Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category


James White

Found this on Youtube of Dr. James White’s Dividing Line on the topic of apologetics’ methodology.  Specifically Dr. White advances Reformed apologetics, also known as Presuppositional apologetics versus non-Presuppositional apologetics methodology.

It is three hours long:

Dr. White’s presentation is trying to show how theology matters–even in apologetics.  I appreciate his look at one of William Lane Craig’s debate and contrast that of Greg Bahnsen vs. Stein debate.

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For Exposition of Jonah Part 9 click HERE


Selected Scriptures

Establish the need: When you read a book in the Bible do you think of how it fits with the rest of Bible?  Does other books in the Bible fill in more details about Jonah itself, and something important in our lives as a result of it?

We will look at how Jonah relates to the rest of the Bible, and bring out four lessons for our lives today as a result of it.

 (1) A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is be careful of using God’s truth in the wrong way (Exodus 34:6-7; Jonah 4:2)

 (2) A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is realize Nineveh really repented and so should we (Matthew 12:38-41)

 (3) A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is to realize that we need to respond to one’s greater than Jonah that’s here (Matthew 12:41b; Matthew 8:23-27)

 I. A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is be careful of using God’s truth in the wrong way (Exodus 34:6-7; Jonah 4:2)

Point: Jonah knew His Bible well..but did not use these truths to do the right thing but do the wrong thing instead.


i.      “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.”(Jonah 4:2)

ii.      “Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and [a]truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” (Exodus 34:6-7)


i.      How did Jonah know these five attributes about God?

      1. Experienced it in being spared himself in Jonah 2.
      2. But note that Jonah in 4:2 is a complaint that Jonah had about God before Jonah 2, when he was back home.
      3. Q: How did Jonah know that God was all these things?

A: Exodus 34:6-7.

ii.      Four attributes of God are mentioned in Exodus 34:6-7.

iii.      Last one, “one who relents concerning calamity” is derived from the context of Exodus 34:6-7 earlier in Exodus 33 of Israel’s sin bringing calamity (v. 1-3), Moses petition (v.12-23) and favor shown (Exodus 34:1-5).


i.      Watch out for these things

      1. Do you get angry with someone but then use something else (theological excuse) to cover it up?
      2. (Divorce passage in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 and how people can make their spouse life so miserable that they want to divorce them)
      3. You just use theology to say you are better than someone.
      4. You don’t want to share the gospel to someone so that they can go to hell.
      5. Say “obey me” because I have power for power sake.

ii.      Guard yourself from doing this by:

      1. Being accountable to others.
      2. Also, study more of the Bible’s context and larger context.


II. A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is realize Nineveh really repented and so should we (Matthew 12:38-41)

Point: Don’t just think about Nineveh: Think about yourself and your soul if you have not trusted in Jesus Christ yet.

Passage: “38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a [ak]sign from You.” 39 But He answered and said to them, “ An evil and adulterous generation craves for a [al]sign; and yet no [am]sign will be given to it but the [an]sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41  The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”(Matthew 12:38-41)


i.      Have you been hearing this series on Jonah just for intellectual knowledge?  Well Jesus makes it very personal and applied it to his hearers.

ii.      The scribes and Phariees asked for a sign (v.38), but recall earlier they are suppressing the evidence even to the point of saying He’s satanic (Matthew 12:22-24)

iii.      Thus Jesus’ response with condemnation in v.39.

iv.      Jesus’ sign was prophecy (v.40).

v.      Jesus revealed that Nineveh repented and brought up the fact that that generation will condemn the current generation.

vi.      Jesus is even greater and we need to respond appropriately!


i.      What have you done with Jesus in your life?

ii.      Will you those that Nineveh condemn also as well for not repenting and turning to Jesus?


III. A lesson for us in seeing Jonah as it relates to the rest of the Bible is to realize that we need to respond to one’s greater than Jonah that’s here (Matthew 12:41b; Matthew 8:23-27)

Point: We often read our Bible and make heroes into the character we read about.  I think Jonah it’s hard to do that.  Moreover I think Jonah points to Jesus—in a negative contrast kind of way.


i.      41  The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”(Matthew 12:41)

ii.      “When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And behold, there arose [a]a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. 25 And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “ Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” 26 He *said to them, “Why are you [b]afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and [c]it became perfectly calm. 27 The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”(Matthew 8:23-27)


i.      Note end of Matthew 12:41, “; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

      1. Of course, this is a reference to Jesus.
      2. Of course to the Scribes and Pharisees they do not believe it.
      3. But for Jesus’ disciples these words must have meant something and probably echo an earlier event before we see what is going on here: Matthew 8:23-27.

ii.      The parallel with Jonah and Jesus:

      1. Both episodes involve a man of God.
      2. Both episodes involve being in a vessel: “When He got into the boat” (Matthew 8:23a)
      3. Both episodes involve a vessel sailing the opposite direction (Youngblood, Location 1724).
      4. Both episodes involve a man of God that has others being in the vessel with him as well: “His disciples followed Him.” (Matthew 8:23b)
      5. Both episodes involves being at sea. “on the sea” (Matthew 8:24a)
      6. Both episodes involve a “big storm”: “And behold, there arose [a]a great storm on the sea,” (Matthew 8:24a)
      7. Both episodes involve the vessel being threatened: “so that the boat was being covered with the waves,” (Matthew 8:24b)
      8. Both episodes involve the man of God sleeping during the storm: “but Jesus Himself was asleep.” (Matthew 8:24c)
      9. Both episodes involve the man of God being waken up: “but Jesus Himself was asleep.” (Matthew 8:25)
      10. Both episodes involve terrified men: “And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “ Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” (Matthew 8:25)
      11. Both episodes involve the storm miraculously stopped: “He *said to them, “Why are you [b]afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and [c]it became perfectly calm.” (Matthew 8:26)
      12. Both episodes involve the response of fear and awe: “The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:27)

iii.      But what is the differences between Jesus and Jonah?  A Great difference!


i.      Do you respond in awe of God?

ii.      Does your life of holiness reflect it?

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For last week’s post, please see: Christology: Deity and Eternality, Part 7

In His providence (refers to the active implementation of God’s plan on earth so that his purposes would be realized).  His works of providence is holy, wise, and powerful in preserving and governing all His creatures and all their actions (John Frame, Systematic Theology, 141).

In His providence, we are able to see at least a few major areas that are flushed out: preservation/sustenance, concurrence, and His government.  I will also add God’s providence seen via His Word.  For a short recap, preservation/sustenance is the idea of God maintaining order.  Concurrence is the notion that God is involved in every action that takes place.  Concurrence has the focus of God’s presence with His creatures. As for government seen via providence, this points to the manner in which God directs creation to a purpose/end.  What is God’s purpose?  Well Scripture speaks in many occasions, that His purpose is to glorify Himself, defeat evil, and to redeem His people so that they may have eternal life (Frame, 173).  The governance of God presents to us the final consummation concerning God’s promise (Frame, 173).  A major thrust concerning the providence of God via His government can be seen through eschatology.  Eschatology will motivate Christians to live for His glory because we know that He will one day return for His people.  In God’s government, He has a way and manner in how the order of events is to take place.  And how He ordains it, is holy and wise.  His glory is grand in this area.

Questions arise: “How does God work His will in this world?”  “Is nature responsible for everything that happens?”  How is God’s providence to be understood in light of miracles, mundane things, disease, natural disasters, evil?  I hope that covering providence will help tackle some of these questions.  If not, I hope that will at least spark more interest for you in studying this important topic.

  • Preservation (Frame, 174-179):
    • [Explanation]:
      • Since God directed the creation towards his intended goal (government), He also preserves His creation’s existence.
      • Preservation is an aspect of God’s governance of the world; and His governance is an expression of His lordship.  Since we are dealing with Colossians, the eternal Son of God is not distant from creation.  He is involved.
      • There appears to be four aspects of God’s preservation:
        • Metaphysical: This is God’s act to keep the universe in being (Col. 1:17b).  Without God, there would be no world.  There would be no life.
        • Redemptive-historical: This is God’s temporary preservation of the world from His holy and final judgment.
          • Example: Adam and Eve should of died immediately, but they did not because of God’s grace Gen. 2:17).  He even preserved their descendants (Gen. 3:16)
          • Example of redemptive-historical preservation being cut-off: The Flood (Gen. 6-9)
          • Example of redemptive-historical preservation returning: God said He will be patient (Gen. 8:21-22)
          • Implication: Paul knew ultimately that God’s patience will run out soon.  As a result, he was eager to preach the Gospel at Lystra (Acts 14:17), Athens (Acts 17:25-28), and elsewhere.  We should be motivated like Paul, because God’s preservation of sinful humanity will end one day.
        • Covenant preservation: God will stand with His people.
          • Gen. 45:5; Ex. 20:12; Deut. 6:12, 24; Josh. 24:17; Ps 16:1; 31:23; 37:28; 66:9
          • God is our refuge (Deut. Deut. 33:27; Ps. 9:9; 14:6)
          • God’s preservation of His people does not always mean that tribulation or persecution is non-existent, but it does mean that our soul will not see decay (Ps. 16:10).  He will carry us through.
        • Eternal providence: Our soul is safe in Him
          • John 5:25,  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
          • John 10:27-20, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
            • This passage is also used in support of perseverance of the saints.  It must be clear, that not all who profess God’s Word is saved (John 8:31-59).  Not all are genuine.
            • The Bible says that there will be apostates. Judas Iscariot is one prime example.  As an apostate, he also cast out demons and healed the sick.
            • There are also serious warnings concerning apostasy: Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-30; 1 John 2:19.
    • [More Verses]:
      • Neh. 9:6, “You alone are the Lord.
        You have made the heavens,
        The heaven of heavens with all their host,
        The earth and all that is on it,
        The seas and all that is in them.
        You give life to all of them
        And the heavenly host bows down before You.”
      • Col. 1:17, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
      • Heb. 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.”
  • Concurrence (Frame, 180-182)
    • [Explanation]: Focuses on His presence with His creatures.  Concurrence also takes into account the divine primary and secondary causes of all events in this world–whether bad or good.  Yes, He is the cause of all things, but is not culpable for sin.  He has a grand purpose for good and evil.
      • In contrast, the Jesuits, Socinians, and Remonstransts, believe that God  determines all things, but not the specific actions that His creatures performs.  Their theory fits wells  with the libertarian view of free-will, which I believe is inadequate in explaining the topic of evil.
      • Please see Job 38-42, Romans 9, and Habakkuk to help one develop a biblically centered view on evil.
      • For more on this topic, please see SLIMJIM’s book review:http://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/review-the-grand-demonstration-by-jay-adams/
  • Government (Frame, 173)
    • [Explanation]: This points to the manner in which God directs creation to a purpose/end.
      • In light of Christ’s return, we are motivated to fight sin by the grace of God:
        • Col. 3:1-4Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
      • In light of His return, our priorities must be in order and different from the world:
        • 2 Peter 3:11, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.”
        • Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
      • In light of Christ’s imminent return, we need to be eager now, not later.  We need to ready to meet Him:
        • 2 Peter 3:12, “Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”
        • 1 John 3:3, “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
          • Be fixed on Him now!  Have undistracted devotion (cf. 1 Cor. 7:35, “This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.”)
        • 1 Thess. 5:1-10
        • 1 Peter 1:7, “So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
        • 2 Peter 3:14, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace,spotless and blameless.”
      • In light of Christ’s return, we know that our labors are not in vain.
        • 1 Cor. 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
      • In light of Christ’s return, we know that the pains and affliction of this world is only temporary:
        • Luke 21:28, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
      • In light of Christ’s return, we should labor because God will reward His people.  Obviously, we know we do it primarily for God’s glory, but there is a myriad of verses that points to God rewarding His people.  This is part of His governance.  It is not unseemly to consider them.
        • Ps. 19:11, “Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.”
        • Matt. 5:12, 46, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”
        • Matt. 6:1, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
        • Matt. 10:41-42,He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.42 And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”
        • Rom. 14:10, “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
        • 1 Cor. 3:8-15Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
        • 1 Cor. 9:17-18, 25, “For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.” 25  “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
        • 2 Cor. 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
        • Col. 3:23-25, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.”
        • 2 Tim. 4:8, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
        • James 1:12, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
        • 1 Peter 5:4, “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
        • 2 John 8, “Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.”
  • Revelation (Frame, 173)
    • [Explanation]: The providence of God seen via His revelation demonstrates His authority.  This is seen in His Word.
      • Ps. 147:15-20, “He sends forth His command to the earth;
        His word runs very swiftly.
        16 He gives snow like wool;
        He scatters the frost like ashes.
        17 He casts forth His ice as fragments;
        Who can stand before His cold?
        18 He sends forth His word and melts them;
        He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
        19 He declares His words to Jacob,
        His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.
        20 He has not dealt thus with any nation;
        And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
        Praise the Lord!
      • Providence reveals the wisdom of God, which is closely related to Scripture (authority)
        • Ps. 104; Prov. 8:22, 36)
      • Providence via His revelation demonstrates His Lordship
      • His authority seen in His revelation shows His wrath against Sin (Rom. 1:18), reveals His eternal power and divine nature (v. 20),  His decree (v. 32), etc.
      • Because of His providence seen in His Scriptural authority, people should not worship men (Acts 14:14-17) or idols (Rom. 1:23), or engage in sexual immorality (Rom. 1:2427).

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Point:  Practitioners of Presuppositional apologetics will no doubt notice that an atheist’s argument often ends up destroying so many other necessary things in life and rationality in their attempt to dismiss the existence of God.  This needs to be pointed out and yet in past experience, the significance of this is missed.  The following analogy might help to get the point across of what is happening.  It’s like someone trying to burn down their house–to kill something that is supposedly minor, like a spider.

Picture: On the news there is this story:

A Kansas woman was arrested after police said she went to extremes trying to kill a spider.

Ginny M. Griffith, 34, told officers in Hutchinson she set a pile of towels on fire at about 1:30 a.m. Friday in hopes of catching the spider and burning it to death, the Hutchinson News reported.

While it’s not clear if she ever caught the arachnid, the fire department did have to intervene.

Crews managed to put out the blaze without injury. The building suffered only light smoke damage.

Griffith, however, has been charged with aggravated arson. The other side of the duplex she lives in was occupied at the time, police said.


CHRISTIAN: Have you realized that in the last hour of our conversation, your atheism posed more problem than it solved?


CHRISTIAN: You ended up advocating self-refuting positions: laws of logic without law-like attributes, truth is all relative, ethical subjectivism while saying Christianity is morally wrong, etc.  That’s a problem.

OPPONENT: But I don’t see why that’s problematic.

CHRISTIAN: I’ve explained throughout our conversation how it destroys your foundation for life and even for this very debate!  I suppose an analogy might be appropriate.  There’s this story I heard the other day…<Insert analogy>.

OPPONENT: That’s funny.

CHRISTIAN: Certainly she has problem with the spider.  But do you think in the end she has created more problem than she solved in trying to get rid of the Spider?

OPPONENT: Of course!

CHRISTIAN: That’s the same thing you are doing!


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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.

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   

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)  


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



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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.”


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.


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.”


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!


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?”


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).


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?



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


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


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



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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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