Sunday, November 30, 2008

two ages

In the Bible, this age refers to the present course of human history while the phrase the age to come refers to the age of redemption. The latter is realized with the coming of Jesus Christ, his bodily resurrection, and his exaltation. Kim Riddlebarger describes these as follows:

The period of time between the first and second advents of Christ - the time between the establishment of Christ's kingdom as described in the Gospels and the consummation of all things - is the same period described in Revelation 20 as a "thousand years." This means the so-called millennium is a present reality and not a future hope. The events depicted in Revelation 20 refer not to the future but to the present. The thousand years is that same period of time in which citizens of this age await the age to come. However, given the present reality of the kingdom of God (Mt 12.28; Lk 10.1-20; 17.20-21; Rom 14.17) and the work of the Holy Spirit (Eph 1.13-14), the age to come is already a present reality for believers in Jesus Christ. This tension between the already and the not yet characterizes much of New Testament eschatology as Christians await the final consummation of Christ's present kingdom on the great and glorious day of the Lord Jesus.

Clearly Jesus saw two distinct ages (Mt 12.32; Lk 18.29-30; Lk 20.34-35). Luke records this age as being temporal in nature in that it is characterized by marriage while the age to come is eternal being characterized by resurrection life and immortality. Paul speaks in a similar manner (Eph 1.21). There are two distinct consecutive ages yet Christ's rule is already a present reality.

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it's beginning

Not yet President Obama is already instilling hope ... not. At tomorrow's UN conference the delegates will see "a video of Mr Obama, in only his second major policy commitment, pledging that America is now about to play the leading role in the fight to “save the planet” from global warming." Crap.

Here's what I really had to choke back some emotion on. In regard to global warming, "Mr Obama begins by saying that 'the science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear'. 'Sea levels,' he claims, 'are rising, coastlines are shrinking, we've seen record drought, spreading famine and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.'" Yet in regard to when a baby gets human rights, that's above his pay grade.

I'm not surprised. The thing that really bothers me is that 52% of us in the US and more globally have hope in him.

Well, we now have our first Emergent President.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

the resurrection

The first coming of Christ and his resurrection ensured that in the present age, Christians are already raised with him. Christ's resurrection from the dead also ensured that we believers will be raised bodily at the end of the age. ~ Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism

1 Cor 15.42-44 - So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

Heb 9.27-28 - And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

We are clearly dealing with two ages; the current age in which we find two kingdoms in conflict and the future glorious age in which we live eternally with our great King (Mt 12.32; Lk 18.29-30; 20.34-35; Eph 1.21; Rom 12.2; 1 Cor 1.20; 2.6-8; 3.`8; 2 Cor 4.4; Gal 1.4; Eph 2.2; 1 Tim 6.17; Tit 2.12; 1 Cor 6.9-10; 15.50; Gal 5.21; Eph 5.5; 1 Thess 2.2, 2 Thess 1.5; 2 Tim 4.18).

don't stop believing

Yesterday I placed an order for Mike Wittmer's Don't Stop Believing. Per Wittmer, his book will deal with some of today's "hotly contested issues".
  • Is it possible to know anything?
  • Does the kingdom of God include non-Christians?
  • Is hell for real and forever?
  • Must you believe something to be saved?
  • Can you belong before you believe?
  • Is the cross divine child abuse?
  • Which is worse: homosexuals or the bigots who persecute them?
I'm anxious to read his thoughts. There was time when these would have been considered no-brainers but today's spin-doctors have so distorted truth that many are deceived or at least feel guilty for thinking contrary to the current weltgeist. If his recent blog post is any indicator of what is to come, this should be a good read since he appears capable of addressing these topics head-on, a tact many today run from.

One example is Wittmer dealing with Doug Pagitt's faulty thinking that total depravity equates to "people suck" and therefore this could not possibly be truth. Wittmer rightly states:

People are created in the image of God, and so they have enormous value and, through common grace, the ability to do good to others. But people are also born rebels. We may often be good to each other, but none of us is good toward God. Adam and Eve bit the fruit in a futile bid to be like God, and their children have not stopped chasing the dream.

Our sin is why we need saving. From this follows the church’s traditional views on evangelism, hell, other religions, homosexuality, the substitutionary atonement, and the need to believe some basic facts about sin and Jesus in order to be saved.

Many of the current controversies can be traced back to the doctrine of original sin. Once this traditional domino falls, the others will quickly follow. And make no mistake, it is being pushed.

revelation 20.4-6

Moving now to Re 20.4-6 in my journey toward amillennialism ... while these verses describe a thousand-year period, there is no compelling reason to consider them as a separate thousand years from those described in Re 20.1-3.

Let's analyze this by first asking where are the thrones described in verse 4? Of the 47 times "throne" is used in Revelation, only 3 denote a place other than heaven (Leon Morris, The Revelation of St. John). Given the souls of those beheaded are seen there, it is likely that that verse 4 is consistent with the bulk of other uses of the word throne and John has shifted his focus to heaven. Therefore verses 1-3 are describing activities on earth during this period while versus 4-6 will describe activities in heaven for the same period.

Here we see those who have been persecuted and are now dead, i.e., the martyrs, as reigning with Christ (cf. Dan 7.22; Re 6.9). The last portion of verse 4, "those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands," may be interpreted a couple of ways. One possibility, is that John means all Christians who had remained true to Christ and resisted evil until the end.

Whoever they are, they come to life again (v. 4). But this is not likely a physical resurrection given Re 20.11-13 unless one believes in two bodily resurrections - believers at the beginning of the resurrection and non-believers at the end. I do not believe that (Jn 5.28-29; Acts 24.15) and therefore do not see the resurrection in verse 5 as referring to a physical one. The interpretation I prefer is simply that these are those who have physically died but as believers in Christ they now live and reign with him. Great happiness is theirs (Phil 1.23; 2 Cor 5.8; Rev 3.21).

As for the rest that are raised (v. 5), this is separate. While I believe that this is similar in nature in that it is not a physical resurrection, I believe this applies to the unbelieving dead. These do not live or reign with Christ during this period. In contrast believers who are raised again enjoy a new life in heaven. This is the case throughout the thousand year reign.

Verse 6 tells us that the "second death" has no power over the believing dead. Again, in contrast, the unbelieving dead will taste of it. They will go to a place of everlasting punishment.

Good news - we will rise to enjoy God forever beginning in this age. We will reign with Jesus and not taste death again.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

the presence of the future

Christians can enjoy fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and blessings in this present age while at the same time look forward to a final and glorious fulfillment. Because of the First Coming of Jesus Christ, we now possess the complete fulfillment and blessings of the promises concerning the messianic age. At the same time this age brings a new series of promises to be fulfilled at the end of the age. The fulfilled promises give us greater hope and anticipation of the glory yet to come.

With his first advent, the Kingdom of God and the "last days" arrived indicating that Old Testament expectation had turned to New Testament fulfillment.

Kim Riddlebarger describes three basic elements of New Testament eschatology in A Case for Amillennialism.

The first of these is that the Old Testament promise of a coming Redeemer was realized in Jesus Christ. ... With his first advent, the kingdom of God and the "last days" arrived, indicating that Old Testament expectations had turned to New Testament fulfillment.

The second basic element of New Testament eschatology is that what was understood as one glorious messianic age predicted in the Old Testament unfolded in two different ages: "this age" and "the age to come." ... The coming of Jesus Christ marked the beginning of a glorious new redemptive age with a corresponding set of blessings. Yet this new age is not fully consummated and will be fulfilled in the future. This already/not yet structure gives the New Testament a strong forward-looking focus. The New Testament contains a distinct and pronounced tension between what God has already done in fulfilling the promises of the Old Testament and what God will do yet in the future.

The third element of New Testament eschatology is that the present blessings of the coming Redeemer are the pledge of greater blessings to come. Christ's first advent guarantee his second coming.

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revelation 20.1-3

A simple outline:
  • The defeat of Satan begins with the First Coming of Christ as described in Re 12.7-9.
  • The millennial reign described in Re 20.4-6 occurs before the Second Coming of Christ. This happens before the final judgment described in Re 20.11-15.
  • The final judgment is associated with the Second Coming of Christ (cf. Re 22:12; Mt 16:27; 25:31-32; Jude 14-15; 2 Thess. 1:7-10).
In Re 20.1-3, for the purpose of keeping him from "deceiving the nations", we see Satan ("dragon", "devil") bound for a thousand years and cast into a place called the Abyss. Given the clear symbolism of the book of Revelation, it is not required to understand this thousand years as a literal thousand years. While it could mean that, it could also simply mean a long period that has a completeness to it.

Regarding the Abyss in Re 20.1, 3; since the “lake of fire” mentioned in verses 10, 14 and 15 is the place of final punishment, the Abyss is not likely that place. Rather, it is a figurative description of the way in which Satan’s activities will be curbed during the thousand-year period. How will he be curbed? One explanation is that he will be bound in a way that he cannot prevent the spread of the gospel nor gather the enemies of Christ to attack the Church.

In the Old Testament we see that all the nations of the world except Israel were under Satan’s rule. Wait, before you balk at Israel not being under Satan's rule. The idea is that unlike other nations, Israel were the recipients of God’s special revelation. They knew God’s truth about themselves. They knew about their sinfulness. And they knew about the way they could obtain forgiveness and salvation. The other nations of the world however did not know that truth and were therefore in ignorance and error (Acts 17:30). Of course there were exceptions in terms of an occasional person, family or city which came into contact with God’s special revelation. But this is a good general description. It could easily be said that these nations were deceived by Satan.

But with the First Coming of Christ things changed. Jesus gave his disciples his Great Commission (Mt. 28:19). At that point we entered the gospel era. Satan will not be able to deceive nations as he did in the past. He has been bound. We on the other hand are free to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations.

Of course that freedom is limited. Satan can still do harm even though he is bound but he cannot keep the nations from learning about the truth of God. Later (Re 20.7-9), after the thousand years are over, he will be released from his prison and will once again deceive the nations of the world. He will gather them together to fight against the people of God. But now, during the gospel age, he is bound and cannot accomplish these things.

As an "already, not yet" kind of guy, I like how this fits with my "two kingdoms in conflict" understanding of this current age. Jesus has declared to us that we are able to see the work of His Kingdom because He has bound the strongman (Mt. 12:29) - similar to the language used by John in Revelation 20. Jesus' victory over Satan in the battle of wills in the wilderness, His casting out of demons, His healing of the sick, His bringing of peace to the downtrodden - all evidence of the presence of the Kingdom of God. This is the Gospel. The Good News of the coming of the Kingdom and its availability as God's free gift to us. It is demonstration and proclamation of itself and it can now be preached to all the nations (Mt. 13:24-30, 47-50).

If not taken literally, even Jesus' words, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Lk. 10:17-18) is indication that Satan’s kingdom had just been dealt a crushing blow. Here, this binding has taken place with the missionary activity of the disciples. Further support of this concept is found in Jn 12.31-32. Here we again see language similar to Re 20 and interestingly it associated with the point that men of all nations will be drawn to Christ.

Therefore, while we now live in an age that is still influence by Satan, he has been curtailed in a way that he cannot prevent the spread of the gospel to the nations of the world and the nations cannot conquer the church - instead, the Kingdom of God is here and the church is conquering the nations.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

progressive parallelism

What if the book of Revelation was not linear but rather divided into parallel sections? Using a method called progressive parallelism (defended by William Hendriksen in More Than Conquerors), one can find identify seven of these sections in John's writing. The following summary of those sections is found in Amillennialism: Part I - Introduction by Anthony Hoekema.

The first of these seven sections is found in chapters 1-3. John sees the risen and glorified Christ walking in the midst of seven golden lampstands. In obedience to Christ’s command John now proceeds to write letters to each of the seven churches of Asia Minor. The vision of the glorified Christ together with the letters to the seven churches obviously form a unit. As we read these letters we are impressed with two things.
- First, there are references to events, people and places of the time when the book of Revelation was written.
- Second, the principles, commendations and warnings contained in these letters have value for the church of all time. These two observations, in fact, provide a clue for the interpretation of the entire book. Since the book of Revelation was addressed to the church of the first century A.D., its message had reference to events occurring at that time and was therefore meaningful for the Christians of that day. But since the book was also intended for the church through the ages, its message is still relevant for us today.

The second of these seven sections is the vision of the seven seals found in chapters 4-7. John is caught up to heaven and sees God sitting on his radiant throne. He then sees the Lamb that had been slain taking the scroll sealed with seven seals from the hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. The various seals are broken, and various divine judgments on the world are described. In this vision we see the church suffering trial and persecution against the background of the victory of Christ.

The third section, found in chapters 8-11, describes the seven trumpets of judgment. In this vision we see the church avenged, protected and victorious.

The fourth section, chapters 12-14, begins with the vision of the woman giving birth to a son while the dragon waits to devour him as soon as he is born—an obvious reference to the birth of Christ. The rest of the section describes the continued opposition of the dragon (who stands for Satan) to the church. This section also introduces us to the two beasts who are the dragon’s helpers: the beast out of the sea and the beast out of the earth.

The fifth section is found in chapters 15-16. It describes the seven bowls of wrath, thus depicting in a very graphic way the final visitation of God’s wrath on those who remain impenitent.

The sixth section, chapters 17-19, describes the fall of Babylon and of the beasts. Babylon stands for the worldly city — the forces of secularism and godlessness which are in opposition to the kingdom of God. The end of chapter 19 depicts the fall and final punishment of the dragon’s two helpers: the beast out of the sea, and the false prophet, who appears to be identified with the beast out of the earth (see 16:13).

The seventh section, chapters 20-22, narrates the doom of the dragon, thus completing the description of the overthrow of the enemies of Christ. In addition, it describes the final judgment, the final triumph of Christ and his church, and the renewed universe, here called the new heaven and the new earth.

While these are parallel, they are not duplicates either in content or exactness in time. The seventh section takes us further into the future than the other sections or at least provides more detail of later events in time. For example Rev 1.7 is an announcement, while Rev 6.12-17 gives greater insight, and Rev 20.11-15 is even more transparent. In the same way, Rev 7.15-17 can be compared and contrasted to Rev 21.1-22.5.

Revelation as a whole also has a progression. Chapters 1-11 depicts the church persecuted by the world while chapters 12-22 is more about the church's struggle with Satan and his helpers.
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The term amillennialism suggests that amillennialists either do not believe in any millennium or that they ignore the first six verses of Revelation 20, which speak of a millennial reign. Neither of these statements is true. While amillennialists do not believe in a literal thousand-year earthly reign following the return of Christ, the term amillennialism is not an accurate description. Realized millennialism may be a better term since “amillennialists” believe Revelation 20 describes a millennium but not that it is exclusively future. Realized millennialism seems more accurate. Unfortunately it is clumsy and doesn't flow well with pre- and post-millennialism so amillennialism continues in use.

as the world falls

Abortion a gift?

happy thanksgiving

Several friends, emailed or posted pieces of the following ... Happy Thanksgiving.

Henry Laurens as President of the Continental Congress issued the country's first Thanksgiving Day proclamation on Dec. 18, 1777.

That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him ­graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

porpoise-driven life

Yep ... it's here in time for the holidays ... The Porpoise-Driven Life.

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I thought this was timely given my current quest to understand amillennialism.

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baptism in the holy spirit

John Piper in This is He Who Baptizes with the Holy Spirit:

It seems to me that the term is a broad, overarching one that includes the whole great saving, sanctifying, and empowering work of the Spirit in this age. I don’t think it is a technical term that refers to one part of the Christian life—say conversion, or speaking in tongues, or a bold act of witness. It is the continual, and sometimes extraordinary, outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God’s people. It immerses them not just in one or two, but in hundreds of his powerful influences.

In other words, if you are not born again, one way to describe your need is that you need to be baptized with the Spirit. That is, you need to be plunged into God’s Spirit with the effect that you will be born again and come to faith in Christ. If you are born again, but you are languishing in a season of weakness and fear and defeat, one way to describe what you need is to be baptized in the Spirit. That is, you need a fresh outpouring of his Christ-revealing, heart-awakening, sin-defeating, boldness-producing power. Every spiritual need that we have before and after conversion is supplied by Christ immersing us in greater and lesser degrees in the Holy Spirit.


human will

God has promised certainly his grace to the humbled: that is, to the self-deploring and despairing. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled, until he comes to know that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsel, endeavours, will and works, and absolutely depending on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of another, that is, of God only. ~ Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will

To reiterate, both Arminians and Calvinists believe man has a will. The focus is more on the aspect of it being free. Now some Arminians argue that if the will isn't free then it is not a will at all. I haven't heard a good argument supporting that. They always seem as desperate and non-sensical as the Calvinist claim that the Arminian therefore doesn't think God is Sovereign.

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For when we begin to be, in the least degree, disposed to trifle, and not to hold the sacred truths in due reverence, we are soon involved in impieties, and overwhelmed with blasphemies. ~ Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will

Monday, November 24, 2008

new emergent leader

Excellent humor by Michael Toy ...


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go ahead and look

Ok - here's this week's challenge from David Rudd.

Look in the Bible for evidence of Church gatherings that include any of the following. Let me know what you find (include Scripture reference).

1. Weekly Sunday morning gatherings.

2. Weekly offerings @ said gatherings.

3. Voting.

4. Congregational Singing.

5. Exegetical preaching to a gathering of believers with spiritual transformation in mind.

6. Committees.

7. Youth Ministry.

8. Choirs.

9. Deacon Boards.

10. Buildings owned by the church body and dedicated to church usage.

Rudd contends we would find:
  • Prayer
  • People Reporting About Ministry
  • Group Discussions
  • Prayer
  • Discipline
  • Reading Letters From Other Believers
  • Did I Mention Prayer?

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

'polish' polar bear club

Ouch ... but I don't think they're Polish ...

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creation care 101

The biblical idea of redemption always includes the earth. Hebrew thought saw an essential link between man and nature. The prophets do not think of the earth as merely the indifferent theater on which man carries out his normal task but as the expression of divine glory. The Old Testament nowhere holds forth the hope of a bodiless, nonmaterial, purely “spiritual” redemption as did Greek thought. The earth is the divinely ordained scene of human existence. Furthermore, the earth has been involved in the evils which sin has incurred. There is an interrelation of nature with the moral life of man; therefore the earth must also share in God’s final redemption. The human heart, human society, and all of nature must be purged of the effects of evil, that God’s glory may be perfectly manifested in his creation. ~ George Ladd, The Presence of the Future, p59

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prophetic perspective

I found this analogy by Kim Riddlebarger helpful in understanding that a prophecy may come true more than once.

As I stand in the greater Los Angeles basin and look toward the mountains to the northeast, I see a single mountainous ridge on the horizon. Yet if I were to drive directly toward the mountains, I would soon realize that what appeared to be a single ridge was actually a series of hills, valleys, and mountains separated by many miles. So it is with some Old Testament prophecies.

The simple example is of this is Joel's prophecy of a future outpouring of God's Spirit (Joel 2.28-32; cf. Ezk 36.24-28) against Peter's claim of fulfillment at Pentecost (Acts 2.16) and obvious incompleteness (Mt 24.29-31; Lk 21.25-28).

frozen chosen

I don't get the link to Christianity but I laughed pretty hard at this one ...


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don't let 'em be pastors

Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Pastors


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oh no tony

Tony Jones ... stop it. This just in from his chat wit Rod Dreher.

"I now believe that GLBTQ [people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, queer] can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state."

Well it's not like folks didn't see this false thinking coming ...

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salvation open to all

No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief. ~ John Calvin

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crime in canada

Things are looking worse in Canada.


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Thursday, November 20, 2008

patton on calvinism

C Michael Patton writes:

One of the dozens of reasons I am a Calvinist has to do with the tension that is allowed within the Calvinistic system that is not allowed in other options. You see, the issues of Calvinism primarily center on one issue: predestination. While the sovereignty of God has its place, it does not ultimately determine where one lands. An Arminian can believe that God is sovereign to a similar degree as a Calvinist. But an Arminian cannot believe in predestination the same way as Calvinists.

Both Calvinists and Arminians believe in predestination. ... The issue has to do with the basis of this predestining.

The Calvinist says that God’s predestination has no founding in the predestined in any sense. God did not choose people based on any merit, intrinsic or foreseen. This is called unconditional predestination because there are no conditions in man that need to be met. It does not mean that God did not have any reason for choosing some and not others, but that the reason is not found in us.

The Arminian says that God’s predestination has a founding in the faith of the predestined. In other words, God looks ahead in time and discovers who will believe and who will not and chooses people based on their prior free-will choice of him.

The Arminian chooses this position because, for them, it is the only way to reconcile human freedom and God’s choice. Both are clearly taught in Scripture. Therefore, in order to have a reasonable and consistent theology, one or the other must be altered. If God unconditionally choose people, then people don’t have responsibility in their choice, good or ill. Therefore, it is not human choice that is nuanced, but God’s choice. To make sense out of this, the Arminian says that God’s choice is based on man’s choice. Therefore, we have consistency. The tension is solved. There is no tension.

However, the Calvinist is not satisfied with a redefining of God’s predestination. To the Calvinists, man is fully responsible for his choice, yet God’s election is unconditional. Therefore, there is a tension that is created between human responsibility and God’s election. This tension is left in tact since, according to the Calvinist, it is best understood this way in Scripture. To redefine predestination to suit one’s need to alleviate tension seems to be a very rationalistic approach to doctrine. While there is nothing wrong with using one’s reason to understand truth, there are problems when reason takes priority over revelation.

This is one of the mistakes that I believe the Arminian system of conditional election/predestination makes. There is no need to solve all tensions, especially when the solution comes at the expense of one’s interpretive integrity. There are many tensions in Scripture. There are many things that, while not irrational, just don’t make sense. The doctrine of the Trinity, the Hypostatic Union, creation out of nothing all fit this category. So does human responsibility and unconditional election. God’s sovereign unconditional election can stand side-by-side with man’s responsibility without creating a formal contradiction. We may not know how to reconcile these two issues, but that does not mean God does not know how. Their co-existence does not take away from their collective truthfulness.


I have had people say ... that they are not Calvinists because the system attempts to be too systematic with all its points for the sake of the system itself. I think that it is just the opposite. The Calvinistic system creates more tensions than it solves, but seeks to remain faithful to God’s word rather than human intelligibility.


Now I get it. Now I understand the attraction to Facebook. All day long I received millions of Birthday greetings. Wow! I feel good!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

no longer ashamed

Yep, that's right, I no longer need to be ashamed of sitting around Starbuck's reading my Bible.

The Christian Post reports that the best-selling ESV Study Bible, which sold out its first printing before it even hit the shelves last month, is also slated for a digital debut. The digitalized study Bible will also be accessible through Mac, PC, Windows Mobile, Palm, Google Android, and Symbian. "We are excited to make the ESV Study Bible widely accessible, initially in a wide range of best-selling print editions, and now in every possible digital format available," said Lane Dennis, president of Crossway Books & Bibles, in a news release. "Our goal as a Christian publisher is to distribute the Bible and essential resources for understanding the Bible as broadly as possible around the world." The study Bible debuted in October, and is already in its third printing.

calvin is a nice guy?

I don't know John Calvin and don't have much energy to know him - even though I wear the label "Calvinist". I've heard a lot of nasty things about him that I presumed were true and since my theology wasn't about him, I never took the time to confirm or refute any of it. Again, I just took the label for the sake of simplicity.

But now I don't know what to think. John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology is to be released in time to celebrate his 500th birthday next year. I may just pick up a copy to learn about about the man ... or I may continue to be a bit lazy and not care ...

The book has a variety of contributors - many of whom I have deep respect for; others not. As I looked over the list I thought to myself, "How bad can he be? Surely he's not as hard as some of these guys?" Yeah, probably I'll not get this one ...

the gift

What we see at the cross is the white-hot revelation of the character of God, of his love providing the price that holiness requires. The cross was his means of redeeming lost sinners and reconciling them to himself, but it was also a profound disclosure of his mercy. It is, in Paul’s words, an ‘inexpressible gift’ that leads us to wonder and worship, to praise and adore the God who has given himself to us in this way. ~ David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the church and israel

A redeemed Israel was foretold by the Old Testament prophets. The New Testament writers concluded this was fulfilled in the church as the mystical body of Christ. Some would contend for a more literal interpretation. To the believers of the time, a literal interpretation would not have made much sense (Gal 6.16; 1 Pet 2.9; Gal 3.28-29; Heb 12.22-24).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

limited thoughts

Regarding "Limited Atonement", I've copied a few words from others into this blog because I thought they did a fine job of explaining. Now it is time for my thoughts.

Theologically, I have nothing to add. To start, I think there are far too many calling themselves followers of Christ who are really universalist; a heresy requiring a completely different discussion and not one I'm up for in this blog. That aside, I think the majority of those that have issues with limited atonement are not universalists. Unfortunately, they just do not like the sound of limited atonement. In response they toss around Scriptures indicating Christ died for the world. They claim these counter the concept of limited atonement. The problem is they have not defined what we are really talking about, i.e., what do we mean when we say Christ died for the world? Because they are not universalist I really don't know what they think these verses mean. I think they only use them because the just cannot digest "limited" and they these counter that. They cannot accept atonement in the Calvinistic sense yet their ok with it in the Arminian sense simply because they avoid ugly sounding words like "limited".

Net, I see the two sides as more aligned than most think. I simply see that Arminians just don't like the sound of the logical conclusion of this aspect of our faith.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

the matrix runs on windows

Speaking of setting humanity free ...

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The meaning of the word is simply at-one-ment, i.e., the state of being at one or being reconciled, so that atonement is reconciliation. Thus it is used to denote the effect which flows from the death of Christ.

But the word is also used to denote that by which this reconciliation is brought about, viz., the death of Christ itself; and when so used it means satisfaction, and in this sense to make an atonement for one is to make satisfaction for his offences (Ex. 32:30; Lev. 4:26; 5:16; Num. 6:11), and, as regards the person, to reconcile, to propitiate God in his behalf.

By the atonement of Christ we generally mean his work by which he expiated our sins. But in Scripture usage the word denotes the reconciliation itself, and not the means by which it is effected. When speaking of Christ’s saving work, the word “satisfaction,” the word used by the theologians of the Reformation, is to be preferred to the word “atonement.” Christ’s satisfaction is all he did in the room and in behalf of sinners to satisfy the demands of the law and justice of God. Christ’s work consisted of suffering and obedience, and these were vicarious, i.e., were not merely for our benefit, but were in our stead, as the suffering and obedience of our vicar, or substitute. Our guilt is expiated by the punishment which our vicar bore, and thus God is rendered propitious, i.e., it is now consistent with his justice to manifest his love to transgressors. Expiation has been made for sin, i.e., it is covered. The means by which it is covered is vicarious satisfaction, and the result of its being covered is atonement or reconciliation. To make atonement is to do that by virtue of which alienation ceases and reconciliation is brought about. Christ’s mediatorial work and sufferings are the ground or efficient cause of reconciliation with God. They rectify the disturbed relations between God and man, taking away the obstacles interposed by sin to their fellowship and concord. The reconciliation is mutual, i.e., it is not only that of sinners toward God, but also and pre-eminently that of God toward sinners, effected by the sin-offering he himself provided, so that consistently with the other attributes of his character his love might flow forth in all its fulness of blessing to men. The primary idea presented to us in different forms throughout the Scripture is that the death of Christ is a satisfaction of infinite worth rendered to the law and justice of God (q.v.), and accepted by him in room of the very penalty man had incurred. It must also be constantly kept in mind that the atonement is not the cause but the consequence of God’s love to guilty men (John 3:16; Rom. 3:24, 25; Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:9; 4:9). The atonement may also be regarded as necessary, not in an absolute but in a relative sense, i.e., if man is to be saved, there is no other way than this which God has devised and carried out (Ex. 34:7; Josh. 24:19; Ps. 5:4; 7:11; Nahum 1:2, 6; Rom. 3:5). This is God’s plan, clearly revealed; and that is enough for us to know.

Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible dictionary

Friday, November 14, 2008

so who did christ die for?

From Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg 601.

The statements “Christ died for his people only” and “Christ died for all people” are both true in some senses, and too often the argument over this issue has been confused because of various senses that can be given to the word “for” in these two statements.

The statement “Christ died for his people only” can be understood to mean that “Christ died to actually pay the penalty for all the sins of his people only.” In that sense it is true. But when non-Reformed people hear the sentence “Christ died for his people only,” they often hear in it, “Christ died so that he could make the gospel available only to a chosen few,” and they are troubled over what they see as a real threat to the free offer of the gospel to every person. Reformed people who hold to particular redemption should recognize the potential for misunderstanding that arises with the sentence “Christ died for his people only,” and, out of concern for the truth and out of pastoral concern to affirm the free offer of the gospel and to avoid misunderstanding in the body of Christ, they should be more precise in saying exactly what they mean. The simple sentence, “Christ died for his people only,” while true in the sense explained above, is seldom understood in that way when people unfamiliar with Reformed doctrine hear it, and it therefore is better not to use such an ambiguous sentence at all.

On the other hand, the sentence, “Christ died for all people,” is true if it means, “Christ died to make salvation available to all people” or if it means, “Christ died to bring the free offer of the gospel to all people.” In fact, this is the kind of language Scripture itself uses in passages like John 6:51; 1 Timothy 2:6; and 1 John 2:2.44 It really seems to be only nit-picking that creates controversies and useless disputes when Reformed people insist on being such purists in their speech that they object any time someone says that “Christ died for all people.” There are certainly acceptable ways of understanding that sentence that are consistent with the speech of the scriptural authors themselves.

Similarly, I do not think we should rush to criticize an evangelist who tells an audience of unbelievers, “Christ died for your sins,” if it is made clear in the context that it is necessary to trust in Christ before one can receive the benefits of the gospel offer. In that sense the sentence is simply understood to mean “Christ died to offer you forgiveness for your sins” or “Christ died to make available forgiveness for your sins.” The important point here is that sinners realize that salvation is available for everyone and that payment of sins is available for everyone.

At this point some Reformed theologians will object and will warn us that if we say to unbelievers, “Christ died for your sins,” the unbelievers will draw the conclusion, “Therefore I am saved no matter what I do.” But this does not seem to be a problem in actual fact, for whenever evangelicals (Reformed or non-Reformed) speak about the gospel to unbelievers, they are always very clear on the fact that the death of Christ has no benefit for a person unless that person believes in Christ. Therefore, the problem seems to be more something that Reformed people think unbelievers should believe (if they were consistent in reasoning back into the secret counsels of God and the relationship between the Father and Son in the counsels of the Trinity at the point of Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice on the cross). But unbelievers simply do not reason that way: they know that they must exercise faith in Christ before they will experience any benefits from his saving work. Moreover, it is far more likely that people will understand the sentence “Christ died for your sins” in the doctrinally correct sense that “Christ died in order to offer you forgiveness for your sins” rather than in the doctrinally incorrect sense, “Christ died and completely paid the penalty already for all your sins.”

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friday is for boogie

Careful - some will find this funny, others repulsive, and still others pornographic.


where's the disagreement?

Calvinists and Arminians agree on several points (although one is often hard pressed to see that as the two sides engage each other) but don't be confused, the two views are not compatible and the differences matter. Continuing with 1Jn 2.2, the question arises, “When Christ died, did he actually pay the penalty only for the sins of those who would believe in him, or for the sins of every person who ever lived?”

For those holding to the general redemption view there is the problem of people who are eternally condemned to hell suffer the penalty for all of their own sins. The penalty for their sins could not have been fully taken by Christ, they are suffering in hell right? The response to this is often that people suffer in hell because of the sin of rejecting Christ, even though their other sins were paid for. I do not see that as a reasonable argument because some have never heard of him to be able to reject him and because texts such as Ro 5:6–8, 13–16 indicate that this suffer for personal sin.

On the side of particular redemption is the is the concept that our salvation is completely paid for by Christ. This is more than a potentiality, it is an actuality and one that is in eternal unity in the plans of God (Ro 8:28–30).

Arminians rightly understand passages that speak about “the world” mean that sinners generally will be saved and not that every individual will be saved. John 1:29 does not mean that Christ actually removes the sins of every single person in the world. In the same sense, 2 Cor. 5:19 does not mean that every person was reconciled to God; only that sinners generally were reconciled to God. Both sides agree that not all sinners will be saved or were reconciled but that these groups in general, not necessarily every person in them, were the objects of God’s redeeming work. Reworded, these texts mean that “God so loved sinners that he gave his only Son...” without implying that every sinner in the whole world will be saved.

So when we talk of Christ dying “for” the whole world we are referring to the free offer of the gospel made to all people. John 6:51 is Christ speaking of himself as the Bread that came down from heaven offered to people who if willing receive for themselves (c.f. John 6:33). Redeeming life is brought into the world but not every single person in the world will have that life. John 6:35, 50–51, Jesus came to bring life into the world but not that he actually paid the penalty for the sins of everyone who would ever live.

Christ is the atoning sacrifice now available for the sins of everyone in the world. "For the world" simply means “concerning” or “with respect to” the world. John is simply saying that Christ is the atoning sacrifice who is available to pay for the sins of anyone in the world. In the same way, Paul says that Christ “gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6). We understand this to mean a ransom available for all people, without exception.

Heb. 2:9 refers to every one of Christ’s people, i.e., every one who is redeemed not everyone “in the whole world”. This is clear in the context of Heb 2.10-13. The same language is used in Heb 8:11 and 12:8. In both cases the “all” clearly means "all of God's people" rather than "all people". One of the common Arminian sound bites is "what part of all don't you get?" The response is, "I get it all in context. What about you?" :-)

Finally, while the verses that talk of Christ’s dying for his sheep, his church, or his people do not explicitly deny that Christ died for others as well, their reference to his death for his people strongly suggests a particular redemption.

The point is, I don't think Arminians and Calvinists are different in terms of the scope of Christ's work on the Cross. I think Arminians simple can't say the word, "limited". Frankly so do I which is why I like "particular" or as RC Sproul prefers, "definite atonement".

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

definite atonement

The following while not quoted are my notes from RC Sproul's Essential truths of the Christian faith.

Definite atonement focuses on the question of the design of Christ’s atonement, that is, what is God’s intent in sending Jesus to the cross.

Unless one is a universalist I think we agree that the effect of Christ’s work on the cross is limited to those who believe. His atonement is not for the benefit of unbelievers. Clearly not everyone is saved through His death even though the merit of Christ’s death is sufficient to pay for the sins of all.

The a popular catchphrase for this; Christ’s atonement is sufficient for all, but efficient only for some.

That I think this is where most of us agree. The disagreement however is that those who deny definite atonement believe Christ’s work of atonement was designed by God to atone for the sins of everyone in the world. Salvation is made possible for everyone but not made certain for anyone. It's design is unlimited and indefinite.

On the other hand the Reformed View is that the atonement was designed and intended only for the elect. Sproul writes, "Christ laid down His life for His sheep and only for His sheep. Furthermore, the Atonement insured salvation for all the elect. The Atonement was an actual, not merely potential, work of redemption. In this view there is no possibility that God’s design and intent for the Atonement could be frustrated. God’s purpose in salvation is sure."

Many in the non-Reformed camp use 1 John 2:2 as scriptural proof against definite atonement. Care however should be taken that this does not becomes a proof-text for universalism. It is hard to use this as the non-Reformed thinker would like and not land in the camp of universalism. Again, Sproul writes, "If Christ propitiated or satisfied God’s demands for the punishment of the sins of everybody, then clearly everybody would be saved. If God punished sins that were already propitiated then He would be unjust. If the text is understood to mean that everyone’s sins have been conditionally propitiated (contingent upon faith and repentance) then we are back to the original question of only the elect satisfying the conditions."

So the Reformed View seeks another way to view this text and attention is turned to the word "our". If John is speaking only of fellow believers, then the previous interpretation of the text would apply. However the Reformer would claim that John may merely be saying that Christ is not only a propitiation for our sins (Jewish believers) but for the elect found also throughout the whole world. Is it proof? No. Is it plausible? I think yes. But I'm certain it is not as the non-Reformed person claims since that leads me to universalism.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

what's up with 1 jn 2.2?

I just made two posts re: 1 Jn 2.2, why? Well Trav asked some decent questions regarding Limited Atonement - the toughest letter in TULIP - in the comments to a recent post. I thought I would start some random posts in response. I'll do what I can this week. Next week I'm in Istanbul but I'll get back to it when I return.

Actually, there several Scriptures used to support the non-Reformed view (General Redemption or Unlimited Atonement). These seem to indicate that in some sense Christ died for the whole world (John 1:29; John 3:16; John 6:51; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 John 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9). Other passages appear to speak of Christ dying for those who will not be saved (Rom. 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:11; 2 Peter 2:1; cf. Heb. 10:29).

I think these are worth a look. But before digging deeper, as Wayne Grudem properly suggests, we should at least start with what both sides agree on. They are:

1. Not all will be saved.

2. A free offer of the gospel can rightly be made to every person ever born. It is completely true that “whoever will” may come to Christ for salvation, and no one who comes to him will be turned away. This free offer of the gospel is extended in good faith to every person.

3. All agree that Christ’s death in itself, because he is the infinite Son of God, has infinite merit and is in itself sufficient to pay the penalty of the sins of as many or as few as the Father and the Son decreed. The question is not about the intrinsic merits of Christ’s sufferings and death, but about the number of people for whom the Father and the Son thought Christ’s death to be sufficient payment at the time Christ died.

Just for the record, I love R.C. Sproul's adaptation:
  • Radical Corruption
  • Sovereign Election
  • Limited Atonement
  • Effectual Grace
  • Preservation of the Saints
But it doesn't spell out a nice flower so ...

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propitiation for all?

John Piper writes of 1Jn 2.2b;

The final word of the text is that we must not keep this consolation for ourselves alone. “And he is not the propitiation for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world.”

John does not mean that all God’s wrath against the sins of every person in the world has been propitiated, because then every person in the world would be saved. “He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him” (John 3:36). The wrath of God is propitiated only for those who obey the Son of God. (Cf. Romans 3:25.)

What John means can best be seen when we compare the closest parallel to this verse in his writings, namely, John 11:52. Caiaphas predicts the death of Jesus like this: “He prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” Or as Jesus says in John 10:15–16, “I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold; I must bring them also.”

In other words there are children of God, or sheep, scattered through the whole world. As John says in Revelation 5:9, Christ was slain and by his blood didst ransom men for God from every tongue and tribe and people and nation.” He did not ransom everybody. He gave his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He did not propitiate the wrath of God against everybody. But he laid down his life for the sheep. They are scattered throughout the world in every tongue and tribe and people and nation.

No one who enjoys the forgiveness of Jesus can be content to hog it for himself. He is not the propitiation for our sins only. There are other sheep that are scattered throughout the whole world. Their sins, too, are covered. And the last commandment of Jesus was, “Go make disciples out of them from every people.”

... John’s message to us ... is: Don’t sin! It is tremendously and terribly serious. But if you do sin, don’t despair because your attorney is the Son of the Judge. He is righteous and he makes his case for you not on the basis of your perfection but his propitiation. Be of good courage, don’t hog Jesus for yourself alone, go and make disciples.

Piper, J. (2007). Sermons from John Piper (1980-1989). Minneapolis: Desiring God.

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our advocate

Based on 1 Jn 2.1-2 Francis Schaeffer writes, "This should make us worship and adore God. Though our call is not to sin, God is not done with us when we do sin. Happily for the Apostle John and for Paul, and for us, God is not done with a Christian when a Christian sins, or God would be finished with all of us."

evangelicals in politics

John Ortberg's Lessons from the Election
The seven deadly sins of evangelicals in politics.

Messianism. The sin of believing that a merely human person or system can usher in the eschaton. This is often tipped off by phrases like: “The most important election of our lifetime” (which one wasn’t?); or “God’s man for the hour.”

Selective Scripturization. The sin of using Scripture to reinforce whatever attitude toward the president you feel like holding, while shellacking it with a thin spiritual veneer. If the candidate you like holds office, you consistently point people toward Romans 13: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” If your candidate lost, you consistently point people to Acts 4:10 where Peter and John say to the Sanhedrin: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” It’s just lucky for us the Bible is such a big book.

Easy Believism. This is the sin of believing the worst about a candidate you disagree with, because when you want them to lose you actually want to believe bad things about them. “Love is patient, love is kind,” Paul said. “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.” But in Paul’s day nobody ran for Caesar. There was no talk radio.

Episodism. The sin of being engaged in civic life only on a random basis. The real issues never go away, but we’re tempted to give them our attention only when the news about them is controversial, or simplistic, or emotionally charged. Sustained attention to vital but unsexy issues is not our strong suit.

Alarmism. A friend of mine used to work for an organization that claimed both Christian identity and a particular political orientation. They actually liked it when a president was elected of the opposite persuasion, because it meant they could raise a lot more money. It is in their financial interests to convince their constituents that the president is less sane than Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Alarmists on both sides of the spectrum make it sound like we’re electing a Bogeyman-in-Chief every four years. I sometimes think we should move the election up a few days to October 31.

One Issue-ism. Justifying our intolerance of complexity and nuance by collapsing a decision into a simplistic and superficial framework.

Pride. I couldn’t think of a snappy title for this one. But politics, after all, is largely about power. And power goes to the core of our issues of control and narcissism and need to be right and tendency to divide the human race into ‘us’ vs. ‘them.’

love v. beliefs

I like this from the description to Michael Wittmer's Don't Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough.

Conservatives love their beliefs and liberals believe in their love.

unity at last

Saturday, November 08, 2008

election aftermath

Oh no ... what now? Careful ... this is mean spirited if you can't take it as a joke.

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

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gas prices

Every day I am reminded just how sin has radically affected every aspect of our being. The other day (post election) I was involved in this conversation with otherwise clear thinking people demonstrating our (or at least my) inability to think.

Rick - "What I hate is how people just pick anything out of the blue to support their preconceived ideas."
Someone - "Yeah, I know what you mean."
Rick - "Like gas prices. I saw $1.79 today. No one credits George Bush for that. I mean, two months ago who here would have thought we'd have prices under $2 again?"
Someone else - "Well that's not to his credit. They are only down due to the bad economy. And that is his fault!"
Rick - "Really? Then why wasn't he credited when they were sky rocketing?"
Another someone else - "You don't understand, there are complicating factors."
Rick - silence ...

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Friday, November 07, 2008

reverend wright

The guys at TBNN continue to keep me in stitches ...

Reverend Wright: "I Now Struggle With Shadow Dog"

Chicago, IL -- Reverend Jeremiah Wright, once a controversial figure in the Barack Obama campaign, has apparently come out of hiding now that the election is over.


Reverend Wright, who fell out of the spotlight when Obama unequivocally denounced statements Wright made from the pulpit, is now in a new line of work. He’s given up his Sunday morning job for a different day and time—Friday night stand-up comedy.

Reverend Wright jokingly calls himself Reverend Left as part of his free gig. Though the routine is free, Wright continues to have an offertory time. “The crowd loves the way I say 'pass the plate',” said Wright.

Wright had the crowd in tears and rolling in the aisles Friday night with his latest routine of “I can’t do the shadow dog anymore” [caught in the picture above]. Wright explains how the media’s faulty descriptions of his sermons as divisive have left him with eye twitches and hand deformities. As the crowd cheered for Wright and booed the media, Wright offered proof of his hand troubles by simulating a faulty shadow dog. “My Diet Coke shot right out of my left nostril at that point,” said crowd participant Meagan Wilson. “He’s a riot!”

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Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. ~ -G.K. Chesterton

starbucks church

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first obama now this

Yep ... life just gets gooder ...

First Barack gets elected and now ... Logos for Mac is available for preorder.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

now that's it's over

Now that the elections are over, here are great words of wisdom.

First, John Piper is rightly grateful for (almost) any government based on 1 Tim 2.1-4.

1. Giving thanks “for kings” is hard when they are evil.

And, as Calvin said on this passage, “All the magistrates of that time were sworn enemies of Christ.” This shows us that anarchy is a horrible alternative to almost any ruler.

We should give thanks for rulers because “non-rule” would unleash on us utterly unbridled evil with no recourse whatever.

Again Calvin: “Unless they restrained the boldness of wicked men, the whole world would be full of robberies and murders.” The better we understand the seething evil of the human heart that is ready to break out where there is no restraint, the more thankful we will be for government.

2. The effect we pray for is “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly, and dignified in every way.”

Dignified means “serious and reverent,” not stuffy. I suspect what Paul means is not that we can’t live godly and serious lives during times of anarchy. We can. I suspect he means that peaceful and quiet lives, which are the opposite of anarchy, are often wasted in ungodly and frivolous actions.

So he is praying for a government that would give peace and quiet (not anarchy), and that Christians would not fritter away their peaceful lives with the world, but would be radically godly and serious about the lost condition of the world and how to change it.

3. Using our peace for radical godliness and serious action will lead to more effective evangelism and world missions.

This last observation is confirmed by the hoped-for outcome Paul mentions. Paul says that the reason God delights in such peaceful, Godward, serious action is that he “desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

More people will be saved if our government restrains the horrors of anarchy, and if Christians use this peace not to waste their lives on endless entertainment, but seriously give their lives to making God known.

Justin Taylor then weighs in with these "prayer points" in regard to Obama.

No matter who you voted for--or whether you voted at all--it's important to remember that, as President, Barack Obama will have God-given authority to govern us, and that we should view him as a servant of God (Rom. 13:1, 4) to whom we should be subject (Rom. 13:1, 5; 1 Pet. 2:13-14).

- We are to pray for Barack Obama (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
- We are to thank God for Barack Obama (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
- We are to respect Barack Obama (Rom. 13:7).
- We are to honor Barack Obama (Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:17).

And finally, Bob Hyatt has his summary which combines some of the above with his own thoughts.

Today, I'm pretty happy. I have some optimism about the next four years. I know that regardless of who is in Office, Jesus is on the throne.

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econ 101

I know, the elections are over. But this was too funny ...


Barack Obama discovers a leak under his sink, so he calls Joe the Plumber to come and fix it. Joe drives to Obama’s house, which is located in a very nice neighborhood and where it’s clear that all the residents make more than $250,000 per year. Joe arrives and takes his tools into the house. Joe is led to the room that contains the leaky pipe under a sink. Joe assesses the problem and tells Obama, who is standing near the door, that it’s an easy repair that will take less than 10 minutes. Obama asks Joe how much it will cost.
Joe immediately says, “$9,500.”

“$9,500?” Obama asks, stunned. “But you said it’s an easy repair!”
“Yes, but what I do is charge a lot more to my clients who make more than $250,000 per year so I can fix the plumbing of everybody who makes less than that for free,” explains Joe. “It’s always been my philosophy. As a matter of fact, I lobbied government to pass this philosophy as law, and it did pass earlier this year, so now all plumbers have to do business this way. It’s known as ‘Joe’s Fair Plumbing Act of 2008.’ Surprised you haven’t heard of it, Senator.”

In spite of that, Obama tells Joe there’s no way he’s paying that much for a small plumbing repair, so Joe leaves.
Obama spends the next hour flipping through the phone book looking for another plumber, but he finds that all other plumbing businesses listed have gone out of business. Not wanting to pay Joe’s price, Obama does nothing. The leak under Obama’s sink goes unrepaired for the next several days.

A week later the leak is so bad that Obama has had to put a bucket under the sink. The bucket fills up quickly and has to be emptied every hour, and there’s a risk that the room will flood, so Obama calls Joe and pleads with him to return.
Joe goes back to Obama’s house, looks at the leaky pipe, and says “Let’s see ? this will cost you about $21,000.”
“A few days ago you told me it would cost $9,500!” Obama quickly fires back.

Joe explains the reason for the dramatic increase. “Well, because of the ‘Joe’s Fair Plumbing Act,’ a lot of rich people are learning how to fix their own plumbing, so there are fewer of you paying for all the free plumbing I’m doing for the people who make less than $250,000. As a result, the rate I have to charge my wealthy paying customers rises every day.

“Not only that, but for some reason the demand for plumbing work from the group of people who get it for free has skyrocketed, and there’s a long waiting list of those who need repairs. This has put a lot of my fellow plumbers out of business, and they’re not being replaced. Nobody is going into the plumbing business because they know they won’t make any money. I’m hurting now too, all thanks to greedy rich people like you who won’t pay their fair share.”

Obama tries to straighten out the plumber: “Of course you’re hurting, Joe! Don’t you get it? If all the rich people learn how to fix their own plumbing and you refuse to charge the poorer people for your services, you’ll be broke, and then what will you do?”
Joe immediately replies, “Run for president, apparently.”

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obama is not the antichrist

For those of you living in fear because of the election results, stop. Obama is not the AntiChrist. David Rudd reminds us who our real enemy is.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

reasons calvinists vote

Here's one Calvinist's opinion on why we vote ...

I'm privileged to live in a country that seeks my opinion on who should occupy certain offices. Even if my vote doesn't have an effect in putting someone in office, it's a privilege to be able to contribute my thoughts in the process of the communal decision that an election involves. I don't believe voting is a moral right. But I think I'd be wasting an opportunity to express my opinion if I didn't vote, and wasting a privilege is at least unfortunate (and I would even argue that it's immoral). This seems to me to be a much better reason to vote than any of the more common ones that I hear, even if most of them are good enough reasons.

Read the whole article here ...

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reasons to vote

The real reason to vote ...
  • Ben & Jerry's: Free scoop of ice cream between 5-8pm. Originally, materials stated you'd need some form of proof you voted (like an "I voted" sticker), but current materials just spell out "Free scoops!" (locate)
  • Books-A-Million: Free cup of coffee after showing your "I voted" sticker. (locate)
  • California Tortilla: Free taco for showing "I voted" sticker. (locate)
  • Chick-fil-A: "Several hundred" of 1,400 Chick-fil-A restaurants are handing out chicken sandwiches (the kind normally $2.70) to adults with proof of voting. (locate)
  • Krispy Kreme: Free star-shaped doughnut with "patriotic sprinkles" (i.e. red, white, and blue) for "all retail customers with an 'I Voted' sticker." USA Today reports that 85 of 231 Krispy Kreme locations will participate. (locate)
  • Shane's Rib Shack: A free "Celebrate America Meal"—3-piece chicken tenders, fries, and 20-ounce drink—to the first 300 customers at participating locations, according to their press release. (locate)
  • Starbucks: Free tall coffee at "any Starbucks." "Tell us you voted" seems to be the bargaining chip, according to their recent TV ads. (locate)
  • Vote & Vax: National project by non-profits to offer free flu vaccinations on election day. (locate)

the decline of the emerger

From time to time I cruise by some blogs that I had previously decided were no longer helpful. Often I regret doing so. Here's a line from a guy who has redefined love, God, Christianity, etc. ... yes, he is an emerger. I don't know if all emergents are this way but the more I read his stuff the more I realize we are fundamentally on two very different pages.

Here's a line from a recent post regarding predictions for 2012.

The church will be much more interested in solving global poverty than abortion or gay marriage. 2016 will be even better.

Sounds nice, but can you spot what's wrong with that?

Monday, November 03, 2008

powlison on the gospel

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The Gospel is better than unconditional love. The Gospel says, “God accepts you just as Christ is. God has ‘contraconditional’ love for you.” Christ bears the curse you deserve. Christ is fully pleasing to the Father and gives you His own perfect goodness. Christ reigns in power, making you the Father’s child and coming close to you to begin to change what is unacceptable to God about you. God never accepts me “as I am.” He accepts me “as I am in Jesus Christ.” The center of gravity is different. The true Gospel does not allow God’s love to be sucked into the vortex of the soul’s lust for acceptability and worth in and of itself. Rather, it radically decenters people—what the Bible calls “fear of the Lord” and “faith”—to look outside themselves. ~ David Powlison, Idols of the Heart and Vanity Fair


why calvinism

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This past Sunday was Reformation Sunday and I am a Calvinist (I use the word Calvinist for simplicity in communicating a range of doctrine - I am not attempting to be technically accurate). Coincidently (odd choice of words in reference to Calvinism - oops, and now I said choice ... spooky), I had a chat with several friends regarding the Doctrine of Grace. As in the photo above, their view on Reformed Theology and specifically the points regarding salvation were distorted. Without critiquing whether they are right or wrong in their theology, they certainly did not understand what they were arguing against.

Related to that, Trav, a commenter here and a seemingly nice fellow, raised similar concerns. Trav wonders "why a Calvinist, believing God is in control and elects only a few, would ever have children?" I couldn't answer him in a few short words there nor will I attempt to here.

But all of this reminded me that Geoff asked me a long time ago if I would write a short piece on why I am a Calvinist and that I still haven't met his request. I don't think I will answer that question here but I want to provide some simple reference material (other then Scripture) for those seriously interested in what they are arguing against.

Here's my short story on how I became one. Way back in my college days a friend of mine moved away and fell into Satan's trap - yep, he got connected with a group known as Presbyterians. I know, what's up with that? Anyway, before long he started asking me what this predestination thing was about. I felt up to the task. I honestly thought to myself, "how long could it possibly take to disprove this obscure heresy?"

So with my Thompson Chain in hand (not wanting to be tainted by commentary - and thinking I wouldn't need it), I set off to read the relative Scriptures. It didn't take long before I realized things weren't as clear cut as I previously thought. The week I originally planned turned into months. The more I read the more I found tension in my non-Calvinist position. Eventually I started thinking that the weight of Scripture was toward Calvinism and more interesting, I was finding that it seemed all of Scripture was somehow connected. Passages that I thought would be unrelated either drove me more toward Calvinism or made much more sense to me with a Calvinistic undergirding. It was effecting my general Bible reading - not only when I was trying to study this topic.

Eventually I gave up. I just figured I wasn't smart enough. After college I became close to my pastor and since he was an educated man I asked him about this. He gave me the, "it's like the two parallel rails of a train track" line. That stirred me up. I couldn't see it - these tracks were not parallel - they contradicted each other. The more I thought about it the more I realized that this stuff was effecting my thinking in almost every other area of theology and that to leave it undecided as my pastor had done was not ok.

I'm not sure why but around that same time I got turned on to RC Sproul's books. Specifically, Grace Unknown and Chosen by God. Wow! These books provided a clear framework for the Scriptures I had been wrestling with. Since then I've found many great authors (e.g., Wayne Grudem, John Piper, etc.) who God has used to shed even more light on the topic.

My recommendation to you, if you really want to understand what you are fighting against, is to read these two books by Sproul and then as a good general Bible study, work through Grudem's Systematic Theology.

These may not change your doctrine but at least you might be able to drop the rhetoric so often employed by those less informed. For me, not only was my doctrine changed, but in my heart, my love and awe of God took a giant step in the right direction. I stand in wonder at His great sovereignty and His amazing grace in my life. Who knows, perhaps you will experience the same.

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the shaq

Marc Heinrich strikes again.


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Good message ...

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