Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Meaninglessness

Meaninglessness

Why is meaninglessness such a problem for the modern life?  Of course the question presumes it is and a quick Amazon search for meaning yields 23,804 hits.  There is of course a wide range of topics with such a broad topic from “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things” to “War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.”  There is even a book on the “Meaning of Meaning” which I suspect is a little circular.  Is it a soul problem?  Probably but I do not think it can be said to be exclusively an unbeliever’s problem. 

Of course meaninglessness is not a unique problem to modern man.  God tells us “there is nothing new under the sun,” (Eccl 1:9) and while we would like to think our situation is different, God assures us it is not.  What may be though of as ‘new’ is the amount of distractions which allows one to mask the lack of meaning in their life.  These distractions allow us to think an abundance of activity equals meaning; but it does not.

According to Dr. Ravi Zacharias, everyone at some level seeks to answer four, simple, yet profound and interrelated questions which together form their world view.  They are:  Origin – where did I come from, Meaning – why am I here, Morality – How do I conduct myself, and Destiny – What happens to me after all this is over.  It is believed that the order presented by Dr. Zacharias is not accidental but the progression of logical thought upon the entire scope of their world view of life. 

Therefore, for someone’s life to have proper meaning, they must have settled the issue of Origin and must have done so correctly.  This also means that for those who struggle with a feeling of meaninglessness they may also struggle with the foundational issue of Origin.  Now it cannot be said that everyone will come to the proper conclusion of Origin, but if they do they still may not arrive at the correct sense of Meaning.  This is why great care must be given in such pursuits. 

The writings of Solomon in Ecclesiastes are as much a biography of the lives of each one of us as much as biographical of his own.  He begins with his thesis “Vanity of vanities all is vanity” (Eccl 1:2) and follows with twelve chapters of supporting argument.  After “all has been heard,” he gives to us the meaning of life “… Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  (Eccl 12:13) .  Like it or not, this is everyone’s meaning.  And while a lack of a sense of true meaning is a problem for the unregenerate it is not something they can do anything about.  To “fear God and keep His commandments” is an impossibility in their unregenerate condition.  

For the redeemed though, when their meaning is ignored, friction occurs within themselves giving rise to all manner of wow.  So yes in both cases it can be said to be a soul condition, and while both are gifts of God’s grace, the former is only curable by God Himself as they are regenerated; the latter is curable only if they return to the task for which they are called, “Fear God and keep His commandments” and find their meaning in God himself.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Infinite

As we continue to build our picture of God we begin to see reoccurring themes which seem to say roughly the same thing(s) about Him.  This is due in great part to this writer’s limited understanding of Him and the inability to fully comprehend Him and still further to verbally articulate Someone who at some point resists all attempts to be comprehended.  

Today’s topic will be little different.

Now we have seen in the past God is eternal and one would be tempted to equate that to being infinite as well, but it does not follow that just because He is eternal that He would be infinite as well since one may be eternal but not infinite.  But I am convinced He could be infinite without being eternal.  For instance man is eternal from the moment of his creation however his eternality is moving in a forward direction but he is not infinite.  God’s eternality moves to infinity in both past and future (if we can say it that way).  He is the eternal now.

So let’s begin… yep you guessed it; Webster states of infinite:

Infinite
1. Without limits; unbounded; boundless; not circumscribed; applied to time, space and qualities. God is infinite in duration, having neither beginning nor end of existence. He is also infinite in presence, or omnipresent, and his perfections are infinite. We also speak of infinite space.

2. That will have no end. Thus angels and men, though they have had a beginning, will exist in infinite duration.

3. That has a beginning in space, but is infinitely extended; as, a line beginning at a point, but extended indefinitely, is an infinite line.

4. Infinite is used loosely and hyperbolically for indefinitely large, immense, of great size or extent.

Without limits certainly about sums it up so that the infinity of God means that He is limitless, measureless and boundless.  His Divine infinity indicates that the limitations of finite creatures do not apply to him.  So that whatever God is (love, faithfulness, righteous, wise, wrath, etc), He is without limit; and whatever He is cannot be measured.  He is not bound or restricted by space, time, or matter.  There is no point, edge, or line confining God, and no size or weight that can catalog Him. 

And yet on the opposite end of the spectrum we have Eliphaz the Temanite responding to Job in part: "Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquities without end?”  (Job 22:5).

So that man is infinite in his iniquities if Eliphaz is correct; and given other passages I believe he is.  How much more needful is it for the man whose iniquities are infinite, who is dead in his sin against God (Eph 2:1,5; Col 2:13), how much more needful is it that he be regenerated (Eph 4:23,24), that he be born again (Jn 3:3,7), that he put off the old man and put on the new?  How much more needful is it that he be made a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17)?  How much more needful indeed!


SDG

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God pt 4

Guess what, it’s Monday again and we here at The Old Dead Guys present another installment of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by the old dead guy, Jonathan Edwards. Today we begin the application section of his work which is more than half of the whole, so today we continue in our series, with part 4.


A brief review of what he has asserted thus far:


Deuteronomy 32:35, "Their foot shall slide in due time."

In part one we read:

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, … The expression I have chosen for my text, Their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following doings, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.

1. That they were always exposed to destruction;

2. It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall,

3. Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.

4. That the reason why they are not fallen already, and do not fall now, is only that God's appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide.

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. "There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God."

He continued in part 2:

The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.



1. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment.

2. They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using his power at any moment to destroy them.

3. They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell.

4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell.

5. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him.

And in part 3:

6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God's restraints.

7. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand.


8. Natural men's prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment.

9. All wicked men's pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment.

But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow.

10. God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment.


APPLICATION

The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ.-That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of, there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his band, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God's enemies. God's creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.


O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Your Friday Phil

Here is this weeks Friday Phil. This week we use the wayback machine to reach back into the Pyro archives to 2008 and find him warning about being an offence in our own right to those to whom God has sent us. And while he is specifically addressing political activism it bears minding in every aspect of our lives for the Gospel is offence enough, let’s not add to it. It’s just not our place too.

An Addendum on the Church and Politics

30 June 2008
by Phil Johnson


Some additional thoughts on what it means to "Let your light shine."

One of the greatest dangers of the political activism of the so-called "religious right" is this: It fosters a tendency to make enemies out of people who are supposed to be our mission-field, even while we're forming political alliances with Pharisees and false teachers.


To hear some Christians today talk, you might think that rampant sins like homosexuality and abortion in America could be solvedby legislation. A hundred years ago, the pet issue was prohibition, and mainstream evangelicalism embraced the notion that outlawing liquor would solve the problem of drunkenness forever in America. It was a waste of time and energy, and it was an unhealthy diversion for evangelicals and fundamentalists during an era when the truth was under siege within the church. Lobbying for laws to change the behavior of worldly people was the lastproject evangelicals needed to make their prime mission in the early 20th century. Just like today. Remember Galatians 2:21: "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." AndGalatians 3:21: "If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law."

We have the true and only answer to sins like homosexuality, divorce, drug addiction, and other forms of rampant immorality. It's the glorious liberty of salvation in Christ. It's a message about the grace of God, which has accomplishes what no law could ever do. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation—Good News thattruly changes hearts—and we need to proclaim that message. Politically-driven hostility against our neighbors is not the best way to let the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shine unto them.

We're like lighthouse keepers in a dark and stormy world. We've been given a mission of rescue and mercy. We can't be like James and John, who in a moment of weakness and immaturity wanted to call down fire from heaven to annihilate some unbelievers who took an opposing stance. We are ambassadors of the true light, who came down to earth to seek and to save the lost—not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.

There's a true sense in which we are not to love the world or the things of the world. But the people of the world are another matter. We're supposed to love them all, including our enemies. Scripture is clear on this. We don't condone sin, and we certainly can't pretend to let our lights shine if we're having fellowship with the deeds of darkness. But we should have a Christlike love for sinners, and that is an essential part of what He demands when He calls us to let our lights shine, so that people see our good works and glorify our heavenly Father. In this way, true disciples of Christ must be markedly different from the Pharisees.

If you don't have a sense of deep compassion and heartfelt benevolence toward sinners, you're not letting your light shine. If you, as a redeemed sinner, look on other sinners with no feeling but disgust, that's nothing but pride. That was the very sin of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, who "stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." And Jesus said that attitude is what kept him from being justified in God's eyes. Jesus, by contrast, "when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd."

That's the perspective it takes to be a true light in this world.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Terminology - Theocracy


Well hopefully you know what day of the week it is and that you have come here on purpose, if not well it’s Thursday and welcome I am glad you found us here at The Old Dead Guys.  Since it is Thursday and as is our custom we want to look at a new word.  (I am fearful that eventually we will run out of biblical words and resort to defining cats or even boats but I guess both are in Scripture so that will be ok…I think.)

So let’s get at it.

Webster states of Theocracy – Government of a state by the immediate direction of God; or the state thus governed.  Of this species the Israelites furnish an illustrious example. The theocracy lasted till the time of Saul.

This type of governance is vastly different from the cultish paganism of the current wave of patriotism in America today.  Although it has faded somewhat I am sure you will remember all the “God Bless America” signs as if we were a nation different than the rest; or that somehow by mentioning God on our money, Pledge of Allegiance, and Declaration of Independence we were somehow due special consideration in spite of our disobedience (in general) as a nation.  I assure you though it is not the case.

Many believe that if we can just get “Christians” in power everything will be ok but that ignores our form of government and the fact that it is still a human institution the best on the planet but still earthly.  No the Theocracy of Scripture is vastly different.  As Webster states a Theocracy is “a state by the immediate direction of God and thus governed.”  Further as he points out it began with Abram “get out…I will show you” (Gen 12:1) and ended with Saul “we want to be like the other nations” i.e. governed by men (1 Sam 8:5).  This was the very reason God disapproved so strongly in that they were not selecting a form of government as much as they were rejecting God (1 Sam 8:7).

Probably the early Church is the closest we have seen since 1 Samuel where some have mistakenly taken Acts 4:32 as communism but this is not the case since they gave to the common good willingly.  Ultimately though, the theocracy of God will not occur until all of Christ’s enemies are as His foot stool.  This would not be the kingdom of the millennium since sin will still be present (Rev 20:7-8) until Satan is once and for all dealt with (v10).

So that a Theocracy is literally "the rule of God," however this is thought to be expressed, that is by His revealed principles in the hearts of His elect, by His chosen leaders, or by Himself in the person of the Son.  However, the word is variously used by writers for different intended conceptions, some using it as a code word for uniqueness of Old Testament Israel, others using it for any social system where the church rules the state (or is not separated from it), and still others for a civil government which strives to submit to the socio-political standing laws revealed by God (in Old or New Testaments).  However, there is only one true Theocracy that being the actual rule of God.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is the Salvation experience of Paul typical?

Unless you are a new convert (welcome) or have been living in a cave with only a paraphrase version (if that is indeed a version) you will no doubt be familiar with the conversion of Paul.  It’s a classic sovereign election work of art.  But is Paul's experience the pattern for biblical conversions?  And if so what elements are typical or not typical?  And from the outset I know that most of you belong to the choir but sometimes I just can’t resist.

Having stated prior that “It’s a classic sovereign election work of art” may just have tipped my position but Paul’s conversion experience is not only typical but exactly the same for all believers who come to Christ.  The Scriptures declare very clearly that as unbelievers we all seek our on way, “They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one (Ps 14:3).  They further very clearly state that no one is seeking after God and rightly so for all, in their natural state, are dead spiritually (Eph 2:1-5). 

We must note that Paul in outward appearance had a zeal for God; however his zeal was not for God but for the Law.  Paul’s zeal left him blameless “as to the righteousness which is in the Law” (Phil 3:6) yet left him unrighteous before God (Rom 3:20, 28; Gal 2:16; 3:2-10).  It was God who sought Paul since he was on his way to persecute the Church.  It was God who gave him light to see since he was blinded by hatred (but well let it slide as he states “zeal”).  It was God who gave him life and justified Paul imputing His righteous upon him.

Now what is atypical is his visitation by Christ in direct challenge to his persecution of Christ (His Church).  We today do not experience such as it is the foolishness of preaching which draws men to God (10:13-15).  Nor do unbelievers suffer miraculous blindness as a result of salvation.

Now for a very clear picture of the salvic process we only need look a Lazarus.  He was dead not seeking God for indeed he could not; it was outside his ability being dead.  But God who is rich in mercy called him by name “Lazarus come forth,” …Lazarus came.  God commanded the bonds of the grave to be removed “unbind him and let him go” and he was loosed  At the command to “remove the stone” Martha rightly states in essence “Lord he stinks” and such is the condition of the unbeliever, they are dead and stinking for that is all a dead man can do…stink.  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-7).
 
My friend it is all of God or it is none of God on this the Scriptures are clear.

So that by Sola Gratia through Sola Fide in Solus Christus from Sola Scriptura to Soli Deo Gloria are any redeemed.

SDG



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Incomprehensible


Incomprehensible or Inscrutable is the attribute we will look at today.  And we at the onset admit to the fact that if/since God is infinite we being finite cannot know Him in its fullest sense for to do so would by necessity make us infinite as well.  So with that in mind let’s begin as usual with Webster’s 1828 which states: 

Incomprehensible –
1. That cannot be comprehended or understood; That is beyond the reach of human intellect; inconceivable.

Inscrutable –
1. Unsearchable; that cannot be searched into and understood by inquiry or study.  

2. That cannot be penetrated, discovered or understood by human reason.

And unlike propitiate and expiate which although seemingly are the same but in actuality are vastly different, Incomprehensible and Inscrutable are seemingly different but in actuality are the same and are therefore synonymous.  So that we can state of God that “He cannot be comprehended or understood.  That He is beyond the reach of human intellect and is therefore inconceivable and uncontainable.  That He is unsearchable and cannot be understood by inquiry or study and that He cannot be penetrated, discovered, or understood by human reason.”

Wow that was a mouthful, but in reality and in light of the above understanding we could go on, at least in theory, forever and exhaust human ability and still not plumb the depths.  I know I am exhausted pretty quickly.  Anyway

As we admit this we also recognize the paradox inherent here, for we are ever mindful as we study God that He is in His essence, unknowable (Isa 55:8).  He is far above us; exalted infinitely higher than we, His creation; infinitely above our conception, thought, or language.  God’s essence, that is what He is in and of Himself, is hidden from us and beyond our ability to understand.  However and here’s the paradox, God has given us the ability in His Word to know that He is, and to know what He is even if in a very limited way.  He in fact calls us to Himself asking us to reason with Him (Isa 1:18).

Therefore, while Scripture teaches the absolute incomprehensibility of God (Job 38:1 - 41:34), they also present a doctrine of God that fully maintains His knowability.  And He has revealed to us, at least in part, His purpose for doing so, that we may worship Him as God (Rom 1:20-23) and have eternal life (John 17:3).  This is but one of the many tensions found in the Scriptures. 

Yet even in His revealing Himself He condescends to us purely out of His grace and mercy for He needs nothing from us as He is complete in every way humanly imaginable.  It was Augustine who said “We are speaking of God.  Is it any wonder that you do not comprehend?  For if you comprehended Him He cannot be God.  Let this be a pious confession of great ignorance rather than a rash profession of knowledge.  To have a very slight knowledge of God is a great blessing.  To comprehend Him is altogether impossible.”

SDG

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God pt 3

Yep, It’s Monday again and we here at The Old Dead Guys hope you fathers had a wonderful day.  As we continue with our look at the old dead guy, Jonathan Edwards, today we continue in our series, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God with part 3.

A brief review of what he has asserted thus far:


Deuteronomy 32:35, "Their foot shall slide in due time."

In part one we read:

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, … The expression I have chosen for my text, Their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following doings, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.

1. That they were always exposed to destruction;

2. It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall,

3. Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.

4. That the reason why they are not fallen already, and do not fall now, is only that God's appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide.

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. "There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God."

He continued in part 2:

The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

1. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment.

2. They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using his power at any moment to destroy them.

3. They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell.

4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell.

5. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him.

And now part 3:

6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God's restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea, Isa. 57:20. For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;" but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God's restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into a fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.

7. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God's hands, and so universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.

8. Natural men's prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this clear evidence that men's own wisdom is no security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death: but how is it in fact? Eccles. ii. 16. "How dieth the wise man? even as the fool."

9. All wicked men's pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.

But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell ever to be the subjects of that misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another reply, "No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself: I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief: Death outwitted me: God's wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then suddenly destruction came upon me.

10. God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.

So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men's earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.

So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of, all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Phil

In this repost Phil asks a very poignant question and one I think bears asking often.  So consider:


by Phil Johnson



I know I'm about 18 hours overdue with this blogpost, but I'm jet-lagged, busy, and preoccupied with a stack of more urgent things. Thanks for your patience.

Just now I was doing some reading in preparation for a message on Sunday, and I picked up one of my favorite sources of pithy comments on the gospels—J. C. Ryle's
 Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (vol 2). In his comments on John 10, Ryle makes a Pyro-worthy observation regarding "our Lord's strong language about the false teachers of the Jews. . . ." Ryle writes:

Those who think that unsound ministers ought never to be exposed and held up to notice, and men ought never to be warned against them, would do well to study this passage. No class of character throughout our Lord's ministry seems to call forth such severe denunciation as that of false pastors. The reason is obvious. Other men ruin themselves alone: false pastors ruin their flocks as well as themselves. To flatter all ordained men, and say they never should be called unsound and dangerous guides, is the surest way to injure the Church and offend Christ.

Talk amongst yourselves.






Thursday, June 17, 2010

Terminology - Redemption

Wow!  The week seemed to fly by.  Why it seem like yesterday we here at the Old Dead Guys were feeling very magnanimous and gave you a twofer.  It’s apparent the lightheadedness made us miss the weekend and most of this week as well.  So as not to miss the week entirely we feel it best to return to our modus operandi until the dizziness subsides.

Today’s word – Redemption – or redeem (uh oh that’s close to being two, I feel the blood starting to drain to my feet)………… sorry I nearly passed out there.

So Webster states of Redemption –

Deliverance from bondage, or distress.  In theology, the purchase of God's favor by the death and sufferings of Christ; the ransom or deliverance of sinners from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God's violated law by the atonement of Christ. 

I am not sure what can be added to Webster’s presentation except to hopefully offer clarity.  We have to be careful here and not bring an improper understanding since most of us will often think redemption of something we previously owned as in a pawn ticket, or own like lottery ticket, or S&H Green Stamps, (ouch that’s dating myself).  This brings the image as if we were the possession of another i.e. bound to Satan so that Christ had to buy us back.  Or even that we were once His but lost (through the sin of Adam) whereby Satan has legal ownership of us and Christ must pay a ransom.
 
Nope that’s Coplandism or Hinnism (really just put and ism behind the name-it-and-claim-it quack of your choice; this type of teaching seems to permeate this type).  Again, NO our redemption was an appeasement of the wrath of God which rescued and delivered us from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God's violated law, by Christ’s obedience and suffering in our place.  This He did by doing and suffering that which was accepted by GOD in lieu of our lack of obedience.

So that God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf, causing us to become the righteousness of God in Him.  For Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.  For in Him we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us (paraphrase of 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13; Eph 1:7 ESV).

SDG

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Simon Magus


I was recently asked in essence “Was Simon Magus really a believer and how should we understand Peter's rebuke of Simon and Simon's response? 

To which I replied.

Nope just can’t see it.


When considering the Salvic disposition of Simon Magus (or anyone for that matter) we must examine his life for his heart is hidden from man’s view except as it is made manifest by his life.  So that when anyone is confronted with the gospel they must by necessity have one of two responses; they will respond in acceptance or rejection.  However, and there’s the rub, rejection can and often does masquerade as acceptance as demonstrated here in Acts 8 by Simon.  We only need to look at Christ’s parable of the sower to see that. 

Also as a side note, this passage demonstrates the need for discernment in order to keep the assembly as pure as possible.  Yet today it is considered loving to not demand someone actually adhere to the Scriptural teaching, to the faith …once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).  This position far from loves but actually leaves them in their sin which also makes those with that attitude culpable in that sin but I digress. 

Now the greater context of Acts 8 contrasts a false profession with that of a genuine one, Simon’s profession opposed to the Ethiopian’s.  And the Scriptures accordingly teach that saving grace is accompanied by three things, the professor has to believe (Heb 11:6), to obey (Jn 14:15), and to continue (1 Jn 2:19).  We must admit Simon looked good for v 13 states he “believed” was “baptized” (displaying obedience), and “continued” on with Philip.  However what he believed we are not told, he was baptized but did not receive the Holy Spirit, and his continuing with Philip was more of a following puppy dog than a continuance in observing and obeying the teaching of Philip.  And that’s key, a faith that saves is a faith that obeys.

In outward appearance Simon was fine but his heart was far from God (v21) and quite frankly Simon displays a faith that does not and cannot save but actually damns the soul.  The key to understanding this is found in v18 notice: he “saw,” he “desired” which is implied by he “offered money” just to get the power the apostles were displaying.  As we note that the Holy Spirit was not given to him v16, v17 does not necessarily include Simon and if he had received the Holy Spirit it doe not seem likely he would be attempting to buy Him.  More revealing though Peter’s rebuke in v21 indicates he had not.  

It is therefore difficult to see him as saved, at least from this occasion.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Foundational Truths – Impartiality

As we veer back on to the road of looking at some of God’s attributes after having chased the rabbit from His immutability into His will and the “problem” of evil, we now have before us His Impartiality i.e. He is impartial.

You know it, Webster (1828) defines impartial as:

1. Not partial; not biased in favor of one party more than another; indifferent; unprejudiced; disinterested; as an impartial judge or arbitrator.

2. Not favoring one party more than another; equitable; just; as an impartial judgment or decision; an impartial opinion.

So that with God impartial means … well … not partial (how’s that – all with one hand behind my back) and speaks of God's attribute whereby He treats all men and women equally, not demonstrating favoritism in terms of merit for salvation.  That is, He does not look with more regard to the Irish than he does the Scotts.  Or those that are left handed as opposed to those who are right handed.  So that God does not show prejudice towards or against any person or party. 

Now at the onset we must acknowledge that God certainly is partial to His elect but what we see here is that His partiality is not based upon anything other than His specific salvic grace having been bestowed upon them and nothing more. 

When we speak of His being impartial as the Scriptures do we mean thus:  

He takes no bribe - Deut 10:17-18

He does not despise any person - Job 36:5

In terms of His general grace and love, He allows both the evil and good live and provides them both with daily needs - Matt 5:44-45

God is partial to neither Jew nor Gentile (nation of origin) but accepts all that come to Him - Acts 10:34-35

All will received a just recompense for their works - Rom 2:6-9


So that biblical Partiality is the idea of looking to see who someone is before deciding how to treat him or her!  In other words, one judges by appearance and on that basis giving special favor and respect (or the converse - refuses to give respect).  This then pertains to judging others purely on a superficial level, without consideration of the person’s true merits, abilities, or character.

Where as biblical Impartiality is just the opposite. That is, God does not judge based upon outward appearance, wealth, culture, social position, family background, education, beauty, intellect, all things that more or less sway the opinions of man, do not count with God.

And indeed He does not need to “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Heb 4:12-13)





Monday, June 14, 2010

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God pt 2

Yep, It’s Monday again and we continue with our look at the old dead guy, Jonathan Edwards.  Today we continue in our series, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God  with part 2.

A brief review of what he has asserted thus far:


Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God  pt 2

Deuteronomy 32:35, "Their foot shall slide in due time."

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, …  The expression I have chosen for my text, Their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following doings, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.

1.  That they were always exposed to destruction;

2.  It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction.  As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall,

3.  Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.

4.  That the reason why they are not fallen already, and do not fall now, is only that God's appointed time is not come.  For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide.  

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this.  "There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God."  

__________________

The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

1.  There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment.  Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up.  The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands.-He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it.  Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers.  But it is not so with God.  There is no fortress that is any defense from the power of God.  Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God's enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces.  They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames.  We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell.  What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down? 

2.  They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using his power at any moment to destroy them.  Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins.  Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke xiii.  7.  The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God's mere will, that holds it back.

3.  They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell.  They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell.  John iii.  18.  "He that believeth not is condemned already." So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John viii.  23.  "Ye are from beneath." And thither be is bound; it is the place that justice, and God's word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.

4.  They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell.  And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath.  Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.
So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off.  God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so.  The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow.  The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.

5.  The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him.  They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion.  The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke 11:12.  The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back.  If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls.  The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Your Friday Phil


Yep it’s Friday and we made it through another week.  This time though as I was digging around in the Pyro archives I came across this excerpt from Johnny Mac’s The Truth War  that was originally posted by Phil Johnson 12/27/07.  Enjoy!

 

A Short History of Apostasy


Another Excerpt from The Truth War
posted by Phil Johnson




Truth has never been established by majority opinion, and it is in no way unusual that in our generation only a relatively small remnant still believe the Bible is inerrantly truthful. Here's proof:


Like sin itself, apostasy is by no means a recent phenomenon, and it is not even something unique to the Christian era. From that moment in the garden when the serpent brought his war against truth into the world of humanity—through the close of the Old Testament canon and beyond, right down to the present day—the campaign against truth has been unrelenting and shockingly effective.

Again and again in the Old Testament, Israel was solemnly warned not to defect. Apostates nonetheless can be found in every period of Old Testament history. At times, it seemed as if the entire nation had apostatized at once. In Elijah's generation, for instance (at a time when the total population of Israel almost surely could be counted in the millions), the number of the faithful dwindled to some seven thousand (1 Kings 19:18). Elijah even imagined for a while that he was the last true believer alive!

During Jeremiah's lifetime, the size of the faithful remnant was probably smaller still. Almost everyone in Israel was utterly hostile to Jeremiah's ministry. After four decades of powerful preaching, the great prophet stood essentially alone. Scripture gives no indication that he ever saw a single convert.

Throughout Old Testament history, the problem of apostasy was pervasive, and times of widespread faithfulness in the nation, such as the sweeping revival described in Nehemiah 8, were exceptional and mostly short-lived. Nehemiah's revival quickly gave way to a watered-down and halfhearted form of religion (see Nehemiah 13). Spiritual lukewarmness dominated Israel's later history. The whole nation finally became so utterly apostate that when the promised Messiah was born, virtually everyone missed the true significance of the event. Within three years of the start of His public ministry, they were crying for Him to be murdered as a dangerous imposter and threat to their religion. From a human perspective, it might even seem as if the enemies of truth usually had the upper hand in the Old Testament era.

It is no surprise, then, that the word apostasia appears several times in the Septuagint (an ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament that predates Christ by a couple of hundred years). In Joshua 22:22, for example, apostasy is characterized as "rebellion [and] treachery" against "the LORD God of gods." Jeremiah 2:19 likewise employs the word apostasia to describe the backslidings of those who utterly forsook the Lord. That same verse defines the essence of all apostasy: " 'The fear of Me is not in you,' says the Lord GOD of hosts."

So apostasy, appalling and dismal though it is, has been an ever-present reality throughout all of redemptive history. Many people who know the truth reject it anyway, and thus it has always been. In that respect, the times in which we live are by no means extraordinary.

Even Jesus' ministry provides a startling picture of real-life apostasy. John 6 records how large crowds showed up wherever he went while He was performing miracles. But they turned away en masse when He began to proclaim truth they did not want to hear. In most cases, it appears, their rejection of Christ was nothing less than final and irremediable apostasy. Near the end of that long, tragic chapter, verse 66 says this: "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more."

Jesus' teaching made the truth starkly clear. These people, who evidently saw the truth plainly and understood Jesus' teaching perfectly well, turned away anyway. In fact, the utter clarity of the truth was the very thing that drove them away. When they saw the truth for what it was, they simply hated it. It was too demanding, too unpopular, too inconvenient, too much of a threat to their own agenda, and too much of a rebuke to their sin. Remember, "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

So that is how the New Testament era began. Scripture also teaches that apostasy will be widespread at the end of the age. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus gave an extended description of the last days, including this: "Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many" (Matthew 24:11). Peter likewise prophesied that "scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?'" (2 Peter 3:3-4). In 1 Timothy 4:1รพ2, the apostle Paul says, "the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron." As a matter of fact, one of the major turning points at the end of this age will be a worldwide renunciation of the truth and a wholesale rejection of Christ, known as "the falling away"(apostasia), according to 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

So apostasy is a fact of all history, and there is never any kind of armistice in the Truth War. Our generation is certainly no exception to that rule. Some of the greatest threats to truth today come from within the visible church. Apostates are there in vast abundance—teaching lies, popularizing gross falsehoods, reinventing essential doctrines, and even redefining truth itself. They seem to be everywhere in the evangelical culture today, making merchandise of the gospel.




Originally Posted by Phil Johnson 12/27/07