account, and I ran into my brother-in-law and nephew at KFC on Memorial Day and we chatted for a few minutes!

  • We are able to build networks of friends and the friends of friends. This is great for ministries or organizations like ACWI. Already we have several people listed a “fans” of ACWI that aren’t connected in any other way – not on our mailing list, etc. We even have one or two fans that I don’t even know! This is the main reason we created a page on Facebook. . . so we could expand our reach. . . it’s part of our marketing – for lack of a better word.

  • The Facebook platform is smart! It recognizes relationships and makes recommendations. For example, let’s say I have a Facebook “friend” named Bob and another named Susie and they both know each other. They have a mutual friend named Bill. Because I know Bob and Susie, the Facebook engine – or platform – recognizes the web of relationships and recommends that maybe I’d like to invite Bill to be one of my online friends too.

  • And not only is it smart, it is able to learn. The more friends you have, the more complex the web of relationships. . .and the more accurate the recommendations become.
    For example: My wife’s first (auto-generated) friend recommendations were from high school & college. It was a huge list, and mostly inaccurate; most were people she didn’t know. But as she built her list of friends from church and family, Facebook recognized that she & I have lots of mutual friends, so began to recommend them to her. As a result, the list of recommendations became smaller – and much more accurate.


  • Because you’re able to communicate quickly & easily with friends, family, and classmates all over the world – or across town. . .and because it’s an efficient and quick way to spread information, to get the word out, there’s the potential for false information – like myths and urban legends - or worse, slander or gossip - to spread more quickly.

  • Definitions are changed. There’s only one type of relationship on Facebook – “Friend.” There’s no way of defining or classifying your relationships, of clarifying the level of intimacy. How close are you to one person? Is it the same as all 127 of your other online friends? I doubt it.

    For example: My wife is identified as one of my “friends” on Facebook. Yes, we are friends in real life, but our relationship is VASTLY different from my relationship with, say, a casual acquaintance from church, or even a friend of a friend whom I have accepted as a Facebook “friend” – but that I’ve never met, never had a conversation with. . . someone that I don’t know at all in real life.

    And remember: just because you’re virtual friends w/ someone on Facebook doesn’t mean you’re really all that close to them in real life. Already I’ve seen people assume too much of our relationship on Facebook, of having higher expectations of our relationship now that we’re “friends” in the virtual world. Some have become more demanding, more pushy, on Facebook than they ever are in real life.

  • The only other type of connection or relationship you can have on Facebook is to be a “fan” of some organization, or business, or celebrity. (Again, if you’re on Facebook, you can become a fan of ACWI here.)

Already I’ve seen that there are at least 2 types of Facebook users:

  • First, there are those who use it to build relationships. These could be individuals who want to connect w/ friends & family, or even a business who uses their page on Facebook to market the company, connect w/ customers, announce new releases or special events, etc. They use Facebook to spread their name and their brand. For these folks, Facebook is a tool used toward a greater end; it’s not an end in and of itself.

  • The second group is those who use it to waste time. . . to play games, to share “applications,” to give each other virtual “gifts,” etc. For these folks, Facebook is a toy to be played with.

    I’ve been on Facebook about a week now, and already I’ve received 2 invitations to “join my gang” or “join my mafia” and at least 6 or 7 opportunities to install “applications” so I can play cool games with my “friends” or compete in an IQ Quiz - to see whose IQ is higher. (Do these sorts of friendly competitions lead to better and deeper relationships, or build up one's own self esteem at the expense of another's?)

Now my recommendation for ALL Facebook users: Let me first say that I’m not opposed to game playing; we all need to relax, have some fun, and blow off some steam after a hard day at work. . . but before sharing an “application” or inviting someone into your “gang” – find out what they want to get out of Facebook! Which type of person are they? The relationship-builder type or the game-player, time-waster type? Is Facebook for them a tool, or a toy?

  • It can be a tool to help announce & promote a ministry's news, special events, etc.

    ACWI is holding its first-ever fundraiser event: Cup-a-Joe: A Coffee-Tasting Event Benefiting ACWI on June 12 at 7:00 PM.

    I mentioned the event during last week’s broadcast of Every Square Inch – and got no response.

    This past week I created the event in our online event calendar on Facebook. I sent a message to all the fans of ACWI who live in Arizona - about 25 at that time and growing every day! - to help spread the word. Within 24 hours, two said they might be attending.

  • It can be a tool to introduce new friends, supporters, donors, etc. to the ministry.

    One Facebook fan of ACWI has posted a copy of our logo on his profile with the simple phrase: “Become a fan!” So far, one of his friends – a total stranger to us before now – has become a “fan of ACWI.”

    Another individual who's new to us (Eddie) became a fan simply because another fan (Tom from Tucson) had signed up as a fan. Eddie saw our name in Tom's profile and followed the link. It's as simple as that!

Some of these ideas began as I ruminated on Justin Buzzard's blog post, "Thinking Biblically About Facebook." The original blog post is at .
Buzzard later wrote an extended version as an essay; you can read it at

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jesus Christ the Son of God

Jesus Christ the Son of God -
Theodore Beza (1519-1605)The following article by Theodore Beza was taken from chapter three (sections 16-26) of his book The Christian Faith, translated into English by James Clark (Focus Christian Ministries Trust, East Essex England, 1992). This book was a "best seller" during the Protestant Reformation, and appeared in 1558 under the original title of Confession De Foi Du Chretien.

How God has turned the sin of man to His glory

There would remain nothing more for the whole world, except to go to its ruin (Rom 3:19). But God, being not only very righteous, but also very merciful, had according to His infinite wisdom, eternally established a way to turn all the evils to His great glory: to the greater manifestation of His infinite goodness (Rom 3:21-25), towards those whom He has chosen eternally so as to be glorified in their salvation (Rom 8:29; 9:23). And, on the other side, He has turned the sin of man to the manifestation of His sovereign power and His wrath, by the just condemnation of the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22; Ex. 9: 6).

As St. Augustine well says;
"If all were saved, the wages of sin demanded by justice would be hidden. If none were saved, no-one would see what grace bestows."

Jesus Christ is the sole Mediator chosen and promised by God This sole and unique way is the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God with all which flows from it. Bit by bit this was promised from Adam to John the Baptist, published and preached by the patriarchs and the prophets, and also typified in various ways under the Law (Gen 3:15; 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; Deut. 18:15-18; 2 Sam 7:12; Rom 1:2-3 etc.) Thus, the Son is fully contained in the books of the Old Testament, so that the men of those times were saved by faith in Jesus Christ who was to come. The similarity and the difference between the Old and the New Testament Therefore there has never been and there never shall be but one covenant of salvation between God and men (Heb. 13:8; Rom 3:25; 1 Tim 2:5-6; 1 Cor. 10:1-11; Eph. 1:7-10; see the whole Epistle to the Hebrews). The substance of this covenant is Jesus Christ. But, having regard to the circumstances, there are two Testaments or 'Covenants'. We have the authentic titles and contents of them; which we call 'Holy Scripture' and the 'Word of God'. One is called 'Old' and the other 'New' (Jer. 31:31,32; Heb 8:6). The second is much better than the first, for the first did declare Jesus Christ, but from afar off, and hidden under the shadows and images which vanished at His coming; He Himself is the Sun of Righteousness (John 4:23,24).

Why it was necessary that Jesus Christ be true man in nature, in His body and in His soul, but without any sin

It was necessary that the Mediator of this covenant and this reconciliation be true man, but without any stain of original sin or any other, for the following reasons:

Firstly, since God is very righteous and man is the object of His wrath, because of natural corruption (1 Tim 2:5; John 1:14; Rom 1:3; Gal 4:4; Rom 8:2-4; 1 Cor. 1:30), it was necessary in order to reconcile men with God, that there be a true man in whom the ruins caused by this corruption would be totally repaired.
Secondly, man is compelled to fulfill all the righteousness, which God demands from him in order to be glorified (Matt 3:15; Rom 5:18; 2 Cor. 5:21). It was therefore necessary that there be a man who would perfectly fulfill all righteousness in order to please God.
Thirdly, all men are covered with an infinite number of sins, as much internal as external; that is why they are liable to the curse of God (Rom 3:23-26; Is 53: 11, etc). It was therefore necessary that there be a man who would fully satisfy the justice of God in order to pacify Him.
Finally, no corrupt man would have been able, in any way, to even begin to fulfill the least of these actions. He would first of all have had need of a Redeemer for himself (Rom 8:2; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 3:18; 1 John 2:1-2). So much was necessary for himself before he could buy back the others, or could do anything pleasing or satisfying to God (Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6). It was therefore necessary that the Mediator and Redeemer of men be true man in his body and in his soul, and that he be, nevertheless, entirely pure and free from all sin.

To be continued.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Biblical Christianity

I wrote an e-mail to Andrew Tallman after I called into his show Monday May 18 and he chastised (I do not really mean that in a bad way) me due to the way I started my comment (see the e-mail below). As I admit in my e-mail, I could have began in a wiser and more productive manner, but the show did inspire me to ask Andrew a couple of questions. I hope that you find my argument and questions thought provoking even if you disagree with me. If kpxq has archived shows then anyone interested can listen to the Monday May 18 show. You can also listen to the Tues May 19 show which Andrew opened up with my e-mail and opened the floor for people to call in and argue either for or against the idea that the catholic church is a Christian church. About a half hour into the show or so I called in and Andrew and I discussed this topic a little bit further. Here is the e-mail I wrote.

Dear Andrew
I am the caller from Monday May 18 that started out his comment with “it is unfortunate that they [your friends] are not part of a Bible believing church (in regards to the Catholic church).” I wanted to apologize if I came off that I was trying to give undo offense to the Catholic church or to your friends. My comment about not “a Bible believing church” was connected in my mind to the overall point about Biblical church discipline and I did not mean my comment as a random insult of the Catholic church. I was also wondering if I could ask you some further questions. I am asking you these questions with the spirit of friendly inquiry and I hope you do not perceive this as combative.

I take it from your response to me on the show that you believe Catholicism to fall within the realm of Biblical Christianity. If I am wrong then the rest of this e-mail is meaningless. Here are my questions. Paul’s overall point in Galatians seems to be that those who bring a gospel that requires works for salvation to be effective should be “accursed” and that their gospel is “another gospel.” If that is Paul’s point, how is the Catholic teaching that there must be certain sacraments followed by the parishioners in order to be justified not another gospel? I understand that Paul is specifically referring to circumcision in Galatians, however, the principle seems to directly apply to Catholic teaching. I am not talking about the idea that works accompany true salvation, but rather the idea that works are necessary for the justification of believers. I am aware that the Catholic teaching is that grace is necessary. My problem is not that Catholic teaching says grace is necessary, but that grace is not sufficient. If I am wrong, then where is the line that you believe is taught by scripture? By line, I mean that point at which if a person or church crosses they can no longer be considered under the umbrella of Biblical Christianity.

Let me be clear, I believe that there are many things about which Biblical churches can disagree. However, I believe the sufficiency of grace by faith is clearly of such Biblical importance and necessity that Bible believing churches cannot disagree about this point. Do you believe that the Bible is clear enough in its teaching that there is a discernible line? I know that the Catholic church says that it is part of the universal church, but so do Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons. Is self identification as being a part of the universal church sufficient grounds to be considered by everyone as being part of the universal church? While I admit that I could have been more circumspect in my opening statement (and again apologize if there was any undo offense given), is there something wrong with drawing a line?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Land Hermit Crabs: Theology 101

by Guest Blogger, Keith Piccolo
Keith's website
Keith on Facebook

My friend Keith Piccolo recently wrote this on his Facebook page and I asked permission to re-post it here. Enjoy! — Coffee Snob

Hermit crabs. Not likely we would think there is anything we could learn from them. I mean, come on; they are a primitive life form with no real personality, right? They are incapable of emotional displays or anything beyond an instinctual reaction for self-preservation.

...Or are they?

A year and a half ago, I was the fortunate recipient of a land hermit crab. Not by choice. I was down at Rocky Point, Mexico, and had collected some sea shells for my niece's collection (which she never received, but that's a whole OTHER story. . .but I digress). When I came back to the states, I had discovered an "illegal immigrant" had stowed away in my collection. One of those shells was occupied!!!

Having NO idea how to care for a land hermit crab, I quickly headed to a pet store to get a book on hermit crabs, along with all the necessary supplies to care for him. Unfortunately, it was too late. He only lasted three days in America before departing to that southern beach in the sky.

Anyway, having already made the investment in crab care supplies, I decided to buy one (for all of $4.00 with tax). They seemed easy enough to take care of, but I was in for a rude awakening. Hermit crabs have a handful of specific needs that (if any one is unmet) could result in a fatality of the crustacean. One of which is that they are social creatures. My investment tripled, as I had to purchase two more to keep the first one company.

Besides all these nuances, I discovered something fascinating about hermit crabs. These creatures actually DO have "personalities". On a primitive level, they had variations in responses to the same stimuli, repeatedly consistent to the individual. This led to a genuine intrigue. They were certainly not a cuddly pet, but none-the-less were endearing to me. I would observe their behaviors toward each other, how they interacted within their environment (fondly referred to as a "crabitat"), and most importantly how they me.

Higher life forms respond with recognition to their owners. Dogs and cats know who you are, and that you are their provider. Hermit crabs... not so much. So, when I go to put fresh water in their dishes or replace their food supply, they do not recognize me as anything other than a big potential threat. Or so I thought.

I have three crabs; Dudley, Sherman and Peabody (I'm a cartoonist, what did you expect me to name them?!). Dudley was my first. He responds to my presence by running and hiding as quickly as is possible for an arthropod to move those tiny legs. Peabody was my second, and he just withdraws into his shell and stays motionless for ten to fifteen minutes. Then, there is Sherman.

Sherman is the middle child in age. Sherman does not run when I come in. Sherman does not hide when I come in. Sherman just... watches. He waits to see if I am coming toward him. When I get too close, or make a sudden movement, he will casually, rotate himself and move a few steps away. Otherwise, Sherman is content to let me be who I am, knowing I am not a threat to him. Amazingly, I am the one who provides all their specific needs and keeps them alive and content. Yet, none of them but Sherman even comes close to responding to me.

Now, how is this "theology," you ask? Well, I find all three of my crabs' responses represented in human beings regarding the Lord. Some run as far from Him as they cannot understanding, not wanting to understand, afraid, angry, confused, rebellious, whatever. Some hide - pretend He isn't there (maybe He will go away). Then, some... watch. Some, although they do not understand Him, do feel safe and know that He is not a threat; that in fact, He is the one sustaining their very life in existence.

What is truly remarkable is that the more I watch these specimens, the more I understand how the Lord must sometimes feel with me when I do not acknowledge Him for all He has done, and is doing, in my life. And while these crabs will never fully grasp the concept that I care for them, I at least can grasp the concept that God so loved me that He sacrificed His Son so that I could have a relationship with Him. Amazing. And all that from a primitive little land hermit crab.

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made..."

I think I get it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why is the "Mainline" Church Liberal?

Here's one answer:

Lutheran theologian Richard John Neuhaus suggested that a loss of faith was the
main reason why so many Catholic and mainline Protestant leaders had turned
their churches into pulpits of the hard left. Not truly believing that the
Gospel was true, the leaders sought to make it socially useful. - p. 34

And that's the problem with a gospel that's not true: it has no real and lasting power. As Neuhaus explained, the leaders of the liberal churches tried to limit and control the gospel. They "sought to make it". . . into something it isn't.

That's not to say that there are no practical benefits of the TRUE gospel, but the pragmatic results of the gospel are not its main purpose. After all, they are results - the outworking of lives transformed. The "socially useful" part of the gospel is not its main goal.

Transformed lives, people changed - that's the goal. . . with the added benefit of socially useful (pragmatic) results.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fair Minded Words

Today, at the University of Norte Dame Graduation, the President of the United States called for “fair minded words “in regard to the issue of abortion. The President did the same in a speech on June 28, 2006

“...I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion,
only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words."

My God does have or hold an awesome place in my life and my worldview. Because God is awesome I cannot come to any position of “fair mindedness” when murder of “human kind”, our children is at issue.

I would that the President rethink, his position on abortion in light of The God and The Scriptures that the President claims he acknowledges and claims to offer prayer.

There is no “common ground”, only jars filled with aborted children. I offer this not as a political position, but as a life position.


Sunday, May 10, 2009


It is good to share!


The Practice of Mortification
By Sinclair B. Ferguson

The aftermath of a conversation can change the way we later think of its significance.

My friend — a younger minister — sat down with meat the end of a conference in his church and said: “Before we retire tonight, just take me through the steps that are involved in helping someone mortify sin.” We sat talking about this for a little longer and then went to bed, hopefully he was feeling as blessed as I did by our conversation. I still wonder whether he was asking his question ns a pastor or simply for himself— or both.

How would you best answer his question? The first thing to do is: Turn to the Scriptures. Yes, turn to John Owen (never a bad idea), or to some other counselor dead or alive. But remember that we have not been left only to good human resources in this area. We need to be taught from “the mouth of God” so that the principles we are learning to apply carry with them both the authority of God and the promise of God to make them work

Several passages come to mind for study: Romans 8:13; Romans 13:8—14 (Augustine's text); 2 Corinthians 6:14—7:1; Ephesians 4:17—5:21; Colossians 3:1—17; 1 Peter 4:1—11; 1 John 2:28—3:11. Significantly, only two of these passages contain the verb “mortify” (“put to death”). Equally significantly, the context of each of these passages is broader than the single exhortation to put sin to death. As we shall see, this is an observation that turns out to he of considerable importance.

Of these passages, Colossians 3:1—17 is probably the best place for us to begin.

Here were relatively young Christians. They have had a wonderful experience of conversion to Christ from paganism. They had entered a gloriously new and liberating world of grace. Perhaps — if we may read between the lines — they had felt for a while as if they had been delivered, not only from sin’s penalty but almost from its influence — so marvelous was their new freedom. But then, of course, sin reared its ugly head again. Having experienced the “already” of grace they were now discovering the painful “not yet” of ongoing sanctification. Sounds familiar!

But as in our evangelical sub-culture of quick fixes for long-term problems, unless the Colossians had a firm grasp of Gospel principles, they were now at risk! For just at this point young Christians can be relatively easy prey to false teachers with new promises of a higher spiritual life. That was what Paul feared (Col. 2:8, 16). Holiness-producing methods were now in vogue (Col. 2:21—22) and they seemed to be deeply spiritual, just the thing for earnest young believers. But, in fact, “they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Col. 2:23). Not new methods, but only an understanding of how the Gospel works, can provide an adequate foundation and pattern for dealing with sin. This is the theme of Colossians 3:1—17.

Paul gives us the pattern and rhythm we need. Like Olympic long jumpers, we will not succeed unless we go back from the point of action to a point from which we can gain energy for the strenuous effort of dealing with sin. How, then, does Paul teach us to do this?

First of all, Paul underlines how important it is for us to be familiar with our new identity in Christ (3:1—4). How often when we fail spiritually we lament that we forgot who we really are — Christ’s. We have a new identity. We are no longer “in Adam” but “in Christ”; no longer in the flesh, hut in the Spirit; no longer dominated by the old creation but living in the new (Rom. 5:12—21; 8:9; 2 Cor. 5:17). Paul takes time to expound this. We have died with Christ (Col. 3:3; we have even been buried with Christ, 2:12); we have been raised with Him (3:1), and our life is hidden with Him (3:3). Indeed, so united to Christ are we that Christ will not appear in glory without us (3:4).

Failure to deal with the presence of sin can often be traced back to spiritual amnesia, forgetfulness of our new, true, real identity. As a believer I am someone who has been delivered from the dominion of sin and who therefore is free and motivated to fight against the remnants of sin’s army in my heart.

Principle number one, then, is: Know, rest in, think through, and act upon your new identity you are in Christ.

Second, Paul goes on to expose the workings of sin in every area of our lives (Col. 3:5—11). If we are to deal with sin biblically, we must not make the mistake of thinking that we can limit our attack to only one area of failure in our lives. All sin must he dealt with. Thus Paul ranges through the manifestation of sin in private life (v. 5), everyday public life (v. 8), and church life (vv. 9—II; “one another: ” “here: ” that is, in the church fellowship). The challenge in mortification is akin to the challenge in dieting (itself a form of mortification!): once we begin we discover that there are all kinds of reasons we are overweight. We are really dealing with ourselves, not simply with calorie control. I am the problem, not the potato chips! Mortifying sin is a whole-of-life change.

Third, Paul’s exposition provides us with practical guidance for mortifying sin. Sometimes it seems as if Paul gives exhortations (“Put to death..., ” 3:5) without giving “practical” help to answer our “how to?” questions. Often today Christians go to Paul to tell them what to do and then to the local Christian bookstore to discover how to do it! Why this bifurcation? Probably because we do not linger long enough over what Paul is saying. We do not sink our thinking deeply into the Scriptures. For, characteristically whenever Paul issues an exhortation he surrounds it with hints as to how we are to put it into practice.

This is certainly true here. Notice how this passage helps to answer our “how to?” questions.

1. Learn to admit sin for what it really is. Call a spade a spade call it “sexual immorality’ not “I’m being tempted a little”; call it “impurity:” not “I’m struggling with my thought life”; call it “evil desire, which is idolatry:” not “I think I need to order my priorities a bit better.” This pattern runs right through this whole section. How powerfully this unmasks self-deceit and helps us to unmask sin lurking in the hidden corners of our hearts!

2. See sin for what your sin really is in God’s presence. “On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (3:6). The masters of the spiritual life spoke of dragging our lusts (kicking and screaming, though they be) to the cross, to a wrath-bearing Christ. My sin leads to — not lasting pleasure but holy divine displeasure. See the true nature of your sin in the light of its punishment. Too easily do we think that sin is less serious in Christians than it is in non-believers: “It’s forgiven, isn’t it?” Not if we continue in it (1 John 3:9)! Take a heaven’s-eye view of sin and feel the shame of that in which you once walked (Col. 3:7; see also Rom. 6:21).

3. Recognize the inconsistency of your sin. You put off the “old man” and have put on the “new man” (3:9—10). You are no longer the “old man.” The identity you had “in Adam” is gone. The old man was “crucified with him [Christ] in order that the body of sin [probably “life in the body dominated by sin”] might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6). New men live new lives. Anything less than this is a contradiction of who I am “in Christ.”

4. Put sin to death (Col. 3:5). It is as “simple” as that, Refuse it, starve it, and reject it. You cannot “mortify” sin without the pain of the kill. There is no other way!

But notice that Paul sets this in a very important, broader context. The negative task of putting sin to death will not be accomplished in isolation from the positive call of the Gospel to “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14). Paul spells this out in Colossians 3:12—17. Sweeping the house clean simply leaves us open to a further invasion of sin. But when we understand the “glorious exchange” principle of the Gospel of grace, then we will begin to make some real advance in holiness. As sinful desires and habits are not only rejected, but exchanged for Christ-like graces (3:12) and actions (3:13); as we are clothed in Christ’s character and His graces are held together by’ love (v. 14), not only in our private life but also in the church fellowship (xv. 12—16), Christ’s name and glory are manifested and exalted in and among us (3:17).

These are some of the things my friend and I talked about that memorable evening. We did not have an opportunity later to ask each other, “How are you going?” for it was our last conversation. He died some months later. I have often wondered how the months in between went in his life. But the earnest personal and pastoral concern in his question still echoes in my mind. They have a similar effect to the one Charles Simeon said he felt from the eyes of his much-loved portrait of the great Henry Martyn: “Don’t trifle!”

Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is senior minister of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Will the Real Worldview Please Stand Up

I am sure that everyone of the two people (one not including my wife) who read my blog posts has been waiting with baited breath for a response to the second question of the video that I linked to in my last post. Okay maybe not baited breath, but with anticipation. Curiosity at least? Oh... you forgot that I linked to a video in my last post and responded to the first question of "10 questions all theists should answer." So be it, I will choose to press on and endeavor to provide a response to the second question of the video. Once again, here is the link to the video. Once again I ask that any minors reading my blog seek permission from their parents before watching. I request you do so because of the vitriolic stance of the video toward the faith.

The second question, as you probably noted from the video is "Why are there so many starving people in our world?" Before I deal with the main question I would like to address one of the sub questions. I want to do this because I feel that the sub question distracts from the overall thrust and point of the main question in a misleading way; I therefore want to respond to the sub question so that it can be set aside. The sub question asks why would God care about a Christian (presumably in a wealthy nation) getting a raise while the prayers of these starving children are being "ignored." I would like to point out something that may seem obvious but should be said: God may not desire that the Christian gets a raise. God may choose that the Christian be fired. The Christian may not know why God would allow and ordain his being fired, but he does know that God has a purpose for him losing that job. However, I will say for the sake of argument that God wills (I will use myself as an example) I get a raise. The reason God may have given me this raise is so that I will have the funds to help feed and educate some of the these starving children. I hope that as a Christian one of the things that I would do with any raise I received would be to put some serious thought into how I can advance the kingdom of Christ with the extra money. Therefore, if I critically think about my faith, I will see that God caring about starving children and my receiving a raise at work is not contradictory. I would also like to briefly mention that the same mistaken view of prayer used in the first question is also used in the second. Our prayers are not orders to God that He must fulfill (you can read where I address the same issue in my previous post as well). Also, as a Christian, I do not believe that prayer addressed to any god is valid prayer. This is a side point and not important to my overall argument, but allow me to chase this bunny trail. How many of these starving people are really praying to God and how many are praying to a god they have invented? Something to think about. However, let me move on from what I have dubbed the sub question and address the main question of the video. My overall response to this question is that the atheist cannot, being consistent with his worldview, give an account for why one should even be concerned about these starving people. To paraphrase James White in his recent debate with Dan Barker it is nothing but natural selection in progress. However, allow me to first address the internal consistency of the Christian worldview in regards to these starving people. Greg Bahnsen dealt with the issue of evil and suffering and the internal consistency of the Christian Worldview in his book "Always Ready." Bahnsen points out that the atheist will usually state the premises this way:

1.) God is all powerful and all Good

2.) There is evil and suffering in the world.

If premise one and two are the only ones considered it would appear that Christianity has some internal worldview flaws. In other words in modus tollens
1.) If an all good and all powerful God exists then there should be no evil or suffering in this world
2.) There is evil and suffering in this world
3.) an all powerful all good God does not exist
In response to this, Bahnsen points out that adding a third premise eliminates any internal inconsistency within the Christian worldview:

1.) God is all powerful and all Good

2.) There is evil and suffering in the world

3.) God has a morally sufficient purpose for evil and suffering

It does not matter whether we know the exact morally sufficient purpose for the evil and suffering. God could have a morally sufficient purpose for evil and suffering quite independent from our knowledge of that purpose. Furthermore, I would also like to add (Bahnsen also makes this point in the book as well) that the starving children that we are referring to are not Innocent people. The children that we are talking about are rebels against the king of the universe. When we put a situation in the proper perspective it changes the way we see the situation. As rebels against the creator it is amazing that anyone even live to see any of the days they do. Even more amazing is that millions of millions of people from every tribe tongue and nation will spend eternity with the living God in glory and not in the much deserved place of hell where God's wrath for sin is eternally meted out. Even as one who was once a hater of God but now stands in the righteousness of Christ. One who will therefore spend eternity in glory. I still understand that I live in a fallen world so if I wake up tomorrow with a flesh eating disease I hope that I would stand with Job and say "...blessed be the name of the Lord." I do not want to underplay the situation of the starving children. As the church we should have great compassion for these children. The church does show this compassion in many ways. I wonder how much worse the picture would be if the church of Christ was not active in bringing the gospel to these places, and in bringing the gospel, bringing food and clothes as well. There are secular organizations e.g. the peace corps that bring food and clothes also. Still, I wonder what it would be like if all the medical aid and food that Christians provide to these people were to be taken away. I do not want to go further on this because I do not presently have any hard statistics about the difference in the amount between secular organizations and Christian organizations of aid given to these starving people. I do believe that I am safe in saying that I would feel far better, if I had to choose, in removing all the secular aid from third world countries rather than all the Christian aid. I digress. The internal consistency of the Christian worldview is seen to remain strong. With that in mind I propose a test of worldviews. Come atheists and bring to the table what you have to offer these starving people. Offer them meaninglessness in their suffering and pain. Offer them the comfort of just being atoms in motion only different from a fizzing soda in the degree of complexity (I owe the fizzing soda example to Dan Wilson). Offer them the finality of death, the end of existence. The Christian offers hope in Christ for an eternity without pain or sorrow. A place where God will wipe every tear away. No more stomachs bloated from lack of nutrition. I offer purpose in their suffering and pain. I offer them the knowledge that their bodies and souls have been designed and built by the creator of all things. Come and taste of these worldviews and see which one leaves bitterness in the mouth. I advise the atheist to not discuss starving people with a Christian until he finds himself a more robust worldview.
Some Extra Pertinent Stuff:
White/Barker Debate first cross examination:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hail to the Queen

Question asked by a judge at the Miss USA Telecast in April 19 2009 of Miss. California,
" Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage," he said. "Do you think every state should follow suit, why or why not."

Miss California, Carrie Prejean, answered,
"We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."

Miss. Prejean’s statement engendered a fire storm of openly rude and disgusting verbal behavior from her detractors and a demand for an apology from sponsors of the Miss USA event.

How would you deal with such a spontaneous situation and resulting rude behavior?

Some questions to consider:

What do I owe the person who differs from me?
“…we owe them love. And we owe it to them to deal with them as we ourselves would like to be dealt with or treated. ((Matthew 7:12 WNT) Everything, therefore, be it what it may, that you would have men do to you, do you also the same to them; for in this the Law and the Prophets are summed up.)
How then do we desire to be treated? We want people to know what we are saying or meaning. If we are going to voice differences, therefore, we have an obligation to make a serious effort to understand the person with whom we differ. “
Consider the tone of Miss. California’s answer and the tone of the judges behavior in the following.

What Can I Learn from Those Who Differ From Me?
“To raise the question, "What do I owe the person who differs from me?" is very important, for otherwise any discussion is doomed to remain unproductive. The truth that I believe I have grasped must be presented in a spirit of love and winsomeness.”
“When we are sure that our outward approach is proper, we need secondly to safeguard the inward benefits of courtesy. We need to ask the question, "What can I learn from those who differ from me?" It is not censurable selfishness to seek to gain maximum benefits from any situation that we encounter. It is truly a pity if we fail to take advantage of opportunities to learn and develop that almost any controversy affords us.”

How Can I Cope with Those Who Differ from Me?
“Now "coping" involves naturally two aspects known as "defensive" and "offensive." Unfortunately, these terms are borrowed from the military vocabulary and tend to reflect a pugnacious attitude which injects bitterness into controversies. We should make a conscious effort to resist that trend. Furthermore "offensive" is often understood as meaning "giving offense" or "repulsive" rather than simply "passing to the attack." It may therefore be better to use the adjectives "protective" and "constructive" to characterize these two approaches.”
“Constructively, it behooves me to show that my view is in keeping with the totality of revealed truth, with the structure of the Christian faith as an organism of truth.”

The above questions come from the citation below and I would suggest one read the entire article. Who knows, you might disagree?

I admire Miss. Prejean and I believe that she has excellent repose. Miss. Prejean’s statement, “but that's how I was raised.” gives eternal credence to married parents and marriage in particular, a man and a women.

I believe that all who defend the faith or stand up for the faith or proclaim the faith should be prepared continually to work within the framework of the above philosophy of the three questions.

“We are called upon by the Lord to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). That does not necessarily involve being contentious; but it involves avoiding compromise, standing forth for what we believe, stand­ing forth for the truth of God—without welching at any particular moment.” Roger Nicole