Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 at 11:58 PM

Mormonism Day 5

So the Mormon missionaries came by today once again, and this time I took the time to make a positive presentation of what I believed. Covered basic doctrines of God, Christ, Spirit, Trinity, Grace, Scripture, on every point thus far that I thought was worth mentioning, and I said to them that I hope they would have open eyes and ears and be willing to examine Scripture (with me I guess) on each of these topics. The biggest one of them I felt was grace.

um I don't know if they heard a word I said. They were just like "we're all in agreement in all of these things, we believe in Jesus being the only one and God being the Father and a Godhead," I tried to make a point that if we have markedly different pictures of who Christ is, then it's just the name that it shares and nothing more. It's definitely hard to talk to them. I hope to be able to point them to the peace of grace, not the grace that comes "after all we do" (that's in their book of Mormon), but a grace that comes apart from all we do, because all we do is but rubbish, deserving of wrath and condemnation.

It's definitely a challenge, and one that is stretching me. I do confess that I haven't been dedicating as much time towards researching and reading about the issues at hand as I should be, and that's something I hope to fix. They've given me a book of Mormon doctrines in the Bible and I hope to be able to read it (and use it as a stepping stone into the greater discussion!) within the next few days. They'll be coming back on Thursday.

Salvation is definitely of the Lord though and apart from any logical argument that I could make. I could speak and expound for hours and days and it is nothing apart from God's sovereign will. Praise be to the Father and all glory be onto His Name!

On a side note: I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to talk to Mormons if I were from a background that agreed with Mormonism on many points: Free Will, Baptism required, Polytheism, denial of the authority of Scripture. Each point that they made that was like "it's obvious that..." whereupon I always ended up being like "I don't agree. Free will is foreign to Scripture." Maybe they're just in denial to the fact that we worship a very different God.

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at 11:40 PM

Living and Active

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

So I'm currently reading the Bible through from cover to cover. The goal is to do it all in a summer, reading for breadth more than depth. Sometimes I feel like I miss a little bit if I don't slow down, but oftentimes I cannot help but think, "wow, I've read this before, how come I didn't see this previously?" An excellent example is reading through the Law. Wow. Be Holy, for I am Holy. Over and over and over. It's convicting and amazing just how God reveals Himself and how that plays into today even! Fearing God is the beginning of wisdom! Why? Well the Law makes it clear why. Disobey your parents - stoned. Disobey the Sabbath - stoned. Disobey God in conquest - stoned and burned. Over and over and over I wonder - Dang! How can the Isrealites be so stupid! And that always brings me to look upon my own life and ask: How can I be so stupid?

Even with all of this we see God's covenant-loving-kindness playing out over and over again. That hesed love that He demonstrates over and over to His people. They turn away, He brings judgement, they repent, He restores. Wow. Wow. Wow. Reminds me of Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family[c] in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

And I cannot help but to think, "wow" and thank God for this love, and this awe-inspiring picture of it played out over and over and over again.

I think I'm over using the word "wow." I think I need to create my own word to give a sense of this awe-inspiring, fear-filling, eye-opening, grace-filling demonstration of God... just being God.

On a complete side note:

Read Judges 17-18. Is it just me or is there something seriously wrong with these people?

On another side note, but more related to my original topic, I would highly encourage anyone to just reread through the OT. It's mind-blowing how much I missed the first time through. Interesting story after story, interesting law after law, conviction and repentance.

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Sunday, June 26, 2005 at 10:26 PM

In faith

Hebrews 11) 13These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

...
32And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets-- 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a] they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated-- 38of whom the world was not worthy--wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Over the last year or so, I've come to a realization: I'm very different from the person I was 3 years ago. What once was dead is now alive, and what once was corrupt, is now life giving. God has transformed my entire being, from the core outward. I've come the realizations that my friends who I had in high school... just aren't the same. I no longer enjoy what they do, and while sometimes I wish that was different (I always want to fit in and be accepted), I realize that it is not something I want back. God has opened my eyes to His promises of true fellowship, true love, true worship. Having tasted the fruits of paradise, I no longer need turn back. (Though sometimes I sinfully want to).

With this change, has come a gradual alienation from all those that I was close to, and a newfound closeness to all those who were markedly different from me. The person I talk to most from home is a person whom I never talked to during high school. The people I hung out with daily in the past I never see, nor talk to. To the core, we're very different people now.

My parents, who are so focused on pleasing self, attaining status, are completely mystified at who I have become. They are confused as to what relevance God has at all, and why I feel so strongly about it. I don't know. It's very difficult to talk to them. But God is sovereign. He has given me a unique mission field, one that no one else can fit. And if He wills, He will use me to His glory. Though it's hard at times. I come across passages like Matthew 10)

34"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

And it's simply terrifying at times. But glory be to the Father. His will and not mine. My life is but dung compared to the glory revealed upon the cross, and if this is His chosen route for me, praise be to the Father above who plans all things out in accordance to His will.

Eph. 6
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2"Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3"that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."

I'm always reminded that I am but an alien in a foreign land. God grant me the faith of the ancients, that I may look to the kingdom who's architect and builder is You.

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at 4:22 PM

An update on Joel Osteen

So as some people have already noted, Joel Osteen has responded to the vast number of Christians who have criticized him. My thoughts, while bordering on the same line as SurphSide's, are tempered by an excellent post by Vincent Cheung here. Yeah, I like linking to people =p

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Friday, June 24, 2005 at 3:57 PM

Mormonism Day 4

So the Mormon missionaries stopped by my house again and this time they brought Eli (I think that's how his name is spelled) who is an Asian American Mormon. I ended up asking them a lot of questions, mostly on points that I didn't feel were consistant with a biblical view: Salvation by faith alone - Total depravity - Trinity. I wanted to get a bigger picture of where they saw support for their views though I got the sense that they were rather annoyed. Eli ended up sharing his testimony as well and we ended with them continuing to ask me to pray over the book of Mormon and I'll see it as true.

I definitely see it as a challenge in presenting a positive view of God's grace and gospel, and not just a negative one. I do have disagreement after disagreement over issue after issue, and oftentimes I see that clouding the big issue: That I am commanded to preach the whole consul of of God so that I might meet and encounter my true family.

I've been reading "Letters to a Mormon Elder" by James White. You can get an electronic version of it here. The navigation is a little weird. You have to "x" the box within the box in order to get to the next letter. Yeah... hope you understand =p. An excellent read so far and given me a lot of hope and joy in what has been going on. Praise be to God!

On a complete side note (for amusement): I asked one of the missionaries why they used the KJV instead of a different translation. He responded, "well it was the translation that King James the Fifth used, so we use it." On a different topic about bible translations, one of them mentioned that most Bibles today were translated from a German text. News to me!

They'll be coming back on Tuesday. I hope to present why I am at odds with them and share what the grace in gospel means. Prayers would be appreciated.

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at 3:35 PM

Joel Osteen

So this story has been going around the blogworld in the circles that I read, I figured it'd be nice to point people to one of the better posts about it.

http://theologica.blogspot.com/2005/06/joel-osteen-megachurch-and-mini-gospel.html


In short: Joel Osteen - head pastor of the largest church in America was interviewed by Larry King and said things that... to put it bluntly rejected the glory and force and uniqueness of the gospel. The link above says it really nicely and diagrams an appropriate response.

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Thursday, June 23, 2005 at 12:04 PM

Some more good reads

An excellent post by Jollyblogger here on how to encourage one's pastor. I think this is something everyone should look into. We all can't do everything, but if we all do something, it'll be much better than what I imagine pastors usually get now.

Justin Taylor has an excellent post Against Libertarian Free Will. Unfortunately the links to the Frame site don't seem to be working so I don't know if the entire post is up.

**edit** The entire article is here where the term "Libertarian Free Will" is explained

I've also just finished Vincent Cheung's Commentary on Ephesians. An excellent book, also includes a very comprehensive treatment on election and God's sovereignty.

I've also read The Cross Centered Life by C. J. Mahaney which was given to me years ago. A very short book but there is so much truth and life within it that it was really good

Currently reading through Back to Basics edited by David Hagopian. Also an excellent book providing a comprehensive view of the Reformed faith. From Election, to the Covenent, Church, and Christian Living, 4 sections of this book that tie much of it all together. I'm actually rereading it, but there is so much that I didn't understand my first time through that I'm getting quite alot out of it.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005 at 11:45 PM

What does believe mean?

So I was involved in an interesting discussion yesterday after the Mormons left. One of the points that was brought up was that "I believe in Jesus and I believe in the Bible, I just don't agree with some of it." Now of course from there the conversation went from there, but the point of this post isn't about that as much as the question:

What exactly does "belief" mean if you can believe something but not agree with it? I guess one could say that "I believe abortions happen" but "I don't agree with them" in that sense. But what about a "belief in" something? "I believe in abortions but don't agree with them" no longer seems to make any sense.

To me "to believe" and "to have faith" are one and the same and is a knowledge of prepositions about Christ/Word of God and an assertion of truth of those prepositions (I guess since faith is not seen, those prepositions would have to be unprovable by sense). Thus for me, in order for one to believe in Jesus would be an acknowledgement that Christ is the Son of God, He died for one's sins... and so on. The Bible is the Word of God infallible and so on.

Hmmm then that leaves the problem of an incomplete knowledge. Does one need to have a compete knowledge of the subject at hand in order to believe in it? Well, if we say that it is possible to "believe in Christ" then the answer would be no, since Christ cannot be bounded by us.

That leaves us with ... the essentials I guess? But this differs from one person to another. So one person may say they have faith in Christ, while another may say they don't. But yet all we need is faith as small as a mustard seed... (if we could quantify faith).

Interesting. How about another question: Does one need to know what "belief" means in order to believe in Jesus? I would say yes. At least, they must be able to define it so that they satisfy that definition. Then we could discuss if that definition was accurate or not.

On a completely side note, I feel like the statement "you're being judgmental" is vastly amusing.

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at 9:38 PM

Mormonism Day 3

In other news, the LDS missionaries stopped by my house again yesterday. I asked about their other two books that they reference (I certainly had never heard about it before!) being: Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. While the book of Mormon reads very similar to the OT and the NT in many regards and there hasn't been anything that seemed that wrong, though the belief that baptism is required for salvation is a big one, both of those two books lay out the big issues that Mormonism runs against Christianity.

Some of the issues that I caught as they spoke:

1) Man's chief purpose is to prepare one's self to meet God.

2) There exists a spirit world were we pre-existed and will post exist. This is divided into 3 sections: glory of sun, moon, and stars. At the glory of the sun it is in the presence of God and Christ (remember, they believe that these two are different). moon is just Christ, stars is neither. But all will be good (somehow)

3) People are born clean and innocent, there is an age of accountability.

4) Saved by faith + good works.

They talk about Christ creating the world under the guidence of the father (but they didn't mention that they believe he did it with his spirit brother Lucifer!). It's all just kind of weird. I really am still searching for places where I can step in and present the true and living gospel of justification by faith alone. I'm not sure where to start, because there's so much that needs to be set up first: Authority of Scripture - Total Depravity - Grace - Attributes of God - Christ... so many things that I can bring up and should over the courses of our discussions bring up, but I feel like time is kind of short. Please be praying!

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Monday, June 20, 2005 at 9:23 PM

Some excellent posts by James Spurgeon

James Spurgeon (what a great name!) over at The Howling Coyote has put together a couple of excellent posts on the justice of God, pulling in some excellent points related to definite atonement. It's pretty cool.


"Every moment a sinner lives is mercy and grace and every breath he breathes is mercy and grace."

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at 12:34 PM

Interpreting Scripture

Just got off the phone with a professor of New Testament studies. I had some questions about his message. I had a few issues with the implied message. He cleared them up pretty well and I was very thankful for that. I think we're both on the same page... on that passage.

I guess the reason I say that is because he proceeded to ask me a question about how I was approaching sermons. He wondered if I ever got anything out of them since it sounded like my questions were so critical. He "suggested" that I humble myself before the Word of God and listen to Him speak. He then pointed out that since he was a professor and had made it his life to study Scripture that he could rip apart any sermon on exegetical grounds and never get anything out of it. But he choose not to do this because he was ... I dunno. I feel like I want to insert the term "a better person" or "more Christ-like" but I don't think he said that explicitly.

I asked him to speak plainly, because what I was hearing from his words was not what I was hearing from his tone, and I didn't want to misinterpret him (again). He said no, he had spoken plainly and just wanted to point out that even if a message is based upon poor exegetical methods and faulty interpretation, there still was a lot of value in the message. Finally he was like "well, you could choose to listen to my advice as a professor of NT studies or you can disregard it, the choice is yours."

I don't disagree that the Word of God is the Word of God, and it speaks, even sometimes through poor scholarship and faulty exegesis. But his point was that even if the exegesis is faulty and the interpretation flawed, we should obey it because it has authority over us.

He pointed to Paul writing about the ox treading the grain and using that to apply it to Christian ministry and how a servant deserves it's reward. He questioned if Paul was writing inspired words at the time and said that later the church recognized it as inspired but we should notice that the Spirit led Paul to write words that may not have been the original intention of the author (Moses) but are a logical conclusion of them. He said we can do the same as Paul and when the Spirit leads a verse to application that may be out of it's normal context we should treat it with authority (as long as it was consistent with the Bible of course).

Throughout all of this he was like "this is well within the conservative Evangelical camp, a lot of people, even reformed theologians believe this."

Hmmm. At the time I didn't know what to think. There were so many questions bouncing around my head. Did Paul know he was writing inspired work? If so then his point is moot. Paul is an Apostle of Christ who interprets and gives us God's Word and his letters are infallible as he writes them. Did Paul use a faulty exegetical method? What exactly is a faulty exegetical method anyways? To me having faulty exegetical method meant not taking the whole of the Word of God into play when looking at the verse and drawing something out of the text that may be contradictory to what the rest of it is. To me Paul did not. I don't know what the professor thought.

Though the points weren't justified, is his conclusion true? I'm not quite sure. I do see Paul and the Apostles as writing Scripture, so thus are outside the bounds of common layperson qualifications. I will say that the Holy Spirit can use verses to convict us in different ways that may have not been the original intent of the verse, but is still consistent with Scripture. If that was his point then I wholly agree with it. God is sovereign and can and does use anything. He used our sin filled lives to bring us to repentance, and He will use our own flawed interpretations to sanctify us. But can't he sometimes He uses flawed preaching to bring us to true biblical doctrine through our recognition of something being "amiss"? I would hope so!

I remember reading a story about a couple who got married because their pastor preached about the falling of the wall of Jericho and how that would apply to marriage in that the males just had to march around the women and the walls of their hearts would fall down and they could get married. Would he agree that something like that is binding? Is this an extreme case? Yeah I think so, but it illustrates the danger of just assuming and trusting teachers.

My point, which I feel like he overlooked, was that we were to be like the Bereans, always checking against Scripture what people say, and by that we know the truth. Humble ourselves before God's Word, but not humble ourselves before people. Yes God put someone on the pulpit for a reason, but God also puts people in the Mormon pulpit, in the JW pulpit. God raised up pharaoh for a specific reason and there is no reason to blindly accept what is taught. I really don't think he would be in disagreement with me over this point, but he asked me to just listen to him instead of asking questions so I never got to pose them.

Do I learn from messages? Yes, though sometimes I don't learn what the pastor intends. Newsong's message comes to mind. This week's message does as well, though after the clarification I did indeed learn a lot!

Overall:

1) Pastors do have God given authority as teachers and shepherds over us. Something that may be extra-scriptural but not non-Scriptual I think we should listen to as well (such as if they request that we dress up a little on Sundays so that we don't stand out). One point that the speaker made was that we should "give the benefit of the doubt."

2) That said, we are still to be Bereans in everything, always checking up against God's Word what is being said. When we have questions we should ask!

3) Appeal to authority is worthless compared to an appeal to Scripture. The phone call began by him reading a quote by Spurgeon about how a sermon should be like an iceberg, the tip is what we give, but all the exegesis should be unseen. Since it seemed like he was reading this to defend his own personal view of preaching I let it slide, but I disagree with it. While I admired Spurgeon as a great defender of the faith and an excellent preacher, how is one to learn how to interpret and protect the word without hearing other people do so and going to the text and seeing what the text itself says about it? Will a sermon be dry and boring if there is exegesis in it? If yes (and that's a big if when we're talking about the word of God), so what? What did the Apostles and Christ command? Preach the word always. Preach the whole Word. Teach the world all that I command.

4) I disagree that we cannot get anything out of something if we constantly challenge and question. If our sole purpose in questioning and challenging is for that purpose itself then yes, the heart is in the wrong place and the questions and challenges are sinful and should be repant (is that a word?), but if the questions and challenges are to increase one's knowledge of Christ and God, how can that ever be wrong? How can you ever stop learning when you're asking questions to learn? I would love it if people constantly asked me to expound upon my views and defend them as long as they were doing so in order to gain knowledge and grow in Christ. This would also help me grow as well in defending my beliefs and working it out.

Some readings:

Vincent Cheung's Preach the Word

Vincent Cheung's Light of Our Minds

JollyBlogger's post on Piper's Sermon at the PCA General Assembly - "Obedience, Orthodoxy, and Joy: Leadership for a Greater Consensus"

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Saturday, June 18, 2005 at 6:38 PM

2 John 10-11

This is currently just my present view on this verse. Something I wondered about and have decided to share. I'm very open to other opinions and correction though. Read this yet?

2 John 10-11

10
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

I remember one time someone mentioned that one of their friends had not invited a Mormon in for a discussion because of 2 John 10-11. This stuck with me and the first time the Mormon elders stopped by I decided to talk with them outside. Kind of weird standing outside for like an hour so afterwards I searched all over for the verse because I wanted to check the context and not add layers to my interpretations that weren't there.

Well sadly enough, I couldn't find the verse by the time they came the second day and to top it off one of my friends had come over to just hang for a bit. Since I wanted him to listen in I decided to invite them in on a more of a pragmatic reason than anything else.

Afterwards though I looked at the verse and now I think it is ok to invite Mormons in to talk about God's Word and discuss theology and the like. My reasoning and explanation as follows:

1st off: What the verse does not say. Taking the verse out of context, with "this teaching" being the gospel of Christ, it seems to say that anyone who isn't a Christian shouldn't be invited in. But this is contradictory to basically the entirety of Christian hospitality and being in the world but not of and the like.

Basically my current view is since the passage has strong words like in verse 7: "7For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist." I think the strong words as well as John's emphasis on holding fast to proper doctrine (verses 5-6) point more towards avoiding false teachers and not being led astray.

These two points coupled with the fact that it is not about distancing with the entirety of the non-Christian population lead me to believe that the passage refers to very specific false teachers. I think a very likely conclusion of this is those that have been excommunicated from the church. Thus to me, John is warning against associating with those who have been excommunicated. This sounds very similar to Paul saying to "come out from them" as well as being ready to punish their disobedience once it is separated from those that are obedient.

Joe posted a comment on my previous post about this and said:
Thanks for posting about what happened. I have invited LDS into my home on many occasions, to witness to them after they knock on my door, or I invite them back. I tend to think 2 John 10-11 applies to a church setting, like a home church in the first century, and applies to teaching. Like allowing those LDS missionaries to teach at your church, or home church. I may be wrong on that, so I am open to correction. I would assert, though, that 2 John 10-11 does not prohibit having LDS enter your physical home to dialog with them about God?s Word. God is sovereign, this is His world, what?s the difference between the doorstep and the couch? Again, I would argue that passage has to do with teaching in a home church and not about where the actual apologetic conversation takes place.

1st off. I think it's an excellent point about the difference between the doorstep and the couch. One that I had not thought about. I agree with it. The point is not about a physical house or a couch, but what we are doing with them (or not doing with them). Thank you

2ndly: I think our conclusions are the same, though I do feel like I disagree slightly in believing that it doesn't necessarily speak to inviting false teachers to preach at a home church or at church. I don't think that fits in with the passage because John here is writing a personal letter to a mother of children (verse 1) and not to church elders (who presumably would have the authority to decide who to teach and who not to). The elect lady (in light of the qualifications for elders) is not necessarily in a position to choose who to teach and who not to and thus I don't believe this is referring specifically to having false teachers teach at a church or home church. (though this of course should be qualified by the fact that if there is false teaching going on, everyone, young old, male female, should speak up)

In short, I am still open to correction about this, but I don't believe that 2 John 10-11 applies to the case of inviting LDS missionaries into one's house but instead applies to associating with those who have been excommunicated from the church. I believe that the verse speaks out against having anything to do at all with those who have been cast out of the church on a voluntary basis (legal obligations are still binding).

After thinking this through and talking with my friend who was present there, we got on the topic of how the church loves those who have left the church, either a voluntary leaving or an excommunication (two very different things!). I thought that discussion was interesting and enlightening (and would like to hear corrections on my views) so I will post about it tomorrow.

Thoughts comments suggestions very welcome.

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at 1:30 AM

Mormonism Day 2

So the two Mormon elders stopped by today and we sat and talked (though, at first I was a little hesitant about inviting them in because of 2 John 10-11, more on that and an ensuing conversation in a future post). One of my friends from CCMC was there too, but he was working on something else, so was more of a passive listener.

I began by asking them to explain the idea of "good feeling" since it seemed so clearly indefensible. How is someone supposed to know when a feeling was good or not? They quote Scripture to tell them that this is true, but Scripture itself says to test the spirits, and points to itself as the mechanism to test them. Basically I felt like they ran around in circles: Pray about it and you will find peace and you will know it is true... ok.

I also asked them to explain their perceptions of Scripture, how it fits in with the Book of Mormon, if they were infallible or not and that sort of stuff. Pretty interesting. It seems like they view the BoM as another testament, of same authority as Old and New Testaments. They also have modern day prophets to give infallible interpretations. Sounds very similar to the RC position!

I had read over the pamphlet they had given me, so I asked them about who God was, who Christ was. What atonement, what baptism, the likes. It's really weird hearing them talk because they use many of the same terms as Christians do, but the meaning is entirely different.

They call God "the father" to mean that he is the father of people, I don't think they say that He is the father and creator of all. (I think I'll bring up Gen. 1:1 with them next time). They call Christ the only begotten Son, who ... was somehow exalted by the father and raised to godhood. I asked if God was the only god and they said he was one of the godhead (sounds so much like the trinity!) but then they proceeded to say that God was exalted to his present status. God was formerly "man" (and point to us being made in God's image for support of that) and somehow was exalted to godhood.

Of course this leads to the interesting question that I brought up: So who exalted God? Another God of course. But then who exalted him? ... and so on. Eventually they were like "well, you see it's like a tree and it's roots and branches. Your questions are the branches, they aren't entirely necessary and can be trimmed off. What's necessary is that you have faith in God and in Christ and believe the book of Mormon."

I decided to let that issue slide, for it seemed like they were begging the question: All that's needed is faith in God and in Christ, but how are we to have faith in someone we don't know or understand? Why are we to believe in the book of Mormon which are the words of something or someone we don't understand?

They moved on to hand me the book of Mormon and to reiterate the fact that I must pray about it and read it and then God will give me faith. Ok then...

I asked them about atonement. "now that's a good issue... in fact I don't understand it that well" What a response! If atonement is what we ultimately need but we don't understand it how do we know when we have it? They basically said stuff about Christ living a perfect life and suffering for our sins, so now we have to repent when we sin because we're not perfect. So far so good, but nothing about imputation of Christ's righteousness, something I feel won't be coming.

After a little bit more, they wrapped up and asked me to read the book (which I will) and feel free to come to them with questions.

I guess right now I'm thinking about how to best go about witnessing and sharing the true gospel with them. I do know for a certainty that much of what they said was either misquoted from Scripture out of context (their support for prophecy of Joseph Smith in the OT is quite interesting to say the least) or directly against Scripture. I feel like Scripture adequately defends itself against such false teachings and given enough time I can tear down most every single point they make. Their definitions and ideas about everything ultimately rest upon this "feeling," but when this "feeling" is not supported by Scripture itself... well then there isn't really a leg to stand upon.

At the same time I realize that they will not listen to me unless I give the appearance of listening to them. I did make it a point at the beginning of today to say that I was a Christian and from what I had heard much of Mormonism was in direct contradiction with Scripture, but I wanted to dialogue about it with them directly. I think they took this to mean that I was questioning my faith (far from it!). Am I misleading them and should I make it clearer that I want to challenge their faith and preach the gospel to them? Tough question.

Another difficulty I have discovered is the fact that they use much of the same terminology, but completely different meanings for much of what they say. Who is God the father? Who is Christ? What is atonement? What is baptism? What is faith? All words they use, but all with differing definitions. It's hard to make sense of what they're saying because I feel like I want to challenge them on every point, but yet I want to give them enough proverbial rope to hang themselves with. They also pray in a very Trinitarian way! Kind of creepy, but when one realizes that they deny the trinity it's even weirder.

I plan to ask them a lot of questions about what they believe and ultimately present the Gospel. I'm not entirely sure where to move on from challenging their views to presenting the biblical view. They will come back on Tuesday. Continued prayers still appreciated.

One thing that I thought about as I was talking with them was: They deny the Trinity. But can I defend the Trinity? God the Father and God the Christ are fairly easy, but how about God the Holy Spirit? Can I defend the concept that God is 3 in person, but 1 in essence? Can I point to Scripture to back up my claims and be able to walk people through verses? Sadly enough I don't believe at this moment I am adequately prepared to do all of that. Time to get cracking!

I owe you guys a post on 2 John 10-11 and why I ended up inviting them in anyways. I'm not entirely sure if my judgement on that was correct, but I will give a reason for it sometime tomorrow. (And there's another post that leads from that as well because of an interesting discussion I had with a friend about it... dang it's like a 3 part series!)

Mormonism

My first post the first day they stopped by

Monergism.com


Scroll down a bit, there's an excellent Mormonism section in there.

AlphaOmegaMinistries

Had it last time, still probably one of the best imo.

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Friday, June 17, 2005 at 12:31 AM

Book Review: Sex and the Supremacy of Christ

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ is a series of chapters/articles collected together into one book edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor.

It covers a series of topics ranging from sex, marriage, singleness, homosexuality, sin and closes with a delightful read about Martin Luther and his marriage and the Puritans' view of sex and marriage.

Overall it was a joy to read. I personally was very impressed with how open, frank, honest, and above all, biblical the different topics were. Some of the chapters were eye opening in how much the world's perceptions on sex had twisted my own views. This book was able to dig past the perceived shame of talking about sex and put sex into the position where it belongs: a gift given by God for His glory.

A couple things I felt were particularly convicting and helpful:

1) The chapter on homosexuality. Too often homosexuals are stigmatize, especially by Christians. The response that I've seen by so many people is to proclaim "love the sinner hate the sin" and somehow that solves all the problems. The truth is for me it didn't. There still is that very uncomfortable feeling that something I'm doing or saying is seriously wrong when I react, but I had no idea how else to do so. The chapter by Albert Mohler Jr. was particularly insightful towards that regard. Hopefully as I continue to think about and reflect upon that chapter I am able to gain a firmer grasp of a biblical love for my neighbors, homosexuals in particular.

2) The chapter on singleness and struggling through it by Carolyn McCulley. While the chapter was geared towards women I found that the advice was useful and helpful for me as well in my own personal struggles about singleness and finding a place where I can be content with where God has placed me.

3) The chapter right before the previous one about being a Christian husband. Slightly lower on my list because I'm currently not a husband and thus the singleness I was able to relate to on a much better level, but the chapter was still a very convicting read, inspiring me to seek to be a Godly man, one that would strive for those ideals and be eager to approach a marriage as a servant to (potentially) my wife. (what a long run on sentence!)

Finally the chapters about Martin Luther's courtship and marriage as well as the Puritan view of marriage and sex were just a sheer delight to read. I found myself reading them both in one sitting just because I was so impressed and struck with how much it seemed like they were able to put marriage in a God glorifying position and how much I wished that I could one day live up to that. Wow... Simply wow.

A couple of things of note that I wondered about while reading:

1) It seemed like Scott Croft really liked Joshua Harris' idea about courtship and proposes that idea as the biblical model. I'm not entirely sure that that view is correct. There doesn't seem to be any biblical support for a correct "method." In fact there's a lot of support for methods all over the place and not any idea of "courtship" as seems to be defined by Scott Croft (who gets it from Joshua Harris).

2) Interestingly enough, Joshua Harris seems to be quoted fairly often, which was just rather surprising to me because when I first read his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I was surprised at how a book geared towards Christian relationships could be so scant on Scripture. It seemed like he had a lot of good things to say, but I didn't know if what he was saying was entirely consistent with Scripture. But since he's quoted so much I think I now need to read his other books (Boy Meets Girl and Not Even A Hint). Maybe he's undergone major revision to his style and system of thought.

3) John Piper seems to view sex as pointing to God, as a way to know Christ more fully, somehow sex is like God. It seems like a decent point and I can see how it could be acceptable, but it feels like a stretch especially viewing sex as the seal on our covenant of our bodies which is reflective of God's covenant with His people sealed in Baptism. With that view it seems like sex is good because God has created it and given it to us to do for His glory. Does having more sex help one know God better? ... I am unclear on that, especially with my reading of Vincent Cheung where he posits that no experience can teach us anything, only direct revelation by God. It seems like a biblical view of and knowledge of sex does point to God, but sex on it's own cannot.

All in all, the book is an excellent read, I would say for anyone. It has something to say to anyone: male, female, young, old, single, dating. It all returns to the cross, to the glory of God and the book is unashamed in proclaiming the power of the Gospel in all things, even in our sex. A very enjoyable and convicting read. There is a little bit I am unclear on, but this is an excellent pointer to the voice of Scripture on the topic of Sex, something that society desperately needs guidance in today.

If you'd like to read more reviews, the Diet of Bookworms has a collection of reviews here.

Additionally more reviews are being linked on Justin Taylor's site here. Search his posts for "Sex" or something. He posts reviews in blocks.

My recommendation: Own it

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Thursday, June 16, 2005 at 4:26 PM

Mormonism

Hmmm.

I guess I can only attribute it to God's providence. I walked around and sat down to read a bit outside (the weather is delightful!), proceeded to fall asleep and then woke up and decided to walk back home. Right as I got home my sister told me that I had people outside. Turns out that there were two mormon missionaries outside my door! Weird! So I end up sitting outside and listening to them for a bit. I didn't actively engage them and challenge their every point, though it seemed like much of the story is fairly far-fetched and unbiblical. (I guess thats what you get when you tack on books and an active prophet to the Bible)

What they covered:

1) Church has fallen into apostasy. Prophets and Apostles rejected. Therefore Joseph Smith was raised up and translated the book of Mormon so that the church is restored.

2) The fruits of the spirit are love joy peace.... yadda yadda and therefore the book of Mormon is true. They continually quoted Galatians 5:22-23 in supporting their belief that the book of Mormon was true and said that if one prays about it, it gives them peace and love.

3) They'll be back tomorrow.

Weird stuff actually. They handed me a pamphlet and to be honest, most of it (being people centered) sounds like what any modern day church would say. A focus on finding true happiness and peace and a de-emphasis on the cross, sin, depravity.

I look foward to talking with them tomorrow. They said they'll bring by a book of Mormon so I could read it. Cool stuff.

Some resources for those who are interested:

Alpha Omega Ministries:Apologetics:Mormonism

This site by James White is quite the resource. It is an excellent site focused on refuting cults and other heresies from a Biblical viewpoint. This guy knows his stuff. His various books are excellent as well.

CARM:Mormonism

This guy has done his research as well. It is a site geared more towards apologetics and evangelism, but has a countercult section as well. It's fairly solid and he has done an excellent job of documenting the facts.

I do only have a few weeks here till I leave for Alaska, but I do hope to continue talking with them and discussing with them. I think they deny the infallibility of Scripture, so that's probably where I'll start. Please be praying for my witness and my words.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005 at 12:54 AM

w00t w00t!

Phil Johnson has blogspotted me for my previous post rejoicing in increased traffic flow. But this time I get an upgrade! No longer am I merely "at Stanford." No, I am "Stanford student extraordinaire." booyeah! This must be what is responsible for the fact that traffic for yesterday doubled my previous high (also when he linked me). Nothing about the fact that Phil is gathering a bigger audience by the day, nothing at all.

On a similar but separate note, I like Phil's disclaimer at the bottom. Gave me quite a laugh. Check it out.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005 at 5:56 AM

So many good reads, so little time!

http://ateam.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2005/6/8/918858.html

An excellent article (from a few days back) about the value of apologetics in a post-modern world. He answers a few things that are brought up that I have been thinking about and I found his post enlightening and encouraging.

http://members.tripod.com/carla_b/realfacts/eternal_love.html

An excellent article on the immutability of God and why that gives us as believers a great deal of hope and joy.

http://surphingside.blogspot.com/2005/06/biblical-position-on-womens-roles.html

An entry about the importance of a biblical perspective on women's roles. Within it, you'll find a link to an article by John Macarthur Jr. That article is an excellent read as well, addressing many issues of modern day Christian feminists and how their interpretations fall short and pose a danger to Christianity today.

http://www.intoutreach.org/seeking.html


An excellent article on "seeking God," putting evangelism into a reformed perspective. An excellent read. (This article was gleaned from Vincent Cheung's post)

Finally, if you want some free stuff, Tim Challis is at it again:

june Giveaway

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Saturday, June 11, 2005 at 10:03 PM

Blogplugging

Just wanted to drop a thank you to Phil Johnson for linking me on one of his "blogspotting" posts. Most viewers I've ever had in one day, by far.

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Thursday, June 09, 2005 at 9:30 PM

Some good reads

Some things I've been reading as of late that I'd like to share:

http://www.monergism.com/

Quite possibly the broadest website on everything Christian related out there. It's a free collection of excellent articles on most any topic, all from a solid biblical grounds. Lays out excellent answers to most any questions or issues that I've come across, 7 day creation, Catholicism, liberal theology, the works. Additionally there's an excellent bookstore that I've gotten a number of books from.

I'd also like to make a plug for it because the person who runs it has decided to dedicate his entire job towards it, so any bit of help he can get he'd appreciate. If you want to help out a brother in need you can buy a book or make a donation.

http://www.vincentcheung.com/2005/06/06/church-and-seminary-1/
http://www.vincentcheung.com/2005/06/07/church-and-seminary-2/
http://www.vincentcheung.com/2005/06/08/church-and-seminary-3/

An excellent series on ministry training and Christian leadership. Extremely convicting for me as I look into what mentalities I've taken into my various roles over the course of the year.

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at 2:33 AM

Be watchmen

Ezekiel 33

7"So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 9But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

I remember during spring break of my senior year of high school (haha, like that was that long ago) my home church held a day long discussion forum for kids and their parents about college and church and Christianity.

One thing that stuck out to me was that at the end of the day we had an open discussion where kids asked questions of parents and parents asked questions of kids. Since I was like the only person who's parents were not there, I ended up speaking a lot (wasn't afraid? Or just plain stupid). We covered a whole slew of topics, from dating and relationships, what is expected about college, what classes to take, what kinds of challenges to expect.

A lot of good things were said there about college, about Christianity in a college setting, but one thing that stuck out to me was when we talked about dating. At the time I was dating a girl and I really liked her. Like obsessively. Not healthy yeah. To top it off, she wasn't a Christian. I think I knew something was wrong about it, but I never really bothered to find out. Well to put it shortly, whenever any questions were asked about dating, like "what do kids think about dating? Should dating be allowed? How is dating connected to marriage?" I ended up responding to a great deal of them, mostly because I wanted to keep my relationship and I didn't want people to say things that I didn't like. Much of what I said at that time I now see as completely false, completely incorrect, and completely tainted by my own personal feelings instead of examined in light of Scripture. A couple of people there mentioned that they never thought about it the way I thought about it, and to be honest that's a good thing because the way I thought about it was solely to please myself. It wasn't about a possibility of marriage, about pursuing Christ-glorifying relationships, it was about "hanging out and enjoying myself."

How much I now wish someone had pulled me aside and talked to me! I made so many mistakes with that relationship, mistakes that I have regretted and will regret for a very long time. Thinking about it causes me great sadness at my actions.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe it's something that I've hung onto and now eats me alive. The power of the gospel is immense, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It's an infinite forgiveness for infinite sin. Praise be to the Father! I've also talked it out many a time with close friends and my ex. It saddens me, but it doesn't consume me.

I also don't hold anything against the people there. In all honesty I didn't know people there, they didn't know me. I imagine many of them were unsure of where I was coming from (heck, I didn't know where I was coming from). God was still glorified in my sin. Because of His purpose and His plan, I have been convicted, driven to my knees, beaten and broken before an almighty and Holy God. There I have found forgiveness, grace, mercy, and there I have begun to stumble in my pursuit of Him. I praise the Father that He has brought me through those trials, and is now continuing to bring me through them. I cannot help but tremble at what lies ahead (please don't call me to the missions field! =p), at the same time I trust in His perfect love that drives out all fear.

Which brings me to the point of my post I guess. I've been so blessed here at Stanford to have friends who have been willing to call me out on sin. Not only close friends like my accountability partner(s), but other brothers and sisters that have realized something was seriously wrong and pursued me, even when all I wanted to do was stew and dwell. Through guidance and teaching (sometimes very harsh teaching and stern guidance) God has molded me, wearing off my rough edges (of which there still are a lot). Painful process yes, but I'm glad it's happening none-the-less.

I hope that I would be the same to others, always pointing towards the cross, rebuking sin and correcting and encouraging always. I know sometimes I am overly critical and overly harsh, it's another one of those rough edges that needs to get worn, but I'm trying to learn, and trying to help others too (by God's sovereign will of course).

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005 at 7:38 PM

Reflections and Rejoicings

Finally made it through the school year. To be honest, I'm feeling a little caught up emotionally. It's like sad because I know there are so many seniors I have been good friends with that won't be around. It's so different living in a community where I know I can just reach out and there are people there who are willing to pray with me, talk with me, sing with me. Becoming a Christian just before I went off to college made it really difficult to get that back home.

I find myself thinking a lot about the past year. So many regrets over the might haves and the could haves. And no, I'm not talking about dating. Sometimes I feel like as a frosh liason I could have done a lot more. I just basically got lazy. I wish I could have talked to those freshmen a little more. Then maybe they might have joined FiCS instead of . I wish I got to know those people better. They seem so interesting and so funny, but they never really came out to large group and I never bothered to visit even though I was around all the time. I wish I had a chance to sit down and talk with _____ and just... I don't know. I feel like she wouldn't be where she is if I bothered a little more, if I cared a little more, if I...

I wish I could have talked with my roommate one last time. I never did get a chance to share the gospel of grace, of peace, of forgiveness. Instead I left him with the impression that I hated him, hated his religion, hated his life. To an extent I think that's true. At the core we were too different to not get into arguements, but I was, and am, just so immature, always thinking I know so much more, when in truth... I'm just as ignorant, just as stupid, just as blinded as he was. But man, I really wish my poor witness wouldn't get in the way of God's Word. Thankfully His Word never returns to Him empty. Way to go God!

I guess through it all though, the cry that God is soveign keeps me going. I remember going through a major guilt trip earlier this year. I saw so little good in me, and so much wretchedness. Looking back at the year it's still true, but somehow, for some reason, God decided to redeem the bad and lend the truth to the statement: When we are weak, then He is strong. I know that God promises so much for those who persevere, and it's not us that do it but God does, because He loves His sheep and will keep them close. I know that God will work all things for His ultimate glory, and if that involves my sin then I can praise Him for what he is bringing about in me.

I'm so glad I'm surrounded by friends, close friends who are willing to call me out on things, comfort me when I'm struggling, provide that shoulder to cry on. I don't deserve their love, for often times I repay it with spite, arrogance, insults and sarcasm, but yet their continual demonstration of God's love just blows me away.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005 at 7:24 PM

Wow, now that's something

Tim Challis has a post about abortion where he looks at the ironies of this article on Foxnews about the conviction of a man on two counts of murder when he helped his girlfriend miscarry by stepping on her stomach. He got two counts, she got off scott free because of abortion laws. Wow.

"Testimony alleged both may have wanted a miscarriage so the babies wouldn't infringe on college and social plans."

Wow. It's really a sad state of affairs when something like this happens. Not only do we have a society that doesn't stand up when things like this happen, but it's actually protected.

Though as one person pointed out to me, it's not like it's anything new. Ever since the fall sin has consumed society and ruined lives. I am reminded of G.K. Chesterton's classic response to the question "what's wrong with the world?"

"me."

But somehow through it all, in spite of how wrong we are. We're cleaned. Deng. It's that infinite grace for an infinite sin thing again. Wow.

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at 2:12 AM

On Forgiveness

Just had a talk with a friend and she pointed out something that I desperately needed to hear.

I stated earlier in a post that
"In one fell swoop she accuses me of hypocrisy and being unforgiving. Another blow that secularism has struck against the Christian worldview is a forcing on of definitions of secular "grace" and "forgiveness" as opposed to biblical ones. What does Christ say? Luke 17:4
and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him."
It is just as important the repentance part as the forgiveness one. I cannot and will not just idly stand by while God is being wronged and say "oh don't worry, I forgive you." This is what I see the world demanding of us and this is what I will openly oppose, even at the cost of people accusing me of hypocrisy. I will forgive any who ask, I will also try my best to ask for forgiveness when I wronged someone else, but I cannot grant forgiveness for something that people are not repentant of. But all the while the message is the same: God will repay so it is He who demands repentance and He who demands forgiveness."
I still am in agreement with what I said there. The verse right before says: Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,

But one thing that my friend pointed out to me was that forgiveness should also be for me. That in my holding my hostility and anger, I am merely building up a wall against her, preventing reconciliation on my own. *ouch* Yeah, she's right. In that sense I am to forgive her, even if she doesn't ask for forgiveness (though my original point in the post was not about that, I think I have applied it out of context to my current situation). Sucks being wrong doesn't it?

So now I'm in a tough situation. I do feel like I grievously wronged her and need forgiveness. I also feel like I need to forgive her even if it's unclear if she's asked for forgiveness. At the same time, I do feel she is very wrong about a number of points, and when those points border on the inerrancy of Scripture, I don't know how to bring that up without sounding judgmental. It is not something I will let slide. I dunno. I'm awfully confused about this.

People keep pointing to passages about love. They are quite challenging for me, not only because I find myself in places where I seem unloving, but also because oftentimes I feel that the interpretation of those passages don't do Scripture justice. It's hard to listen to people when they point to "God is love" or "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

I guess this will serve as my introduction to a coming series on love. It's something I wrestle with, so I figure might as well do some in depth study of it.

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Monday, June 06, 2005 at 11:19 PM

Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats

Stolen from The Purpose Driven Blog.

FEEDING SHEEP OR AMUSING GOATS?
C. H. Spurgeon
An evil resides in the professed camp of the Lord so gross in its imprudence that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate evil for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." That is clear enough. So it would have been if He has added, "and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel." No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Then again, "He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry." Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.
Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the Church to the world? "Ye are the salt," not sugar candy-something the world will spit out, not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, "Let the dead bury their dead." He was in awful earnestness!
Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into His mission, He would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear Him say, "Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!" Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them. In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of the gospel amusement. Their message is, "Come out, keep out, keep clean out!" Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon. After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, "Lord grant Thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are." If they ceased not for preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They "turned the world upside down." That is the difference! Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her and bring us back to apostolic methods.
Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to affect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the Church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy-laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God's link in the chain of their conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today's ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

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at 1:14 PM

For Whom Did Jesus Taste Death

Somehow, John Piper has a way of putting into words what I have only begun to think about. Not only so, but he puts it into words that boil forth in compassion, something that I desperately need to be demonstrating. An exceprt:

So my question this morning is this: "For whom did Jesus taste death?" Ask 100 evangelical Christians in America that question and 95 will probably say, "Everybody." And there is something healthy about that answer—and something unhealthy. What's healthy about it is that it is not cliquish or elitist or sectarian. It has an eye on the world. It wants others to enjoy the forgiveness of sins that believers enjoy. It is not narrow and confined in its affections.

It tries to express the Biblical truth that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes might not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). It is healthy and right to believe that everyone who has faith—no matter what race or education or intelligence or social class or former religion—everyone who puts faith in Jesus Christ is justified and accepted with God on the basis of Jesus' shed blood. It's healthy and right to believe that no one can say, "I really want to be saved by believing Jesus, but I can't be because he did not die for me." No one can say that. There is no one who truly believes for whom Jesus did not taste death.

There are lots of reasons why this answer (that Jesus tasted death for everyone) is a sign of spiritual health. One of the most obvious reasons is right here in our text, Hebrews 2:9:

But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

The answer that 95% of evangelicals would give is a healthy sign of desire to say what the Bible says.

But to say what the Bible says and to mean what the Bible means are not necessarily the same thing. Which is why I said that there is something unhealthy about answering the question "For whom did Jesus taste death?" by simply saying "everybody." What's unhealthy about it is not, first, that it's wrong. It might not be wrong. It depends on what you mean by saying that. What's unhealthy is that it stops short of asking what Jesus really accomplished when he died. It assumes that we all know what he accomplished and that this he accomplished for everybody in the same way. That is not healthy, because it is not true. My guess is that most of those 95% who say Jesus died for everybody would have a hard time explaining just what it is that the death of Jesus really, actually accomplished for everybody—especially what it accomplished for those who refuse to believe and go to hell.

--John Piper "For Whom Did Jesus Taste Death?"

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at 2:21 AM

On teaching (and a disclaimer)

James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
It's oftentimes very hard to keep this blog. I do see a tendency in my writings in seeking to share what I have been learning. To an extent this leads to a "teaching" position, whether I want it or not, and Scripture is pretty clear I'm to be wary of just eagerly stepping into that.

I will however continue writing for a variety of reasons:

1) Being at a point in my life where my beliefs are constantly maturing and growing, I am eager to share and take down what I'm learning (or think I'm learning).

2) Proverbs 27:17 reads, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." and I hope that by my putting down my thoughts in a medium in which others can leave comments or email me readily correction can come quickly readily. I hope that my readers would be quick to speak up, question, and challenge, thereby enabling me to hammer out what I believe and why, refining my beliefs and conforming them to Scripture.

3) Finally, I do hope that others may be encouraged and edified by my writings (and if this isn't happening, please let me know). There is a great deal of value in knowing that others are wrestling with similar struggles (or even knowing that others are wrestling). Oftentimes I like to share links and posts that I come across that have really encouraged me and I hope they would be encouraging to my readers as well. Finally, when I am seeking to lay out my beliefs I hope that they would bring others to examine the Scriptures and strengthen their own beliefs. Sometimes I do feel like there are things that need to be said to the community at large.

One thing I hope this blog does NOT become is my own personal "bashing" space where I tear down instead of build up. I do realize that oftentimes in my own interactions I come across as "judgmental" and "unforgiving" and that is something that I'm being stretched in. There are times when I feel Scripture speaks clearly, and I will speak clearly in defending them, but I will try my best not to direct accusations against individuals.

This is of course a fine line, since it is oftentimes an individual action that may prompt a post. The email on abortion of prime example. In retrospect, I do feel like that post was a little harsher than it needed to be, but I will leave it up as an example of where I need to grow.

So all in all, if you take offense at something I write (or wrote), please email me or leave a comment. God has been stretching me and convicting me of different things, and if He leads to be a part of that process, I would welcome it. At the same time, please realize that I am still growing (and will be forever growing). This blog is but prime example of this.

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at 1:54 AM

Training to become a man

This is an interesting article about how one person helped to raise his sons in a Christian household. I can't help but think that those children must be miles ahead of me as well as most Christians.

Some of what the kids are able to do because of their training:

"In what does the training consist? Christian manhood is the goal. The training must match the goal. So we set for them projects. They acquire and demonstrate skill in each of several overlapping areas.

  1. Knowledge of the contents of the Bible.

    • Know the names of books of the Bible in order.

    • Know Bible history.

    • Read the Bible all the way through.

    • Know main themes of biblical books.

    • Understand how Biblical teaching centers on Christ.

    • Know Greek and Hebrew (amount of knowledge tailored to the child's ability)

  2. Memorization of selected verses and passages of the Bible.

  3. Knowledge of the major teachings of the Bible (doctrine).

    • Memorize a children's catechism as a summary of doctrine.

    • Be able to explain doctrines and respond to questions using one's own words.

  4. Personal piety.

    • Using devotional materials

    • Prayer diary

    • Day-long personal retreat for prayer and fasting with Daddy

    • Growth in understanding of means for overcoming sin

  5. Projects of service and mercy.

    • Serving the church; serving the needy.

  6. Wisdom in dealing with various spheres of life.

    • Finances: tithing, drawing up a year-long budget; checkbook balancing; investing.

    • Etiquette: table etiquette, greeting etiquette, letter etiquette, conversational etiquette, sexual etiquette.

    • Apologetics: answering questions and objections about Christian faith; understanding the Christian world view and the main competing worldviews and ideas in the United States.

    • Sexuality: knowing Christian teaching and standards for thoughts and actions. Understanding how God designed male and female bodies."

Wow, I'm not able to do or understand most of that. Deng.

1 Timothy 4
7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and strive,[b] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

11Command and teach these things. 12Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. 16Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

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Saturday, June 04, 2005 at 4:10 PM

Reflections on Argumentation

I guess this is a reflection upon what I've written earlier. This is what I've believed from the beginning, but lest my readers be confused I will clarify.

A few weeks ago I sent off an email to some friends about abortion. One of them responded and I really took issue with here.

I will and do stand by all that I've written thus far on it. I do believe that some of the views expressed in her email are untenable from a Biblical standpoint. I've expressed my concern about her views and laid them out and asked her to clarify them, not for my sake but for the third party's. Additionally, I realize that from a brief reading of what I've written, it sounds like I am angry that someone has put forth such views.

To an extent that is true, I cry because God's Word isn't honored. I cry because His law isn't revered. I cry because His people don't honor Him, but my duty is to proclaim the truth and defend it, but I on my own cannot convince anyone of it. To claim to do so (or to feel disappointed when I fail) is to deny God His providence over all. It is ultimately not the consistency of an argument that convinces anyone but God's grace. I do believe this, and it's something I've been reminded of over and over again.

Of course, this must be qualified by the fact that, as a Christian, it is possible to present arguments as that are invincible. This is true when one grounds an argument on Scripture. This is why I believe that appealing to secular authorities, emotions, and feelings to the exclusion of Scripture undermines an argument rather than bolsters it. An argument is only as strong as it's weakest premise. An argument founded completely upon God's Word is invincible. (For why this is true, read some Vincent Cheung)

Thus it brings me to a summary of what I've been going through. Someone I talked to mentioned to me that as fallen human beings, our first instinct when confronted with truth is to run away, reject it, or if we do accept it, qualify it. It is completely up to God to convict us of our wrongdoings and bring us to repentance. I think he has an excellent point. With all things, we do need time, and we do need patience and softness. Our callings must be filled with salt and we must always strive to heed Paul when he writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[a] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
Thus it's a constant struggle for me. On one hand I do see someone falling into error that I feel needs to be spoken to. Not only because of their own personal position, but additionally because they are in a position of authority, one whom others look up to. Because of this I am open about what I believe and feel it is something that needs to be spoken to. At the same time, I feel oftentimes that because I am so open about it, I get accused of being "impatient" and "unloving" and questioned as to why I do not pursue the church discipline route that Christ maps out in Matthew 18:15-17. I in all honestly feel like my conscience is clear on this. Unfortunately, I feel this belief against me leads the people I'm trying to talk with to disregard my words. What can I do but to lament with the prophets and cry out as David does in Psalm 119:136: My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.

If you do indeed know the people involved (and if you know me, you probably do) I ask that you would not step in unless directly asked to. This is something we're both wrestling with and going through third parties right now can only serve to alienate us even more.

Either way though, I would appreciate prayers.

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at 12:55 PM

BAM- A convicting read

An old post from Jollyblogger on having a Christ like debate.

In summary (you should still read the whole post):

1) Remember who I'm debating - they bear the image of God just like I do.
2) Remember my relationship with them - I am to be good to all, especially brothers and sisters of the faith
3) Remember who I am - still tainted by sin.
4) Remember how little I know
5) Remember I cannot qualify everything, nor should I expect others to
6) Argue with what has been said, not what I think has been said.
7) Read and listen sympathetically
a) Assume the writer doesn't contradict his/herself
b) Impute best motives into the opponent
8) Be careful with reductio ad absurdum - I have not thought out all the logical ramifications of what I believe, others may not have done the same thing for theirs.
9) Be careful about usage of invectives

All in all, stuff that I've heard before and am still working through, but a good and convicting read none the less

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Friday, June 03, 2005 at 2:46 PM

Assurance of Salvation

Jollyblogger is working through a series on Hebrews 6. Yeah, that passage. He points out that though it is a passage that is oftentimes used to challenge the Doctrines of Grace, the way that it's usually explained does not do the verses justice. Here's a taste from his intro post:

The Charybdis of Hebrews 6 is the typical reformed exegesis which effectively neuters the passage's intended effect as a warning. What I mean is that reformed exegetes and others who believe in eternal security spend so much time jumping through hoops to prove what it doesn't say, that they never get around to saying what it does say. In other words, these folks go to great lengths to show that this doesn't teach you can lose your salvation and I think the effect is to cause their hearers or readers to wipe the sweat from their brows and think "whew, glad to know this passage doesn't apply to me." It seems clear to me that, when we read Hebrews 6, we aren't to walk away relieved that this doesn't apply to us, but we should have a sense of fear and awe as we read it. In that respect, though I disagree with their paradigm and conclusions I think the Arminian interpreters do a better job of respecting the force of this text as a warning passage.
He's currently in part 2 (or maybe 3, I don't know when to start counting) and it's been an excellent read on a very challenging passage. I suggest you read it here: Intro, I, II, IIb

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Thursday, June 02, 2005 at 9:07 PM

Charles Spurgeon and the Down-Grade Controversy

A long but enlightening article by John MacArthur Jr. providing some historical insight into how Charles Spurgeon dealt with the gradual liberalization of his own denomination and his subsequent vilification by it. Wow.

We need men like this today.

a quote:

Spurgeon hated schism. He did not want to be divisive. But his conscience would not permit him to align with the enemies of the gospel. In the end he concluded that separating from the Union was actually the best way to promote true unity: "Nothing has ever more largely promoted the union of the true than the break with the false."

Spurgeon saw separation as a biblical necessity for himself. "Whether others do so or not, I have felt the power of the text, 'Come out from among them, and be ye separate," and have quitted both Union and Association once for all. . . . This is forced upon me, not only by my convictions, but also by the experience of the utter uselessness of attempting to deal with the evil except by personally coming out from it."

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005 at 3:30 PM

A sweet opening post by Phillip Johnson

Some of the sites he links are quite scary!

An excellent post. I look foward to reading what else he may have to say.

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at 12:37 AM

Abortion Response

So one of the people whom I emailed sent a response to all the people on the list. Let's examine their statements. Paragraphs numbered for reference


~~~~~
Hi guys,

I'm sorry I waited so long to respond. (Let me just say that I agree with all the Biblical arguments Mickey presented. ) Abortion is truly a touchy issue in today's society; something that we can't ignore and the results of which have echoed through our time... i agree with Mickey in that as Christians, we have to adhere to a higher goal, a higher purpose, God's purpose... and all our decisions and views should be eventually conformed with God, instead of with the world. at the same time, abortion is an issue that is really touchy for women in particular, because it deals with their bodies. and the prospect of rape, especially for young women (with date rape, and all that other crazy stuff) is really scary, and shouldn't be treated lightly.

(1)nonetheless, whether they should have had the abortion is something that women really do struggle with after they abort. I have heard stories of people having nightmares, and regretting it for years afterward. While this may be less prevalent among women who have been raped, this is something to think about before making a blanket statement about whether abortion is right for people of certain circumstances. And of course, if you really don't want the kid, you can always give it up for adoption.


(2) and really, how could you ever know what God has in store for you? He places you in trials so that you may be grown to His image by it. If having a child from a rape is what He has in His master plan for you, then who are you to disagree? maybe the child will turn out to be a great evangelist, turning millions to Christianity? or maybe the child will bless you in many multitudes of ways, something that you never may have expected at the beginning. It is a lesson in trust, in submission to God's will, that we all have to learn, whether or not we are faced with the decision of abortion. For nothing happens apart from His will, right? This is from a personal and moral perspective, that you should treat every human being (yes, even one you created!) with dignity andrespect, because of the respect that God has placed on them.

(3)Of course, from a public health and policy perspective, the considerations for the legalization of abortion is completely different. This is largely stemming from the division between church and state. (and that may be the seat of the points I was bringing up.)

(4)There are two different shoes to fill here, the one of the advocate and the one of the policy maker. if you stand in the shoes of an advocate, then you MUST stick up strongly for one side, because -obviously! - it's right. hehe. but in the shoes of a policy-maker, you must take into consideration all the different voices expressed in this debate. a policy-maker can't just push aside all parties that oppose his/her point of view, or all havoc will ensue. and these parties include christians and non-christians alike, who don't operate under the same moral laws. this is definitely what makes president bush's job so hard.. he must, as a leader, stick up for what he feels is right, but he is also the leader of christians and non-christians alike, and so he must act in the interests of both parties.

(5)also, just to play devil's advocate, there are a number of things i learned in humbio that spoke on abortion - namely, that studies have shown that making abortion illegal doesn't decrease the number of abortions but increases the death rates during attempted abortions - because it will be through illegal methods. additionally, the effects of a child growing up in a household that doesn't want it apparently has very damaging psychological effects, and makes him/her more prone to aggression, higher dropout rates, etc. just some food for thought.

yeah, personally, if i had to make a choice (and i hope i will never be in this situation) then i would not abort the baby... cuz you never know what God has in store for you.. so enjoy the ride :)

~~~~~~~~~~~

Ok, so she agrees with me, but her reasoning is very convoluted. To be completely honest I felt like she was seeking to undermine my email more than anything. I ask her for clarification as to why she felt necessary to bring in the fact that women had nightmares. I felt like Scripture speaks clearly enough on the subject, and if she agreed with Scripture nothing more needed to be said. Her argument against abortion essentially amounted to "people feel bad about it, so you shouldn't have it" in paragraph 1. This leaves her in a poor position for when someone says "I feel fine having an abortion."

Paragraph 2 only serves to say "you shouldn't because God is sovereign."

Both of these points only serve to undermine my point: God hates murder. hates sin. Those who allow it are condemnable to death under the law. We are left with a very subjective definition. As long as you don't trust God, as long as you feel good about it, abortion may be ok! But this is absolutely wrong. Abortion is murder clear and simple. The argument is as strong as it's premises, and when you incorporate premises that can easily be disowned, the argument is also weakened.

I asked her why she felt it was necessary to include those points for the reasons I stated and she responds with:

Her (8:25:18 PM): i was only trying to express what you said in the previous email in a more accessible way


Now she immediately followed up with "I don't know if that's necessary or not, being accessible that is." But this doesn't eliminate her initial statement and assumption: She believes (or implied) that Scripture is not sufficient. And we wonder why Christianity is having such a hard time today. It is simply because of the fact that people no longer believe that Scripture is sufficient and need to turn to other explanations. Now maybe she didn't really mean what she implied, maybe she is a firm believer in the inerrancy of Scripture and I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but just being able to make this statement without feeling something is extremely wrong only serves to prove how much the secular worldview has made inroads into Christianity.

(3)Of course, from a public health and policy perspective, the considerations for the legalization of abortion is completely different. This is largely stemming from the division between church and state. (and that may be the seat of the points I was bringing up.)
(4)There are two different shoes to fill here, the one of the advocate and the one of the policy maker. if you stand in the shoes of an advocate, then you MUST stick up strongly for one side, because -obviously! - it's right. hehe. but in the shoes of a policy-maker, you must take into consideration all the different voices expressed in this debate. a policy-maker can't just push aside all parties that oppose his/her point of view, or all havoc will ensue. and these parties include christians and non-christians alike, who don't operate under the same moral laws. this is definitely what makes president bush's job so hard.. he must, as a leader, stick up for what he feels is right, but he is also the leader of christians and non-christians alike, and so he must act in the interests of both parties.


Moving on to paragraphs 3-4 she makes the claim "a policy-maker can't just push aside all parties that oppose his/her point of view, or all havoc will ensue." and applies it to President Bush. Now, no opinion on Bush, but where does she get the idea that one must compromise or "all havoc will ensue." As a Christian is she called to compromise on her values because America requests it? I asked her for clarification on this and she thought I was challenging her on separation of church and state, but she laid for the following statements:

this is the "Freedom of religion" that is supposed to exist in the US, which has ramifications that no religion has bearing on national policy


I pressed her on the point of "freedom of religion" has ramifications that no religion has bearing on national policy stating that we as Christians are to reject that completely. Everyone is shaped by their foundational beliefs, whether they define it as religious or irreligious. As Christians we are to oppose any and all arguments that set itself up against God, which includes that concept. She then says that she agrees with me, but we are to show grace and forgiveness to them. I respond by saying "we show grace by demonstrating the truth and giving them a chance to repent, not accepting them how they are" and she says "but then we need to ask for forgiveness ourselves." I say yes, but our duty is still the same.

In one fell swoop she accuses me of hypocrisy and being unforgiving. Another blow that secularism has struck against the Christian worldview is a forcing on of definitions of secular "grace" and "forgiveness" as opposed to biblical ones. What does Christ say?

and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive him."



It is just as important the repentance part as the forgiveness one. I cannot and will not just idly stand by while God is being wronged and say "oh don't worry, I forgive you." This is what I see the world demanding of us and this is what I will openly oppose, even at the cost of people accusing me of hypocrisy. I will forgive any who ask, I will also try my best to ask for forgiveness when I wronged someone else, but I cannot grant forgiveness for something that people are not repentant of. But all the while the message is the same: God will repay so it is He who demands repentance and He who demands forgiveness.

(5)also, just to play devil's advocate, there are a number of things i learned in humbio that spoke on abortion - namely, that studies have shown that making abortion illegal doesn't decrease the number of abortions but increases the death rates during attempted abortions - because it will be through illegal methods. additionally, the effects of a child growing up in a household that doesn't want it apparently has very damaging psychological effects, and makes him/her more prone to aggression, higher dropout rates, etc.


Finally, the big issue I had with her email. Why does she end the email here? She gives all these counterarguments against the Biblical view and then ... up and ends her email. I ask her about this and she says that "it's helpful to know what the counterarguments are. "

Well yes, absolutely it's helpful, but when it's presented like it has some semblance of truth or authority or it's reasonable then you're presenting completely wrong. Even if she could prove all those points true which I deny, they hold nothing against the Biblical reason against abortion which is still the same: Abortion is murder. God has a specific commandment against murder. Therefore abortion is clearly against God's command. It's as simple as that.

Instead, she presents the arguments with no refutation, with no semblance of "oh but I don't believe this." No, she presents it as part of her email prior to her final statement. Implicitly stating that either a) there is no counterargument or b) she agrees with them. Both of which set themselves up against God's explicit commands.

This I will not stand for. To see God's Word clearly disregarded, even when she starts off by saying "I agree," is downright offensive to me.

In conclusion: To imply that it is necessary to add extra-Scriptural arguments to Scripture's clear teaching only serves to undermine the authority of Scripture, and this is something I will not stand for. To imply that worldly reasons have any foundation in truth apart from Scripture does the same. To demand a "grace" and "forgiveness" without repentance is an excuse for rejecting God's Word and turning sinfully away. I will oppose any and all of these, publicly if need be, but I would hope not.

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