Saturday, July 30, 2011

Killed by Lion

1 Kings 13 is one of the more baffling sections in the history of the Kings of Judah and Israel. A nameless prophet suddenly appears at Bethel to give a word of warning against the evil king Jereboam, survives the temptation to join sides with the crown, but then falls to the temptation of joining with the false prophets. 
As a result a lion comes and kills him.

It brings to mind the severe punishment Moses was given when he could not enter the promised land for his failure to obey God.
In Exodus 17:6 Moses had been given the great honor of acting out the nature of the Father striking the Son and causing living water to pour out to heal the people (1 Cor 10:4).  Just as Nehushtan was lifted up on a pole and healed those who looked at him, thus prefiguring Christ, Moses was given the duty of prefiguring the punishment God would inflict on Jesus.
You can see that in the second instance it would not do to strike Christ again, as the cross was a once for all time event, so God had Moses speak the second time (Num 20:8).  When an adopted, justified, child of the covenant sins the Father speaks to His Son, asking Him to intercede for the fallen people who have broken fellowship with Him. He does not strike His Son twice with crucifixion.  Moses had therefore not merely disobeyed God when he struck the rock twice, he had ruined God's example, and portrayed an inaccurate message of Christ to every subsequent generation. When we understand this we are less inclined to think the punishment does not fit the crime, instead we think are tempted to think that God let him off light for compromising our ability to understand Christ better.  

I think the nameless prophet was in the same situation.

Like Christ he was a prophet, who comes on the scene of history as a nobody (Matt 2:23), with almost no back explanation. Like Christ he pronounced doom upon the ungodly v2 (Matt 23) as a warning to repent, and demonstrated his message with signs and wonders v4 (Acts 2:22), including healing the crippled hand of a man v6 (Luke 6:10).  He cast down the ungodly ruler of the age v1 (John 12:31), was enticed to throw in his lot with the king v7 (John 6:15) but knowing their hearts and how unstable men are he remains steadfast to obey God v9 (John 2:24-25).
Unfortunately that's where his story ends because that's where the similarities to Christ end. He was to be a picture of Christ, a prophet come into the world to warn and heal, to have no intercourse with the ruler of this world, but to accomplish his mission and return to the glorious land. He was not to become enamored with the sinful world, nor was he to join it, nor live in it, nor linger in it, for Christ did not come to live in our world but to call us out of it and into a better one. This man was a foreshadow of Christ Himself. A tremendous, amazing, honor afforded to very few people in the pages of history, and instead of being pure and steadfast this prophet folded up and fell in with sin.
So God sent a lion to show His displeasure. That's not how His Son was to be represented, as some prophet that gets half way to the goal and then gives up and decides to disobey. His Son is too pure to be represented in such an ugly manner, so God had to pull the plug on the analogy in an obviously divine fashion.
Christ is not to be looked upon as merely a good prophet, or wonderful teacher who brought kind words and did nice things and we weep to think that here was love Himself come to show us love. We should not have apostates mourn for Him as if they had a share in His inheritance.   

So yes, God is holy, and just, and to be obeyed, and deserves our respect. But more then that I think that God was trying to help us understand His Son by analogy, and lest we be tempted to overdraw the analogy He cuts it off.  Nehushtan was designed to show people how if we look upon it lifted up we may be healed (John 3:14), but when the worship became idolatrous it was destroyed (2 Kings 18:4). Moses was to prefigure the healing Christ brought, but when he misled them to the nature of Christ he was barred from the promised land. And when this prophet did more harm to us than good God stepped in.

Monday, July 18, 2011

An unusual post

Someone happened to find my site by googling the phrase "my church is becoming hyper charismatic."
I could almost see the other key word not mentioned: 'help.'
I don't imagine this person wants to see people rolling around on the floor, barking like dogs, laughing like madmen, or falling over backwards.  Such buffoonery has no place in the Sovereign Sanctuary where the saints come to worship the living God. The holy redeemer. The Christ who shed His blood.
Such a zoo of petulant selfish children self absorbed can only demean the ministry of grace. I mean honestly you wackadoo faith healers, it's bad enough you keep yourself from knowing God, but do you have to keep other people from Him as well?
Whomever you are, I'll pray for your church with you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

And... because of the angels!

Paul talks in 1 Cor 11 about the need for the woman to be the glory of man, and to submit to the authority of men as central to the worship of the church. How should she show her womanhood? By having long beautiful  hair to cover her head with.  Now on the other hand men ought to have short hair, because he is the glory of God, being made originally in God's image.  Paul says, For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 
He then goes on to give three reasons why woman should have long hair to cover themselves with, to demonstrate that men have the authority.
1. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
2. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 
That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head,
3. because of the angels.

The first two reasons for hair covering are easy to understand, but the third isn't nearly so clear.  As Begg says the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things, so we will do alright to get the clear things down. And clearly the Corinthians knew what Paul was saying because the brevity of the statement seems to indicate some kind of footnote or after thought. 

Calvin's explanation is thus "When, therefore, women venture upon such liberties, as to usurp for themselves the token of authority, they make their baseness manifest to the angels... [it's] as if he had said, “If women uncover their heads, not only Christ, but all the angels too, will be witnesses of the outrage.”
MacArthur agrees with this, "Woman are to be submissive by wearing the symbol of authority so as not to offend these most holy and submissive creatures who watch the church (Matt 18:10, Eph 3:9-10) who were present  (Job 38:4,7) at creation."  Angels are therefore offended upon seeing short hair or uncovered heads.  Well I confess it may be true that they are standing by getting progressively more outraged and offended on behalf of Christ at seeing women in rebellion to men, it just seems to me that this is not a satisfactory enough explanation.

Guzik has a slightly different take, adding that God has angels watching so that they may understand Him, "God has eternal things to teach the universe through us (Ephesians 3:10-11; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:12)" Apparently seeing uncovered women would confuse or make it difficult for them to see what God is trying to teach them.

William Greenhill says something that feels nearer to the mark "angels are covered, to show their reverence and subjection to Christ. It is an honour to the angels, that in reverence to them the women are to be veiled." Now Greenhill means that women are to honor the angels by being veiled, but the logical leap is better, and that is the angels themselves are veiled (Is 6:2), and they enjoy a special privilege before God. Women enjoy the position of the angels, and therefore should be veiled, because the angels are veiled.

But for myself I think that 'because of the angels' most likely means Jude 1:6. The angels didn't respect the authority of those above them, and chose to rebel, to their everlasting destruction.  Women, if you choose to rebel against head coverings consider the angels who fell.  So because of the angels falling into rebellion by not respecting their authority women face the same jeopardy should they rebel.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Five Points of Calvinism

As an Arminian turned Calvinist I have perhaps a different view of the TULIP than my fellow Calvinists.  The way I see it, the whole thing revolves around the concept of regeneration, understand John 3 and the rest of the TULIP falls into line quite readily.
Anyhow, here is how I approach the acrostic.

Totally unwilling - more popularly known as total depravity, this is the condition where men are unwilling (they lack the moral ability, not physical ability) to repent until awakened by God. See 2 Tim 2:25, Acts 16:14, Phil 1:29. This is because men have hearts inclined to evil, or as God would say, have hearts of stone.  This does not mean that men are incapable of repenting or believing, just that they are totally unwilling.

Unconditional regeneration unto election -The purpose behind regeneration is to get men to freely believe in Him, this is clear. But the follow on question is tougher: why condemn all men to stony hearts in the first place? So that no man may boast before Him. Rom 4:1, 1 Cor 4:7. God will not share His glory with another.  He saves us not because of future forseen works Ez 36:22, but because He is Good. Were He to look at totally deprived and unwilling creatures who have no faith in Him (and therefore everything they do is sinful) He would never see good works in the first place, it must be the case that He acts because He wants to, not because our badness compels Him. As it is written "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy" and again "The wind blows where it wills."

imited Atonement - This is perhaps the most controversial of the 5 points because it gets into the secret will of God, into the intent of the crucifixion, but it need not be so divisive.  Limited Atonement is simply the belief that God does not regenerate all men.  God chose some people to receive new eyes John 3:3, new hearts Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26, new understanding John 6:65, Matt 16:17, Mark 4:7.  He does not give this to all men equally, some hearts He does not tinker with, as evident when He says "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."  One He desired to put right, the other He desired to leave alone. Regeneration is a grace given to the elect only.

Irresistible Grace - perhaps most confusing for Arminians without a proper understanding of regeneration. This does not mean that men are incapable of resisting any or all grace, quite the opposite, Festus (Acts 26:24) resisted God, as did Herod from John (Mark 6:20), Felix (Acts 24:22) Agrippa (Acts 26:27-28) the leading philosophers of Athens, to name a few.  In light of the T it's obvious that the default position of mankind is in fact to resist God at every turn, to close their eyes to His grace, and to cast away His gifts.  But if mankind is totally unwilling to love God and has a miraculous about face, there is only one explanation - God has acted monergistically to save that person. Regeneration is irresistible.

Perserverance of the Saints - the doctrine that the regenerated will always have faith, or that the elect will be regenerated and come to faith before they die. If regeneration is a one time permanent change that causes men to freely love God then it stands to reason that they will continue to love Him always. After all, "the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable."