Friday, September 21, 2012

I really like make better

At the end of the book of Revelation we come to this passage

 Revelation 22:14-17 - “Blessed are they who do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city, for without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. I Jesus have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let him who is thirsty come, and whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

The word there really is make, it's to do, that's about as close as you can come to it. Unfortunately if you just read it through you would be tempted to think that all liars go to hell, or that for the sin of lying it's the lake of fire for you - which is decidedly not the case, considering that the Egpytian midwives were explicitly blessed by God for lying Exodus 1:19-20.

Most of the versions give it the rendition of practicing falsehood, because the word indicates that it's something that is ongoing, sin is still filling up their lives through lying, and that's true to form. But I like the word make, because as a singular form it shows that persons life, and lie is their work. It's not that they have continued to lie so much as it is they are a liar. They have made themselves, their very selves, into a lie, a falsehood. They are the worst kind of hypocrite, in other words, and there are not going to be people in heaven who says "yes" to God and really mean "no."
It's a small thing, I know, but it's interesting, nonetheless.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Alistair Begg and the Truth For Life tour with 710 KFIA

This past Thursday I went to see Alistair Begg speak here in Sacramento. It was great, he did an exposition of Mark 6. I'll record the main points that I found memorable.

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.
  • John tells us that the crowd was in danger of wanting to take Him by force, so He dismisses His disciples and sends them off to deal with the crowd
And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them.
  •  Jesus is up on a high mountain, so He looks down and sees them rowing painfully
And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them,
  •  The NIV captures the text better in that He was walking by them, not that He intended to leave them to die
And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,
  • What kind of God is this that got into the boat with us? What an amazing God that He would stoop down and empty Himself to come and be with us.
or they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
  • It's not necessary to think of this as their hearts were hardened against Christ as the messiah, or Christ as their friend. It means they didn't get what Jesus was saying: He was claiming to be God. He took the people and made them lie down on the green grass to eat, just like the Shephard David prophesied about.
After the lesson Alistair did some Q&A. One person asked what he thought of the year 1975, another asked if we should pray for an hour like Jesus asked his disciples, another asked what should we do to be awake and watchful like the 5 virgins, but the most interesting question came from one person who asked the following (and I'm not going to remember it perfectly) "How can you say to people that God loves them if He sends them to hell?"
Upon hearing that I thought that this person was an atheist, giving the standard line about if God is such a loving God then He wouldn't damn people, you are familiar with this I'm sure. But upon hearing it a little more closely I think he was a high Calvinist objecting to the evangelism technique of telling people God loves them. Alistair gave a brilliant answer of course, telling him that this should be of no surprise considering that God's justice and love are held up together in the cross.
But consider for a moment how much the objection of the hyper-Calvinist sounds like the mocking of the rank atheist.
That's pretty instructive of just how destructive hyper-Calvinism really is, or should I say, what it really is.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In the footsteps of Satan

In Nehemiah we are introduced to two very wicked characters: Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant. Sanballat was the governor of Samaria at the time, likely from the town of Beth-Horon (see Joshua 16:3), and Tobiah is simply described as 'the servant,' which means he probably served the king in Susa, and carried the order to burn the gates with fire in Ezra 4.
Their charge in Ezra, with which they get the king to agree to stop work on the city is that if this is allowed to continue the people will rebel. Later when Nehemiah comes to set the walls right again they try to intimidate him with the threat of reporting their rebellion to the king.
But their charge is instructive for us, because in essence it's that men must not have security lest they rebel.
That speaks more to what's in their heart than it is what's the reality of the situation, but it's the same thing I heard from the opponents of eternal security: give men security, give them comfort, give them love and watch what happens. Men must be kept sleepless, under the constant threat of punishment or the loss of all they hold dear if you are to manage them in any way. Forgive them and they will despise you, going on to sin without abandon.
It's easy to see that these two wicked souls were making a ruthless suggestion of which was unthinkable. It's also easy to see the parallel between them and the doctrine of grace, yet somehow it's not so ruthless and abominable to oppose the doctrine. Go figure.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I may have shared this before...

But I was meditating on the letter of Romans, and it seemed to me that Romans 11:32 book ends the discussion started in Romans 1:18 (but more particularly at Romans 3:10).
In a striking bit of theology Paul utterly dismantles the notion that we are good people, or have what it takes to earn salvation. (He keeps pace in Romans 8:7).
It can seem that this is a dark or difficult chapter, but it's really something more like music or a soft dance. Total depravity and all it's terrible implications is a sweet doctrine. It's not just that it's a bad thing that drags with it good consequences, it's a darling and beloved doctrine.
First we must dispel the notion that it's an explanation for why people don't come to Christ when we evangelize them. The doctrine isn't for their sake, it's for ours, for a consideration on our hearts. And it's not that God caused us to fall into this state so that He could condemn mankind, it was so that He could love on me. There is nothing so sweet and humbling, nor wonderful and stunning that God loves me a depraved soul.
Total depravity gives me the gift of grace, the greatest of all gifts. It's to me a great delight.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The problem of Catholic Saints

I was listening to Catholic radio yesterday, when the caller asked if praying to the saints was idolatry. The priest went through the typical litany of "we don't worship the saints we pray to them for intercession on our behalf." This has got to be one of the worst answers, because it doesn't address the real complaint of the protestant.
Praying, not worshiping the saints is well and good until you think about what is actually happening. Let's say there is a saint named Saint Bevensneck, who is the patron saint of soccer games. If you want your team to win, or everyone to be safe, you ask Saint Bevensneck to intercede on your behalf. Now, the problem is obvious, assuming that he can actually hear your prayers, which there is no basis for, what happens during the world cup series? 3 Billion people praying continually means what, 23, 56, 99 Billion prayers in a day? How can one man possibly hear, let alone answer that many prayers? Where did the Catholics get the idea that people become God when they die, and have enough time and wisdom to hear and answer three billion people praying, and give the appropriate response to God? It's literally an administrative impossibility.
But here's the worst part: all of those people are not praying to God. St. Bevensneck has effectively convinced those people to pray to him, rather than to God. Rather than address their prayers to God they have put their hopes, dreams, and requests into the hands of a mere man. He has actually soaked up the glory due God and re-routed it towards his own incapable self. There is a word for what happens when someone gets the attention and glory that God deserves: idolatry.
The question Catholics must answer is then this: how is taking what is due God and giving it to a mere man not idolatry?