Archive for the ‘total depravity’ Category

I want to share a quick thought from a painting that has fascinated me the last few months.



It is called Christ Carrying the Cross and it is a painting by the Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch who was active from 1480 – 1516 (note: some people think this painting is by an imitator). This work is on display today in the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium.

What is it about the painting that fascinates me?


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new heart beat

I’m surprised at how many Christians can misunderstand the doctrine of regeneration.  Do you know what it is?


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My heart goes out to the loved ones of the four Marines who were killed yesterday during the Chattanooga Shooting.  I imagine Liberals and Democrats would want to take advantage of this unfortunate incident to cry for more gun control such as restriction on more weapons that could be purchased and also more areas that are legally gun free zone.

While I do think most gun-control activists are sincere I think many are mistaken at a fundamental level of understanding human nature.  One wonders if they understand the extent of man’s depravity.  I think “Gun Free Zone” that is not enforced with people who are armed is quite a naive concept; in fact it is dangerous and irresponsible on the part of lawmakers and bureaucrats who come up with such a thing.  The biggest problem I think is that it neglect to account for the reality of human depravity, that those who are wicked and sinful and want to carry out sinful terrorist acts are not going to stop when you merely have a sticker that says “No guns.”

Sadly yesterday’s shooting is a case in point:


Original picture SOURCE

Having a picture and a sign that says no guns is just as persuasive to a depraved gunman as an “Obama ’08” bumper sticker is for a Republican in 2015.  It’s “irrelevant” to a simple criminal let alone a committed Muslim extremist.  Actually it is relevant for such gunman: it allows them to face lesser resistance to their wicked schemes.


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We don’t touch on politics as much on our blog as much as we use back in the first few years here but I’ll venture on this topic just a little bit.

I deliberately titled the post the Syrian War instead of the Syrian Civil War.  It’s not a Civil War.  It might have started as one but it’s now quite international in character.  Just today the news mentioned Iran is sending 15,000 troops made up of Iranians, Iraqis and Afghanis to support Assad.  ISIS has many foreign fighters.  Foreign Fighters are also among the Coalition of Anti-Assad Forces that has recently been successful against Assad.  And we haven’t even describe other State players behind this proxy war.

This is the breakdown according to Wikipedia:

Main belligerents

Allied militias


Supported by:
 North Korea[4]


Supported by:
 Saudi Arabia
 United States[7]

al-Nusra Front
Muhajirin wa-Ansar

Jabhat Ansar al-Din



Iraqi Kurdistan PeshmergaAllied militias

See: Rojava conflict


As with any war we see the manifestation of man’s depravity at a large scale.  Here’s my thoughts concerning human sinfulness and this present conflict.

1.) If the Christian doctrine of Total Depravity is true we should not be surprised to see sinfulness displayed on all sides of the conflict whether as a goal or in the means of carrying out the goal, or both.

2.) This means that those in the West should be cautious in how absolute we would be in supporting any particular side.

3.) Total Depravity makes the situation quite complex with many competing motives and agenda of the various factions.  Some might be evil ideologically.  Others are blatant in their motive for covetousness.

4.) If we learn anything with removing Saddam and Qaddafi, we shouldn’t be involved with any aid to remove Assad in Syria. A more evil and more violent power will fill the vacuum with Assad’s removal.

5.) In light of point number 4 that does not imply Assad’s rule is without sin and evil oppression.  The protest against Assad four years ago must have had some legitimate grievances by the people, or certain sectors of the population in Syria.

6.) Unfortunately we see in Syria the all too common pattern in which an optimistic civil uprising goes sour.  In 2011 there was an air of optimism that the protest in Syria will join along with the rest of the “Arab Spring” in the Middle East.  But things are not that easy.  Anarchy breeds its own tyranny because the people are also sinful.

6.) In such a chaos, this often give the opportunity for more oppressive forces to rise up.  Think of what followed after French Revolution.  There is the irony that in removing the French King a French Emperor arise from the ashes of the French Reign of Terror.  Or the Russian Revolution.  People should be cautious in thinking that chaos could bring about the state’s regeneration.  That thought is very pagan in its roots.

7.) Total Depravity does not mean Utter Depravity.  While Christian believe there all our faculty is effected by sin (mind, emotion and body), that does not mean we are all equally as bad as we can be in everything that we do in every single instance.  If utter depravity is false then I think the corollary of this is that there is such a thing as the lesser of two evils.

8.) If there is such thing as the lesser of two evils, then the greater evil must be dealt with first.  The greater evil I believe is ISIS.

9.) Because of man’s sinful condition, it seems quite wise of God to make a distinction between the agents of God who are ministers of wrath (the government) and the ministers of Grace (the church).  The responsibilities are divided so that the Church does not have the power of the Sword and the distraction it has from the Gospel.  I think we can definitely pray for the respective governments to follow justice and even for the state to effectively and accurately administer it.  But the church’s role is to share the Gospel.  That involves pointing out sins of course.  But that’s not the end: We point to our Savior who redeemed sinners.  If history has shown us many lessons that is applicable concerning the Syrian conflict, we must not miss the most important lesson that the Gospel can turn empires upside down even as the church is being persecuted and the church not participating in violence for its cause.  At the end of the day, it’s not FSA versus Assad, SAA versus Al Nusra, or ISIS versus Kurds.  It’s the World versus Jesus Christ.  Even two thousand years ago it was not merely about the Roman Empire versus the Germanic Goths.  The Gospel instead made its impact among the Roman Empire and the Germanic tribes.  Let’s not lose focus.

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revamped-logo1-e1402512175915There is a youth conference in Southern California that has been going on for three years already and this year they tackled on the difficult issue of Sin.
Here are the three videos from the three main session.

Session #1 – I’ve Fallen Down and I Can’t Get Up

Session #2 – Burning the Tares: The Punishment for Sin

Session #3 – Jesus: Savior of Sin



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Folly of NYT Coverage of Chris Plaskon Connecticut School Stabbing

One shocking news from last week was of a junior in high school name Chris Plaskon who stabbed a fellow student name Maren Sanchez.  It happened on Friday morning in a hallway at Jonathan Law High School in the state of Connecticut.  Apparently Plaskon had a crush on the girl and he stabbed her since she did not want to go to prom with him.

I do not want to focus my post on this story as much as a piece over at the New York Times about this unfortunate event.  The article can be accessed by clicking HERE.  Its title is quite indicative of what I’m trying to critique: “Suspect in Stabbing at Connecticut School Is Described as Popular.”

From a Christian worldview one can’t help it at times to see the folly of what the media spew out which reflect their inability to grasp a deeper understanding of what is going on or what’s really the issue (see for instance my post ““).  Theology does matter:  A wrong view of morality and ethics (depending on whether it’s source is from God or not) along with a wrong view of man (is he basically good or sinful) will shape how interpret the new story at hand.  I think this NY Times piece is a good case in point.

With pun intended, the writers and editors for this news article aren’t very sharp.

Let us begin with the title: “Suspect in Stabbing at Connecticut School Is Described as Popular.” So a guy stabs a girl to death for not going to prom and the headlines for national news is that this guy is popular?  I’m surprise the two journalists in the article didn’t gives us the friends count of Plaskon’s Facebook account or the stats of how many people followed him on twitter.  I think it is unfortunate that the title for the article  concentrated on something superficial.  As the maxim goes,  one ought not to major on the minors and minor on the majors.

In the writers’ defense, I acknowledge that sometimes its the editors who can manipulate a news article’s title in order to get attention for people to read the news piece.  It’s unfortunate today that people in the media who aren’t witty compensate by being sleazy.  We may fault the editors, but is it justified that I fault the writers?  To answer that, we must look at the content of the article itself.

The article reported an ignorant coach saying the following:

But a day after authorities say Mr. Plaskon, 16 and a junior, fatally stabbed a classmate in a school hallway, teachers and students were struggling to make sense of the incomprehensible: how a student whom many described as funny and popular could suddenly be accused of killing Maren Sanchez, 16, a well-liked honor student and his longtime friend.
“They’re looking for the kid in the black cape and the fangs and the black fingernails, but there was no sign,” said Mark Robinson, 38, who was Mr. Plaskon’s football coach before retiring last season. “He wasn’t a kid who was in the shadows. He was a well-liked kid. He was funnier than hell. That’s what makes it really strange.”

Note how this coach was quoted as saying they expected the suspect to fit a certain mold: it must be someone who enjoy wearing black apparel.  “In the Shadows.”  Not liked.  Of all the people interviewed and all the things people say, one have to wonder why these two writers have to put into the news article an unhelpful stereotype?  Now don’t get me wrong I’m not “emo,” but just because someone’s gothic or anti-social or an awkward weirdo don’t mean they are the suspect you know.  Seriously how low (superficial) can the mainstream media go?  Black fingernails doesn’t determine guilt.

Lastly I want to note what this coach Mark Robinson said in the end of his quote: “He wasn’t a kid who was in the shadows. He was a well-liked kid. He was funnier than hell. That’s what makes it really strange.”  This is a good example of how Christian theology is relevant.  Note that Robinson assumes that because a kid is not in the shadows, he’s not going to be one who commit such an atrocious sin.    He says the same thing for the “well-liked kid.”  And the kid who is funnier than Hades.  What makes it strange for Robinson is that Plaskon were all these things and yet he turned out to be the suspect.  But should a Christian be surprised that a well-liked funny kid is able to commit such heinous acts?

A Christian wouldn’t be totally caught surprised if he or she believes in the sinfulness of man as it is taught in the Bible.

This sinfulness of man began at birth.  Note the words of the Psalmist David: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)

Biblically, the sinfulness of man is universal in scope.  That is, the state of man’s sinfulness is is true of everyone as Romans 3:23 states: “for all [a]have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Psalms 14:2-3 also testify:

The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there are any who [a]understand,
Who seek after God.
They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one.

The Bible also teaches that man’s sinfulness ultimately is not the result of his environment or outward appearances but the inward self, what the Bible calls the heart.  Note Jesus’ words: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, [a]fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” (Matthew 15:19).  Jeremiah even cried:  ““The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” ( Jeremiah 17:9)  Apparently Jeremiah tells us that our sinfulness in our hearts tells us constant lies.  Fortunately God understands this and tells us in His Word.

The above is bad news to an already bad news.

But the Good News is that God has a plan to save us from our sinfulness and the eternal consequences of our sins.  To play on what the coach Robinson joked about earlier, you can’t “be funnier than hell” as a well of escape.  Instead our guilt before God is dealt with through the person and work of Jesus Christ:  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).  This is indeed a free gift to those who trust in Him as their Lord and Savior.  It is not something earned but given by God as Ephesians 2:8-9 testify:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [a]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The Bible helps lay the foundation for us to properly assess the human condition and therefore what’s important and what’s trivial when it comes to current events.  But ultimately it is for us to properly assess ourselves and therefore come to understand and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

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Every year my favorite speaker for the Shepherd’s Conference is Al Mohler.  I am thankful for this man of God.

Al Mohler


Here’s my notes from the evening message that Dr. Mohler gave on March 7th during the Shepherd’s Conference for 2014:

We are here because of John MacArthur’s preaching expositionally.


Look at Romans 1:16-32

There are some passages of the text that is touchstone text that you turn to again and again.

By the time this letter was written, Jews and Gentiles are in the church in the city of Rome.

ROMANS 1:16-17

When we read Romans 1:16 too quickly we miss the wonderfulness of this truth.

Why did he mention “ashamed”?  Remember the Greco-Roman culture that has a high view of honor and shame.

Romans 1:16 is the foundation of which we stand: It explains the Gospel, explain the people of the Covenant of God

It’s like Romans 1:16-17 we have two volumes of biblical theology of justification.

But we see Romans 1:18 as well.

If we authentically preaching the Gospel we will also give the bad news!  The wrath of God is revealed already—in the mirror, the news and all around us.

The end of Romans 1:18 is so important, it reveals a universal conspiracy of humanity of suppressing the truth.

You don’t understand the fall until you understand the fall unless you understand the noetic effect of the fall

Noetic effect of sins is an epistemic sin, a sin intellectual in nature

Note the rational, intellectual acts from Romans 1:18 onwards

The problem is not with revelation but the preciever:  It’s not we cannot but we will not see what is right before our eyes

Noetic effects explain why we forget things, why we don’t see life is one perfect logic and why we see things wrongfully

Again, suppression of Truth is important; it is important to understand who we are, why people won’t come to salvation and human intellectual endeavor

It is suppressed in unrighteousness

Where does this all leads?

We have two things said three times

1.) Exchange (v.23, v.25, v.26-27)

  • There has never been people who came over in confession of being guilty of being an “exchanger…”
  • What does it mean to exchange of God?
  • An exchange for a horrifying idol
  • An exchange for a lie
  • An exchange for a natural function
  • This here is an argument from lesser to the greater, it is progressive:  horrifying idolàlieàunnatural function.
  • Paul wants us to show us that the final exchange is the existence of homosexuality
  • But we must be careful here:  Paul is speaking here of all humanity and holding a picture of “them,” but rather we are talking about ourselves!
  • Humans are all involved, but playing a game of “I won’t call your sins sins, if you don’t call my sins sins.”
  • Think of social effort of intellectually excusing sin via psychological models, etc; think of political effort for homosexuality, etc
  • We also mis-read nature: Is/Ought fallacy; also don’t forget about things as they are because it’s a fallen world!
  • Don’t forget we commit these exchanges
  • We must be thankful that sin doesn’t have full reign and that natural revelation restrain even sinners

2.) God gave them over (v.24, 26, 28)

  • Here we see God is pro-active in giving us over to the identity that we want for our sins
  • We must remember we can commit noetic, epistemological but also hermeneutical and homiletical sins
  • Some say that God giving over means we have no more hope; but there is hope in the Gospel
  • We do ourselves a disservice when we preach what is sins and the sins of others but we need to see that it is everyone
  • It is God’s special revelation that reveal to us

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