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Archive for June, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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Off to VBS

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Another Saturday that I’m taking a break from the Jonah Series.  We have our annual VBS today.

I have to share this link from a comic strip on how to spot a VBS volunteer.

It is spot on!

Thanks goes to J.W. Wartick for this.

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

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

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Christianity and the Role of Philosophy by K. Scott Oliphint

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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GO TO PART 22

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

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

POSSIBLE SCENARIO FOR EMPLOYING THIS ILLUSTRATION DURING APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM

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

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

OPPONENT: Yes.

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

OPPONENT: Not sure.

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

OPPONENT: Uh, okay…there you go…

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

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

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

OPPONENT: Of course not.

CHRISTIAN: That’s what I figured.

 

GO TO PART 24

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