Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Independence Day, Flags, and Rainbows

July 3, 2015

Romans 2:4-5:  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 


To help us appreciate the Sacred nature of America’s birth, and the way in which the celebration of her birth was to be commemorated in a Christian society, I offer the words of Founding Father John Adams (emphasis mine):

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epoch, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty (http://www1.american.edu/heintze/Adams.htm.)


This independence Day, July 4, 2015, will be the first in which mourning rather than celebration is the appropriate behavior, as we remember an America that once was, but now is deceased.  Oh, there will be celebrations all right, but many of the celebrants will be committing acts of devotion to Bacchus, not God Almighty.  America has rejected God’s blessings, and now stokes the fires of His Rage. We are but one or two steps from retiring the Stars and Stripes and raising the Rainbow flag in its place.  


The funny thing about that Rainbow flag, representing Sodomy as it does.  When God destroyed all living with a flood of water, saving only Noah and his family, God used the rainbow to symbolize his covenant with a fresh new world, purged of sin and ready to be replenished.   

Genesis 9:13:  I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.


But sin found its way into the New Earth soon, with Noah’s son Ham committing an act of sexual perversion on his own father.  It is thought by some that Ham’s son Canaan participated in the evil deed also, or even that the “younger son” referred to in the passage is in fact Canaan, not Ham.

Genesis 9:24:  And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.

As to what exactly what was done, it is clearly inferred from the text that a gross act of sin was “done unto him”;  one that warranted one of the most severe curses found in scripture:

Genesis 9:25-27:  And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.  And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.  God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

So God blessed mankind and symbolized the covenant with a rainbow, and man responded by reintroducing sin into the freshly purged world.  And today man takes that sacred symbol and uses it to blaspheme God; to revile Him, to display for all to see their hard and impenitent hearts, their hatred of God, and their love of death. Yet for all their provocations of God’s wrath and abuses of His patience, when they have finally filled full the winepress of His wrath, as He pours out His vials upon them, they will yet again accuse God of cruelty and malice, and will not repent of their blasphemies.

Revelation 16:11:  And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.  

Theology: God and Logic

November 13, 2011

In one of my first posts in 2007 on this blog entitled “John 1:1 Commentary”, I said this: 

John says “In the beginning was the Logos” What can we learn about Logos? We can learn that Logos is God expressing Himself in a person – the person of His Eternal Son – Christ, Jesus, Our Lord. But what more of Logos can we learn? This: We get the word “logic” from “logos”. Many Bible teachers imply or outrightly declare that “God is not logical”. This notion comes from unwillingness on the part of the Bible student to resolve apparent contradictions (there are no actual contradictions in the Bible) in a logical way. Why are they unwilling? Because they don’t like the obvious conclusions that scripture will lead them to. They prefer to declare the word of God to be a “mystery”, or a “paradox”; two seemingly contradictory truths that remain in perpetual tension, and have no resolution.

I would ask you this: do you really think God is illogical? Or as some would say – alogical? I would think that we would accept from the onset, as the Apostle John presents it, that Christ is God’s LOGICAL personification.

In support of my comments, I found the following short treatise on the matter as I was browsing the internet – comments very important in Christian Theology and missing from many churches today.

The basic laws of logic are neither arbitrary inventions of God nor principles that exist completely outside God’s being. Obviously, the laws of logic are not like the laws of nature. God may violate the latter (say, suspend gravity), but He cannot violate the former. Those laws are rooted in God’s own nature. Indeed, some scholars think the passage “In the beginning was the Word [logos]” (Jn 1:1) is accurately translated, “In the beginning was Logic (a divine, rational mind).” For example, even God cannot exist and not exist at the same time, and even God cannot validly believe that red is a color and red is not a color. When people say that God need not behave “logically,” they are using the term in a loose sense to mean “the sensible thing from my point of view.” Often God does not act in ways that people understand or judge to be what they would do in the circumstances. But God never behaves illogically in the proper sense. He does not violate in His being or thought the fundamental laws of logic.  (from http://christian-apologetics.org/2011/what-are-the-three-laws-of-logic/).

Notice the statement, “the laws of logic are not like the laws of nature. God may violate the latter (say, suspend gravity), but He cannot violate the former. Those laws are rooted in God’s own nature.”  Herein lies the trip-wire for too many Bible students.  They assume wrongly that God’s ability to violate the laws of nature represents an ability to be illogical.  This stems from the confusion of deduction and induction.

The modern mind has been trained to think inductively.  The scientific method is based on inductive reasoning, which is why knowledge gained by the so-called scientific method a most UNRELIABLE source of knowledge, much contrary to popular opinion.  Inductive reasoning is reasoning based on observations, particularly observations of nature.  Inductive reasoning claims that if some number of repeated actions all produce the same result, then it can be safely ASSUMED that those given actions will ALWAYS produce the same results.  Now, this sounds good, and indeed without dispute has been greatly beneficial in the development of modern medicine, engineering feats, and other such great accomplishments.  We are greatly indebted to the scientists that have used the scientific method to inductively discover the inner workings of the natural order and used that knowledge for our betterment.  However, scientific induction, failing to foresee the consequences of its inability to account for ALL possible outcomes, has often failed catastrophically, resulting in sickness, death, turmoil, and uncertainty in the human world it seeks to inoculate.

But even more catastrophic is the failure of scientific induction to answer the really big questions – questions about purpose, feeling, origins, and faith – that has dealt a mortal wound to the hope of man, engulfing him in nihilistic futility and doubt.  In terms of producing knowledge of things beyond the natural world, modern science has been and will always be an abysmal failure. 

Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation”.  Now we might have some discussion as to His meaning of this, but the implications are obvious.  The ways of God are not clamped inescapably to nature.  Indeed, He is far above the natural physical world (transcendent). 

The knowledge of God, being beyond the physical world, starts with metaphysical axioms, and relies on deduction rather than induction to discover the implications of those axioms.  For many people who deny the existence of God, it is equally necessary to deny truth, and more specifically, axiomatic (indisputable) truth.  Logic is where they meet there match, for they futilly deny the undeniable truth that “a” cannot be “not a” at the same time and in the same way.  This is an axiom.  This is metaphysical.  This is not simply “nature”, but is the Nature of God.  This is not the nature which God is above, but this is the nature of which GOD IS.

In light of the importance of metaphysics and the obvious inability of physics (modern science) to even approach questions of faith, I find it very curious that such an atheist and doubter as Steven Hawking  has usurped the role of Knower of All Things, delving into what for him ought to be nothing more than rank speculation about the origins, purpose, and destination of the universe and life itself. 

One would think that educators, regardless of religious mindset, would be highly disturbed by the influence of men like Hawking on young people who see him as an intellectual icon.  Hawking and others like him simply proclaim their opinions as if they were undisputable, established facts; not so unlike the alleged statements by a Russian cosmonaut, who supposedly said, “We went to outer space and we didn’t see God there”, which was supposed to be some sort of proof that He doesn’t in fact exist!  Lord, save us from this type of convoluted, illogical thinking.  Amen.

By the way, at the time of this writing, as far as I can tell, Mr. Hawking currently does not believe there is a God.  I point this out because it’s my understanding that in some previous time, he did hold to at least a possibility of a God.  And perhaps by the time I publish this article, he will have changed his mind again, for this is the nature of inductive reasoning – always looking for evidence to support a hypothesis, and never being able to come to the knowledge (certainty) of the truth.  Thus, there is a God one day, there isn’t One the next day; a certain medicine is good for you today, tomorrow, it’s bad for you; there is global warming one day, and not global warming but instead global turbulence the next; and so on.  And it seems that when scientists change their mind, they are at least as certain they are right THIS TIME as they were BEFORE!

It’s one thing to invest some guarded trust in these kind of thinkers when it comes to our bodily health, but should we ever trust our souls to them?  Maybe it’s time for we the people living the modern/post-modern world to build our hope on this axiom:

“In the beginning was the Word*; and the Word* was with God, and the Word* was God”.

*Logos/Logic

Economics, Second Lesson: WORK, the First Foundation of Prosperity

August 27, 2010

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (II Thess 3:10)

 In case I haven’t said this before, I am not a professional economist (I make my living as a Military Education and Training Manager), nor do I have a degree in economics (but I do have a BA in Religion and Philosophy, Sterling College, 2010), nor has economics been the focus of the larger portion of my studies (that honor goes to the Bible and all things related to it).  However, a lifetime of observation, along with a couple of college courses in Economics, and a great deal of independent study has led me to certain obvious conclusions concerning economics.

 One of those obvious conclusions is that we (America) are NOT HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!  How is that, you say?

 Well, let me summarize it this way:  We are violating God’s Word every day.

 No, that’s not hyperbole.  It’s no exaggeration.  Stealing is a violation of the 8th Commandment, and the U.S. Government steals every day.  We covered that in our first installment of our economic commentary.

 Another way we violate God’s world every day is by allowing people that will not work to have food.  Yes, you read that right.  The Bible plainly says that if anyone will not work, neither should they eat.

 Now to save myself from the indignation of those that may not understand this law, let me say that I do not wish or desire in any way that non-working people will begin starving in the streets of our country.  No, I do not mean that at all; nor is the biblical passage I quoted to be taken to that extreme, absolute understanding.

 The key to the passage is the word “would”, which indicates that the violators of this law is not those who cannot work, but those who will not work.

 Unfortunately, in today’s society, work has lost its full original meaning, its vital role in imparting meaning to life, and separating the human being from the automaton world of animals.  This and other higher purposes of work will be the subject of future installments, but for now I’ll concentrate on the most basic purpose of work – sustenance.

 The scripture with which I opened the post makes it very plain – if a person will not work, that person should not eat. 

 Is the Bible the Word of God?  I say yes, but I’ll let the read abide by his or her own conscience.  But let’s be perfectly clear that the biblical rule is plain.  If a person wants to eat, that person must work.  It’s just that simple.

 Many people have a dreamy, euphoric, utopian idea of God’s economy.  We’ve watched movies where people sit quietly around the feet of Christ and everyone seems happy and well fed.  But the fact is that Christ’s first disciples had to work to eat, the Church fathers had to work to eat, I have to work to eat – EVERYONE has to work to eat.  Those that eat but won’t work are stealing from those that do work.  This is a take-home truth for all people and societies, whether Christian or not.

 But again, this rebuke has nothing to do with people that cannot work, or has left off of working for an income because they have accumulated enough savings to do so, or are receiving a pension.  People that cannot work are to be the recipients of charity (a subject for a future post), and people with savings or pensions earned their income through work.  But this rebuke DOES apply to those who see nothing wrong with living off the labor of others.  Indeed, I will drive this home to our present situation.  I am advocating the total elimination of state-sponsored welfare.  Giving people who will not work money and food is a violation of God’s word.  Stop it!

Now, let me explain that the elimination of welfare must be accompanied by the elimination of the minimum wage.  The elimination of welfare and the minimum wage together would have the effect of practially ending unemployment.  Every able-bodied man would be expected to work, and most of them would gladly work.  Many men are on welfare, or selling drugs, or just bumming around that would work if they had an expectation of finding a job.  Not only would eliminating the minimum wage make jobs abundant, it would actually drive wages UP for many workers.  Money otherwise spent on over-paying part time teenage employees could be spent on better pay for experienced and skilled workers.  So we see that doing away with two American idols – welfare and the minimum wage – would bring about a tremendous boom in the area of economy and also in the area of societal morale.

We’ll continue our little discourse on work next time.  In the mean time, the reader should exercise his mind on the following article by Jordan Ballor on the Acton Institute website, access on 25 Aug 2010 at

 http://www.acton.org/pub/commentary/2010/07/28/lutheran-world-federation-misses-mark-work-and-wea

The eleventh General Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation wrapped up yesterday, and the theme of the conference was a petition from the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). There was a good deal of reflection and self-expression from the hundreds of delegates gathered in Stuttgart, Germany, on topics related to global poverty and hunger. And while the assembly’s introduction explicitly noted the contribution of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the LWF meeting would have been improved if there had been a more substantive integration of Bonhoeffer’s views on the ecumenical movement, poverty, and work, into its proceedings.

 The LWF is a global ecumenical body consisting of 140 member churches in 79 countries, representing over 70 million Christians. The LWF, founded in Lund, Sweden in 1947, has much to learn from the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed in the prime of his life by the Nazis two years earlier. This year’s LWF assembly opened on July 20, the sixty-sixth anniversary of the failed Stauffenberg plot to assassinate Hitler, in which Bonhoeffer was implicated. This year also represents the seventy-fifth anniversary of one of Bonhoeffer’s most significant essays, “The Confessing Church and the Ecumenical Movement.” In this essay, Bonhoeffer challenges the ecumenical movement to identify itself as either an institutional form of the Christian church, with all the attendant responsibilities and duties, or as a simple gathering of interested Christians, with no binding authority or official purview.

In the latter case, says Bonhoeffer, the actions of such a group would have “only a neutral character, not involving any confession, and this conversation might only have the informative character of a discussion, without including a judgment or even a decision on this or that doctrine, or even church.” In the intervening decades, Bonhoeffer’s challenge continues to resonate, since the LWF, for instance, continues to waver between its self-understanding as an expression of Christian communion on the one side, and its political and social activism on the other.

The problem with the social witness of the LWF and the broader ecumenical movement is not simply that it addresses problems like hunger or poverty. It is, instead, the way in which it has done so, as typified in the recent Stuttgart meeting. Here we saw statements decrying “illegitimate debt,” the privileging of “profits over people,” and in the words of LWF general secretary Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, “the gap between those who do not have enough to eat and those who have far more than they need.” But beyond this kind of activist jingoism, or pietistic bewailing, there was precious little in terms of helpful analysis of the complex realities of a globalized world.

Rather than engage in the difficult work of providing a coherent and normative basis for responsible social proclamation, the LWF preferred instead — as is so often the case in the deliberations of mainline ecumenical groups — to point to “neoliberal globalization” as the structural injustice causing extreme poverty in the world. The missing element in the LWF’s poverty discussions, most recently at the General Assembly, has been a nuanced and comprehensive valuation of the role of creative work and entrepreneurship in the creation of material wealth. The social witness of ecumenical groups like the LWF have, for the better part of the past 50 years, consistently undermined work and labor as God’s order of blessings to provide material sustenance for humankind.

Bonhoeffer himself identified the mandate of “work” and “culture” (in the sense of human cultivation of God’s creation) as one of the four arenas (in addition to the family, church, and government) in which we fulfill our calling to serve God through our service to others. There are certainly cases in which God miraculously or specially provides material goods for our wellbeing, such as manna and quail from heaven (Exodus 16) or the seemingly bottomless baskets of bread and fish (Mark 6:30-44). But the regular means that God has graciously ordered in the world for meeting our physical needs is the realm of work.

We can see this in the Apostle’s injunction, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). Far too little of the LWF deliberations about the nature of food and hunger, work and poverty, have focused on the role of human labor in economic relationships. The difference between the productive worker in a modern economy and the subsistence labor in primitive societies is the extent to which the worker and the fruits of his or her labor are brought into relationship with neighbors: local, regional, national, and international.

As the Reformed author Lester DeKoster writes in his little classic, Work: The Meaning of Your Life—A Christian Perspective, “Our working puts us in the service of others; the civilization that work creates puts others in the service of ourselves. Thus, work restores the broken family of humankind.” This connection of work to civilization is achieved through the kind of relationships made possible in a globalized world. And the ideological opposition to globalization manifest in the ecumenical movement would relegate the labor of those in the developing world to the margins of civilization itself.

As Bonhoeffer writes of the relationship between work and our daily bread, “the bread is God’s free and gracious gift. We cannot simply take it for granted that our own work provides us with bread; rather this is God’s order of grace.” It is precisely this “order of grace” that the developing world needs most, and the social witness of the ecumenical movement offers least.

 

Future topics: 

The Three Classes of Work:  Sustaining, Productive, and Fulfilling

Charity

The Elements of Prosperity: Work, Freedom, Innovation, Creativity, Rights.

Poverty:  Where the elements of prosperity do not exist, prosperity itself does not exist.

A Problem for Dispensationalism: Zion

February 13, 2010

What is “Zion”?

Dispensationalism quickly answers, “Jerusalem”.

Now Dispensationalism has a problem.  Not only does the New Testament forthrightly define Zion as the Church, but the Old Testament frequently refers to Zion in an idealistic, metaphorical way, pointing to a place of eternal wonder and perfection.  This certainly does not, nor did it ever, describe the earthly Jerusalem.

William Gadsby, an early 19th century Baptist Pastor, preached a sermon called “Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities.

Here is the first paragraph taken from the web site http://www.truegospel.net/Gadsby/016.htm:

By Zion I understand the real church of Christ, and, in the strictest sense, the whole body elect, chosen, and secured in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world: “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” (Ps. 132:13,14) So that Zion is the spiritual property, the glorious church, and the eternal residence of Jehovah. Here the Lord not only declares but subscribes his name, and maintains all the honours of his glorious nature; and to this blessed Zion every real believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is brought by the power of the Holy Ghost; as it is written, “But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” (Heb. 12:22-24) From this statement we learn that Zion is the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the glorious vision of peace, where God lives and dwells as the God of peace, and that it consists of an innumerable company of angels; and if by angels the glorious angelic host above is intended, they are an innumerable company indeed; for “the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels;” (Ps. 68:17) and the mountain was full of them for the protection of Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)

I would invite my dispensational Baptist friends to click on the link and read the rest of the sermon.

It’s interesting that dispensationalists like to brag about their version of the faith being “old fashioned”, yet even the most shallow review of Baptist history reveals that no Baptists believed in the dispensational scheme before the 1920’s.  The true “old fashioned” version of Baptist theology is Covenantal, mostly in the Amillennial mode, and to a lesser degree, in the Historic Premillennial mode, but never is it Dispensational before World War I.

The true Old Fashioned Gospel tells us that God has made “of twain” (Jew and Gentile) “one new man” (The Church) (Eph 2:15).  With the finished work of Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek” in the eyes of God (Gal 3:28).  The hope of salvation for the Jews is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, not Moses.  They are commanded to enter into the New Covenant in His Blood, signified by Baptism and Lord’s Supper.  They are not to continue in Temple worship, or offer sacrifices of any sort, lest they tread the Blood of Christ under foot.  They must repent.  They are not God’s people by the blood of Abraham.  Only through the Blood of Christ may they be restored to God.  This is “dispensational” truth.  The old dispensation is over, and the new has been inaugurated.  The old dispensation is over, God ain’t goin’ back to it.  Jews must be “born, not of blood [Abraham’s], nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).

I Love Dispensationalists…

October 20, 2009

…just so you’ll know, I don’t have it out for dispensationalists.  Some of them are among the men and women I respect the most of all people I know on earth.

People like John MacArthur cause me to glow with pride when I see him on national television upholding the truth of the Bible and telling millions of viewers that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.  And the contribution of one of his associates – Phil Johnson – to the propagation of truth is inestimable.

Another that comes to mind is Charles Stanley, whom God has used to bring untold thousands into the faith of Christ.  I could name so many more.

I spent over twenty years as a member, teacher, preacher, deacon, and pastor of Independent Fundamental Baptist churches.  Though I have moved on to a different identity (Independent Reformed), I still hold great respect for some of those fundamental men that stood, and continue to stand, boldly against the allurements of this evil world.  All of them were dispensational – and some of them were true, great, men of God.

But I believe they are very, very wrong in their dispensational theology.  I know it hurts my dispensational friends to read this.  They may consider me to be a traitor, a liberal, an “allegorist” – but none of this is true, and I only wish they might see these things clearly.

And though I love them, I don’t know if I could work together with them in a ministry or church.  Not because of feelings – no, not that at all, for my feelings tell me to put it aside – but because of the complete contradiction that the dispensational system brings against the covenant system.  Not only that, but once someone comes to understand the role of the Church in God’s plan, you simply cannot bear the thought of the Church being made a sort of afterthought necessitated by the refusal of God’s “real” people (the biological descendants of Abraham) to accept their Messiah.

The Bible is so filled with the certainty that Christ and His Church is the fulfillment of all things promised to Israel, I don’t know how it can be missed, even though I have to admit that I read the Bible for years and missed it the whole time.

The funny thing is, when I first became convinced of the truths of the theological system commonly called “Calvinism”, I knew I had entered a completely different way of seeing and understanding the scriptures.  But even then, I never imagined that I would ever be any thing but a dispensationalists – a Calvinist, yes, but a Dispensational Calvinist, much in the line of John MacArthur. 

Only by way of a sort of academic pursuit did I come to press myself to make an attempt at understanding Covenant Theology.  Hear a little, there a little, and the whole idea began to take root.  And over a long period of time, and with much less hoopla, my change from dispensationalism to covenantalism followed the pattern of my change from Arminianism to Calvinism.  By and by, and alas, I was convinced, and am this day more convinced than ever, of the overwhelming biblical evidence and truth of that way of understanding the scripture that is called “Covenant Theology”.

To my dispensational friends I say as Paul said, “Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”*

 

*Gal 4:16

Why Can’t Dispensationalists Agree on the New Covenant?

September 25, 2009

A large group of dispensationalists gathered together recently in an effort to pound out a definition of the biblical words “new covenant.”   More information about that meeting can be found here:

http://www.baptistbulletin.org/?p=5104

Why is so hard for dispensationalists to define these words that have been in the Bible for two thousand years?

One reason for this difficulty is that they can see the implications of a proper understanding of the new covenant.  Many dispensationalists, if not most,  place the New Covenant:  1)  In the future; and 2) for Jews only.

Now, understanding the New Covenant is not that difficult.  The plain fact is that the new covenant is the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ for all of God’s people, both Jew and Gentile, and the calling of those diverse nations into one body through faith in Jesus.  Even the most casual reading of the Pauline epistles and the book of Hebrews will reveal this.  It seems highly perplexing to me that the dispensationalists like to champion the cause of “plain interpretation” of biblical passages, yet they can’t seem to apply it to passages that are the most plain and easy to understand.

The problem is, this simple definition of the New Covenant crashes many of dispensationalism’s theories.   You see, the dispensationalist MUST find a way to re-divide the Jews from the Gentiles after the “Church Age”.  The dispensationalist MUST find a way that God will some day in the future save people by human DNA instead of by grace.

It is a sad commentary indeed when one attendant pastor admits his ignorance of this crucial New Testament doctrine:

“In two weeks I need to stand before my congregation and lead a communion service,” Workman said. “I need to be able to explain what Christ meant when he said, ‘This is the new covenant in My blood.’” 

Very sad.  O!  If my brethren were to just open to Augustine, or Calvin, or Henry, or the Westminster Divines, or Gill, or the 1689 Baptists – they could save themselves so much time and so many headaches. 

Here is Gill’s comments on Hebrews 8, provided for my dispensational friends:

God promises a “new covenant”; so called, not because newly made; for with respect to its original constitution, it was made from eternity; Christ the Mediator of it, and with whom it was made, was set up from everlasting; and promises and blessings of grace were put into his hands before the world began: nor is it newly revealed, for it was made known to Adam, and in some measure to all the Old Testament saints, though it is more clearly revealed than it was; but it is so called in distinction from the former administration of it, which is waxen old, and vanished away; and with respect to the order of succession, it taking place upon the former being removed; and on account of the time of its more clear revelation and establishment being in the last days; and because of its mode of administration, which is different from the former, in a new way, and by the use of new ordinances; and because it is always new, its vigour and efficacy are perpetual; it will never be antiquated, or give place to another; and it provides for, and promises new things, a new heart, a new spirit, &c. to which may be added, that it is a famous, excellent covenant, there is none like it; just as an excellent song is called a new song. The persons with whom this covenant is promised to be made, are the houses of Israel and Judah; which being literally taken, had its fulfilment in the first times of the Gospel, through the ministry of John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles, by whom this covenant was made known to God’s elect among the twelve tribes; but being mystically understood, includes both Jews and Gentiles, the whole Israel of God; Israel not after the flesh, but after the Spirit; such as were Jews inwardly; God’s elect of every nation: the word suntelesw, rendered, “I will make”, signifies, I will consummate, or finish, or end, or fulfil it; which shows the perfection of this covenant, and the imperfection of the former; and that what was typified in the first is fulfilled in this; and that it is now established and ratified by Christ; and is so finished, as to the manifestation and administration of it, that there will be no alteration made in it, nor any addition to it: the time of doing all this is called “the days to come”; the last days, the days of the Messiah, which were future in Jeremiah’s time: and a “behold” is prefixed to the whole, as a note of attention, this being an affair of great moment and importance; and as a note of demonstration, or as pointing to something that was desired and expected; and as a note of admiration, it containing things wonderful and marvellous.

So simple.  So plain.  So true.

By the way, please forgive if I seem to be taunting  dispensationalists a little.  No disrespect intended.

 

From Joel McDurmon at American Vision: Blashphemy and Freedom

June 7, 2009

The following article is copied directly from the American Vision website at http://www.americanvision.org/article/blasphemy-and-freedom/

I’m assuming that I am not violating any copyright laws or Internet eticate by copying the post as I am doing here, but if so, somebody let me know and I will delete it.

I urge my readers to read this article and think about what it is saying.

Although I don’t consider myself a “dominionist”, nor do I hold any particular affection for theonomy, I do listen to the Gary Demar Show and visit the American Vision web site almost daily.  Whether I agree with them or not, I appreciate the usually well-researched and thought-out opinions they articulate.  

This article and the one I will be post afterwards shows us the eternal, transcendent significance of words, something I tried to express way back in one of my first posts on this blog in attempting to exegete the word “logos” in John 1:1 (and clumsily trying to work in some Clarkian scripturalism with it).

Joel —not me— but McDurmon, gets it right here, as does Erick in the post to follow.

Blasphemy and Freedom

Article Image: 2009June05 - Blasphemy and Freedom

by Joel McDurmon

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain (Ex. 20:4-6).

You’ve probably heard the question, “What’s in a name?” Remember that it comes from that famous dialogue between Romeo and Juliet? The maiden from the window above says,

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name;

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

…which was her surname. Romeo mumbles to himself, listens on; Juliet continues:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;

Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

What’s a Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,

Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,

Retain that dear perfection which he owes

Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,

And for that name which is no part of thee

Take all myself.[1]

In Juliet’s view, names are, or should be, so meaningless that they can simply be switched whenever convenient. The problem is, society just doesn’t work that way. In fact, her own woe, you may recall, derived from the fact that her and her lover came from feuding families, and those families having detested each other for generations, could not even stand the nameof the other for all that it entailed. She argues that the substance of the thing, or of the person, and not the label, should determine why we value them. But when long use establishes a certain character with a certain appellative, then to overturn that relationship will cause a great social shift. Sometimes, perhaps, that shift needs to take place, other times it necessarily should not. And nowhere is that relationship between character and name more important that at the very foundation of society—religion.

The concept of “God’s name” so closely pertains to His Being and Nature that any affront to any of God’s attributes is subsumed under the very mention of His name. Calvin writes of the Third Commandment, “It is silly and childish to restrict this to the name Jehovah, as if God’s majesty were confined to letters or syllables.… God’s name is profaned whenever any detraction is made from His supreme wisdom, infinite power, justice, clemency, and rectitude.”[2] The reference to God’s name invokes all that God is and stands for.

We have similar references in the New Testament: of Jesus Paul says, there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow (Phil. 2:9-10).

So the idea of the majesty of God as represented by God’s name confronts mankind at every turn of life. And so, the commandment against taking God’s name “in vain” fairly warns us against all forms of action, or neglect, concerning the very nature of the God we serve. It means that the Biblical doctrine of God (Who is He?, What is His nature?, What has He done in history?) must inform every act and every decision we make. If the foundations of society rest upon anything less than that God, when we act in the name of God Almighty (for example, the presidential oath including “So help me God”), we have violated the Third Commandment. Conversely, when society begins to denigrate, curse, or swear at the name or mention of God, then we have an even worse situation in which society has attacked God Himself, and has sought to replace Him with something else as the foundation.

Consider for a moment the language of the Commandment. What does it mean to “take” in this passage? We can understand the word in the sense of “carry” or “bear.” Think in this sense of the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant, or of the Israelites pitching their tents beneath respective standards which bore their identities as children of YHWH. Think of the label “Christian,” first given in Antioch (Acts 11:26), and which we bear today. How do we “carry” that label? How do we present that label to the world, and what justice do we do it? Do we bear it in any degree of vanity or emptiness? Implicit in this Third Commandment is a condemnation of hypocrisy—of wearing a label we don’t measure up to in substance. And in not measuring up, we prove ourselves hypocrites, and we dishonor, we can even say blaspheme, the name of the God whose name we bear.

We have such a low view of taking the Lord’s name in vain today. This results from the overall decline of the religion and the influence of the church in society. Today the idea of cursing seems to have much less to do with God’s name than with more mundane forms of vulgarity. This always happens when religion wanes in society. The Oxford scholar Christopher Hill, a renowned expert on the Puritan era, notes the phenomenon long after the end of that age of piety. Speaking of the power of swearing and oaths he writes, 

They survive in industrialized and protestant countries, but as shadows of their former selves, and often the users are unaware of the original significance of swear-words which they employ every day. Blasphemy is no longer a fine art. The live swear-words in such societies are those which offend against something which has much more social reality than God—respectability. Sex and the lavatory have replaced deity, saints and devil as the source of live expletives to-day, because their use breaks a taboo that is still worth breaking.[3]

This has always been my experience. I personally don’t remember a time when cursing didn’t refer to bodily acts, and I was always taught, of course, that these certain words are the curse words, these words are “bad” words and you don’t say them. And while all of that may be true, there was always this great disconnect between the idea of taking God’s name in vain, and what I understood as cursing. That list of bad words, of course, included instances in which the word “God” or the name “Jesus Christ” served as expletives—as we hear all over the radio and TV today—but this only caused me greater confusion. Were theseinstances the actual sin of taking God’s name in vain? If so, why were the other words bad? Later in life when I actually thought about these questions, and grew a little more biblically literate, I decided that the distinction didn’t matter, because St. Paul went well beyond merely the Lord’s name and said, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying” (Eph. 4:9). “No corrupt communication,” pretty much covers it all. But this was a sort of happy state of ignorance for me, since I still really didn’t understand what it meant not to take the Lord’s name in vain.

So what was this “original significance” that Hill mentions above? He gives us a hint of it with an introductory quotation from that same chapter. The following appears in an anonymous tract written in 1614:

The safety of the King himself,… every man’s estate in particular, and the state of the realm in general, doth depend upon the truth and sincerity of men’s oaths.… The law and civil policy of England, being chiefly founded upon religion and the fear of God, doth use the religious ceremony of an oath, not only in legal proceedings but in other transactions and affairs of most importance in the commonwealth; esteeming oaths as not only the best touchstone of trust in matters of controversy, but as the safest knot of civil society, and the firmest band to tie all men to the performance of their several duties.[4]

Proper, honest, godly oath-taking, forms the mortar of healthy society. At the bottom of all, is the foundation of allegiance to God; and the commandment does not forbid swearing period, but swearing in vain. Bearing God’s name in truth—not in vain, but in truth—is the bedrock of religion and therefore of social health. In fact, the very word “religion” means “to bind” in the sense of binding allegiance. Such language fills the Bible: the whole concept of being God’s servant relates to this idea. Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1). I hear St. Patrick singing his hymn, “I bind unto my self today, the strong name of the Trinity.” With it all I hear a Scripture passage that Christians hardly ever quote: Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name(Deut. 6:13)!

How often do we as believers exhort each other actually to swear? Swearing, we’ve been taught, is a “no-no” across the board. And yet God commanded the Israelites to do so—to swear by His name. The point is that at the bottom of every way of life, of every religion and every society, stands an ultimate oath. You have to serve somebody. Somebody is your god and you have sworn allegiance to him (or her) already whether you know it or not. You cannot escape worship, authority, or oaths. If you zip-your-lips, and lock the door and swallow the key, and refuse to take any oath whatsoever, you just took one. The question is not “oath or no oath.” The question is Whose name did you take it under? Here we must follow the example of God Himself, “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since he could swear by no one greater, He swore by himself” (Heb. 6:13). No wonder He commands us to swear by that name, too.

Not to swear allegiance to God, is to profane His name, and put yours in place of it. The misuse or abuse of God’s name is an initiatory act of rebellion. In society, it represents revolt and revolution. “All swearing is religious, and false swearing represents a subversive drive in society.”[5]This fact manifested recently in a debate between atheists and Christians at Cape Town University on the subject of blasphemy. The atheist professor who agreed to debate backed out two hours before the event started, leaving Peter Hammond of Frontline Ministries alone to lecture from a Christian viewpoint and then field questions. One atheist young lady expressed the myopia of humanistic reasoning in trying to denigrate religion while exalting man: “To call me stupid would be hate speech and be illegal; however, to call Jesus stupid is not illegal and is a religious issue not a legal one.” Another added that hate speech “should of course be illegal,” yet Blasphemy given free reign “because unlike hate speech against homosexuals, no one is going to get hurt.”[6] The first argument, of course, begs the question, assuming up front what it intends to conclude: that religious issues don’t count as legal issues, therefore blasphemy is not “hate speech.” Christians, rather, should argue that blasphemy is the most fundamental and most serious and subversive form of hate speech, and should carry requisite legal sanctions. The second argument simply ignores the facts, that 

every year over 200,000 Christians are murdered worldwide for their Faith. Over 400 million Christians in 64 countries live under governments which do not allow religious freedom. Every year government sponsored hate speech in these countries leads to mob violence against Christians, the burning of churches, often with the congregation inside it, the beheading of Christians, even of young teenage girls, the stoning to death of Christians, crucifixions, mutilations, enslavements, etc.[7]

Logical and factual blunders aside, both arguments display the implicit attack on religious faith that humanism entails. When man sets a higher legal standard for speech against man than he does for speech against God, He explicitly rejects God as King and sets himself in the place of God. Legalized blasphemy represents treason to God and country. George Washington, spying the revolution of atheists, radicals, and deists in France, devoted a portion of his “farewell address” to warn our nation of the consequences of such blasphemy. In this passage—often quoted merely for its positive reference to religion—notice the emphasis on reputation (name), and oath:

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?[8]

Atheists and humanists begin with man and wish to derive “hate speech” from that standard. This devolves into a state where individuals, culture, law, and art can curse and mock all religion, virtue, sexuality, and all transcendent standards, and seek legal protection for such acts. Thus, homosexuality for example, which incarnates a gross perversion of the sex act—indeed the ultimate mockery of it—seeks legal protection from even criticism. To even decry homosexuality as a perversion is to practice “hate speech” in such a worldview, and in some so-called liberal democracies that boast of so-called “free speech,” a preacher who even reads the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual perversion publicly can find himself in jail. Mankind cannot escape “blasphemy” laws: the question is of who determines whatconstitutes blasphemy. Meanwhile, to highlight a degenerate society’s social hypocrisy, the standard interpersonal curses themselves pertain to sexuality: listen to any rap radio station and you will drown in a deluge of racial slurs interspersed with epithets of maternal incest, while any given foul-mouth on the street finds his readiest curse in willing a forcible sex act upon his annoyer: “f— you.” Humanism wishes legally to protect its perversions while in practice admitting them to be perverse, employing them as curses.

When society displays such characteristics, it reveals the depth of its rebellion against the Creator. The proper way to protect name, reputation, and human rights in general, is not to profane God and exalt man, but just the opposite. Unless men first revere God and honor an ultimate allegiance to the divine origin of mankind, and protect these beliefs by legal consequence, they shall denigrate everything glorious that man can be, and then protect their perversions and obscenity by recourse to legal force.

And so, as with many others of the Ten Commandments, the Third presents us with something that sounds elementary and almost trivial on the surface, but in reality reaches to the most profound depths of human experience. Based on something that we take for granted every day—a name—God shakes us to the very core of our identity. “What’s in a name?” If you’re talking about God, the answer is “everything.”

Endnotes
1
Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet,” II.ii.33–49.
2
Quoted in R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, 116.
3 Christopher Hill, Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England(New York: Schocken Books, 1967 1964]) 419.
4
Hill, 382.
5R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Religion, 110.
6
Reported by Peter Hammond, “Blasphemy Debate at University,” rontline Fellowship News, 2009 Ed. 2, 7.
7
Peter Hammond, “Blasphemy Debate at University,” Frontline Fellowship News, 7.
8
Partially quoted in R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Religion, 112.

 
Article posted June 5, 2009

I’ll get back to you – soon!

May 15, 2009

To my readers:  Studying Koine Greek is taking all of my spare time lately, but I’ll get back to posting some articles and quips as soon as I can. 

In the mean time, I’m asking my Christian friends to pray for me and the ministry as we need to make some critical decisions soon.  We are progressing ever more closer to reformed theology in our thinking and we are weighing the arguments of the Westminster Confession in certain areas of doctrine in which I must have some measure of conviction before we can go forward in the ministry. 

Thanks.

Understanding Covenant Theology #5

February 25, 2009

Since I’m having a tough time getting back to this to wrap up this series on Covenant Theology, I thought I should at least provide my readers with a link to some good materials on the subject.

Nathan Pitchford has written an excellent little book called “What the Bible Says About The People of God”, which is essentially a work that accomplishes exactly what I am attempting to do with this series on Covenant Theology.  It outlines the basic tenets of Covenant Theology using simple statements that are easy to understand, and then follows these statements with copious Bible verses showing how these tenets are arrived at.

Follow this link to Monergism Books and when you get there look for the “Online PDF version” link just under the advertisement for Nathan’s book.  

This little book is an excelent resource and I am thankful that Nathan and Monergism Books have made it available at no cost online.  But not only do I recommend purchasing the book, I recommend taking advantage of the bulk purchase offer and get some to give to your friends.

Here is the link:

http://www.monergismbooks.com/What-the-Bible-Says-about-THE-PEOPLE-OF-GOD-p-17332.html

The Supreme Court and Child Raptists: Has America Sinned Itself to Death?

February 3, 2009

There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.   1 John 5:16

Sometimes I don’t know if I should pray for my country or not when I consider that our Supreme Court justices – those who are supposed to be the wisest among us – have determined that the “rights” of a child rapist is more important than the justice due the victim of that despicable act.  It may be time to throw in the towel on America.

Maybe Reverend Wright, the now-infamous former pastor of President Obama, was right after all.  How can we honestly petition God to bless such a wicked nation?  It seems we’ve gone beyond wicked to outright insanity.

The case in point is officially known as “Kennedy vs Louisiana”, which was decided on Jun 25, 2008.  It is odd to me how such a landmark decision made it under the media radar.  Most people haven’t even heard of it to this day.

But on that day, the Court ruled in a five to four decision that applying the death penalty to perpetrators of child rape to be unconstitutional.  The majority opinion – held by justices Kennedy, Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer – ruled that the death penalty is “cruel and unusual punishment” and is therefore unconstitutional under the eighth amendment of the constitution.

These five – alleged to be actual human beings – even they admit to the great repugnancy of the crime at hand (child rape), and the outrageously heinous nature of the particular incident over which this decision was made.  I could not include in this article the details of the crime without violating the sensibilities of even the most thick-skinned among us.

And yet for all that, they perceive to themselves a duty to protect the guilty and deny the innocent the justice they deserve.

And what is the rational given by the five animals to justify this insult to humanity?  Here it is in the words of Justice Alito who spoke for the four dissenting members (Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas):

The Court today holds that the Eighth Amendment categorically prohibits the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of raping a child. This is so, according to the Court, no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator’s prior criminal record may be. The Court provides two reasons for this sweeping conclusion: First, the Court claims to have identified “a national consensus” that the death penalty is never acceptable for the rape of a child; second, the Court concludes, based on its “independent judgment,” that imposing the death penalty for child rape is inconsistent with ” ‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.’ ” (underlines added)

 

Can you believe it?  The Supreme Court makes rulings based on their opinions of what constitutes a “national consensus”!  And if that were not enough of the mind of human depravity, they further reveal their hatred of everything decent by stating that the death penalty for a child rapist is “inconsistent with evolving standards of DECENCY”!!

Words of protest fail me at this point.  I can only stand like the perplexed Habakkuk with mouth agape in wonder at the contradiction of it all.

 If the Lord delays His coming, the day is surely coming in which decent people will be forced to keep silent.  Although we already face the ridicule and scoffing of a self-absorbed and nihilistic world, at least we still have some remaining modicum of freedom to speak out against the encroaching darkness.

There is a Supreme Court in Heaven to which the Supreme Court of the United States must answer.  God has made is ruling on the issue:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.  (Romans 13:4)

 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.  (Psalms 9:17)