"Nothing more impressive than an intellectual and spiritual approach to seeking truth and a willingness to embrace it unconditionally."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What to do with Questions?

Peter Kreeft in Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing makes the statement: "Questions cannot be killed, only muffled." Just because you silence the questioner does not mean the questioner is not sill being questioned by the question. The only thing that you accomplish by silencing the questioner is removing yourself from contributing to the answer. While Peter Kreeft is speaking about the heart's question of Heaven, the principle applies to all questions. There are two contexts that I would like to apply this principle to: natural fathers and spiritual fathers.

If anybody ought to resist the temptation to muffle questions and questioners it ought to be fathers. Now that I have children I realize this truth more than ever. I can never truly silence either the question or the questioner; I can only cause the question not to be asked of me. If I silence the questioner they always have mom, maw maw and paw paw (my wife's parents), grandma and poppy (my parents) and the list of uncles and aunt continues on from there. The truth is, the older they get the more options they have: teachers, friends...

Since children are by nature questioners, I owe it to myself to engage the process. If they are asking questions I want to be part of the expedition searching for the treasured answers. The greatest damage we can cause to our children is to become angry at their questions. There is safety in verbalized questions. The only questions that you need to fear from your children are the ones they don't ask. You can only shape their views if you provide a venue for them to verbalize their internal struggles.

I refuse to raise children that are afraid to ask questions about: the existence of God, the inspiration of scripture, standards and anything else that questions them. Even if I don't know the answer I will take the journey with them to find it. Your children either are, or will, struggle with these issues. Make sure you are the one they are asking the question to. I can say this without fear as I have periodically struggled deeply with these issues. Faith that has never wrestled with the fundamental question of God maybe pure, but it is also immature.

Never avoid questions because you don't know the answer. Never be afraid to admit that you do not know the answer. Better to say that you don't know, than to give a bad answer. We must be willing to work through the questions with our children. I know that I have only been a parent for a couple years, but I have been a son for 36.

Ultimately, what you do with questions is wrestle with them until you get the answers. You should never muffle them. You should also never weary of the same question. Some questions are too important for you to quickly answer them; they must be wrestled with and prayed over.

Two Books I recommend:

The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, David Dark
Heaven: The Heart's Deepest Longing, Peter Kreeft

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Accusations: Where there is Smoke there is Fire?

In the recent floodgates of accusations that were opened against Republican presidential hopeful, Herman Cain, I have repeatedly heard people saying, "Where there is smoke there is fire." While I have many questions about all sides of this scenario, there is no proof that these accusations are true. Even more concerning than that is the attitude that if there are multiple accusations, then there must some truth to them.

It is particularly troubling that Apostolic ministers are expressing these sentiments. How is it that we have come to the place that a person's life and reputation can be destroyed on an accusation without proof? I hope and pray that the ministers expressing these sentiments have isolated their cynicism to the political arena. Unfortunately, many times I have seen this same kind of attitude expressed toward our fellow ministers.

If the unfortunate occasion should ever arise that I should be falsely accused of immoral behavior, I hope that I have some friends that are going to require that biblical model be followed and demand proof.

When it comes to the ministry, accusations should not be received unless there are 2 or three biblical witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19). Without 2 or 3 biblical and credible witness, accusations should be ignored.

In cases of ministerial accusation the natural tendencies are to ask all the wrong questions:

1. Why would they accuse him if he was not guilty?
2. Why would they accuse him if he did not do something?

These questions and more, reflect our willingness and readiness to believe accusations. The only thing that proof does for many is justify our acceptance of the accusation. Many times proof has nothing to do with whether we believe it in the first place; it only serves as confirmation. This is a tragedy!

The questions ought to be:

1. Can it be proved?
2. Is there real evidence?

We should never abandon a ministry over accusations that cannot be proven. What if they are true? If they are, God can reveal it in such a way that it cannot be denied. God is the one preserving the church, and He will. When God reveals, he does it mercifully, and not vindictively. He reveals at a time when the most mercy can be shown for all persons involved: the minister, the minister's family and congregation.

There are a large number of people that are never going to trust a person ever again if they are ever accused. It is a sad day when mere accusation can end a ministry. We need to be ever so careful in how we deal with these kinds of issues.

A perfect example is Morris Golder. A woman had accused him of committing adultery with her and many people believed it and disfellowshipped him. This went on for decades, only for the lady to later confess that she lied.

I don't whether Herman Cain is innocent or guilty. The world is not going to end if he is not elected president. My inclination is not to believe it; however, my only real caution is that we don't allow a "where there is fire" cynicism and suspicion to grip us in the ministry.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

To Receive or Not to Receive, "Who" Is the Question By Daniel McDonald


II John 10-11
v.10- “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house,
neither bid him God speed:”
v.11- “For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

This is a Scripture that isn’t so much misquoted as it may be misunderstood.

I have heard some interpret this Scripture with a strict, legalistic view. Their interpretation is that nobody is allowed into their home who does not “abide in the doctrine of Christ” (v.9). While some interpret these Scriptures with a legalistic view, they do not observe it with a legalist view. Negligently, these verses are applied as matter of convenience.

For example, do we question the plumber, landscaper or the pizza delivery boy as to what they believe doctrinally before we invite them into our house? What about our family members who are not in the truth? Are they allowed in our homes?

This verse is not teaching us, in the home setting, to not be hospitable to somebody in need or to not show ourselves friendly with those whose doctrine may be different than ours. How many conversions to the Apostolic truth have been done through Bible studies in the setting of the home?

The issue at hand takes place in a public worship service. Interwoven in the New Testament is the fact that worship services did take place in the home. Many Christian homes fulfilled dual roles-they became a place for public worship.

The Apostle is warning us of those who propagate error. They are bringing/carrying false doctrine. These are false prophets, false teachers, false Christ’s, etc. They bring not the doctrine of Christ. “Know them who labour among you” certainly comes to mind. They are not to teach nor instruct the saints. They are not to be received in any leadership capacity within the church. Apostle John admonishes us to not even “bid him God speed.” Our stamp of approval on false teachers makes us a partaker of their evil deeds. It makes one wonder if John had one specific man in mind, from his day, who was trying to infiltrate the church with his false way.

Many speak of having dialogue with the “xyz” religion. I don’t have dialogue, I have monologue! It’s me talking to them. It’s me converting them.

The New Testament Church was hospitable in entertaining Christian ministers (III John 5-6). Jesus taught that those who received His disciples received Him; those who received a prophet and righteous man received their reward (Matthew 10:40-41). False prophets and false teachers knew the charity the Church had toward each other. No doubt, they would have used the Church’s hospitality to “prey” on them. With feigned words they make merchandise out of the saints.

II Timothy 3:6- “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women
laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,”

In I John these false teachers have “gone out.” In Jude these false teachers have “crept in unawares…” False prophets and false teachers are creeps. They crept in-you can tell a lot about somebody by the way the walk!

These men are not to be received into the church in a teaching, leadership capacity.

Ezra 9:2- “the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands:”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

With Such A One No Not To Eat

"But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."
1 Corinthians 5:11 KJV

This has been a verse that I have misunderstood all my life. I have always understood this to mean the common meal. In other words, if a brother was a fornicator, I understood it to mean that I could not eat a common meal (breakfast, dinner or supper) with that person.

However I have come to realize there is a much bigger issue at stake in this text. It is not speaking of the common meal; it is speaking of the covenant (Lord's supper) meal. It is not speaking of the common table; it is speaking of the communion table.

The first reason this must be true is the context is dealing with public church discipline when the church gathers together (1 Corinthians 5:3-5; Matthew 18:18-20).

The second reason is the context of "eat." What is eating in the context of 1 Corinthians 5? Is it the common meal or the covenant meal. I believe the context will prove that it is the covenantal and sacramental meal of the Lord's Table.

If we can settle what the feast of verse 8 is, we can settle what the eat of verse 11 is. On is forced to accept that eat in verse 11 refers to the feast in verse 8. I believe that feast is the Lord's Supper.
"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 KJV
The feast that we are to keep is the one that memorializes the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. What feast does this? The Lord's Supper and the Lord's table is the only event and place that can possibly do this. In my opinion, since the feast seems to be the Lord's Supper, the command "with such a one not to eat" refers to the same.

There are a number of problems that we encounter if this refers to a common meal. If you want to discuss these then comment and I will be glad to.





Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Permanent Presence of Political Posturing Part 1b

I am writing this as a little further clarification to my first post on this topic. Many times in conversations you hear guys voice their disapproval of a fellowship or an organization on the basis that they are too political.

While being political is not the goal of the ministry/church, it is, however, a necessary and unavoidable hurdle. Political posturing in the church is like the offenses that Jesus said must come (Matthew 18:7); we should seek neither, but should allow neither to isolate us from the body of Christ.

If you are searching for a church, fellowship or organization that is free of politics, then the search is all you will ever enjoy. The church, fellowship or organization that is free of politics does not exist. We must like Paul, who as constantly under attack from the political posturing of the "super apostles" in Corinth that had become his thorn in the flesh, pray until God gives us sufficient grace.

We must also be careful that the charge against others that they are political is not a smokescreen for our own political agenda. Many times that accusation that "they" are political means "they" would not let me have may way.

I pray that God allows me to have a spirit that bears with the brethren and the body of Christ as they have so graciously done with me. I love the church and the ministry and want to help stem the tide of the rising flood waters of bitter disenchantment with the church and the ministry.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Permanent Presence of Political Posturing Part 2

Over the next few blogs I am going to give a few reasons not to despair over political posturing. Here is the first.

1. Christ Is Preached: "And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance," Philippians 1:14-19 ESV

I will not give an expanded explanation of what is occurring in this text, except to say, there were those who were taking advantage of Paul's imprisonment to promote their own ministries. Our involuntary response would have been to anathematize these men: "They are heretics!" However, this prideful, political, anti-Paul posturing was serving a positive purpose: Christ was being preached.

So, rather than fighting political pygmies, Paul glories that Christ is preached. Even if with envy, rivalry, insincerity and pretense the preaching of Christ and the gospel is always a positive thing. It is better to endure the politician than to pause the preaching of Christ. We must trust that the Gospel is powerful enough to save in spite of the malice and motives of men. Paul is confident that even this will turn out for his deliverance.

The Permanent Presence of Political Posturing Part 1

I know the title is cheesy, but hopefully it got your attention. We as preachers, myself included, bemoan the political posturing of Pentecost, especially among preachers. This aversion to all things political has been the driving force behind many good and bad decisions. This hatred for political power has cause men to: compromise convictions, leave organizations, change fellowships, isolate themselves and worst of all backslide.

The ironic thing about this hatred for politics, is that few things can make a man more cold, calculating and political than a hatred for politics. A perfect secular example of this is the Occupy Wall Street crowd. They have become what they protest; the spirit is the same, the agenda is just different. No one is more vitriolic than a man embittered toward an organization or fellowship.

The reality is, there will always be political power struggles in the body of Christ. Political maneuvering and manipulation will always exist. It will be a permanent reality on every level: local church, regional fellowships and organizationally. As much as we detest politics, we must come to grips with its permanency. Jesus had to deal with it in his disciples, it was in play in Corinth, it was in play through out the New Testament and will be in play through out the duration of church history.

I am not suggesting that we should sanctify it and protect it; however, I am suggesting that we accept its reality. If you do not accept this reality and you pursue an idealistic ecclesiastical climate free of political men you will die a frustrated, bitter and lonely man. We must ask God for the grace to endure.

I will suggest in part 2 that it is a positive thing...



Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Abundance of Counselors Part 3

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 ESV

Counselors must be free to:

1. Rigorously, yet respectfully disagree.
2. Inform me when my critics are right.
3. Be unimpressed with who I think I am.
4. Be truthful with me with out fear of being cut off.
5. Hold me accountable for my actions.

many more...

An Abundance of Counselors Part 2

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 ESV

Is there safety in numbers alone? No. What good is a host of foolish counselors? What good is a host of mute counselors? What good is a host of fearful counselors?

Counselors must be free to respectfully, yet rigorously disagree. In fact some counselors should be chosen for this purpose. He is a fool who chooses counselors only to affirm himself. In many cases the claim of accountability is a facade. To many times counselors are men hired to back my story, not change my thinking or correct my flaws.



An Abundance of Counselors Part 1

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 ESV

Men long to make decisions free of the opinions of others. Yet, all who do inevitably make fatal mistakes. This prideful longing is the greatest desire of masculinity, and its greatest undoing. How quickly would I make bad decisions, if not for godly counselors.

Counselors are not beneath men of greatness, they are the basis of men of greatness. The greater the man, the greater the need for counselors. Who most needs counselors: paupers or kings? Men of great power and influence are most in need of voices of reason. Great Presidents have great cabinets. Great kings have great advisors. So do great preachers.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Are You a Heretic?

HERESY DEFINED

Heresy is defined in number of different ways. Many of the common usages of the term heresy leads to a great misunderstanding of its original intent. It is important that we properly define heresy so that we can understand it from its biblical context. For the Christian, understanding it within its scriptural context is imperative.

First of all, heresy does not carry an inherent negative connotation. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, “In classical Greek, it may be used either in a good or a bad sense, first, simply for “choice,” then, “a chosen course of procedure,” and afterward of various schools and tendencies.”[1] It also goes on to say, “Polybius refers to those devoting themselves to the study of Greek literature as given to the Hellenikḗ haı́resiš. It was used not simply for a teaching or a course followed, but also for those devoting themselves to such pursuit, namely, a sect, or assembly of those advocating a particular doctrine or mode of life.”[2]

So, heresy is not a dirty word. In its base form it simply refers to those who advocate a particular doctrine or creed. Vincent says, “The word is commonly used in an indifferent sense, as signifying merely a school or party.”[3] Concerning the neutral nature of the word heresy Albert Barnes says it is, “not error of doctrine,”[4] but, “producing division or schism.”[5] Heresy is division: sometimes it is caused by false doctrine, but sometimes it is caused by true doctrine; in either case it is heresy.

Thayer defines heresy as, “dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims,”[6] and, “4) a body of men following their own tenets (sect or party) 4a) of the Sadducees 4b) of the Pharisees 4c) of the Christians.”[7] Scripture defines heretics as those who “draw away disciples” (Acts 20:30).

The term heresy is translated by the KJV in the book of Acts as, "sect." There was the sect of the Sadducees (Acts 5:17), the sect of the Pharisees (Acts 15:5; 26:5), the sect of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5) and the sect of the Christians (Acts 28:22; 24:14). Each of these sects are heresies.

GOOD HERESIES

While heresy can refer to a sect that causes division by false doctrine, heresy does not inherently include false doctrine. There are good heresies. Christianity is a heresy, because Christianity is divisive. As the founder of this heresy/sect, Jesus was a heretic; as preachers of this heresy, the Apostles were heretics; as followers of Christ, Christians are heretics. The Apostle Paul gladly accepts the label of heresy.

“But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:” Acts 24:14 KJV

Some may argue that Paul is not accepting the label of heretic, he is only saying that “they call” it heresy. Just because “they” say it does not mean that it is not true. Christianity was the ultimate example of a heresy, or sect. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown makes the point that Paul is arguing that his new Christianity is a continuation of, and more fully expresses the worship of his ancestors, therefore it is just a different sect of worshipping the one God of his fathers:

“Two arguments are contained here: (1) Our nation is divided into what they call sects - the sect of the Pharisees, and that of the Sadducees - all the difference between them and me is, that I belong to neither of these, but to another sect, or religious section of the nation, which from its Head they call Nazarenes: for this reason, and this alone, am I hated. (2) The Roman law allows every nation to worship its own deities; I claim protection under that law, worshipping the God of my ancestors, even as they, only of a different sect of the common religion.”[8]

Further proof that Paul accepts that he is part of a heresy is in his statement, “I confess” (Acts 24:14). What is he confessing to? He is confessing to the charge that he was “a ringleader in the heresy of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5). He plainly confesses that he is a part of the Nazarene heresy, or sect.

“The only charge left was that of being a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. This Paul frankly confesses is true. He uses the word in its full sense. He is “guilty” of that.”[9]


he admits that he belonged to that sect or class of people. That he was a Christian he neither denied, nor was disposed to deny.[10]

BAD HERESY

Christianity is heresy, or source of division, that is a good heresy. But, there are also bad heresies; there are things that cause division within the body of Christ. Heresy is a bad thing when men use their opinions as a tool to segregate from the rest of the body in matters where charity expects tolerance. Heresies, or sects, can be formed over doctrines or personalities that are acceptable.

Heresy is Corinth dividing over Paul, Apollos, Cephas (Peter) and Christ (1 Corinthians 1:12). You had the Paulian heresy/sect; the Apollonian heresy/sect; the Kephian heresy/sect; and the Christian heresy/sect. There is nothing wrong with Paul, Apollos, Cephas or Christ, but when it becomes a tool to divide the body of Christ, it becomes a heresy.

Heresy is Corinth excluding their fellow Christians over eating meats sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 8 & 10). It is perfectly acceptable to either eat, or not eat (Romans 14:6, 21-22; 1 Corinthians 10:31); however, it becomes a heresy when you eat or do not eat to the division of the body of Christ (Romans 14:3).

Based on these briefly alluded to texts, allow me to define heresy. Heresy: "When one side of Christian liberty creates Christian law to the exclusion of the other side of Christian liberty." A heretic is sometimes the person, who based on a permissible concept, isolates himself and his followers into their own sect that judges the rest of the body of Christ. Proverbs describes the heretic perfectly:[11]

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. 2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:1-2 ESV

THE SPIRIT OF HERESY

Proverbs 18:1-2 perfectly identifies the spirit of the heretic. It is not about doctrine, it is about self-promotion. Who better embodies this spirit than Diotrephes?

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” 3 John 1:9-10 KJV

Heresy is not about doctrine, it is about preeminence!

This is a very short look at what could be a long topic. I hope that this allows you to look at heresy with a fresh perspective. Please feel free to comment.


[1] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11

[2] Ibid

[3] Vincent’s Word Studies, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11

[4] Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11

[5] Ibid

[6] Henry, Joseph H., Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11

[7] Ibid

[8] Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11

[9] Robertson’s Word Pictures, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11

[10] Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible, Retrieved from E-Sword 09.04.11

[11] Thank you Shane Cheek for the reference to the ESV on this text.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Command AND Teach

"These things command and teach."
1 Timothy 4:11

These are the two necessary compenents of successfully passing truth. We are ineffective as preachers if we err to one side to the exclusion of the other. We all have a tendency to one side or the other. Which ever of these two aspects of leadership we lack we must prayerfully ask God to give us grace to produce it.

OVEREMPHASIZING COMMANDING
  • To err to the side of commanding makes one a dictator.
  • To err to the side of commanding is lazy; it is much easier, but it puts truth in noones heart. A person who is only commanded, but not taught, will soon rebel.
  • Erring to the side of commanding will quickley get you external compliance, but will never produce interal faith.
  • Erring to the side of commanding will produce fear of man, but never faith in God.
  • Erring to the side of commanding will compliment the preachers image, but will not conform to Christ's image.

OVEREMPHASIZING TEACHING

By this I mean the tendancy of some to say, "My job is to just teach. It is then left up to them to comply." While I agree this is the approach to some, however it cannot be the approach to all. A true leader will insist that at least his leaders comply. You cannot have a strong church when everything is optional, and nothing is absolute.

  • Erring to the side of only teaching is cowardice.
  • Erring to the side of only teaching will never produce responsible leaders.
  • Erring to the side of only teaching will never produce a faithful foundation.
  • Erring to the side of only teaching will produce crowds, but not disciples.

COMMAND OR TEACH

I must also point out that some things are meant to be taught and some are meant to be commanded. God give us the discernment to know the difference.


  • We are to teach what concerns Christian liberty.
  • We are to command and teach what concerns Christian doctrine.

We need ministries that have grace and strength to command and teach, and to know when to do what.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Christian Claim

As Christians we do not claim moral superiority to our non- believing friends. In fact, we claim just the opposite. Our Christianity confesses that we are frail and flawed; all the while confessing that there is hope in Jesus Christ.

We confess to the world our solidarity with their moral plight: "We are men of like passions as ye are." We struggle with the same issues you struggle with. We have the same sexual, ethical and moral temptations that you have; however, we have two very different philosophical interpretations of sin.

The non-believer views his temptations as validation for his depravity; "this is who I am." The Christian says: my temptation is pulling me toward who I am in fallen Adam, but the gospel declares who I was created to be in Christ from before the foundation of the world.

That is the reason that I must be born again. My first birth puts me in fallen Adam, but the second birth puts me in the risen Christ. Some say, "I cannot change the way I was born.". It is true that you cannot, but through the Gospel you can have a new birth, and become a new creation in Christ.

So my church attendance is not a declaration of perfection, but a declaration of my need of a Savior. Often non-believers, under the guise of seeking to discredit Christianity, when they observe our flawed humanity mock saying, "you are supposed to be a Christian." Our response is: No, I am a Christian, and the failure you just observed is why I am. I refuse to accept my weakness as terminal.

In reality they are not seeking to discredit Christianity, they are seeking to justify, and therefore accept their own depravity. The good news is, you don't have to settle, the gospel still works.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Bondage of the Will: Point of Interest 3

Erasmus: "But the Papal laws should still in charity be borne with and kept, for it may be that eternal salvation through the Word of God will yet prove compatible with the word's peace without any disturbance."


Luther: "The prince of this world does not permit the laws of the Pope and his pontiffs to be kept in liberty; his intention is to entangle and bind consciences... as for your fear that persons of vicious inclination will abuse this liberty, this must be thought of as one of the disturbances aforementioned, part of the temporal leprosy that we must bear and the malady that we must endure. But it must not be held so important as to warrant the removal of the Word of God in order to restrain their abuse of it. "



Luther to Erasmus:"The same circumspection appears in your next bit of advice, that wrong decisions made in councils should not be publicly acknowledged , lest the grounds for denying the authority of the fathers should thereby by given. This, of course, is exactly what the Pope wanted you to say! He finds it sweeter hearing that the Gospel itself; he will be most ungrateful if he does not honor you in return with a cardinal's hat, plus all the attendant revenues."



The Bondage of the Will, pg. 93-94, 96

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Bondage of the Will: Point of Interest 2

All of you debaters and debate fans will love the following quote. And for those of you who like civil debates, but lack the constitution for the argument style of Marvin Hicks, you will find that Marvin Hicks was not quite so bad after all.

Luther to Erasmus: "...your book, by comparison, struck me as so worthless and poor that my heart went out to you for having defiled your lovely flow of language with such vile stuff. I thought it outrageous to convey material of so low a quality in the trappings of such rare eloquence; it is like using gold or silver dishes to carry garden rubbish or dung."

Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, pg. 63

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Bondage of the Will: Point of Interest 1

"His unflagging polemic against the abuse of reason has often been construed as an insult on the very idea of rational coherence in theology, whereas-in fact it is aimed only at the ideal of rational autonomy and self-sufficiency in theology-the ideal of philosophers and scholastic theologians , to find out and know God by the use of their own unaided reason. It was in her capacity as the prompter and agent of 'natural' theology that mistress reason was in Luther's eyes the devil's whore; for natural theology is, he held, blasphemous in principle, and bankrupt in practice. Blasphemous in principle, because it seeks to snatch from God a knowledge of himself which is not His gift, but man's achievement-a triumph of human brain-power; thus it would feed man's pride, and exalt him above his Creator, as one who could know God at pleasure, whether or not God willed to be known by him." (Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, Translated By J.I. Packer & O.R. Johnston, pg. 45-46)

I had plenty comments to make about this excerpt from the book, however I decided to leave this portion to your own private meditation.

Stott on How and Why Christians Should Debate Each Other

From John Stott’s book, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1970).

On what Christians should do when they disagree with each other:

The proper activity of professing Christians who disagree with one another is neither to ignore, nor to conceal, nor even to minimize their differences, but to debate them. (p. 22)

On why we should speak the truth in love, not being truthless in love or loveless in truth:

We seem in our generation to have moved a long way from this vehement zeal for the truth which Christ and his apostles displayed. But if we loved the glory of God more, and if we cared more for the eternal good of the souls of men, we would not refuse to engage in necessary controversy, when the truth of the gospel is at stake. The apostolic command is clear. We are “to maintain the truth in love,” being neither truthless in our love, nor loveless in our truth, but holding the two in balance. (p. 19)

On the difference between a “tolerant mind” and a “tolerant spirit”:

We need to distinguish between the tolerant mind and the tolerant spirit. Tolerant in spirit a Christian should always be, loving, understanding, forgiving and forbearing others, making allowances for them, and giving them the benefit of the doubt, for true love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” [1 Cor. 13:7]. But how can we be tolerant in mind of what God has plainly revealed to be either evil or erroneous? (p. 8)

I think Stott would have liked something G. K. Chesterton once said: ““The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid” (The Autobiography, vol. 16 of The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton [San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988], 212).

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/02/10/stott-on-how-and-why-christians-should-debate-each-other/

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fact Check #1: Was Egyptian Bondage 430 Years?

I thought the following article was interesting. On of the most common mistakes made by preachers is preaching that the Jews were in slavery to the Egyptians for 400+ years. We have all made the mistake, including myself.

"Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, etc. - The statement in this verse is allowed on all hands to be extremely difficult, and therefore the passage stands in especial need of illustration. “That the descendants of Israel did not dwell 430 years in Egypt,” says Dr. Kennicott, “may be easily proved, and has often been demonstrated. Some therefore imagine that by Egypt here both it and Canaan are to be understood. But this greater latitude of place will not solve the difficulty, since the Israelites, including Israel their father, did not sojourn 430 years in both countries previous to their departure from Egypt. Others, sensible of the still remaining deficiency, would not only have Egypt in the text to signify it and Canaan, but by a figure more comprehensive would have the children of Israel to mean Israel’s children, and Israel their father, and Isaac the father of Israel, and part of the life of Abraham, the father of Isaac.

“Thus indeed,” says Dr. Kennicott, “we arrive at the exact sum, and by this method of reckoning we might arrive at any thing but truth, which we may presume was never thus conveyed by an inspired writer.” But can the difficulty be removed without having recourse to such absurd shifts? Certainly it can. The Samaritan Pentateuch, in all its manuscripts and printed copies, reads the place thus: -

Umoshab beney Yishrael veabotham asher yashebu baarets Cenaan, ubaarets mitsraim sheloshim shanah vearba meoth shanah.

“Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt, was 430 years.” This same sum is given by St. Paul, Gal_3:17, who reckons from the promise made to Abraham, when God commanded him to go to Canaan, to the giving of the law, which soon followed the departure from Egypt; and this chronology of the apostle is concordant with the Samaritan Pentateuch, which, by preserving the two passages, they and their fathers, and in the land of Canaan, which are lost out of the present copies of the Hebrew text, has rescued this passage from all obscurity and contradiction.

It may be necessary to observe that the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint has the same reading as that in the Samaritan. The Samaritan Pentateuch is allowed by many learned men to exhibit the most correct copy of the five books of Moses; and the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint must also be allowed to be one of the most authentic as well as most ancient copies of this version which we possess. As to St. Paul, no man will dispute the authenticity of his statement; and thus in the mouth of these three most respectable witnesses the whole account is indubitably established.

That these three witnesses have the truth, the chronology itself proves: for from Abraham’s entry into Canaan to the birth of Isaac was 25 years, Gen_12:4; 17:1-21; Isaac was 60 years old at the birth of Jacob, Gen_25:26; and Jacob was 130 at his going down into Egypt, Gen_47:9; which three sums make 215 years. And then Jacob and his children having continued in Egypt 215 years more, the whole sum of 430 years is regularly completed. See Kennicott’s Dissertation on the Hebrew Text."

Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible, Retrieved from E-Sword 08.08.11

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Covenant and Consummation: How the Marriage Covenant is Confirmed


Of the many debatable aspects of marriage, one of the most hotly debated is when a person is fully married: 1. Covenant only? 2. Sexual union only? 3. Covenant and sexual union? I will contend for the third view. The marriage is not confirmed until the couple has been united.[1]

There are two reasons why I do not believe that covenant alone constitutes marriage: 1. If covenant alone constitutes marriage, the bible would not have made a distinction between espousal and marriage. 2. There would have been no need for the “evidence of virginity,”[2] or for the man and the women to “come together”[3] as “one flesh.”[4] This dual view of what constitutes a marriage is consistent in both the Old and New Testaments.

COVENANT ONLY:

The view that marriage is covenant only has no biblical support. It was at betrothal/espousal that the two parties entered covenant;[5] however, the bible makes a clear distinction between espousal and marriage.[6] The bible does use the term wife in reference to the betrothed or espoused; however, there is a difference between the espoused wife[7] and the married wife.[8] The terms married and betrothed/espoused are not synonymous. Married never refers to betrothal/espousal. Covenant only, is espousal, not marriage.

CONSUMATION ONLY:

Consummation or sexual union only is fornication, because it is outside of covenant. While marriage is not covenant only, covenant is an essential part of marriage.[9] The New Testament term for sexual union is “one flesh,” and is fornication outside of marriage.[10]

COVENANT AND CONSUMMATION:

As we have seen: covenant only is espousal only, and not marriage; but consummation only is fornication, not marriage. So, we are going to show in this section that both covenant and consummation is what constitutes a marriage.

In the taking of Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife, she was covenanted to be his wife in Genesis 24:50-51;[11] she received her dowry in Genesis 24:53;[12] yet she did not become his wife until he took her into the tent (Genesis 24:67).[13] John Gill says it was in the tent that Isaac, “consummated the marriage, first contracted by his servant, then confirmed by himself, and now finished:”[14] So, sexual union was necessary to consummate and confirm the covenant.

In the case of Joseph and marry we find this distinction between the covenanted espoused wife, and the consummated married wife. Joseph was her “husband,”[15] and she was his “wife,”[16] because they had entered the legally binding covenant of espousal/betrothal.[17] Yet, they were not married, because they had not “came together”[18] as one flesh, and Joseph “knew here not.”[19]

It should be abundantly clear that it takes both covenant and consummation to fully confirm a marriage. All it takes is a cursory reading of Deuteronomy 22 to see that until the marriage has been sexually consummated that the covenant has not been confirmed.[20]


[1] Sexual union

[2] Deuteronomy 22:13-21 ESV: “If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her 14 and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, 'I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,' 15 then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. 16 And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her; 17 and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, "I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity." And yet this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity.' And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days. 20 But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father's house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

[3] Matthew 1:18 ESV:Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”

[4] Matthew 19:5-6 ESV: “and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

[5] “Espouse” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Retrieved from E-Sword 08.04.11: “The espousal was a ceremony of betrothing, a formal agreement between the parties then coming under obligation for the purpose of marriage.”

Betroth” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Retrieved from E-Sword 08.04.11: “From the time of betrothal the woman was regarded as the lawful wife of the man to whom she was betrothed (Deu_28:30; Jdg_14:2, Jdg_14:8; Mat_1:18-21).

[6] Deuteronomy 24:1 KJV: When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” Here in this verse the KJV say, “taken a wife AND married her.”

Deuteronomy 22:22-23 KJV: “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. 23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;”

[7] Matthew 1:18-20 KJV: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”

[8] Isaiah 54:1 KJV: “Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.”

[9] Malachi 2:14 ESV: “But you say, "Why does he not?" Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.”

I want to point out here that marriage is never defined is scripture as a vow. So, it is a false premise when the regulations that the bible places on vows are placed on marriage. Marriage is a covenant, and not a vow. Covenants are conditional.

[10] 1 Corinthians 6:16-18 KJV: “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”

[11] Genesis 24:50-51 ESV: “Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, "The thing has come from the LORD; we cannot speak to you bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before you; take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has spoken."”

[12] Genesis 24:53 ESV: And the servant brought out jewelry of silver and of gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave to her brother and to her mother costly ornaments.”

[13] Genesis 24:67 ESV: “Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.”

[14] John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, Retrieved from E-Sword 08.04.11

[15] Matthew 1:19 ESV: “And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”

[16] Matthew 1:20 ESV: “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

[17] Matthew 1:18 ESV: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”

[18] Ibid

[19] Matthew 1:24-25 ESV: “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.”

[20] See footnote 2