2.28.2015

What's a Supra-Lapsarian?

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 9 - Goodwin's Christological Supralapsarianism

Goodwin was a Supralapsarian in his doctrine of election.

Not Arminian
God chose us in Christ, which means within Himself, with Christ as the goal and glory of our election.  It doesn't mean that God chooses us because we have faith in Christ, or because we are holy and blameless.

God's purpose
One aspect of supra-lapsarianism in Goodwin is this.  In decreeing the Son to become Incarnate, God's purpose was more to glorify Christ than to reconcile us to Him.

More supra than infra, but both
Did God consider us fallen or unfallen when He choose us for salvation and union with Christ?  Goodwin tried to say it both ways.  The fall and our salvation was a means to the end of glorifying Christ.  As far as God's decree was to save and reconcile us, it was as fallen, and thus infra-lapsarian.  As far as God's decree was to glorify Christ, it was as unfallen, and thus supra-lapsarian.

Goodwin's main emphasis is that God sought Christ's glory more than anything, in His work for our salvation.  This is good.  It leads him to say that the Incarnation was probably the greatest most glorious work, even more than the crucifixion or resurrection.

This has always seemed a semantic argument, to me.  Of course, He chose us before the foundation of the world.  And that election involved redemption from sin.  It's helpful to remember that God has a purpose for us that goes beyond sin and forgiveness - our union and fellowship with Him. To the extent the supra position does this, it's good.  But it can descend to a rationalistic and/or hyper-Calvinist view.

Leviticus 11-12

Chapter 11

  • Animals okay to eat:
  • land animals with cloven hoof and that chew cud
  • sea animals with fins and scales
  • some birds are out
  • insects with four legs and jointed legs are okay
  • If you touch unclean things you have to wash your clothes and are unclean until sunset.
  • Any kitchen item touched has to be3 destroyed, even a stove or oven!
  • This is tied to your holiness.



How this is about Jesus

  • Jesus repeals this code for us in Mark 7
  • The purpose was to illustrate the distinction between holy and defiled, which principle continues today
  • Jesus revamps this in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:48
  • The point of the food laws was NOT nutritional, but ethical: distinguish between clean and unclean.  See verses 44-47.



Chapter 12
After birth, a boy is to be circumcised on the 8th day.  The mother is unclean for 40 days, then brings a sin and burnt offering to the temple.  If it's a girl she's unclean for 80 days.  The reason for the impurity is probably the loss of blood during birth - emissions of fluid generally made you unclean.  No reason is given for the double time for the girl, but it would go against Genesis 1:27 to say a daughter is less wanted or more impure inherently than a son.

How this is about Jesus

  • Joseph and Mary fulfill this, and meet Simeon and Anna in the temple.
  • This passage is a reminder of the curse and promise in Genesis 3.  Birth would involve pain, now that we sinned, but through birth would come a redeemer to cleanse away all impurity (1 Timothy 2:15).

2.27.2015

Mark 6:30-56

Jesus seeks down time with the disciples but none is granted.
Instead He feeds the five thousand and walks on water.
His popularity is high.

Sins this may reveal
Seeking time for self when it's time to serve.
Doubting God can provide for many needs.
Seeking Jesus for material needs alone.

Leviticus 8-10

Chapter 8
Moses washes and anoints Aaron and his sons, consecrating them to the priesthood.
Moses sacrifices a sin offering (bull), burnt offering (ram), ordination offering (ram) and grain offering.  The priests eat of the last two in the gate, and stay in the tabernacle seven days.

Chapter 9
On the eighth day (new creation), the priests take over doing the sacrifices instead of Moses.  They bring sin and burnt offerings, the people bring sin, burnt, grain and peace offerings.  Then Aaron blesses the people (benediction) with raised hands.  Fire comes supernaturally from God to burn up the sacrifices.

Chapter 10
Two of Aaron's sons make unauthorized fire in the tabernacle, and God strikes them dead for it.  He tells Aaron not to mourn, though Israel may.  No alcohol is allowed in the tabernacle (were Nadab and Abihu drunk?)  Aaron has the sin offering burned instead of eaten.  This goes against God's instruction, and Moses gets mad.  But Aaron didn't feel worthy to eat it after what happened to Nadab and Abihu.  Moses accepts that.


How this is about Jesus

  • Jesus went into the true sanctuary in heaven and made atonement for us as the great high priest.
  • He was raised on the eighth day, the day after the sabbath, after a week of consecration and redemptive work (lamb selection at Triumphal entry, teaching, sacrifice).
  • His sacrifice was pleasing to God, as He Himself was.  He committed no rebellion, mistake or lack of faith.


Application
There is a clear order to the sacrifices: sin, then whole burnt consecration, then peace offering eaten, then benediction.  It corresponds to our worship order today: confession of sin, preaching of Word (a knife that cuts us up and arranges us for consecration to God), Communion.
Be careful tampering with worship!  Don't just inject whatever you want.  Follow Scriptural principles.

2.26.2015

What's the Big Deal about Singing in Parts in Church?

Here's your answer:
It's an act of love and beauty, glorifying God and neighbor.
Take a minute to watch, and think about church music.

Ken Myers, fourth from right, does great work here.
The others are those notorious Auburn Avenue guys...

Mark 6:1-29

Back at His hometown of Nazareth, the people can't believe their Jesus could do such things, so He does little.
Jesus sends the disciples out on their own, to heal, exorcise and preach.  They are to be supported by those who receive them.
This makes Jesus more famous, and Herod hears of it.  He thinks John the Baptist is back from the dead haunting him.  He has a guilty conscience from having John beheaded after showing off his daughter in front of his state leaders and cabinet.

Sins this reveals
Rejecting or devaluing Jesus for petty reasons.
Not trusting God to provide while we are doing His work.
Showing off things we shouldn't.
Lust.
Making rash promises while in the grip of lust.
Holding resentment and seeking revenge against people who point out our sins.

Leviticus 6-7

Having looked at each different kind of sacrifice, we now look at the priest's work and portion.
The ashes from the altar had to be cleaned out, new wood put on and a fire kept going at all times.
They get the unleavened grain offerings from the people, but only the males could eat it.
The priests were to offer a grain offering twice a day, baking and burning the whole thing.
Sin and guilt offerings can be eaten by the priests who do the work of offering them, but if the blood goes into the holy place that animal is burned up completely.
Peace offerings had to be eaten by the third day.  The priest got the right thigh piece.
Meat to be eaten couldn't be if it touched something or someone unclean.
Fat couldn't be eaten but could be used to other things.  Blood not to be eaten.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus our great high priest offering up a sin sacrifice for us (Himself).
He saw this labor and was satisfied (Isaiah 53:10-11).

The priests were pretty well compensated for their work:
Animal skins and meat, grain, etc.

2.25.2015

Leviticus 1-6

With the tabernacle set up and the priests ordained, sacrifice can now begin.
Here is detailed instruction on how to offer each sacrifice.

Burnt, whole, or ascension offering: chapter 1
Whether cow, sheep, goat or bird, it is killed, blood applied to altar base/sides, meat put on altar, rest of body washed and put on altar and burned as "a food offering with a pleasing aroma to Yahweh."

Grain offering: chapter 2
Raw or baked, it is given with oil.  A handful is burned on the altar, the rest is for the priests to eat.
No leaven or honey is to be burned on the altar.  Salt is to be used with every grain offering.
The best elements are always to be used (fine flour, fresh ears, new grain - vss. 1, 14; animals without blemish - 3:1 and 1:3).

Peace offering: chapter 3
Cow, sheep or goat, it is killed, blood applied to the altar, and fatty parts burned.
Fat is the Lord's (because it's the best/tastiest, I think, not because it's bad for you).
Blood not to be eaten.
Nothing is said about the meat, but it's explained later.  It was eaten by the one offering the sacrifice, with part of it going to the priest (Lev. 7:11-18; Deut. 12:6-7).

Sin offering - chapters 4-5
Sinner brings an animal, lays hand on it, it's killed, the blood is applied to the altar (and sprinkled before the veil in the temple if it's a leader's sin or a corporate sin), the fat is burned, the rest of the body is burned outside the camp.  The animal varies based on who sinned: bull for priest or congregation, male goat for leader, female goat or lamb for commoner.

These unintentional sins are specified: failing to testify when you're a witness, becoming unclean without knowing it, or taking a rash vow.  When you realize it, you bring a female lamb or goat, 2 turtledoves, or a 3/5 a bushel of grain, depending what you can afford.

Some sins against the temple required compensation based on the value of the thing defiled.  A ram was offered, and 1/5 was added to the restitution needed, and paid in silver shekels.

Guilt offering (6:1-7)
Intentional sins: offer a ram as a sin offering and pay it back with 1/5.


How this is about Jesus

  • Jesus is the sacrifice God provides for us, so that God can be pleased with us, so that we can draw near to Him and be accepted by Him (1:2-3).
  • As the sin offering, He is taken outside the camp (Heb 13:11-12).
  • Our sins are laid on Him (1 Peter 2:24).
  • He was a pleasing sacrifice to God (Isaiah 53:10).
  • His blood was sprinkled before God and atones for our sin (Rev. 1:5).  Hebrews 9:12 - "Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption."

Mark 5

Verses 1-20
Jesus restores a man possessed with many demons, in the pagan Decapolis region, east of the lake of Galilee.  Jesus identifies Himself and His work with the Lord directly (vs. 19).  Often it's more important for us to go tell others what Jesus did for us, than for us to stay with Jesus physically.

Verses 21-43
A synagogue ruler asks Jesus to save his sick daughter's life.  On the way, Jesus stops to figure out (?) who in the crowd was healed by touching Him.  We wonder why He would do this, but He wants that woman to be as valued publicly as the ruler's daughter.  After verse 35, many would be tempted to affirm that Jesus should NOT have stopped to help a less important person.  He rejects this.

Sins this reveals
Not trusting the timing of Jesus.
Giving important people more attention and favor than others.
Despairing that death is the end.
Treating Jesus like He can't overcome major life problems (diseases we have for years, death, etc.).

Washington's Moral Leadership; Reporting Abuse in the Church; More

Here is a free book chapter by Marvin Olasky.
Fascinating how many revolutionary war wins for the patriots happened partly because of immorality in the British high command.

World magazine got accused of being anti science around the new year, so they wrote up a list of anti science assertions being made by the secular press today.  Quite good.

This is an important statement about reporting to the police any abuse that happens in a church context.

Mark 4

Verses 1-20
Jesus tells and explains the parable of the Sower and seeds.  The seed is the word, and it lands in various soil types.  Some receive the word and bear much fruit.  Most do not receive it, or only for a short time.

Verses 21-41
When we bear fruit, it is to be helpful to those around and show them the glory of God.
The Word does this by nature: growing from a tiny bit to be of great use.
They then cross the lake, and a storm puts them in danger of sinking and drowning.  Jesus sleeps, but wakes and commands the wind and sea to stop.  It does!  This fills the disciples with fear.  Jesus is Lord of creation, controlling it as He wants to.

Sins this reveals
Apathy to the Word.
Hearing but not doing the Word.
Not going public with our faith or deeds.
Not pursuing growth in relationship with the Lord.
Being afraid of threatening circumstances, when the Lord is with us.

2.24.2015

Psalm 90-91

90
God has always been our dwelling place (not just now, since we have a tabernacle set up).
He returns man to the dust of death, chastens His own, but also satisfies us with His love and establishes our work.
91
God will protect the one who seeks His shelter.

How this is about Jesus

  • Jesus is our dwelling place, the ultimate temple.
  • By His mercy we are loved and sustained.
  • Jesus trusted God for His protection, instead of giving in to temptation to test whether God would protect Him.


Sins this reveals

  • What C. S. Lewis called chronological snobbery.  Thinking we are the smartest, wisest and most godly generation ever to live.  Instead we need to number our days.  We are not gods who will live forever, but here for a moment and then gone.
  • We try to establish our work ourselves instead of committing our labor to the Lord (Psalm 127).
  • We doubt God's protection and so seek our ways to test Him and protect ourselves.

2.23.2015

Exodus 39-40

They make robes, ephod, breastplate with twelve gems, hats, turban, and a crown with a plate (39:30), and present them to Moses.  The language is much like the end of Genesis 1, that God saw what was made and approved.  This is a new creation.
Moses himself builds it (!), and God's glory cloud fills it so Moses can't enter it.

How this is about Jesus
Moses was a builder and servant of God's house, but Jesus is the Son of the house.
Jesus is our great high priest, with robes of righteousness that He gives His people to wear.
He erects a new creation people of God.

Sins this reveals
Our sins dirty our robes - Zechariah 3:1-5
Our sins mess up God's building project
We cannot maintain fellowship with a holy and glorious God, without a mediator, because of our sins.

Exodus 36-38

The people bring too much stuff for building the tabernacle, and have to be stopped.
They make the infrastructure, ark, table, lamp stand, incense altar, sacrificial altar, and basin, out of a lot of gold, silver and bronze.

How this is about Jesus
"I will build My Church..."
He builds it how God wants it (end of 36:1).
It is a precious people (1 Peter 2:4-5).

Sins this reveals
Stinginess in giving to the church.
Being more interested in our own kingdoms and houses, instead of God's (see Haggai 1).

Review: Once On This Island


Once On This Island
Once On This Island by Gloria Whelan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



Nice.

Fictional story of a family on Mackinaw Island during the War of 1812. It describes well the divided loyalties among citizens, between British, American, trader and Indian, and how this affected people personally. Detail of the farm and trading are quite educational. Young people had to shoulder adult burdens often in these times, just to make ends meet – a sobering reminder of how well we have it today, physically.

Having been to the Island several times, and the forts, this was an interesting read. The writing style isn’t the greatest, but it doesn’t plod, either.

The main character is a girl, but this is good reading for 9-12 year old boy or girl.




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2.21.2015

Mark 3:20-35

Scribes say Jesus is from Satan.
Jesus says that is the unforgivable sin - it's the same as saying the Holy Spirit is an unclean spirit.
Jesus renounces His family, since they think He's crazy.

Sins this reveals
Relying too much on the opinion of man.
Arguing with Jesus instead of accepting His Words.

Application
These are the two groups that humanly speaking would have most impact on Jesus.  They say He's nuts and from the devil.  But Jesus knows His mission, and they do not.  He does not waver when people important to Him reject Him.

Exodus 34-35

God calls Moses back up Mt Sinai.  God shows Himself, gives another copy of the law, and summarizes the covenant again.  Moses goes down and his face is shining.
Moses calls for offerings for making the tabernacle, and the people bring precious metals and fabric.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus is transfigured with His face shining on the mountain, too.
Jesus is the cornerstone of the temple that we are, being built for God.

Sins this reveals
We build idols with our stuff and our energy, when our hearts turn from God.
We often withhold from God what He asks of us, out of selfishness.

2.20.2015

Review: Inferno


Inferno
Inferno by Dante Alighieri

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



​Dante catalogs sins and sinners from biblical, Greco-Roman, and his own times, all in epic poem format. Virgil guides him through the nine circles of hell.

At first we see those only mildly deprived of joy, like ​f​amous Greek philosophers who didn't know of Christ. The seven deadly sins feature prominently in the catalog as we are taken through each successive circle. This means a ranking of these sins, as the punishment worsens the further down you go. Lust, avarice and gluttony are first, so the least bad, while discord, divination and treachery are the worst.

Dante often puts political figures from his time in hell, as a warning to his readers not to follow their example while they yet live. He does not exempt even popes! My favorite is when he sees a guy he thought was still alive. Turns out he died years ago, and a demon was inhabiting his body on earth! Talk about harsh criticism.

Besides the political punditry built in, Dante makes important, sobering and biblical assertions. Sin will be punished with poetic justice. Remorse isn't alleviated by moving on in life. The affects of sin continue into eternity for the unforgiven. There is no mercy. In the lowest circle, the first figure he meets of the heretics and treacherous is Mohammed (Dante wrote in 1300).

Dante is hard to read. I don't know if I'm losing my edge, or the translation was clunky, or it was all the contemporary references I didn't have a clue about, but he's hard to follow. Here were a few gems, though.


On his hometown of Florence
"An upstart multitude and sudden gains, pride and excess, O Florence, have in thee engendered, so that now in tears thou mourn'st!"

​On greed
"How brief, how vain, the goods committed into Fortune's hands, for which the human race keep such a coil! Not all the gold that is beneath the moon, or ever hath been, of these toil-worn souls might purchase rest for one."​

On Satan
"If he were beautiful as he is hideous now, and yet did dare to scowl upon his Maker, well from him may all our misery flow."



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Mark 3:1-19

Jesus intentionally heals a man on the Sabbath to show it is okay.  The Pharisees reject him and plot with their enemies, the Herodians, how to get rid of Jesus.  Jesus is popular and continues healing many.  He appoints twelve disciples, to be with Him, preach and heal.

Application

  • There are times to do something that you know will make others mad.  If you are in the right and the issue is big enough, you should be mad back, as Jesus was here.
  • The first purpose of Jesus choosing twelve was for the them to be with Him.  If we are to be faithful in deed, doing things for Jesus, we first must spend time with Him, getting to know Him in the Word.

Exodus 31-33

God appoints men to make the tabernacle thing, with the aid of the Spirit.
Keep the Saabath above all!
God gives Moses the law on stone tablets.
Israel figures Moses is dead and ask Aaron for another mediator/god.
He makes a calf and Israel has a chaotic and immoral feast to it the next day.
God tells Moses about it and plans to destroy them.  Moses intercedes and God relents.
Moses goes down, shows God's displeasure, and puts a stop to it, at the cost of 3000 lives.
The Levites distinguish themselves as faithful, and will serve God.
God sends them on to the Promised Land, but if He goes He will destroy them on the way, they are so stubborn.  Israel mourns at this news.  Moses intercedes again (he has direct access to God in the tent of meeting), and God relents and shows Moses His glory.

How this is about Jesus
God appointed Jesus to tabernacle among us (John 1:14), with the help of the Spirit.
He is our final and remaining Sabbath rest ( Hebrews 4).
He is our mediator who appeals to God for mercy for Israel and is successful.
He is rejected by the people for other leaders who will give them what they want.
He calls some from Israel to Himself and they are appointed to be leaders (disciples).
He is Immanuel, God with us.

Application
  • Interesting that Moses and Joshua are like Paul and Timothy, with a more direct access to God and His revelation.  After they pass there is a time of chaos (Judges in OT, and Corinth in NT).  Then a structure gets set up (priests and Levites in OT, elders and deacons in NT).
  • Be patient for God to work in His time.  Don't take matters into your own hands, or pressure leaders to do what you want.
  • Leaders may not cave to pressure to corrupt worship of God with sensory things not given by God.
  • We must have God with us, or we cannot go on.  Seek His face today.

2.19.2015

Eternal Justification

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 8: Goodwin and Maccovius on Eternal Justification

The authors take the first half of this chapter defending Thomas Goodwin's reputation on the matter of eternal justification.  The main guardrail here is that we are justified when we believe, not before (according to Westminster Confession of Faith 11.4).  Goodwin apparently defined justification as made up of three parts: God's decree from eternity to justify us, Christ's death and resurrection for our justification, and the Spirit applying Christ to us (resulting in faith and union with Christ) and so effecting our justification.  Really, only the last of these is actually justification.  But defining it in these three stages, it's easy to see how some could say he held to eternal justification.

The danger of this view is that you could theoretically be justified without coming to faith, leading to anti-nomianism.  ("Who gives a rip about believing in Christ?  God has already justified who He will outside of time, so it doesn't matter what I believe or do.")

The authors interact briefly with contemporary reformed scholars, which provides a bit of interest.  Carl Trueman gets Goodwin partly wrong, but Michael Horton gets him right in his Ph.D. dissertation!


Second half of the chapter:
Maccovius believed justification took place at the first promise of a Justifier in history, in Genesis 3:15.  This is an unusual view, but the authors stress it is not outside the bounds of orthodoxy.  It isn't the position of justification from eternity, but takes place in history, with the elect considered collectively, not individually.

I'm all for granting room for various views on the details of doctrines like this, even major doctrines.  And we are definitely way into the scholastic weeds, here!  But John 3:36 and WCF 11.4 both seem fairly clear that Maccovius was off base.  Even for the elect, God's wrath is on them in a sense until they believe.  My hunch (totally uneducated!) is that Maccovius wanted so to emphasize the redemptive-historical proto-evangelium in Genesis 3:15 that he brought the big doctrinal gun of justification into it.  This was a mistake.

Mark 2

Jesus proves He has power to forgive sins by healing a man.
He calls Levi, a tax collector, to follow Him.  He isn't afraid to be with the wrong crowd, if it means bringing them light.
He asserts Himself to be the Bridegroom, the Lord of the Sabbath.

Sins this reveals
Refusing to accept Jesus' uniqueness.  Only God can forgive sins and be Lord of the Sabbath.

Exodus 29-30

Chapter 29
God lays out a seven day ordination ceremony for the priests, with sacrifices of atonement and consecration, some of the blood applied to the priests.  Daily sacrifices include two lambs, one in morning and one in evening, with a bit of flour, oil and wine each time.

How this is about Jesus
He was appointed to the office of high priest, and set Himself apart to it for 40 days in the wilderness.
He was put on the cross at the time of morning sacrifice, and died on the cross and was buried at the time of evening sacrifice of the lambs.
Bread ingredients and wine went with every sacrifice - Lord's Supper hint.
Oil, also - Holy Spirit hint.

Sins this reveals
Anyone who tries to help others spiritually is hurting themselves.  Not that you can't help others, but only Jesus is fully equipped for this.   Galatians 6:1.
We need a mediator to make us right with God.  We can't do this ourselves.


Chapter 30
Instructions for the altar of incense, the temple tax of half a shekel for every adult, the bronze basin for the priests' washing, and a unique anointing oil and incense only for temple use.

How this is about Jesus
Psalm 45 refers to the beauty of the King with all His spices.
Jesus pays the temple tax miraculously for Himself and Peter while in Galilee.
He is the fount where we can be washed clean.

2.18.2015

Lent, and Abortion Facts

Carl Trueman gets cranky about Lent.  I disagree with him, but liked this:
"My commitment to Christian liberty means that I certainly would not regard it as sinful in itself for them to do so [observe Lent]; but that same commitment also means that I object most strongly to anybody trying to argue that it should be a normative practice for Christians, to impose it on their congregations, or to claim that it confers benefits unavailable elsewhere."


Myths to debunk in the abortion conversation.  Good stuff to use here in talking with your pro-choice or on-the-fence friends.  Kevin DeYoung.



Exodus 27-28

God gives Moses direction for building the bronze altar of sacrifice, the courts and walls of the tabernacle, and the clothes for the priests.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus is the sacrifice that goes on the altar.
He breaks down walls that kept out non-Jews from worship in the temple.
He represents His people, as the priest did by wearing the twelve jewels.
The robe and breastplate signified holiness, which only Jesus truly had in Himself.

Sins this reveals
Because of our sin, we need an altar to put a sacrifice to God upon, and we need a priest to mediate for us - to represent us to God, and bring us near to Him.

Mark 1:23-45

As Jesus heals many, demons emerge and cry out at who is there, the Holy One!
His popularity grows, but He stays focused on prayer and teaching.

Sins this reveals
Losing focus because of success.

Grace this reveals
Jesus comes with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2).

2.17.2015

Perkins, the Patriarch of Puritan Predestination

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 7 - William Perkins on Predestination

Perkins produced a classic on this topic, "A Golden Chain" (1591).

Supra-lapsarian
Supra-lapsarians say God decreed who would be saved before the creation and fall of man.  Infra-lapsarians say God couldn't decree not to save anyone before they were guilty.  Perkins was a supra- guy.  Two objections: doesn't predestination make God the author of sin?  Perkins said there's a difference between God's decree being infallible and it being compulsory.  We are still responsible for our sin.  Second objection: doesn't predestination make Jesus just the agent of a decree, like the guy who serves you papers to your house from a court?  No, Christ is the point of our election.  The Father wanted to glorify the Son in His choosing us to be saved in Him.

Golden Chain
Christ is the center and foundation of God's decree of election, in Perkins' golden chain.
The decrees are carried out in history with covenants.  God binds Himself to man with promises, requiring faith and obedience of us.  These He graciously gives us.  Faith and repentance are the result of God electing us, not the cause of His election.  So the covenant is mostly about us receiving gifts from God that we need.  

Salvation comes in "distinct steps from sin to glory.  This is the order of salvation, the golden chain, from Romans 8:30.  God calls us by His Word so our hearts are broken in repentance and we believe in Christ.  God justifies us on the basis of Christs work, pardoning us and reconciling with us.  God sanctifies us by putting our sins to death and making us more like Christ in our affections and behavior.  God glorifies us on the last day, when we see God and become fully conformed to the image of Christ.

God also determines not to save those He doesn't choose for glory.  This is not arbitrary, but based on their own sins, which deserve damnation.  Some may be called by God and even experience a temporary faith and pseudo-penitence, tasting the gifts of God, but they ultimately come into their full sins with those never called.  [God never calls some?  I thought everyone suppressed the truth within them.]  God delights to save, but does not delight to damn, though both bring Him glory.  When you are stuck in sin and find it hard to believe, you shouldn't take it as a sign you are decreed and destined to be damned.

Preaching

THis is God's main instrument to apply the decrees and covenants to men.  We preach the Gospel to all men, as anyone may possibly be elect.  Where preaching is faithful, "the Spirit of the electing God speaks" (130).

Conclusion
Perkins was both scholastic and pietist.  He was the peak of Puritanism.
Some say predestination undercuts assurance and pursuing righteousness.
But it is taught in God's Word, it comforts God's people, and motivates them by gratitude for all God has done for us by His grace.


Thoughts
This chapter gives me mixed feelings.  The straight-up assertion of God's sovereignty in our salvation is refreshing.  They deal as well with objections as is possible in a short chapter.  Perkins doesn't come off as overly scholastic (rigid steps of the golden chain, for instance), though this may be the authors tempering that for us.

The problem of assurance is raised but left unanswered.  "If reprobates can also behave in ways that seem motivated by grace, how can I know whether I am a child of God?" (129)  This is something I've heard from a few independent sources remains a problem for those in scholastic Reformed churches.  The short answer is simply to look to Christ and believe, not to take primary comfort in God's decrees, or in how well we are behaving, but mainly in His promises extended to us at the cross and empty tomb.  

Mark 1:1-22

Mark moves fast!
John the baptizer prepares the people for Jesus, Jesus comes, is baptized, tempted, and begins His ministry after John is arrested.  He calls four fisherman to be His disciples.  Simon Peter is first, and also the likely source behind Mark's words.

Sins this reveals
Not confessing our sins when we are called to do so. Vs 5
Poor fathers do not take or express their pleasure in their sons and daughters. Vs 11
Giving in to temptation; not leaving other things to follow Jesus. Vs 18, 20

Exodus 25-26

God gives Moses direction for building the tabernacle: the ark, lamp stand, table and tent walls and screens.  The walls and veil into the holy place have pictures of angels on them, a reminder (and recreation?) of the garden of Eden.


How is this about Jesus
Jesus is the lamp stand, the light, of the world.
Jesus is the bread of God, set out for us.
We as the church are being built as a spiritual house for Him, in which He is the cornerstone.
Jesus enters beyond the veil for us, so it can come down and our fellowship with God be unhindered.

Sins this reveals
Not desiring to dwell with God.
Seeking our light and food from elsewhere.

2.16.2015

Matthew 28

An angel rolls the stone away from the tomb, and the guards are knocked out, so the women can see and hear that Jesus is risen.  They meet Him going back into the city and worship Him.  The guards are bribed to lie about it.  Jesus meets up with the disciples on a mountain in Galilee (Arbel or Hermon?) and gives the great commission: disciple the world into the Trinitarian God and His commands.

Sins this reveals
Our hope dies before it should.  In our worship, doubt is mixed in.
People will quickly believe a lie about this account, rather than have to believe a miracle and submit to Jesus as Lord and King.

Exodus 21-24

Chapters 21-23
Laws of justice to protect life and property.
Sabbath year rest for land; sabbath day rest for people; annual feasts.
Conquest of Canaan promised; don't worship their gods.
Chapter 24
When God wants Israel's leading representatives to go up the mountain to Him, Moses holds a covenant confirmation service with Israel first.  He reads the law just given, they respond that they agree with it, sacrifices are made and the blood sprinkled on the people.  The elders go up and eat and drink before God.  God invites Moses up further for 40 days to receive the whole law on tablets.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus pays the price for our disobedience.
He is our Sabbath rest.
He is the angel of God who goes before us and gains the victory (wins the inheritance).
He is our only mediator with God, who goes up the mountain and joins us with God.
His blood applied to His people meets the terms of the covenant, when we break those terms.

Sins this reveals
Our tendency to steal, deceive, defraud, enslave, and exploit things and people for our own interest (chapter 21-23).
We are tempted even to worship the Canaanite gods that Yahweh defeats.
Israel says they'll keep God's Law, but before Moses comes down the mountain, they've given up and want another mediator and make the calf to worship.

2.14.2015

Let Him Stand for Truth IN the Public Square

This is sad.

Russell Moore, the Southern Baptist voice for ethics, cuts the knees out from Roy Moore, who is one of the few lesser magistrates standing for Biblical truth in the public square against the same-sex juggernaut.

We're laying down and complying just like we did with Roe v. Wade.  Hopefully the judge sticks with it and we start a resurgence in a different direction.

Doug Wilson's got some good thoughts on it here.

The juggernaut has its steam mainly by intimidation: you don't want to be labeled unloving or racist.  You must be malicious against gays.  It couldn't be because we don't want to condone immoral and destructive lifestyles.

We can love gay people without needing to allow them a civil right to marry, just like you love an alcoholic enough not to give him another drink.

Matthew 27:27-66

Romans soldiers mock Jesus and beat Him up.
They crucify Him; the Jews mock Him more.
He dies to darkness, an earthquake and the temple veil torn on its own.
Joseph of Arimathea buries Him; the Jews guard the tomb.

Sins this reveals
Our desire to mock and deride "losers," to separate ourselves from those who aren't victorious and glorious.
Was Joseph at fault for not doing more on the Sanhedrin for Jesus?  I tend to think not.  Politically, he did all he could do (Luke 23:50-51).

Exodus 19-20

God prepares Israel for His coming to Sinai.  Separation and purity are essential to avoid death.
He speaks audibly the ten commandments, to show His power.  The people are appropriately fearful and ask for a mediator.  God speaks the rest of the law (through chapter 24) to Moses.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus is the end of the law (Romans 10:4).  He speaks it again in the Sermon on the Mount.
In Christ, the boundaries keeping us from the holy God are taken down.

Sins this reveals
We break each of the 10 commandments in various ways, as we see in Matthew 5.

2.13.2015

666. 50 Shades. Valentine's Day.

What does 666 mean?


This is all I'm posting about the 50 Shades cultural atrocity:
  • It's literally a Twilight spinoff/remake: "The appeal of Fifty Shades and Twilight alike is the fantasy that somewhere out there, there’s an extraordinary man (or, erm, vampire) who will adore you just the way you are, no matter how plain, how unaccomplished, how downright unremarkable.  If this has you thinking that maybe these women have a God-shaped hole in their hearts, you’re probably right."
  • Al Mohler says it's porn for women
  • Doug Wilson says it's the next step on the road to destruction, past and beyond mutual consent to anything.  Sin never stops to leave YOU in charge.

Especially the ones who refuse to acknowledge the day for some misguided principle.

Communing with Father, Son and Spirit

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 6: Owen on Communion with Trinity

John Owen taught that believers have a "distinct communion with each divine person" (103).  We see this in John 14:23; 2 Cor. 13:14; Rev. 3:20, for some examples.  This is better than relating to God in His divine essence or by abstract attributes.

Owen wrote a book on this in 1657.  Each divine person has distinct roles visible in Scripture.  The Father initiates and plans; the Son carries out, redeems and mediates and accomplishes; the Spirit applies, brings fruit, completes.

2 Corinthians 13:14 - "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

Communion with the Father focuses on love.
  • His love for us is eternal, from the beginning.  It didn't start when Christ mediated for us, it caused Christ's mediation.
  • His love for us is free - He didn't need us, but we love Him out of need and duty, in addition to the joy and delight of it.
  • His love for us distinguishes.  He hasn't loved the whole world in the same way, but chose His people out of all the world.
  • His love assures us of our salvation.  Contemplating His prior and enduring love for us shown at the cross comforts and kindles our hearts in love to God.

Communion with the Son focuses on grace
Jesus invites us to commune with Him - Rev 3:20.  Owen distinguished personal grace and purchased grace.
  • Jesus in His person is our glorious Bridegroom (Psalm 45:2).  The Song of Solomon is an illustration of our spiritually conjugal relationship with Christ.  Jesus enjoys fellowship His bride.  He "woos and wins" her (109).  This is heady stuff, and comes from a Puritan!  Smash that caricature.
  • Jesus in His work purchases our acceptance with the Father, our sanctification and our adoption into God's house.
  • The Lord's Supper is a unique opportunity to commune with Christ.

Communion with the Spirit focuses on comfort
The Spirit's title of paraclete, one who comes alongside, points to His comforting role.
  • He regenerates our hearts to believe in Jesus, reminds us of His words, lives within us.
  • He is the earnest, or down payment, of our inheritance to come.  The inheritance is fellowship with God Himself, so the earnest is like it.
  • Most of all He brings us into communion with the Father and the Son.  This explains several passages omit the Spirit when they describe grace and peace from, or fellowship with, the Father and the Son: the grace, peace and fellowship ARE the Holy Spirit.
Relating to God as Trinity keeps our worship on God Himself, keeps our spirituality personal instead of mystical, draws our soul's enjoyment to God instead of the mind doing barren theology.

Matthew 27:1-26

Judas tries to undo his deal with the rulers when he sees Jesus is headed for death.  He drops the money and commits suicide.  The Jews accuse Jesus before Pilate and pressure him through a hostile crowd to kill Jesus.  They would rather have Barabbas on the loose (probably an insurrectionist against Rome AND their Sadducee allies) than Jesus.

Sins this reveals
We will go to great lengths to keep Jesus at a distance, when we pursue sin.  We're willing to live with a lot of known evils and dangers in our lives instead of forsake sin and submit to Jesus' reign.

Exodus 16-18

Chapter 16
Main idea
God gives Israel manna in the desert every day for 40 years.  Twice as much on Friday, so they don't have to gather it on Saturday.  Israel grumbles and disobeys through it all.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus is the bread come down from heaven from God.  If we eat of Him we live forever.  John 6:31-35.

Sins this reveals
Not trusting God for DAILY bread.
Contriving ways to store up, to prepare for the worst, so we are independent of God.
(This doesn't rule out prudent saving, but one can do this with the wrong attitude of the fool who built bigger barns.)


Chapter 17
Israel gets thirsty again, and tests God, openly doubting if He is with them.  Yahweh provides water from the rock.
Amalek attacks Israel, and God provides for their victory through Moses' raised hands.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus is the rock that followed Israel to give them drink (1 Cor. 10:4).
Jesus quotes this incident to remind Himself not to test God, when tempted by Satan (Matt 4:7; Deut. 8:3).

Sins this reveals
Getting hostile or angry with God or His representatives when things don't go how you want them to go.
Relying on the sword alone, or yourself alone, to fight battles.


Chapter 18
Moses rejoins his father-in-law Jethro, wife and sons.  Jethro advises Moses on managing and judging the people.

How this is about Jesus
He is our great shepherd, and gave undershepherds to rule and judge the smaller cases within the church.

Sins this reveals
This advice is still needed today, in many churches whose leaders are not good administrators, or who need prompting to involve others in decision making.  This can come from pride or apathy.

2.12.2015

Son and Spirit

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 5: Puritans on the Trinity
Pages 95-100


The Self-Existence of the Son
The puritans differed from Calvin about how the Father eternally begets the Son.  We confess in the Nicene Creed that the Son is “God of God.”  The Son has His beginning in the Father, but the Son is also self-existent (aseity).  Calvin thought the Son’s divine essence wasn’t involved in His eternal generation.  If it was, the Son wouldn’t be self-existent.  The Puritans generally said that the Father communicates the divine essence to the Son.  But since it’s the same essence, there’s no problem saying the Son is self-existent.  Beeke/Jones quote Turretin as differing from Calvin, but Turretin lands where Calvin does: “So the Son is God from himself although not the Son from himself.”  Having thought about this for all of 10 minutes, I think I’m with Calvin.  Jesus isn’t really self-existent if His divine essence is received from the Father.  The danger with this view, Calvin’s, is that it separates the unity of the Persons too much.  The danger with the Puritan view is that it merges the Persons too much.

The Proceeding Spirit
The Reformed advocate the Western Church’s view that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, not just from the Father.  To assert the latter would subordinate the Son to the Father.
This procession is not to be confused with the sending of the Spirit to the Church in history.  Instead, it is the eternal procession of the Spirit within the Trinity.  We can partially understand that action within God by reading about the sending of the Spirit in history, though, in John 14:26; 15:26; 16:15.

Exodus 14-15

Chapter 14
Main idea
Pharaoh changes his mind again and goes after Israel to bring them back.  Israel loses faith as soon as they see the chariots and berate Moses.  God parts the sea for Israel to escape, holding off Egypt with the pillar of cloud and fire.  When they pursue Israel into the sea, God brings it back on them and drowns them all.  Israel believes in God and Moses.

How this is about Jesus
Like Moses, God's servant, Jesus also does God's will and accomplishes salvation for His people.

Sins this reveals
We tend to dismiss Jesus when the going gets tough.


Chapter 15
Main idea
Israel sings of God's greatness in delivering them from Egypt.  Three days later, with no water in the desert, they grumble against Moses again, and God saves them again.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus healed His people, as God does here, vs 26.
Jesus is living water, John 7.

Sins this reveals
Forgetting God's recent deliverance and going back to grumbling when things get tough.

Matthew 26:36-75

Main idea
Jesus prays in Gethsemane while the disciples sleep.  Judas leads the temple guards to Him.  Jesus is tried and condemned when He asserts that He is the son of man of Daniel 7:13-14 and Psalm 110:1.  Peter denies knowing Jesus to avoid the same fate.

How this is about Jesus
This is THE turning point in Israel's history.  Their King asserts His right to rule, and they reject His claim.

Sins this reveals
Rejecting Jesus and His ways to protect ourselves.

2.11.2015

Divinity of Father, Son and Spirit Shown

John Frame's Systematic Theology
Chapter 21 - The Three are God

We now take up the divinity of each person of the Trinity.  The NT more assumes than proves this, and the assumption is pervasive.

Jesus' teaching assumes His divinity.  He speaks of "His angels" (Matt 13:41) and assumes the right to decide who enters the Kingdom (Matt 7:21-23).
Paul's letter openings often ascribe divine power to bless us to Jesus (Gal 1:1; Rom 1:7; etc.).

Christ as Lord
One of the most common titles for Jesus is Lord.  This often comes from the word Yahweh in the OT (Matt 3:3 from Isa 40:3; Matt 21:16 from Ps 8:2; John 10:11 from Ps 23:1; and many more).  When Jesus says He is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28) He is claiming something that was for God alone: "a Sabbath to Yahweh your God" (Ex 20:10).
Jesus calls Himself I AM (Ex 3:14) several times (John 4:26; 8:24, 58; 18:5-6).

Christ as Son of God
Angels and Adam and believers are all called God's sons at some point, but Jesus' Sonship is unique.  He speaks of MY Father differently than we call God OUR Father (John 17:1-5; 5:18-23).  The Jews accuse Him of blasphemy for affirming He is the Son of God (Matt 26:63-66).

Jesus as Messiah / Christ
Messiah is seldom used in the OT, but prophets do speak of a coming ruler who is everlasting and greater than David (Isa 9:6; Micah 5:2; Ps 110:1).  Jesus and the NT claim directly that He is the Messiah (Matt 16:16-17; John 20:31; 1 John 2:22).

Jesus as God
Messiah is called God in Psalm 45:6 and Isaiah 7:14.
John 1:1 shows Jesus, the Word, to be God.
Frame also cites these texts, countering grammatical objections to them asserting that Jesus is called God.  John 1:18; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; 2 Thess 1:12; Heb 1:8; 1 John 5:20; Phil 2:6; Col 2:9.
Some think there are too few texts, and many of them have textual issues.  Why did the NT focus on Jesus being God so little?  They didn't!  They assumed it.  They used kurios (Lord) instead.  They focused on Christ's redemption more than on His nature, though they certainly didn't ignore His nature.

Other titles for Jesus
Son of Man
Jesus calls Himself this most.  It refers to Daniel 7:13-18, where the son of man ascends to God and receives the eternal kingdom.  He is equated with the saints (vs 17-18), and thus is a representative of them.

Word - see John 1:1-14; Rev. 19:13.  He is the "final revelation from God" (470).

Image of God - see Hebrews 1:3.

Savior
This can refer to human deliverers, mostly in Judges, but often is a divine title (Isa 43:11).  Jesus is Savior in Luke 2:11; Acts 5:31; Phil 3:20; etc.

Holy One - the demons call Jesus this, and the Psalmist calls God the same (Ps 71:33; 78:41)

Alpha and Omega - God is the first and last in Isa 44:6, and Jesus is the same in Rev 1:17-18; 2:8; 22:13.

Besides all this to prove Jesus' divinity, He is believed upon and worshiped in the NT, which only is true of God.

Deity of the Holy Spirit
Several texts name the Spirit along with Father and Son as being the source of blessing or the identity of God.
Several NT texts quote the OT where God speaks, and attribute it to the Spirit.
Ananias lied to the Spirit, and thus to God (Acts 5:3-4).
He has divine attributes of holiness, eternal, wise, etc.
Blasphemy is only against God, but we can blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 26

Main idea
Rulers plot to kill Jesus, and He knows it.
A woman pours very expensive perfume all over Jesus, and He points it to His burial.
Judas agrees to betray Jesus.
Passover is prepared; Jesus points out Judas' betrayal and institutes the Lord's Supper.
They go out to Olive Mt. where Jesus predicts the disciples' betrayal.  Peter contradicts Him.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus goes out of His way at several points to tell them what is going to happen, so when it does they will have more faith in Him.  God did this often in the OT, through prophets, too.

Sins this reveals
We are willing to betray Jesus for money, or to avoid trouble with the local authorities.

Exodus 12-13 - Passover

Chapter 12
Main idea
God gives Israel a way to be spared death: a lamb for Passover.  He kills the Egyptians and they send Israel out.  Instructions for keeping this feast in the future are mixed with the actual events.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus is the ultimate Passover lamb, sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:8).
He also spent the night of His ultimate Passover watching in Gethsemane (Mark 14:37-38), as God does here (vs 42).

Sins this reveals
Not remembering this act of redemption.
Not explaining it to our children.


Chapter 13
God makes Israel remember by setting apart their firstborn.
God takes them into the desert, instead of toward the Philistines, so they don't run into battles right away.  His pillar of cloud and fire go before them.  Joseph's bones go with Israel, heading for the promised land.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus is the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15), set apart to redeem all creation.

Sins this reveals
Forgetting the death of the firstborn, and God's just punishment of those who defy Him.
Not following God's guidance by fire and cloud.  Not trusting it is for our good.

2.10.2015

Exodus 9-11

Chapter 9
Main Idea
God plagues Egypt with dead livestock, gives their people boils on their bodies, and hail on their crops.

How this is about Jesus
The wrath of the Lamb in Revelation gives similar plagues on rebellious mankind (Rev 6, 8-9).

Sins this reveals
Holding out against God, when you still think you have a leg to stand on apart from Him (vs 31-32).


Chapter 10
Main idea
God plagues Egypt with locusts and darkness.  Pharaoh's resolve weakens at each step, but he won't let all Israel go.  He wants to get them back.

How this is about Jesus
Part of Jesus' rule in this world is separating light from darkness over time, in our hearts and between His people and unbelievers (Matt 5:14-16).

Sins this reveals
Pharaoh refuses to give in to God - He wants Israel for himself.  But when God is resolved to take something from us that we have idolized, there is no resisting Him.


Chapter 11
Main idea
God threatens the death of all Egyptian firstborn cattle and people.  Moses has gone from fearful to righteously wrathful in Pharaoh's presence.  God keeps saying Pharaoh won't listen, so that God will have more opportunity to show His power and glory.

How this is about Jesus
If we try to save our lives, we lose it; if we surrender to the Lord, we save our lives.

Sins this reveals
The wages of sin is death, in the end.

2.09.2015

Exodus 7-8

Here is the schedule I'm following to do these.

Chapter 7
Main idea
Aaron's staff turns to a serpent before Pharaoh, but his magicians do the same.
Moses turns the Nile to blood, but Pharaoh's magicians do similar things.  This is the first plague.
Pharaoh is not convinced.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus casts out demons, but the Pharisees don't believe Him because their teachers do the same.

Sins this reveals
Men reject Jesus in spite of the miracles recorded, because they don't want to believe.
Christians can lose heart when people appear happy and satisfied apart from Christ.


Chapter 8
Main idea
God sends frogs, and starts showing the difference between Moses and Pharaoh's magicians.  God makes the frogs go away at His choosing.  He highlights this by giving Pharaoh the choice of time!  In the third plague of gnats, Pharaoh's magicians know this is for real.  In the fourth plague of flies, God directly states the difference.  Pharaoh starts saying yes, but takes it back after each relief.

How this is about Jesus
As Pharaoh cheats Moses, the Sanhedrin unjustly condemns Jesus with false witnesses, leading up to God's redemptive act.

Sins this reveals
We harden our heart and continue in our sin when God brings circumstances on us that convict us of sin.

Exodus 4-6

Chapter 4
Main Idea
Moses doesn't want to go.  God gives him signs, but he still resists.
On the way back, God opposes him for not having circumcised his son.
Israel believes him when he first speaks to them.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus also had power to do miracles from God, to authenticate His message.
Jesus was baptized at the start of His ministry, as Moses' son was circumcised here, at the start of his.  For the parallel, see Colossians 2:11-12.

Sins this reveals
Shrinking from the calling God gives us.  Lacking faith that He will equip us for the task.
Failing to apply God's covenant signs to ourselves and our families.


Chapter 5
Main Idea
Moses goes to Pharaoh, who refuses God's command and imposes more work on Israel.  Israel turns against Moses as a result.

How this is about Jesus
Israel turned against Jesus, too, when things got tough, and it looked like political deliverance wasn't coming.

Sins this reveals
Fickleness in faith in God's goodness in hard times.
Taking anger out on leaders who are doing their best.


Chapter 6
Main idea
God affirms He will save Israel.  A list of Israel begins, but stops with Moses and Aaron, sons of Levi.  Moses is still reluctant about this mission from God.

How this is about Jesus
God has re-affirmed and kept His covenant promises to us in Christ.  Jesus is from the tribe of Judah, the tribe chosen to rule (Gen 49:10).

Sins this reveals
Unbelief when circumstances seem to hinder God's plan and promises.

Exodus 1-3

Chapter 1
Main idea
Israel grows in Egypt.  Pharaoh suppresses them, but the midwives resist.  Pharaoh takes stronger measures to reduce the population.

How this is about Jesus
The seed of the serpent seeks to destroy God's people, but the seed of the woman will resist.  The midwives pre-figure Christ in their opposition to the rulers of this world.

Sins this reveals
Selfish and oppressive power-wielding for your own protection.
Obeying leaders and laws, rulers and rules, that harm others without good reason.


Chapter 2
Main idea
God saves Moses from death on the water using a basket and Pharaoh's daughter.
When grown, he kills an Egpytian who is abusing an Israelite, and has to flee Egypt for it.  He settles in Midian, marries and has a child.  Meanwhile, the oppression of Israel continues in Egypt, and God prepares to act.  He will redeem Israel from Egypt because of His covenant promises to Abraham.

How this is about Jesus
Both Moses and Jesus are saved from Pharaoh/Herod in their infancy.  Moses tried to save Israel with violence at first; Jesus suffers violence to save.  Both spend time in the desert before being ready to do their work.

Sins this reveals
We often sin in trying to deal with sin.
Feeling guilty for not fixing something we cannot fix.  (Maybe not so much a sin, but really unhelpful for us!)


Chapter 3
Main idea
God appears to Moses in the burning bush, informing him that He is sending him to Pharaoh to let Israel go.  But Pharaoh won't listen - it'll take force.

How this is about Jesus
God sends Jesus to a nation that won't listen to Him.  Both are sent though God knows they will be rejected.

Sins this reveals
Lack of courage to speak when you know the audience disagrees or is hostile.
Our sinfulness makes us unable and afraid to look at God.

Vaccines, anxiety, and church involvement

These are unrelated articles I found interesting in the last few days.
They are not meant to go together to make one point.


A baby step to getting involved at church - Kevin DeYoung


Excellent take on the vaccine thing - what is epistemological narcissism?


"Some of us worry so much, we might as well be atheists" - Kevin DeYoung

Matthew 25

Main idea
Be ready, productive and compassionate until the return of the King.

How this is about Jesus
He is the Groom, the rich master, the King on the throne.

Sins this reveals
Lack of vigilance, laziness and lack of compassion.

Matthew 24

Main idea
Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and end of the age, His second coming.  We need to watch and not grow unfaithful until then.

How this is about Jesus
This is the King, telling His subjects: "I'll be back.  Be ready."

Sins this reveals
Apathy when the King is delayed.
Fear at tumultuous events, forgetting who is on the throne.
Fear makes you quickly follow any self-proclaimed savior from troubled times.

2.06.2015

Matthew 23

Main idea
Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for their hypocrisy.  Their priorities are on minor and outward things and parading their own piety.  Their like killed the prophets, and will again in a final conflagration that brings all righteous blood down on them as they kill the only Righteous One.

How this is about Jesus
This is the final rebuke Jesus gives on His own terms in the temple in the last week before His death.  He is prophet, here, declaring the sin of Israel, past, present and future.

Sins this reveals
Worry what others think of our piety.
Getting caught up in minor issues instead of keeping the main things the main things.
Scapegoating people who are speaking the truth, but who do it in a way that hurts or embarrasses.

Genesis 49-50

Chapter 49
Main idea
Jacob prophesies about each of his sons, giving the rule to Judah, since the older three have forfeited it through various gross sins.  Jacob then dies.

How this is about Jesus
He is from the tribe of Judah, called to rule.  The scepter never departs from Judah.  It still hasn't and never will.  He lives forever, unlike all his ancestors who received these promises (Jacob).  They all died in hope.  Jesus' death made the promise come true.

Sins this reveals
Gross sin can have consequences years later, for your legacy and generational heritage.  Grace can redeem such situations, too.


Chapter 50
Main idea
Joseph buries Jacob in Canaan.  His brothers start jockeying for his favor (or cravenly subjecting themselves to him), and he puts a stop to it by publicly forgiving them.  Joseph also asks for burial in Canaan, not Egypt.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus means us good and provides for us and our little ones (vs 21).  As the burial of Jacob and Joseph in Canaan points the rest to God's promises, the cross points us to those promises kept.

Sins this reveals
We fear lack of forgiveness and wrathful reprisal from God in His justice.  We know our guilt and what we deserve.

2.05.2015

The Trinitarian Dance

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 5: Puritans on the Trinity
Pages 90-95

Mutual indwelling
"Among the three persons there is eternal communion and mutual delight" (90).  There is a "community of Deity" in which the Three are a "delight to themselves" (Leigh - 90), and a "society among themselves" (Goodwin - 90).  Proverbs 8:30 says wisdom was with God and a delight to Him daily.  I was surprised they didn't quote John 17:24, that "You [Father] loved Me [Jesus] before the foundation of the world."

Works of God outside Himself are not divisible among the Persons of the Trinity.  Who raised Jesus from the dead?  Father (Rom 4:24), Son (John 2:19; 10:17-18), and Spirit (Rom 8:11)!  There may be distinctions, or operative emphases.  The Father is the source, the Son carries on the work planned, the Spirit completes.  The Incarnation happens to the Son.  But all of God is involved in His every act.

Eternal Generation
There are works of God within Himself that CAN be assigned to specific Persons of the Trinity.  The eternal generation of the Son by the Father is one, and the proceeding of the Spirit from the Father and Son is another.  God the Father has eternally given to the Son the divine essence - see Psalm 2:7; John 5:25-26; 17:5.  This is from eternity into perpetuity, so there never was a time when the Son did not exist.

Genesis 46-48

Chapter 46
Main idea
God repeats His promises to Jacob on their way to Egypt.  Everyone who goes is named.  Joseph coordinates their arrival and situation, and is reunited with his father.

How this is about Jesus
Judah is the pioneer, as Jesus is our firstfruits who takes his whole family, everyone known by name, with Him.

Sins this reveals
Looking before you leap - seizing an apparently great opportunity before setting it before the Lord.
Overlooking the little ones, all named here, to focus on the big picture or on the ones in authority.


Chapter 47
Main idea
Jacob and sons meet Pharaoh.  Jacob deigns to bless Pharaoh, though he knows his days have been evil.  Though Pharaoh has the political power, Jacob has the promises of God to inherit the earth (Romans 4:13; Gen 17:5-6).  For the next 5 years, Joseph deals mercifully with people utterly destitute.  Instead of utterly enslaving them, he lets them keep 80% of their income, though they have mortgaged all their property and their lives to him.  Jacob nears death and reminds the family that their inheritance is not in Egypt.

How this is about Jesus
All the world is utterly dependent on Jesus.  We have total famine without His provision.  He is also kind to us and asks of us less than we owe Him.  He takes a particular interest in His people.

Sins this reveals
We can get comfortable in a foreign land, even in famine.  Used to the ways of those who haven't claimed God's promises of salvation.
We can take advantage of others when they are dependent on us.


Chapter 48
Main idea
Jacob blesses Joseph's sons, the younger over the older, and gives Joseph land instead of his brothers.

How this is about Jesus
The actual blessing in vss 15-16 is that Israel's name be carried on and that his descendants grow into a multitude.  This happens in Christ, who saw His seed and was satisfied (Isa 53).  Jesus is exalted over His brothers to receive the blessing of God.

Sins this reveals
Trying to arrange future generations according to custom or individual expectation, instead of trusting God's providence.

Tri-Une God

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 5: Puritans on the Trinity
Pages 85-90

The rise of Socinian rejection of the Trinity in the 1600s led many puritans to defend the doctrine.

God is one, and each of the three Persons of the Trinity are God.  They are in relative opposition to each other, meaning that the Father is not the Son, etc.  This doesn't wind up in tritheism, just as multiple attributes of God don't give us a non unified God.  "There can be no multiplicity of the divine essence."  Nor of the attributes, say Beeke/Jones.  But not even of the Persons, do they imply?

No.  Distinguish between Persons and essence, they say.  If the divine essence is holy, then all Three Persons are holy.  But it doesn't go the other way.  Just because the Son is incarnate does not mean the divine essence or the other Two are.  We may use these terms of person and essence, though the Bible doesn't, for we are allowed to infer things legitimately from Scripture.

It's interesting that Frame diminishes this distinction, even willing to call God's Triune nature an attribute of His essence.  Many would ask him how he would defend the doctrine of Trinity against the charge of tri-theism.  I think this shows an overemphasis on God's unity at the expense of His plurality.  It shows an unhealthy discomfort with God's plurality, though we are right of course to avoid tri-theism.

God's Dominion and Patience

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 4: Charnock on God's Attributes
Pages 80-84

Gods dominion
He has authority to subdue all His creatures to Himself.  We are always under His moral law, accountable to Him.  He dispenses gifts and reward as He pleases, including exalting His Son, raising kingdoms and bringing them low.  See Daniel 4:3.

God's patience
He is slow to anger.  This is different than His mercy, for it means delay in punishment, not pardon.  It allows for the continuance of mankind and the church.  We see His forbearance justified (how could He not destroy all humanity right away in Eden after the first sin?) at the cross (Rom 3:24-26).  Apart from Christ, God would have no reason to be patient.

The Puritans saw it as a weakness in man to view God according to multiple attributes.  "God's mercy is His goodness; His goodness is His justice..."  This contradicts what I just read in Frame, who says God's attributes are NOT synonymous.  Which is it?  I think it's only a problem to conceive of multiple attributes of God if we assume they are more substantial in themselves as opposed to descriptive of the Person who is God.

God as One and Three

Chapter 20 - God, Three in One

Moving to the Trinity is kind of like going from considering God on the outside, to considering Him from within.  Trinitarian knowledge was not available to Old Testament believers, as it is to us.  There are mysteries here we can't figure out, but also reward as we ponder.  It is in Christ's cross that we get closest to knowledge of Father, Son and Spirit (John 13-17).

God is one, and the bible also says Father, Son and Spirit are each God.

God is one
There is only one God, and He is unique (Deut 6:4; 32:29; Isaiah 44:6-8; 45:5-6).  Because of the first commandment, this isn't just esoteric theology, but practical piety.

What about the Bible speaking of other gods (Ex 15:11; Judges 11:24; 1 Kings 18:27)?
These texts make the point that they are less than God, or they speak ironically or sarcastically.  The whole Bible affirms there is no one else equal to God (Genesis 1:1).

Moltmann is wrong to define monotheism monistically (excluding any idea of plurality).  He seems to do so to reject God as ruler and Lord over all, which rejection is unbiblical.

God is Simple
God is not made up of parts.   His attributes are not parts.  This doesn't rule out all complexity.  There are "distinguishable aspect[s]" of God.  Aquinas was wrong to over emphasize God's unity to the detriment of His plurality.
When God swears by His own holiness, He is not swearing by some part of Him that is less than Him, but by Himself (Heb 6:13).  Without any of His attributes He would cease to be God.  That doesn't mean the attributes are synonymous.  They describe a Person, which is the Biblical way to depict God, and to express the simplicity of God - better than scholastic methods.

God is Three
We can regard God as a plurality, based on Rev 1:4; Gen 1:26; and others.
Some attributes of God are personified things.  The word of God, wisdom of God, name of God and glory of God.  Many of these are incorporated into the Trinity in the NT.
The Spirit and Angel of God are Divine Persons revealed in the OT (Gen 1:2; 16:6-13).  The Angel is sometimes distinguished from God,, but not always.
Frame also sees Messiah in this category, but I can't see that the OT insists that Messiah will be divine.  There are hints in Isa 40:10-11 and Ezek 34:11-16, but Psalm 110, which he references, doesn't prove it conclusively.  To be greater than David doesn't require divinity.

The OT has some triads that hint toward Trinity.
Aaron's blessing is threefold (Num 6:24-26), God is sung to be thrice holy (Isa 6:3), He has a threefold office (Isa 33:22).  God, His Word, and His breath are all mentioned in His creating the world (Ps 33:6).  Messiah says that "God has sent Me and His Spirit" (Isa 48:16).

The NT continues speaking of one God, not adding two more, but sometimes applying Scripture speaking of God to particular Persons of the Trinity.  Trinity doctrine isn't laid out, like justification is, because there was no dispute about it.  It is assumed, since they experience the Incarnation, Resurrection and Pentecost events.  Jesus' Incarnation is by the Spirit, as is His whole ministry.  He speaks of union with Father in the upper room.  He tells us to baptize into the Triune Name.  Jesus ascends to the Father, who gives Him the Spirit to pour out on us (Acts 2:33).  Romans deals with Father, then Son, then Spirit in the first 8 chapters.

Each Person is involved in our salvation and is to be worshipped.

Improving Westminster; Homosexuality; Cover or Confront

Someone hurt you.  Should you cover it in love, or confront it lovingly?

What is the Chief End of Man?  The standard answer can be improved, Mark Jones says.  A valid critique of Westminster!

Pray with your wife, husbands.  Here are a few ways it helps.

Have you heard about Atlanta's fired fire chief?
"Believing what the Christian church has held for two millennia (and most Christians around the world still believe) is now a disqualification from public office."

A Christian with same sex attractions speaks with sense.

2.04.2015

Genesis 43-45

Chapter 43
Main idea
Jacob expects nothing but death as the brothers go to Egypt again, this time with Benjamin.  They operate by strict justice and payment, not realizing the rich mercy they are to receive.  Joseph knows them, to their astonishment.  He is overcome with affection for Benjamin and favors him as his father did, as a test for his brothers.

How this is about Jesus
Judah takes responsibility for Benjamin's safety, instead of offering to harm his sons, as Reuben had.  He begins to mediate to his own harm, as Jesus did for us.

Sins this reveals
Seeing God as a harsh taskmaster, instead of a kind Lord who arranges our lives to show us how we need to change.
Trying to deal with God according to strict merit, instead of receiving kindness from Him.


Chapter 44
Main idea
Joseph puts the final test to the brothers, contriving for Benjamin to be separated from Jacob.  We see now that the real test is whether the brothers care about what they do to Jacob, more than what they do to himself or Benjamin.  Judah intercedes with a 16 verse long speech pleading not to separate father and son for the harm it would do Jacob.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus intercedes for us that we not be separated from God, as Judah intercedes for Benjamin that he not be separated from his father.

Sins this reveals
Apathy in not working hard to keep people in fellowship with God and each other.


Chapter 45
Main idea
Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and sends them home to bring Jacob and their whole family to Egypt where they will have plenty food.

How this is about Jesus
Joseph preaches a proto Gospel to his brothers.  I have provided your salvation, if you will come to me.

Sins this reveals
We would rather cling to justifying our past than get the food we need in Christ.
Once our basic needs are met, we often fall to arguing over lesser things.
Blaming others for past problems (vs 24).

Matthew 22

Main idea
Another parable about how those invited by God to the feast of the Lamb are rejecting it, leads to several hostile questions.  Paying taxes (give Caesar what belongs to him, but to God what belongs to Him).  Resurrection questioned (multiple wives on earth isn't a problem for heaven, since we will be like the angels there).  What is the greatest commandment (love God and neighbor).  After this, Jesus "counter attacks" with a flood of words that goes unanswered.  He starts with identifying the Messiah as David's Lord instead of his son, which hadn't occurred to them, but stares them in the face in Psalm 110.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus is king and prophet, here, applying God's Word to show who He is and that we are rejecting or acknowledging Him.

Sins this may reveal
Arguing with authorities, even God, to get out of obligations.
Trapping people in words to get one over on them.
Mocking revealed truth because we can't understand it fully.

2.03.2015

Genesis 41-42

Chapter 41
Main idea
Pharaoh dreams, Joseph interprets, Pharaoh appoints Joseph over Egypt, Joseph saves up during good times and sells during hard times.  While this feeds Egypt and the world, it also shows the legitimacy of making a modest profit off of the stupidity or short-sighted-ness of people.  This dream interpretation must have been public, announced to Pharaoh at court, so people could save up themselves for hard times.  Joseph prospered Potiphar, then the jail, and now Pharaoh himself.

How this is about Jesus
Joseph functions as a king, here.  Jesus was also appointed over God's house, and feeds the world bread as the result of His diligent labor.

Sins this reveals
The cupbearer who forgot Joseph.
Lack of planning financially for the future, saving up.
Forgetting God in prosperity (Joseph does not - vs 51-52).
Withholding wisdom from others when they need it (Joseph does not!)


Chapter 42
Main idea
Joseph's brothers come for food.  He tests them and discovers Reuben to be faithful.  So he jails the next oldest and puts the screws to them further to bring Benjamin.  This is grace mixed with poetic justice.  He's giving them their money back, and a chance to repent and do things right this time.

How this is about Jesus
Jesus rules as king as Joseph does, here.  He orders things such that we are convicted of sin and have a chance to set things right.

Sins this reveals
Take care of your brother.
Recognize God's reckoning for your sin, and repent.
Be truthful, even though it hurts.

2.02.2015

God's Holiness and Goodness

Section II: Theology Proper (Study of God)
Chapter 4: Charnock on God's Attributes
Pages 75-80

God's holiness is His "perfect... freedom from all evil," says Charnock (76).  God isn't holy because He chooses to be.  He just IS holy.
God punishes sin in the death of Jesus, because in His holiness He abhors sin.  We see God's holiness in the person of Jesus (without sin), as well as in His death.

God's goodness is His being beneficial, beneficent, to His creation.  Some assert that if man had never sinned, God would still have become incarnate.  This can be asserted, as an act of goodness, not mercy, which would not be needed.  God isn't good because He chooses to be.  He just IS good.  Of course, He isn't forced by His nature to be good, or holy; He is so freely.  But neither will He "deny Himself" and decide not to be good one day.  The goodness of God is shown in promising reward to Adam of eternal life in the Garden, which he couldn't have merited by obedience.  It is shown most clearly in Christ - John 3:16.

I appreciate the Christ centered treatment of God's attributes, but wonder if the authors aren't narrowing God's being and character too much.  The cross is central to God's purpose of course, but not exhaustive either.