Thursday, July 26, 2012

the gospel


John Piper in Bloodlines:

The gospel of Jesus Christ touches ... [us] in more ways than any of us can see. It has a way of working that goes beyond what we can imagine or predict. It does not simply provide help to do what we think needs to be done, as though we were all-wise and just needed a little spiritual boost to carry out our plans. It goes over and under and around and through our imperfect plans. It destroys some and transforms others. Mainly, it deals explosively with us, not with our plans and strategies.

The gospel is not an ideology. It does not come in as one idea alongside some others and make its contribution. The good news that God sent his Son Jesus into the world to die in the place of sinners, and bear their punishment, and become their perfect righteousness, and absorb the wrath of God, and set us right with him through faith alone, and rise from the dead triumphant over every foe—that gospel does not come as an ideology but as supernatural power.

When this news of salvation from our sin and from God’s wrath is proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit, it does not come with compelling ideas that create new thoughts; it comes with supernatural power that creates new people. The Bible calls this being born again. “You have been born again . . . through the living and abiding word of God . . . the good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23–25). These new people will live forever with Jesus in the new heavens and the new earth when “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).

The power of the cross of Christ, applied by the Holy Spirit, is not a new philosophy or a new methodology or a new political persuasion, but “a new creation” (Gal. 6:15). Our old, unbelieving, insubordinate self dies, and a new, humble, believing, loving self is created by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the image of Jesus, through the gospel. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

The gospel is not a heavenly demand of what we must do to be saved; it is a heavenly declaration of what God has done to save us. The added good news is that we cannot earn what he has done for us but only receive it as a gift. And even this receiving—this trust—is a gift of God. It is God’s grace and God’s power from start to finish. This is why it is in a class by itself. It does not fit alongside any politics or ideology or philosophy or culture. It is not one of them. It is God’s breaking in with his own power to create a new spiritual reality—a new you.

This new you is united to Jesus Christ who has risen from the dead, so that your eternal life is secured and all that Christ is, he is for you. This is absolutely new. Before this, we were dead in sin. But now, we are alive in Christ Jesus. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). We have peace with God. Christ dwells within us. We are not our own. Jesus is our supreme treasure. And our highest joy is to extend the joy we have in his glorious grace to others.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

praying for god to save


Michael Horton posted Should You Pray for God to Save Your Loved Ones? Very interesting.
Calvinists hear Arminian friends ask this question all the time. It’s usually intended as a rhetorical question. In other words, it’s really a statement: If you believe that your unbelieving friend is dead in sin until God unilaterally regenerates him or her, and that God has unconditionally chosen whom he will save, then what’s the point? Que sera, sera: Whatever will be, will be.

Of course, this is a terrific objection to hyper-Calvinism, but misses its Reformed target. Our confessions teach that God works through means. Though the Father has chosen unconditionally some from our condemned race for everlasting life in his Son, the elect were not redeemed until he sent his Son “in the fullness of time,” and they are not justified until the Spirit gives them faith in Christ through the gospel. To invoke Paul’s argument (on the heels of teaching unconditional election), “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?…So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:14-15, 17).

For years now, I’ve reversed this rhetorical question, asking, Why would anyone pray for the conversion of their loved one if God were not sovereign in dispensing his grace? Arminians shouldn’t pray for God to save their loved ones, because God could reply, “Look, I’ve done my part; now the ball is in your court.” Yet, I note, Arminians are typically no less zealous in praying for the salvation of the lost than Calvinists. We’re at one on our knees.

Not so quickly, says Roger Olson, a distinguished Baptist professor and author of Arminian Theology. By now, readers of this blog may know that my friend Roger and I have been engaged in conversations about these things. He wrote, Against Calvinism, and I wrote For Calvinism, and we have taken up these issues in person as part of our White Horse Inn “Conversations” series. We’re both trying to understand each other’s views charitably, if nevertheless critically. In that spirit, the following…

In a recent post, Roger stirred up a hornet’s nest by suggesting that “Arminians should not pray to God to save their friends and loved ones.” It may be that one is using “save” differently. However, “Normal language interpretation would seem to me to indicate that asking God to save someone, without any qualifications, is tantamount (whatever is intended) to asking God to do the impossible (from an Arminian perspective).”
Yikes! Read the rest here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

holiness


“. . . the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

John Owen in Works:

“No unclean thing, nothing that defileth or is defiled, shall ever be brought into the glorious presence of this holy God. There is no imagination wherewith mankind is besotted more foolish, none so pernicious, as this, that persons not purified, not sanctified, not made holy in this life should afterward be taken into that state of blessedness which consists in the enjoyment of God. There can be no thought more reproachful to his glory, nor more inconsistent with the nature of the things themselves, for neither can such persons enjoy him, nor would God himself be a reward unto them. They can have nothing whereby they should adhere unto him as their chiefest good, nor can they see anything in him that should give them rest and satisfaction, nor can there be any medium whereby God should communicate himself unto them, supposing them to continue thus unholy, as all must do who depart out of this life in that condition. Holiness, indeed, is perfected in heaven, but the beginning of it is invariably and unalterably confined to this world, and where this fails, no hand shall be put into that work in eternity.”

miracles


Matt Chandler in The Explicit Gospel:

The miracles of Jesus are signs of the right order of things. Jesus was not so much turning things upside down as turning them rightside up or, at least, giving his followers glimpses of the rightside up. The miracles of healing, deliverance, provision, and resurrection all reveal that God, through Jesus, is making all things new, that he is restoring what once was unbroken.


I agree - I'm amazed at the drive by some to deny the continuation of signs & wonders. And I'm amazed at the drive by others to claim possession of a given gift. I think Chandler hits closer to the truth. The already, not yet. The Kingdom of God is expressed here on earth as we, His Ambassadors, represent Him. And in that, He provides glimpses of the nature of His Kingdom which is the redemption of what was once lost.

anxiety

"Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength." — C .H. Spurgeon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

not our fate

Timely reminder from Ray Ortlund ... as well as a good tune ...

Jonny Lang performing Jimi Hendrix's classic version of All Along the Watchtower.


“No reason to get excited”
The thief, he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke”
But you and I, we’ve been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hour is getting late

obligation to the poor

I found Kevin DeYoung's post Obligation, Stewardship, and the Poor to be concise and helpful.

The Bible is full of explicit commands and implicit commendations to help the poor.

One thinks of the gleaning laws in Deuteronomy 25 or the command to “open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor” in Deuteronomy 15. We can read about Job’s heart for the needy and oppressed in Job 29 to 31 or of God’s special concern for the poor in Psalm 35 and Proverbs 14.

We also know Jesus was moved with compassion for the weak, the harassed, and the helpless (Matt. 9:35-36). We see in the early church that the needs of the poor and distressed was a constant priority (Acts 4:34-35; Acts 11:30; Gal. 2:10). And frequently we are command to love one another not only with words but in the concrete actions of generosity and material support (James 2:15-17; 1 John 3:16-18). Even the elders, who are to be devoted to the word of God and prayer, were told by Paul to help the weak (Acts 20:35).

Clearly, God cares about the poor and wants us to care about them too.

But how?

Maybe you’re thinking: “Okay, I’m a Christian. I know God cares about the poor. I know I should care about the poor too. I do care about the poor. So what is my responsibility to help them?”

HOW SHOULD WE HELP THE POOR?

The question is deceptively complex. It’s very easy (and altogether biblical) for folks to insist that Christians ought to “be concerned about the needy” or “do something about the poor.” That’s powerfully true, but it doesn’t say nearly enough. In an age when easy travel and ubiquitous WiFi can connect us to billions of needs around the planet, how do we determine whom to care for and when to do something?

If Christians have an obligation to help the poor (and we do), does that mean we are obligated to help everyone everywhere in the same way in any circumstance of need? How should we think about our responsibility to help the poor?

I believe two critical principles can help us answer that question.

Principle 1: We are most responsible to help those closest to us.

In general, we ought to think of our sphere of responsibility as having expanding concentric circles. In the middle, with the closest circle, is our family. “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). This means that if you have the ability to help your (not lazy) children and don’t, you are a pagan. If you have the necessary resources and yet you neglect your aging, helpless parents, you have turned from Christ.

In the next circle we have members of our church community. The principle is really the same: just as we have an obligation to provide for our natural family, so we ought to provide for our spiritual family. The New Testament frequently enjoins us—by example and by explicit command and warning—to care for the needs of the Christians in our local churches (Acts 2:45; 4:32-37; 6:1-6; James 2:15-17; 1 John 3:16-17). If there is a Christian in your church who is materially devastated by calamity or infirmity and we who have resources in abundance do nothing to help, we prove that we do not truly have the love of Christ or know Christ himself.

Next we have members of our Christian family whose needs are more distant. We still have an obligation to care for our brothers and sisters, but the Bible speaks less forcefully the farther away the needs become. So in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 Paul clearly wants the Christians in Achaia to generously support the Christians in Macedonia, but he is stops short of laying down a command (8:8) or exacting a contribution from them (9:5).

In the outer circle we have the needs of non-Christians in the world. The church should still be ready to do good to all people, but this support is less obligatory than what we owe to Christians and is framed by “opportunity” rather than requirement (Gal. 6:10).

One other category should be mentioned. Sometimes we come across needs that are so obvious, so immediate, and we are in such a unique position to help, that it would be wrong to ignore them, whether the person is a family member, a church member, or a complete stranger. Regardless of prior affiliation or acquaintance the “closeness” of the need is too close to ignore. This seems to be the point of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). If we see a child drowning in the pool, we should dive in. If a woman is being beaten up, we should intervene. If a minivan has collapsed on a barren stretch of highway, we should stop and lend a hand. The concentric circles are helpful as a general guideline for care, but they should not be used to justify the lack of care when someone needs our assistance right here and right now.

Principle 2: We are most responsible to help those least able to help themselves.

Here again we can think of expanding concentric circles of responsibility. The progression with this principle is a little different because if we go out far enough in these circles we are actually commanded not to help. So the logic needs to be tweaked, but the basic imagery is still useful.

At the center, we have those people whose situation is most desperate because their options are most limited. In the Bible this prototypically meant “orphans and widows” (James 1:27). But the principle applies to any person or persons who will crash unless we provide a safety net. Caring for believers in prison was another classic example in the ancient world (Heb. 10:34).

Outside of this inner circle, we find those who are less desperate but still depend on others for their well-being. In the New Testament this meant being generous with hospitality, especially to travelling evangelists who relied on the kindness of their brothers and sisters for their mission (Matt. 10:40-42; 25:31-46).

Next, we have those Christians with long term needs. The striking thing about almost all of the “poor” passages in Scripture is that they envision immediate, short-term acts of charity. There is nothing about community development (which doesn’t make it unbiblical) and only a little about addressing situations of ongoing need. By putting these situations in this circle I don’t mean to imply that we ought only to care about quick fixes. The point, rather, is that we must think more critically before committing to long-term assistance. In both Acts 6 and 1 Timothy 5 we see church leaders working hard to develop a fair and sustainable process for the regular distribution of resources to the poor. In particular, we see in 1 Timothy 5 that the widows who went on the official rolls had to meet certain requirements. The women had to be godly, older Christians in order to receive the church’s care (1 Tim. 5:9-16). No doubt, the church sympathized with almost all widows, but they had to be wise with their resources. They did not want to support young women who could get married or fall into idle sinfulness. And as for the other requirements, I imagine the church knew it had to draw the line somewhere and requiring “a reputation of good works” ensured that the widows on the rolls were genuine, faithful, known Christians and not just busybodies looking for a handout.

In the farthest circle out we have people that must positively not be helped by the church. First, Christians should not provide hospitality for false teachers or do anything that would aid and abet their wicked works (2 John 10-11). Second, Christians should not support able-bodied persons who could provide for themselves, but prefer laziness instead (1 Thess. 4:11-12; 5:14; Prov. 24:30-34). The apostolic principle is clear: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). In fact, Paul insists that church discipline be exercised on those who persist in idleness (2 Thess. 3:14). The Christian responsibility to charity does not extend to those who expect others to do for them what they could do for themselves. Helping the poor in these circumstances is no help at all.

BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR WISE DECISIONS

Obviously, I have not begun to answer the myriad of “What if…?” and “What about…?” questions that arise when churches start to work on actually caring for the poor. I can’t give specific answers for every situation because the Bible doesn’t give those answers either.

But what the Bible does do is provide the basic principles to inform wise decision-making. As you consider your personal obligation to the poor and your church’s corporate obligation, keep in mind these two principles: proximity and necessity. The closer the person is to you (relationally, spiritually, or geographically) and the more acute the need (because it’s immediate, urgent, or within your unique power to provide), the greater your obligation is to give, assist, and get involved. The farther out you go in either circle, the less “ought” you should feel and the more caution you should take.

But please don’t use the two circles of responsibility as an excuse for apathy and inactivity. Use the biblical principles to help you set priorities wisely and respond in ways that are sustainable and effective.

Friday, July 20, 2012

why was it right

I know, it seems like I'm having a John Piper love-fest today - I am not. But the usual suspects in addition to railing against the Gospel and all that God has created to demonstrate the beauty thereof, are also railing against God's sovereignty.

The world is seeking answers - it has none. We need to show up with answers that magnify the glory of God. Here John Piper addresses the question of "Why was it right for God to slaughter women and children in the Old Testament? How can that ever be right?"

Here's Piper - he is spot on. And I really love his summary from the edited transcript:
So God has his times and seasons for when he shares his authority to take and give life. And the church today is not Israel, and we are not a political entity. Therefore the word we have from the Lord today is, "Love your enemy. Pray for those who abuse you. Lay your life down for the world. Don't kill in order to spread the gospel, but die to spread it."
As you listen, think Job 14.5; Psa 31.15; 104.27-30; 139.14-17; Isa 46.10 ...

male v female

I am really growing in my appreciation of the Gospel and how that is displayed through marriage, the Church, etc... And in that growing appreciation, the fallenness of the current world-view is becoming all the more clear. The world isn't only attacking marriage or male-female roles, it's an attack on the Gospel.

I now more appreciate John Piper for noting that Christianity has a masculine feel. I know some object and I'm still not sure I would choose the same language as Piper. But for the violent objectors, it's clear from their support of the LBGTQ agenda and their failure to understand the difference between masculine-feminine vs. male-female, they simply miss God's greater plan.

As wise men try to address the perversions of our times, the foolish appear with their accusations based on a wrong understanding of what the wise have said and more importantly, of what God has said. They simply don't get the beauty of it all because they can only thinking within the confines of their fallen nature and/or incomplete understanding of the Gospel itself.

If you have time, and the stomach for the haters, it's worth watching the Sexual By Design - the second video found here.

UPDATE: Jared Wilson does a retraction.

the beautiful game

More Euro 2012 shots at the Big Picture. Bella.


root of sin


Great reminder by Rick Gamache in Whiter Than Snow of the root of sin:

Psalm 51:4 — "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight"

I believe what David is saying in verse 4 [Psalm 51:4] is that all sin is a preference for the fleeting pleasures of the world and the flesh over the everlasting joy of God’s fellowship. This is why the Christian life is a life of repentance (like Martin Luther said), not because every time we sin we lose our status as God’s children and have to get saved all over again. Our status never changes. We are always God’s children, we are still declared to be holy even when we sin, we are still the heirs of his Kingdom.

But our sin affects our relationship with God. Our sin breaks our fellowship with God. David realizes that before he ever committed adultery with Bathsheba, he committed spiritual adultery against God. Why did he need her? Why was he willing to murder his own friend for her? It is because before David ever sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, he lost the joy of his salvation. That is why he asks for the joy to be restored [Psalm 51:12].

We sin because we forget God’s steadfast love and abundant mercy. When we are not ravished by him, we forget the superior pleasures that there are in God and give ourselves to the inferior pleasures of sin. And this is why David says, “Against you God, you only have I sinned.” He goes deep with his confession because he knows repentance is the way back to fellowship with God.

I think it is absolutely amazing and very telling, given what we know about the situation, that David never mentions sexual sin in Psalm 51. He’s not mainly praying that the Lord would provide him with good accountability. He’s not mainly praying that God would give him self-control and protect his eyes and his mind. Those are all good things. But David does not mention them here because his sexual sin — and every sexual sin — is the symptom of the disease not the disease. Sexual sin is a symptom of lack of fullness of joy and gladness in Jesus. It’s a symptom of a lack of being ravished by the love and kindness and mercy and goodness and beauty and excellence and majesty and glory and honor and power of God.

And so David confesses.

be you

Are you being who you are? If you have been born again you are a new creation in Christ Jesus - now live like it. The following is a great reminder by Dane Ortlund.

How strange the gospel is. In one sense I am not restored. How painfully obvious. Sin clings, weaknesses and failings abound. Anxiety, anger, idolatry. But in another sense, a deeper sense, I am restored. Perfectly, already. Simul justus et peccator. Deeper Magic from before the dawn of time. It really is true.

According to the sweep of New Testament teaching, the latter now defines me. That is the fundamental reality defining my existence. New birth, new life. Eternal life, as John says---the life of the Age to Come, of the New Realm---has already begun for me. The eschaton longed for in the prophets is here. And by faith, not by sight, I have been swept up into it. Justified: my end-time judgment has already happened and the verdict is acquittal, because I am in Christ, in whose cross the end-time judgment of condemnation was borne. In the middle of history rather than the end. The restored Dane Ortlund therefore trumps, outstrips, swallows up, the unrestored Dane Ortlund. Not the other way around.

As a Christian I'm in the process of bringing my sense of self, my Identity with a capital 'I', the ego, my swirling internal world of fretful panicky-ness arising out of that gospel deficit, into alignment with the more fundamental truth. Richard Hays argues in The Moral Vision of the New Testament that the essence of the New Testament ethic is "Be who you now are." There it is. You are this new being, fundamentally, as one united to Christ. So wake up tomorrow and do whatever you have to---with a Bible, singing, prayer, meditation, a friend, listening to a sermon, a walk around the block---do whatever you must to start your day in gospel alignment. William Hulme, the Lutheran professor and counselor, says in Pastoral Care and Counseling (Augsburg, 1981) that the gospel allows us to bring our subjective guilt feelings in line with our objective guilt eradication.

I am a sinner. I sin. Not just in the past but in the present. But in Christ I'm not a sinner but cleansed, whole. And as I step out into my day in soul-calm because of that free gift of cleansing, I find that actually, strangely, startlingly---I begin to live out practically what I already am positionally. I delight to love others. It takes effort and requires the sobering of suffering. But love cannot help but be kindled by gospel rest.

How can you possibly stiff-arm this? Repent of your small thoughts of God's love, your resistance to swallowing Christ's atoning work whole. Repent and let him love you.

sojourners

Two things ... we are a minority people living in exile and our faith requires content ...

Francis Schaeffer in How Should We Then Live:

Christian values . . . cannot be accepted as a superior utilitarianism, just as a means to an end. The biblical message is truth and it demands a commitment to truth. It means that everything is not the result of the impersonal plus time plus chance, but that there is an infinite-personal God who is the Creator of the universe, the space-time continuum. We should not forget that this was what the founders of modern science built upon. It means the acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord, and it means living under God's revelation. Here there are morals, values, and meaning, including meaning for people, which are not just a result of statistical averages. This is neither a utilitarianism, nor a leap away from reason; it is the truth that gives a unity to all of knowledge and all of life. This second alternative means that individuals come to the place where they have this base, and they influence the consensus. Such Christians do not need to be a majority in order for this influence on society to occur.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

he's baaaaaaack

Just when I thought it was safe to surf youtube again, he's back ... yes Rob Bell ... rediscovering wonder ... ooooooh nooooo ....


Sunday, July 15, 2012

christ crucified


JC Ryle in Are You Looking?

Look steadily at Jesus on the cross, if you want to feel inward peace. Look to anything of your own, and you will never feel comfortable. Your own life and doings, your own repentance, your own morality and regularity, your own church-going, your own Bible-reading and your prayers, what are they all but a huge mass of imperfection? Rest not upon them for a moment, in the matter of your justification. As evidences of your wishes, feelings, bias, tastes, habits, inclinations, they may be useful helps occasionally. As grounds of acceptance with God they are worthless rubbish. They cannot give you comfort; they cannot bear the weight of your sins; they cannot stand the searching eye of God. Rest on nothing but Christ crucified, and the atonement He made for you on Calvary. This, this alone is the way of peace.

simple without being simplistic


Michael Horton on homosexuality:

Simple ...
First, the Bible's teaching on the subject is simple in the sense of being straightforward and unambiguous. Does Scripture forbid homosexual behavior? Of course it does. Jesus and his apostles taught that God's intention in marriage is for a man to leave his parents and join himself to one woman (Matt. 5:27-32; 19:3-6). Furthermore, the New Testament clearly teaches that homosexuality is immoral (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:10) and that those who embrace a sexually immoral lifestyle will not inherit Christ's kingdom (Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7-9; Eph 5:5; 1 Thes. 4:2-8). Isn't it more complicated than that? After all, doesn't Paul have in mind relationships based on temple prostitution or perhaps slavery, rather than committed relationships? No, the noun arsenokoitēs means "those who practice homosexuality." It is an unusual compound, but it makes Paul's point. And it's not like prohibitions against eating shellfish or pork chops: part of the old covenant law that distinguished Israel visibly from the nations as a theocratic nation, which foreshadowed Christ and is now obsolete since the reality (Christ himself) has arrived.
As with the law, Scripture is also marvelously simple in proclaiming the gospel: Christ has won for us that victory over sin's guilt, dominion—and ultimately, presence—that we were helpless to defeat.
... Without being simplistic ...
However, just at this point the complexity of both sin and redemption come into the picture. If sin were just a behavior, we could stop it. If we had done it a lot, we might need some help in stopping it, but eventually—if we tried hard enough—we could. However, sin is not just a behavior. Long before they made any choice about what to do with it, people were predisposed toward same-sex attractions. Affirming original sin, Christians don't have trouble accepting this. We reject the Pelagian reduction of sin to an action that one can overcome with enough will-power. We are depraved (warped) in every respect: spiritually, morally, intellectually, volitionally, and physically. Long before genetics became a flourishing field, Christians have spoken about sin as an inherited condition. Furthermore, we can inherit specific sins—or at least tendencies—of our fathers and mothers. Then add to that the ways in which people are sinned against by the attitudes and behaviors of others, especially in childhood. So even before we actually decide to take that first drink, place that first bet, unleash our first punch, or fool around with our best friend, we are already caught up in the tangled web of solidarity in sin. At the same time, we are responsible for our choices, which reinforce or counter the specific sins toward which we are especially disposed.

There is no reason to think that Christians who struggle with these attractions are any less justified and renewed by God's grace in Christ than are those who wrestle especially with greed or anger or gossip. The gospel frees us to confess our sins without fear of condemnation. Looking to Christ alone for our justification and holiness, we can finally declare war on our indwelling sin because we have peace with God.
If there is no biblical basis for greater condemnation, there is also no scriptural basis for greater laxity in God's judgment of this sin. It is as unloving to hold out hope to those who embrace a homosexual lifestyle as it is to assure idolaters, murderers, adulterers, and thieves that they are safe and secure from all alarm. Nor will it do to say, "Well, we're all idolaters, etc.," since here—in 1 Corinthians 6—Paul's concern is not to beat down legalistic self-righteousness but to warn professing Christians that they cannot worship Diana on Tuesday and Jesus on Sunday. Paul's point is clear: For Gentiles, sexual immorality (including homosexuality, within proper social boundaries) is normal, but to take that view is to exclude oneself from the kingdom of Christ. A proud sinner defiantly ignoring the lordship of Christ while professing to embrace him as Savior is precisely what Paul says is impossible. These passages do not threaten believers who struggle with indwelling sin and fall into grievous sins (see Romans 7 for that category); rather, they threaten professing believers who do not agree with God about their sin.

... 
A repentant Christian is one who agrees with God about the nature of sin and the need for redemption through Jesus Christ. Even when such a person falls, the face is set against the besetting sin and fixed on the faithful Savior at the Father's right hand.
Refusing to agree with God about the nature of such behavior as sinful, those who embrace sexual immorality as a lifestyle reject the gospel. One cannot even seek forgiveness for something that one does not regard as sinful in the first place. Repentance means "change of mind." It does not mean that one never struggles with that sin again; in fact, the struggle indicates repentance! Rather, it means that has decisively set his or her face against it. And we repent together, not just by ourselves.
Read the whole post here ...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

peace


JC Ryle in Justification:

There is no peace with God except through Christ! Peace is His peculiar gift. Peace is that legacy which He alone had power to leave behind Him when He left the world. All other peace beside this, is a mockery and a delusion. When hunger can be relieved without food, and thirst quenched without drink, and weariness removed without rest—then, and not until then, will people find peace without Christ. Now, is this peace your own? Bought by Christ with His own blood, offered by Christ freely to all who are willing to receive it—is this peace your own? Oh, rest not—rest not until you can give a satisfactory answer to my question, have you true peace with God?

trinity

I find the doctrine of the Trinity very helpful so here's a good reminder from Justin Taylor of its basics.



The above is one attempt, not to illustrate the Trinity per se, but rather to capture in a diagram some of the truths related to the persons of the Godhead.

The internal lines identify the nature, substance, or essence of each person:

  1. The Father is God.
  2. The Son is God.
  3. The Holy Spirit is God.

As Basil of Caesarea writes in the 370s (Letter 236.6):

The distinction between ousia and hupostasis is the same as that between the general and the particular; as, for instance, between the animal and the particular man.

Wherefore, in the case of the Godhead, we confess one essence or substance so as not to give a variant definition of existence, but we confess a particular hypostasis, in order that our conception of Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be without confusion and clear. If we have no distinct perception of the separate characteristics, namely, fatherhood, sonship, and sanctification, but form our conception of God from the general idea of existence, we cannot possibly give a sound account of our faith.

We must, therefore, confess the faith by adding the particular to the common. The Godhead is common; the fatherhood particular. We must therefore combine the two and say, I believe in God the Father.

The like course must be pursued in the confession of the Son; we must combine the particular with the common and say I believe in God the Son, so in the case of the Holy Ghost we must make our utterance conform to the appellation and say in God the Holy Ghost.

The lines of the triangle represent two sets of propositions. First, they remind us that while each of the persons in the Godhead is God (fully divine), the persons are at the same time distinct. In other words:

  1. The Father is not the Son.
  2. The Son is not the Father.
  3. The Father is not the Holy Spirit.
  4. The Holy Spirit is not the Father.
  5. The Son is not the Holy Spirit.
  6. The Holy Spirit is not the Son.

After all, the Father is never “sent” in Scripture. Nor is he incarnated or poured out at Pentecost. The Spirit does not die on the cross for our sins. The Father begets the Son, not vice-versa. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Another aspect indicated by the lines on the triangle is that of mutual indwelling (or perichoresis). The three persons indwell each other in the one being of God. So:

  1. The Father is in the Son.
  2. The Son is in the Father.
  3. The Father is in the Holy Spirit.
  4. The Holy Spirit is in the Father.
  5. The Son is in the Holy Spirit.
  6. The Holy Spirit is in the Son.

Finally, each of the three persons in the one being of God glorify one another. As Gregory of Nyssa writes, there is a “revolving circle” of glory:
The Son is glorified by the Spirit; the Father is glorified by the Son; again the Son has His glory from the Father; and the Only-begotten thus becomes the glory of the Spirit. . . . In like manner, again, Faith completes the circle, and glorifies the Son by means of the Spirit, and the Father by means of the Son. (Gregory of Nyssa, On the Holy Spirit, in NPNF, Second Series, 5:324).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

christian imitation

We are the makers not the imitators ... well, regardless, this was interesting ...


the gay gene


Thanks to Justin Taylor for posting this excellent excerpt of David Powlison's response to David Myers advocacy of a genetic basis for homosexuality.

[Myers's] case study of homosexuality . . . illustrated how a scientist’s interpretive grid can introduce biases, propelling him to do hard thinking with frail data in order to contradict the mind of Christ. The facts that “prove” the legitimacy of homosexual orientation—chiefly the experience of ongoing struggle and cases of recidivism among those who attempt to change—equally “prove” the legitimacy of the historic Christian view that homosexuality is a typical sin from which God progressively redeems his children.

It is no surprise that people being redeemed out of homosexual lust still battle with temptations—and that some fall back. This is true of every pattern of sexual lust, not only homosexuality: a woman whose romantic-erotic fantasies are energized by reading romance novels and watching Tom Cruise in Top Gun; a man whose eyes rove for a voyeuristic glimpse down a blouse; a woman aroused by sadomasochistic activities and implements; a man obsessed with young girls. In each of these cases, lust has been patterned around a characteristic object; love will learn a different pattern in Christ’s lifelong school for reorienting the disoriented.

But there is no reason that an energetic, ideologically committed researcher could not find some data that might suggest that each of these sexual disorientations might arise from some biological predisposition.

What if future research suggests that a particular personality characteristic, brain structure, hormone level, and perceptual style correlates to adult-to-child homosexuality? To bestiality? To heterosexual promiscuity?

The last mentioned might even prove the strong case for the style of argument Myers makes. Would his argument generalize to these cases? He would have to say Yes, if the statistics seemed to tilt that way. If any of the above persons continue to struggle, or at some point slid back into old patterns, then it might mean that their particular morph of sexuality is innate and valid.

I’m not familiar with the studies of female homosexuality, but let me offer an “unscientific” observation arising from pastoral experience. I’ve known many lesbians driven more by “intimacy lusts” than by the unvarnished eroticism of many heterosexual or homosexual males. In fact, most of them had once been actively heterosexual, unsuccessfully looking for love from a man or men. They eventually found that other women were similarly wired to intimacy and companionship as the context for erotic feelings. An emotional closeness initially developed that was progressively sexualized during the process of redefining oneself as a lesbian. Such a process makes lucid sense on the Faith’s analysis of the outworking and inworking of sin. And I’ve seen the fiercely tender grace of God break in, progressively rewiring some of these women. Statistics might give definition to words such as “most,” “many,” and “some.” But statistics could neither confirm nor disconfirm the point of view whose plausibility is established theologically, anecdotally, and pastorally.

Myers’s biological data on homosexuality was admittedly rather dim light, not something that could drag a researcher along who was not otherwise willing. But let me offer another “unscientific” comment about data that might yet be discovered. When or if the “homosexuality gene” is discovered, I predict that the facts will be of the following kind. Among people without the H-gene, say 1.5% are oriented towards homosexuality, while among people with the H-gene, say 15% are oriented towards homosexuality. That would be a very significant statistical difference.

But what would it prove? Only that characteristic temptations differ, that our bodies are one locus of temptation, that nothing is deterministic either way. It will be analogous to finding any other “gene for sin.” Those with the “worry gene,” the “anger gene,” the “addictive pleasure gene,” or the “kleptomania gene” will be prone to the respective sins. Such findings cause no problem for the Faith. They do trouble a Pelagian view that defines sin only as conscious “choice.” But sin is an unsearchable morass of disposition, drift, willful choice, unwitting impulse, obsession, compulsion, seeming happenstance, the devil’s appetite for souls, the world’s shaping influence, and God’s hardening of hard hearts. Of course biological factors are at work: we are embodied sinners and saints. That some people may be more prone to homosexuality is no more significant that that some may be more prone to worry.

Grace is similarly personalized. Some of God’s children find Philippians 4:4-9 breathes particular comfort amid their besetting temptation to anxiety. Others find the Spirit pacifying their fierce temper and writing James 3:1-4:12 on their hearts. Still others find Proverbs 23:29-35 clobbers them about the madness of their heavy drinking, and that they grow wiser as they quit hanging out with old drinking buddies and spend time with new, wiser companions (Prov. 13:20). Still others experience a keen-edged joy in earning a pay check, paying for things they once stole, and sharing money with people in need (Eph 4:28). Others find that Christ’s comprehensive vision for rearranging everyone’s sexuality—in the whole Bible, not just “a half dozen verses”—reaches into their particular form of disorientation, teaching them to love people, not lust after them. One and all, former neurotics, rageaholics, drunks, thieves, and gays find that truth rings true and rings with hope.

Each of us deals with what Richard Lovelace termed “characteristic flesh” [Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, p. 110]. Repeat temptations and instances of recidivism do not change the rules. Strugglers with indwelling sin genuinely grow in grace, but often the generic issue remains on stage in some manner throughout a person’s lifetime. Abiding struggles are no reason to throw over the Christian life which is defined as growth amid struggle unto a future perfection (1 John 3:1-3). Those being redeemed out of homosexualized lust are examples of the rule, not exceptions granted license to give up the fight and rationalize their sin.

i believe in miracles

Matt Chandler in The Explicit Gospel:

The miracles of Jesus are signs of the right order of things. Jesus was not so much turning things upside down as turning them rightside up or, at least, giving his followers glimpses of the rightside up. The miracles of healing, deliverance, provision, and resurrection all reveal that God, through Jesus, is making all things new, that he is restoring what once was unbroken.

Monday, July 09, 2012

the unbreakability of scripture

Mark Heath posts:

Andrew Wilson raised the issue of the “inerrancy” of Scripture recently, and questioned whether the term itself was a helpful one. Some people complained in the comments that it wasn’t even a term that the Bible uses of itself. It left me wondering if there was a better word we could use and John 10:35 came to mind, where Jesus says that the “Scriptures cannot be broken”. That would certainly be a cool name for a doctrine: “the unbreakability of Scripture”, but what did Jesus mean by it?

If you had asked me to speculate what Jesus meant by “Scripture cannot be broken”, my initial guess would be that Jesus is using the language of promises: Scripture can be thought of as a promise from God that cannot be broken. But that just goes to show how a translation of the Bible can cause you to read meanings into the text that are not present in the original language, since none of the commentators I consulted consider this a viable option (although apparently Jungkuntz argued that it meant the passage from Psalms that Jesus had just quoted must be fulfilled).

It seems this is a tricky phrase to translate, as the majority of versions simply leave it as “Scripture cannot be broken” without giving us any clues as to exactly what that means. However, there are some versions who attempt to interpret this tricky phrase for us. Here’s a summary of various interpretations:

NIV84, ESV, KJV, NASB, HCSB, JBP, NET: “Scripture cannot be broken”
NLT: “the Scriptures cannot be altered”
ISV: “Scripture cannot be disregarded”
GNT: “what the scripture says is true forever”
AMP: “the Scripture cannot be set aside or cancelled or broken or annulled”
CEV: “You can’t argue with the Scriptures”
MSG: “Scripture doesn’t lie”
NIV2011: “Scripture cannot be set aside”
Tom Wright: “you can’t set the Bible aside”
Don Carson: “Scripture cannot be annulled or set aside or proved false”

The Greek word for “broken” is λυθῆναι, which actually crops up in several places in John’s writing, and is typically translated “break” or “destroy”. For example breaking the Sabbath (Jn 5:18), destroying the temple (Jn 2:19), breaking the law (Jn 7:23), destroying the devil’s work (1 Jn 3:8).

So Scripture is unbreakable, or “indestructible” even. Not in a physical sense – plenty of Bibles have been successfully destroyed by fire. But in the sense that Jesus uses in Matt 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” The doctrine of the unbreakability of Scripture means that God’s words never lose their truth, relevance or power. We never move beyond Scripture, and we never argue with Scripture. Or as J C Ryle explains it:
“Wherever the Scripture speaks plainly on any subject, there can be no more question about it. The case is settled and decided. Every jot and tittle of Scripture is true, and must be received as conclusive.”

the second coming

Jonathan Edwards, ‘The Church’s Marriage to Her Sons, and to Her God,’ in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 25: Sermons and Discourses, 1743-1758

Jonathan Edwards, preaching on Sept. 19, 1746, at the ordination service of Samuel Buell, the dear friend of David Brainerd:

In that resurrection morning, when the Sun of Righteousness shall appear in the heavens, shining in all his brightness and glory, he will come forth as a bridegroom; he shall come in the glory of his Father, with all his holy angels.

And at that glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, shall the whole elect church, complete as to every individual member and each member with the whole man, both body and soul, and both in perfect glory, ascend up to meet the Lord in the air, to be thenceforth forever with the Lord. That will be a joyful meeting of this glorious bridegroom and bride indeed. Then the bridegroom will appear in all his glory without any veil: and then the saints shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and at the right hand of their Redeemer . . .

Then will come the time, when Christ will sweetly invite his spouse to enter in with him into the palace of his glory, which he had been preparing for her from the foundation of the world, and shall as it were take her by the hand, and lead her in with him: and this glorious bridegroom and bride shall with all their shining ornaments, ascend up together into the heaven of heaven; the whole multitude of glorious angels waiting upon them: and this Son and daughter of God shall, in their united glory and joy, present themselves together before the Father; when Christ shall say, ‘Here am I, and the children which thou hast given me’: and they both shall in that relation and union, together receive the Father’s blessing; and shall thenceforward rejoice together, in consummate, uninterrupted, immutable, and everlasting glory, in the love and embraces of each other, and joint enjoyment of the love of the Father.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

it depends on god



The central reality for Christians is the personal, unalterable, persevering commitment that God makes to us. Perseverance is not the result of our determination, it is the result of God’s faithfulness. We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous. Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasm.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

drawing the line




“In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”

Sounds nice, but which are which? Everyone wants to be unified in what really matters, to agree to disagree on what isn’t as important, and to exercise love in all things. But no one seems to agree on what really matters a lot, a little, or not at all. As hard as it can be determining the content of our faith, it can be even harder figuring out where to put up our fences.

This business of deciding where and how to draw doctrinal lines is incredibly complex. I can’t begin to do all the necessary biblical, theological, historical, and practical exploration in this article. But perhaps I can sketch an outline of some important considerations.

In that vein, here are seven steps we ought to pursue in establishing doctrinal boundaries. The explanations of the points will get shorter as we move through the list.

1. Establish the essentials of the faith.

This is the most critical step. We need to know what constitutes the irreducible core of the Apostolic gospel. One way to determine the essentials is to look at the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus). In these letters, Paul talks a lot about the importance of right doctrine. We can get a good indication of what doctrines matter most by looking at several categories of passages in the Pastorals.

First, we have the “trustworthy sayings” (1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9–10; 2 Tim. 2:11–13; Titus 3:4–8). With the possible exception of the saying in 1 Timothy 3, each “trustworthy saying” deals with salvation. We see several interlocking truths: Jesus Christ is a Savior who came to save sinners. Salvation comes not by works but through faith and Spirit wrought regeneration. Those who truly believe will devote themselves to good works and persevere to the end.

Second, we can look at the various creedal formulas (1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5; 3:16; 6:15–16; Titus 2:11–15). With these verses, we get an even better sense of what constitutes the good deposit of the gospel. There is one God, and He is unspeakably glorious. There is one Mediator, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for ours. Jesus is a great God and Savior who appeared in the flesh and ascended into heaven. He is coming again. We have been saved by the grace of God that we might live holy lives.

Third, Paul opposes certain doctrines associated with false teaching (1 Tim. 1:8–11; 4:1–3; 2 Tim. 2:18; Titus 1:16). These errors boil down to two mistakes: legalism and license. Some false teachers were leading people to perdition by calling darkness light and insisting that a life of sin was consistent with the gospel. On the other hand, others were pushing an unhealthy asceticism and imposing man-made rules. Both mistakes threaten the gospel.

Fourth, we get a glimpse of the essentials of the faith by noting what beliefs are explicitly linked to the gospel and sound doctrine (1 Tim. 1:8–10; 2:8; 2 Tim. 3:14–17). We see in these verses that sound faith is determined by our fidelity to Scripture. We also see that the gospel is a message about Jesus Christ, who gave us grace before the ages began and saved us unto works and immortality. This is all because of grace, not according to our works, but in accordance with God’s eternal purposes.

From these four sets of passages we can begin to sketch what the essentials look like: God is glorious; we are sinners; and Jesus Christ is our Savior and God. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and God in the flesh; He died and rose again; He ascended into heaven; He is coming again. Salvation is by sovereign grace, according to the converting power of the Holy Spirit, through faith, not according to our works. The Scriptures are wholly inspired and true. Jesus Christ saves us from sin, saves us for eternal life, and saves us unto holiness. Any gospel that denies these essentials— or ignores them, marginalizes them, leads people to doubt them, or is ashamed of them—is a different gospel.

2. Listen to the communion of the saints.

Tradition must never trump Scripture. But if we love Scripture, we will learn from the traditions of the church. We are not the first people to read the Bible. We are not the only ones who have had the Spirit to help us. God has been at work over the centuries to shape and protect the truth by means of His church (1 Tim. 3:15). This means we should be extra cautious before believing something almost no Christians have believed before (like the goodness of homosexuality) and extremely hesitant before rejecting something almost every church has accepted (like the reality of hell). By the same token, we should be less dogmatic about issues that have divided Christians for centuries (like the millennium).

Those who wrote the ancient creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Chalcedonian Definition, were not infallible, but these creeds have served as effective guardrails, keeping God’s people on the path of truth. It would take extraordinary new insight or extraordinary hubris to jettison these ancient formulas. They provide faithful summaries of the most important doctrines of the faith. That’s why the Heidelberg Catechism refers us to the Apostles’ Creed, “a creed beyond doubt, and confessed through the world,” when it asks, “What then must a Christian believe?” (Q&A 22–23).

Similarly, John Calvin states (as a kind of throwaway comment) that the “principles of religion” include: “God is one; Christ is God and the Son of God; our salvation rests in God’s mercy; and the like” (Institutes 4.1.12). John Owen provides a similar list, asserting that the “principal fundamentals of Christian religion” affirm “the Lord Christ to be the eternal Son of God, with the use of efficacy of his death, as also the personal subsistence and deity of the Holy Spirit” (Works of John Owen 15:83). Later, Owen expands the list to include: believing in God the Father, looking for salvation in Christ alone, professing obedience unto Him, believing that God raised Him from the dead, insisting on personal holiness, and “many other sacred truths of the same importance” (84). These short statements confirm that we were on the right track with our summary statements under point one.

3. Distinguish between landing theology and launching theology. Some doctrines represent different conclusions reached from basically the same premises. Other doctrines are starting points that set us on a wildly different trajectory. For example, the difference between postmillennialism and amillennialism is not a difference over first things. The two sides simply disagree how best to interpret a few disputed texts. It’s a matter of landing theology. By contrast, the doctrine of Scripture (to give one example) is about launching theology. If we get that doctrine wrong, we are bound to mess up everything else.

4. Distinguish between the explicit teaching of Scripture and the application of scriptural principles. The Bible clearly teaches that parents train their children in the way of the Lord. It is less clear about how to do that. The Bible does not definitely answer the question as to whether kids should go to public school, Christian school, or home school. Different Christians may reach different conclusions based on good Christian principles. To make the Bible speak dogmatically on this issue is to force the Bible into all sorts of anachronisms.

5. Distinguish between church existence and church health. Lose some doctrines and you no longer have a church. Lose other doctrines and your church is not everything it should be. The latter is still a problem worth correcting, but you can exercise more patience and gentleness in getting there.

6. Avoid foolish controversies. This is another common theme in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim. 1:4–6; 4:7; 6:4, 20; 2 Tim. 2:14, 16, 23; 4:4; Titus 1:14; 3:9). Some doctrinal disputes are worth dying for, others are just dumb. We should steer clear of theological wrangling that is speculative (goes beyond Scripture), vain (more about being right than being helpful), endless (no real answer is possible or desired), and needless (mere semantics).

7. Allow for areas of disagreement, especially regarding “conversion baggage.” Paul is most flexible when it comes to the traditions of new converts. He is willing for Christians to be convinced in their own minds about certain days and foods (Rom. 14:5). This isn’t because Paul doesn’t know what to think. He knows that these external habits aren’t required. But he’s willing to let others continue in them so as not to violate conscience. You may know that drinking alcohol and eating meat on Fridays during Lent are perfectly fine, but it’s not worth upsetting sincere Christians who still have trouble with such practices.

Over, around, and in all these steps we must put on love—love for God, love for neighbor, love for truth, and love for the church. The point in drawing lines is not to be right or even courageous. The goals are to love God by proclaiming and protecting His Word, and to love others by putting up fences to keep out wolves and nurture green pastures. The hard work of setting boundaries must not be ignored. God calls us to it for His glory and our good.

continuationist

CH Spurgeon a continuationist? His words from Sword and Trowel ...

Our personal pathway has been so frequently directed contrary to our own design and beyond our own conception by singularly powerful impulses, and irresistibly suggestive providences, that it were wanton wickedness for us to deride the doctrine that God occasionally grants to his servants a special and perceptible manifestation of his will for their guidance, over and above the strengthening energies of the Holy Spirit, and the sacred teaching of the inspired Word. We are not likely to adopt the peculiarities of the Quakers, but in this respect we are heartily agreed with them.

It needs a deliberate and judicious reflection to distinguish between the actual and apparent in professedly preternatural intimations, and if opposed to Scripture and common sense, we must neither believe in them nor obey them. The precious gift of reason is not to be ignored; we are not to be drifted hither and thither by every wayward impulse of a fickle mind, nor are we to be led into evil by suppositious impressions; these are misuses of a great truth, a murderous use of most useful edged tools. But notwithstanding all the folly of hair-brained rant, we believe that the unseen hand may be at times assuredly felt by gracious souls, and the mysterious power which guided the minds of the seers of old may, even to this day, sensibly overshadow reverent spirits. We would speak discreetly, but we dare say no less.

Friday, July 06, 2012

complementatianism


I don't know why John Piper thought it helpful to announce that Christianity has a masculine feel. I think it does but I'm not sure why that would come up in conversation or why I would make a public statement to that effect. That aside, he did ... and the usual suspects pounced; concluding he spoke in a hurtful way about women. They demonstrate the shallowness of their thinking by arguing around his point but not to it.

First, regarding the hurtful speaking about women, here's their quote of Piper - find the hurtful speaking. [And here are the conference videos - I didn't take time to try to find the ugliness - let me know if you find anything worse than the below.]
"God revealed Himself in the Bible pervasively as king not queen; father not mother," Piper said. "The second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son not daughter; the Father and the Son create man and woman in His image and give them the name man, the name of the male...God appoints all the priests in the Old Testament to be men; the Son of God came into the world to be a man; He chose 12 men to be His apostles; the apostles appointed that the overseers of the Church be men; and when it came to marriage they taught that the husband should be the head."
"Now, from all of that I conclude that God has given Christianity a masculine feel,” Piper continued. “And being God, a God of love, He has done that for our maximum flourishing both male and female... He does not intend for women to languish or be frustrated or in any way suffer or fall short of full and lasting joy in this masculine Christianity. From which I infer that the fullest flourishing of women and men takes place in churches and families that have this masculine feel.”
I missed it, where is the sting? Now one may argue his conclusion is incorrect or as I that it is unhelpful, but I don't see the hurt toward women.

Then they cite Scripture where God attributes to Himself feminine attributes - as though Piper is unaware. God does this. And Piper knows. But I love their money quote ... John Calvin [use the words of a reformer to attack a reformer even when you don't agree with the former], "God has chosen to liken Himself to a female and we are the fruit of His womb." So? Tony Reinke outlines a longer list along with an excellent discussion on the point in Our Mother Who Art In Heaven. And the whole thing further demonstrates that this group lacks understanding. 

In that same article, Reinke also addresses the major miss from the detractors by high-lighting the difference between masculinity vs. femininity and male vs. female - something liberals cannot seem to get right. In fact, they work overtime to confuse the two in their quest for gender neutrality and sexual perversion.

Now I don't think all egalitarians are of that camp but I do think all in that camp are egalitarians because  to understand complementarianism would be to see the beauty in God our King, we as unworthy lovers made clean by His work, and married to Him forever. Since they are bent on all being acceptable, sin being brokenness, rejecting the atonement, etc..., this just doesn't fit. Rebellion is their nature. Again, not true of all egalitarians but true of this group of haters.

Speaking of complementarianism, here's a great post by Mary Kassian - Complementarianism for Dummies.

what i would do


Stephen Altrogge posts What Would I Do If My Daughter Told Me She Was Gay? Very well done Stephen - please drop by his blog for a look.

My oldest daughter, Charis, is four, so hopefully we’re a little while away from having any sort of sex talk. But at some point in the future I’m sure I’ll be talking to Charis, along with the rest of my kids, about sexuality, and there’s the possibility that one of my kids will experience homosexual attraction.

What would I do if Charis told me that she was experiencing homosexual attractions?

The first thing I’d do is give her a giant hug and tell her that nothing, nothing, nothing can ever change my love for her. She’s my precious little girl, and nothing is ever going to change that. I’d thank her for telling me about her feelings and tell her that she can always tell me anything, no matter how big or small. I want my kids to feel comfortable telling me anything, and to know that I won’t get angry with them no matter what they tell me.

I’d tell her that God loves her even more than I do. He created her in his image, and because of that, she is precious to him. He sent his son to die for her sins, which also proves that she is precious to him.

Then I’d tell her that if she follows Jesus, her sexuality is not her identity. Her identity is rooted in Christ. She is a child of God who has the Holy Spirit dwelling in her. Her fundamental identity is not her sexual desires, her fundamental identity is as a forgiven sinner, united to Christ, full of the Holy Spirit. That’s what Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 5:17 when he said:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

I’d say, “Sweetie, if you follow after Jesus, your identity is as a new creation in Jesus. These desires that you’re experiencing don’t define who you are. Jesus defines who you are. You are his. You belong to him. That is your identity. It’s who you are.”

Then I’d gently take her hand and say, “Charis, following Jesus is really costly. Jesus even said that we have to die to ourselves. He said we have to take up our cross and follow him. That means submitting every facet of our lives to King Jesus, including our sexual desires. If you’re going to follow Jesus, you’re going to have to submit these desires to Jesus. You can’t give in to them because the Bible says that any sexual expression outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is wrong.”

She might ask, “Will God take these desires away from me?”

“I don’t know,” I’d say. “But I do know this – he’ll give you the power not to give in to them. That’s the beauty of the gospel. Jesus forgives all of our sins and then gives us the power not to give in to our sinful desires. And it will be hard, and it will be costly, and there will be times when you will feel lonely, but Jesus is worth it. He is so worth it. When you hear Jesus say, ‘Well done good and faithful servant’, it will be worth it!”

“But why do I have these desires?” she might ask.

“Well sweetie,” I’d say. “Sin has distorted every person’s sexuality. Every time I’m tempted to lust after a woman, that’s a distortion of my sexuality. Every time you’re tempted to lust after a person of the same sex, that’s also distortion. See, you and I are the same. It just works itself out a little bit differently. We both desperately need Jesus. But the wonderful thing is, Jesus is in the process of repairing the distortions. He gives me power to not give in to lust, even though it feels really strong at times. He can give you that same power. And someday, when he comes back, everything sad and broken will finally be undone.”

Then I’d say, “You know what? We’ll keep talking about this, but right now, let’s go get ice cream”.

the will of god

Kevin DeYoung in Just Do Something:

..., the will of God for your life is pretty straightforward: Be holy like Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of God.

reftagger