Thursday, September 30, 2010

Terminology - Orthodoxy vs. Orthopraxy


In celebration of the month of October, which happens to be my birth month, here at The Old Dead Guys we decided to look at two contrasting words.  Now we acknowledge that they do not have to be contrasting but we also note that in every life there is a certain amount, to what ever degree, of disconnect between what we believe and what we actually do.  And it is here that we will find the contrast.




Webster defines Orthodoxy as:

- Soundness of faith; a belief in the genuine doctrines taught in the Scriptures.

- Consonance to genuine scriptural doctrines; as the orthodoxy of a creed.

An of course it finds its root in being orthodox which is from the Greek ‘orthodoxos’ meaning to have the right opinion and combines othos – right, true, straight + doxa  - opinion, to think.  So that if some one is orthodox we understand that they have a correct belief based upon the evidence at hand.  This certainly means that the term orthodox is not a theological term at all but can be, and should be applied to all sorts of disciplines whether it is sports, engineering, science, or mathematics. 

But what happens when our orthodoxy does not find its way into our everyday lives or orthopraxy?  Webster did not define orthopraxy so we went to Wiktionary where Orthopraxy is defined as:

- Correct practice or action.

Now we equally acknowledge that you can display a correct action without having a correct belief.  But what ever we make of these two words independently, in conjunction with one another they certainly mean that ‘praxy without a correct ‘doxy is most likely done in error but also that a sound ‘doxy without it working into a proper ‘praxy is certain to be in error.

Together they combine the right belief, orthodoxy, with right practice, orthopraxy so that they compliment each other and validate our belief in Christ (1 John 2: 3–6).  This is exactly what James is referring to when he rhetorically asks can the faith that does not produce works be the kind of faith you wish to rest your salvation on? (Jas 2:14-26).

As Christians, especially Reformed Christians the right belief about Jesus must be validated by being imitators of Jesus (Lk 9: 23).  So that the condition of coming to the light of orthodoxy is to do the works of God in orthopraxy.

So among us of the Reformed faith, is the term “the frozen chosen” deserved?


Hmmm…think about it.  


SDG

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

T-shirt or Tunic

Our friends over at The Sacred Sandwich posted a piece which began us here at The Old Dead Guys to think.  The piece illustrated the differences in Christian fashion from 1555 and now.  Then it was a wool tunic and now it is a cotton T-shirt.  The piece highlighted another difference though; it showed that the Christian of the 16th century was often burned for upholding their beliefs.  The martyr depicted was John Rogers who was born at the turn of the 16th century in the area of Birmingham England and received his BA from Cambridge.

He is credited with having printed the first English bible, both OT and NT, where his contemporary, William Tyndale, would only print the NT before he was martyred.  He was granted a printing licensed to sell 1500 copies but did so under the name Thomas Matthew.  By 1553 he found himself in trouble for preaching against “pestilent Popery, idolatry, and superstition.”  Needless to say it was not a message well received by the administration of the time and his “denomination” the ‘Lollards’ was legislated against in 1554.  Yet a man so convicted upon God’s word could not nor would not be silent and he was to cheerfully be the first Protestant martyr, burned at the stake under the reign of Mary 1 “Bloody Mary” Queen of England.

So what’s that got to do with us you ask, ‘thank you, I thought you never would.’  We here in the West have enjoyed many, many years of religious freedom; we have enjoyed and be come drunk from the goodness of God.  Believing in some cases that God loves us ergo the blessing must continue.  We have been content to drop a few coins into the plate (when we had some left) that is passed for another to ‘go and bear my cross;’ content to let another bear our shame.  We count it a ‘blessing’ from God when we get back too much change or when the checkout missed that blouse or pair of socks after all God loves us.   

You see Angus highlighted far more that just the fashion difference of 1555 and now; he highlighted the fundamental difference between what it means to bear the name of Christ and just wearing Christ on your shirt.  There is a time coming that I fear is all to near when the T-shirt will be tolerated but the Tunic will not.  A time when all is tolerated except the Christian witness; the most restrictive, intolerant, and exclusive religion currently in the world, Islam, will be preferred over Christianity.  Why?  Only one reason God’s Christ.  Already men are in jail in Canada and England for preaching the “whole counsel of God’s word” where they call the “Good News” hate speech.  It will be necessary to display the Tunic or recant to the apostate T-shirt. 

So Christian, get out the Tunic, begin to practice and be ready for when the test comes…for it is coming should God tarry. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Righteous

You will no doubt remember that we stated earlier that the purpose of listing some of the attributes of God is not to give an exhaustive list or even a verbose explanation of the ones chosen.  Rather it is to present what is hoped to be a working knowledge from which we can look at the different rolls within the Godhead.  This was the result of attempting to develop a unification theory of God’s attributes which I have come to suspect is a lot like herding cats, the more you work at it the less you seem to accomplish.  You will also no doubt think “Hmmm, some of these sound alike” and you would be correct some do sound alike yet certain distinctions must be made.  For instance some might think that God’s holiness is akin to His righteousness but I think that would be a mistake.

Webster’s 1828 states of Righteous:

1. Just; accordant to the divine law.
2. Just; equitable; merited.

When applied to persons, it denotes one who is holy in heart, and observant of the divine commands.  The Scriptures calls this a righteous man.  When applied to things, it denotes agreement or harmony to/with the God’s will or justice.  The Scriptures see this as a righteous act.  However, in theology it is chiefly used, and applied to God and to the attainment of His followers, called saints.

Oddly enough the saint of God is not commanded directly to be righteous yet we are commanded to be holy.  In fact the Scriptures are replete with the command to “be holy.”  I think the reason for this is two fold.  First, righteousness flows from holiness, and second, righteousness has been imputed upon us as believers.  Conditionally we are not righteous but positionally we are.  And here’s what I mean.  Our present condition in bodies of flesh prevents us from being righteous; Paul makes that clear in Rom 7:7-25.  However, positionally we are righteous as we have had Christ’s righteousness imputed to us.  The Scriptures present this in a negative form in Rom 4:7-8 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”  So that our righteous is the character or quality of being right or just even though it is not our righteousness but it has been given to us as an act of sovereign grace.  

However, the righteousness of God could be briefly stated as that which is all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves, and all that He provides through Christ in the gospel (Ro 1:16-17).  God is always righteous and His righteousness causes Him to always think and do what is right or act in perfect goodness in relation to His creation.  He will always do what is right.  God’s love and mercy must be harmonized with His righteousness which cannot be compromised and this necessary harmony results in His justice.  The book of Romans emphasizes the righteousness of God and shows that God is righteous in His dealings with both sinners and believers.  The righteousness of God is the theme of the gospel message. 
God’s righteousness, was perfectly fulfilled by Christ incarnate and yet rejected by sinning humanity.  It is imputed to the sinner who repents and believes in the Lord Jesus, and will be manifested in practical ways in the life of the Christian.  The righteousness of God in one sense it speaks of God’s holy hatred of sin.  In the early 1500s, Martin Luther sat in the tower of the Black Cloister, Wittenberg, reading (Rom 1:17).  That expression ‘righteousness of God’ was like a thunderbolt in my heart,” Luther later wrote.  “I hated Paul with all my heart when I read that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel.”  

Luther saw God’s righteousness as an unassailable obstacle to eternal life for he was deeply aware of his own sinfulness, and he knew that because of it he was unacceptable to a righteous God.  Therefore, as he read this verse he was seized with despair.  But the second connotation of righteousness in (Rom 1:17) speaks of Christ’s perfect righteousness, which is imputed to the account of the believing sinner (Rom 4:24).  When Luther understood this sense of the righteousness provided by God through the righteousness imputed on a believing sinner's account, he finally grasped the true meaning of the gospel, and this discovery set ablaze the Protestant Reformation.


SDG

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing Pt 8

Today as we continue with part 8 of The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing by George Whitefield, we will see Mr. Whitefield address one man’s duty to his neighbor to uphold right living and to set an example of godliness before him.  This duty he states is owed both to the neighbor but also to God.  So without further delay…



The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing 
George Whitefield



Matt 5:34 -- "But I say unto you, Swear not at all."


2. But further, if the sin of swearing is so exceeding heinous, and withal so common, then it is every particular person's duty, especially those that are in authority, to do their utmost towards discountenancing and suppressing so malignant a crime. The duty we owe both to God and our neighbor, requires this at our hands; by the one we are obliged to assert our Maker's honor; by the other to prevent our neighbor's ruin; and it is but doing as we would be done by, and as we ourselves act in cases of lesser consequence. 

Were we to hear either our own or our friend's good name vilified [slandered, maligned] and traduced [slandered, maligned], we should think it our bounden duty to vindicate the wronged reputation of each; and shall the great, terrible, and holy name of our best and only friend, our king, our father, nay our God: shall this be daily, nay every moment, defied and blasphemed; and will no one dare to stand up in defense of his honor and holiness? Be astonished, O heavens, at this! No; let us scorn all such base and treacherous treatment; let us resolve to support the cause of religion, and with a becoming prudent courage manifest our zeal for the honor of the Lord of Hosts. 

Men in authority have double the advantages of ordinary Christians; their very office shows they are intended for the punishment of evil doers. And such is the degeneracy of mankind, that the generality of them will be more influenced by the power of persons in authority, than by the most labored exhortations from the pulpit. To such, therefore, if there are any here present, I humbly address myself, beseeching them, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to do their utmost to put a stop to, and restrain profane cursing and swearing. 

And though it must be confessed, that this is a work which requires a great deal of courage and pains, yet they would do well to consider, it is for God they undertake it, who certainly will support and bear them out in a due execution of their office here, and reward them with an exceeding and eternal weight of glory hereafter. But it is time to draw towards a conclusion.

-continued-

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Phil

The Arminian position has always been perplexing to me.  Even when I was one I at least attempted to logically work through what I believed.  I am glad for those who were patient with me when I was in the pupa stage of becoming a full fledged reformed thinker.  And I am certainly glad for those who now tolerate my understanding or lack thereof as I continue to work through ideas.  And I think this is where we as the reformed will make the most impact on our friends who have not yet been “converted.” In gentleness, love and much patience show them how their position is illogical.  And really it will not take a Spock intellect to do so since their position, although strongly held, is weak. 

In this week’s Friday Phil, Phil does this very thing by taking aim at the belief that God is at once sovereign and that man can over ride that sovereignty at will and refuse God.  To us we readily see the inconstancy of this position and they will too but they have so much personally invested in their position that they will not let go without persuasion and time.

So consider this classic repost from Dec 2008        


The Arminian Problem in Simple Terms
by Phil Johnson
12-22-08


If God knows the future with certainty, then the future is (by definition) already predetermined. If tomorrow is predetermined and you don't want to acknowledge that the plan was decreed by God, you have only two choices:


1.  Some being other than God determines the future and is therefore more sovereign than He. That is a kind   of idolatry.

2.  Some impersonal force does the determining without reason or coherence. That is a kind of fatalism.

So anyone who denies that God preordained whatsoever comes to pass but wants to avoid both fatalism and idolatry is logically compelled to deny God's omnscience.

That of course, is precisely the rationale that has led so many to embrace Open Theism.

The more sensible option—and the biblical one—would be to abandon Arminian presuppositions and acknowledge that God declared the end from the beginning, and that He works all things according to the counsel of His own will.



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Omniscient

As we look today at another attribute of God we come now to what really gets to His ability to be the Judge of creation, as if His being the creator was not enough.  Today it’s His being Omniscient in which He knows all things.  And we must be careful here that we establish the bases of which He derives His Omniscient, and I am not sure we will do an adequate job here.  The term does not occur in Scripture, either in its nominal or in its adjectival form.  In the Old Testament though it is expressed in connection with such words as "seeing" and "hearing," "the eye" and "the ear" and occurs as figures for the knowledge of God, as "arm," "hand," "finger" which all serve to express His power.  In the New Testament the same connections are found.

Anyway…


Webster’s 1828 defines omniscient at being:

‘Om-nis-cient’,

            - Having universal knowledge; knowing all things; infinitely knowing; all-seeing or wise;  
 
And we see almost at once that Omniscient is constructed from two words, Omni and Scient; Omni – meaning ‘all’ and Scient – meaning 'knowing'.  I am sure most are familiar with Omni but Scient is a word not used in 21st century speech but from it we derive our word science.  Now it would be a mistake to equate the two (science and scient) since science is the enterprise involved in the gaining of knowledge that is testable or falsifiable using the scientific method.   Scient on the other hand simply deals with knowing. 

As Milton said “For what can scape the eye of God all-seeing, or deceive his heart Omniscient?”  Some would say that God’s omniscience is His knowledge of all things including actual and possible, past, present, and future aka. His foreknowledge. But God is all knowing, and His knowledge is in no way restricted by temporal considerations.  To Him, all is the presentSo to say that He knows and sees the past, the present, and the future is to describe, in human terms, His being in time.  But He is outside of time and only condescends to step into time as that is where He created creation.

His knowledge is in no way restricted by temporal considerations God knows all things perfectly (Job 37:16; 1 John 3:20), sees and hears everything (Ex 3:7; Jer. 16:17), knows from all eternity the entire plan of the ages and the part of every man in that plan (Isa. 46:9-11; Eph. 1:3-12).  God has perfect knowledge of each individual person and of all his ways (Ps. 33:13-15), his words (Matt. 12:35-37), his thoughts (Matt. 9:4), his afflictions and trials (1Cor. 10:13; Rev. 2:9-13) and his future actions and final state (Matt. 25:31-34, 41; Acts 27:22-25).

God’s omniscience means that nothing anyone does escapes the knowledge of God and that one day we will be called to give an account to God who will deal with each according to the truth of his life (Rom 2:2-6; 14:10-12).  God's omniscience gives us confidence in prayer knowing that He will not lose our prayers and that He always knows the best answer, even knowing our needs before we ask (Matt. 6:31-34).

His knowledge is not based upon discovery just as His being is not based upon His having began…He simply is and He simply knows.  The Scriptures nowhere represents Him as attaining to knowledge by reasoning, but everywhere as simply knowing.  In knowing, as well as in all other activities of His nature, God is sovereign and self-sufficient.  


Monday, September 20, 2010

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing Pt 7

It is evident by now (at least it should be) that Whitefield is specifically addressing the type of profane swearing in which our Lord is denigrated or used in a trifle manner.  He has not addressed words we would otherwise not care to hear as we have addressed those in a pair of prior of Terminology Thursday posts here and here.  But one has to wonder if we are as innocent as we would claim.  While we may not exclaim God ___, are we as quick to expunge the “oh my Lord” or the occasional “gosh darn?”  Consider, if we have only substituted words have we gained (or rather avoided) anything?  I’m not so sure.  Well enough from me…we now return to our sermon.


The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing



1. And first then, if these things be so, and the sin of profane swearing, as hath been in some measure shown, is so exceeding sinful, what shall we say to such unhappy men, who think it not only allowable, but fashionable and polite, to "take the name of God in vain;" who imagine that swearing makes them look big among their companions, and really think it a piece of honor to abound in it? But alas! little do they think that such a behavior argues the greatest degeneracy of mind and fool-hardiness, that can possibly be thought of.

For what can be more base, than one hour to pretend to adore God in public worship, and the very next moment to blaspheme his name; indeed, such a behavior, from persons who deny the being of a God, (if any such fools there be) is not altogether to much to be wondered at; but for men, who not only subscribe to the belief of a Deity, but likewise acknowledge him to be a God of infinite majesty and power; for such men to blaspheme his holy name, by profane cursing and swearing, and at the same time confess, that this very God has expressly declared, he will not hold him guiltless, but will certainly and eternally punish (without repentance) him that taketh his name in vain; is such an instance of fool-hardiness, as well as baseness, that can scarcely be paralleled.

This is what they presume not to do in other cases of less danger: they dare not revile a general at the head of his army, nor rouse a sleeping lion when within reach of his paw. And is the Almighty God, the great Jehovah, the everlasting King, who can consume them by the breath of his nostrils, and frown them to hell in an instant; is he the only contemptible being in their account, that may be provoked without fear, and offended without punishment? No; though God hear long, he will not bear always; the time will come, and that too, perhaps, much sooner than such persons may expect, when God will vindicate his injured honor, when he will lay bare his almighty arm, and make those wretches feel the eternal smart of his justice, show power and name they have so often vilified and blasphemed. Alas! what will become of all their bravery then?

Will they then wantonly sport with the name of their Maker, and call upon the King of all the earth to damn them any more in jest? No; their note will then be changed: indeed, they shall call, but it will be for "the rocks to fall on them, and the hills to cover them from the wrath of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the Lamb for ever." It is true, time was when they prayed, though without thought, perhaps, for damnation both for themselves and others; and now they will find their prayers answered. "They delighted in cursing, therefore shalt it happen unto them; they loved not blessing, therefore shall it be far from them; they clothed themselves with cursing like as with a garment, and it shall come into their bowels like water, and like oil into their bones."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Phriday Phil

Well its Friday and time for our weekly Phil.  I came across this while looking into the subject of Doctrine.  I was led to do so after a "conversation" I had with someone who stated that there was no difference in a Muslim rejecting the Christ of the Koran and a "Christian" (his italics not mine) who rejects the Christ of the Bible.  His conclusion "Absolutely nothing".  My point in answering him was that the Koran's Jesus is not the same as the Bible's Jesus so that in rejecting the claims of the Koran one has only rejected error.  However, by rejecting the claims of the Bible one has rejected truth and there's a vast difference between the two which he refuses to acknowledge or just cannot see.

So enjoy this classic repost from '05.


Can We Talk?
Can't we all just get along?
Why "playing nice" by postmodernist standards is a losing proposition

by Phil Johnson





The favorite buzzwords of the postmodern spirit all sound so warm and friendly, don't they? Conversation, dialogue, openness, generosity, tolerance. Who wouldn't want to participate in discourse with someone who truly prized human values such as those?

On the other hand, the very same Zeitgeist has demonized a host of other essential biblical values, such as authority, conviction, clarity, and even truth. In the milieu of the emerging discussion, this second category of words has been made to sound harsh, unreasonable, arrogant, and extreme—if not downright evil.

Moreover, postmodern human values are increasingly being defined in a way that expressly precludes eternal biblical values. For example, the prevailing opinion nowadays is that you cannot be "open" and certain at the same time. A person who speaks with too much conviction is ipso facto deemed an "intolerant" person. Above all, anyone who recognizes the full authority of Scripture and insists that God's Word deserves our unconditional submission will inevitably be accused of deliberately trying to stymie the whole "conversation."

This is not to suggest that disagreement per se is prohibited in the postmodern dialectic. Quite the contrary, "deconstruction" is all about disputes over words. Postmoderns thrive on dissent, debate, and contradiction.

And (giving credit where credit is due) it should be noted that postmodernists can sometimes be amazingly congenial in their verbal sparring with one another.

One thing the participants in the postmodern "conversation" simply will not tolerate, however, is someone who disagrees and thinks the point is really serious. Virtually no heresy is ever to be regarded as damnable. The notion that erroneous doctrine can actually be dangerous is deemed uncouth and naive. Every bizarre notion gets equal respect. Truth itself is only a matter of personal perspective, you see. Everything is ultimately negotiable.

Now, if you want to join the postmodern "conversation," you are expected to acknowledge all this up front—at least tacitly. That's the price of admission to the discussion. Once you're in, you can throw any bizarre idea you want on the table, no matter how outlandish. You can use virtually any tone or language to make your point, no matter how outrageous. But you must bear in mind that all disputation at this table is purely for sport. At the end of the day, you mustn't really be concerned about the truth or falsehood of any mere propositions.

Some "conversation." The ground rules guarantee that truth itself will be a casualty in every controversy, because regardless of the substance or the outcome of the dialogue, participants have in effect agreed up front that the propositions under debate don't really matter.

Entering the "conversation" at all is tantamount to breaking the seal on a software package. The moment you do it, you have putatively given your consent to the postmodernist's ground rules. If you then violate those rules—meaning if you take any doctrine too seriously or insist that Scripture is really authoritative—you will be savaged as someone who is cruel, intolerant, unenlightened, and hopelessly arrogant.

That's why it is well-nigh impossible to have an authentic, meaningful conversation with a devoted postmodernist and ever see anything genuinely resolved. The postmodernist by definition has no real hope or expectation of arriving at the truth of any matter. That's not the goal of the postmodernist exercise. It's not even a desirable objective. The only real point is to eliminate certitude altogether. This is done not by settling disputes, but by silencing or assimilating everyone who resists the unrestrained free flow of the postmodernist idea-exchange.

Truth is under attack on countless fronts today. What's popular these days—even among professing Christians—is glorying in ambiguity and uncertainty. Precious few are still committed without reservation to the truth and authority of Scripture. The very last thing I would willingly do in times like these would be to pledge a moratorium on candor or agree to a ceasefire with people who delight in testing the limits of orthodoxy. See Nehemiah 6:2-4.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Terminology – Awesome




Today’s word is a multi-generational thing.  At the risk of dating my self but when I was a youth everything was “cool.”  A little earlier if something was good and enjoyable we described it as being “bad.”  But awesome is universally used to describe that which has really left us in many cases speechless and incapable of adequately describing what was witnessed.  And I must say here I am not referring to the typical 7-11 song on Sunday morning where God is awesome in a seeker sensitive context.  Remember “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31); and that this is addressed to God’s people.





Princeton edu defines awesome as:

            -inspiring awe or admiration or wonder

Which is ok, and we look at it and say yeah if something is awesome it does do that.  And make no mistake it is a great understanding if used for a sunset or standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon but does it cut it for describing God … not quite; I don’t think.

Webster’s 1828 did not define awesome but he did define its root – awe as:

To be astonished
  - Fear mingled with admiration or reverence; reverential fear.

  - Fear; dread inspired by something great, or terrific.

To strike with fear and reverence; to influence by fear, terror or respect;

It is interesting to see the first mention of this word in many if not most translations which gets to the root of “fear or dread.”  Its absolute first mention ‘yare’ is found in Gen 3:10 where Adam, upon being ‘caught’ in his sin states “…I was afraid.”  And I think this is where Princeton misses it and Webster hits it on the head.  In virtually every case of awe or awesome in scripture there is an accompanying fear and reverence when applied to God and to a lesser extent the angels as well.

Abraham used the absence of fear of God as an excuse to lie about Sarah being his sister (Gen 20:11) and here speaks of reverence.  Jacob though uses a slightly different meaning when Laban had pursued him when Rachael stole the household gods (Gen 31:25-42).  But here it is clearly evident that fear in terms of personal injury is in view (Gen 31:42) with the use of ‘pachad’.

But ‘yare’ is described as a dreadful fear of something or someone.  Look at Prov3:7-8,
“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”  If we turn this over we see that not turning from evil is to not fear the Lord and to be wise in your own eyes.  This leads to sickness; and the sickness of the flesh is one thing but in view here is a sickness of the soul.  And the man who is soul sick needs to be filled with a healthy awe (fear) of God. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Christ Emptied Himself


Today I wish to look briefly at Philippians 2:5-11 with an eye towards its Christological focus.

The focus of this very important passage is the attitude of Christ Jesus, its manifestation, and its result.  It begins “Have this attitude … which was … in Christ Jesus.”  The passage also expresses the preexistence of Christ (v 6) as He existed in the “form” of God which must have been Spirit (John 4:24).  Christ’s attitude was one of submission to the Divine plan which included His empting Himself.  The question becomes of what did He empty Himself of?  From our text “emptied Himself” (v 7) from the Greek ‘Kenoo’ meaning, “to make empty” and is a description of the process of God’s incarnation also known as Kenosis.  

Some maintain that God, when becoming a man, divested Himself of some of His attributes.  That is, God subtracting some qualities of deity to become a man.  The Kenosis they espouse then jeopardizes the true incarnation because it puts in doubt the full indwelling of God among men in the person of Jesus.  However, God’s immutability negates the very possibility of change meaning that if God removed any of His attributes He would in turn cease to be God.

Therefore and contrariwise, He is fully God and fully man.  He is God with “all the rights and privileges” this entails.  He was fully man with all of the human limitations of a body of flesh…Yet with out sin or a sin nature.  As to ‘Kenoo’ His “empting Himself,” it was of His position with the Father that He empted Himself of, for He left Heaven, to humble Himself by taking on the likeness of sinful flesh and subjugated Himself to God the Father and to sinful man.  

As such, He exemplifies to us a model of submission to higher authority and for that God the Father has exalted Him (v 9) Kurios – “supreme in authority” LORD (v 11).  This process created, as one esteemed scholar states, Two natures, Two wills, Two minds, and Two modes of presence.  As Ryrie notes though, the “empting” process was necessitated that He may add humanity which is the overriding theme of the passage and not of what He emptied Himself of.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Omnipresent

As we continue looking at God’s attributes we come to the second jewel in the crown of God’s Holiness … His being Omnipresent.  I guess we should have in our last meeting defined exactly what is meant by the prefix Omni.  Omni, from the Latin ‘omnis’ simply means ‘all.’  This means that technically, as we speak of God, we could prefix each attribute of His with Omni since what ever He is, in terms of character, His is all of.  He is Omnilove, Omniwrath, Omnijustice, etc.


So Webster’s 1828 states of Omnipresent (and as you might have expected):

            Present in all places at the same time; ubiquitary.
                        (ubiquitary) – existing every where or in all places.


Upon reflection one comes to the understanding that this is a very practical attribute of God which describes His presence in every place at the same time!  As a result there is nowhere in the universe that lies outside of God's cognition and care.  A man can spend his entire life avoiding God but in the end he finds that God is ultimately unavoidable!  David recognized this stating that where ever he was God was there (Ps 139:7-12).  God is without circumference, He knows no bounds and His being every where at once is hard for us to grasp.  

We can only be one place at one time, but God is everywhere at the same time.  Our problem is that we have nothing to compare to it.  For instance, God all powerful; and we can slightly grasp that concept because we have power and strength.  He is all wise; and our level of wisdom although very limited by comparison give us some level of understanding.  But there is no sense in which we are can be present in two places at once much less everywhere!  Even though I am sure children would argue that it seems their mother can be at times.  But it is this limitation that omnipresence is mysterious to us

Now we're not alone in this since Satan is Not Omnipresent.  In fact all other things/beings are restricted to a given place at a given time.  And this is a new thought for many people.  Some have in mind that Satan is like a "junior God" who could do everything God could do, only at a lower level.  But because Satan is a created being, he is limited and localized (Job 1:6), as are all the angels and demons.  This should give us great comfort and while we would agree that Satan works today through a vast army of demons who work his infernal will (in total subjection to God); he himself is no more omnipresent than you or I.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing Pt 6

As we have seen Whitefield states that cursing and swearing is made altogether more heinous in that it does not have any natural temptation.  We really must concede that observation for its only avenue for escape (cursing that is) is an unbridled tongue.  I would suppose (not to paint with a broad brush here) that one who has such a tongue also has a problem (i.e. sin) with other areas of speech such as gossip, slander, or lying (call them white lies if you wish but a lie don’t care who tells it).  To catch up on the post (highly recommended) look here.  So …Consider! 



The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing


IV. But it is time for me to proceed to give my Fourth and last reason, why common swearing is so exceeding sinful; and that is, Because it is such an extremity of sin, that can only be matched in hell, where all are desperate, and without hope of mercy.

The damned devils, and damned souls of men in hell, may be supposed to rave and blaspheme in their torments, because they know that the chains wherein they are held, can never be knocked off; but for men that swim in the river of God's goodness, whose mercies are renewed to them every morning, and who are visited with fresh tokens of his infinite unmerited loving-kindness every moment; for these favorite creatures to set their mouths against heaven, and to blaspheme a gracious, patient, all-bountiful God; is a height of sin which exceeds the blackness and impiety of devils and hell itself.

And now, after what has been here offered, to show the heinousness of profane cursing and swearing in common conversation, may I not very justly address myself to you in the words of the text, "Therefore I say unto you, Swear not at all;" since it is a sin that has no temptation in nature, nor brings any pleasure or profit to the committer of it; since it hardens infidels in their infidelity, and affords sad causes of grief and lamentation to every honest Christian; since it is a sin that generally grows into a habit, and lastly, such a sin that can only be matched in hell.


-continued-

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Phil



Glenn Beck - Mormonism and Evangelicals

 As Glenn Beck gains in popularity I think it a good thing to separate his political views from his religious.  So unless he has recently recanted his prior stated beliefs he is a Mormon and simply means that it’s hard to have the wrong Christ and arrive at the correct answer to life and eternal security.  I do understand is popularity at least politically given today’s environment but while I was in the basement archives (located in a secret underground vault at Phil’s house) I came across this classic post from 9-05.  Here Phil is critiquing a book written by Dr. Robert Millet in which he (Millet) tries to say that Mormons really are Christian after all.  Much of the following is cast highlighting the differences between Millet’s belief and that of Dr. MacArthur’s since Millet attempts to say that MacArthur in essence agrees with him.  But Phil in essence says “that dog won’t hunt” … Consider!



Peddling Mormonism as mainstream Christianity
Why the Campaign to Seek Rapprochement between Evangelicals and Cultists?

Phil Johnson
(First posted 07 September 2005)

Back in May [2005], a few weeks before I joined the Christian blogosphere, there was quite a lot of controversy when an erstwhile evangelical publisher (Eerdmans) released a book by Mormon scholar Dr. Robert Millet (professor of religion at Brigham Young University). The book, (A Different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints) was Millet's attempt to argue that Mormonism is both biblically and creedally within the bounds of historic Christian orthodoxy.

I realize the controversy over that issue is yesterday's news as far as the blogosphere is concerned. Both Eric Svendsen and James White (among others) did a superb job responding to some of the post-evangelical quislings who thought it was wonderfully even-handed and genteel for Eerdmans to be broad-minded enough to publish an apologia for Mormonism. (Ironically, some of these very same quasi-evangelicals who plead for pious deference to Mormon theology can't seem to find it within themselves to treat Baptists with any kind of respect at all.)

Even though I missed the initial buzz about Millet's book, I still want to weigh in on a certain aspect of this controversy that has annoyed me for some six or seven years. I'm talking about the way Dr. Millet and his fans (both Mormons and post-evangelicals) continually invoke my pastor's name as if he were friendly to their cause.

He's not.

This is neither mine nor John MacArthur's first attempt to set the record straight. (I'll be posting some past correspondence on the issue in the next few days.) John MacArthur has repeatedly attempted to make his position absolutely clear: He does not regard Mormonism as legitimate Christianity—not even close. But you might get the opposite impression from some of Millet's publicity, and especially from his Internet groupies' postings.

Tuesday I read an Internet forum where a Mormon missionary was attempting to convince some naive evangelical that MacArthur's "lordship doctrine" asserts the very same soteriology as Mormonism. The Mormon guy claimed the Bible is full of verses that deny the principle of sola fide and make salvation a cooperative work between God and the sinner, just the way the Mormon "gospel" teaches. That, he insisted, is also John MacArthur's view.

No, it's not.

Millet's Internet fan club also seems intent on trying to get as much public-relations mileage for their side out of the fact that MacArthur once met personally with Millet (at Millet's request) to discuss theological issues. Floating around in various Internet forums are some romanticized accounts of the Millet-MacArthur talks that would have you believe the two men see one another as fellow-warriors in a common battle against easy-believism.

Millet's book itself strives to leave that same impression. Although Millet hasn't really grasped the first principles of what MacArthur actually teaches, he quotes frequently but selectively from MacArthur, apparently attempting to give the impression that MacArthur believes the sinner's own works are instrumental in justification.

How familiar, really, is Millet with the doctrinal stance of John MacArthur? The publicity for Millet's book at Amazon.com includes a snippet from a Publishers Weekly review that says, "Millet is as at home in the writings of such evangelical heroes as C.S. Lewis, J.B. Phillips, John MacArthur and Max Lucado as he is in the teachings of LDS prophets like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and Gordon Hinckley."

"At home in the writings of . . . MacArthur"? Hardly. No one who has been even casually attentive to John MacArthur's ministry could possibly imagine that Millet is representing MacArthur correctly. MacArthur has always regarded Mormonism as a dangerous, heretical cult that is opposed to true Christianity. And he said so plainly to Millet when the two of them met.

It was a conversation between theological adversaries, not a conclave of potential allies.

John MacArthur's meeting with Dr. Millet took place in August 1997. That meeting was nothing more than a discussion of Mormon-evangelical differences in a cordial environment. It wasnot, as some have suggested a "dialogue" about Mormon-evangelical rapprochement. MacArthur was congenial but clear. In the meeting itself he repeatedly stressed his conviction that there is a great gulf between Mormonism and true Christianity. He told Millet in plain, unvarnished words that Mormonism worships a different god, follows a different christ, and proclaims a different gospel from authentic New Testament Christianity.

MacArthur's position on this has never wavered. He believes and teaches that Mormonism is not true Christianity in any historic or biblical sense, but is a classic cult. Indeed, Mormonism is similar in many ways to the Gnostic heresies that plagued the church for centuries. Mormonism and genuine biblical, evangelical Christianity are in effect antithetical, sharing no common spiritual ground whatsoever.


Mormonism is pseudo-Christianity.

In the eight years since his meeting with Dr. Millet, MacArthur has often summarized his concerns about Mormonism by pointing out four significant, unbridgeable chasms between Mormonism and authentic biblical Christianity. Here, in writing, is MacArthur's own list of four foundational truths where Mormons and evangelicals take perfectly incompatible positions. (This list is routinely sent to people who ask about MacArthur's stance on Mormonism).
  1. The issue of authority. Christians believe the Bible is God's authoritative, inerrant, unchanging and complete self-revelation (Jude 3). Scripture is the touchstone to which all other truth-claims must be brought (Isaiah 8:20). The sole and sufficient authority by which all controversies in spiritual matters are to be determined is none other than God's Spirit speaking through Scripture.
         By contrast, Mormons consider The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants as additional authoritative revelation, thereby undermining the true authority of Scripture and violating the principle of Revelation 22:18.

  1. The doctrine of God. Christians believe there is one God who eternally exists in three co-equal Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
         Mormons reject the doctrine of the Trinity, believing that there are many worlds controlled by different gods.
  
  1. The supremacy of Christ. Christians believe Jesus Christ is pre-existent God who became a man in His incarnation while maintaining His full deity.
         Mormons claim Jesus was a "spirit child" of Mary and Elohim (and the brother of Lucifer) who has now been elevated to the level of deity.

  1. The means of justification. Christians believe justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
         Mormons believe a person's works in this life will determine his or her status in the life to come, and that "salvation" is actually a progression toward godhood.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Pain of a Friend

Hello all,

I want to take this opportunity to ask that you to remember a co-worker and his family as he deals with the death of his father.  While he will remain anonymous, I have come to respect him for his character and honest approach to life.  I sense from him that he loved his father dearly even though work separated them by distance and he will miss him greatly. 

I will not be presumptuous and tell you what to pray for as I know you already know what to ask for; just in your prayers as God brings him to you remembrance, please do so…

With my deepest thanks

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Foundational Truths – God – Omnipotent

Perhaps no attribute of God speaks directly to His HOLINESS than our next three.  And perhaps none are as well known (at least in word) as they are.  Many of His attributes seem to meld together and it sometimes can be quite difficult to distinguish many of them from their counterpart.  I suppose it true that an infinite God would also have infinite attributes but it seems that if one could arrive at a single unifying attribute of God it most assuredly would be His Holiness and closely found would be His Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience.

Webster’s 1828 states of Omnipotent as:

1. Almighty; possessing unlimited power; all powerful.  

2. Having unlimited power of a particular kind.

(i.e. one that is omnipotent has omnipotence)

Now at the onset we must admit that omnipotence (at least the term) is not found in Scripture but it is clearly on display to all who will see.  It was the testimony of the Lord to Abraham Gen 18:14 that nothing is to difficult for the LORD even opening the womb of Sarah long past the age of child bearing.  Once Job was reminded of his place  he stated that God can do all things(Job 42:2).  Jesus stated in Mt 19:26 that all things are possible with God.  And God directly declares that He is the Alpha and Omega…the Almighty in Rev 1:8.

He displays His omnipotence in the act of creating (Gen 1:1 ff.) and sustaining that which He has created (Col 1:17b; Heb 1:3).  His Omnipotence is displayed in His providence over the affairs of mankind (Gen. 45:4 – 8; Ex. 4:11; Dan 4:17 – 37; Acts 12:21 – 24).  His omnipotence is over the hosts of heaven (Dan 4:35; Heb 1:14) as well as Satan and his minions (Job 1:12; 2:6; Luke 22:31, 32).  So that for a word that is not in Scripture it sure turns up quite a bit and this is but a partial look.

Now Webster is very correct in stating that Omnipotence is “Almighty; possessing unlimited power; all powerful,” but notice his second treatment of the word.  If one is omnipotent they have “unlimited power of a particular kind.”  And this is very fascinating for it means that God’s Love is all powerful just as His Wrath is.  His Justice as well as His Mercy is all powerful so to is His Grace so that it proves irresistible to the sinner to whom God has decided to give it to.  Why a man could no more resist His Grace than He could His Wrath.

Now although God has all power He cannot do that which contradicts His Holy character or essence and thus He cannot annihilate Himself because He is eternal, immutable, and all wise.  He cannot lie because He is truth (Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18).  He cannot not keep His Word because He is faithful (2Ti 2:13).  God cannot be tempted by evil (James 1:13). The omnipotence of God gives every saint a firm foundation to trust Him and confidence in His ability to keep His precious and magnificent promises in Scripture. 

Thankfully only God has what the power hungry can only dream of.  And that’s a good thing.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing Pt 5

In prior installments we have seen Whitefield's charge that the sin of profane cursing and swearing does not offer the offender any pleasure or satisfaction and that it is a sin that is so often and easily repeated increasing its occurrence.  Next we look upon its affect upon the lost.  Consider!




The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing



III. But Thirdly, what makes the sin of profane swearing appear yet more exceeding sinful, is, that it hardens infidels against the Christian religion.

It is the Apostle Peter's advice to the married persons of his time, that they should walk as became the gospel of Christ, that those who were without, might be won to embrace the Christian religion, by seeing and observing their pious conversation coupled together with fear. And what the Apostle presses on married persons, we find elsewhere enjoined on each particular member of the church. Accordingly we are commanded by our blessed Lord, to "let our light to shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven;" And the Apostle Paul bids us "walk circumspectly towards them that are without, redeeming the time;" that is, embracing all opportunities to do them good, "because the days are evil." But alas! in what a direct contradiction does the profane swearer live to this and such-like precepts, who, instead of gaining proselytes to Christ from the unbelieving part of the world, does all he can to oppose it! For how can it be expected, that infidels should honor God, when Christians themselves despise him; or that any should embrace our religion, when professors of it themselves make so light of one of its strictest commands? No; to our grief and shame be it spoken, it is by reason of such impieties as these, that our holy religion (the best and purest in itself) is become a by-word among the heathen; that the sacred authority of the holy Jesus and his doctrine is despised; and "God's name (as it is written) blasphemed among the Gentiles."

These cannot but be sad stumbling-blocks and offenses in the way of our brethren's conversion; "But woe be to those men by whom such offenses come." We may say of them, as our blessed Lord did of Judas, "It had been better for such men, that they had never been born;" or, as he threatens in another place, "It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for such sinners."

But this is not all; As profane swearing must undoubtedly harden those in their infidelity, that are without, so must it no less grieve and give great offense to those hones and sincere persons that are within the church. We hear of David's complaining and crying out, "Woe is me, that I am constrained to dwell with Mesech, and to have my habitation amongst the tents of Kedar;" that is, that he was obliged to live and converse with a people exceedingly wicked and profane. And St. Peter tells us, that "Lot's righteous soul was grieved day by day, whilst he saw and observed the ungodly conversation of the wicked." And no doubt it was one great part of our blessed Master's sufferings whilst on earth, that he was compelled to converse with a wicked and perverse generation, and to hear his heavenly Father's sacred name profaned and scoffed at by unrighteous and wicked men. And surely it cannot but pierce the heart of every true and sincere Christian, of every one that does in any measure partake of the spirit of his master, to hear the multitude of oaths and curses which proceed daily and hourly out of the mouths of many people, and those too, whose liberal education, and seeming regard for the welfare of religion, one would think, should teach them a more becoming behavior. 

To hear the great and terrible name of God polluted by men, which is adored by angels; and to consider how often that sacred name is profancd in common discourse, which we are not worthy to mention in our prayers; this, I say, cannot but make each of them cry out with holy David, "Woe is me, that I am constrained to dwell with Mesech, and to have my habitation amongst the tents of Kedar." And though the blasphemous and profane discourses of others, will not be imputed to sincere persons for sin, so long as they "have no fellowship with such hellish fruits of darkness, but rather reprove them;" yet it will greatly enhance the present guilt, and sadly increase the future punishment of every profane swearer, by whom such offenses come. 

For if, as our Savior tells us, "it had been better for a man to have a mill-stone tied around his neck, than that he should offend one of his little once, (that is, the weakest of his disciples) how much sorer punishment will they be thought worthy of," who not only cause God's name to be blasphemed among the Gentiles, and the religion of our dear Redeemer to be abhorred; but who make his saints to weep and mourn, and vex their righteous souls from day to day, by their ungodly, profane, and blasphemous conversation? Surely, as God will put the tears of the one into his bottle, so it will be just in him to punish the other with eternal sorrow, for all their ungodly and hard speeches, and cast them into a lake of fire and brimstone, where they shall be glad of a drop of water to cool those tongues, with which they have so often blasphemed the Lord of Hosts, and grieved the people of our God.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Terminology - Profanity -continued-

When we last met to consider a term we looked at the definition of profane or profanity and we determined that profanity, as we culturally know it, is not a biblical concept.  However, that does not mean the Scriptures do not speak to this issue.  In reading and conducting research I came across the following piece that really sums up the issue biblically.  It is not so much a reply from Dr. Wayne Grudem to Dr. John Piper (who had expressed regret at language he had used at the 07 Passion conference), as much as it is an offer of help and clarification.  Dr. Piper's forthright admission of regret is here and Dr. Grudem's address is located here.  I have listed below Dr. Grudem's address here as I think it gets to the heart of the issue quickly and very biblically.  Please consider!


John, 

I saw on Justin's blog (the Gospel Coalition) a link to your comments on your use of "strong language" at Passion07. I'm glad you said that now you regret saying it and thankful that you were willing to say this.

I'm not sure if this will be helpful but I've thought of such language as a question of having a reputation for "cleanness" in our speech, as in the rest of life, out of concern for how that reflects on the gospel and on God whom we represent.

A number of different words can denote the same thing but have different connotations, some of them recognized as "unclean" or "offensive" by the culture.

Examples:

  • urination: taking a leak, pee, "p---"
  • defication: poop, "cr--", "sh--"
  • sexual intercourse: sleeping with someone, "f---"
  • rear end: backside, "a--"
Speaking of these things and using different words for them is not contrary to any biblical command (and so it is different from taking the Lord's name in vain, which is explicitly forbidden), but we are also commanded to maintain a reputation for cleanliness:

  • ESV Titus 2:10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
  • ESV Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
  • ESV Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
  • ESV Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Using the words commonly thought to be offensive in the culture seems to me to be sort of the verbal equivalent of not wearing deodorant and having body odor, or of going around with spilled food on our shirts all the time. Someone might argue that not wearing deodorant or wearing dirty clothes are not morally wrong things in themselves, but my response is that they do give needless offense and cause others to think of us as somewhat impure or unclean. So, I think, does using words commonly thought to be "obscene" or "offensive" or "vulgar" in the culture generally. Plus it encourages others to act in the same way. So in that way it brings reproach on the church and the gospel.

I remember a long time ago you mentioned to me that when you were in jail for Operation Rescue you listened at night to the talk of prisoners in the cell block, and how their talk was just filled with vulgar bathroom language and sex language. It struck me at the time how a person's purity or impurity of speech is often an indicator of purity or impurity of heart. (ESV Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.)

As for your comment about finding language "as offensive as that" in the Bible, I'm not sure. It's difficult for us to be sure about the connotations of words in an ancient culture. When I was in seminary I remember another student arguing that Paul's use of skubalon in Philippians 3:8 (For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ) was just like using "sh--" today. I thought that sounded right. But later I found that the word has a broader range of meaning and I'm not sure it had the offensive overtones that "sh--" does today in English. (BDAG: useless or undesirable material that is subject to disposal, refuse, garbage [in var. senses, ‘excrement, manure, garbage, kitchen scraps’]). In translating the ESV we rendered that term in Phil. 3:8 as "rubbish," not as a more offensive word. I think that was a good decision. 

All this is to say I think you were right to express regret for saying what you said. 

Again, out of respect for your time, please don't feel that any response is necessary. I am so thankful for you and for your faithfulness to the Lord. 

Wayne