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Archive for December, 2012

Explosive Christmas

Here are some Presuppositional apologetics’ links wrapping up from this year around the world wide web:

1.) Defending the Content of the Faith We Are Defending— Review of Cornelius Van Til’s classic, The Defense of the Faith.

2.) Humanism and human worth— Steve Hays on a quote by Dawkins that undermine human worth according to “Humanists.”

3.) Atheism, Subjectivism, and Meaning— Chris Bolt takes on an atheist.

4.) Baxter vs Hume— Holloway’s take on the debate between David Hume and Andrew Baxter.

5.) A Review of Erring: A Post Modern A/Theology–A book review by Forrest W. Schultz of an anti-theistic book that confirms Van Til’s motif that man’s rebellion against God has implications against man.

6.) A Friendly Question about God and Logic–By James Anderson.

7.) Book Review: How Do We Know the Bible is True?–A book review that’s really grateful for the book’s Presuppositional approach.

8.) How Man Finds Himself: Rationalism vs. Revelation— Mark Rushdoony’s take on the question, “What is Man?” in light of the battle between rationalists and God’s revelation.

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Spencer Islam Unveiled

 Purchase: Amazon

This is no doubt a controversial book. The history of oppression by Islam and the author bringing up of Islamic terror from recent headlines is sobering. Maybe because it was all the negative reviews and attacks on the author might have influenced me, but this book was more balanced than I expected. Those who have spent some time studying Islam critically might find things covered elsewhere questioning whether Islam really is a religion of peace. I thought the author was nuanced enough in the work to make it clear this is not an attack on Muslims as it is a critique of Islam itself. Since much of Islamic apologetics has to attack Judism, Christianity and Catholicism, the author does have to compare these faiths with Islam and show their objection does not stand. Here is probably the weakness of the author, who is not really as strong in the Bible as he is with the Quran. The author from what I understand is Catholic, though from the feel of the book his influence also include Western classical liberalism and a product of Modern Enlightment. As a result of his influence, the chapters in his book addresses the concern of Secular Western democracy such as whether Islam is compatiable with Liberal Democracy (chapter 5), whether it is compatible with Western pluralistic framework (chapter 6) and respect human rights (chapter 3), all three which the author answer in the negative. Most fascinating for me was his chapter dealing with whether Science can florish under Islam, in which he dealt with the history of Islam’s golden period of scholars such as Avicenna (known best among Christians probably for the Kalam Cosmological Argument) were really those who sought learning and synthesizing knowledge from non-Muslims such as Classical Greek sources. However, eventually strong dogmatism with the Quran crushed scientific endeavors and brought about the end of the “Golden Age” of Islam. It makes me want to learn more about these Muslims scholars and their Muslim opponents. The work also put historical perspective of the Crusades (which the author does not endorse) and also pointed out that if Muslims were to argue against the Crusades they also have to argue against Islamic Imperialism as well. Perhaps the saddest part of the book is the chapter on Islam and woman, in which the charge of rape and honor killing was incredibly sad.

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Battle of the Mind

Introduction

For the purpose of this paper, I will attempt to cover the problem, importance of the study, scope of the study, context of the study, and the plan of the study concerning the role of the mind in sanctification.[1]

The problem has to do with unbiblical interpretations and hostile attacks from unbelievers and words and deeds against sanctification.  A mind that accepts the wrong view of sanctification can leave disastrous results for a Christian.

The utilization of the mind is expressed in various passages of Scripture.  The mind is mentioned in Luke 24:45 (use of the mind in understanding the Scriptures), Revelation 13:18; 17:9 (use of the mind in eschatological events), Romans 1:28 (the mind of the unregenerate), Romans 11:34 (the mind of the LORD), etc.  If the role of the mind is critical to the myriad of areas such as understanding Scripture, eschatological events, the mind of the unregenerate, then how critical is the role of the mind in sanctification (Romans 6:11; 7:14; 12:2; 14:5)?

Jesus Christ died and purchased His elect not only for our justification, but He died and purchased His elect for our sanctification.[2]  Our personal holiness is a serious demand from God because it reflects God’s nature that is required by God’s commandments.  It is also required by the mediation of His Son; and is required by God in order to glorify Him.[3]  John Calvin said this regarding those who just cared about justification, but not sanctification: “shamefully render Christ asunder.”[4]  People misrepresent Christ when they only care about justification.  Justification and sanctification are both important.  You can’t have one without the other.

Hence, due to the many erroneous views out there, it is imperative and important to study the role of the mind in sanctification.  We will cover the different dangerous views later, but just to satisfy some courtesy right now, it must be pointed out that there are people out there who substitute their fear of man for God.[5]  Instead of a biblically guided fear to use their minds for the glory of God, we fear others.[6]  And when we fear others, we ignore God’s Words.  The truth concerning the role of the mind in sanctification is at stake.  We cannot be tossed to and fro by the man-centered theologies of man.

The scope of the study will be centered on three facts and two commands that stem from the three facts.  The three facts are: the believer’s death (6:2b [permanence of death], 6:3b [spiritual act of death], 6:4a [union in death], 6:5a [picture of death], 6:6a [payment of death], 6:8a [companion of death]), the believer’s freedom (6:2c [freedom from duplicity], 6:6b [freedom from slavery], 6:7b [freedom from sin], 6:10a [freedom from bondage]), and the believer’s life in Christ (6:4b [new life], 6:5a [resurrection life], 6:8b [eternal life], 6:9 [victorious life], 6:10 [obedient life]).[7]  The two commands are these: believers are to remember their position (6:11) and to live out their position (6:12-14).[8]

The context of the study concerning the role of the mind in sanctification will be based on a foundational passage written by Apostle Paul from Romans 6:1-14.  The book of Romans was written sometime towards the end of Paul’s third missionary journey (A.D. 56).[9]  The theme of Romans deals with the righteousness of God, salvation, and the Gospel of Paul.[10]  The outline of the book is as follows: salvation (1-8), sovereignty (9-11), and service (12-16).[11]  To narrow in the context for the purpose of Romans 6:1-14, the first five chapters deals with justification by faith and chapter 6 deals with the Christian’s sanctification that is connected to His faith in Christ.[12]  Romans 6:1 is connected to Romans 5:20-21 (“The more sin, the more grace”).[13] The basis for holy living is connected with the Christian’s union with Christ death and life (Rom. 6:1-14) and also the believer’s slavery to God (Rom.  6:15-23).[14] Chapter 7 and eight deals with the believer’s life under grace; chapters 9 through 11 deals with Israel’s unbelief; and finally chapters twelve through sixteen deals with specific areas concerning the believer’s life/walk in this world.[15]  Since we are dealing mainly with Romans 6, it important to keep in mind that the first imperative for sanctification is located in Romans 6:11.  Romans 6:11 says, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”[16] There will also be a few interactions with some minor cross-references for the purpose of illustrating a point.

The plan of this essay is to provide much detail as possible concerning the role of the mind in sanctification from Romans 6:1-14 so that the believer will be able to best use his mind as a means in sanctification. [17]   In order to do that, I believe it would be effective to first cover the definition of the mind, description of the mind, definition of sanctification, description of sanctification, the role of the mind according to Romans 6:1-14, and erroneous views concerning sanctification.

I pray that this study will be edifying to you.  The mind is an important study.  As you all may know, the mind can either be used for the glory of God, the glory of Satan, the world, or our own personal, hedonistic autonomy.  I pray that you will choose the first choice: the mind utilized for the glory of God.

Please stay tune for the next installment.


[1]Nicholas John Amatuccio, “The Role of the Mind in Christian Sanctification According to Romans 6:1-14” (Th.M.Thesis, The Master’s Seminary, Sun Valley, CA, 2003), Table of Contents.

[2]Arthur W. Pink, The Doctrine of Sanctification (Swengel, PA, Bible Truth Depot), 30.

[3]Ibid., 32-38.

[4]Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, ed. D.A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 243.

[5]Edward T. Welch, When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man (Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 1997), 14.

[6]Ibid., 14.

[7]Pink, The Doctrine of Sanctification, 8.

[8]Ibid., 8.

[9]John MacArthur, The Macarthur Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 1655.

[10]Bob White, “Ordination Preparation” (unpublished syllabus, The Master’s Seminary, 2011), 46.

[11]Ibid., 46.

[12]Amatuccio, “The Role of the Mind in Christian Sanctification According to Romans 6:1-14,” 9.

[13]Ibid., 9.

[14]Ibid., 9.

[15]Ibid., 8-9.

[16]All Scripture is quoted from New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update unless otherwise noted.

[17]Amatuccio, “The Role of the Mind in Christian Sanctification According to Romans 6:1-14,” 10.

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Yesterday I reviewed Luther’s classic commentary on Galatians.  After a reader’s comment, I found several media format one can enjoy this classic!

Martin Luther Galatians

You can download it for free onto Kindle if you click HERE.

If you want to download it to your Apple IBook click HERE.

If you want an Adobe PDF copy click HERE.

If you want to read it online in Html Format, click here for the table of Content.

If you want to hear it courtesy of LibriVox, click here.

Enjoy!

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Martin Luther Galatians

After reading the Bible, every Christian should at least one time in their life read something by Martin Luther to understand the man who has been responsible for the Protestant Reformation and the issue of justification that was at stake. Luther’s commentary of Galatians was a delightful read. I was surprised that there was not a strong polemical taste to this work but instead one feels the pastoral heartbeat of Luther as he expounds the meaning of the text and often showing how a promise in Galatians should be applied to combating wrong thoughts and demonic discouragement. Again, a delightful read, but more than reading the words of Martin Luther this commentary made me read more carefully on my own the book of Galatians itself.

 

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He Came

As many are celebrating Christmas today, may we as Christians, not forget the importance of the incarnation, which is the heartbeat of Christmas; and for everyday living.  Please check out the links below for your edification.

  1. Bob Kauflin, “Sentimentalizing, Sanitizing, and Spiritualizing Christmas.  This post speaks about some of the dangers of how people approach Christmas.  The incarnation of Christ must be the apex of our worship when celebrating Christmas.
  2. Erwin Lutzer, “Why Is It Important To Affirm The Incarnation Of Jesus Christ In Real Space And Real Time?.  Erwin Lutzer gets into a theological discussion of the incarnation of Christ.
  3. Odd Thomas, “The Incarnation.”   Christian rapper that goes by the name Odd Thomas, throws down an artistic piece of the incarnation from the medium, called Spoken Word.  The words are lyrically sound and edifying.  This is a great brother who I knew from an apologetic class/service, I once attended many years ago.  I am blessed by how the Lord is using him.  I have not seen him for years, but it is great how the Lord is using him.

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PART I

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We will look today at Luke 1:5-7:

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

I enjoy Luke 1:5-7 and in a way it stands out from the rest of Luke chapter 1.  The lack of the miraculous in this passage makes it easier to relate to for today than what follows in the rest of the chapter and beyond.  For the careful reader, one would note that this passage affirms the reality of suffering in this world.  No doubt since suffering is a reality in this life various forms of the problem of evil have been brought up even among Christians.  And yet this passage reveal two individuals who are faithful to God even as things don’t go their way–and the presence of evil that surrounds them.

Note the following:

1.) Zechariah and Elizabeth lived in a time where the wicked reign (v.5a)

2.) Zechariah and Elizabeth own life was far from being ideal (v. 7a)

3.) Zechariah and Elizabeth lived and know the experience of being elderly (v. 7b)

1.) Zechariah and Elizabeth lived in a time where the wicked reign (v.5a)

PASSAGE:In the days of Herod, king of Judea,”

Who was King Herod?

He was a very cruel man .  Extraordinary brutal.  Even within his own family, he executed several of his own sons whom he suspected of plotting against him, along with his favorite wife, the Hasmonean Mariamne (or Miriam).  The Roman emperor Augustus said of him: “It is better to be Herod’s pig than his son.”  AND HERE WAS THIS EVIL MAN RULING–EVEN OVER THOSE WHO WERE GODLY.

How long did he reign wickedly for?

The “days of Herod” would have spanned from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C. (Fitzmyer, 322).

2.) Zechariah and Elizabeth own life was far from being ideal (v. 7a)

PASSAGE: But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren,” 

But they had no child

Culture had a higher premium of having kids back then than today.  Biblically children was a blessing from the Lord and yet they did not have any.

“…because Elizabeth was barren,

Reason why they were childless is given here.  Being “barren” must be understood in their Old Testament background of what it means, in which it can be seen as the worst thing to happen to a married woman.   One can think of Genesis 30:1 of Rachel two choices to Jacob of having children or she will die and 1 Samuel 1:6 of Hannah being maligned (Hendriksen, 67).

One can imagine people using Psalm 113:9 to judge someone who is barren (Hendriksen, 67).  Yet is there legitimate grounds to say this?

In the Greek, “Elizabeth” has an article before it and thus “the Elizabeth “This verse echoes other godly women in the Bible who were barren such as Sarah (16:1), Rebecca (Genesis 25:21), Rachel (Genesis 30:1), Samson’s mother (Judges 13:2), Hannah (1 Samuel 1-2).  The significance of the article is that it points to the fact that this is the same Elizabeth previously mentioned in verse 6 as being Godly who is also the same one here that is sterile.  The significance here is that sometimes even godly people have things happen to them that we might say, “Is it fair?”

3.) Zechariah and Elizabeth lived and know the experience of being elderly (v. 7b)

Passage: and they were both advanced in[j]years” 

Old age is a cruel affliction to humanity.  Think of frail human bodies.  Frail human spirits.  Nursing homes.  Think of cruel, mean, sad looking faces of those who are pass their primes.  Think of accomplished men and women, whose days and glory have been long past and significance have been forgotten or no longer appreciated–who are viewed by others and their own adult childrens as, well children–or worst, they have deterioted to being ACTUALLY acting and talking like children.  In more words that the existentialists and Nhilists can poetically describe, old age can be a cruel lot to afflict those who haven’t been taken away yet.

And yet surprisingly, this couple, with much afflictions and suffering were described by Luke as being godly (v.5b-6)

there was a priest named [g]Zacharias, of the division of[h]Abijah; and he had a wife [i]from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.

What gives?

Why didn’t Zecharias gave up, submit his ex-Christian testimony and sell books with titles like “Diaries of an Ex-Minister”?  I’m embellishing here-but you should get the point: this couple was old, faithful to God and yet suffering was very real to them.  What was it that gave them the hope within them to go on?  What reason could they give?

What is the reason for their hope?

1.)  Their hope is based upon the fact that God does focus upon the Godly

One must not miss the point that Luke 1:5-7 is about the godly.  The implication of this is huge: There is a big contrast between the terrible king and this pious priest, and I think it shows that God’s view of history is not just only upon famous people who are recognized by the world as movers and shakers but instead upon those who are faithful to Him.  For those of us who are His people, He cares and watches out for us.  King Herod is only mentioned incidentally here.  Their relationship with God along with God’s focus upon them must have been a sweet and powerful comfort, in which despite years of ongoing violence around them and affecting them as well, Zecharias and Elizabeth still followed God; and followed God through their old age and having no children.

2.) Their hope is based upon the fact that God Kept His Word

They lived with the motivation that God kept His promises.

It seems this old couple focused on God’s promises in their lives by the significance of their names

Zecharias means “God Remembers”

Elizabeth means “God is an Oath” that is, with the idea of God being absolutely reliable (Hendriksen, 65).

God’s promise can be seen in history and providence: “Zacharias, of the division of[h]Abijah;

It is some kind of division of priests in which there were 24 division with each serving at the temple for a one week duration twice a year (Hendriksen, 65).

Translated as “Abijah,” it refers to the eighth division out of the 24 division of priests serving the temple.

The fact that there were still priests in Israel was because of the faithfulness of God to His promises to bring back Israel from the Babylonian captivity.

The Christian apologist must not downplay or forget the importance of God’s Word being fulfiled in the role of encouraging believers for the hope that they have within them whether it’s the study of Messianic prophecies, other historical prophecies being fulfilled and the study of the doctrine of God’s providence and role in History.  Of course, the framework for the study of historical apologetics must be thoroughly biblical.

CONCLUSION

Most Christian apologist can recite 1 Peter 3:15, the apologist’s “Constitution:”

 but [c]sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being readyto make a [d]defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and [e]reverence;

But the apologist must not forget contextually the verse before it,

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you [a]are blessed. And do not fear their[b]intimidation, and do not be troubled

1 Peter 3:15 is situated in the context of believers suffering and persecuted.  How appropriate would it be that Zecharias and Elizabeth be a model for the Christian apologist to own up to the hope that we have, live it out and bear witness God’s testimony and power in the midst of evil around them, suffering, and things not going our way.

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