Friday, December 31, 2010

What was that about?

Matthew 27:51-53 "And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many"
It's curious how this bit is found only in Matthew, the gospel to the Jews, and dropped so quickly that Matthew presumes the reader would immediately know the significance and move on to the next point.  For myself, I think it's a reference

Ezekiel 37:1-6 "The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD."
And now the Key point I think Matthew is referencing
Ezekiel 37:11-14 "Then he said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD."
That would mean that the rest of Ezekiel 37:15-28 is a fulfillment of the Samaritans being rejoined to Israel, the King ruling over all time is Jesus on His ascension and crucifixion, and that the promise of eternity in paradise of safety is, like the rest, a spiritual fulfillment of the goodness of God. 
That is to say, Ezekiel 37 is trying to get us to see that it's fulfillment is in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  That scripture is grounded and rooted in the cross.  Small wonder then that Paul says in 1 Cor 15:3 that the key to understanding is the crucifixion.

Rewards for God's doings

Ezekiel 36:25-27 "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey my rules."
Matthew 25:21 "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'"

I have heard it asked, how is it that God can praise the man for merely doing what God made Him to do?  The Calvinist answers that God would not be good unless He loves and praises the good, therefore in a sense God is compelled to enjoy His works  and beauty being reflected.  This is true.
But it came to me as I was washing my daughters hands by giving her the soap, and the water, and the elevation to do the task, and then by moving her arms and hands as I dictated, that she was indeed cooperating with me, and trying to emulate me and learn from my instruction.  For this I praised her, and yet nobody would raise the same charge against me "How can you praise your infant daughter for doing what you made her to do?" 
I am training my daughter to do things, in heaven God will be dispensing rewards in exactly the same way.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Because he never believed from the beginning

Matthew 26:21-25 "And as they were eating, He said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me." And they were very sorrowful and began to say to Him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?"  

He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray Me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." 

Judas, who would betray Him, answered, "Is it I, Rabbi?" He said to him, "You have said so."

The wife actually pointed this one out to me.  Prov 18:22

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The verse that makes you Calvinist

John 6:44 - No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Some verses must be interpreted in the Arminian way or the general sense, see John 3:16, but some other verses simply won't tolerate it.  This is one of those that only allows the Calvinist understanding.

No one can come to Me
Is the universal negative. There is no man alive who can accept Christ into his heart, or bow to him as Lord, or come to Him asking for anything in any way.  Unless Jesus is wrong it is simply impossible for any man to come near to God.

unless the Father
The first person in the Trinity is the only one who has the power to break the universal negative we just read.

who sent me
Jesus is sent from the Father, to do the Fathers will. John 6:57, John 8:18, John 5:37, John 8:16, John 8:42 (among many other passages testifying to this).  He did not come of His own accord, or to do His own will, but He was sent.

draws him.
So unless the Father Himself draws the man it is impossible that he come.  Now this word ἕλκω, which means to compel or drag, is not a word that is used to mean a passive wooing but an active overpowering.  Elsewhere in the Bible it's used to speak of seizing by force Acts 16:19,  Acts 21:30, of the disciples dragging their fish ashore in a net John 21:6, John 21:11, of being dragged into court James 2:6, or of a sword yanked from it's sheath John 18:10.  It's best translated draw here because in society they used to ἕλκω water from a well.

and I will raise Him up on the last day
We may naturally think the word draw has a wooing sense, that God is gently drawing the whole word, until we finish reading this verse and see that only the believer will be drawn, for only they will be saved.  No one can come unless dragged, and everyone so effectually dragged is saved- the two thoughts are intimately connected.  Nobody wooed fails to be saved.
The only way to restore the gentle wooing sense of draw is to chop the verse in half and assert that these are two different people - one set are wooed, and another are raised to eternal life.  Alas, the and breaks that thought.  

The only way to get through this verse is to either accept the Calvinistic concepts of Perseverance of the Saints, Total Depravity, and Effectual Calling, or to skip over the verse by not believing it. 

the Church of Christ objects to John 6:44

In the last post we looked at the verse that only allows for the Calvinistic interpretation.  The only real way out of this is to ignore the verse.  To prove my point I hold up James Burton Coffman's Commentary  on this verse (famous Church of Christ theologian) who says the following (which I have reorganized for ease of use)
  1. Those who find in this an irresistible and sovereign act of God in calling individual sinners find much more than is in it, for the very next verse tells exactly how the drawing is accomplished: "They shall all be taught of God." 
  2. To suppose that God draws some and not others would be to suppose that God is partial and unjust Acts 10:34
  3. The murmurers [the unbelieving crowd] in this passage had rejected the teaching of God relative to [because of] the lowliness of the Messiah, thus thwarting God's drawing of them unto himself. The fact of [the] rejection [of God's drawing] by some does not nullify the promise; the ones who respond will still be raised up at the last day.   
Let's answer him in reverse order. 
3. Notice first that this has nothing whatsoever to do with John 6:44.  He claims that God is indeed continually thwarted in drawing [by this he means wooing which we showed to be wrong] all men, the consequence of which is that God is not greater than man.  Seeing the bind he places himself in Burton adds that if you change your mind and cooperate God's offer is still good, and God is capable of becoming stronger again with your help.  Which doesn't really get him out of the bind of making God less powerful then man at all.
2. To suppose that God effectually draws some men and not others would be to make God unjust.  Ignore Ezekiel 33:20, Romans 9:14-16 for a moment.  When Moses request for more life was turned down but Hezekiahs was not was that unjust?  When God gave great riches to Solomon but not to Saul was that unjust?  When God made Babylon rule the world at the expense of Syria, Assyria, Judah, Sidon, and Egypt, was that unjust?  To believe this to deny the right God has to do whatsoever pleases Him, to say nothing of the fact that the verse itself tells us that everyone so called will receive eternal life (and we know that not everyone receives eternal life, ergo not everyone was called)
1. Those who teach what the verse says will be thwarted when they realize that God Himself regenerates the hearts and minds of the people, thus allowing them to accept Him; that God Himself teaches the inner man to love Him anew.  I fail to see how this contradicts John 6:44.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hyper Calvinism is really all about me

The main tenant I have with Hypercalvinism is that it makes too much of men.
On the surface it looks like it makes the least of men of every given philosophy considering that it asserts men are so fallen that it does not even ask them for repentance, but in reality it elevates men to a place they ought not to be in. Under the guise of humility it hides a growing pride. It's hypocrisy.

Take as an example the substutionary atonement (1 Cor 15:3, Rom 14:15, 1 Peter 2:24).  The hypers agree to this doctrine, making it look as if they make much of the God who saves those incapable of saving themselves, but they go on to assert that Christ has died in this way only for the elect.  The Bible is clear however that His wrath is due sinners Ezr 8:22, Mat 12:36, Col 3:6, and that we are sinners Rom 3:10. To save us Christ dies as a sinner in our place Rom 5:8, 2 Cor 5:21.  We are invited to take comfort and acceptance therefore in our sinfulness, because Christ dies to save sinners, 1 Tim 1:15, not in election as if Christ died for the elect.  The Bible speaks much of our sinfulness, and comparatively little of our election because it's emphasizing the chief thing: our sinfulness.

On the other hand the hypercalvinist (and I include the high Calvinist as they commit the same mistake just to a lesser degree) take the same verses and see Christ dying for the elect, of which I am one.  In verses that speak of Christs death they no longer see the word sinner, they see the word us, or me.  In other words, Christ came to die for me, and took the wrath due me because I'm electHe dies for the elect to pay their debt and not a single bit more, nor does He have compassion on the non-elect.  How can He? He dies for specific sins of the elect, so the non-elect in no way have any of their sins paid for, as their sole function was ever to bring Him glory by burning forever in hell.
You will never find a hyper thinking of himself as a reprobate or a sinner, nor are the elect ever under a serious wrath considering God always wanted to save them. Eph 2:1-3 is talking about a different kind of dead and a different, special kind of wrath. Those warning passages do not apply to a Hyper because of how special he is, how important he is.  That is the mark of pride.

This is why most Biblical doctrines get destroyed- ultimately it's because the hyper is wrapped up in himself. Take common grace for example. A hyper will insist that there is no such thing because Christ never had an intention to save the non-elect and so never purchased good for them, but the underlying motive for this conclusion is that I'm special and they are not, they shall not share my inheritance. It sounds like the Judiazers.  "I will not share my inheritance in Abraham. I will not share my God's blessings. I will not share with the Gentiles because I am special, I am better than them. I thank you God that I am not a sinner."  Luke 18:11 is the prayer of the Pharisee and hyper Calvinist alike.
Likewise the need for sanctification.  Go join a HyperCalvinist forum or group and see how much regard they have for others.  Do not slander, love your brother, these are unnecessary because I am already saved, I am elect, I am chosen. I have already overcome all sin and passed from judgment to life. The blessings in Christ are mine, not Christ's who then gives to me.
Likewise evangelism.  What do I care if you go to heaven or not?  God will see to it if He wants.
Likewise fellowship with everyone else. What is destroying the desire to commune with the body is Pride, the vice that utterly destroys all ability to get along with others.

I propose this is the explanation for so many (if not most) Arminians who convert swing all the way out to HyperCalvinism.  Conventional wisdom has it that they are like a pendulum, but in reality they are just taking a small step further, trading their self importance under free will in for a greater self importance under election.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Free will is God's sovereignty - an introduction

What started as a hunch will now be propounded: that what we think of as the 'free will' of man is actually the sovereignty of God. That the two ideas are one thing, and the way to resolve the crisis is to look higher up at God than we did before.  Having said this, I suspect there are perhaps a number of other ways out of this trap.  The guys over here think the idea is to think outside the box.  Worth considering as well.  I know that this is a huge issue that many stumble at, but there are number of good reasons to ignore the failure of the ancients and push forward.
  1. Many (most?) people get part of the way to clearing up the discrepancy and simply quit. This site that I really respect just isn't trying when it says:
    Scripture is clear that God knows the future (Matthew 6:8; Psalm 139:1-4) and has total sovereign control over all things (Colossians 1:16-17; Daniel 4:35). The Bible also says that we must choose God or be eternally separated from Him. We are held responsible for our actions (Romans 3:19; 6:23; 9:19-21).How these facts work together is impossible for a finite mind to comprehend (Romans 11:33-36)
    It's no wonder they can't figure it with that attitude.  Just because a task is impossibly big doesn't mean we shouldn't try at all.  It just means that we have to be careful since the guard rails are off.

  2. There exists in the sinful mind a dichotomy between the two ideas, that because there can be only one sovereign, the two people or ideas must be in opposition. The Arminian says "Free will is given by God and He doesn't tamper with it. I have no scripture to back this up but otherwise men are robots."  The HyperCalvinist says "Well God is sovereign therefore there is no such thing moral agency.  He directly causes all things, even men to sin." and the moderate Calvinist says "God establishes moral agency by his sovereignty but beyond that no man can know."  In all cases there is a preconception that the two ideas are not similar but different in a fundamental way.  Parallel lines that meet only somewhere in heaven. I reject this dichotomy too.  Now that I have said that you probably see the answer I'm driving toward.

  3. There is the seeds of this idea/proposition already in place, and in orthodox soil.  The Westminster Confessions says this in chapter 3
    "God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."
Of course, having said that last sentence I have given away the game.  But it's worth a more full treatment, nonetheless.  One more thing, an analogy- there is a famous math problem my dad used to torment me with when I was younger and incapable of sustained rational thought: Three people pay $10 each for a motel room for a total of $30. The manager realizes he has over charged them and gives $5 in ones to the bellhop to return to them, but the bellhop keeps $2 for himself before giving each of the men $1. If each of the men paid $27 (9x3) and the bellhop kept $2, (27+2=29) then where did the extra dollar go?
There could not be a more perfect analogy for the problem of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.  The problem resolves, or should I say vanishes, when viewed properly, and yet becomes formidable when viewed improperly.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Free Will *is* God's Sovereignty Proved

Time to make good on my promise of a rich full treatment of this concept.  So that we are on the same page I'm going to define for you the meaning of the key words I'm going to use.

Sovereignty- The ability to carry out or affect all things desired.  God is sovereign over creation Rev 4:11, because of His power Phil 3:21 which He created alone for His pleasure Ps 135:6, Ps 115:3 and purposes Prov 16:4.  He is sovereign over the weather Gen 6:17, Ex 10:21, Ex 9:23-26Job 38:22, Mark 4:35, over the elements Ex 13:21, 2 Kings 2:8, events, Prov 16:33, John 1:7, Luke 13:4.  He is sovereign over animal creatures Ex 32:35, 1 Sam 6:4, Ps 104:21, 1 Kings 17:4-6. He is sovereign over Satan Job 1:12, Ps 103:20.  He is sovereign over nations Ps 47:7-9, Dan 2:20-21.  And yes, over men Ex 3:21, Ezekiel 7:27, Prov 16:33.  In fact in these select verses we have said nothing of God predestining nations and people, of choosing them by His grace alone.  All we have done is show that when God wants something He gets it.
Piper says it like this
God "works all things after the counsel of his will" (Eph 1:11) which includes the fall of sparrows Matt 10:29, the rolling of dice Prov 16:33, the slaughter of his people Ps 44:11, the decisions of kings Prov 21:1, the failing of sight Ex 4:11, the sickness of children 2 Sam 12:15, the loss and gain of money 1 Sam 2:7, the suffering of saints 1 Peter 4:19, the completion of travel plans James 4:15, the persecution of Christians Heb 12:4-7, the repentance of souls 2 Tim 2:25, the gift of faith Phil 1:29, the pursuit of holiness Phil 3:12-13, the growth of believers Heb 6:3, the giving of life and the taking in death 1 Sam 2:6, and the crucifixion of his Son Acts 4:27-28. 
 But I say it like this
Whatever God wants to do, He does. Dan 4:35
Agency- A person appointed to act on behalf of someone else. We are appointed to act as a ruler on behalf of God over the animals, rocks, plants, and created order.  Gen 1:28.  We are given charge to carry out the will of God.  We are His hands, as it were 1 Cor 12:27, Col 2:19.

- an act or thought worthy of praise or condemnation, depending on how it squares with God's character.  Because God is worthy of praise 2 Sam 22:4, Ps 18:3 He is moral, and because we are made in His image Gen 1:26, we are moral, and our actions are worthy of praise Matt 25:21.

Free- uncoerced by sin.  John 8:36, 2 Peter 2:19.  Sin finds it's origin in our hearts Acts 5:4, Mark 7:21-23, never in God who is utterly pure and incapable of sin. Hab 1:13.  God is therefore the truest free being in existence. 

Will- the part of us that takes our volition and desires, and effects them. God often speaks to this part of us when demanding our perseverance, see 1 Sam 7:3 as an example.

From our definitions above we know that free will is that part of us that takes our desires and actualizes them and is untainted and uncorrupted by sin. But Scripture says unequivocally that we are by nature slaves to sin, so this is wrong, our will is by no means free John 3:19-20, 1 Cor 2:14, 1 Cor 12:3 to name a few.  Is that what the protest is over?  No.  What people most often mean when they speak of free will is the power to affect and accomplish what I please.  Notice what that is (look above)- it's sovereignty.  "How can Free Will and God's sovereignty coexist?" is therefore reduced to, "if God has unlimited power, how can He make us in His image and give us power to carry out His will for ourselves?" To ask it is to answer it. 
What you are seeing when you look at free will is actually an expression of God's sovereignty.  The problem has resolved itself because we are no longer seeing two different things in conflict, but the same thing from different perspectives.
Once we grasp that it is easy to put everything into a right perspective and draw the application.  Say for example, I want my daughter's room picked up, so I tell her to clean it.  Does she then have control over which toy goes in what box?  Yes, clearly. Does her freedom to do as she pleases in there mean that my sovereignty over her is fake? On the contrary, she has been given power and responsibility in order that she may do my will, and her freedoms are at that very moment proclaiming the supremacy of my sovereignty.  Does the fact that she is expressing my sovereignty in the form of cleaning as she pleases make her a robot?  Hardly.
God's working out his plan by giving sovereignty to His agents so they can act on His behalf is the truest and most complete expression of His sovereignty there can be.  In other words, our freedom is not only established and upheld by Him, it's Him expressing His sovereignty through us in an unparalleled, astonishingly magnificent fashion.  What does scripture say? Phil 2:12-13: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure"
Here His desire is to have us do a task for Him- to use our freedom over ourselves to work out our own salvation.  By His unfailing strength He will make us succeed, but because it's His power flowing into and through us to enable us to accomplish His desires.  He tells you to do it, gives you the enabling freedom, and then you do it. His will, His expression, His achievement, our action.  The thrust of the passage is His sovereignty, understood through the lens of our agency.

Therefore I conclude: our free will is
  1. Better called our sovereignty, which is an image, or shadow of His own
  2. Established and upheld by His sovereignty
  3. The way He carries out His supremely sovereign plans
The unbeliever Arminian will argue further by saying that this arrangement of us freely doing what God wants is either not God retaining His sovereignty, or is not us retaining our freedoms.  He will insist that the two wills may not be one under the other, but must be equal. But this is to demand that the creature is as glorious as God Himself.  It's a hecklers veto- "if I cannot be God then no one shall be, for I shall be sovereign, I shall be like the most high."  Paul answered precisely this in Rom 9:20.  There is no real questioning at that point, it's simple rank rebellion. To deny that we are free is to deny that He could make us free and still retain control- it's to limit His power.  To deny that He is sovereign is to limit His power again.  To place them one under the other, and show that one is an expression of the other is the way out of the trap. 

Why then has God appointed this system to exist?  I submit because it makes Him more glorious. 
If His plan included rocks and water and hail and snow doing certain things at certain times and He was able to control them and use them for His purposes we would see that He is indeed great and glorious. 
If it included animals that act and have volition, pleasures and stimulus to do His bidding and carry out His plan it would be another, even greater thing. 
But God shows us how utterly huge and magnificent His mind is by using other sovereign agents to achieve His ends. It gives us a frame of reference to understand Him that would not be possible otherwise.  "Look man, you have this much power, which is a great deal, that allows you to reshape the world as you desire.  Think of the myriad of ways you do, think how you use the sand to make microchips, and quadrature amplitude phase modulation to manipulate microwaves to talk to each other over your wireless internet.  Consider that.  In the same way that you have power over the elements, I have power over you."

So there it is.  The question that asks how can there be free will and God's sovereignty is easy to answer: because God is sovereign and created us in His image.  For whatever reason it's a lot easier to think rightly about your sovereignty than your free will, perhaps because in the first case your mind is drawn upward, and in the second drawn inward. The trick to resolving the difficulty is to rid yourself of the sinful component in your mind that demands you be equal with God.
May God be praised as we meditate on the magnitude of His sovereignty. 

PS: The $9 each man pays already includes the bellhop's $2 fee.  To add it again is to double count it, which is wrong.
PPS: I understand the cavil that argues that God cannot will evil or evil to exist, therefore God cannot be sovereign in giving men the ability to rebel.  I will post about this in the future. It's a lot easier to answer than you might think.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Romans 3:25 excerpted from my book

I have had a devilishly hard time getting this passage to read right, but here it is anyway, after the revision.

[How is this offering Jesus made to God on our behalf] to be received [by us?] 
by faith.
We are justified the very moment we have faith in Jesus. We receive the gift by faith, for faith.
Acts 16:30-31- “Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."

John 11:25-26- “Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
John 20:31- “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

[Why would Christ save us in] this [way?  What] was [the reason for it?]
to show God’s righteousness
All of God’s glorious attributes, wrath, justice, mercy, love, holiness, are seen clearly only in light of the cross.
Isaiah 62:2- “
The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.
1 Corinthians 1:30- “
And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption”
1 John 4:9a- “I
n this the love of God was made manifest among us”

[Isn’t He always righteous?  What would lead people to think He wasn’t?]
because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. 
To show His patience God passed over our past sins, to keep His enemies from impugning His righteousness He could not do so forever.
2 Peter 3:4- “They will say, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation."
Galatians 4:4-5- “
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Something interesting in this- according to Paul here the cross was for God to show us His character, it really doesn't speak to us at all in this instance, it draws 100% of the attention up to God.  I further suspect that this is saying the same thing as what Jesus says in Mark 10:45.  It seems to me that Jesus is predominately known in a creature, creator way that would not be present without His sacrifice.  He is going to bring people in, but not for their sake.  He wants to make known His glory upon us, and He cannot do that unless we are created, so He creates.  He wants to make Himself known, so He comes to the Earth to come to the cross.  He is the tirminus in all thoughts, He provides us a (true) frame of reference outside ourselves.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader Review

Okay, so I know this isn't a normal post which has to do with theology thoughts and scriptural meditations, but I wanted to share this here anyway because I'm so upset at the watering down of the book. 
Last night the wife and I went to see the New Chronicles of Narnia movie.  I had just finish reading this article, which I find brilliant:
which made the movie so much worse.   
Spoilers Below
After the first scene (which had no business being in the movie) of Edmund trying to slink into the military, VOTDT had a great 10 minutes of following the book closely, and the result was well done.  Meeting Eustice, the crew, the ship, sailing to the Lone Islands nearly put you in the action.  Unfortunately that's the end of following the book (I do recognize that it's very hard to gather momentum with this novel, it doesn't lend it self well to cinema, sure, but that's what we are paying them the big bucks to figure out isn't it?) and that's when the plot gives way like a malibu house in a mudslide.  Caspian decides to go alone into a hostile zone?  What?  The pirates turned out to be slavers in the sway of a terrible green CG mist? Oh yes, you know, the killer mist of dead people from Lord of the Rings III the return of the King.  What was it gaining the people to sacrifice the people on the island, as opposed to selling them for profit? What would make the writers think that a cowed island would rise up against their oppressors?  This makes no sense, it just begs the question, why did they not set out to save the world from the mist to begin with and forget going along with the book? Why the pretext of the lost lords?  Forget the lords, what's better than seven dudes?  Their seven swords by which we may fight and defeat the magic gas! 
The movie holds steady as we are introduced to life aboard the Dawn Treader, (although why they would pick up people on this voyage I have no idea). Eustice is a little monster every bit as unpleasant as the book, but alas, the noble mouse Reepeecheep has devolved into a smack talking fencing coach.  He has lost all of what made him so knightly, and it shows.
They reach the magicians island, which is not manicured and well groomed, but wild and unkempt looking.  Seeing this the crew decides to sleep the night on a hostile, unexplored territory without a guard.  (What kind of idiots are these Narnians anyway?)  The dufflepods then kidnap Lucy while the rest sleep. Why you ask? Because kidnapping is more action oriented, kids love kidnapping. She goes into the invisible house (why isn't the book invisible when the house is?) and rips out a page, reads the spell, makes everyone visible, but Aslan is chopped from this scene entirely.  Who needs him?  As it turns out the magician made all the hostile nuisance dufflepods invisible to protect them from the mist.  (If that was effective and they could rip pages from the book, why didn't they save the invisibility spell for when they encountered the mist?)
Back on board the ship the mist attacks Lucy who then prepares to read the beautifying spell she stole and is in for a rude surprise - she has become her sister.  I wish they would have implemented that back at the Island, because although it's clever, it really makes no sense.  Aslan explains that the chief virtue is being yourself.  (Hey Lucy, don't try to be beautiful, or virtuous, or who God made you, just have more self esteem.)
When they land on the deathwater island next, (yes, out of order from the book, it's annoying but easily forgivable) the movie sinks lower.  Deathwater pond is underground, in a cave, and when the item touches the pool it becomes solid gold, as opposed to what the water touches becoming gold. Why did they need to change this?  What motivation would the lord have to dive into it completely?  It's not hot there, if he wanted to drink the water he would have dipped his cup in and freaked out, not dove in, and certainly not dove in in a kneeling down position. Why the mist again?  The quarrel between Edmund and Caspian was at least well done.
Eustice then discovers the dragon horde and becomes a dragon by merely possessing the band.  (They did well with every dragon scene in my opinion. Good size, good physics etc.) Now they have a dilemma, there is nothing on this island (why a dragon would inhabit a waterless, foodless island is senseless, as they are too big to reach the deathwater cave) so after a night he decides to fly along with the ship, and even tow the ship, to Ramandus island. Yes skip the whole scene of Eustice meeting Aslan, skip his repentance, him changing back.  Who needs it?  And it gets even more offensive for Christians.  Lucy is sleeping on the island with the stow-away little girl who is troubled in her soul. Lucy comforts her by telling her that Aslan will make it right, and she asks in protest "But how can he, since he couldn't save her from getting kidnapped in the first place?"  Lucy is rightly stumped.  "Uh well I dunno, but I guess we should have faith anyway?"  This is such a thinly veiled dig at Christianity it makes me angry to think of even now. "Is God all loving? Is He all powerful?  Well there is suffering in the world and I don't have everything I want so God can't exist." 
On Ramandus island they lay down the 6 swords, talk briefly with Ramadu's daughter, eat from Aslans stone table, and prepare to sail to the Island that is going to destroy the world.  I might not be remembering this right, but I think they mentioned it's the stone table from the first movie that Aslan was sacrificed on.  Which just makes me more angry.
At last the climax of the movie, what every scene involving magic gas was building to- they must travel into Mordor to destroy the ring the dead island where the remaining Lord and sword lies.  Caspian gives a rousing generic speech "Go think of something motivating someone once said to you and go win this thing for Aslan Narnia" And they are off.  Once there they find the Lord Rhoop alone on a rock with no water, no food, no room to sit or lie down, who has been there for at least months, warning them all to turn around.  They are then over come by mist, again, and we see even more White witch.  She ends up logging about 3x more face time then Aslan. I'll admit that the sailors facing their fears was interesting, but the whole point of the book was that their dreams became real. Not subjective, objective. 
Now what does every action movie need?  If you said a videogame esque boss fight to end the movie you guessed right.  The Kracken from Pirates of the Caribbean Leviathan appears because during the trial they think their worst fears, so it takes on the form foreshadowed earlier.  Right then Caspian says "What did you do Ray is it?" and Edward responds "I thought of the most harmless thing possible- the Staypuff marshmallow man sea creature"
Who rescues the sailors but Eustice the fire breathing dragon, who is now full of courage and an awesome force for good?  Yep.  In fact the fight was going well until the 70 year old, starved, and dehydrated Lord Rhoop grabs his magic sword and throws it, 100 yards, on a perfect dart, for no reason, through Eustices magic dragon scales (that even the Leviathan couldn't penetrate) sinking deep into his shoulder.  This causes Eustice to leave (although why is not clear, he could have flown onto the ship and begin breathing fire at the beast until it expires) and meet Aslan.  This scene was forced and had no business being in the movie at this point.  As a reformed Christian who loved Lewis growing up I would have advised them to remove it, it adds no value to the plot.  It was obviously a bone thrown to Christians (See stupids? We left your scene in for you, although it's just as out of place and senseless as real repentance.)  For no real reason Eustice tries to cut himself and Aslan helps him out.  I suppose it was his reward for fighting, Aslan shows up and decides "Well you learned your lesson, I wanted you to come to Narnia to learn courage, so I will reward you here by restoring you, since you earned it through good deeds."
Flying into the air, exploding in fire, Eustice is not only transformed back but teleported to Aslans stone table (that everyone ate off of!!!) and does battle against the mist which seeks to restrain him, eventually placing the 7th sword with the rest and allowing the monster to become mortal.  Meanwhile, holding up the blue glowing magic sword Sam acquired from Frodo to keep the spider at bay err, sword of Griffendor acquired from the sorting hat, the basilisk serpent monster impales his own brain and dies this time for good. Harry Potter the crew is saved.
The kids, Reep and Caspian then sail to the end of the world and find Aslan on a narrow sandbar.  Aslan invites everyone who wants to to go to heaven, but Caspian refuses, telling Aslan off more or less. (As opposed to the book where Caspian has a tantrum and Aslan sharply reproves him when Reep wasn't enough) Although Reep decides to go on, the kids decide against dying, and want to go home as well.  Aslan approves of all choices, as all choices are equally good in his eyes.  He doesn't make decisions anyway, he just affirms ones you make.  He tells them that they must learn to meet him by his human name- Buddah.  Or Muhammid, or whatever, everything is equally valid, it's cool guys.  As if the concept of a supreme sovereign deity who does as he pleases in heaven and on earth, and none can restrain him or ask what has he done is the stupidest thing the writers have ever heard.  Reep goes, he has earned it at any rate, like everyone says.  Heaven is for those who have done well on this earth and choose to go on, which is really just as good as living out your ordinary life.   
Aslan has been completely stripped of his greatness, his glory, and his power.  Like Reep, he is reduced to an encouraging psychologist who wants everyone to do what pleases them. But on the bright side Aslan doesn't really tend to leave his country, so he won't bother you if you don't want him to. The end.
PS: I read an article about how Liam (the voice of Aslan) saw Aslan as a generic religious leader based on the script.  I mocked him for it, but now I'm sorry I did, because based on this movie he was perfectly right to think and say that.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Imputation every day

My daughter pulled the hand towel off the stove rack this morning.  I told her that that was a no and to put it back, but the thing is she wasn't tall enough to loop it and make it stay, she could only bunch it up over the bar, and if she took her hand off it would fall.  But was this half way effort enough for me?  Yes.  I then gave her a big thank you big girl even though she hadn't actually done what I told her to do, and yet she understood just fine that she had achieved what I wanted.  Her obedience to me, and her faith that I would see it accomplished if I willed it. She was incapable of doing it, but who was she to argue if she was or not?  I knew that and credited to her account as if she had, while finishing the job myself. 
It's remarkable how often regular every day lessons for spiritual applications present themselves, and how very.... well... ordinary the idea of imputation is.  You don't have to be a theological genius to understand imputation of sin and grace through faith, odds are you are doing it all the time.  And there is a great genius of God in that I believe.

Christ at the Center of History

It's elementary to say the Bible is about Christ, that Adam exists as a man who foreshadows the second Adam.  You see that truth clearly when you study the fulfillment of the prophecies in the New Testament, until you come to the one about Jesus and the holy family fleeing Herod into Egypt. Hosea 11:1 is a strange one, because it seems to not fit in at all.
Kevin DeYoung posits the correct interpretation on this thought: that Christ is the new Israel. That in the same way the man Adam, or Moses, or Jonah foreshadowed Christ, the entire nation together foreshadows Christ. Israel came from Egypt, was baptized in the Sea and cloud under Moses, faced the trials in the wilderness, preached the law from Sinai "thus says the Lord" and came into the promised land.
Jesus came out of Egypt, was baptized, faced trials in the wilderness, preached the law "you have heard it said... but I tell you" and entered the promised land of rest.  Therefore Israel the nation is the foreshadowing of Christ. It's the analogy, the weak mist, the ghost compared to Jesus, who is more than the fulfillment of scripture and history, He is the source of it's strength. It is what it is by mirroring and copying Him. 

That is a truly remarkable thought.  Christ bends all of human and cosmic history about Himself.  All nations, peoples, languages, relationships, and world events are taken after Him and find Him the source of their strength.  Not only is He at the center of all the Bible texts, stories, commands, songs, He is at the center of the created History.  He is more than the consummation of the Old Testament, He is it's substance, it's reality.  It in itself is the dimly lit history or analogy pointing to the truth found in Christ.  He is the foundation for existence, the highest end.  He is the one in which all things hold together, all the narratives and events.  
And not merely at the center of Scripture, but at the very core of the universe which orbits around Him, created after Him, in His likeness.
Paul would say it like this in Colossians 1:16-17 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 
But I confess I because of the size I had failed to apprehend the colossal statement that is, and it was not until I saw that the enormous history of the huge nation itself was foreshadowing Christ did I realize in some small part the magnitude of His anchoring presence in this world. 
It's one thing to bend all of scriptures about you, it's another again to bend all human history to you, and to have living nations existing for the sole purpose of reflecting your story.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jesus as the center of the Scripture

 John 5:39-40,46 - You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life...For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.
Matthew 21:42 - Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures (Ps118:22-23) : "'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?
Mark 14:27 - And Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away, for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'(Zechariah 13:7)
Luke 24:44 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.
We see that the whole of the Bible is drawing us into the idea of Christ, for Christ is conscious that He is fulling and the fulfillment of all the Old Testament Scriptures.  We therefore know that every book in the Bible from the Old Testament is really a story about Him.  Sometimes this is perfectly clear Psalms 40:7-10 Then I said, "Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation, and sometimes not as much Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.  (I'll come back to this one in particular next post)

This is a foundational point in Reformed theology that the Bible is about Christ.  That the stories we read are foreshadowing Him. Song of Solomon isn't a holy "sex manual" it's a poetic message from Christ to His Church.  Ah, isn't it then wonderful to see the Scriptures open like a flower having understood that the Bible was written about Him, to Him, for His glory?  Makes so much more sense this way. See this well done video that makes the point for me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Blessing of Abraham

Abraham became rich.  Isaac became rich. Jacob became rich.  It seems like God is making it very plain who the blessing passed to.  He wanted to point out in a big neon arrow who had the blessing.  Yet we see Joseph became richest of all but the blessing was not given to him, to temper the idea that the blessing = mammon.  Judah nonetheless became a huge tribe and was more or less the Southern Kingdom.
I haven't thought enough the nature of the blessing, but it does seem clear that the blessed ones surely prospered, if nothing else, indicating their status. 

The TNIV 2 Tim2:12 Irony

In my estimation the KJV is perhaps the most helpful of all "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" because it has the idea of man as the head, the leader, and the woman usurping him before she can take power.  In other words she casts down the created order and sins to become the leader.

Here is the ESV "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." Okay, so that's not too bad either, but it opens the door a crack.  She may not be over a man, but here it may imply that she can be over him so long as she doesn't say or do anything.  The translators obviously tried to stand next to the Greek word αὐθεντέω means 'to exercise authority' and let the reader figure it out, which I'm all for.

Now here is the NIV2011 "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet"  Great, as a woman I can have power and use it so long as I don't take upon myself.  I shant assume, but if handed authority I shant refuse.

There is something really ironic thing about that.  NIV2011 is supposed to be a dynamic idea translation, for example they went through the New Testament and stripped out all the references to 'flesh' and translated them based on context.  So for example in Romans 7 we have "nothing good lives in my flesh" becoming "nothing good lives in my sinful nature".  Nothing harmful there per se. 
Only the question is, why didn't they use their context clues, and dynamic equivalence to fix 2 Tim 2 :12 as well? How hard is it, if you are already doing it elsewhere?  A kid could figure it out, v13 is the explanation  for that rule: for Adam was first formed, then Eve. The reason lies in the created order- God wanted Adam to be the ruler and head, and Eve to be His beloved helper.
It cannot possibly be more clear then that.  So why does NIV2011 decided to help us poor stupid readers out elsewhere but not here?
I don't know.
But it is ironic.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Free will

The Calvinist asserts that man's will is not free, but must bow before a God who controls it.  Who turns it like a watercourse where He pleases, who hardens men, who appeared as a light to smite the opposition to His name and turn men to repentance.  Who must grant men repentance before they will have it.  Who gives faith as a gift, and the ability to accept the gift as another gift of grace.  A God who keeps even Pagans from sin.
In opposition to that is the Arminian (Church of Christ-er) who asserts that God is hands off, that He cannot touch peoples hearts, that men can repent whenever they want, that He has no ability to force men to do what they want, and cannot stop them from doing what they would like.

One of these is scriptural and has a corresponding verse for every thought. I'll leave you to guess which is which.

Monday, November 22, 2010

John 19 notes

  • The 6th hour is about noon. 12PM. Pilate was trying to stall the trial out, but nearing noon they become ferocious, demanding action.
  • Imputed as unrighteous before Pilate. Given the sentence due Barabbas the murderer and terrorist, who got His sentence. Pilate testifies to His innocence.
  • Let us also mind that unity is produced between Herod and Pilate. To unite apart from Christ and His doctrines is possible too.
  • The people cry a rash vow, for His blood to be on them, as if all the other rash vows were not warning enough (see Judges)
Jhn 19:16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus,
Mar 15:20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross
Luk 23:26-31 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.  And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!'  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Cover us.' For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
They thought nothing of compelling someone to this ignoble task.  Falling under the weight of it Jesus was utterly unable to carry the cross.  They carried it behind Him.
Christ does not rebuke the women so much as warn them that if they will kill Him the Lord of Glory, then they will certainly kill you.  Cursing your children is the lowest a person can go.  They need to wake up to the terrible reality of Divine Wrath coming.

Jhn 19:17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.
Mar 15:23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
Mat 27:34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.
North and west of the city is the hill of the main road.  He was taken outside the camp Heb 13:12, Lev 16:27 as the scape goat carrying the sins of the people.  They offer wine before they lay Him down, but He refuses.

Jhn 19:18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.
Mar 15:24-25,27 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.  And it was the third hour when they crucified him… And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left
Luk 23:34 And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." And they cast lots to divide his garments.
By the Jewish time: the First Hour was 6AM-9AM.  The second was 9-12. The third hour was 12-3.  So this was sometime between 9 and 12, with the appropriate time much closer to 12 than 9.  Jesus then intercedes on behalf of the people and soldiers. Notice that in between was the worst spot. See Isaiah 53:12.

Jhn 19:19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
Mat 27:37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews."
The total inscription would be: “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”

Jhn 19:20-22 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but rather, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.'" Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."
Pilate was preaching the Gospel here, in three languages, that Jesus was the King. From a definitive location, a real place in time, and was suffering as an innocent man.

Jhn 19:23-24 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, "They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." So the soldiers did these things,
Mat 27:36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there
The name card and the gambling are more or less simultaneous.  After they hung Him up they sit down and wait, having accomplished their duties.

Jhn 19:25-27 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Jesus was asking John to take care of His mother, but even more, was making a statement about the family of the Kingdom.
Mar 15:29-32 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, "Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross.
So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself.  Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe."
Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
Luk 23:36-37 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!"
We see four groups now mocking Him.  Those traveling into Jerusalem, the high priests, the soldiers, and the criminals on the cross.
Luk 23:39-43 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Somewhere in these three hours the man was forced to come to grips with his own mortality, his impending death, and himself. Likely he heard from the Roman guards, and understood from the Chief priests that this was Him, although he didn’t understand perfectly.  Death itself is not enough to shake man loose from His evil.  Jesus though hanging on the cross, is still the Lord of the Universe.
Mar 15:33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
Darkness came upon the land at about noon and lasted until about 3PM. The amount of time Jesus was on the cross the sun was eclipsed.
Mar 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Very near His death now Jesus cries out in despair, having been turned away by His Father. It is unthinkable.
Jhn 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst."
As taken from Ps 22

Mar 15:36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down."
Jhn 19:29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.
They thought He was calling for Elijah, but He was in His right mind, still fulfilling scripture, in life and death. They ridiculed Him, joking that Elijah will come down and rescue Him. They have continually made sport of Christ.

Jhn 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Tetalasti- paid in full.
Luk 23:46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last.
As taken from Ps31:5 Jesus quoted scripture to the last. His confidence in the Father is unabated to the end.
Mar 15:38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.
We see that the ceremonial law was done for, that ceremony had been subsumed.  That Christ was now the end of righteousness for all who believe.  We will skip the portion of the dead rising, sufficing it to say that Jesus died so that the dead would rise, and they rose immediately so that it should be immediately obvious.

Mar 15:39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"
Luk 23:47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, "Certainly this man was innocent!"
The centurion declares too that Jesus was innocent of any crime, that He suffered must have been for us.  He sees this and knows Jesus was divine, he goes away thinking on the innocence of Christ.
Luk 23:48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.
Mar 15:40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. Mar 15:41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
Women were nobodies.  It is interesting that John gives himself no credit, but says that only the women stood by Christ to the end.

Jhn 19:31-36 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. who saw it has borne witness--his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth--that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken."
To prove He had been dead for some time the soldiers pierced Him.  Water and blood flow out which symbolizes the water and blood that cleanses us. 

Jhn 19:37 And again another Scripture says, "They will look on him whom they have pierced."

Jhn 19:38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body.
Mar 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Luk 23:51 who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God.
Joseph was secretly afraid no longer. Now with boldness he goes to embalm Christ before sundown. He was waiting for the Kingdom, which is high praise.

Mar 15:44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. Mar 15:45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.  Mar 15:46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
Jhn 19:39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight.
Jhn 19:40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
Nicodemus and Joseph then wrap and anoint Jesus and bury Him in a new tomb.
Luk 23:55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Luk 23:56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.
This explains why they will go later to the tomb, they saw the two guys do it in a hurried and sloppy fashion.

Jhn 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
Jhn 19:42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
What scriptures were fulfilled in this event?
What images were foreshadowed in this event. Explain the significance in the details
What was the meaning of Christs death?
What did it accomplish?
Why were there so many testimony’s to Christ’s innocence? Would not one or two be enough?
Why did Jesus die so quickly?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Church of Christ theology spirals into death

Theorem: Pick an arbitrary starting point, follow through with it's logical consequences, and you will find that ultimately the theology of the Churches of Christ end at theological liberalism or gnosticism.

Proof: There is no such thing as once saved always saved.
Therefore there is no such thing as God's immutability
. God changes His mind, will, plan, emotions, and actions as needed, or as often as He likes. 
There is no divine immutability therefore there is no real holiness with God.
Who is to say God won't change His mind when I get to the afterlife? Sure I have been bad, or, well there was a time I wasn't perfect and I missed church that one time, but hey, God will forgive me of my sin. Sin isn't that abhorrent to God after all. 
There is no holiness of God, therefore God needs no real pleasing by faith
Not the Protestant idea of Faith, that would be "easy believeism," this is the idea of obedience by works. How can a God who cares little for holiness be persuaded to let us in to heaven? Well we know the saints go to heaven so God must therefore naturally let every obedient believer in.  Whatever that means.
There is no salvation by faith alone therefore there is no Biblical repentance. 
Repentance as a word is affirmed, but it is an abstract word that has been de-tethered from the Biblical definition.  Because we are not turning away from an idea, or crossing a threshold, there is only a scale, black on one end, light on the other.  We must all progress up the ladder away from dark and toward light. The turning away could be called repentance, but only in so far as it denotes movement toward law keeping.
There is no need to cross a threshold or repent, therefore nobody is excluded from Salvation. 
What keeps this from universalism is that you need Christ to give you a thumbs up.  Anyone who goes to a church that introduces you to Christ can give you the thumbs up help you need. And by this I mean a Church of Christ.
"God is no respecter of persons" therefore there can be no favoritism with God.
There can be no favoritism with God therefore there is no secret will of God, only the revealed one which wishes all men well. 
God has no divine immovable plan because otherwise He would be evil or wicked in picking some for heaven and some for hell.  Since the Bible teaches that men who go to hell want it and experience teaches that men who go to heaven want that as well, it follows that men choose their own destiny.  After all, God would be unjust to send people to hell against their free will.
There is no secret or effectual will of God therefore there is no special love for a special people, there is no predestination. All men are given an equal opportunity to be saved. Foreknowledge is not knowledge of a person but knowledge of a persons future works.  What separates men one from another is that some choose to act and some don't.  Those that do choose heaven by their own power.
There is no predestination therefore there is no total depravity
Contrary to scripture men are able to do good works and improve their lot.  Men are by all natures able to be saved. Men by nature have faith but choose to use it or not as they please.
There is no total depravity therefore there is no gospel. 
There is no good news that Christ has already accomplished everything for you if Baptism and a life of keeping the law lies in front of you.
There is no gospel, therefore there is no substutionary atonement
How can you have an imputation of righteousness if there is no need or purpose to it?
There is no substutionary atonement, therefore there is no law.
What is to condemn man? His sin? From what? A God who is not likely to punish men anyway?  Who meditates on the cross? Who preaches it? Who like Paul found it central to all of theology?  This one is most amusing of all because the CoC is famously intolerant of most other Protestants because they believe you must keep the law in the right way to be saved, that is, be baptized in the right way.  Yet a moments thought will show that if there is no cross then there is no real wrath, for no cross (substutionary atonement) means there is no condemnation found in the law. You therefore have the worst kind of theological liberalism or Phariseeism growing: my way or no way. The rules are the rules.  When the divine law is abolished the human law is established, and since there are no boundaries the cruelty of men is unleashed upon the church unchecked. Men will heap unbiblical rule upon rule to fill the void left by the departure of the law of God.
You have liberalism, therefore you have no respect for the Scriptures.
Show me a CoC person that exegetes the scriptures deeply and faithfully regularly and I will show you someone about to leave them. Most people in the CoC are proto-liberals protected from following through with their beliefs to the next step by the kindness of God.
You have no respect for scriptures therefore you have no knowledge of God.
So after all that you think He is like a man, in the sky, who is just like us, for after all, we are made in His image.
And now we see that this chain of horror has come full circle. Because there is no respect for the Bible there is no respect for God. Because there is no respect for the eternal plan, purposes, effects, and nature of God as revealed in the Bible there is only man to take His place. And if we have learned anything from history, it's that man as an idol looks a lot like Molech of the Canaanites, demanding our unlimited obedience, and loosing his cruelty upon his followers.

Biblical Language and the Church of Christ - Grace & Gift

Salvation by Grace alone is affirmed by the CoC, which allows Protestants to welcome them as their own.  It is fortunate in one sense that the CoC by in large affirms the Biblical account of salvation as a gift, but unfortunate that they don't mean what the Bible does.  This deceives the Protestant.
Salvation by grace is typically framed by the Church of Christ person like this: A son goes out and works in a field, the father or farmer then comes and gives him a gift.  So it is with eternal life, we are obedient to baptism and keep our salvation, and God gives us the gift of eternal life.
The Baptist protests: But then that's not a gift it's a due wage.  The farmer then owes his son what his son had earned. That's no gift.
The CoC rejoinder: Ah yes, but the farmer could have chosen to abstain to begin with. It's all of grace because God was under no obligation to provide salvation in any way. He could have left man in his sin.
The Presbyterian answers: That's beside the point.  That God could have abstained from making the world is not in discussion here. What is in discussion is that you are asserting God owes man for his good works once the contract is established.  That you try to swap the word wage for grace by a clumsy sleight of hand does not diminish that in your system man is keeping himself, getting the glory for himself, and doing the work himself!
There is no other answer. The CoC has allowed their definition of Grace to wander from the Biblical one.

John 18 notes

Jhn 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.
They had been on the mount of olives during this discourse, particularly poignant that in the other gospels Jesus has discussed the end of Judaism from there, and now they come toward the city.  The kidron valley is so named for it’s darkness or shadiness. It’s due south from the temple between the temple and the mount of olives. Jesus goes there for a familiar garden to pray. In this He is the second Adam, not guilty and thrust out by righteousness, but innocent and thrust out by evil.

Jhn 18:2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples.
Jesus goes to a place now where Judas could find Him.  He then submits to His own death, but prays the entire time that Judas would not come, specifically three times. Matthew 26

Jhn 18:3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Band of Roman soldiers from the Temple Garrison were likely lied to to get them to come along, as if Jesus was going to start an uprising.  The chief priests instructed the soldiers to bring Jesus to them, which is why Jesus goes there first. The Pharisees joined this band because of religious reasons. Mark 14:45 indicates Judas walked forward just before this and said “rabbi!”

Jhn 18:4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, "Whom do you seek?"
He was not surprised by the future, He went forward to face His death.  He also knew that the disciples had made an agreement to fight.

Jhn 18:5 They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am he." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.  

Jhn 18:6 When Jesus said to them, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.
More accurately, Judas was leading them to the target, although the text indicates Judas was on their side against Jesus. This statement “I AM” and the knocking Judas to the ground was the last warning and at the same time His claim to deity once again.

Jhn 18:7 So he asked them again, "Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."
So they resume as if nothing had happened. No amount of warning of the coming sin will stop them.

Jhn 18:8 Jesus answered, "I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go."

Jhn 18:9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: "Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one."
It refers to their souls not their bodies.  This is the final time Jesus will be with His disciples before the cross
At this point Judas kissed Christ Matthew 26:48.  They would not accept the word of Christ lest he be a plant or a fake. They only make a move when Judas had kissed Him, making Judas commit the act of sin under the guide of friendship.

Jhn 18:10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)
Confirming in the mind of the Romans the need to be here.  Peter had a sword from when Jesus told him to acquire one. Luke 22:36.  When they moved to seize Christ Peter attacks. Luke 22:49

Jhn 18:11 So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?"
He then heals the man Luke 22:51 and lectures the mob of soldiers and fanatics. Luke 22:53.  Peter is rebuked specially because He is resisting the will of God by his violent actions.  The attached lecture for him is Matthew 26:52, he who lives by the sword will die by it, and a vigilante is a blight on the order created by God.

Jhn 18:12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him.
He was bound so we could go free.  He blew them to the ground to show He had all His power, He submits to be bound so they would know it was voluntary.

Jhn 18:13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas,
All the other gospel writers omit this portion.  Nothing worthwhile happened at this location. Perhaps it was to buy a small amount of time for Caiaphas to get the council together to try Jesus.  Annas was a terrible man, but there is reason to think he is in the same house as Caiaphas.

who was high priest that year. Jhn 18:14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.
John makes mention of this that the Spirit of God had come upon Caiaphas earlier and this caused him to act against Jesus.  The high priest was appointed once for life, but if you bribed or pissed off the Romans they would appoint a new ruler. Caiaphas stole it from Annas, Annas had his son by birth Jonathan appointed in another 3 years.

Jhn 18:15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest,
Matthew 26:57; Mark 14:53; Luke 22:54;
Peter followed at a distance, but this disciple was let in immediately.   

Jhn 18:16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in.
This is likely John at this point who was the disciple who knew Annas, Annas was deposed by the Romans in 14AD. It could be another one who was well known to high society in Jerusalem who got Peter brought in such as Nicodemas.  John perhaps knew the high priest, but in any case somehow one of the disciples could get Peter in on a personal favor.

Jhn 18:17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, "You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not."
Jhn 18:18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
After passing through the archway he comes to the courtyard and warms himself standing around watching the action. The door girl points him out later, all John is doing is telling his reader who this was.

Jhn 18:19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
Annas is going to see what he can drum up against Christ.

Jhn 18:20 Jesus answered him, "I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.
He was open and honest. Not that He never taught in private, but that He was always open and upright. He did not seek to hide any doctrine, He always confronted the rulers.

Jhn 18:21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said."
Likely He is indicating the people standing around, including the temple guards who were so hesitant to arrest Him before.  Jesus is appealing to due process, demanding the defense witnesses go first as it custom when charges are brought up.

Jhn 18:22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?"
Cruel and tyrannical, this was the state of religion in Judea.  Asking for your rights was off limits in this case. Annas was the former high priest before being deposed by the Romans. He was fighting a secret war for high priestship with his son in law.

Jhn 18:23 Jesus answered him, "If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?"
Jesus again appeals to a due process.  This was a sham court deciding the case before it was started.  His statement is that if He sinned, try Him for it, but if not, don’t punish Him unjustly.  This rebuke brings guilt on them for ignoring His request.

Jhn 18:24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Now Annas will turn it over to the larger council who try to find charges against Him. This is a disaster, as they call in false witnesses who can’t agree, Jesus refuses to speak, knowing this sham trial is a mockery to justice. The council was not allowed to decide at night, and capital offenses had to be done over 3 days, not one.  Judas refuses to testify, choosing to hang himself instead. That narrative is contained in Matthew 26:59-66; Mark 14:56-65
One thing I might add, the high priest was not allowed to rip his clothes, as prohibited in Leviticus 21:10. At the conclusion of the inquisition They beat Christ for sport Luke 22:63 ; Matthew 26:67-68.  You say you’re the Christ eh? Okay Christ lets see you prophecy!

Jhn 18:25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, "You also are not one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not."
Meanwhile to the sham trial Peter gets noticed and denies Christ. Mark 14:66-68.  First off the servant girl who let him in finally confronts him, although everyone was mentioning it.
Jhn 18:26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?"
Luke 22:58 is the parallel.  The next person starts to remember the fight scene and so asks Peter.
Jhn 18:27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.
Then a third time (Luke 22:59) they notice his accent (Matthew 26:73) and Peter denies Christ.
Christ looks at Peter Luke 22:61 and caused Peter to remember the rooster prophecy. 

Now Jesus is turned and led from the courtyard area to the assembled chambers of the Sanhedrin where they look to convict Him. It seems to me they have something that will hold up, having gotten a confession out of Him. They then prove it by getting a second confession of deity from Him.
Luke 22:66-71 ; Mark 15:1 ;  Matthew 27:1

Jhn 18:28 Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor's headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor's headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.
It’s fine to crucify the Lord of Glory but let’s not become ceremonially impure here!
The headquarters was likely the Antonia fortress, located on the northwest corner of the temple mount overlooking the temple area and all Jerusalem.  The garrison was able to respond to Paul during the riots in acts because of their close location.
It is at this point Judas goes out and hangs Himself.