Friday, January 31, 2014

The law cannot save

We all know that the law is useless to save since it's purpose was to punish error and reveal hidden wickedness, but today I realized it's fundamentally incapable of justifying.

Justification means to count as not sinful, or pardon, when God looks at us and treats us as if we had been perfectly righteous. It's a legal declaration, it ends the trial, case closed.
In other words, it's the pronouncement of the judge.

The law can therefore never justify us because it's not a pronouncement from the judge. In the courtroom it would be the attending witnesses and the evidence table. It does not make a final verdict because God the righteous judge does that, the witness just brings forward proof of the record. It does not make anything new, it does not change things moving forward, it just provides evidence of what already happened.

And for that reason justification, when God declares something to be true, can never be by the law. Therefore justification must be by another means, in this case, by faith alone.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Honor your father and mother

This is the first command that a promise is attached to it - that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

When you're a child that means obedience.
But when your an adult it means living properly, living like God called you to. It means taking those lessons you learned on your mothers knee or your fathers lap and doing them. Some people have bad fathers or mothers, and are only taught a few things: brush your teeth, use the potty, etc. Some people have great parents and they teach them life skills like how to change the oil on the car, why a stirring rod looks bent when put in water, as well as a complete religious instruction about God and His Son. In both cases the child who grows up to be an adult honors them by taking what they learned and applying it.
Living rightly, obedience to God, in accordance with your parents instruction, is what honors them.
I can think of no better way for my children to honor me than to have them live in light of God's commandments.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

AWANA TREK UPDATE

I got my grubby hands on a copy of the new 4 week prototype junior high curriculum... and so far couldn't be happier. It looks like I wrote it.
The memorization verses are back to the KJV, which is excellent for memory since it's in iambic pentameter, and the distinctiveness and brevity in many things really helps.

The lessons are chunks of Scripture, making it easy even for novice leaders to work through, just open your Bible, go verse by verse through it, and show them what it means.
I have more 'training' to do, which I suspect will be a waste of time, but I am encouraged that this is shaping up to be a truly excellent bit of theology coming down the pike.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The mystery of predestination

I have heard it described as a clock, God's sovereignty turns one gear, and our gear, free moral agency, turns the opposite way. So while they look like they are doing opposite things, they are really part of a complex, unified, whole.

You know what's a better analogy? Dancing.
When the man steps forward with his right foot, the woman steps back with her left. If the mechanical motions are broken down it becomes evident that, like the gears of the clock, the two are doing exactly opposite things. But when the big picture is considered it's obvious they are moving together, working as a unified whole.

Predestination

He's the leader, he sets the rhythm, the pace. He decides where and how she moves. But his object is to be invisible, to stay out of the picture, in order to make her look good. His whole goal in leading this waltz is to show case her gracefulness.
She on the other hand is free within his guided limits to spin, or twist, or bend to her liking. It's afer all, her dance as much as it is his, and her joy lies in taking his direction and making it her own. Is she free? Yes. Is she leading? No.

The beauty of this is evident. His invisible leading, her flamboyant following. His plan, her embellishment. You can feel the music of it, the beat of it, how utterly alive it is. It's a real thing, this wonderful paradox. It's a dance.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Noah: the movie that binds dispensationalists

It looks like the movie, which is yet to be released, is the book of Enoch. Angels mating with humans, supernatural freakish offspring, Noah saved because he is genetically pure, but he's a reluctant hero. This really puts those dispensationalists who believe in angels mating with humans in a bind.

If they affirm this movie is right, then they look like screwballs, because that's just hollywood weirdness, and none of it is in the Bible.

If on the other hand they deny this movie is Biblical, then they have denied their own teachings.

Kinds makes you lean forward on the edge of your seat to watch the fun, doesn't it?

You stopped too early.

What do the New Perspectives on Paul and the Dispensationalists have in common with Theological Liberals and Licentious "Christians?"
They all stop reading too soon, or if we are going to be a little less cute and a little more accurate, they don't adequately let Scripture correct their errors.
Disclaimer: of course, not all the errors are equally serious, but the error is very much related.

Licentious "Christianity"
I'll pick on the soft target of the gay movement, because they have the Queen James Bible in their corner, and they might more accurately be characterized as non-believers. The no-lordship dispensationalists who rose to prominance in the 90s come to mind, as do the Unitarian leaning women pastors. For this group, their lusts are ultimately sovereign, their passions guide their understanding of the Scriptures. When a passage comes along that they don't like, they re-write it. I'm not sure much more needs to be said about these guys, other than they are fundamentally unserious about obeying Scripture.
What they don't read: Anything they don't like.

Liberalism
A god without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom through ministrations of Christ without a cross. People like this, in other words, who argue that our chief problem is a lack of environmental stewardship, Christianity is not about individual salvation from sin, or about getting to heaven. To them, Christianity is about bringing heaven to earth. They love the gospels, or the words of Jesus, but don't care much for the epistles, because those are strongly focused on sin, repentance, the meaning of the atonement, and the coming salvation offered by the Lord Jesus Christ.
What they don't read: the epistles.

New Perspectives on Paul
A complex and wearying school of thought that says Paul was really concerned about who was in or out of the Covenant, and not concerned about personal salvation. The argument is that the Jews all believed in Salvation by grace, and it's Martin Luther who ruined our understanding of them.
This is more like sophisticated liberalism, or liberalism with a bit of faith mixed back in. It's a problem that only infects Covenanters, just as hyper-Calvinism only afflicts Calvinists, and I have trouble figuring out why people would stand by it when it's obvious the people who believe this have not read the sermons in the book of Acts.
In those sermons the gospel is always presented as salvation from personal sin, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, not by works, but by faith. The Apostles understanding of Jesus work and message should be the same one we have, which is where the NPP goes wrong. Besides, the calling of men to repentance makes sense only in light of the gospel being about personal salvation, and makes no real sense if it's about a debate of who is in the covenant.
What they don't read: the sermons in acts.

Dispensationalism
The most harmless of the four. The key mistake here is that the OT prophecies are stand alone events that are fully explainable in themselves. I'll just take you to this here article to show what I mean. Their argument is essentially, "If the Bible is clear, then the OT prophecies must themselves be clear. On the other hand, if there is a hidden element of mystery, then the Bible is not straightforward."
The problem here is their inability to address 1 Peter 1:10-12:

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Which sort of settles the score. The writers of the OT were wrestling with revelation, trying to figure out what it was they were writing. They were inspired and would write, but they didn't really understand all that it was meant. When they asked God why this was so, He told them they were serving someone else, not their contemporaries. That leaves a little mystery in their prophecy, because the fullness is in Christ, not in the prophecy itself. Even the angels who brought this word from God to the prophets didn't understand it.
But you are in Christ, so you do.
What they don't read: that verse.