Saturday, December 31, 2011

god the father of all?

J. Gresham Machen, in Christianity and Liberalism writes [I'm still amazed at how little liberalism has evolved since he confronted it in 1923]:

Modern men have been so much impressed with this element in Jesus’ teaching [i.e., God's fatherhood] that they have sometimes been inclined to regard it as the very sum and substance of our religion. We are not interested, they say, in many things for which men formerly gave their lives; we are not interested in the theology of the creeds; we are not interested in the doctrines of sin and salvation; we are not interested in atonement through the blood of Christ: enough for us is the simple truth of the fatherhood of God and its corollary, the brotherhood of man. We may not be very orthodox in the theological sense, they continue, but of course you will recognize us as Christians because we accept Jesus’ teaching as to the Father God.

It is very strange how intelligent persons can speak in this way. It is very strange how those who accept only the universal fatherhood of God as the sum and substance of religion can regard themselves as Christians or can appeal to Jesus of Nazareth. For the plain fact is that this modern doctrine of the universal fatherhood of God formed no part whatever of Jesus’ teaching. Where is it that Jesus may be supposed to have taught the universal fatherhood of God? Certainly it is not in the parable of the Prodigal Son. For in the first place, the publicans and sinners whose acceptance by Jesus formed the occasion both of the Pharisees’ objection and of Jesus’ answer to them by means of the parable, were not any men anywhere, but were members of the chosen people and as such might be designated as sons of God. In the second place, a parable is certainly not to be pressed in its details. So here because the joy of the father in the parable is like the joy of God when a sinner receives salvation at Jesus’ hand, it does not follow that the relation which God sustains to still unrepentant sinners is that of a Father to his children. Where else, then, can the universal fatherhood of God be found? Surely not in the Sermon on the Mount; for throughout the Sermon on the Mount those who can call God Father are distinguished in the most emphatic way from the great world of the Gentiles outside. One passage in the discourse has indeed been urged in support of the modern doctrine: “But I say unto you, love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He maketh His sun to rise on evil and good and sendeth rain on just and unjust” (Matt 5.44-45). But the passage certainly will not bear the weight which is hung upon it. God is indeed represented here as caring for all men whether evil or good, but He is certainly not called the Father of all. Indeed it might almost be said that the point of the passage depends on the fact that He is not the Father of all. He cares even for those who are not His children but His enemies; so His children, Jesus’ disciples, ought to imitate Him by loving even those who are not their brethren but their persecutors. The modern doctrine of the universal fatherhood of God is not to be found in the teaching of Jesus.

And it is not to be found in the New Testament. The whole New Testament and Jesus Himself do indeed represent God as standing in a relation to all men, whether Christians or not, which is analogous to that in which a father stands to his children. He is the Author of the being of all, and as such might well be called the Father of all. He cares for all, and for that reason also might be called the Father of all. Here and there the figure of fatherhood seems to be used to designate this broader relationship which God sustains to all men or even to all created beings. So in an isolated passage in Hebrews, God is spoken of as the “Father of spirits” (Heb 12.9). Here perhaps it is the relation of God, as creator, to the personal beings whom He has created which is in view. One of the clearest instances of the broader use of the figure of fatherhood is found in the speech of Paul at Athens, Acts 17.28: “For we are also His offspring.” Here it is plainly the relation in which God stands to all men, whether Christians or not, which is in mind. But the words form part of an hexameter line and are taken from a pagan poet; they are not represented as part of the gospel, but merely as belonging to the common meeting-ground which Paul discovered in speaking to his pagan hearers. This passage is only typical of what appears, with respect to a universal fatherhood of God, in the New Testament as a whole. Something analogous to a universal fatherhood of God is taught in the New Testament. Here and there the terminology of fatherhood and sonship is even used to describe this general relationship. But such instances are extremely rare. Ordinarily the lofty term “Father” is used to describe a relationship of a far more intimate kind, the relationship in which God stands to the company of the redeemed.

The modern doctrine of the universal fatherhood of God, then, which is being celebrated as “the essence of Christianity,” really belongs at best only to that vague natural religion which forms the presupposition which the Christian preacher can use when the gospel is to be proclaimed; and when it is regarded as a reassuring, all-sufficient thing, it comes into direct opposition to the New Testament. The gospel itself refers to something entirely different; the really distinctive New Testament teaching about the fatherhood of God concerns only those who have been brought into the household of faith.

benefits from christ's conception & birth

Kim Riddlebarger posts this reminder from the Heidelberg Catechism ...

35. What is the meaning of “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary?”

That the eternal Son of God, who is and continues true and eternal God,[1] took upon Himself the very nature of man, of the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary,[2] by the operation of the Holy Spirit;[3] so that He might also be the true seed of David,[4] like unto His brethren in all things,[5] except for sin.[6]

[1] Jn 1:1-4, 10:30-36; Rom 1:3-4, 9:5; Col 1:15-17; 1 Jn 5:20; [2] Mt 1:18-23; Jn 1:14; Gal 4:4; Heb 2:14; [3] Mt 1:18-20; Lk 1:35; [4] 2 Sam 7:12-16; Ps 132:11; Mt 1:1; Lk 1:32; Rom 1:3; [5] Php 2:7; Heb 2:17; [6] Heb 4:15, 7:26-27

36. What benefit do you receive from the holy conception and birth of Christ?

That He is our Mediator,[1] and with His innocence and perfect holiness[2] covers, in the sight of God, my sin,[3] wherein I was conceived.[4]

[1] 1 Tim 2:5-6; Heb 2:16-17, 9:13-15; [2] Rom 8:3-4; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 4:4-5; 1 Pt 1:18-19; [3] Ps 32:1; 1 Jn 1:9; [4] Ps 51:5

maximally satisfied

Thanks to Josh Etter for this message from John Piper on the heart of Christian Hedonism (Psa 16.11) ...

Friday, December 30, 2011

read scripture


Herman Bavinck, in Reformed Dogmatics, writes:

The all-perfect author, the Holy Spirit, could inspire nothing untrue, trivial, or degraded. Reading and studying Scripture is therefore an urgent necessity.

HT:TOG

then and now

From Todd Rhodes:

This is what a 5 megabyte hard drive looked like in 1956 (notice the forklift):




This is what the same amount of storage (actually much, much more) looks like in 2012:




This what a Bible looked like in 1956:




This is what a Bible looks like in 2012:




This is what a church looked like in 1956:




This is what many churches look like in 2012:




Any questions?

ultimate question

Mike Wittmer wrote the below on his excellent blog, Don't Stop Believing. It, like his other writings, are insightful and accurate.

One of the big stories in Grand Rapids in 2011 was the November passing of Fred Meijer. The newspaper account of his funeral inspired this draft for Our Daily Journey. As always, your helpful suggestions are appreciated.

Fred Meijer was one of the wealthiest men in the world. His Meijer stores were the first to combine groceries and general merchandise under one roof, and when he died his $5 billion fortune made him the 60th richest person in the United States. Fred also was one of the kindest. He wore his wealth lightly, often dropping by his stores to shake hands with customers, pass out coupons for free ice cream, and even bag a few groceries.

His generous spirit made the news from his funeral that much harder to take. Fred’s Christian friends had long worried that he didn’t know Jesus, but the progressive preacher at his funeral pretended that didn’t matter. “How do you inherit eternal life?”, the pastor asked the mourners, “By being a good neighbor, like Fred was.” I pray that Fred believed better than this, for that is a tragically wrong answer.

A young ruler once asked Jesus the same question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” When the man affirmed that he had been a good neighbor by keeping the second table of the Ten Commandments, Jesus replied that he hadn’t done enough. “Go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor…Then come, follow me.” The man sorrowfully concluded the price was too high, and he went away shaking his head (Mark 10:17-22).

The man was not necessarily being materialistic. In his Middle Eastern society, houses and lands were owned by families rather than lone individuals. He was responsible for a large chunk of his family’s estate, and to give it away would be an act of betrayal. It was, as Jesus said, impossible.

But not with God. How do you inherit eternal life? Put the whole world—family, friends, money, sex, and chocolate—on one side and nothing but Jesus on the other. Which do you choose?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

wonder of god's love


From John Piper in The Passion of Jesus Christ:

Oh, that we might worship the terrible wonder of the love of God! It is not sentimental. It is not simple. For our sake God did the impossible: He poured out his wrath on his own Son—the one whose submission made him infinitely unworthy to receive it. Yet the Son’s very willingness to receive it was precious in God’s sight. The wrath-bearer was infinitely loved.

HT:OFI

hell

Perhaps my last comment in 2011 on hellgate ... from Trevin Wax:

Jesus didn’t “stir things up” by backing off the truth of final judgment. He stirred things up by reaching for the most gruesome, horrifying images imaginable in order to communicate the horror of God’s judgment. I don’t think “stirring things up” among those who think they have it all figured out is the best way to increase evangelistic fervor today. Instead, I want God to use what Jesus taught about hell in such a way that my own heart will be gripped by compassion for lost people, and that I will be bold enough to faithfully represent a Savior whose teaching is increasingly unpopular.

miracles

R.C. Sproul in The Invisible Hand, "Christianity is a faith that is based upon and rooted in miracles. Take away miracles, and you take away Christianity."

Monday, December 26, 2011

jrw on the kog

George Ladd, in The Gospel of the Kingdom, points to five differences between the Kingdom of God and the church:
  • The church is not the kingdom
  • The kingdom creates the church
  • The church witnesses to the kingdom
  • The church is the instrument of the kingdom
  • The church is the custodian of the kingdom
The Kingdom is primarily the dynamic reign or kingly rule of God, and derivatively, the sphere in which the rule is experienced. In biblical idiom, the Kingdom is not identified with its subjects. They are the people of God’s rule who enter it, live under it, and are governed by it. The church is the community of the Kingdom but never the Kingdom itself. Jesus’ disciples belong to the Kingdom as the Kingdom belongs to them; but they are not the Kingdom. The Kingdom is the rule of God; the church is a society of women and men.
That is, we are the people of the King but we are not the Kingdom itself. We do not build the Kingdom or become the Kingdom, but we witness to it. Here is a short list of what the church can and cannot do with the Kingdom.

The below is John Wimber on the Kingdom of God. We need both the illumination and the demonstration of the Kingdom of God. Amen!

now you're saved

Alter calls give me the creeps ...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

differences

I am convinced that we need to take an offensive position in regard to the Gospel. While it is not wrong to speak of us as defenders of the faith, I think the word defender has taken us down a less than ideal path. Perhaps we should say offenders of the faith?

J. Gresham Machen wrote in Christianity and Liberalism:
... the most fundamental difference between liberalism and Christianity—liberalism is altogether in the imperative mood, while Christianity begins with a triumphant indicative; liberalism appeals to man’s will, while Christianity announces, first, a gracious act of God.
I think that's worth proclaim, not just defending ...

filthy

"He who is filthy, let him be filthy still" ~ Rev 22.11 (NKJV) ... and I was thinking I should grab a shower ...

church growth

Pardon my familiarity ...


Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the party of science

The below is copied in its entirety from SALVO magazine. If you haven't added SALVO to your daily reading you are wrong. This article, entitled, Schizophrenic About Science: The "Party of Science" is Nothing of the Sort is excellent at addressing the relativistic claims of those who pretend to be for truth, the unscientific bent by those claiming to be champions of science, and the harm done to humanity by those that claim to be the more compassionate.

When President Obama, newly elected and riding high on the wave of hopes he had created, announced in his inaugural address, "We will restore science to its rightful place," he was really making two points: (1) The previous administration, with its anti-science policies, had nearly run our ship-of-state aground on its voyage of social progress; and (2) his administration, in contrast, would be guided by science and so would free our vessel from the shoals of stagnation and steer a new course toward unending human betterment. In short, the "Party of Science," he suggested, would bring us smoothly and safely back to the calm seas of progress.

In fact, however, for the better part of four decades the ship has been caught between the currents of modernism and the riptides of postmodernism, and risks foundering in treacherous waters that the "Party of Science" does not fully understand and is unable to negotiate. Over the past century, both modernism and postmodernism have showed the dangers of science wrongly used.

Modernism & Thoroughbreds

Spawned in the Enlightenment by the world-changing discoveries of the Scientific Revolution, modernism, the story goes, promoted the advancement of society through mankind's conquering and harnessing of nature.

Ignited by its three articles of faith—the infallibility of human reason, the omnipotence of science, and the perfectibility of man—modernism triggered an explosion of technological wonders in the last century—and also of humanitarian horrors. In the brief span of ten decades, the twentieth century experienced more scientific discoveries and technological advancements than all the previous centuries combined—and it also, with great technological efficiency, produced more bloodshed than ever seen before.

Highlighted by the devastation inflicted by Fat Man and Little Boy on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the meteoric rise of modernism was accompanied by two world wars, a cold war, and the totalitarian "advances" of death camps, gulags, and "re-education" centers. And on both sides of the Atlantic, social engineers, enamored with the theories of Darwin, worked to wrest the reins of "selection" away from brute nature and into human hands through ­eugenics.

Although social Darwinism reached its heinous apogee in Nazi Germany, it had gained a foothold a decade earlier in the United States. By the 1920s, the social left, convinced that improving the human stock was essential to its progressive ideals, facilitated a eugenics movement involving targeted sterilization, abortion, and birth control. The targeted populations were those deemed feeble-minded, physically defective, or otherwise unfit "to create a race of thoroughbreds," as Planned Parenthood founder and eugenics pioneer Margaret Sanger so indelicately put it.1

Crosscurrents

Though still claiming to be the Party of Science, today's left ironically finds itself at cross-purposes with the main currents of science in many respects. As New Atlantis senior editor Yuval Levin explains in a recent article:

Science (as the true postmodernists know) is the foremost font of modern power, and the underlying source of almost all the expressions and incarnations of power the left does find troubling: industrial power, corporate power, military power, imperial power, and especially human power over the natural world.2

This tension is especially evident in the left's environmentalism:

In the past three decades, environmentalism has become a fully integrated component of the worldview of the American left. . . . But the perspective of environmentalism could hardly be more different than that of modern science on the questions of nature, power, progress, and man.

By helping man conquer nature and gain mastery over it, science is at once the engine of the left's progressive hopes and the cause of its environmental fears. This has led to an ideological schizophrenia exemplified, for example, in the left's views on nuclear power.

Undoubtedly, harnessing the atom ranks as one of the greatest achievements of modern science. Nuclear power provides an abundant, reliable, and efficient source of energy that both reduces our dependence on foreign oil and is carbon-neutral, which, according to the Party of Science, is essential if we are to avoid a climate-change apocalypse.

So, expanding the use of nuclear power would be a win for the environment and a win for human progress, right? Well, no. Despite its considerable benefits, including a safety record that—Three Mile Island, Chernobyl , and the recent Fukushima accident nothwithstanding—far exceeds that for all other major energy industries, as well as solutions to nuclear waste that are technologically sound, nuclear power receives a near unanimous thumbs-down from the left, the Party of Science. It turns out that the left is only for the science that fits its particular ideological—and non-scientific—social agenda.

Selectively Equal & Not

The left also prides itself on being the Party of Equality. But its alleged scientific platform provides no basis for its egalitarian values. Rather, as Levin points out,

Science measures our material and animal qualities, and it finds them to be patently unequal. . . . We are born physically and mentally unequal, and always remain so. . . .

The left insists, however, on ignoring these differences and actively attempts social engineering to equalize society (wealth redistribution is only one example). Levin goes on to note another aspect of the left's attitude toward science:

The closer the left aligns itself with the ideology of modern science (taking, for instance, all human actions and beliefs to be mere functions of neural biochemistry) the further it seems to distance itself from any sensible case for egalitarianism.

That is, the left generally has abandoned the longstanding Judeo-Christian notion of the equal dignity of all humans as beings created in the image of God. As the "Party of Science," it embraces a reductionist and materialistic view of man—human life is not intrinsically sacred.

Yet even here, the left ignores what science does reveal about human beings. For example, science reveals that a genetically complete and unique human being is formed at the moment of conception. So while the left insists that all human beings have intrinsic rights deserving equal protection by the state, it excludes from said protection anyone who is unfortunate enough to be living in his mother's womb. What's more, not only can the smallest among us be denied the most basic of all human rights, the right to live, but they are also eyed by the left as utilitarian means to its utopian ends; i.e., they can be destroyed through extraction of their stem cells for the sake of medical research.

So, despite its moralizing rhetoric about equality, the left regards some human beings as more equal than others. What make this Animal Farm possible is the current of postmodernism, with its social construction of "personhood."

Postmodern Persons

While leftists will concede that a human fetus, embryo, or even a zygote is a human being, they will also argue that it is not a "person," and therefore that it does not qualify for the full range of human rights due to persons. In order to qualify as a person, a being not only must be human and alive but also must be self-aware, as Peter Singer has infamously declared.

Of course, by that criterion, Singer himself—not to mention the rest of humanity—would fail to qualify for personhood if he happened to be under general anesthesia, or passed out from intoxication, or knocked out from stumbling into a door, or any other time he was unconscious, including during the one-third of his time he spends sleeping. But none of that seems to keep Singer, or anyone else in the pro-choice camp, awake at night.

Social constructions have also been concocted by the Party of Science to get around the science of human sexuality. It is a stubborn scientific fact that one's sex is determined by a pair of sex chromosomes called the X and Y chromosomes. If a person has a matched pair (two X chromosomes), she is female; if a mismatched pair (one X and one Y chromosome), he is male.

But since the binary fact of sexuality doesn't fit with their social agenda, ­leftists co-opted the term "gender" to blur the distinct categories of male and female. They converted a grammatical term for classifying nouns into a free-floating, movable variable for indicating a person's sexual desires, identity, orientation, and behaviors. Where people had formerly thought only in terms of the two sexes, they were now expected to think in terms of multiple "genders."

The left thus discarded the (true) notion that sex is determined by the physical facts of one's genes or physiology and replaced it with the idea that one's gender is determined by the sense of being male or female—or something in between, for a person's "sense" can place him anywhere along the gender "continuum" and can even change at different stages of life or even from moment to moment: male yesterday, female today, male-female hybrid tomorrow. Think of the transgendered man who imagines himself a lesbian trapped in a male body. If your head can stop spinning around that one, you can get the picture.

Not Scientific

These social constructions of "personhood" and "gender" reveal the intrinsic incompatibility of the left with modern science. In this regard, the left is epistemologically and ideologically postmodern. Science is based on the belief that objective truth exists and is discoverable through empirical observation and investigation. But despite its own dogmatism on certain matters, the left claims to be skeptical of truth and of people who claim to have it.

For the left, truth is a mere construct of the "ruling class" (except when they are the ones in power); thus, truth claims are exclusive by nature and inevitably result in social injustice. More important than objective facts teased out of nature by scientific study are subjective feelings, choices, and experiences.

This is a relativistic view of truth that, over the past forty years, has created a culture in which, among other things: a woman's inconvenience over an unwanted pregnancy trumps the scientific fact of an unborn child's humanness; irrational sentiments about nuclear power leave our country dependent upon foreign and even hostile entities for its energy needs; a man's desire to be a homosexual woman overrules the biological and physiological facts of his sex; policymakers eschew references to God, despite the necessity of transcendence and the failure of science to ground the concepts of inalienable human rights and dignity; environmental policies are driven by climate-change hysteria and ignore the inability of climate science to nail a local weekend weather forecast, much less a global hundred-year trend.

There is more than a touch of irony in all this. While the left casts a jaundiced eye on absolute truth, its own dogmatism in the matters listed above matches that of the most ardent religious fundamentalist. In leftists' blinkered imagination, all truth is suspect, except the scientific truths that they find convenient.

We can be sure that if the Party of Science succeeds in restoring "science to its rightful place," true science will become increasingly subservient to the social constructions of the left's utopian enterprises, and our ship-of-state will founder on the rocks.

love and marriage

Trevin Wax quotes Francis Schaeffer on marriage:

Marriage is wonderful, but unless both are children of God through faith in Christ, and unless both put Christ first as Lord in their lives, then a marriage can never be what the Lord meant marriage to be. This would always be true, but it is doubly true in a day such as our own which is so filled with confusion and tensions. It is only when each one puts Christ first that there can be a sufficient base. And though at first it might seem as though this would be disruptive to a marriage – to have even Christ put before the other one – yet it is not this way. This is so because, if we put Christ before the other person, we will then be able to love and be thoughtful of the other person in a way that would not be possible if that person was put first.

going public


Amy at Stand to Reason makes the accurate observation:
Our culture defines reason as naturalism, and so it allows reasonable people to be religious only as long as they either confine their religious claims to the realm of private opinion (i.e., based on personal revelations or ideas that apply only to them), or focus on general revelation to which everyone can reason (e.g., advice for living well). Neither of these options threatens the sovereignty of naturalism.
Referencing Michael Horton's Why We Need Jesus, she writes: 
... the gospel is not something we could deduce on our own through reason (though we can certainly reason about it, once known), nor is it the kind of thing that could be true for me but not for you—"the gospel transcends these rules, and refuses to play by them." Because it's a historical claim, it's not a private faith, but a public fact. And it requires a hearing of the truth to be known.
Then, quoting Horton:

This is partly why the gospel is scandalous: not because it's irrational and subjective, but precisely because here, faith refuses to remain on the Alcatraz of private opinion. The gospel is also a scandal because of what it announces: a radical rescue operation amid a radical problem (God's wrath). The gospel exposes that our claim to be defenders of reason [i.e., naturalists, as our culture defines reason] is based on an irrational decision to ignore history and to stand in defiance of our own intuition that we are shipwrecked and need rescue. Left to ourselves, we use reason so irrationally that we determine that God cannot enter history, even before we examine whether he has done so. Again, it's not "neutral reason" running the show here, but a blind faith in naturalism.

While we were looking for "God" in the glorious splendor of our inner lights and universal morality, the Son became the most scandalously particular yet historically accessible revelation of God. It's not private therapy or rational argument, but a public announcement….

What happens when God grows up in the neighborhood? Or presents himself on the road, as he did with his dejected disciples? This God didn't wait for us to discover him; he spoke and acted first. As a result, the gospel creates not speculative pundits, spiritual gurus, or moralists, but witnesses.

Second, the gospel tears down the wall between reason and faith, public and private, objective and subjective truth, by its very content. We need special revelation because we need to be saved. That puts the matter squarely on the historical claims of the gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The whole question of a self-revealing God is taken out of the merely private realm; it's public truth….

The gospel is not the conclusion of a logical syllogism or an intuition of our universal moral experience. It's not a timeless truth. Rather, it is the announcement that "when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal. 4:4-5).

Monday, December 19, 2011

dependence upon the father


Jesus is quite aware of the Father’s personal presence and direction in his own life (John 5:19). From Jesus’s life we see a model of what it looks like to be God-centered. Jesus doesn’t pull out his platinum God card, borrowing power or strength to cope his way through temptations sinlessly; he lives within the limited equity of a human life bound by dependence upon God as his loving Father.

HT:OFI

Sunday, December 18, 2011

tebow and god


Floating around the internet ...

Tom Brady, after living a full life, died. When he got to heaven, God was showing him around. They came to a modest little house with a faded Patriots flag in the window. "This house is yours for eternity Tom, said God. "This is very special; not everyone gets a house up here." Tom felt special, indeed, and walked up to his house.

On his way up the porch, he noticed another house just around the corner. It was a huge 3-story mansion with Orange and Blue sidewalks and drive ways, a 50 foot tall flagpole with an enormous Broncos logo flag waving, a swimming pool in shape of a horse, a Broncos logo in every window, and a Tim Tebow jersey on the front door.

Tom looked at God and said "God, I'm not trying to be ungrateful, but I have a question. I was an all-pro QB, I won 3 Super Bowls, and I even went to the Hall of Fame."

God said "So what's your point Tom?"

"Well, why does Tim Tebow get a better house than me?"

God chuckled, and said "Tom, that's not Tim's house, it's mine."

bible christmas quiz


Time to repost the Christmas Quiz. Answers are found here.

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE CHRISTMAS STORY?

Well it's December to so that means it's ok to break out the annual Christmas quiz. Here are twenty multiple-choice questions for you to answer. There is at least one correct answer to each question but some have more than one right answer (in all 27). Each correct answer receives five points for a possible total of 135 points. For every wrong answer, five points will be deducted, so be careful! You may not use your Bible but you can use prophecy, visions, words, etc..

Answers will be posted in a day or two.

1. When Joseph discovered that Mary was expecting a child...
a. he was very happy b. he asked for a divorce
c. he contemplated getting a divorce
d. he brooded over it until he fell asleep

2. Before Jesus was born...
a. Joseph left Mary
b. Mary left Joseph
c. Joseph and Mary led a normal married life
d. Joseph built a crib

3. Why did Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem?
a. King Herod made a decree
b. Joseph and Mary were related to the king
c. A star appeared and led them to Bethlehem
d. An angel appeared and told them to go

4. How did Joseph and Mary get to Bethlehem?
a. They both rode donkeys
b. Mary rode a donkey and Joseph walked
c. They rode camels
d. The Bible doesn't say

5. Which animals were present at the manger when Christ was born?
a. Sheep and cows
b. Donkey and ox
c. The Bible only mentions sheep
d. The Bible doesn't say

6. What did the shepherds in the field see?
a. an army
b. a choir
c. a star
d. three kings

7. Who were the visitors from the East?
a. Relatives
b. Kings
c. Astronomers
d. Farmers

8. How did these visitors find the baby Jesus?
a. They followed the star to Nazareth
b. They followed the star to Bethlehem
c. They followed the star to Jerusalem
d. They followed the instructions of King Herod

9. What did these visitors do when they arrived?
a. They had a snowball fight
b. They found the child in a manger
c. They dreamed of the bad man
d. They sang Christmas carols

10. Which is the most probable time of Christ's birth?
a. December
b. In the year "Zero"
c. In the year "One"
d. Five to seven Anno Domini

11. The innkeeper...
a. ...sent Joseph and Mary away because they were Jews
b. ...was angry because they woke him from a sound sleep
c. ...offered them a place in the stall
d. ...isn't mentioned in the Bible

12. Which book of the Bible has the most to say about Christ's advent?
a. Revelation
b. Matthew
c. Luke
d. Isaiah

13. When Christ was born...
a. ...there was snow in Bethlehem
b. ...there was snow in Jerusalem
c. ...there was snow in Israel
d. ...the Bible doesn't mention snow

14. How many brothers and sisters did Jesus have?
a. Jesus had two brothers
b. There were at least seven children
c. Jesus was an only child
d. The Bible doesn't say

15. Where did Jesus live the shortest length of time?
a. Bethlehem
b. Nazareth
c. Egypt
d. Capernaum

16. Why did Joseph and Mary take Christ to Jerusalem?
a. because Herod wanted to kill him
b. for Christ's baptism
c. for Christ's circumcision
d. for Christ's dedication service

17. When was Jesus baptized?
a. shortly after his birth
b. on his first birthday
c. as a young lad of twelve
d. a few years before his death

18. As a youngster...
a. Jesus was a good student
b. Jesus stayed back
c. Jesus confounded the teachers with his knowledge
d. Jesus' parents were not happy about his behavior

19. How did Jesus get his name?
a. An angel gave him his name before he was born
b. Joseph named him
c. He received his name in the temple when 8 days old
d. The prophet Isaiah gave him his name

20. How well do you think you did on this test (Read instructions again!)?
a. I believe I received between 75 and 135 points
b. I think I have 50 to 70 points
c. I probably only have 25 to 45 points
d. I doubt if I got more than 20 points

it's what he did for you

J. Gresham Machen in Christianity and Liberalism comments on the false notion that Christianity is not a doctrine but a way of life. I agree with him. A way of life must indeed follow but it is the result of (1) a change initiated by an all powerful God and (2) informed by a message of truth.

... if any one fact is clear, on the basis of this evidence, it is that the Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts. In other words it was based upon doctrine. ...

But the Christian message contains more than the fact of the resur-rection. It is not enough to know that Jesus is alive; it is not enough to know that a wonderful Person lived in the first century of the Christian era and that Person still lives, somewhere and somehow, today. Jesus lives, and that is well; but what good is it to us? We are like the inhabitants of far-off Syria or Phoenicia in the days of His flesh. There is a wonderful Person who can heal every ill of body and mind. But, alas, we are not with Him, and the way is far. How shall we come into His presence? How shall contact be established between us and Him? For the people of ancient Galilee contact was established by a touch of Jesus’ hand or a word from His lips. But for us the problem is not so easy. We cannot find Him by the lake shore or in crowded houses; we cannot be lowered into any room where He sits amid scribes and Pharisees. If we employ only our own methods of search, we shall find ourselves on a fruitless pilgrimage. Surely we need guidance, if we are to find our Savior.

And in the New Testament we find guidance full and free— guidance so complete as to remove all doubt, yet so simple that a child can understand. Contact with Jesus according to the New Testament is established by what Jesus does, not for others, but for us. The account of what Jesus did for others is indeed necessary. By reading how He went about doing good, how He healed the sick and raised the dead and forgave sins, we learn that He is a Person who is worthy of trust. But such knowledge is to the Christian man not an end in itself, but a means to an end. It is not enough to know that Jesus is a Person worthy of trust; it is also necessary to know that He is willing to have us trust Him. It is not enough that He saved others; we need to know also that He has saved us. That knowledge is given in the story of the Cross. For us Jesus does not merely place His fingers in the ears and say, “Be opened”; for us He does not merely say “Arise and walk.” For us He has done a greater thing—for us He died. Our dreadful guilt, the condemnation of God’s law—it was wiped out by an act of grace. That is the message which brings Jesus near to us, and makes Him not merely the Savior of the men of Galilee long ago, but the Savior of you and me.

It is vain, then, to speak of reposing trust in the Person without believing the message. For trust involves a personal relation between the one who trusts and him in whom the trust is reposed. And in this case the personal relation is set up by the blessed theology of the Cross. Without the eighth chapter of Romans, the mere story of the earthly life of Jesus would be remote and dead; for it is through the eighth chapter of Romans, or the message which that chapter contains, that Jesus be- comes our Savior today. The truth is that when men speak of trust in Jesus’ Person, as being possible without acceptance of the message of His death and resurrection, they do not really mean trust at all. What they designate as trust is really admiration or reverence. They reverence Jesus as the supreme Person of all history and the supreme revealer of God. But trust can come only when the supreme Person extends His saving power to us. “He went about doing good,” “He spake words such as never man spake,” “He is the express image of God”— that is reverence; “He loved me and gave Himself for me”—that is faith.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

progressing too far

The follow is a post from The Salvo Blog, Progressing Preferences:


One could think that this Salvo fake ad goes too far simply for the sake of causing trouble and making liberals mad. While that is an enjoyable side effect, it certainly isn't the main goal. The reality is that I could provide links to scholarly articles advocating (at least intellectually) each of the above "lifestyle choices." See the excerpt below for an example of what I mean. That's the problem, isn't it? When does the "progressive" cease to, uh, progress? By definition, there is no stopping. Lars Walker writes about this in a recent post of his:

The Dance of the Straw Men

If you're a social conservative, chances are you’ve had a conversation something like this:
Conservative: “But if we accept homosexual behavior as normal, how do we retain other traditional taboos, like the one against incest?”
Liberal: “That’s just a straw man. Nobody’s going to advocate incest.”
Now, read this, from Tauriq Moosa, tutor in ethics, bioethics and critical thinking at the University of Cape Town, South Africa (courtesy of my friend Dale Nelson):
Thirdly, and oddly, people exclaim [incest is] “just” repugnant. We will examine this more closer later. Nonetheless, why should the sexual activities of two consenting adults concern us? This is the same question we can ask those who are ‘against’ homosexuality (which is like being against having blue eyes). It is none of our business what two consenting adults wish to do (as long as no one else is harmed/involved without consent).

Repugnance helped many things we now consider wrong to continue in the past, such racial and sexual inequality. We can’t rely on repugnance to justify our social policies, since our repugnance is simply that: our own. Besides which, people are repulsed by different things – and we cannot leave it up to the whims of our emotions to implement policies and laws which could, unnecessarily, cause suffering to other people, as is the case with gay people, women, and indeed the current brother-and-sister couple.
Pretty lively for a straw man, isn’t it?

Liberals—I want to share a serious word with you, in honesty and without malice. If you have any principles—any at all—I promise you that, if you continue on the Left, you will eventually either have to give them up or move to the Right. Because liberalism is not a position. It is a process. That process evolves continually. Nothing is out of bounds for it, given enough time. That’s why so many ‘60s radicals are Reagan Republicans now.

For years, people have been telling me (to take another example) that there’s nothing wrong with homosexual behavior because homosexuals are born that way (I’m still not convinced of that, but it’s beside the point for this discussion). The argument is, “If it’s inborn, it’s natural and right.” Christian liberals say it must be God’s will.

“Why would anyone choose to be gay?” the liberal says. “It’s penalized in our culture. So it must be inborn, and the gays have no choice in the matter.”

Bear that argument in mind when you read this, from Italy’s La Stampa.
A study conducted by neuroscientists at Turin University and researchers at the department of neurological science of the University of Milan asserts that pedophilia is caused by a defective growth factor called pleiotropic protein Progranulin (PGRN). The results were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry and presented during a recent convention of the Neurological Italian Society in Turin.
Now, if this theory is true, explain to me how the previously stated arguments for homosexuality don’t apply just as well to pedophilia.

And no, “You’re a Nazi,” does not count as a valid counter-argument.

atonement needed

Athanasius wrote the following in On the Incarnation:

It was necessary that the debt owed by everyone should be paid, and this debt owed was that everyone should die. For this particular reason, Jesus Christ came among us… He offered up his sacrifice on behalf of everyone, yielding his temple [i.e., his body] to death in the place of everyone…. And so it was that two wonderful things came to pass at once: the death of everyone was accomplished in the Lord’s body, and death and corruption were completely done away with by reason of the Word that was united with it. For death was necessary, and death must be suffered on behalf of everyone, so that the debt owed by everyone might be paid.

HT:TOG

Friday, December 16, 2011

great wildlife snaps

Some wonderful photos of the natural world over at The Big Picture.


ironic

J. Gresham Machen in Christianity and Liberalism:

In seeming to object to all theology, the liberal preacher is often merely objecting to one system of theology in the interests of another.

disgusting

You have disobeyed me by not giving your slaves their freedom. So I will give you freedom—the freedom to die in battle or from disease or hunger. I will make you disgusting to all other nations on earth. ~ Jer 34.17; Contemporary English Version Bible

Let's not become disgusting ... proclaim liberty.

why do good

Kevin DeYoung wrestles with the question, "why then must we still do good?"

Q. We have been delivered from our misery by God’s grace alone through Christ and not because we have earned it: why then must we still do good?

A. To be sure, Christ has redeemed us by his blood. But we do good because Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like himself, so that in all our living we may show that we are thankful to God for all he has done for us, and so that he may be praised through us. And we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ. (Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 86)

*******

One of the common objections to the Christian view of salvation, especially in its Reformed expression, is that salvation by grace alone through faith alone leads to moral license. If we can’t earn one tiny iota of deliverance from sin by our good works, then why do good at all?

The Heidelberg Catechism gives five reasons why those in Christ must still do good.

First, we do good because the Holy Spirit is working in us to make us more like Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18). The same Spirit who caused us to be born again and enabled us to believe will also work to make us holy (Rom. 6:9-11).

Second, we do good out of gratitude (Rom. 12:1-2). This is not to suggest that God saves us and then we work the rest of our lives to pay him back for the favor (Rom. 11:33-36). Rather, we do good because the wonder of our salvation produces such thankfulness in our hearts that it is our pleasure to serve God.

Third, we do good so that God might be praised by the works we display in his name. “By this my Father is gloried,” Jesus said, “that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).

Fourth, we do good so that we can be assured of our right standing before God. Faith alone justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone. By bearing good fruit, we show that we are a good tree (Matt. 7:15-20) and make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).

Fifth, we do good in order that we might adorn the gospel (Titus 2:10) and make it attractive to outsiders (1 Peter 2:12).

Clearly, the Bible is not indifferent to good works. Christians who live in habitual, unrepentant sin show themselves not to be true Christians. Of course, we all stumble (James 3:2; 1 John 1:8). But there’s a difference between falling into sin and jumping in with both feet. It doesn’t matter the sin—pride, slander, robbery, covetousness, or sexual immorality—if we give ourselves to it and live in it with joyful abandon, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Simply put, people walking day after day in the same sin without a fight or repentance go to hell (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 John 3:14). And on the flip side, people walking day after day in the light of the gospel and in view of their union with Christ, will–imperfectly, but truly–learn to do good, be good, and get better.

why go to church

"... since you are so good during the week, maybe on Sundays, we should have everybody come over here and sit around you." and many more classic lines ...



HT:TW

Thursday, December 15, 2011

the law

Here's the good doctor (Martyn Lloyd-Jones) in The Assurance of Our Salvation on the law and Christ:

What he [Christ] has done for us is that he has satisfied the law and all its demands. It is amazing to me how people can look at and preach about Christ, his life and death and never mention the law. But unless the law of God is satisfied, there is no salvation. The law is opposed to us; it stands there and demands a perfect, absolute obedience and it threatens us with death if we fail in any one respect. If Christ has not fulfilled the law, we are yet in our sins, we are undone, we are damned and we are lost, but he has finished the work, the books have been cleared, the law has been satisfied, there is therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. Do you know that? Are you rejoicing in it? Are you ready to take your stand with Toplady and say:

The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do,
My Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.

HT:TOG

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

paul, the exclusivist


I want to throw out a passage which seems to imply that Paul assumed that exclusivism was true. I would be interested in learning how an inclusivist would read this passage, so if that is your view, feel free to jump in.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 Paul writes that the Jews “displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved.”

Paul seems to assume that the Gentiles will not be saved unless he speaks the gospel to them (this coheres with what he explicitly says in Romans 10:13-15). If you had asked Paul, but can’t the Gentiles be saved in some other way, perhaps by responding to the general revelation of God in nature, is it likely that he would have said yes? (see Romans 1:18-23). Given these passages and his missionary activity, what are the odds that Paul was an inclusivist?

sinners only

From RC Sproul in Reason to Believe:

For a Christian to be a Christian, he must first be a sinner. Being a sinner is a prerequisite for being a church member. The Christian church is one of the few organizations in the world that requires a public acknowledgement of sin as a condition for membership.

HT:TC

suffering and god


From RC Sproul in Reason to Believe:

The suffering of the Christian or anyone else in this world is never ultimately an accident. All suffering is within the pale of divine sovereignty. All suffering comes within the broader context of the sovereignty of God.

HT:TC

Saturday, December 10, 2011

people of walmart song

Speaking of not judging, here's the People of Walmart Song ...


judging and truth

I continue to venture into the pits of vipers and for some reason still act surprised to find professing christians there defending the vipers. This past week I read another illogical post using an appeal by a boy in his early teens. This young man already identifies as homosexual and has been "bullied". The appeal is that homosexuality is 'ok' and that bullying is wrong. The fallen and the professing christians in the comment section defend any comment toward the boy's deception as judgmental (apparently a sin above all sins) while the thread strongly judges the bullies and Christians who have created a culture for that (and no one . Of course there is no detail of the nature of the so-called bullying and no analysis of the Christian culture, just emotional, generalized judgment. Note to self - stop expecting reason from an unregenerate mind. Not that it's not possible, just stop expecting it.

I say so-called bullying because there are no facts offered in the post and I know first hand that comments regarding homosexuality heard by those ensnared in sin are twisted into something supposedly ugly. Cse in point; Podigal Ministries recently attempted to increase its visibility on the University of Cincinnati campus by posting the following contact information in the campus paper:
Homosexuality: Support for unwanted same-gender attractions in a spirit of gentleness, humility and love. Twenty-five plus years of professional experience. Confidentiality respected.
To which a response by a student alliance claimed Prodigal's ad contained "hate speech" and they were outraged that the campus paper would have allowed it. The alliance continued by stating Prodigal was "prating shame and self hatred" among those who identified as homosexual. More; a separate organization wrote that they were "outraged and offended" at the Prodigal statement and that the statement was a "shocking rebuke to the University's Just Community Principles ..." adding "that a University-funded paper has the gall to run such an ad is utterly unacceptable and reprehensible." They implied that Prodigal violated UC's policies regarding discrimination  and were guilty of "discriminatory harassment".

It gets worse. The campus paper responded to these charges with "The motives behind the advertisement could be seen as more than questionable ... the message was something few could even attempt to agree with [i.e., claiming that sexual orientation is a choice and can be changed through a relationship to Jesus]. Yes we think it is more than a little bogus."

Wow. These are our college educators and educated. Folks it's clear who the bullies are. Their logic is as broken as their hearts and yet christians continue to fail to hold up the banner of truth being duped either by the blatant lies of the enemy or by emotional pleas with no rationale basis.

Worse, it is the christian who then feel defensive as we are called "judgmental". My brothers and sisters in Christ - do not accept that. I read yesterday Malachi 2.7-9; "For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.” Do not go the way of the false priests, be the true, holy priests He has called us to be (1 Pet 2.9).

It is a lie that we are not to judge. Do not be fooled. We must do this. Of course there is right and wrong judging and right and wrong ways to do so. But do not fall for the blanket statement that we are not to judge. It is a lie.

Malachi 4:

For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. 4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Friday, December 09, 2011

just friends

This is great! Men and women cannot just be friends ...



HT:VZ

answering zach wahls

Zach Wahls recently made an impressive appeal to the Iowa House of Representatives to support same-sex marriage. Wahls is an impressive guy and many will buy his pitch on that basis. Brent Kunkle responds here - it's worth listening to the whole thing.

 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

more occupy lies

Seldom Wrong, Never in Doubt posted this insight on the top 1% and why even I know that numbers can be deceptive.
In what may be the most important opinion column of the year, Cato Institute's Alan Reynolds lays out the problems in citing individual income levels from federal tax returns as a means of tracking the prosperity of the 1% against the penury of the 99%. Specifically, Reynolds notes how changes in tax rates and tax law have over a generation removed the incentives that the rich have to shelter their incomes--via corporations and tax-favored investments--from federal taxation. Hence, what was once corporate income is now personal income, what was once sheltered in tax-free bonds is now is dividend-earning stocks, and so forth.

In other words, all those scary graphs about how much the rich have now versus then have mostly to do with the way the rich report their incomes. When rates are high, they shelter them. When rates are low, they unshelter them. When incomes are unsheltered, they seem to go up. "Seem" is rather important in this matter.

Why should you or we care about this, inasmuch as you and we don't have the kind of income that would ever be sheltered? Well, when the rich shelter their incomes, the shelters tend to be favored for tax purposes but not in and of themselves beneficial for economic purposes. That is, the tax accountants decide where to put the money to avoid taxes rather than the venture capitalists deciding where to put the money to make a lot more money. When more money is made, value has been added to the economy, making most people more prosperous in the long run.

So high tax rates may seem to rob from the rich and give to the poor, but they really just make the rich hide their money where it won't do anyone much good.
More concerning to me than the lack of clarity around the numbers is the deliberate distortions professing christians make to support their rebellious nature. SWNID writes:
Now to Jesus. The estimable Susan Brooks Thistlewaite, former prez of Chi Theo and now a fellow of the hard-left Center for American Progress, insists that Jesus Was an Occupier. Why? Because he raided the abusive temple and declared them robbers. And because from her seminary teachers she learned other interpretations of Jesus' parables that involve commerce, like the Parable of the Talents cited by some right-winger to say that Jesus is for the free market.

Honestly, people, do we still have to do this nonsense? "A plague on both your houses."

Dr. Thistlewaite, could you please acknowledge that Jesus' "robbers" statement is an obvious quotation of Jeremiah 7:11, that the word translated "robbers" means "rebels," that the combination of word and quotation shows that Jesus' indictment is about rejecting Israel's God, not about money as such (though abuse of money is always a consequence of rejecting Israel's God), that he goes on to elaborate in the Parable of the Tenants, which also has commerce in it but isn't at all about commerce, and that if Jesus was speaking about socialism versus capitalism here there or anywhere, he spoke with singular obscurity on the matter? Sheesh.

Theological conservatives, whether conservative or liberal politically, will you please stop abusing the Bible to prover your point about politics in the present? When you do, it only encourages the liberals to abuse the Bible too, something they're happy to do since they don't think much of it to begin with.


non-infinite grace

Many today are confused about the grace of God and the truth regarding judgment. This from RC Sproul in The Holiness of God provides some clarity.
God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to His patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.
And since some are easily confused, Sproul also clarifies that for those who belong to Him, we are not at war. We are still corrected but no longer under wrath.
Our peace with God is not fragile; it is stable. When we sin, God is displeased, and He will move to correct us and convict us of our sin. But he does not go to war against us. His bow is no longer bent, and the arrows of His wrath are no longer aimed at our hearts. He does not rattle His sword every time we break the treaty.

convinced


Are you convinced of sin? Think of this quote from J.C. Ryle from his tract Do You Believe.

True belief in Christ is the unreserved trust of a heart convinced of sin—in Christ, as an all-sufficient Savior. It is the combined act of the entire person’s mind, conscience, heart, and will. It is often so weak and feeble at first, that they who have it, cannot be persuaded that they have it. And yet, like life in the newborn infant, their belief may be real, genuine, saving, and true. The moment that the conscience is convinced of sin, and the head sees Christ to be the only One who can save, and the heart and will lay hold on the hand that Christ holds out—that moment there is saving faith. In that moment a person truly believes.

HT:Erik

reftagger