Drinking Deeply

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 at 8:41 PM

Reading Deeply

A few reads I'd like to plug before I head off to my church's winter camp.

Steve Hays looks at the emotional problem of pain and concludes that it's actually an intellectual one in disguise.

Reformation Theology examines the current secular attack on the doctrine of Hell and discusses it's necessity to Christianity.

I linked to this earlier, but it was such a good post it deserved mention in one of these Reading Deeply posts. Chang at Theocentric22 posts on the post-millenial view of Christmas. While I don't know if I'm post-mill or what, I agreed greatly with his views.

Darren over at godmadescience (another xanga) discovers how to RSS subscribe to xangas.

I know I've mentioned it before, but check out The Roof Guys. I've been subscribed to it for a few weeks and been mad blessed and convicted.

On a separate note, I had the blessing to visit Bryan and Daniel, friends from my fellowship up at Stanford. That was awesome, getting to meet their parents and to get a close up picture of godly parents raising godly children. Oh, and Korean food is excellent.

Blog of the post: I've recently added Puritan Belief to my blogroll. The posts are short, sweet, insightful, and above all, biblical. Check it out.

As for books, I've been reading a few books lately but I'll highlight two, one I just finished and one I am reading through.

Prayer and Revelation
by Vincent Cheung (a reread) was an excellent read, demonstrating how we should dethrone experience and enthrone Scripture when it comes to prayer. Filled with biblical insight and addressing how we can apply our knowledge about God to our prayers to God, it was a blessing to read.

I'm currently reading through Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. A great allegory and filled with Scripture. It follows the life of a character named Christian as he meets the trials and tribulations (mound of despair) of seeking God. A fun read and it's very easy to see myself in it.

Well, I'm off to wintercamp. No posts till the 1st or so.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005 at 8:26 PM

Peace of God (4)

The last thing I want to focus on is how our peace with God leads us to being at war with the world.

aka, the cost of discipleship.

Following Jesus is awesome. It's what God commands us to do and He provides in abundant ways in His Son.

But as with everything, following Jesus comes with a cost.

Jesus says in 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.
Though the Pharisees expected Jesus to bring peace to the earth in a material physical way (instead of how he brought it in a spiritual way), Jesus actually came to bring a sword. What does this sword involve? It involves war. A battle. Man against father, daughter against mother. The cost of peace with God can include one's very own family (though we pray that that won't be the case). Don't look back. Remember Lot's wife.

Now, I'm not advocating that we go out and physically kill people who are non-Christian, but I am saying that we are at war at a spiritual level. We can (we must) love our neighbors in a physical way. We care for them, feed them when hungry, share our tunics, live at peace with everyone if at all possible. AT THE SAME TIME we're called to oppose non-Christian practice, thought, and people. We abhor what is evil, refuse to sit in the assembly of the wicked, hate evil-doers.

And the world will hate us for it. It will cry out for tolerance, for "love" (according to their definitions), for "science" (which really can't prove anything). It will hate us for exposing their sins (which they suppress). It will hate us because it hated Jesus.

John 15:18-25

18"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'

This is the cost of discipleship.

Though we have peace with God, it will result in war with the world. Some of our families will disown us. Some of our friends will hate us. Satan will war for our souls. We will run against trial after trial after trial. But that is not the end of the story, for if that was what we had to look forward to, life would be hard. Ultimately it is that peace with God that will sustain us, that will grant us the contentment so that we will not be anxious. We will not need to seek to please man, but we can seek to please God. It is not our strength that sustains us, but God's grace, given to us through Jesus Christ.


Remember Hebrews 2? I haven't forgotten it. Look at how it ends:
16For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Christ helps us because through Him we have been adopted as offspring of Abraham. Jesus was made perfect through suffering, and I really liked what Doug E. said in his comment, "My understanding is that His suffering made Him perfect to be our priest because He can sympathize with us in our suffering." This sounds to be very close to the mark to me (mostly because of it's connection to v. 18). Because of His sufferings when tempted, He is able to help us!

So I urge you brothers and sisters. Hold fast!

You will suffer, for the world will hate you. You will suffer for His name. You will endure trials.

But God is faithful. God is great. God is glorious. He will help us. He has provided. Though we were at war with Him and friends with the world, He has called us His own, so that we are no longer of this world, but can look forward to a heavenly dwelling. We are now at peace with God, but at war with the world.

This is the cost of discipleship. This is the hard truth. It challenges me and oftentimes I want to run away from it. But I have to keep coming back, because God has regenerated my heart and I can only say with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."

I pray that may be the same with you.

PS sorry about the way that verses are cited. I oftentimes hate jumping around, picking verses here and there, but I didn't want to just focus on just one point in one or two verses. So much to share, so little time! *chuckles*

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Sunday, December 25, 2005 at 12:31 PM

Peace of God (3)

So I was going to point out that our peace with God is not all. I wanted to talk about how Christ has also come to (eventually) bring a reign of peace upon the earth.

After all, the prophecy does say in Isaiah 9:6-7)
6For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
And then I wanted to talk about how Jesus says that He has not come to bring peace, but a sword. And point to our hope that what Jesus accomplished on the cross (our reconciliation with God) is not entirely His task (peace of the world with God, and in that, with one another).

But then I woke up this morning and found this post by the former youth director of my church, which puts it in much better terms than I do. Go and read it.

I think there's another post coming to focus in on the "peace with God, war with world" aspect.

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Friday, December 23, 2005 at 8:25 PM

Peace of God (2)

So last post I was thinking about the peace of God, but then ended up talking about the wrath of God! How crazy is that?

Well anywho, where does that leave us? We who were deserving of wrath became somehow children of God. What happened?

Continuing in Hebrews 2:
9But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,12saying,

"I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise."

13And again,

"I will put my trust in him."

And again,

"Behold, I and the children God has given me."

Now, I'll confess I don't quite understand the "make perfect through suffering" part, but the crux of the passage is that God came into this world in power to save us from what we could not save ourselves from. Though He was sustaining every moment, every thought, every action with His decrees, God chose to enter flesh in the Christ in order that He might deliver the children of Abraham. That through His death, He might destroy death. (This kind of sounds like the ending of Matrix 3, those plagairizers! [the makers of Matrix 3 that is] ).

Christ voluntarily took on the beginning of Psalm 22 upon His own lips:
1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
So that He might also say:
22I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
With the wrath of God fulfilled and carried out, we, as adopted children of God are at peace with God. We have been promised the inheritance that Christ in His sinless life deserved, that we are allowed to enter His rest.
14Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
This is the promise of peace of God. It is a peace with God. Verse 15 tells us that we are delivered from our lifelong slavery. Remember Ephesians 2? We were following Satan, but Christ has freed us from that. This isn't just some "peace on earth" type of promise (though that actually is part of it, yet unfulfilled, next post), it is a "peace with God" in spite of all trials and war on earth.

This is such an awesome point that I think I could talk about it for post after post. Go and read Romans 8, which begins, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Mind blowing, awesomeness, grace, beauty, mercy, blessing, all wrapped up in one short sentence. No condemnation.

But the glory of the cross (to us) is only as big as the gap between us and God. As we look upon ourselves and see our sinfulness, how small we are, how deceitfully wicked, it is then that we can look upon God and see His glory, His greatness, His mercy.

So remember your sins, remember that each one is deserving of death and eternity. Remember how you slander your friends and enemies, how you lie, cheat, steal. You may be better than the person down the street, but in God's eyes you were no better than a worm.

But just as importantly, remember the Cross. Remember your Savior. Remember that though your works were as worthless rags, God chose you and redeemed you, adopting you as His own. With that promise, though the world may not be put in place, though you may never feel quite at ease with everyone, you have a peace with God, a peace that can never be taken away.

Godward Thoughts has a great post on a similar topic.

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at 4:21 PM

A guy's blog

A long long time ago, back when we were thinking about marriage, sex, and dating (or at least RUF was), Hannah Goldhor sent out a few links to some great female bloggers. Godly women who were seeking to live out their walk and share their experiences and thoughts with other women.

Thus began my search. A search which I would not know how far, wide, long, or high it might take. I would scour the blog-rings, seek truth, search xangas, search google, click on links, do battle with homework, finals, essays, all for that elusive blog.

That blog which was geared towards men. There are a lot of great theology blogs out there (Like Jollyblogger and Phillip Johnson). A lot of great commentary blogs out there (Like Justin Taylor and ). But I hadn't found too many (any) blogs geared towards men in the same way those blogs ( Girltalk and Solo Femininity) were for women.

Today, I announce to you the completion of my quest. The search is over, the victory won. I have found it at last. I present to you:

Discussions on God's word, money, business, college, work, church, relationships and the Glory of God. All for guys. From a rooftop perspective. Hold on tight.

*cue music*

The Roof Guys

Enjoy the links (but don't let your reading detract from your time with family!) Merry Christmas!

--
-Mickey
630. 857.8412
Hebrews 2:10

PS check out that verse. Can someone explain it to me? It blew my mind when I first read it. (and it blows my mind even now)

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at 2:23 AM

Peace of God

I've been thinking about the "peace of God" lately, and a couple of passages have provincially jumped out at me, so I figured I might as well share what I've been learning over the next few posts (since I've run out of things to post on *laughs* )

Lets look at the book of Hebrews

Hebrews 2 is where this idea of peace started hitting me. But before we talk about peace, we have to talk about wrath, because there is no reason for anyone to want peace unless they realize what the absence of peace is: wrath.

Hebrews 2:
1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
What is the message declared by angels? It is simply the message that the prophets and Apostles have given us. This message is reliable for "every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution." If in the past everything received a just retribution, how are we to presume that we can get away with anything today? Romans 1 reads:
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
What is the punishment for this? What is the cost of ungodliness and unrighteousness?
24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Note the emphasis. The punishment for the lusts in our hearts is that God gives us up to them. We turn away from God, and in doing so, God turns away from us. This is the punishment for sin in this world.

But notice v. 32 "Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." What else is the punishment for sin? Death. Not only a physical death, but a spiritual one, one that cries out "God why have you forsaken me?" (but of course, we'd be too blind and too hardened to even turn to God in that manner.)

Jesus speaks repeatedly of the fires of hell, of the outer darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. If these are only symbolic, they are symbolic of something much worse, much worse than our current vocabulary can describe. And if they aren't symbolic, it's still pretty bad.

And don't think this is just for "everyone else." Remember, we were just like them.

Ephesians 2)
1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Who is Paul writing to? Paul is writing to the "saints in Ephesus." These are people just like you and I, those who have trusted God for salvation. We were dead. We once walked in sin and followed Satan, who is now at work in those who are at war with God.

This is wrath. Wrath is death, destruction, a forsaking. The flip side of peace and what makes the "peace of God" so very precious.

More on this tomorrow, I'm tired =p

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005 at 3:30 PM

Reading Deeply

Some more decent reads from the past week or so.

This one is amusing.

The Roof Guys has an excellent post on what a guy should be looking for in a girl. It closes with an excellent prayer: (HT Solo Femininity)
"God, you know who you have prepared for me. She is beautiful in your sight both physically and spiritually as your Spirit dwells in her. Help me not to be conformed to this world's definition of what is beautiful. Prepare my heart to be intoxicated by her beauty. May my eyes be prepared to look on her alone and see the beauty you have created."
I have been praying for several years that God would "custom wire" my eyes for my wife. What is important is that my heart is genuinely attracted to her. But that will be a work of grace! No matter where she stands on the world's rating system, I want my heart and mind's affections to be directed towards her."
Adrian Warnock interviews Joshua Harris on mentorship.

Vincent Cheung has started working through some radio sermons. They are a bit longer than the usual fare but only come every few days. I've been convicted by God is Not Mocked and Pure Religion.

One thing he said in the intro to Pure Religion that I need to be reminded of daily

Do not despise the simplicity of the gospel and of devotion to Christ, and do not despise your weaker brothers and sisters, for the intellectual pride with which you look down on them is precisely what makes you less than they are, that is, especially those who are humble and teachable. They are probably doing much more than you are with the little that they know, and practicing greater devotion and obedience. Do not be offended by this comment, as I am not referring to anyone in particular, but this is a general danger for all of us who have spent more time studying technical works than other believers. Knowledge puffs you up if there is no love, no desire to edify. But knowledge is essential as it is the power, the substance, behind the love that edifies. So knowledge will either puff you up, or it will increase your power to edify others. It depends on whether you have the love of Christ. As for preachers, the two most important things are to be accurate and clear, not technical. But it is appropriate to speak slightly above the people’s level, to stretch their thinking and make room for growth.

Blog of the post would have to be Godward Thoughts. It's filled with quotations, encouragements, and prayers that focus one's heart upon Christ and bless me. Check out God's Rod of Discipline

As to books I've been reading, I had the chance to read The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander. An excellent behind the scenes look at what makes for a Christ and Gospel centered church. Here's the email I sent off to my pastors in recommending the book for them:

Hey guys,

I mentioned this to some of you, but figured I'd add the rest of you onto the list in case you were interested.

I recently finished an excellent book on the church called "The Deliberate Church" by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander.

It was an excellent read, geared towards pastors who are asking the question: "I have this image of what a Bible based, Gospel centered church looks like, but I don't know how to faithfully get from where we are now to that image. How do I do that?"

It spans a variety of topics from "membership" "discipleship" "leading" "elders" and a whole slew of other things.

I found it Scripture based, insightful, and informative, and though I wasn't a pastor myself I think it's a worthwhile read for people of all walks, if just to understand what a pastor deals with themselves.

Have a blessed Christmas!

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Monday, December 19, 2005 at 1:01 PM

Death Penalty (4)

This post will be an attempt (in question and answer form) to respond to some questions I would imagine an objector would have. Many of these are made up and I use them more for a launching pad for what I believe.

Q) The right to take a life is in God's hands, not man's. The usage of the death penalty is playing God.

A) While I would agree that the right to take a life is in God's hands, and sometimes He uses that right without using an intermediary, I believe that God does extend that right to the authorities. I see it as similar to the authority that God grants the man as the head of household and the elders as shepherds of the church. I believe Romans 13 is explicit about how God uses the authority as a servant to bring God's wrath.

Q) What about when Jesus says to turn the other cheek in Matthew 5:38-42? If we are to turn the other cheek why should we seek vengeance in the form of death?

A) I believe we, as individuals should not seek vengeance in any form. Paul even points out in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 that it would be much better to be wronged than to go to court. But notice that Matthew 5 and 1 Corinthians 6 do not support any kind of punishment by individuals for wrongdoing, so if we are to use the verse to apply to the death penalty, we should use it in application to all things. Stealing should not be punished, murder should not be punished, drunk driving should not be punished.

The distinction I am pointing out is that between the individual and the government. As an individual I don't believe it is right at all to peruse vengeance. We can and (and if our hearts are right) should ask for justice from God, but not from the courts. At the same time though, the government is responsible for protecting society and preserving order. That is why they are a terror to bad conduct but not good. This is similar to what I would say about Romans 12 as well, which I mostly addressed in my last post.

Q) If you put someone to death, there is no chance for repentance.

A) That’s true, but if the authorities are acting as a servant of God, then it is God who is putting someone to death, and if that is the case, we cannot question God, whose ways are just. Nonetheless, there does exist the possibility of grace and repentance prior to execution. With the authority to put someone to death comes the authority to set someone free for true and honest reform. If someone who was on death row was convicted of his sin and seriously repented of what he had done, then even though he was justly being put to death, he would have nothing to fear.

Q) The death penalty has been abused and our judicial system is corrupt.

A) That may be true, and those may be reasons not to have a death penalty, but this series of posts was not to advocate having a death penalty, but rather to eliminate the argument "the death penalty is unbiblical in NT times." I will say that if I were on a jury and was convinced that the defendant had committed the crime and it was serious enough that I felt death was warranted and the death penalty was allowable, I feel like I could vote for the death penalty with a clear conscience with the knowledge that God is using me to do His work. Of course, since capital crimes were tried "beyond a reasonable doubt" a lot of questions would have to be answered before I was that fully convinced.

For some futher reading:

Capital Punishment - Third Millenium Ministries

The Sermon on the Mount - Vincent Cheung (note the chapter on retaliation)

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at 1:42 AM

John 1

John 1

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") 16And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005 at 8:34 PM

Death Penalty (3)

The Death Penalty in the NT.

I was going to mention Matthew 26:52, but then I decided that while it does lend possible support for the death penalty, it is by no means conclusive.

I will instead focus upon the well used passage Romans 13:1-4)

1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

1) Romans 13 rests upon chapters 1-11. After detailing God's sovereign authority governing and active in everything that happens, Paul points out that one application of this is that we are to submit to authorities for it is God who instituted them.

2) verse 4 reads, "for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer."

Tied directly to God's sovereignty in appointing authority we see that this authority acts on God's behalf. He (the authorities) is God's servant for your good (keeping order, restraining disobedience, organizing national defense, protecting environment and so on).

3) But he is also one who "does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer."

I'm going to look at this verse in reverse order.

A) God's servant (the authorities) "carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer." Notice this dramatic contrast between this passage in Romans 12:19

19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."

Is Paul contradicting himself? Of course not! How do we understand this then? Simply that the authorities are given a privilege and power that individuals are not. Examine the ties to verse 4b) For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

"Carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer” Doesn’t that remind us of "leave it to the wrath of God”? The servant of God carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer, which we as individual Christians are never allowed to do. Thus the authorities are not under the same command as individuals are given in Romans 12. They are able to repay evil for evil, to take vengeance, because they are not doing so for themselves, but rather they are acting on God's behalf.

B) "Does not bear the sword in vain" - What does the "sword" mean? For this question we are going to do an "exegesis by biblegateway" (I just came up with that, I'm going to copyright it). What we are going to do is to type in "sword" in Biblegateway and do a search on it. (It is closely related to the "exegesis by blueletterbible") What do we learn? 1) The sword has the connotation of defending. 2) The sword has the connotation of attacking. 3) The sword is closely related to death.

From the text, I think all three inferences are valid here in Romans 13, and in order for us to eliminate one (that the sword does not bear the connotation of death), it is necessary for Paul to actually speak up about it. He does not.

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Friday, December 16, 2005 at 3:24 AM

Provision

For some reason, I'm always a little heisitant to share personal details. Not sure why.

But this was too awesome not to share.

It requires a little setup though.

Yesterday I read Luke 17:5-6

5
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" 6And the Lord said, "If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.

I was like "WHAT?" Now, I knew that oftentimes Jesus answered unasked questions, but I saw no connection at all between what the apostles asked and what he said. What did being able to uproot mulberry trees have to do with increasing faith?

Thus I was asking a lot of people I knew what it meant. Not too many satisfactory answers coming. But then I asked a group of RUFers and one of them mentioned "wouldn't knowing that just a tiny bit of faith in God could do amazing things increase your faith?"

well duh! How come I didn't think of that?

Well ok, so that's that.

Tonight, I was lying in bed and I couldn't sleep. I realized a great part of it was that these past few weeks I felt my spiritual walk wandering a little bit. Some of it was finals, some of it was laziness, but all in all, I just had not wanted to do anything. Sometimes I did my QT, sometimes I didn't.

I realized that a great deal of it was due to the fact that FiCS and RUF no longer had small groups or large groups these last two weeks. That coupled with a Sunday that I was dissapointed in led to just a lack of feeding for me and a lack of community I guess.

So I got out of bed and grabbed a journal and my Bible, because I really needed to pray. I was anxious about going home, anxious about losing more and more of my walk since home was not the best of circumstances for me in the past. I started praying through Psalm 16. I journaled and prayed through about 3 verses over the course of 30 minutes.

1Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."

3As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.

I guess I was feeling kind of alone. Like going home wasn't going to be fun. So I wrote down the verses, meditated upon it, prayed through it, and then I had a thought, "I need to pray with someone."

I was deliberating sending an email out to some friends in hopes one would be awake, or waking up my roomate, when in walks Adam Harris! (3AM)

So I shared a bit. Worries, concerns, struggles, and we prayed. Simply amazing. God really did provide for me in such a way I could not have expected. PTL.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005 at 6:51 PM

Death Penalty (2)

The Death Penalty in the Old Testament:

This point is pretty much uncontested, but I am making it merely to shift the burden of proof onto those who don't believe the death penalty is biblical.

Christ said, (Matthew 5:17-19) that "17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

The establishment of the capital punishment in the Old Testament thus naturally implies (barring other revelation) a continuation of capital punishment in the New Testament and onto today.

I went through the creation argument last time, this time it's Exodus 21)

12"Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. 13But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. 14But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.

15"Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

16"Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.

17"Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.

(The last one is scary isn't it?)

What's the context of Exodus 21?

v.1) These are the laws you are to set before them:

They are laws given to the nation of Israel, right after the 10 commandments (ch. 20). What does the 10 commandments begin with? "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." These laws are given to the people of God.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005 at 2:09 AM

Reading Deeply

Nothing much of note these past few days. Working on a compare/contrast Justification by Faith Alone and Justification by Faith (and Works) paper. I'll post it up later once I polish it a little. I still need to work on my death penalty series.

Some links though:

Jollyblogger gives some Christmas thoughts. Happy Invasion Day!

John MacArthur posts on how doctrine is practical.

An excerpt
The word doctrine simply means "teaching." And it's ludicrous to say that Christ is anti-teaching. The central imperative of His Great Commission is the command to teach (Matthew 28:18-20).


Vincent Cheung posts on how the Gospel is accompanied by spiritual power and the necessity to teach the nations.

Blog of the post is Joshua Harris, author of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" (eh), "Boy meets Girl" (whoa) and "Stop Dating the Church" (which I've heard is a "wow," but haven't read). Two excellent posts by him have been: biblical advice for the blogosphere and preparing sermons

Now, some of you may ask "why should I read a post on preparing a sermon? God hasn't called me to preach!" To that I would respond, "well, maybe God hasn't called you to preach, but you are called to 'teach the nations,' and part of that is rightly dividing the Word of God. Maybe you may never be asked to preach, but you should be able to do a good enough bible study that you know what to each text teaches and how to communicate that to the audience."

By the way, I don't entirely agree with Josh on the necessity of illustrations, I think his last point is far more dangerous than people may give credit for and it is entirely possible to communicate something with words rather than an illustration. Nonetheless it is an excellent post, conveying a mentality of thought that I wish all pastors, small group leaders, and lay people could come to when approaching the Word.

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Monday, December 12, 2005 at 9:32 PM

Emailboxing

An email on our fellowship list and my response:
What are your general thoughts on science, and can science go too far?
Are some things in this world "sacred" such that one must not tamper
with it?
A scientist is trained to doubt. Does that conflict with faith?
Is there something fundamentally wrong with a concept such as cloning?
Is trying to tame nature considered "playing God," or is it just playing
in our little human sandbox?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
References:

Systematic Theology - Vincent Cheung
Ultimate Questions - Vincent Cheung
Various Blogposts and articles by Gordon Clark, Gary Crampton, John Robbins, and Vincent Cheung.

(www.vincentcheung.com)

I am of the firm belief that science, by its nature grounded in inductive reasoning, is a logical fallacy. There is nothing scientifically that states that the sun will rise tomorrow simply because it has risen so many times in the past. In order to properly do science, we must come in with the right presuppositions: that nature is ordered, that there is something coherent and understandable about nature, and so on. Even with these presuppositions, we cannot arrive at any sort of "truth" using the scientific method. All science can tell us are what we tell ourselves. "I believe the sun will rise tomorrow" has as much validity as "I believe I am an orange monkey." Past performance is no indication of future action, and thus in this sense science is unable to tell us anything about the world at all.

Nonetheless, there is a need for Christian scientists and the like, not because a Christian who is equipped with the correct presuppositions will be able to arrive at truth (since the method is flawed, the end result will always be flawed), but because only a Christian can use science for God's glory, to fulfill our mandate to "have dominion over the earth."

Truth is only found one way, through the Word of God

Psalm 119:160 reads "The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever."

Christ prays in John 17:17) Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

What is this truth? The truth is simple, that God created man for His glory. Adam through his disobedience plunged man into sin, Christ came to the world to save those that God had chosen by taking their sins and their punishments upon himself and placing his righteousness upon us, and that God commands us to repent of our sins, turn around, and follow Him. If we do so, His promises are sure that He will keep us for eternity. All of this is planned out and acted through by God for His glory.

As to the rest of your questions, nothing is too "sacred" to tamper with on it's own, but some things, if improperly handled, will be of great negative effects upon one's conscience. A Christian can do proper biblical criticism, examining manuscripts to see which ones are closer to the truth, but this must be guided by the Holy Spirit in prayer, and is never of any use to those who are not.

Doubting is not a sin. Christianity, because of it's nature being about God, who is perfect and immutable, can and will withstand any and all scrutiny, in fact, is the only worldview that can do so. Faith is not about believing something even though we don't think it's true, faith is an assurance and clarity of mind that comes when God sovereignty opens our minds to understand His Word and their truth. Without faith, we are but blind beasts. Reason is not antithetical to faith; rather, reason is absolutely necessary for faith. We cannot understand how we are reconciled to God unless we understand our own sinful nature, how our works are but bloodstained rags, how we need Christ, how Christ is the only way. Why else does Christ question, "do you not understand?" Understanding is necessary to Christianity.

As to cloning, I believe Scripture speaks to the issue, but I will be honest that I have not made an informed opinion on it yet. Whatever viewpoint you hold on it, it must be informed by Scripture, because it is only in view of God that anything is deemed "right" or "wrong."

As to "taming nature," I believe most of it falls under the "dominion over all the earth." Animals, fish, and nature have no value apart from that given to it by God.

Hope this helps.

For more on "science" check out this article

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at 1:21 AM

Ok, I'll admit it

My roomate rocks.

So one thing my fellowship helped organize this year was a "gift exchange" like thing.

Kind of cute and neat.

So my roomate got me and decided instead of buying something material, he would get me something amazingly encouraging and awesome. He tracked down a pile of my closest friends (and for some reason all the people but himself and my brother were girls) and asked them to write letters of encouragement and the like.

So over the past few days my mailbox has been flooded with mail from friends and family and I've just been so incredibly blessed reading how God has been blessing other people, and how even though I didn't know it, God used me. Praise be to God! It was such a great encouragement, it seriously blew my mind.

One of many highlights I thought was greatly amusing was this letter "how do we appreciate you? Let me count the ways" and it ran down sentences beginning with the letters A to Z and some of them had Bible verses. Some highlights:

L:Loving others unconditionally, even if they're Arminian
R: Rebuking the heretics among us.
Y: Your womanly figure (I'm abnormally thin for how tall I am)

*laughs* My roomate is awesome (He inspires in me an awe of God for his uniqueness, creativity, kindness, generosity, and multifaceted humor). Bestest Christmas gift one could ask for.

Ok, enough of this blog entry love note.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005 at 8:59 PM

Finals week

You have a few choices now:

1) Hope that I'll continue posting throughout the week (though I think it'd be cool to post my essay I will write for my Reformation history class, it's going to be on Justification by Faith, how cool is that?!)

2) Go study for finals.

3) Get a good book and read it.

Tops on my shelf are:

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by Bruce Ware
Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney
Humility: True Greatness by CJ Mahaney
Sermon on the Mount by Vincent Cheung

All four of these have been transforming in my outlook upon various aspects of life.

Oh, don't forget the most important book of all:

The Bible

An interesting excerpt from my readings today:

Revelation 11) 7And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. 9For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, 10and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 11But

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Saturday, December 10, 2005 at 5:06 PM

Death Penalty (1)

I. Creation

To me, one of the most important things to note (which is why I want to mention it first), is that any argument for or against the death penalty must be grounded in Scripture in order for it to have any validity. Man, on his own, does not have any inherent value. We are but dust. The only value we have is the value given to us by God.

Thus when arguing for, or against, the death penalty, we have to make a biblical argument, otherwise we could just take away the entire argument by denying our premises and forcing us to backtrack until we arrive at a point where we are merely assuming. Then when someone assumes otherwise, we are stuck.

My first point in support for the death penalty is Genesis 9:6 and it's relation to creation.

God is speaking to Noah after the flood in chapter 9 and he says:


1And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

6"Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
" (emphasis added)

God gives Noah a promise, a promise of dominion over the land, a promise of food and provision, and also a warning: "But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." Why is this? Because God has decided, in His immutable decrees, that "for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man." And then comes my chief support for the death penalty: "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image."

This commandment of justice: "whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed" is grounded in creation. God created man in His image, thus those who shed blood of another created in His image, by man his blood shall be shed. To head off one of the objections I know will come, this means that whatever was reversed by Christ's life, death, and resurrection, it does not include this command, because God still made man in His image.

As to the question "then why does this come after the fall?" the simple answer is that prior to the fall man would not have shed another man's blood. Without sin, there was no need for the law to be explicit, because the spiritual man keeps the law and it is not a burden. Once sin entered the world, the punishment for sin was necessary and we have the commands of God.

Thus my first point is thus: The just shedding of a man's blood by another man is ordained by God as a punishment because God created man in His image, thus is rooted in creation and is still in effect today.

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Friday, December 09, 2005 at 4:13 PM

Death Penalty Outline

**update** The series is now finished. I didn't follow my outline that closely.

Post 1 - Creation
Post 2 - Old Testament
Post 3 - New Testament
Post 4 - Q & A

As per request

The goal of the next few posts will be to present a clear and biblical case for the death penalty. I am disregarding all practical and social aspects of the death penalty and am restricting myself to Scripture.

I hope to demonstrate that yes, the Bible supports the death penalty.

First a definition:

Death penalty - The punishment of death for a crime. This punishment is levied and carried out by the government through judicial process. This is not carried out by individuals but rather by an organization.

Outline:

I. Creation.
A. Genesis 1-2
B. Genesis 9:6


II. The death penalty in the OT law.
A. The Law
B. Examples

III. The death penalty in the NT.
A. Romans 13:1-7
B. Matthew 26:52

IV. Responding to possible objections.
A. Matthew 5:38-42
B. Romans 12:14-21

V. Concluding remarks
A. The validity of the death penalty
B. What does this mean for us as individuals?

Feel free to comment/email along the way. More input is always good.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005 at 2:36 PM

Response (3)

I felt like I could firmly believe in predestination, that God was in absolute control of my life, simply because of the fact that if I was in charge, my life would be in tatters. But yet at the same time, it seems like believing that God is in control allows me to kind of escape many of the issues that I need help dealing with. I see myself responding to a great number of things simply with "Well, God's in charge and there's nothing I can do." which seems like a wrong mentality. I'm not saying that depending on God is wrong, but this belief that I don't have to do anything, but yet that's the mentality I see myself sinking into.

Hopefully, by now, we observe the clear dangers of this sort of mentality. If we believe in God's sovereignty in all things leads us to sit back and not do anything, then we lack a full understanding of what the implications of God's sovereignty is.

It doesn't mean that God accomplishes His ends without the means, but that it is God who is using the means to accomplish His ends. In one sense, that does give us a deep sense of trust in knowing that it is ultimately God who is behind all things, and it is not some impersonal "fate" at work, but it is a loving, kind, and just God who is doing so. We can acknowledge that God is behind all things and trust that it is Him who is working things out for His glory.

At the same time, we are commanded to obey His commandments. We are called to "work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling." Our lives and our salvation depend upon us persevering.

But always remember the second half of that verse (Phil. 2:12-13) "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Ultimately all glory goes to God and all honor goes to God. It is God who is working in us to "will and to work for his good pleasure." When you do a good deed, it was prepared in advance for you to do (Eph. 2:10), when you sin, it was still a sin, but it is one that God is using (and had planned to use) for His ultimate glory. (Eph. 1:11)

This gives us a trust in God, that even when we screw up, it's for His glory. But it also gives us an incentive to work at things, because it is God who holds us accountable for all things. Every word, every deed, every thought.

Can I take this time to point to the cross? As you learn more and more, you'll learn more and more about your own sinfulness. As that happens, flee more and more to the cross. Confess your sins boldly, repent of them, turn away. Always always trust in God, plead with God to free you. You cannot do it yourself, and you need His Spirit to free you from the Law, and free you to obey the Law. It is in Christ alone our hope is found. He is the prefect righteousness. Apart from Him, we are nothing, can do nothing, and our works are blood soaked rags.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005 at 12:00 PM

Response (2)

How do I know when it's God's will and not my will? Through prayer right? Somehow we are able to align ourselves with God's will...right?

2) The next question you bring up is "how do we know what God's will is compared to my will?"

Once again, I have to point you to the "hidden" vs. "revealed" wills of God. We cannot know what God's plans are. Maybe tomorrow Christ is going to come again and all our plans will be for nothing.

But! We do know what God's commands are. We have the Law, we have Christ's sermon on the mount (Matt. 5-7), and we have the entire Bible. We have the promise of God in 2 Timothy that His Word is sufficient for every good work.

"But how do we apply it? How can we know what to do?"

I think Romans 12:1-2 gives us an excellent picture:

1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

1) "By the mercies of God" - Remember Romans 12 comes after 11 chapters of packed theology. Paul talks about how all people are under sin, that no one is righteous, but because we cannot come to God, God came to us by offering His Son to live that perfect life and to bear the punishment that we rightfully deserved. On the heels of that, we get this passage, through which we can draw some insights.

Remember God's mercy. You, who once were dead, are now alive because of His mercy and grace. Remember as well that you can't do anything without God's mercy. Remember also that God, who gave us His Son, will also with Him, give us all things. (Romans 8:32) He has given us His Spirit who prays for us even when we don't know what to pray for. He has truly given us all that we are, promised us all that we will be. Promised that He will never let go of us (Romans 8:28-30). It is in light of these beautiful promises that we are to worship God. It is in light of these great deeds that God has done for us that we are able to " present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" remember God's mercy.

2) "A living sacrifice" - Your life here on earth is meant as a "living sacrifice." Don't get me wrong, God, being God, doesn't need you. He doesn't need anything or anyone. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. But He has commanded you to offer your life. To live in a manner holy and pleasing to Him. What does this involve? This is obedience to God's law. This is mercy to neighbors, justice in all dealings.

Hosea 6:6 reads) 6For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Hosea is talking about the physical burnt offerings and is pointing to the fact that these things are nothing without the steadfast love, without the knowledge of God. Dedicate yourself to seeking God, to knowing about God, to living a life for God. It's not about the laws and regulations that you can obey, it's about offering up your heart, your mind, your soul, your strength to God.

3) "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind" - What this radical living, this whole offering, this spiritual act of worship involves is a complete nonconformity to this world. All those things that the world things are good: money, success, power, these are all replaced by those things that God lays down for us to live: humility, service, justice, love. No longer are we to be like the Gentiles, who lord it over one another, but we are to be like Christ, who humbled himself to wash his disciples' feet.

We aren't to follow the world in their worldly wisdom. We don't need fancy colors, compelling skits, or popular music to convince someone to come follow Christ; we need the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which proclaims the forgiveness of sins. We don't need the world's definition of happiness, success, influence, joy, we have God's.

With God's beautiful gift of a new heart, we no longer need to conform, but we can be transformed. This is not only a turning away from the ways of Satan (Eph. 2:1-3), but also a turning to the ways of God. Seek a conformity with His will, bringing every thought, every action, captive for God's glory.

4) "By testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." - With this radical transformation, we, as God molds us more and more into His image, we know more and more how to apply God's Word into our lives. We learn and understand to a greater extent what actions would be in conformity with God's (revealed) will, and are convicted of what actions are sinful. These actions are, by nature, "good, acceptable, and perfect." This occurs, as you mentioned, through prayer, but it also occurs through mediation on Scripture. The more we know, the more the Holy Spirit grants us insight into God's Word through prayer and meditation, the more we will learn what God's Will is. It may never be as clear as "Mickey, turn left here,” but it will certainly provide guidelines and preventive measures to keep us from wandering far from the Lord that loves us.

As the Word promises, one day we will be as Isaiah says in ch. 30:21)

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005 at 8:51 PM

Response (1)

Dear younger Mickey,

You said:

This brings me into my question: Where is it God's will for us to do nothing? Clearly if I believe that everything is in accordance to God's will, why would I go out of my way to stop something like slavery? Wouldn't it be in accordance to God's will for me to be frozen in indecision? What if I saw someone being beaten by their parents? Do I continue walking and say its God's will? Clearly if I feel drawn by God to do something, I will, but oftentimes like Audrey said in the senior blog, she discovers she cares only because she feels called to care. Do I force myself to care because that's what I think I'm being called to do? Do I not care because it's God's will? I really had a tough time wrapping my mind about this issue, and I wish I had the courage to ask this in the fellowship, or even during the chill time after, but I felt frozen. That was God's will ... right?

1) To begin with, one must make a distinction in what is commanded by God and what God has decreed. While these two terms sound alike, the difference lies in what we know about them. God's commands are clear in Scripture. We have the 10 commandments, we have Christ's command to love one another (which is a fulfillment of the Law), we have the command to refrain from course joking, and so on. These are all termed (theologically), the "revealed" Will. This is what we know and are commanded to follow.

Another thing that God's Will refers to is what actually happens. The times at which the sun rises and sets, the rising and falling of the tides, the traffic on the roads, tsunamis, and everything that ever has and ever will happen is governed by God's Will. They happen because God declares that they will happen. This is why we say, "Nothing happens apart from God's Will." God actually has to will something in order for it to happen. This is known as God's "hidden" Will, because we as humans (without explicit revelation by God) will probably never know what is going to happen.

Thus the Scriptures say in Deut. 29:29)

29"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

The secret things we will never know, but those that are revealed are given to the Israelites, and now by extension, us as Christians.

So with your questions about slavery, someone being beaten, and the loving people there is a way by which we say "yes" and "no" in different senses. In one sense, slavery, since it happened, was part of God's hidden will. In another sense, slavery, since Scripture is against it, is part of God's revealed will. Because of that (it's commanded against), we as Christians are morally bound to reject slavery and oppose it. The same application can be said for your other questions.

Explicitly that means we are commanded to love one another, to love our neighbors, and to love God. This means that we will be judged for every action and every inaction that we do in conformity and out of conformity with the Law that is set down in the Bible.

"But wait, if that's going to happen, then I'm lost! I can't possibly obey everything in there!" you may say. That's the beauty of the Gospel, my fine-feathered friend. The truth is, we can't obey everything, and the things we can obey, we can't obey with a pure heart. That's why we need God to give us a new heart to replace our heart of stone. We need to trust completely in Christ because only His perfect righteousness given to us by God combined with our unholy and unrighteous acts placed upon Christ (for which He died) can count us righteous in God's eyes.

Christ's death sets us free from the bondage of sin, and sets us free to obey Christ. God is moving in your heart (and I know *laughs*) and will be, in accordance to His faithful promises, gradually transform you more and more into Christ's likeness.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005 at 3:03 PM

An email from my younger self

So I was searching through old emails and I stumbled upon this one, which I found very interesting and gives a good glimpse of how much God has transformed me. It raises a lot of concerns about the Reformed doctrine of predestination that I now see to be easily answerable, and I think it would be a good excercise to answer them in a series of posts over the next week or so.

5/8/2004 a letter to my pastor:
...
This brings me into my question: Where is it God's will for us to do nothing? Clearly if I believe that everything is in accordance to God's will, why would I go out of my way to stop something like slavery? Wouldn't it be in accordance to God's will for me to be frozen in indecision? What if I saw someone being beaten by their parents? Do I continue walking and say its God's will? Clearly if I feel drawn by God to do something, I will, but oftentimes like Audrey said in the senior blog, she discovers she cares only because she feels called to care. Do I force myself to care because that's what I think I'm being called to do? Do I not care because it's God's will? I really had a tough time wrapping my mind about this issue, and I wish I had the courage to ask this in the fellowship, or even during the chill time after, but I felt frozen. That was God's will ... right?

How do I know when it's God's will and not my will? Through prayer right? Somehow we are able to align ourselves with God's will...right? I just don't know. I felt like I could firmly believe in predestination, that God was in absolute control of my life, simply because of the fact that if I was in charge, my life would be in tatters. But yet at the same time, it seems like believing that God is in control allows me to kind of escape many of the issues that I need help dealing with. I see myself responding to a great number of things simply with "Well, God's in charge and there's nothing I can do." which seems like a wrong mentality. I'm not saying that depending on God is wrong, but this belief that I don't have to do anything, but yet that's the mentality I see myself sinking into.

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at 2:28 PM

Statement of Faith (2.3)

II. Scripture

C. Sufficiency

Scripture, by its nature of being breathed out by a God who knows all that has, is, and will happen, is sufficient for all things pertaining to salvation. It is sufficient to equip us and make us competent for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:15-17

15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005 at 3:54 PM

Red Letter Bible

Just a quick post.

I once had a conversation with someone who asked me if Jesus every condoned or condemned the execution of criminals. (aka the death penalty). I mentioned to him that I believe there is explicit warrant in the Bible for the death penalty (that's another post), and started to say that "Paul writes that..." and he stopped me. "Well, I'm only interested in what Jesus said."

Well, that surprised me, but I explained to him that Paul was an Apostle of Jesus, and thus the words that we have recorded of Paul are as Paul speaking for Jesus, in fact, that the whole of Scripture is God's very Word.

That led to an interesting discussion (I think the person was Quaker), but it got me to thinking. Recently Vincent Cheung brought up a similar point.

What's the purpose of the "Red Letter Bible"?

It emphasizes Christ's words by setting them in red, that's for sure. But why do we want that? Does Christ's words have a higher authority than the rest of the Bible? No, not really, since all of the Bible is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16-18). When Christ speaks, it has the exact same authority as when God speaks, that's for sure, but the same is true when Paul speaks (at least, in his letters), and when Moses speaks, and so on for all the authors. The words that Christ uttered have the exact same authority as the words that Moses uttered: God himself. It seems that to overemphasize one section of Scripture (Christ's words) over the rest promotes a lower view of the rest.

Hmmm.

So now the question is: should we stay away from red-letter Bibles in order to avoid a mentality that sets Christ's Words above other's?

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Friday, December 02, 2005 at 11:33 AM

Reading Deeply

Missed a week and the links are piling up, so I figured to get them out in a post before I lose them all:

It seems like the theme of the week is Calvinism, worship, and the intellectual side of Christianity.

Calvinism

The Howling Coyote presents the case that Christians are saved Before the Foundation of the World.

Doxoblogy
is working through a series dismantling Calvinist misconceptions. Check out this one: Everyone Limits the Atonement

Vincent Cheung (after finally finishing his series on Scripture, which is solid) posts an excerpt from his Commentary on Malachi defending the Calvinist interpretation of foreknowledge and predestination.

CampOnThis presents Two Views on Regeneration, which includes a few points I think no synergist would agree with, but overall it seems accurate.

Reformation Theology questions, "Is Divine Election fair?" and the comments are really good.

Worship

Reformation Theology presents a biblical reflection on music and theology.

The ESV Blog gives a picture of changing Scripture to song.

For my Reformation history class, I learned a few things about the reformers and their beliefs:

1) Luther was an accomplished musician, writing a few hymns and throughaly enjoying music.
2) Calvin was a lot more conservative, only Psalms allowed in his churches. Music was for the theology.
3) Zwingli, though the most accomplished musician of the three, forbade music all together in churches, but allowed it for home practice. The church was for doctrine.

All three presented fairly clear reasons, some better supported by Scripture, some worse. What strikes me the most was not the extremes that they took, but their firm belief in their convictions supported by Scripture. It is clear that they did some thinking about it and brought Scripture to bear upon the issue. Praise God for such examples of men who brought Scripture to bear on all their actions, would He mold us to be more like that.

Christian Thought

Laura over at a practice in belief posted an excellent piece defining anti-intellectual -ism. Good stuff.

Vincent Cheung posts another except on learning by experience.

~~~

Personally I finished a few books in the past few days:

Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur- a throughal and biblical treatment of the charismatic movement. Excellent, though seems a bit overblown. I wonder what he would say to our reformed charismatic brethren?

Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur - A character study on the 12 Disciples. Good stuff.

Sermon on the Mount by Vincent Cheung - an amazing treatment on a biblical view of the Law.

Currently rereading CJ's Humility: True Greatness. So good!


Blog of the post: Laura over at a practice in belief. Challies has declared her "King for the week" and I have greatly enjoyed her posts. Well reasoned, clear, biblical. Bam Bam Bam

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Thursday, December 01, 2005 at 3:23 PM

Rethinking memory verses Phil. 4:13

13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

This is another one of those verses that I stumbled across and reading it in context showed me how poorly I interpreted it.

For some reason, I had always saw Paul's statement as a statement of power and of ability. Similar to his admonition to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7 (though that verse has been really badly misinterpreted by some other people, I'll not get into that). Something along the lines of "with Christ, I can do all things." with the emphasis (to me) on the "do all things."

But lets read it in context:

Philippians 4)

10I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Paul rejoices that the church was concerned, but reiterates that he was not in dire need for he had learned how to be content in any situation. Not that he could overcome any situation, but he could endure. He knew how to be brought low, how to abound, face plenty and hunger, abundance and need, and now we run into the verse, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

So what does it mean? It doesn't mean that Paul had the power to overcome need, to provide, but rather it meant that he had the power to face and endure. God was telling him (once again) that "grace is sufficient, my power is made perfect in weakness." The verse is not an active voice, but rather in a passive one. "I can endure" rather than "I can do" would almost be a preferable interpretation.

Because Christ is sufficient, we can endure all need, all suffering, all brokenness. He alone is our life, our bread, our water. Though we may be brought low, He will bring is through. Glory be to the God in the highest.

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