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Archive for May, 2009

Without revealing any spoilers, I’d like to point out some biblical parallels with episode 110 of Naruto Shippuuden. I am not saying Shippuuden teaches biblical principles because Naruto has its own religious principles that conflict with Christianity.  However, its my hope that this episode can be used as an illustration, contrasting a godly grief with a worldly grief.

Guren on the right and Yuukimaru on the left.

Guren on the right and Yuukimaru on the left.

In Naruto Shippuuden 110,  Guren says, “I fully realize that no matter how much I may regret it, no matter how many times I say I’m sorry, nothing will ever erase what I did.”

Firstly, Guren acknowledges that feeling sorrow, or grief will not erase her sins. Guren’s quote follows after a biblical principal: Although the believer and non-believer both have sorrow,  sorrow in of itself does not erase wrong-doing.

Biblical Principle: All Grief is Not Created Equal

Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians 7:10, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas world grief produces death.”

The difference between the two types of grief are what the grief produces: One produces death, the other produces repentance that leads to salvation without regret.

What Repentance Isn’t (Keeping the Law)

Worldly grief lacks repentance that leads to salvation, not just stopping sin. Paul is not simply saying to stop sinning. Paul says that the repentance must lead to salvation with no regret. In other words, a non-believer cannot repent by obeying the law! Why? Because keeping the law is impossible.

Jesus says:

“Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
– Matthew 5:20

There was no one that tried harder than the Pharisees to keep the whole law.

However, keeping the whole law is impossible! James writes:

“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery’, also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.”
– James 2:10-11

James argues that if your want to keep the law than you must keep the whole law. Therefore, if a person already has failed in one point, he has failed in keeping all of them!

Based on what both Jesus and James said, we know that a repentance leading to salvation is not just keeping the law since failing one means we’ve failed them all.

Repentance Leading to Salvation

In order to repent with a repentance leading to salvation we first must confess our sins:

“If we we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
– 1 John 1:9

Second, we must do it by faith in Jesus Christ:

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
– Romans 3:21-25

A Salvation with No Regrets

Lastly, Paul specifies that godly grief produces a repentance that leads to Salvation with no regrets. There is only one reason why we can have no regrets: Being justified by faith. Paul writes:

“Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– Romans 5:1

A righteousness by faith produces peace with God. The righteousness by faith reconciles us to God (Romans 5:11), producing peace.

To receive salvation from God, Guren must have faith in Christ propitiation for her sins (propitiation means satisfying of God’s wrath or judgment for our sins). Do you have a faith leading to salvation and forgiveness of your sins? Guren took the first step, confessing her sins, and admitting the uselessness of only feeling sorry for her sins. Can you?

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INTRODUCTION

To begin with, it is this author’s perspective that when wronged by others, Christian must forgive the other person in light of Christ work on the cross.  That is, when presented with a situation where a believer has been violated, the individual in this case must no longer hold PERSONALLY the wrong against the wrong doer.  It must be clarified that holding this position does NOT mean the wrong doer has gotten off “scotch free” so to speak.  God in the end is the ultimate Judge (cf. Revelation 20:11-12).

CONDITIONAL VERSE PROOF TEXT

A verse that is used for conditions not to forgive is Luke 17:3:

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. (Luke 17:3)

The main hinge being the portion “If he repents, forgive him”. The form of this claim being:

IF A, THEN B.

A: HE REPENTS

B: FORGIVE HIM

And the argument goes on with if he does not repent, do not forgive him. The logical form being:

IF A, THEN B.

NOT A.

THEREFORE, NOT B.

A: HE REPENTS

B: FORGIVE HIM

The question this author wants to note is: what form of argument is being built from Luke 17:3 for conditional forgiveness?  And more importantly, is this form of argument valid?

The above logic form of argument of course commits a logical fallacy of denying the antecedent.  It is invalid.

The only two valid form would be as follows (the INDIRECT AND DIRECT FORM) but it would not support conditional forgiveness:

IF A, THEN B.

NOT B.

THEREFORE, NOT A.

And

IF A, THEN B.

A.

THEREFORE, B.

A: HE REPENTS

B: FORGIVE HIM

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TOTAL DEPRAVITY AND THE IMPLICATION FOR APOLOGETICS

Introduction

It might seem counter-intuitive that one’s theology should direct and inform one’s apologetics (defense of the faith).  For decades, Cornelius Van Til, the professor of Christian Apologetics at Westminster Seminary, has been calling for other Christian apologists to have theology drive their apologetics, rather than the other way around.  As a result of Van Til’s ministry, a school of apologetics called Presuppositionalism was formed, with one of its chief tenets being that Biblically based theology should dictate the goals and method of Christian apologetics.

Why does theology matter in apologetics?  A good example of the importance of theology to the field of apologetics can be found by looking at what the Scripture teaches concerning sin, and its implication in the believer’s task of apologetics.  Since the endeavor in defending the faith require the rational faculty of the mind, this paper will begin with a discussion of key terminology found in the Scriptures which captures this aspect of man.  This is followed by an assessment of several Biblical passages that shed some light as to the devastating effect of sin on the nature of man’s faculties (reasoning, volition, etc), which apologists typically appeal to.  Then a summary of the ramification of man’s total depravity is stated, and a conclusion is given of the necessity of the Gospel and the Word of God in addressing the problem that total depravity presents in the work of apologetics.

Key Terminology in Scripture

For the Christians who are interested in the rational defense of Christianity within a Biblical framework, the first question to be asked is whether or not the Bible has anything to say about man’s rational aspect.  This is a reasonable question, for if the Scripture does address man’s reasoning ability, the Christian apologist engaging in reasoning must come to grip with what God has to say about the matter.  Identifying key terminology concerning man’s rational aspect in the Bible has two critical importance in this paper: (1) it demonstrates that man does has a rational aspect to him and (2) these terms are the tag indicators for any observer to recognize when Scripture has something to say about man’s rational capacity.

Confirming that man does have a rational faculty, “the Old Testament Scriptures are clear that there is a nephesh in man that transcends the life principle and to which is attributed reason, emotion, will and worship” (Morey, 48).  The Hebrew word for “heart”, leb or lebab, is found in the majority of Old Testament instances as a term to emphasize the rationality of man (Zemek, 17).  This point is establishes in places such as in Job 12:3, where the context in the verse has the rationality of Job in view, reinforced by the fact that Job’s response to his friends brought up the fact that he “knows”.

Continuing into the New Testament, the Greek word kardia for heart corresponds with the Hebrew word for heart in its multi-faceted aspect, including the emphasis on man’s thinking ability.  It could be used to “stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements” (Vine, Vol. II, 206-207).  The New Testament adds more richness to the available terminology of man’s rational aspect, such as the Greek word for mind, nous. This term can express “the inner orientation or moral attitude” of an individual (Behm, 958).  Another commonly used Greek term for the mind is dianoia, or literally “a thinking through, or over, a meditation, reflecting, etc” (Vine, Vol. III, 69).

Assessment of sin

To begin with, the Scripture is very clear that sin is a prevalent reality in everyone’s lives (Romans 3:23).  The origin of sin goes back to the Garden of Eden with the original man and woman that God created (Genesis 3).  In the Garden, Eve was tempted by the serpent with the offer of “knowing” (Genesis 3:5).  Yet, this “knowledge” was offered in violation of God’s direct command (Genesis 3:4-5; cf. Genesis 2:16-17, 3:2-3).  It is interesting to note that the appeal to “knowledge” in violation of God’s Laws still continues today by those who attempt to rationally attack the faith.

The consequence of original sin has far reaching consequences.  It has led to man’s total depravity.  In defining total depravity, R.C. Sproul writes, “Because total depravity is so often poorly defined, let me substitute another phrase that means the same thing: radical corruption. We are depraved in the radix or root of our being, and that core depravity influences everything we do. In the fall we became radically depraved, which means that corruption pervades every area of our lives” (Sproul).

The effect of total depravity includes the mind of unbelievers. In summarizing Ephesians 2:3, Kent observed that “man apart from God’s saving grace has even his rational faculties deranged spiritually” (Kent, 35).  God has revealed in Ephesians 4:17 the nature of the unregenerate mind.  Using the Greek word nous, which emphasizes the seat of rationality within man, the writer Paul describes the Gentiles mind as mataioteti, which has the idea of vanity, worthlessness, nothingness and futility (Bauernfeind, 523).  The description of the consequence of the futile mind is continued in the next verse, Ephesians 4:18.  Using another Greek word for mind, dianoia, the Apostle Paul described the unregenerate’s thought as being darkened.  Furthermore, the cause of why the Gentiles are excluded from a relationship with God is revealed as being because the nonbelievers have hardened their hearts.  It is clear that sin has affected man’s mind and thought.

The effect of total depravity includes the human heart.  This is evident from what Jeremiah 17:9 teaches.  Nothing is more deceitful than the human heart.  The heart is so wicked that Jeremiah is led to ask whether anyone can understand it, the heart’s condition being so depraved.  In the New Testament, Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of Mark affirming what Jeremiah 17:9 taught.  Jesus revealed the source of evil thoughts, fornications, thefts and other sins: the human heart (Mark 7:21).  One commentator noted the Greek word for man’s mind here is dialogismos, and that, “in his own mind a person frequently carries on a dialogue…In nearly every instance—Luke 2:35 is a possible exception—the deliberations, inner reasonings, or devisings are of a definitely sinful nature” (Hendriksen, 286).  These inner dialogues “give rise to actions and stimulate inner drives” (Hendriksen, 286).  Thus, sin has affected the heart, which aspects include man’s rationality.

There should be no doubt that sin has tainted the mind and the will (Luke 5:22, 6:8, 9:46, 47; Romans 1:21, 14:1; 1 Corinthians 3:20, Philippians 2:14).  The extent that sin has affected the nonbeliever’s rational faculty reaches to the point that the unbeliever will suppress the truth of God (Romans 1:18).  In fact, sin has resulted in the nonbeliever rejecting God’s truth as foolishness in his/her own mind (1Corinthians 2:14).

In summary, man’s sin has totally devastated the faculty of man’s reasoning and will to be persuaded.  This truth can leave the apologist on a pessimistic note, with the impossibility that the apologist faces.  However, here is where the Christian apologist trusts not in his own wisdom of his own mind, but rather on God and His Word as the solution to the dilemma of total depravity’s implication towards apologetics.

The necessity of the Gospel and the Word of God

Dr. MacArthur’s admonition, while directed towards Pastors is also appropriate for the apologist as well: “If we do not understand the theology regarding man’s nature, then we might think that we could manipulate His will by our clever words, music, or programs” (MacArthur, 373).  A Christian apologist who properly understands man’s nature will not be trusting in his own clever words or program of apologetics.  Nor will they be dependent upon the outlook of those who are not saved.  As one who takes Ephesians 4 as Biblical understanding of human nature seriously, Christian apologist Greg Bahnsen writes, “Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 that to follow the methods dictated by the intellectual outlook of those who are outside of a saving relationship to God is to have a vain mind and a darkened understanding” (Bahnsen, 11).  The Christian apologist will not adopt the same thinking patterns and presuppositions of the World.  He will acknowledge that He has to depend on the work of the Holy Spirit.

Knowing that the nonbeliever’s mind is carnal and unable to grasp spiritual truths, the Christian apologist will have to trust in the Word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convert souls unto salvation.  Romans 12:2 will be the apologist’s hope.  It is nothing short of the work of God for anyone to have their minds renewed, which goal is transformation.  Thus, the Christian apologist must share the gospel, and not only present extra-biblical evidences, since it is in the preaching of the gospel that the true hope for the nonbeliever to have true faith is found!

Finally, the Christian apologist who truly understands the doctrine of total depravity will admit that nonbelievers can suppress the truth and with all their heart, willfully reject the truth.  Yet, the apologist will remember the Sovereign God who is able to work in the nonbeliever’s heart, just as God promised to Israel so long ago, that He will take the initiative to cause the people to have a changed heart so they can love God (Deuteronomy 30:6).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bahnsen, Greg.  Always Ready: Directions For Defending the Faith. Nacogdoches, Texas: Covenant Media Press, 2004.

Bahnsen, Greg. “The Crucial Concept of Self-Deception in Presuppositional Apologetics.” The Westminster Journal 57 no. 1 (Spring 1995): 1-32.

Behm, J.  “Nous.” In Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. 5 volumes. Edited by Gerhard Kittel.  Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. 4:951-960. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1942.

.

Hendriksen, William.  Mark. New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980.

Kent, Homer A., Jr.  Ephesians: The Glory of the Church. Chicago: Moody Press, 1971.

MacArthur, John F., Jr, Richard Mayhue and Robert Thomas, L., Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry : Shaping Contemporary Ministry With Biblical Mandates, Electronic ed., Logos Library Systems. Dallas: Word Pub., 1995.

Pink, A.W. The Doctrine of Human Depravity. Pensacola: Mt. Zion Publications, undated.

Sproul, R.C. Before the Face of God : Book Two: A Daily Guide for Living from the Gospel of Luke. Includes indexes. electronic ed. Logos Library System; Before the Face of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House; Ligonier Ministries, 2000, c1993.

Van Til, Cornelius. The Defense of the Faith. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1955.

Van Til, Cornelius. The Intellectual Challenge of the Gospel. London: Tyndale Press, 1950.

Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words With Their Precise Meanings for English Readers. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1966.

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Continuing with the previous post on culture, here is an excerpt outline that consider the objections to culture and tradition as authority, as part of a series of outlines in Systematic theology over at Truth Evangelical Assistance Ministry:

Part XI: Objections to Culture and Traditions as Authority

I. Introduction

a. The ultimate authority for the Christian ought to be the Word of God.

i. There can be no other ultimate authority.

1. This outline will consider the case against two alternative authorities that are usually marshaled against Biblical authority. These are:

a. Authority on the basis of Culture

b. Authority on the basis of Traditions

2. Culture and Traditions: Definitions and relationship
a. Definition

i. Culture: A fixed or fluid social unit with networks of beliefs concerning social expectations, values and explanation of the world.

1. Henry Van Til famously described culture as “religion externalized”.

ii. Tradition: A network of beliefs concerning social expectation, values and narratives that claims to have historical antecedent and explanation of the world.

FOR THE REST OF THIS OUTLINE, VISIT http://teamtruth.com/articles/out_systematictheologypart011.htm

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Please pray, as one of the member of Veritas Domain is going through a tough time with his family right now

Their youngest one year old daughter is having a serious heart problem, and has been in the hospital since Sunday

For the sake of their privacy, which exact member here will remain anonymous

Originally I have several materials I was planning to post but some things are more important in ministry than blogging at this moment, on top of the normal Seminary/Ministry (apologetics, evangelism, preaching, dialogues, teaching, bible studies, Sunday School, etc)/Work week already

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Later at noon, I will be teaching at an apologetics seminar for a Christian college fellowship

Here is the outline:

WHAT CULTURE IS, IT’S CHARACTER AND THE CHRISTIAN ANTITHESIS

  1. What is culture?
    1. It is derived from the Latin ‘colere,’ which simply signifies the tilling or cultivating of the ground.”[1]
    2. Culture arises out of humans
      1. Humans make culture.
      2. Humans participate in culture.
      1. If nature is the first environment, then culture is his second environment.
      2. Sometimes culture touches on the natural, which man modifies.
      3. Illustration of Natural v.s. cultural
        1. Nature: An ocean.
        2. Cultural: A pool.
    3. Culture is a pattern of beliefs, behavior and values that a community of people hold to.
  2. Characteristics of culture
    1. Culture is concern with values
      1. It tells us what is and what is not allowed.
      2. Culture tells us what is valuable and the worth of people, places and things.
    2. Culture is not religiously neutral
      1. All things are to be done for His glory (1Corinthians 10:31).
      2. To do otherwise, would be violating God’s command for his creature, and thus not neutral towards God.
    3. Culture is not morally neutral
      1. Everything that man does come from his heart.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

All that man does will include culture

  1. Man’s heart is wicked.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

  1. Culture is social in nature
    1. It involves a community and not just an individual
    2. Example: Art display, ways of speaking, etc.
    3. Culture is unavoidable
      1. Man can not help but to be involved in a society, a “second” environment created by other human beings.
      2. We live in a culture, and how we live shows cultural influence.
    4. Culture changes
      1. Since culture is man-made, it is also able to be changed.
  2. The Christian response: Pressing the antithesis, and reconstruction for the glory of God
    1. Summary: A Christian should not uncritically accept things just because it’s part of their culture; a Christian should engage in culture in a fashion that gives God the glory.
    2. Since cultures are concerned with values, Christian must measure it to the Word of God
      1. The Bible and not culture, is the authority for right and wrong, and values.[2]
      2. Culture could be wrong.
      3. There needs to be a standard that transcends culture.
        1. We cannot use rules and standards for our culture to address another culture as right or wrong,
        2. A universal timeless standard is required.
    3. Since cultures are not religiously neutral, Christians must not offend God in their cultural pursuit.
      1. Once again, a Christian is to enjoy God and glorify Him.
      2. There is a danger therefore, of being too much like the current culture

“But in a society where Christianity is being widely and rapidly disowned, where evangelism is often considered inherently intolerant or even officially classified as a hate crime…the culture to which we would conform in order to be relevant becomes so inextricably entwined with antagonism to the Gospel that to conform to it must mean a loss of the Gospel itself.”[3]

  1. Ungodly elements within a culture must be challenged (1Corinthians 10:5).
  2. Since cultures are not morally neutral, Christians must speak out against evils within culture.
    1. Cultures could be wrong.
    2. These wrongs must be addressed by Christians (Proverbs 31: 8-9)
    3. Since cultures are social in nature, Christians must watch who they are socializing with
      1. “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
      2. It is wise to ask ourselves, “Who are we keeping in our company?”
    4. Since culture is unavoidable, Christians must engage the culture and contribute to it for the glory of God
      1. Christians can engage in the arts[4], art history[5], music, and science.
      2. In other words they are doing these to enjoy God, and reflecting on Him.
      3. Christians should offer their interpretation of what’s going on around them in the World, from God’s perspective.
    5. Since culture can change, by the grace of God, Christians must share the gospel in their culture.
      1. Christians must not forget the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
      2. Christians must realize that cultures change, trends die down, but eternity has been set in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
      3. People ultimately need the Gospel for salvation, not just a culture.

[1] Henry R. Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972), 29.

[2] See my outline in Introduction to Systematic Theology, Part XI: The Authority of the Bible Part IV: Objections to Culture and Traditions as authority, available at http://teamtruth.com.

[3] Mark Dever, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2004), 27-28.

[4] For example, see Francis Schaeffer’s book on  Art and the Bible.

[5] Hans Roomaker’s book is in the spirit, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture.

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It seems like this blog post mainly on current event, apologetics, and preaching.

One of the reason why I put up posts on preaching, and review of books on preaching is because expository preaching is one of the most important thing that a pastor can engage in.  What and how he preaches matter!

Some might have right doctrines, and it’s important that we preach in a fashion that humanly speaking, not hinder the clear communication of gospel and biblical truths.

I know I have alot to learn in this regard, to grow as a better preacher. I want to preach in a way where God approves of it, and the people are fed spiritually by it.

Review of “12 Essential Skills for great preaching”

This book is very helpful when it comes to the actual skills of putting together an expository sermon.  The author did a good job presenting the steps in a logical and clear fashion of twelve essential steps when it comes to preaching.  Here in this review, I wish to share some of the insights that have helped me.

The book step by step approach helps the reader name the text idea and from there, bridging that into the sermon idea.  The sermon idea and the text idea should be similar, but I have struggled in the past with how to craft the two propositions so that they are similar.  What the book suggests is that the preacher find the subject of the text.  Since the subject would be too broad, the next step is limiting it more specifically by adding a modifier.  This subject/modifier would then be the basis for the sentence that gives the text idea in complete past tense and with the original historical references.  This same subject/modifier is also used to write the sentence for the sermon idea, except the sentence would be worded in the present tense and as a universal statement.

The author also reminded the reader that preaching ought to be in some sense persuasive.  For those who struggle with crafting the sermon as factual presentation, McDill’s discussion of the four element of persuasion is helpful: the explanation’s aim is to appeal to the intellect, illustration an appeal to imagination, argumentation an appeal to reason and application an appeal to volition.  Together, the four persuasive elements are appealing to the entire person (Page 127).

The book also had a frank discussion about the “preacher’s block”, especially in the area of illustrations and how the truth of the source of it is really the preacher’s fault.  This was convicting, but he doesn’t leave the readers helpless when it comes to natural analogies.  The steps are summarized on page 149, but the helpful key was in the first two step of stating the idea in a clear complete sentence and then the second step of writing it out in a non-theological generalized concept.

The chapter on touching human experience was a moving chapter.  As a young preacher, I struggle and wonder with awe how great men of God preaches and touches human experiences such as in my own life.  For the author to share his insight was a blessing and a exhortation to preach to the need of God’s people.  This has been something heavy on my heart recently, as I have asked God to help me in this area in preaching.

This leads to the chapter on aiming for a faith response in our preaching.  God’s plan in preaching is ultimately to instill faith, since the measure of a Christian is not his ministry, moral life, etc, but faith (Page 190).  Since the aim of preaching is to get a response of faith from the people, McDill suggests that rather than imperative or subjunctive emphasis in our preaching, we should ground it in the indicative of God’s promise.  Therefore, rather than “ought” and “should”, the emphasis should be on “can” (Page 196-197).  For instance, “You can love your neighbor” is exciting, and the capability is found in the power of God and thus a response of faith is needed to “You can”.

The format throughout the book was something that I appreciated as well.  Each chapter ends with “Completing the Exercise” which summarizes the steps.  Important principles are put in bold, which is good for referencing in the future.  The forms and checklist after each chapter is also useful training wheels for sermon preparation.

Purchase: Amazon

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