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Here are links on the subject of Presuppositional apologetics gathered from the World Wide Web between July 1st-7th, 2014.  Which ones did you enjoyed?

1.) Mars Hill: A case for friendship evangelism or antithesis?

2.) Word Faith worldview: An Inexhaustive Internal Critique

3.) Theological Memeology: Infinite Punishment for Finite Crimes

4.) Keep A Record Of God’s Providence In Your Life

5.) The motivation of Frame

6.) Life is but a dream–Great point about the paradox of atheistic materialism being similiar to Idealism and a fading dream!

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Reformation Montana 2014

There’s a conference that sounds very interesting: Reformation Montana.  It was earlier in Mid-June.  The audio recordings of the conference is now available online and they have a good line up of speakers!

Click on the sessions below to hear audio from each speaker.

 Thursday
 
2:00-2:50              Chris Rosebrough 
3:00-350               Justin Peters
4:15-5:00              Sye Ten Bruggencate
6:45-7:45              Justin Peters
8:10-9:00              Chris Rosebrough   

Friday
 
9:00-10:50            Voddie Baucham  
1015-1045            Q&A with Sye Ten Bruggencate
11:00-12:00           Phil Johnson  
2:00-2:50              Voddie Baucham   
3:15-3:50              Q&A with Chris Rosebrough
4:15-5:15              Phil Johnson     
7:00-7:50              Voddie Baucham  
8:10-8:45              Panel Discussion (with all Speakers)  

Saturday

9:00-10:00           Phil Johnson 
10:15-11:15           JD Hall   
1130-12:30           Voddie Baucham  

(SOURCE)

 

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Jonah The Scandalous Love of God Youngblood

Jonah is one of my favorite books in the Bible.  I preached through this book two years ago and I learned a lot from it.  So in picking up this new commentary that just came out, I was looking for a work that can get more insights from the text beyond what previous commentaries have pointed out.  This commentary didn’t disappoint—as a matter of fact, I learned a lot of new things about the book of Jonah as a result of reading this book.  At this time I would say that this commentary tops them all.

The author interacts with other major books and articles on the book of Jonah.  The author did a good job with the introduction which on my Kindle indicates that it made up eighteen percent of the book.  There is a lot that is pack in those eighteen percent!  This is the first volume in a new Old Testament commentary series published by Zondervan and the editor aims to make it not just a typical exegetical commentary but one that engages with the text using the tools of discourse analysis, analysis of literary forms, canonical criticism (specifically, the canonical significance of a passage) and insights from inter-textuality.  This commentary is also immensely rich with exegetical insights one expect from a traditional exegetical commentary such as lexical details and grammatical observations.

What were some of the things that I learned from this commentary?  Since there are too many examples I will stick only to some of the highlights in the first two chapter of the book of Jonah.  One literary device the author noted that I haven’t noticed before in the book of Jonah was the use of suppression of historical and geographical detail as a rhetorical device.  Two years ago when I went through Jonah 1:3 in the Hebrew I was stuck with why there is a third person feminine singular suffix for the word fare when I was thinking of Jonah as the referent (therefore should be third person masculine singular) but the author made a good point that this was referring to the ship and therefore one must not miss that Jonah was so desperate to leave God that he paid for the whole ship’s fare.  The author also made the observation that the Hebrew verb for “go” (boa) is used in the story for opposing the movement of God as oppose to other verbs of motion which serves to imply Jonah’s unrighteous heart whenever the word appears.  Youngblood also noted that the adjective “big” appears in the book twelve times and always with reference to obstacles to Jonah and his wishes.  The author also advanced the latest view that Hesed which is typically translated as “loving kindness” actually does not refer to covenantal love but instead to action and attitude of love beyond the call of duty.  The book also made me change my position concerning the prayer of Jonah in chapter two which I originally believed was a prayer of repentance; but the author Youngblood argues that it’s otherwise and quite conclusively I must say.

Whether one is a season exegete or a new student to Biblical Hebrew, this work will be fun, challenging and informative.  If you are going to go through Jonah in great details you need this work.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Zondervan Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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For Exposition of Jonah Part 8 click HERE

Exposition of Jonah How do you respond to God’s mercy

Jonah 4

(Note: This is a long exposition but I think it’s worth reading)

Establish the need: Are you not sharing your faith with others? Are you not excited to hear someone coming to salvation with God?  Or do you do share your faith—but grudgingly?  In summary: Do you have compassion for evangelism?

Main Point: Explore the three S in Jonah chapter 4, so that you would have the compassion for evangelism.

  • Watch for the Symptoms of the lack of compassion for evangelism (v.1-5)
  • See the Sovereign lesson for compassion in evangelism (v.6-8)
  • Understand the So-Much-More Argument for compassion in evangelism (v.9-11)

Context:Nineveh has just repented from their sins in chapter three where they sought God for mercy.  God was merciful and did not bring about judgment of sin.  This narrative focuses on God’s dealing with Jonah, a transition from God dealing with Nineveh.

 

I. Watch for the Symptoms of the lack of compassion for evangelism (v.1-5)

Passage:But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this [a]what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore [b]in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my [c]life from me, for death is better to me than life.” The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?”Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of [d]it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.”

Proof:

i.      You have anger (v.1)

      1. Nineveh repents from their sins, and Jonah gets angry!
      2. Anger is apparently a big theme because it is mentioned in verse 1, 4, and 9 twice (Kohlenberger, 65).
      3. Verses one parallel earlier 3:9-10; God turning from his calamity (which in the Hebrew is the same word as “evil”), resulted in it being an evil or calamity to Jonah (Kohlenberger, 65).
      4. As soon as God departed from His anger, Jonah picked it up (Kohlenberger, 65).

ii.      Your prayers are short-sighted of God’s mercy (v.2a)

      1. There is the irony that Jonah’s complaint is called a “prayer,” and that this is the same Hebrew word used earlier in 2:1 when God showed mercy to him while now he’s praying to complain about God’s mercy to others (Kohlenberger, 65).
      2. This prayer reveal the problem:  Jonah’s shortsightedness of God’s mercy, as indicated by Jonah’s use of the personal pronoun “I” nine times in this chapter (Kohlenberger, 67).

iii.      You complain of God’s goodness (v.2b)

      1. Only finally in 4:2 do we know of the reason why Jonah fled from God in chapter one in the first place: ““Please Lord, was not this [a]what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore [b]in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish,
      2. For” reveals the reason.
      3. I knew”—This proclamation by Jonah that he knows of Yahweh sparing Nineveh is in contrast to the king of Nineveh in chapter three not knowing that Nineveh will be spared by God.
      4. These attributes of God were known by Jonah from Exodus 32:14!  Yet despite the solid theology, Jonah did not appreciate it for his life and obedience.
      5. The attributes:
        1. gracious

i.      This term is used thirteen times in the Old Testament, always referring to God, with Exodus 22:27 illustrating the meaning of this word which teaches that God will hear the prayer of the one needing his coat back for warmth because He is compassionate (Limburg, 91).

ii.      Favor towards those who are disadvantaged (Youngblood, Location 3086).

iii.      Thus, this term reveals God will act on the basis of compassion and it does not refer to just pity without action.

2. “compassionate

i.      This term is used thirteen times in the Old Testament.

ii.      Always referring to God, and is related to sthe term for “womb” and thus has the idea of motherly love (Limburg, 91).

3. “slow to anger

i.      It is literally a Hebrew idiom meaning “long nostril” and shows that it takes a lot to be angered (Youngblood, Location 3086).

4. “abundant in lovingkindness

i.      This word was previously used in chapter two during Jonah’s prayer, but now is the basis of a complaint.

ii.      It has the idea of strong loyal love as in its use in 1 Samuel 18:1-3 and 1 Samuel 20:14-15 of David and Jonathan’s friendship.

iii.      The use of this term to apply to the situation of God’s response to Nineveh shows that God’s covenantal love is not limited only to Israel, but to those such as the Assyrians as well (Limburg, 92).

5. “and one who relents concerning calamity

iv.      You rather not be around to see God saving someone (v.3)

      1. Apparently Jonah’s reaction to it is so bad he becomes suicidal: “Therefore now, O Lord, please take my [c]life from me, for death is better to me than life.
      2. Irony in that Jonah before in chapter two prayed to God to save his soul now in chapter four asks God to take away his soul!
      3. In light of the parallel of this passage to vocabulary in Exodus 32, there is the ironic contrast between Moses begging God to lay down his life in order for God to pardon Israel (Exodus 32:32) here we see Jonah willingness to lay down his life in begging God to destroy Nineveh (Youngblood, Location 3126).

v.       You ignore God’s convicting question (v.4-5)

      1. God’s response in the form of a question: “The Lord said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” (v.4)
        1. First of three questions in God’s response to Jonah, in which God challenged Jonah by using his own words (Kohlenberger, 67)!
        2. This opens the response from God with a question that summarizes the problem.
      2. Jonah does not even answer God in verse 5, but goes on doing his own thing.
      3. This is the second time Jonah silently walk away from God speaking to Him (Youngblood, 3246).

vi.      You want to see people’s doom (v.5)

      1. Jonah apparently did not answer God’s question but went on to wait for Nineveh’s destruction.  In fact, Jonah was consumed in his concentration of the city as “the city” is mentioned three times in this verse in the Hebrew (Kohlenberger, 68).
      2. and sat east of [d]it”—Jonah came over to Nineveh from the west and kept going east to see the city’s destruction.
      3. Eastward also have a bad connotation of departing for God’s Will in the Bible (Youngblood, 3295):
        1. After the fall Adam and Eve was driven out to the east of the Garden (Genesis 3:24)
        2. After being punished by God, Cain settled in land of Nod described as East of Eden (Genesis 4:16)
      4. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.”
        1. Shelter” some version “booth
        2. This is the same word used to describe temporary shelter in which the Jews lived in the wilderness as instructed by God in Leviticus 23:42-43.
        3. Over in Leviticus 23:42-43, they built it as a rememberance of God’s mercy, here Jonah built it to wait on God’s wrath.

Picture: (Symptoms are signs of our sickness; don’t just address the symptoms without addressing the deeper heart issue); Running nose, and drinking vitamin C can seem almost irrational.

Practice:

i.      We can have good biblical head knowledge; but do we really own up to it and think about it for our every day world?

ii.      Go before God and ask us to reveal these things to us of our problems, and help us change it.

 

II. See the Sovereign lesson for compassion in evangelism (v.6-8)

Point: Sometimes we can have blindspot in our lives we need God to show us with a Sovereign lesson for compassion in evangelism as he is doing here with Jonah.

Passage:So the Lord God appointed a [e]plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was [f]extremely happy about the [g]plant. But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “ Death is better to me than life.”

Proof:

i.      God once again in the book of Jonah shows He is Sovereign, that is, in control with the use of the word“appointed

      1. Shows this was not coincidences (Kohlenberger, 43).
      2. Four times this verb is used in Jonah, three times in this chapter (1:17; 4:6, 7, 8).
      3. Each time with a different name for God, and when used in the case with “Yahweh,” it emphasizes the gracious and beneficial action of God such as here and in 4:7 (Limburg, 60).

ii.      First appointment: A plant for a good shade (4:6)

      1. Use of the name of God: “Lord God

Q: Any significance of these two combination?

A: “God” is used in Jonah when God relates to the Gentiles, while “Yahweh” is used in terms of God relating to Jonah, but it is used as a combination here because God is about to show how He dealt with the gentiles of Nineveh will be the way He deals with Jonah (Kohlenberger, 69).

      1. Plant that provided Jonah shade from the discomfort of the sun!
        1. Like the storm in the sea, God is using the sun from nature to teach Jonah a lesson.
        2. Like the big fish, God is using a big plant to show Jonah grace.
      2. There is a word play going on here where the word “discomfort” in the Hebrew is literally “evil” and God saves him from this “evil” of being overheated though not from Jonah’s own fierce anger yet (Kohlenberger, 69).  Thus, Jonah is also spared from the calamity just as Nineveh faced.
      3. extremely happy about the [g]plant”—In the Hebrew literally is “rejoicing rejoice.”  It is in contrast to verse 1 of Jonah being “displeased with great displeasure” (Youngblood, 3396).

iii.      Second appointment: An attacking worm (4: 7)

      1. Small worm to make a big point.
      2. Use of the name of God: “God

Q: Is there any significance of this noun being “God” as opposed to Yahweh?

A: The aspect of God’s relationship to the Gentiles is in view, thus used here to show the analogy God is illustrating to Jonah of how Jonah would have wanted God to deal with the Gentiles is the same way God will illustrate to Jonah.  The disciplinary side of God is emphasized here with this choice of term (Limburg, 96).

      1. it attacked
        1. A term used for judgment upon those who are disobedient in the Scriptures, such as in Deuteronomy 28:22(Kohlenberger, 71).
        2. God is using the worm’s attack as an analogy of the removal of God’s grace.

iv.      Third appointment: A big hot wind (4: 8a)

      1. When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head
      2. Note what God brings against Jonah:
        1. the sun

i.      It would make things hot!

ii.      “beat down

Second instance of this verb appearing in chapter four, previously with the worm as the subject attacking the plant but now as the sun, which shows the undesirable state Jonah was in with this repetition, showing the flow of God’s judgment against Jonah.

2. “a scorching east wind

i.      These are the worst dry wind that the Middle East faced.

ii.      The wind is dry and any moisture is extracted from the air with fine dust blowing (Kohlenberger, 70).

iii.      Earlier God taught Jonah a lesson in chapter one by wet rainy winds now He is going to instruct Jonah by the opposite means of a dry hot winds (Kohlenberger, 70)!

iv.      The external heat is going to be used by God to teach Jonah a lesson about his own internal “heat” (which anger is a Hebrew derivative of)

v.      Reverse order than that of chapter 2.

          1. Chapter 2: Troubling WindsàAnimalàRescue.
          2. Chapter 4: RescueàAnimalàTroubling Winds.
          3. Contrast:
            1. Chapter 2: At sea, with problems coming from above. Wet wind.
            2. Chapter 4: On land, with problems coming from above.  Dry wind.

vi.      The response:

        1. The phrase “better I die than I live” echoes the same phrase in verse 3 previously after Jonah complained about Nineveh’s repentance, but here is the response to the plant being gone and the dire whether.
        2. Unlike verse 3 where Jonah ask God to die, here Jonah talks to himself since the text is literally “He asked Himself to die…” (Youngblood, Location 3430).
          1. Jonah’s disposition is looking inward while God’s disposition in the book of Jonah has been looking outward (Youngblood, Location 3480).
          2. Jonah really is not pitying the plant but engages in self-pity!
        3. The author wishes the reader to see the parallel between Jonah’s complaint about Nineveh’s repentance with the scenario going on here.

Picture: (Parable of a firefighter who complains that people are saved when he puts our fire with the hose, but saved by another firefighter).  YOU ARE THE PERSON!

Practice:

i.      Repetition of Jonah’s lesson:  Sometimes what we need to learn the most is not something new, but something we already know or should know or think we know.

ii.      Has God changed you with our Jonah series?  Are you meditating on God’s Word even as it’s preached, read, etc?

 

III. Understand the So-Much-More Argument for compassion in evangelism (v.9-11)

Point: If plants are precious to Jonah, how much more the souls in Nineveh!

Passage:Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which [h]came up overnight and perished [i]overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

Proof:

i.      God brings the illustration home in verse 9.

      1. The phrase “Why do good if it burns against you?” (הַהֵיטֵב חָרָה־לְךָ) echoes the same phrase in verse 4 previously after Yahweh addressed Jonah’s complaint about Nineveh’s repentance.
      2. Here it is Yahweh’s response to Jonah’s complaint that the plant being gone and the dire whether.  The author wishes the reader to see the parallel between Jonah’s complaint about Nineveh’s repentance with the scenario going on here.

ii.      Observation of Jonah’s response to the plant (v.10)

iii.      Argument from the lesser to the greater (v.11)

Concerning those “who do not know the difference between their right and left hand,” these probably refer to children (Kohlenberger, 72).

iv.      God’s level of Grace even as He corrected Jonah

      1. The thirty nine word response of God in 4:10-11 balances Jonah’s thirty nine word response in 4:2 (Limburg, 94).  It shows a level of grace of God not lecturing more than He has to even though He could.
      2. The text use of the name Yahweh in verse 9 is to accent on God’s love and concern (Limburg, 97).

Practice:

i.      How are we to respond?

The book ends with a question which obviously should be answered with a “yes,”

Why a question?  Why not show repentance of Jonah? I think it is to provoke us and make us think a little longer with the lesson rather than just see a happy ever after story.  Do you evangelize with compassion if God is compassionate?

 

Conclusion

We might ask how Jonah responded but God does not tell us but instead ends the message with a question of whether or not God will have mercy on Nineveh.

What about you?  Do you see God’s mercy?  How do you respond to God’s mercy through Jesus Christ?

 

NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 10

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camden buceyIf you listen to Reformed Forum Podcast you will be familiar with the name Camden Bucey who is the President of Reformed Forum and currently a Pastor at Hope OPC.  He also has an Master of Divinity and a doctorate in Systematic Theology from Westminster Theological Seminary.

Dr. Bucey has taught a series on Presuppositional apologetics last year.  The audio recording of those messages has been made available on the church website and are reproduced below.  Click on them to download the MP3s.

1.) Introduction to Defending the Faith

2.) Worldviews and Philosophy According to Christ

3.) WHO AND WHAT IS GOD?

4.) Revelation

5.) Who and What is Man?

6.) The Antithesis

7.) Common Grace

8.) Presuppositions

9.) Apologetic Method

10.) Strategies and Tactics

11.) Proof and Evidences

12.) Review and Examples

Enjoy!

Thanks to Jeff Downs for pointing these out to us!

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John Frame's Selected Shorter Writings Volume 1

For those who want to get this book at a discounted price go over to WTS Bookstore online by clicking HERE.

This is a collection of various essays and articles written by John Frame over the years that hasn’t been published, with some being articles on his website and others being shared for the first time.  For anyone who is a fan of Frame this is a great supplement to the many works that Frame has written over the years.  Ideally those who have a little exposure to John Frame’s writings (say a book or two or some journal articles by him) will benefit the most from this book.  John Frame can write very lengthy books so I appreciate the format of shorter essays in this book.  In particular I found the first chapter that serves as a great introduction and summary of his perspectivalism.  This essay is very important in light of how some within the Reformed camp have misunderstood his position as relativism.  If some of his opponents have known about this essay it might have deterred some of the unhelpful criticisms of John Frame out there (or then again it might not).

I also found the various articles in part one of the book that focus on theological method to be a wonderful feast for the mind—in fact it’s probably the best part of the book.  Specifically I enjoyed his discussion about contrast and exegesis, with his call for preachers and theologians to properly extract what exactly the Scripture is saying and then correctly noting what the contrast of the idea is; this is important when we say that the Bible prohibit or refute something and people often err in saying what the Bible is against when in actuality the Scripture didn’t prohibit or contradict it.

In part two of the book on theological meditation I appreciated his review of N.T Wright’s bibliology in which Frame showed how Wright overstretched his rhetoric when he claimed in the subtitle of a recent book that he has gone beyond the “Bible Wars” by offering another alternative.  In reality Wright didn’t really offer anything new and it turns out instead that at times he is unhelpful because he isn’t clear or too ready with the cliché.  At times Wright turns out to be still quite conservative in his view of the Bible despite how he rags on conservatives.  Frame also did a good job of showing Wright’s complaint to move beyond the concept of infallibility is inconsistent with his job of being a Bible historian is still dedicated to defending the historicity of the Bible.

Surprisingly the shortest part of the book was the section on apologetics.  Here I have to level a criticism of Frame’s review of Greg Bahnsen’s Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended.  After going through carefully what Frame has to say, I thought the essay really was not a review of the book but more of a celebration and recollection of Greg Bahnsen the apologist.  Frame criticized Bahnsen for being unfair to Gordon Clark, Carnell and Schaeffer but Frame doesn’t really demonstrate that Bahnsen really was unfair in his critique of these men.  It was more of a comment made in passing rather than actual documentation it was so.

The last section was more personal and had several assorted pieces that reveal more of John Frame the man.  If you are a big fan of Frame you would love this section and Frame is pretty funny.  I recommend this work to those who want to understand more of Frame’s contribution to theology and apologetics and those who want to get every work by Frame.  These two types of readers will benefit most from this book.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

 

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Celebrating Francis Schaeffer 30 years Anniversary

A British Christian organization called Christian Heritage over at Cambridge has featured an event back in May 15th, 2014 celebrating the life of Francis Schaeffer on the 30th Anniversary of Francis Schaeffer’s death.

Here’s a description of the event from the event page:

The 15th May was the 30th anniversary of Francis Schaeffer’s death. To many he was unquestionably one of the twentieth century’s most outstanding evangelical leaders. His influence throughout the church was vast. Had he not ‘buried’ himself in a small mountain village in Switzerland to start a little-known work called L’Abri Fellowship, committed to prayer rather than ‘advertising’, perhaps more would know his name. Was he a prophet? Did his extraordinary authority arise from a quite unique biblical analysis of our culture? Were his warnings and pleas not exactly what were needed?  But was he – for that very reason – not also an uncomfortable prophet? Did his critiques of Evangelicalism not cut too close to the bone? Join us to find out more.

Here are the talks:

Thursday 15 May, 5.45 – 9.00pm

5.45 – 7pm: The Real Schaeffer byAndrew Fellows who is the Director of the English L’Abri Fellowship and Ranald Macaulay, Schaeffer’s son-in-law and founder of Christian Heritage

7.30 – 9pm: Schaeffer’s ‘True Truth’ byDr Os Guinness who is aprolific author and social critic

 

(HT)

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FLYING-HOUSES-14-L-CHEHERE-Dr-PIERRE-jpg_150540

These are Presuppositional apologetics links gathered between June 22nd-30th, 2014.

1.)Peter Boghossian and the Angry New Atheists Refuted part I

2.) The Noetic Effects of Sin and Our Apologetic Response

3.) Expositional (Presuppositional Apologetics) -Shane Kastler

4.) Why I’m Not an Evidentialist: a Response to J Warner Wallace

5.) Treading Through the Tenets: Of Metaphysics and Marriage

6.) The Sufficiency of Scripture: Is God’s Word Enough, Part 6

7.)  Review by James Anderson

8.) Van Tillian apologetics links: Third Week of June 2014 Round up

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facebook logo balloons

Its important to apply our Christian worldview in evaluating how we and others use technology.  While the Bible does not talk about facebook, twitter, IPAD and fast internet, the Bible does talk about the human condition and human condition has not changed: we are still sinners in need of God’s grace.

I saw this earlier this afternoon from Yahoo news of a Study that People Hate Happy Couples on Facebook.  Here’s excerpt from the piece:

On Facebook, the divide between happy couples and everyone else is more complicated than you may have thought.

People who post often about their fulfilling, committed relationships are the least liked on Facebook, according to a survey conducted for a new book titled The Science of Relationships.

In the study, researchers created fake Facebook profiles that included profile pictures with partners, public “in a relationship” statuses, and posts with varying levels of detail about how much they loved or lusted after their significant others. Other profiles offered no sign of a relationship at all.

Then 100 participants were asked to judge the fictional Facebook profiles — first on how committed the people seemed to be to their significant others and second how much they liked the people depicted in the profiles. Though participants overwhelmingly agreed that those who were very vocal about their relationships on Facebook were likely satisfied and committed, it was that same group of people — the relationship oversharers — who were the least liked.

As one of the authors of the study, Haverford Col/5*lege social psychologist Dr. Benjamin Le, put it: “When it comes to relationship disclosure on Facebook, there can be too much of a good thing.”

So, next time you feel the need to congratulate yourself on a 15-year anniversary, or post a relfie (yes, that’s short for “relationship selfie”; I know), consider the consequences. You may be unconditionally loved by your partner, but the digital masses might not share those tender feelings.

I think we can learn some lessons from the above.  I want to approach this issue biblically, theologically and pastorally.

First, we shouldn’t be surprised when people in relationship are happy.  Think of Song of Solomon in the Bible.

Secondly, there’s nothing wrong in of itself of being joyful in a relationship.  This is especially true of Christians equally yoke in a relationship and walking in the Lord.  I do think Christians in relationships that follow God’s principle will seem “happy” (joy in the Lord to be exact).

Thirdly, I think a couple’s “relationship” to their facebook account often reveal a couple’s heart motivation; there is nothing wrong in of itself declaring they are in a relationship or signs of affections between couples.  One should also be concern of the opposite extreme in which a married couple’s facebook does not indicate that they are married or in love with each other at all.  We must ask: what is a couple’s heart motivation in their statuses, pictures and updates?  Sometimes one can have an unhealthy need for attention: their joy, identity and essentially their functional god is their relationship or the guy or girl they are with.  In this situation, the Christian world view calls this idolatry and whatever is one’s functional god (besides the God of the Bible) is sin against God; it will also eventually disappoint the idolater since only the living God can truly satisfy us.

Fourthly, the line between the second point and the third point can be tricky.   The line in the sand might not be clear but that doesn’t mean one can’t spot obvious symptoms: the couples only post about the relationship, they posts things that are well, TMI (too much information), etc.  It is wise to practice routine spiritual introspection of one’s social media’s activity.  This also calls for charity and graciousness among those who have concerns.

Fifthly, I’m surprised at how the Yahoo article addressed ONLY those who are happy in a relationship.  (Who the “you” in the last paragraph is, is very telling).   I think there’s a big elephant in the room that the author forgotten: there’s people out there hating on the couple.  Biblically, what are we to make of people hating happy couples?  Can this hate be jealously?  After all, the people here don’t know who these couples are, but just from appearances they already hate them.  Is this hatred for something these people have?  If this is the case, this jealously is a sin.  It is a sin called coveteousness.  Note one of the Ten Commandments prohibit coveteousness:

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17)

It’s not that facebook itself is sinful; it’s the heart that is.  Stumbling upon a happy couple on one’s facebook feed reveal what’s already in the heart: a desire to have something one doesn’t have.  It’s not just the desire to have something someone else have that’s a sin–after all, it is commendable when we see an example of moral virtue in someone and we work on emulating them in our own lives.  A desire becomes covetousness when we want to have what others have and are willing to sin in our desire to have it (hate, gossip, slander, etc) or we want to have what we are prohibited to have (say, lust over one of the couples).

It’s probably shameful and embarrassing to admit that one is jealous and being covetous.   But the Bible says its important to confess our sins and to confess it to God:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

This cleansing of our righteousness is possible because Jesus Christ died for our sins.  Repent from your sins and trust (have faith) in Him as your Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of your sins.

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It is a sobering question that many Christians dread to hear someone ask: How could a loving God condemn those who have had no opportunity to respond to Christ?  Any Christian who has seriously pondered about his or her faith will sooner or later ask this very question.  How does one reconcile the proclamation made in the Bible that God is love and square that with the reality that there are people who will not go to heaven that might not have had an opportunity to respond?  I think a helpful way to navigate through this difficult issue is to think clearly of the relationship of various doctrines in the Bible pertaining to this issue.

If we are going to reconcile God’s love with people condemned by God we have to begin with why people are condemned in the first place: Sin.  Sin is any violation of God’s laws.  Since God is the Creator, He has the prerogative to require of his creation and specifically Creatures what He wants from them just like a potter can shape a pot the way the potter sees fit.  However as moral creatures humanity as a whole has chosen the path of sin.  Everyone has sinned; the Apostle Paul makes that clear in his epistle to the Roman church said “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Unfortunately the consequences of sin are grave, we read of the condemnation in the first half of Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death,”

It might sound strange but I think it is important to realize that God is a loving God even when he shows judgment against sinners.  He never punishes people beyond what they deserve.  Part of God being a loving God means that He will never falsely accuse people and punish them for things they did not do.  We would not say a court judge is good if he was arbitrarily punishing those before him for things they didn’t do.  Likewise, as paradoxical as it might sound, God’s love even for those who are condemned ensure no injustice would ever occur in His own judgment against sinners.  This of course means that God will judge us according to what we do know and rejected instead of what we are truly ignorant of.  Robert McQuilkin’s comment is helpful for us here:

Judgment is against a person in proportion to his rejection of moral light.  All have sinned; no one is innocent.  Therefore, all stand condemned.  But not all have the same measure of condemnation, for not all have sinned against equal amounts of light” (McQuilkin, 173).

I think it is also helpful to think of the relationship of God’s general revelation of Himself outside of Scripture that is accessible to all.  Paul told the Athenians in Acts 17:27 what the purpose of God’s general revelation in nature and history is: “that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”  It is so that we can respond to it by reaching out to God.  There is in some sense in which General revelation is a “bridge” to special revelation which content is the Bible, Jesus and salvation.  But Romans 1 reveal that as fallen human beings, our sinful inclination is to suppress the truth of God that is revealed all around us, rather than travel the road to further truth: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).  Note Romans 1:20 mentioned that we ought to know God even to the extent of His divine nature and power.  It suggests that humanity’s ignorance of God is a culpable ignorance in the same way that we ought to know the speed limit of the road we are driving.  Unfortunately because man suppresses the truth of General revelation this doesn’t help man come to know Jesus as Savior (apart from the Grace of God).

In closing I think it’s important to think more clearly concerning the relation of Jesus as Savior (which is a clear and concrete example of God’s love) versus mankind getting into sin and thus standing condemned.  We must not think that the problem lies with God providing salvation.  Salvation is due to His mercy and grace in the first place.  The problem is with man’s sin.  If I could use the traffic violation analogy from above, we cannot be focused on why some did not have the opportunity for traffic school when it is our traffic violations that makes us stand condemned before the traffic court in the first place.

 

Mentioned: McQuilkin, Robertson. 2009. Lost. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., 170-17

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Are you looking for some memes when you teach to use in illustrating the method of Presuppositional apologetics?  Or just looking for something funny and you are into Reformed apologetics?

Over our facebook page we have an album dedicated to Presuppositional apologetics.  Check it out by clicking HERE.

And while you’re on facebook be sure to like it to keep up with our blog and have daily John Frame quotes on your newsfeed.

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For this post, we will be covering Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

  • He is before all things“:
    • Question: Is this statement referring to God’s supreme dignity or His pre-existence?
      • Answer: The author is referring not only to His dignity, but also to his pre-existence.  Since He is before all things, Jesus Christ is also before time.
    • “He” is in the emphatic position
      • Nothing is before all things, but God alone.  Only one who is eternal can be before all things.
      • John 17:5, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
      • John 8:58-59, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.”
      • There is no way one can ignore the pre-existence of Christ.  You can’t just point to his pre-eminence and not include His pre-existence.
  • And in Him all things hold together“:
    • “In Him”:  This is conditional, meaning that life’s existence is dependent upon God.
    • According to the tense of the verb “together,” what He holds by His sustaining power, is still sustained by Christ now; and nothing can remove itself or act on its own will.
    • God is not only the Creator & Founder, but He is also the Preserver of all things.  If Christ, ceased to preserve you, your breathe would be sucked out from your soul and you would return back to the dust where you belong (Job 34:14-15; cf. Ps. 104:29).
    • Other verses to consider:
      • Isa 41:4, “Who has performed and accomplished it,
        Calling forth the generations from the beginning?
        ‘I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’”
      • Re 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
      • Acts 17:28, “For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’”
      • Hebrews 1:3, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
        • The word “upholds” is purposeful.  The verb “upholds” is in the present, active, participle.  That implies that God continues to uphold all things.
        • Implication: Give glory to Him because without Him you are nothing.  You are small before the eye of your Creator.  The fact that we live is a sign of God’s grace and mercy.
    • Colossians 1:17 points not only to the eternality of God, but also to the providence of our eternal God.  In His providence, we see His preservation, concurrence, and His government.  I like how Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology book defines all three words.  For example, for preservation, he says, “God keeps all created things existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them” (316).  For concurrence, he states, “God cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do” (317).  As for Government, He states, “God has a purpose in all that he does in the world and he providentially governs or directs all things in order that they accomplish his purposes” (331). For our next installment, my goal is to go into a little more into depth concerning how the eternal God functions in the area called providence.  I don’t mean to go beyond the scope of our series on Christology called, “Deity and Eternality,” but since notions of providence is attached to Colossians 1:17, I think it will be beneficial to tackle it.  This is a great verse to use in evangelism.  The sinner needs to know how small he is and how great God is in his little world.

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Christianity and the Role of Philosophy by K. Scott Oliphint

(NOTE: For videos and my reviews of other booklets in this series click HERE)

Like other books in this series (Christian Answers to Hard Questions) I look to this book as a resource for discipleship to introduce to a believer concerning the Christian worldview and apologetics.  This particular work is foundational to the other work since it touches on the relationship between Christianity and philosophy.  The author Scott Oliphint is more than capable to address this topic, having written on this topic and teaching it for several decades at Westminster Theological Seminary.  I appreciated that the author is coming from a Van Tillian approach towards apologetics.

The book begins with a brief discussion of what are the three broad categories of philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology and ethics).  Readers familiar with philosophy wouldn’t find anything new in the introduction of the book but Oliphint later gave a good compact summary of a distinctively Christian view of these three branch of philosophy with the metaphysical question of what is the ultimate nature of reality being the Triune God, the epistemological question of how do we know is because God has revealed it and the ethical question of what is right and wrong being based upon what God says is right and wrong.

Oliphint gave a good analogy of the GPS as God’s revelation that tells where we are at, where we should be going, etc, and how without the “view from above” of where one is at we are lost.  This analogy is a helpful guide for later discussions in the book and makes his point easier to grasp.

I appreciated the book laying out the four possible ways people have seen the relationship of Christianity with philosophy.  Of course one’s view of the relationship between the two discipline will be shaped by one’s definition of the respective discipline which will set (or we can even say, “rig”) the answer already at the get go; yet Oliphint manages to push the discussion forward by asking the question of what is the foundation for theology and philosophy.  Oliphint then articulate the Reformed position and the reason for why Christians are obligated to believe theology govern philosophy if one holds to a high view of Scripture.  He concluded the book by sharing and expounding on Francis Turretin’s four good uses of philosophy by theology followed by four errors in the use of philosophy by theology.

In the end I would say this is a good book ideal for discipleship and also for a believer who have no idea what philosophy is to read on his own as a place to start.  It might be too basic for some though.  Like other books in the series there are “Before We Move On” questions for interactive conversations or personal reflection.

You can purchase the booklet at a discounted price from Westminster Bookstore by clicking HERE.

 

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GO TO PART 22

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Point: What do you do in a conversation when someone raise the objection that they find it repulsive that Christians believe Christianity is the Only Way?  What do you do when people don’t like how narrow it sounds when Jesus said ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6)?

Picture: Space does not permit me to deal with all the presuppositions behind the various form of objections against the exclusivity of Christianity but I do want to tackle one major undercurrent which asssumes that such an exclusiveness of Christianity is mean-spirited and not nice.  Think of the following scenario that puts the objection in perspective: A high rise apartment caught fire one night and a man living in one of the upper floor is stuck in his bedroom with no way out.  Fire is all around him and certain doom appears to be his fate.  But one courageous firefighter went up on a latter to rescue him.  No one would say the firefighter is mean to have provided only one way for the man to be rescued because there was no way out beforehand.  Furthermore the firefighter has put his life on the line to make sure there is at least one way out of the inferno.  As an analogy to spiritual truths, Jesus came on earth with the mission of saving sinners.  He didn’t just risked His life but GAVE HIS LIFE in order to save us by dying on the cross for our sins.

POSSIBLE SCENARIO FOR EMPLOYING THIS ILLUSTRATION DURING APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM

OPPONENT: I can’t believe in Christianity because of the fact that Christianity proclaim that there is only one way to heaven.

CHRISTIAN: I see.  Are you aware that this isn’t just mere Christian opinion but the teaching of the Bible itself?

OPPONENT: Yes.

CHRISTIAN: I just wanted you to be aware and realize that it’s not just Christians thinking they are right, just because they happen to believe in Christianity.  Have you heard of John 14:6 before?

OPPONENT: Not sure.

CHRISTIAN: It says “Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

OPPONENT: Uh, okay…there you go…

CHRISTIAN: I brought that up so that you hear it from God’s Word itself.  Now…

OPPONENT: That is so mean!  Why only one way?  Why not many ways to God and heaven?

CHRISTIAN: I think we need to have a little perspective here.  Allow me to give the following illustration [Insert analogy].  Now then, imagine you are the person who is stuck in the room with the fire at this very moment.  Would you complain to the firefighter who reaches up to you in a latter that he’s only provided one way?

OPPONENT: Of course not.

CHRISTIAN: That’s what I figured.

 

GO TO PART 24

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Meriam Ibrahim Prayer

The world has been hearing a lot of the Sudanese wife and mother Meriam Ibrahim who married an American Sudanese man and became a Christian.  The development in the news have been a roller coaster.

Because she became a Christian, the Sudanese government arrested her and found her guilty for her faith in Christ.  She was sentenced to be executed but since she was pregnant it was scheduled for a time after she gave birth.  Then there was the fake news that she was released followed by silence.  It turned out to be inaccurate.  It was then on the news that she was freed.  According to the BBC yesterday when Meriam and her family tried to escape to another country at the capital’s airport, her whole family was detained.

Let us pray for her and her family and also for the Persecuted Church in Sudan.

I think we should go beyond praying and action as well.  We need to get the pressure on the Sudanese Government to let them go, and also get others involved as well.

1.) Contacting the Sudanese Government

It is important to remember that Sudan is different than Southern Sudan (don’t make the confusion of finding contact for South Sudan, a separate government and country at this time).

I think in the great of the world wide web to contact the Sudanese Government globally multiple times even outside of the contact of the Sudanese Government in your country.  Let them know how you feel very strongly about it.

Regular Contacts

Here is the information to the Sudanese Embassy in the United States:

Embassy Of The Republic Of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Ave
Washington DC,20008,
Ph: 202.338.8565
Fax: 202.667.2406

You can contact them on their page via an electronic message HERE.

Here is the information to the Sudanese Embassy in the United Kingdom:

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan3 Cleveland RowSt. JamesSW1A 1DDLondon

Email: info@sudan-embassy.co.uk

Phone: 020 7839 8080

Fax: 020 7839 7560

You can contact them on their page via an electronic message HERE.

Social Media Contact

What happens in social media today can often spill into mainstream news; we must take advantage of it and our effort can often “snowball” when others see it and get involved.

Unfortunately the social media presence of the Sudanese Government are not confirmed but it doesn’t hurt to try.  Send them a tweet.

Here is the twitter account to the Sudanese Embassy in Bahrain.

Here is the twitter account to the Sudanese Embassy in the US.

Here is the twitter account to the Sudanese Embassy in the UK.

2.) Contacting Western Government

Maybe a bit more unconventional but it might be wise to contact western government’s embassy as well for their staff to directly know how we feel about this.

Here is the information to the US government in Sudan:

U.S. Embassy Khartoum
P.O. Box 699
Kilo 10, Soba
Khartoum, Sudan

Switch Board:

  • International: (249)(187)-0-(22000)
  • Within Sudan (187)-0-(22000)

Here is the twitter account to the US Embassy in Sudan.

Here is the information to the UK government in Sudan:

British Embassy
off Sharia Al Baladia
Khartoum East
Khartoum
(PO Box No 801)
Sudan

Telephone+249 (0)156 775500

Fax+249 (0)156 775501

Here is the information to the Swedish government in Sudan:

House 70, Street 43,
Khartoum 2, Khartoum

Postal address

Embassy of Sweden
P.O. Box 2206
Khartoum
Sudan

Phone, fax, email:

Tel: +249 187 188 700
E-mail:

Here is the twitter account to the Swedish Embassy in Sudan.

Here is the information to the Irish Consulate in Sudan:

c/o DAL Group HQ
No. 1, 5 East Khartoum II
P.O. Box: 1840
11111
Khartoum
Sudan
Phone+249-1551-17886
Fax+249-1854-44847
Emailireland.consulate.krt@gmail.com

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