Drinking Deeply

Monday, April 30, 2007 at 9:14 PM

When Satan tempts

Ephesians 6
16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
In the book "Pilgrim's Progress" John Bunyan writes an allegory of a Christian's journey, following the character Christian through many adventures as he seeks the Kingdom of Heaven. Here was one scene that struck me. Within it, Christian meets Apollyon (the destroyer) who intends to tempt him back to his kingdom and away from the kingdom of Heaven. I love his response and long and pray that I (and you all) may be able to answer Satan in times of these.
Apollyon: Thou hast already been unfaithful in thy service to him [God], and how dost thou think to receive wages of him?

Christian
: Wherein, O Apollyon, have I been unfaithful to him?

Apollyon:
Thou didst faint at first setting out, when thou wast almost choked in the Gulf of the Despond. thou didst attempt wrong ways to be rid of thy burden [of guilt], whereas thou shouldest have stayed till thy Prince had taken it off. Thou didst sinfully sleep, and lose thy choice thing: thou wast also almost persuaded to go back at the sight of the lions; and when thou talkest of thy journey, and of what thou hast heard and seen, thou art inwardly desirous of vainglory in all that thou sayest or doest.

Christian:
All this is true, and much more, which thou hast left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honour is merciful and ready to forgive: but besides, these infirmities possessed me in thy country, for there I sucked them in, and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince.
All this reminded me of the second verse of Before the Throne of God Above -

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

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at 8:56 PM

Sufficiency of Scripture and 2 Timothy 3

As of late, I've been talking with some Roman Catholics who (really) know their stuff, and they've challenged me on Sola Scriptura, specifically in it's defense from 2 Timothy 3. So here's my attempt at defending Sola Scriptura from 2 Timothy 3. As I have no intention of reinventing the wheel, I've done a bit of research. The two major sources for my material has been The Roman Catholic Controversy by James White (abbreviated RCC, not to be confused with the Roman Catholic Church), and Sola Scriptura! edited by Don Kistler (abbreviated SS)

To begin with, I need to define the position I will be defending here. One negative, one positive.

What Sola Scriptura is not -

Sola Scriptura is not a claim that all truth is found in the Bible.
Sola Scriptura is not a claim that for all time God has spoken only through the Bible.
Sola Scriptura is not a claim that every verse is equally clear to every person.
Sola Scriptura is not a claim that the Church has no place in interpreting the Bible.
Sola Scriptura is not a denial of all traditions.

Now, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is not any of these, what is it?

Sola Scriptura states that the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the infallible rule of faith for the Church.
Sola Scriptura states that all that one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture, and not in another source.
Sola Scriptura states that all that is not found in Scripture (by good and necessary consequence) is not binding upon a Christian.
Sola Scripture states that all tradition is checked by and subject to Scripture. (points from RCC)

Sola Scriptura is simply this, that "all things necessary for salvation and concerning faith and life are taught in the Bible clearly enough for the ordinary believer to find it in there and understand." (SS p.3)

Ok, so having defined the position I'm trying to defend, let me launch into 2 Timothy 3 to defend the sufficiency of Scripture.

To set the context. Paul is writing to Timothy during what seems to be the last years of his life. In contrast to the book of Philippians where he seems to have an assurance that he will be released to do more ministry (Philippians 1:25), he is evidently preparing for death (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Within the letter, Paul repeatedly warns Timothy of the times to come, and to prepare for them. Chapter three is one of such occasion.

I'm going to quote the whole chapter and focus on the last few verses.

2 Timothy 3 (ESV translation)
1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
v.1-9 emphasize exactly the opposition that Timothy will be facing. There will be times of difficulty because people will be depraved (I note that "disobedient to parents" is located in a list of pretty serious sins, makes you (me!) think). Timothy is encouraged to avoid such people (v.5) for they have nothing.
10You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra--which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
In contrast to these people Paul encourages Timothy, reminding him of all that Paul has taught him and all that Paul has endured at the hands of such men. He warns Timothy that the life that he's encouraging Timothy to live will entail persecution at the hands of evil men.
14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it
The word "but" begins verse 14, signifying a contrast from the previous verse. In contrast to the evil people and impostors in verse 13 who go from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived, Timothy is encouraged to continue in what he has learned and has firmly believed. Their deceiving and being deceived is set up against Timothy continuing in what he has learned and firmly believed. Paul then makes a point to note that Timothy is to do this knowing "from whom(plural) [he] learned it", reminding Timothy of how this teaching has borne fruit in the lives of his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).

Paul then proceeds remind Timothy exactly what was taught to him.
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.
Now, Timothy had followed Paul for so many years through so many trials. He had direct access to a source of great theology and knowledge. If there were traditions that were needed to help Timothy stop from being like the deceivers, Paul would have reminded Timothy of them. But Paul doesn't say "remember those traditions I taught you," (I will deal with the "traditions" passages in a separate post) but he instead reminds Timothy of the source of his faith, the sacred writings. They 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[b] may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Paul then proceeds to explain why these sacred writings are thus able. They are not written by mere men, but rather "breathed out by God." When Scripture speaks, it's God speaking. The Scriptures thus carry with it God's very own authority. Because they are not written by men, but by God, they carry with it God's authority, and God's power. They are thus supernatural and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. All these things lead Paul to conclude that Scripture allows for the man of God to be "competent, equipped for every good work."

The word translated "competent" is ἄρτιος. What does that mean? Thayer's Lexicon says it means "fitted; complete, perfect," my Greek NT dictionary (UBS 4th edition) says, "fully qualified," Vincent's Word Studies (acessed via e-Sword) says "complete; but the idea is rather that of mutual, symmetrical adjustment of all that goes to make the man: harmonious combination of different qualities and powers."

Related to that word is the word translated "equipped" ἐξηρτισμένος which is the passive perfect participle of ἐξαρτίζω (notice the resemblance to the above word?). Thayer's has "to complete, finish - to furnish perfectly, to finish, accomplish," Greek NT dictionary - "to equip," Vincent's Word Studies - "fills out the idea artios; fitted out."

It's clear that these words are broad in scope. Scriptures come with the authority of God behind it, they are not only useful, but furnish completely, fills out, makes fully qualified. What does this mean? It means that the Scriptures are sufficient for every good work. Indeed, the NIV translates this (which in essence is another definition) as "so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Now, the objection is that if this verse proves sufficiency, it proves too much, for Paul is speaking only of the Old Testament here. In response, i would point out that through Paul is referring to the Old Testament in his initial statement, he broadens his answer to include all that is Scripture. Paul has already quoted Luke as Scripture earlier, and clearly knows that he himself is inspired by God (as I argue here). Vincent Cheung comes to the same conclusion after examining how Paul refers to Scripture elsewhere and the Bible's view on authority in his article "Sufficient and Profitable" (the link is to the relevant excerpt, the entire article is in his book The Ministry of the Word) He concludes with saying,
"Since the New Testament documents are regarded as inspired and even called "Scripture," we may with complete certainty regard them as "God-breathed." Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are "Scripture," and they make up one book that is our Bible. Therefore, there is no problem in regarding the verse as asserting, "The whole Bible is God-breathed." In fact, there is no excuse in thinking otherwise."
Finally, though I feel like I've already addressed this by making a positive presentation, one objection has been brought forth that Paul is speaking to Timothy ceteris paribus argument for "Tradition," where it is claimed that Paul is speaking to Timothy with the knowledge that Timothy already knows tradition so now Scripture is able to make him complete.

My objector wrote, "If a man just has Tradition, he isn't complete. But then the Bible comes along, and suddenly he has been made complete; the Bible made him so. Thus, it is a true statement that the Bible is able to make a man complete. Whether or not the Bible is sufficient depends on the unspoken assumptions as to what the man in need of being completed already has."

In response to this objection there are two remarks -

1) This certainly cannot be established by the text, it may indeed be true (and I have to deal with the "traditions" passages in a future post), but it's certainly not sustainable here. There is no indication of "now the Scripture is able to..." being implied at all. So the objection raises up a possibility without establishing it.

2) In a positive presentation against this possibility, I would say that the context prevents us from understanding Paul to be speaking that way. Paul is talking specifically about not being like these evil men. Paul reminds Timothy of what he's had since birth, the sacred writings. If indeed Paul was talking of (extra-Scriptural) traditions that he's been taught as well, it makes no sense not to remind Timothy of them as well, as he is exhorting Timothy to not be like these evil men. Instead of pointing to both Scripture and (extra-Scriptural) tradition, Paul points to Scripture as the sole source of all things needed to make Timothy perfect, fully equipped for every good work.

So Scripture is sufficient for every good work. If something is not spoken of, it's not necessary.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007 at 1:03 PM

She must and shall go free

In church today they sang a most wonderful song, "She Must and Shall Go Free" (which seems to be listed as "Mercy Speaks by Jesus' Blood" for some reason). I love this song. It proclaims simply the power and sufficiency of Jesus' blood.

All her (the Church's) debts were cast on me (Christ), and she must and shall go free.

The debts are paid in full, there is now no condemnation. We are free from the bondage of sin and the debt of sin. Simply beautiful.

1. Mercy speaks by Jesus’ blood;
Hear and sing, ye sons of God;
Justice satisfied indeed;
Christ has full atonement made.

2. Jesus’ blood speaks loud and sweet;
Here all Deity can meet,
And, without a jarring voice,
Welcome Zion to rejoice,
Welcome Zion to rejoice.

Chorus: “All her debts were cast on Me,
And she must and shall go free.
All her debts were cast on Me,
And she must and shall go free.”

3. Peace of conscience, peace with God,
We obtain through Jesus’ blood;
Jesus’ blood speaks solid rest;
We believe, and we are blest.
We believe, and we are blest.
(Repeat chorus)

Bridge: Should the law against her roar,
Jesus’ blood still speaks with power,
“All her debts were cast on Me,
And she must and shall go free.
She must and shall go free.”
(Repeat chorus twice)

Tag: “And she must and shall go free,
And she must and shall go free,
And she must and shall go free.”

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at 12:58 PM

Lord's Day 29

Question 78. Do then the bread and wine become the very body and blood of Christ?

Answer. Not at all: [a] but as the water in baptism is not changed into the blood of Christ, neither is the washing away of sin itself, being only the sign and confirmation thereof appointed of God; so the bread in the Lord's supper is not changed into the very [b] body of Christ; though agreeable to the [c] nature and properties of sacraments, it is called the body of Christ Jesus.

Question 79. Why then doth Christ call the bread his body, and the cup his blood, or the new covenant in his blood; and Paul the "communion of the body and blood of Christ"?

Answer. Christ speaks thus, not without great reason, namely, not only thereby to teach us, that as bread and wine support this temporal life, so his crucified body and shed blood are the true meat and drink, whereby our souls are [d] fed to eternal life; but more especially by these visible signs and pledges to assure us, that we are as really partakers of his true body and blood (by the operation of the Holy Ghost) as we [e] receive by the mouths of our bodies these holy signs in remembrance of him; and that all his sufferings [f] and obedience are as certainly ours, as if we had in our own persons suffered and made satisfaction for our sins to God.

[a]: 1Cor. 10:1,2,3,4; 1Pet. 3:21; John 6:35,62,63
[b]: 1Cor. 10:16ff; 1Cor. 11:20ff
[c]: Gen. 17:10,11,14; Ex. 12:26,27,43,48; Acts 7:8; Mat. 26:26; Mark 14:24
[d]: John 6:51,55,56
[e]: 1Cor. 10:16,17; 1Cor 11:26,27,28; Eph. 5:30
[f]: Rom. 5:9,18,19; Rom. 8:4

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Thursday, April 26, 2007 at 7:59 PM

TULIP (28) - All things for good

In my previous post, I pointed out that the absolute sovereignty of God was a doctrine that was foundational to the 5 points of Calvinism (or maybe better put, to a biblical view of the sovereignty of God) and gave a few reasons why.

Most people can accept that God is sovereign over everything, the casting of lots, the waves, the movement of the weather, the stars, the winds, even every hair and when I die.

But what about the actions of men? Is God sovereign over those? The Bible says yes -

Ephesians 1:11
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.
In the middle of Paul's one sentence doxology on the grace of God in saving us (Ephesians 1:3-14), he includes this line.

We have obtained an inheritance in Christ. How did this happen? We were predestined to it. What does predestined mean? It means that the end, the destiny (of the inheritance) was determined. It was planned. Were we predestined according to God's foreknowledge of our actions? No, we were predestined according to God's purpose. His plan is the determining factor.

Not only so, but Paul describes this God who predestines according to His purpose: [he] works all things according to the counsel of his will. How many restrictions are upon the word "all" here? And who works all things according to His counsel? Where is free will here?

Romans 11:36 is another one (as Colossians 1:16)
36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
From God, through God, and to him, are all things. Same thing. We existed from God. But He's not a God who has released His hand, but we act through God. To what purpose? To His glory.

And a fuller passage, still a doxology -

Daniel 4
34At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, "What have you done?"
Nebuchadnezzar, a king, realizes that it's really not him who is ruling the kingdom, but it's God. (v.34) And God has reigned, is reigning, and will reign, forever, no matter who is on the throne of Babylon.

But what does that mean?

v.35 - God does according to his will in heaven and on earth. None can complain, none can question.

What about the "will" of men? Does God look down the hallway of time in order to see what I'm going to do and then go and do that? No, "all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing," my wills, my desires, your wills, your desires, counted as nothing compared to the King of the earth.

Finally, the reason why this is such a source of hope for us -

Romans 8:28

28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,

Why can Paul make such a broad promise? That, all things work together for good. He doesn't only say that "all things end up for good," but he says that "all things work together," actively. And why is this a promise? Because it is the underlying assumption that God's hand is behind every molecule, every thought, so that they work together for good.

This is what allows Joseph to say to his brothers, "you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20). The "it" in "God meant it" is feminine, and the only other feminine noun here is "evil" (ra-ah). God meant that evil (their sin), for good.

So when we face trials, tribulations, evils, and struggles, we can be confident that the Lord sits enthroned in heaven, unsurprised. He knew this was coming, He planned it before the foundation of the world. It acts according to His good purposes for His glory and our good.

All things, for good.

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Monday, April 23, 2007 at 4:07 PM

Can someone struck down by God still be saved?

I think the answer is yes. Here's why -

1 Corinthians 11
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. [7] 31 But if we judged [8] ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined [9] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
Paul is writing to the Corinthian church rebuking them for not taking the Lord's Supper in an honorable manner. The judgment upon them is harsh indeed (v.30):
"That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died."
Paul then gives an encouragement to judge ourselves truly, we would not be judged. Then he gives us verse 32, which I think gives us a positive affirmation of my answer.
32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined [9] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
Paul says this judgment of people being weak, ill, and some dying is actually an act of discipline.

But who does the Lord discipline? Does he discipline unbelievers? Hebrews 12
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
God disciplines the one he loves. And this is why Paul is able to say in the second half of verse 32 that this act of discipline (weak, ill, death) is, "so that we may not be condemned along with the world."

So if someone is cursed by God for their sins, I don't think that necessarily means that that person is in hell (though it does give me pause). I see that act of judgment as possibly (I can't say for certain, God knows the heart) an act of discipline, preventing that person from sinning even more grievously, and actually using it as a means of grace so that they might be united with God in Heaven.

Thoughts?

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Sunday, April 22, 2007 at 7:31 PM

TULIP (27) - The Lord reigns

The problem with using the 5 points to define and defend a Reformed view of salvation is that it leaves out other theological concepts that are pretty necessary. One of these is God's absolute sovereignty in all things. It really is a foundation upon which the rest of the five points (and a whole lot of other things!) rely and rest upon. If I were to summarize it briefly, I'd say, "The Lord reigns!" To put it better, the Westminster Confession of Faith 3.1 says -

I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;

That's basically it. Before the foundation of the world, before man even existed. God ordained. He ordained all things. These choices were based solely on the basis of His own will, independent of any outside forces, influenced only by His own personal desires.

Specifically, as it relates to free will*, this means that He did not have to look down the hallways of time to see who would freely* choose Him and then decide to save them, but He decided to save people and then decided they would have faith. Our faith is conditioned on our salvation, not the other way around.

*Note: If you think about it, "free" will doesn't actually exist if this is true, at least, not a will that's free from God.

For the most part, everyone agrees that God is sovereign over everyone. It just depends on what they mean by "sovereign." By sovereign in this context, I mean that every single molecule in the entire universe is not only held created by God and held together by God, but it plots a course through space (and time!) exactly in accordance to God's plan. There are no rogue molecules in God's creation. Every single thing in this universe, every thought, every molecule, every action, all orchestrated and planned ahead by a sovereign God.

Now, before I go and defend the doctrine in a future post, I want to address one thing-

For many people, this is a doctrine of revulsion. A doctrine that terrifies. A doctrine that people hate. Why would a loving God take so much control? That would make us robots! It's all hopeless! But I think if we really think about it, this is a doctrine, that if embraced, we cherish.

For God is not capricious or whimsical. He is not random or spiteful. Rather, God is of order, of stability, of truth and light. Not only that, but God is a God of love, compassion, and mercy. His sovereignty for His children means that every action, every thought, every molecule, tends
for the His glory and their good. Even when we mess up, even when other people mess up (really bad, I'm thinking of the recent shootings at VTech), we can know that this doesn't take God by surprise. That actually, He planned it before the foundation of the world for our good and His glory. Even when I fall, even when I sin, and sin I do, I can trust that it was actually better (in that occasion, in an objective sense) for me to sin than to do good, because God has chosen the best route possible to accomplish His ends.

God's sovereignty gives us the ground behind such promises as Romans 8:28 and 1 Peter 1:3-5.

28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.


Next post on TULIP I'll give the scriptural argument behind it.

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at 3:58 PM

Lord's Day 27

I accidentally swapped last weeks and this weeks. They're renamed but in the wrong order now


Question 72
. Is then the external baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?

Answer. Not at all: for the [a] blood of Jesus Christ only, and the Holy Ghost cleanse us from all [b] sin.

Question 73. Why then doth the Holy Ghost call baptism "the washing of regeneration," and "the washing away of sins"?

Answer. God speaks thus not without great cause, to-wit, not only thereby to teach us, that as the filth of the body is purged away by water, so our sins are [c] removed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; but especially that by [d] this divine pledge and sign he may assure us, that we are spiritually cleansed from our sins as really, as we are externally washed with water.

Question 74. Are infants also to be baptized?

Answer. Yes: for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the [e] covenant and [f] church of God; and since [g] redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the [h] Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult; they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the christian church; and be distinguished [i] from the children of unbelievers as was done in the old covenant or testament by [j] circumcision, instead of which [k] baptism is instituted in the new covenant.

[a]: Mat. 3:11; 1Pet. 3:11
[b]: 1John 1:7; 1Cor. 6:11
[c]: Rev. 1:5; 1Cor 6:11
[d]: Mark 16:16; Gal. 3:27
[e]: Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39
[f]: 1Cor. 7:14; Joel 2:16
[g]: Mat. 19:14
[h]: Luke 1:14,15; Psa. 22:10; Acts 2:39
[i]: Acts 10:47; 1Cor. 12:13; 1Cor 7:14
[j]: Gen. 17:14
[k]: Col. 2:11,12,13

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Friday, April 20, 2007 at 1:27 PM

In remembrance of Him

This day, 4 years ago, I was baptized as a member of Chinese Christian Mandarin Church. From then until now, God has been faithful.

As I've learned more about God and His work, it amazes me what depth there is to all that He does. One example of this is the sacraments. When we took them on Easter a few weeks back, I nearly wept it was so awesome.

As a Christian, we're continually called to live by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), to trust in that which is unseen (Hebrews 11:1). Yet in spite of these commands, we're sinful and broken. We lack the faith to move mountains, the trust to look to that which is not seen or touched.

And God gives more grace (James 4:6a). He has given us physical signs and seals to point to the spiritual reality. He tells us that the wind blows where it wishes and we do not know where it comes and where it goes, so it is with those born of the Spirit (John 3:8), but then He gives us the sign of that very action in baptism! We're sprinkled clean spiritually (Hebrews 10:22), and given the physical sign and seal to point us to that act!

Similarly we cannot see Christ's body broken for us. I know He died, but did He die for me? The command is to believe it. But God gives us (me!) more grace in our (my!) weakness. God gives us the Lord's Supper, in which He proclaims "this is my body, given for you... This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:19-20)

I've never seen God cleanse a heart. I've never seen God break Jesus for sinners. He works in invisible ways and his footprints were not seen (Psalm 77:19). But God shows more grace for my weakness. He gives signs and seals to point me to the fact that yes, these things have happened and are true.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007 at 10:30 PM

The heart of sin

Something that came to mind as I was discussing sin with a friend.

We were discussing original sin and I remembered that someone said that the root of all sin is pride, and I brought it up and we were talking about it and it sounded reasonable right. Like the serpent tells Eve that she'll be like God. And she buys that and all.

But then I had this amazing thought, which I suspect was derived from either Vos' treatment of original sin in Biblical Theology or Calvin's commentary on Genesis (or maybe both). No, the root of all sin isn't pride, it's unbelief.

After all, the serpent begins not by appealing to self-worth, but questions God's words.

Genesis 3:1
"Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
From this, Eve doubt's God's Word and disbelieves His promises and there we have sin.

Don't get me wrong, pride is a huge source of sin, for myself personally, and I'm sure for others. But I don't think it's the root of all sin. At the root of all sin is unbelief (and this is almost a tautology... maybe). We doubt God's promises, we ignore His warnings, we think His plan is not good, we look elsewhere for food and drink.

At the root of it all? Unbelief.

It isn't written, "The righteous will live by humility," but it's written "The righteous will live by faith."

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at 4:15 PM

TULIP (26) - If God is sovereign, why...?

Quite possibly the most common objection to the doctrines of grace which state that man is totally depraved, chosen unconditionally by God, definitively saved by the death of Christ, irresistibly drawn by the Holy Spirit, and preserved to the end is the statement:
If God is sovereign over all salvation like you say so, why pray/evangelize/do anything?
There are a few responses:

The first is to say "well, the reason why we do these things is because God uses means in order to work the ends." Which is to say, "God is sovereign, so that's why we pray, that's why we evangelize, that's why we study the Bible, because we know God is at work as we do that, and all those things, are done in the Lord and by the grace of God."

Which is certainly a sufficient and able answer.

But the Bible never really just answers an objection and leaves it at that, but the Bible oftentimes goes after the objector as well. The underlying assumption to such a question is that "something needs to have practical results in order for us to do it." That assumption is ill-founded.

So another answer that works to undercut the question itself (though we do still have an answer to the question) is to question that very premise. Where in the Bible are we encouraged to only do things if they have a practical result? Or are we asked to obey because God asked us to obey?

The rewards that God promises us are not earned by our obedience, they are gracious gifts of God. On the last day, we will say that we were unworthy servants, for we have only done our duty. (Luke 17:10) It could be entirely possible that God will not use our prayers, will not use our evangelism, will not use our study of the Word. But we ought to obey simply because God asked us to pray, God asked us to evangelize, God asked us to study His Word. There is no other reason needed.

Don't get me wrong, God uses our obedience, and He uses it mightily. He promises rewards and treasures for those who give much for the kingdom of God. But those gifts are an act of grace from a loving God, not a "give-take" contract between two parties. So let's not motivate our actions by pragmatic results, but obey simply because God asks us to, trusting Him with all the results.

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Monday, April 16, 2007 at 10:23 PM

Biblical submission and the example of Christ

A friend showed me an article on women and theology and it had this gem:

"Christian submission, which finds its ultimate example in Christ, is an act of strength, understanding, and determination. Jesus modeled not a mindless limp compliance but a thoughtful vigorous resolve. His actions did not result from a power struggle with his father but expressed their union. Jesus was not defeated; he was determined to fulfill his father's will."

And this isn't just women to their husbands, but it's us to our parents, us to our churches, us to our government. May God raise up a generation of men and women driven by such radical submission!

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Sunday, April 15, 2007 at 9:15 PM

Jesus is the Bread of Life

What follows are the notes/outline/sentences for the sermon I delivered today at Sovereign Mercy Church at 5:45pm before a most encouraging group of dear friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course, I didn't read every word, and I added some stuff on the fly too, so it's not entirely accurate. I must say, though I had given sermons before people before, it really felt like there was something different this time. Maybe it was that my intended audience wasn't children, though I don't think I would have said anything different with younger folk. But whatever the case, my heart felt like it was tied by a rubber band to a wooden paddle, so I was more than a little nervous. But anywho here goes -

(Intro)

Context -

John 6 - The passage begins with Jesus feeding the 5000. They all need food and 200 denarii would not be enough (v. 7), but Andrew brings five barley loaves and two fish (v.9) as an act of faith. Jesus then invites them to sit down, gives thanks and distributes the bread to all the people there. There was enough to feed everyone and then in addition to that, there are twelve baskets left over (v.13).

After seeing such a sign, the people declare that Jesus is indeed the Prophet (fulfilling the prophecy of Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15), and seek to set him up as King.

Jesus withdraws, walks on water, scares and comforts some disciples and shows up on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Of course, wanting food, the crowds follow him and seek more food. Jesus rebukes them and emphasizes that he is greater than Moses. And that brings us to the text I wanted to talk about for today, John 6:34-40. Now, there's a lot here that I could cover, but as this is probably the first sermon I've given before my peers, I figured to try to at least keep it simple. So here we go. I'm reading from the ESV, John 6:34-40

Joh 6:34 They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
Joh 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Joh 6:36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
Joh 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
Joh 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Joh 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
Joh 6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

Three points -

1) Physical needs are met with spiritual solutions
2) Jesus is our sustenance
3) Trust the Lord

The first point is that our physical needs have spiritual solutions. Look at verse 34

Joh 6:34 They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."

The Jews, as we'll soon see, are still asking for this bread. And certainly it's not a bad request in itself. We pray to God to "give us our daily bread, in the Lord's prayer, and in the Old Testament, God always physically provided. They were hungry and wanted food and Jesus was offering "true bread," from heaven. But notice still that they keep returning to just the physical. Jesus has previously rebuked them in verses 26 and 27 that they were seeking the food that perishes and should instead be seeking the food that does not, which involves believing in him whom God has sent (verse 29). And Jesus says "hey! here I am!" and they're still saying "what? Where's the bread? Give this bread to us."

But Jesus points once again to the spiritual as a solution to their physical problems. Verse 35 -

Joh 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Jesus takes these physical needs and gives us a spiritual solution. He doesn't say "hey, don't worry about hunger, you won't need that in heaven. Don't worry about being thirsty, there's no need." He says "you have a problem, I am the solution." There's nothing wrong with seeing physical problems. We live in a world of sin and a world of depravity. Because of the fall of Adam the ground has been cursed and we're in a world filled with suffering and corruption. We have problems. We have physical problems. We suffer. Some of it because of our sins. Some of it because of the sins of those around us. But with all of these things, we can't look to just the physical, but we have to look to the spiritual too. All these needs, they point us to our ultimate need for Jesus Christ, because only in Him will they be solved. This hunger and thirst that we feel in this life, they will ultimately be satisfied in Jesus Christ.

The answer to our physical problems is spiritual. It's seeing and believing Jesus Christ. Jesus has already pointed to the answer to the physical problem once by producing bread in mass. But Jesus isn't going to sit there and pull bread out of a hat for the rest of our life, Jesus is going to fulfill this hunger once and for all in Himself. He is the one coming down out of heaven. We see this aspect of Jesus' ministry in the way that Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of Heaven. Not only did he preach from town to town, but he also physically healed them, pointing them to their ultimate healing in Him and resurrection.

Our physical problems, especially the one of daily life, has a spiritual solution, Jesus Christ.

Now, what does that solution look like, and why? This brings me to my second point, that Jesus is our sustenance.

What does it mean that Jesus is the "bread of life"?

Does it mean that Jesus has a crust, was baked in an oven? Of course not, Jesus uses a figure of speech, an analogy to prove a point.

Of course the statement Jesus being the bread of life, isn't entirely 100% accurate, because bread only sustains the life that is already there, whereas Jesus does not only sustain the life that we have, but He is the source of it as well. But any analogy can be pressed too far, so we should just understand Jesus as referring to himself as the sustenance of our life and not necessarily anything else.

So what does the analogy demonstrate? It's closely related in meaning to the bread that Jesus fed them earlier. What did that bread do? That bread fed them and nourished them. It sustained them for another day. But only a day. In contrast, Jesus points to himself as the food that endures to eternal life. Not only does it sustain us for one day, but for every day after that. Jesus is our sustenance. He nourishes us.

Along with that, notice also, that this means we can't look to anything or anyone else as sustenance for our life, physically or spiritually. We can't look to how much we eat, what sort of meat (or veggies!), how often we pray, to how often we read our Bibles, to how often we go to church. All of these are very good, almost essential, but if we try to do any of these things without coming to Christ and believing in Him, we're going to wither away and die. Our bread of life, our food and drink, is Jesus Christ Himself, is seeing and believing. This is faith, which is the supreme, essential importance of any Christian's life. With our physical life, if we leave faith out of the picture, we will perish and be hungry forever, longing as the rich man did that Lazarus might cool our tongues. With our spiritual life, if we leave faith behind and seek to be perfected by something else, we fall under the condemnation of the Galatians, who were rebuked for not only following a different Gospel, but actually a false Gospel altogether! So let us never forget that Jesus Christ is our bread, and we live by coming to Him, by believing in Him, by having faith in Him. Of course, the topic of "what is faith?" is probably beyond the scope of one single sermon, but let me point you to the resource of the book of John, whose purpose was recorded in John 20:30-31 when he writes -

30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Ok, so Jesus is our sustenance. He is the spiritual solution to our physical problem.

And the third point is probably the most challenging for me to unpack, because I'm not entirely sure about it myself. Just as the Apostles were pretty confused when Jesus spoke in figures of speech, it's easy for me to as well. So I'm hoping that the Holy Spirit has been working and been giving me insight, because otherwise all you're going to get here is junk =p.

The third point is to trust in the Lord - And it comes from the next few verses, 36-40.

Joh 6:36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
Joh 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
Joh 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Joh 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
Joh 6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

In verse 36 and on, it seems like things get a little confusing. What does being the bread of life have to do with the unbelief of the Jews? Why all the talk of the Father giving and us coming? What does this have to do with the hungering and thirsting?

So I thought of two possibilities, and I'll give you the one I decided to follow second.

The first possibility is that Jesus is actually explaining himself. Instead of reading John 6:36 as a rebuke against the Jews, it is raising a question - "but how is that possible? How can you possibly feed us that much? And guarantee that we'll never hunger and thirst?"

From this, I guessed that Jesus explains that He is from the Father and obeys every will of the Father. And the Father's will is that he wouldn't lose any, so thus he is able to make the claim that all those that come to Him will never be cast out, because Jesus obeys the Father completely to the end.

That certainly is one possibility, and actually its the first one I thought of, mostly because I didn't understand how else I could fit together the "you don't believe" with the passage that "all that the Father gives to me will come to me."

Unfortunately, as I examined it more, it made the rest of the passage more confusing. Why, if Jesus explained himself in the last few verses, do the Jews object and say "oh, that's not possible!" in verse 41 and 42? And I wasn't really able to think of a satisfactory answer for myself.

So here's the second possibility, and also the one that the commentaries I read all agreed upon. It's that instead of Jesus explaining himself here, he's actually rebuking them. "You see, and yet you still don't believe." And he proceeds to explain why they don't actually believe.

Verse 37 says "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out." Instead of accusing them of their hardness of heart (which he does elsewhere), Jesus launches into the underlying cause. He points instead to the will of the Father as the determining cause. If they were given by the Father, they would have come, but instead, they do not come, because they were not given. This is echoed once again in John 10:26 and 27 when he rebukes the Jews, "you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Why doesn't the crowd believe now? Because they are not given by the Father.

And then Jesus proceeds to unpack what he was saying. Whoever comes to Him He will never cast out, why? Because He is doing the will of the Father, that He's not going to lose any of those that are given by the Father, but raise it up on the last day.

So, these Jews, they come for food. They come for drink. Jesus fed them and took care of them, and now they want more.

And instead of yelling at them, as people like me are prone to do, Jesus responds as only he can. He says to them, "come, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes will never hunger and whoever believes will never thirst."

Yet, even with such an abundant promise, we see the crowd has responded with unbelief. But Jesus doesn't plead with them. He doesn't say, "wait wait, let me put it another way, maybe that will convince you." He puts his trust in the sovereign will of His Father. He knows that if they were given to Him by the Father, they would have come, but since they haven't, he sees it as evidence that they are not given by the Father, they are not his own. Those are pretty harsh Words by human standards, but by God's standards, they're perfectly divine.

Now of course, in a sense I'm not entirely sure that we can apply this directly ourselves, after all, Jesus could see into their hearts and we can't. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ to the unbeliever, making an appeal for them to repent, because we don't know if they're one of God's children. But we can take this and apply it in two ways to ourselves, both of them are summarized in my point, "trust the Lord."

1) We trust the Lord when it comes to evangelism. We are not here to make Christianity as appealing as we possibly can so that they can except it. Christianity is already the bread of life, it doesn't get any more appealing than that! But there will be some that will not believe, and this isn't because of any awkwardness in our presentation, but because of they are not given by God. This gives us the strength to continue preaching the Gospel, even when it seems like the whole world is reviling us, even when there aren't any tangible results, because we can trust that God is the one who will call them through our preaching. Those that He gives into the hands of Christ _will_ come, and they will never be cast out.

Thus, we trust the Lord whenever we do anything for Him, simply because we can't know what kind of impact we can have. Jesus knew that he was going to cause a great disturbance when he fed this large crowd. He knew that they were going to ask these questions, and they were not going to respond favorably, but He did it anyways, because He trusted the Lord, that the Lord has given His children into Christ's hands, and there is nothing to worry about.

The second half of this "trust in the Lord" point is to trust the Lord when it comes to evangelizing ourselves. Look at verses 38-40

Joh 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Joh 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
Joh 6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

The last weekend, FiCS, the fellowship I'm a member of had a retreat with the title "Not my will, but yours, be done" centered about submitting our wills to the will of God. In one of the small group discussions, the question came up, "how do you know what the will of God is?"

Well, of course, that was in another context with a different answer. But here's an answer to that question that we ask in our hearts all the time. And this answer is the one that really has so much more value! It doesn't tell us what God would like us to do, but it tells us what God has done and will do! This is the will of God, that Jesus will lose nothing but raise it up on the last day. This is the Good News! This is the Gospel! If we're given by the Father, then we will come (and we have come!), and those that come will never be cast out. If it were completely in my own hands to stay in God's good graces, it's over. I know my heart, my family knows my heart. I'm still a sinner to the core, and though God has saved me and opened my eyes, my body tends toward sin. But because of God's great mercy, not only does He turn me around and point me in the right direction, but He promises that He will be with me, that I am in the hands of Christ and I will never be lost but will be raised up on the last day. This is the unstoppable will. This is the powerful and almighty will. This is the will of God that He speaks of in Isaiah 46:9-11 -

9 ...I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, 'My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
11calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

This promise, that we will never be lost, is that kind of will. God has promised it and He will bring it to pass. This is our source of hope in this life. We may stumble and fall as we seek the Lord, but we will never perish. Even when we do fall, by God's grace, He will strengthen us so that we are able to arise again. This is the good news of Jesus Christ. Your salvation isn't dependent upon yourself, but it's dependent upon God!

Now, this isn't an excuse to go and do nothing and be like "well, if God wants me, He's going to come and get me," as one of the processes He "gets" us is through the means that He has given, so we are to continue to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. We are to continue to make our calling and election sure. It's outside the scope of this "sermon" but if you want to know how they fit together, we can talk. My point is that we are to trust the Lord, not only with the salvation of others, but with the salvation of us too. He is our hope when we speak to others, and He is our hope when we talk to ourselves.

So what can we do? What should we do? We should come.

It's always so easy to laugh at these Jews. Didn't they understand what Jesus was talking about? But let's not think that we have it all figured out. We ask God for good grades. We ask God for comfort from this or that. And I've totally done this too. Yet, all the while, all we have to do is open our eyes and see Christ proclaiming from His inspired Word, "stop looking to this world for comfort. Believe here in me, and all these needs will be fulfilled. You will never hunger. You will never thirst. Every tear will be wiped away."

I don't think asking for help with these needs is wrong. But let's not ask a Heavenly God to do only a worldly thing, when He's already provided the Heavenly answer. Turn to Christ and Christ alone for your needs. Don't look to grades, to the comforts of this world, the pleasures of this age. Look to Christ, look at Him as He's revealed Himself in the Bible, believe in Him, His death as punishment for sins, his life as a substitute for ours. And have life.

And in doing so. In your coming. Realize that it isn't you who is somehow coming of our own "free will," but it's actually God who has drawn you. Instead of being offended at this, we ought to rejoice, as only if God has drawn us, only if we are given by the Father, is there that promise. If you want to come on your own terms, then you will never come at all. But come, come on Christ's terms. And rest in the promises of God. He is our hope, our joy, our righteousness, our wisdom. He is the bread of life.

Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? These physical needs, these physical problems, they don't have a physical solution. They have a spiritual solution. I guarantee you, you can eat a meal tonight and you'll be hungry tomorrow. But if you come and believe Christ tonight, then in eternity you will never hunger and never thirst, and Christ will raise you up on the last day.

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at 2:12 PM

Lord's Day 28

Question 75. How are thou admonished and assured in the Lord's Supper, that thou are a partaker of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross, and of all his benefits?

Answer. Thus: That Christ has commanded me and all believers, to eat of this broken bread, and to drink of this cup, in remembrance of him, [a] adding these promises: first, that his body was offered and broken on the cross for me, and his blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes, the bread of the Lord broken for me, and the cup communicated to me; and further, that he feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, with his crucified body and shed blood, as assuredly as I receive from the hands of the minister, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, as certain signs of the body and blood of Christ.

Question 76. What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ?

Answer. It is only to embrace with a believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ, and thereby to [b] obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; but also, besides that, to become more and more [c] united to his sacred body, by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us; [d] so that we, though Christ is in heaven and we on earth, are notwithstanding "Flesh of his flesh, and bone [e] of his bone"; and that we live, [f] and are governed forever by one spirit, as members of the same body are by one soul.

Question 77. Where has Christ promised that he will as certainly feed and nourish believers with his body and blood, as they eat of this broken bread, and drink of this cup?

Answer. In the institution of the supper, which is thus expressed: [g] "The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said: eat, this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying: this [h] cup is the new testament in my blood; [i] this do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For, as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." This promise is repeated by the holy apostle Paul, where he says: [j] "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread and one body; because we are all partakers of that one bread."

[a]: Mat. 26:26,27,28; Mark 14:22,23,24; Luke 22:19,20; 1Cor. 10:16,17; 1Cor 11:23,24,25
[b]: John 6:35,40,47,48,50,51,53,54
[c]: John 6:55,56
[d]: Acts 3:21; Acts 1:9,10,11; 1Cor 11:26
[e]: Eph. 5:29,30,31,32; 1Cor. 6:15,17,19; 1John 3:24
[f]: John 6:56,57,58; Eph. 4:15,16
[g]: 1Cor. 11:23; Mat. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19
[h]: Ex. 24:8; Heb. 9:20
[i]: Ex. 13:9; 1Cor. 11:26
[j]: 1Cor. 10:16,17

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007 at 12:09 AM

Other objections to TULIP?

I'm wrapping up my series on TULIP, which has spanned about 7 months and went far far too long. But before I put it away, I'm open to problem verses and other questions. I have a couple in mind, but I don't think I can address all that is out there, so if someone has a particular question (or objection) to TULIP, leave a comment and I'll see if I can address it.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 at 11:30 PM

TULIP (25) - Warning, Warning

A few of the objections to the idea of Preservation of the Saints is the evidence of so many biblical passages that warn Christians against falling away. Similarly, isn't this an excuse to sin all we want, knowing that God preserves us to the end?

To the first, I would say that since Scripture is so clear elsewhere that true believers cannot lose their salvation and that those who do leave the faith demonstrate that they were never a part of it (1 John 2:19), I don't think any of the passages that warn against falling away actually imply that people can fall away. With regards to probably the most difficult passage of this sort, Hebrews 6:4-6, I understand it as referring to those who are open members of the church for a time, being blessed by the other believers, maybe even blessing other people, but turn away (Judas would be a good example), and not to true believers. And even the author of Hebrews dismisses the possibility that this could happen to true believers by his words at the end in Hebrews 6:9
9Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things--things that belong to salvation.
So I would say that the warnings in Scripture exist as warnings and not as statements of truth. We are warned by Scripture, and that's one of the means by which God preserves us.

Regarding the "license to sin" objection, I will admit that I know of people who, thinking to understand the doctrine, use it as that excuse to not care about their sin. Personally, I don't think they should have any assurance that they're saved at all. That they are elect may be the case, but I don't think that they can rest upon those promises as applying to them in this case since that's exactly what the warnings of Scripture are about, to test us and to grant as assurance and remove it when we don't bear fruit in keeping with repentance. One who is saved cannot keep on sinning.

So it may be the case that people will use it as an excuse to sin, but that's not enough to dissuade me from believing it, as Paul faced those very same charges when he proclaimed justification by faith in Romans 6:1, and I think justification by faith is closely linked by Preservation of the Saints (are we saved by faith or by persevering?), so I'm ok with being lumped in with Paul on this point. =D

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Sunday, April 08, 2007 at 3:29 PM

Not a happy Easter to you.

Easter is usually a day of joy and happiness. A day where people dress up nicely and celebrate...something by wishing one another "Happy Easter" and giving chocolate eggs and various other candies.

But all I could think of today in the midst of a packed church (so many people coming just for Easter and Christmas!) was Acts 17:
30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
This Easter you celebrate "Happy Easter!". This Easter you have dinner parties for. Why? Is it because Jesus rose from the grave and now freely forgives all your sins so you can come to church twice a year living as you like the rest of the time and escape the wrath of God?

Easter should not be a happy time for most people. Easter is a testimony of God that Christ has died and is risen yes, but also that Christ, now reigning, will one day come again. And when He comes again, He doesn't come with a lamb beneath his arm saying "oh, it's ok it's ok, don't worry about it, I totally understand that you didn't have time for God. Yeah, life gets pretty busy doesn't it? *pat *pat. Oh, yeah don't worry about believing that Bible thing, it's so hard to believe for most people anyways, don't worry."

No, when He comes, He comes as judge, and He judges against the righteous laws of God. This day is a day of great celebration for true Christians, but if you're not a true Christian, don't celebrate, repent. For only by the blood of Christ will you be delivered from the coming destruction.

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at 1:10 PM

Lord's Day 26

Question 69. How art thou admonished and assured by holy baptism, that the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross is of real advantage to thee?

Answer. Thus: That Christ appointed [a] this external washing with water, adding thereto this [b] promise, that I am as certainly washed by his blood and Spirit from all the pollution of my soul, that is, form all my sins, as I am [c] washed externally with water, by which the filthiness of the body is commonly washed away.

Question 70. What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ?

Answer. It is to receive of God the remission of sins, freely, for the sake of Christ's blood, which he [d] shed for us by his sacrifice upon the cross; and also to be renewed by the Holy Ghost, and sanctified to be members of Christ, that so we may more and more die unto sin, and [e] lead holy and unblamable lives.

Question 71. Where has Christ promised us, that he will as certainly wash us by his blood and Spirit, as we are washed with the water of baptism?

Answer. In the institution of baptism, which is thus expressed: [f] "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost [g]," "he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned." This promise is also repeated, where the scripture calls baptism the [h] washing of regeneration, and the washing [i] away of sins.

[a]: Mat. 28:19; Acts 2:38
[b]: Mark 16:16; Mat. 3:11; Rom. 6:3
[c]: Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3
[d]: Heb. 12:24; 1Pet. 1:2
[e]: John 1:33; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:11
[f]: Mat. 28:19
[g]: Mark 16:16
[h]: Tit. 3:5
[i]: Acts 22:16

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Sunday, April 01, 2007 at 6:26 PM

Lord's Day 25

Question 65. Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, whence doth this faith proceed?

Answer. From the Holy Ghost, who works [a] faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and [b] confirms it by the use of the sacraments.

Question 66. What are the sacraments?

Answer. The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, vis., that he grants us freely the remission of sin, and [c] life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross.

Question 67. Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation?

Answer. Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, [d] that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which he offered for us on the cross.

Question 68. How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament?

Answer. [e] Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper.

[a]: Eph. 2:8; Eph. 6:23; Phil. 1:29
[b]: Mat. 28:19; Rom. 4:11
[c]: Gen. 17:11; Rom. 4:11; Ex. 12; Lev. 6:25; Acts 22:16; Acts 2:38; Mat. 26:28
[d]: Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27
[e]: 1Cor. 10:2,3,4

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