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Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Same-Sex Partnerships Christian contribution to contemporary debate by John R.W. Stott

John Stott has written a lot of books for Christians.  He has also written a booklet on Same Sex Partnership.  That booklet is available for free online!

From the back cover here’s the book’s description:

Many people think that homosexuality is a Christian option and churches are divided on the issue. John Stott surveys the contemporary arguments supporting monogamous homosexual relationships and tests them against Scripture. He explains clearly, yet with compassion, why same-sex partnerships are less than God intends for human intimacy. At the same time he calls the church to reach out to all with Christ’s love.

You can access it by clicking HERE.  It is in Html format as a webpage.

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An illustration of a rendered rainbow

An illustration of a rendered rainbow

Beginning tommorow (6/29) we will begin a Marathon Series on the Christian Response to Homosexuality.  EvangelZ and I (SlimJim) will be writing posts as well as linking resources for the Christian.  Also we pray that the Lord will use this to also awaken those who claim to be Christians and also those who do not believe to come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

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Pretty-Church

Beginning next next Sunday (not tommorow but the Sunday after) we will have a short Sunday Biblical series that look at various motif of the Church.  I think what we can gain from this study is how important is the church in God’s view which leads us to see the importance of the Church also in our lives.  Pray for the preparation for this short study!

 

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This is the second installment of a guest post continuing from HERE.  Mike is a British brother in Christ who have been a friend of our blog for years.  Mike’s blog can be found HERE.

limited

I sometimes think about the cross,

And close my eyes, and try to see

The cruel nails, and crown of thorns,

And Jesus crucified for me.

(v4 of the Hymn ‘It is a thing most wonderful’ by William Walsham How, 1823 – 97)

Do you?

That’s how a message given by Stuart Olyott began on Limited Atonement many years ago. I understand what it means but like Stuart, Particular Redemption is preferable because it is just that, particular. But we could also add Definite Atonement because something was accomplished not merely made possible. As I began looking at this subject a long time ago, many ministers were questioned, but Stuart was the only one that said I needed to see it for myself. He was right and by God’s grace I did ‘see it’. It was in that same message the book by Grace Publications (Great Christian Classics, ‘Life by His Death’) was recommended that I quickly bought. Space will not permit discussing it all here but if you follow the recommendations below you will be helped to not only come to terms with it but embrace it and rejoice in it. And, believe it or not, it will actually help, not hinder, your Gospel ministry.

1. The Problem Stated

So the topic at hand, in a nutshell revolves around seeking to reconcile the fact that Jesus died only for His people and the free offer of the Gospel. It’s the L of the TULIP acrostic and can be the most problematic for believers to deal with. At the beginning of John Owen’s great treatise on ‘The Death of Death in the Death of Christ’ he makes this comment in the introduction:

‘Reader,

If thou intendest to go any farther, I would entreat thee to stay here a little. If thou art, as many in this pretending age, a sign or title gazer, and comest into books as Cato into the theatre, to go out again, — thou hast had thy entertainment; farewell! With him that resolves a serious view of the following discourse, and really desireth satisfaction from the word and Christian reason, about the great things contained therein, I desire a few words in the portal.’ ….

‘I shall only crave thy leave to preface a little to the point in hand, and my present undertaking therein, with the result of some of my thoughts concerning the whole, after a more than seven-years’ serious inquiry (bottomed, I hope, upon the strength of Christ, and guided by his Spirit) into the mind of God about these things, with a serious perusal of all which I could attain that the wit of man, in former or latter days, hath published in opposition to the truth; which I desire, according to the measure of the gift received, here to assert.’ (Source:http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.v.html)

So if you are coming to this topic expecting it all to be resolved in a few sound bites or a blog post only to move on to the next theological knot, you are going to be disappointed. If you really want to come to terms with this topic – and the truth of it – it’s going to take longer than you think and will most likely be hard work.

2. Why the Difficulty?

There are a number of reasons. One has already been alluded to. We think if we can tell everyone that God loves them (particularly) and that Jesus died for them we have a much better Gospel message. It means we can throw out the confetti of God’s’ love upon all. That makes us feel better. We don’t have to be negative. We don’t have to get bogged down with thinking through what we say. We don’t have to be precise. Believing in a ‘Limited Atonement’ makes us feel limited, restricted in what we can say. We don’t like that. We want to know Christ died for all – it’s so much nicer! There’s a more serious difficulty however; and it’s our rebellious hearts. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we are no longer rebels. We still rebel deep down at the Sovereignty of God. We want to be in control. We can’t. And it hurts. We need to repent of this and submit to the Divine will.

3. The Accomplishment of the Doctrine

The Accomplishment of the Doctrine is perhaps not the best way to put it but it’s a way of saying the death of Christ accomplished something. It did something. It obtained something. What did it obtain? Scripture tells us in Hebrews 9:12 that he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. Or as the AV puts it; ‘having obtained eternal redemption for us’. What an insult to say otherwise. Poor God He could only make Salvation possible. And poor Jesus, all that suffering and shame, but He could only make Salvation possible. He didn’t really DO anything. Jesus didn’t say ‘it could be finished’ or ‘I’ve started now you finish it’. No!

John 19:30 ‘he said, it is finished’;

that is, the whole will of God; as that he should be incarnate, be exposed to shame and reproach, and suffer much, and die; the whole work his Father gave him to do, which was to preach the Gospel, work miracles, and obtain eternal salvation for his people, all which were now done, or as good as done; the whole righteousness of the law was fulfilled, an holy nature assumed, perfect obedience yielded to it, and the penalty of death endured; hence a perfect righteousness was finished agreeably to the law, which was magnified and made honourable by it, andredemption from its curse and condemnation secured; sin was made an end of, full atonement and satisfaction for it were given; complete pardon procured, peace made, and redemption from all iniquity obtained; all enemies were conquered; all types, promises, and prophecies were fulfilled, and his own course of life ended: the reason of his saying so was, because all this was near being done, just upon finishing, and was as good as done; and was sure and certain, and so complete, that nothing need, or could be added to it; and it was done entirely without the help of man, and cannot be undone; all which since has more clearly appeared by Christ’s resurrection from the dead, his entrance into heaven, his session at God’s right hand, the declaration of the Gospel, and the application of salvation to particular persons: (Commentary of John Gill – John 19:30) (Emphases are mine)

View Him prostrate in the garden;

On the ground your Maker lies;

Then on Calvary’s tree behold Him,

Hear Him cry, before He dies,

“It is finished!” “It is finished!”

Sinner, will not this suffice?

(Joseph Hart, 1712-68)

(v5 from ‘Christian Hymns’, Eds, Paul Cook & Graham Harrison, Evangelical Press)

4. The Particularity of  the Doctrine

The particularity of the doctrine is why Particular Redemption is preferred. When Christ died on the Cross He was, as we have seen, accomplishing something not for an amorphous mass but for a particular people – individuals. When the Apostle said ‘….the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’ Gal 2:21 who was He thinking of?.

There are many verses but here are a few to whet your appetite and to thank God that He thought of YOU! John 10:11; John 10:14; John 10:27.

Have you heard the voice of Jesus

Softly pleading with your heart?

Have you felt His presence glorious,

As He calls your soul apart,

With a love so true and loyal,

Love divine that ever flows

From a Saviour, righteous, royal,

And a cross that mercy shows?

(William Vernon Higham 1926 – )

Have you?

5. What is Limited?

I understand what Limited means but it can somehow convey the sense that God Himself is limited, or that the Blood of Christ is somehow limited. It simply means Christ died only for the Elect. But the Blood of Jesus Christ would have been sufficient if God so willed it to purchase 10 million, or more, worlds of sinners. But the cost would have been just the same had He only died for one person. So Christ only atoned for, or propitiated the wrath of God only for the Elect. My dear fellow believer just think on that for a while and try to take it in.

O teach me what it meaneth:

 That sacred crimson tide,

The blood and water flowing

 From Thine own wounded side.

Teach me that if none other

 *Had sinned, but I alone,

Yet still, Thy blood, Lord Jesus,

 Thine only, must atone.

(Lucy Ann Bennett, 1850 – 1927.)

6. Use of Means

There seems to be a misunderstanding on this point. It’s as if because we believe in the doctrines of Grace (TULIP if you will) any input by man is not required. This is false. The Scriptures clearly say ‘how shall they believe unless someone preach to them…’ That doesn’t just mean hearing the message of Salvation from a pulpit, it includes hearing it in conversation over the garden fence or chatting over a coffee in Costa (Insert favourite coffee house). Sometimes God can move in extraordinary ways, but He moves through ordinary means like an ordinary conversation or through a set of circumstances. His usual method is through the Preaching of the Gospel. I think you get the point. The 1689 Confession puts it this way:

‘Those whom God has predestinated to life, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time to effectually call by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death which they are in by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ. He enlightens their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God. He takes away their heart of stone and gives to them a heart of flesh. He renews their wills, and by His almighty power, causes them to desire and pursue that which is good. He effectually draws them to Jesus Christ, yet in such a way that they come absolutely freely, being made willing by His grace.’ (Effectual Calling 10.1. Source.)

Yes we use means, but not any old means. They must be in accordance with the Scriptures. And these means are used by God to bring His people to Christ. The proper use of means will be governed or regulated by whether we think the Gospel is enough or not.

7. A Certain Sound

We need to give a certain sound. Come ye sinners, poor and wretched, weak and wounded, sick and sore. Jesus has a people. We do not know who they are, but we implore all to come. The message to all as Jesus Himself preached is to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:16).

Himself He could not save,

Yet now a Saviour He:

Come, sinner, to Him come,

He waits to welcome Thee.

Believe in Him, and thou shalt prove

His saving power, His deathless love.

(Albert Midlane, 1825 – 1909. In Christian Hymns)

Will You?

8. Do you see it?

I have already touched upon this but it’s worth repeating. The final piece in the jigsaw, if I can put it that way, was the realisation that when Jesus was upon the Cross even at His moment of dereliction He had ME, even ME on His mind and heart. Some think that to be arrogance. But it’s what The Scriptures teach. It isn’t arrogance, it’s a humbling of yourself before God, it’s trust and faith to rejoice in what God has done in Christ for this rebel sinner. God does not need anything from me. All I bring is my sin. That includes what I might think are good works – our righteousness is as filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). To bring anything or think we can bring anything, that is true arrogance and means you have a very inadequate view of God. But God is merciful and has sent a Saviour, even Jesus Christ the Righteous.

Great God of wonders! All Thy ways

Are matchless, Godlike and divine;

But the fair glories of Thy grace’

More godlike and unrivaled shine,

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?

Or who has grace so rich and free?

(Samuel Davies, 1723 – 61)

Helpful Resources

James White, The Potters Freedom (just got to Ch4.) This is a must read.

John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied.

John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, Volume 10 of Owens Works.

Grace Publications, Primer on The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.

J. I. Packer, Introductory Essay to The Death of Death..

J. I Packer, Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God.

Limited Atonement – Sermon by Stuart Olyott (Not the one I originally heard but very similar)

 

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Pope Gun body guards

A Yahoo News Article was recently titled “Pope says weapons manufacturers can’t call themselves Christian.”  Here’s an excerpt of what the news article says:

People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

Francis issued his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin.

“If you trust only men you have lost,” he told the young people in a long, rambling talk about war, trust and politics after putting aside his prepared address.

“It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn’t it?” he said to applause.

He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying “duplicity is the currency of today … they say one thing and do another.”

Is it just me but this is part of a continuing pattern by the current Roman Catholic Pope espousing a rather one sided simplistic “It’s all about love” kind of religion that tries to score with the Secular press and media when he says things that matches up more with a Leftist agenda?

So the Pope thinks those who are involved with the manufacturing of weapons are hypocrites folks who trust in man instead of God and involved with spreading distrusts that don’t live out the Christian faith.

I just think it is rather ironic that this is spoken by a man who has both a Body Guard unit and the traditional Swiss Guard unit guarding him with weapons.  These units are involved with enabling the very wicked industry he condemns.  What a Papists/Swiss Guard/Industrial Complex.

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trinity

While teaching Christology overseas a student asked me how does one handle the following objection: “I don’t believe in the Trinity because the Word Trinity is not in the Bible.”

Here’s my take on the objection.

First, more important than the term is whether or not the concept of the Trinity is found in the Bible.  We must be more concern about the concept more than a specific theological terminology that Christians later use as a handle for the various truth claims about God.  If the concept of the Trinity is found in the Bible, it is enough to establish the doctrine of the Trinity.

I know my first point often don’t satisfy cultists and heretics. Hence the following points:

Secondly, just because you use biblical terminology doesn’t mean the concept behind the term you are using is faithful to the Bible.  I bring this point to illustrate that it is a naively flawed methodology to assume that merely finding a word in the Bible establish the truth content that one might put into the terminology.  People twists the meaning of biblical terms all the time.  In the end, what’s important is the concept behind the terms which reinforce my first point.

Thirdly, depending on the specific cultists or heretic I would also point out how the kind of argumentation presented in this objection to the Trinity also undercut their specific belief systems.   That is, the argumentation is a self-defeater to their own religious beliefs.  For instance, with Jehovah’s Witnesses I apply back this same kind of bad reasoning back to them:  I don’t believe in the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society because Scripture itself doesn’t mention these words.  We shouldn’t attend any of their Kingdom Hall because the word “Kingdom Hall” doesn’t appear in the Bible.  If one uses this flawed logic that is the basis for objecting to the Trinity, the cultist or heretic must also admit that it undermine their very own beliefs and belief system as well.  But if they sidestep this rebuttal by saying the concept is taught in the Scripture, note here that they also admit that content is what matters and not merely the appearance of a terminology in Scripture.  Either way you go, the problem is with the interlocutor.

 

Fourthly there are also other theological terms that Christians use that is not found in Scripture but the concept is taught in Scripture.  Think of the word “Bible.”  Yet the concept is there within the Bible.  Again, content is what is more important than merely doing a superficial word search.

Fifthly, to be very technical even a lot of terms in our Bible translations are also not found in the original language of the Bible.  The English Bible talks a lot about “God.”  But the Hebrew and Greek words in the manuscripts are “El,” “Elohim,” “Yahweh,” and “Theos.” Nowhere do we find in the original language manuscripts the English term “God,” the German word “Gott” or the Japanese term for deity called “Kami,” etc.  We can multiple the same thing with the term “Jesus,” “faith,” and “Salvation.”  That doesn’t mean we reject “God” because it’s not a term that’s found in the Original language of the Bible.  We might have many terms that “translates” the content of what the Bible is saying.  Note the priority: It is the content of Scripture that shapes a term that signify its meaning.  In some sense the Trinity is a theological translation of the concept of the Oneness and Threeness of the True God as attested in the Scriptures.

 

This objection might sound like it has a lot of force when one first hears it, but there’s no wind behind its sail upon closer analysis.

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jpemPCH

These are the links on Presuppositional Apologetics gathered from the internet between June 15th-21st, 2015.

1.) Dreams vs. Reality: A Problem for Atheism an Ally for Theism

2.) 

3.) Objections to Apologetics: ultimately fail

4.) Presuppositional Apologetics 2014 Paschal Lectures by Brian Rickett

5.) Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Christians? (A Conversation With My 11-Year-Old Daughter)

 

Missed the last round up?  Check out the re-blogged post from a friend

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