Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

Friday, January 24, 2003

I learned a vital truth in seminary Apologetics class: that all the proof in the world cannot bring conviction to one who is thoroughly embittered toward God. The poem below by Robert Hugh Benson, which I found on Bartleby.com, is an illustration of that principle. Sooner or later you are going to have to make a leap of faith. Don't get me wrong, Christian apologetics shortens the leap down to a reasonable puddle jump, it's true. However, no amount of proof can make something absolutely certain; only reasonably so. Some would see faith as "just learning" and that's wrong. It is more than that. It is believing, plain and simple, in the claims of God. You can see that in love, in creation, in many simple evidences of life without elaborate proofing. The Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign when they had the Son of God before their very eyes, and He took them to task for it. At some reasonable point, we are required to leap. God's blessings are to the one who leaps into the arms of God with faith as simple as a child.
From ‘Christian Evidences’
By Robert Hugh Benson (1871–1914)

NOW God forbid that Faith be blind assent,
Grasping what others know; else Faith were nought
But learning, as of some far continent
Which others sought,
And carried thence, better the tale to teach,
Pebbles and sheels, poor fragments of the beach.

Now God forbid that Faith be built on dates,
Cursive or uncial letters, scribe or gloss,
What one conjectures, proves, or demonstrates:
This were the loss
Of all to which God bids that man aspire,
This were the death of life, quenching of fire.

Nay, but with Faith I see. Not even Hope,
Her glorious sister, stands so high as she.
For this but stands expectant on the slope
That leads where He
Her source and consummation sets His seat,
Where Faith dwells always to caress His Feet.

Nay, but with Faith I saw my Lord and God
Walk in the fragrant garden yesterday.
Ah! how the thrushes sang; and, where He trod
Like spikenard lay
Jewels of dew, fresh-fallen from the sky,
While all the lawn rang round with melody.

Nay, but with Faith I marked my Saviour go,
One August noonday, down the stifling street
That reeked with filth and man; marked from Him flow
Radiance so sweet,
The man ceased cursing, laughter lit the child,
The woman hoped again, as Jesus smiled.

Nay, but with Faith I sought my Lord last night,
And found Him shining where the lamp was dim;
The shadowy altar glimmered, height on height,
A throne for Him:
Seen as through lattice work His gracious Face
Looked forth on me and filled the dark with grace.

Nay then, if proof and tortured argument
Content thee—teach thee that the Lord is there,
Or risen again; I pray thee be content,
But leave me here
With eye unsealed by any proof of thine,
With eye unsealed to know the Lord is mine.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Here is the Doctrine of Redemption, which I am preparing to teach later this week. It is a critical part of Titus 2:14.

There are three directions of salvation: propitiation toward God, reconciliation toward man, and redemption toward sin.
a. Propitiation is God’s satisfaction with the work of Christ on the cross.
b. Reconciliation is the bridging of the gap between perfect God and sinful man. Man is reconciled to God through the cross.
c. Redemption centers on the problem of the eradication of sin.
2. Chafer’s Systematic Theology has this to say in Volume Two, page 61: “In redemption the work of Christ on the cross paid in full the price of releasing the sinner from the bondage and judgment of his sins. When on the cross Jesus said, ‘It is finished (John 19:30), He referred to the fact that His death had fully paid all that God demanded for the forgiveness of sinners. Redemption is the sinward aspect of Christ’s work on the cross and has to do with the payment of the price of the sins of the whole world. Redemption is an act of God by which He Hemself pays as a ransom price of human sin, which price the outraged holiness and government of God requires. This contrasts with reconciliation, which pertains to the solution of the problem of the sinful state of the sinner, and with propitiation, which relates to the fact that God has been offended by sin. Redemption offers the sinner release from sin and from the situation of being a bondservant to sin. Redemption results in liberation because the price has been paid to free the sinner from his sin.”
3. And again on page 62, “Christ in His death on the cross went into the marketplace and bought the unsaved who are regarded as slaves. His death made it possible for Him to take them out of the marketplace and not subject them to further resale, and to set them free from the bondage and judgment of sin.”
4. Jesus Christ is the only qualified redeemer.
a. Because of our sinfulness, we are not qualified to pay for our own sins. We can only produce emptiness and even less before God. Isaiah 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
b. We are born into sin, our bodies polluted by the indwelling sin nature. The virgin birth caused Christ to be without the sin nature.
5. We are all sinners:
a. Isaiah 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
b. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
6. Christ became man in order to redeem sinful mankind.
a. Philippians 2:5-8, “(5) Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (6) who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (7) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (8) Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
b. 1 Timothy 2:5-6, “(5) For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (6) who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”
c. Hebrews 9:15, “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
7. Christ never sinned in His life.
a. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
b. Hebrews 4:14-16 is quite similar to 1 Peter 1:17, “(14) Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (15) For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (16) Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
c. Hebrews 7:26-28, “(26) For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; (27) who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. (28) For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.”
8. Because of His perfection, He is qualified to redeem sinful man.
9. Redemption is an Old Testament doctrine.
a. Job 19:25, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.”
b. Psalm 34:22, “The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.”
10. The blood of Christ is the purchase price for redemption.
a. Ephesians 1:7-8a, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, (8) which He lavished on us.”
b. Colossians 1:13-14, “(13) For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, (14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
c. The blood of Christ portrays His saving work on the cross. Blood is a symbol for the substitutionary spiritual death.
11. The results of redemption:
a. We are delivered from the curse of the Law, which is condemnation from God due to the imputation of Adam’s Original Sin.
(1) Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ -
(2) Galatians 4:4-5, “(4) But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, (5) so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
b. God forgives us of all of our sins.
(1) Isaiah 44:22, “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
(2) Colossians 1:14, “...in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
c. Redemption is the basis for justification, Romans 3:23-24, “(23) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”
d. Redemption is the basis for our eternal inheritance, Hebrews 9:15, “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
e. Redemption is the basis for the strategic victory over Satan and all of his minions.
(1) Colossians 2:13-15, “(13) When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, (14) having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (15) When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”
(2) Hebrews 2:14-15, “(14) Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
f. Redemption of the soul results in redemption of the body through resurrection; the one demands the other.
(1) Romans 8:23, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
(2) Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
Yesterday the Front Range Bible Blog briefly rose to #3 at BlogHop.com. Then a lot of people all over the world looked at it and decided that it was a right wing wacko fundamentalist Christian thing, and they hated it. I'm guessing that they hated it for its content, since the visual style is classy but benign, and the writing pedestrian but functional.
A month or two ago I entered "Stones and Breath" in an international poetry contest. Today I discovered that it is a semi-finalist, and will be published in a poetry anthology. Although I think the contest is a way to flatter aspiring poets into buying books with their own poems in them, it may turn out to be an avenue to disseminate establishment truth. I am to hear how it fared by mid-February.

Monday, January 20, 2003

13 Theses Regarding Nations and Military
1. God created man a free creature, able to perceive, analyze, and decide. God’s purpose in man has to do with the recognition and appreciation of His existence, power, and goodness. Man may express his freedom in his beliefs, property, movement, relationships, communication, and activities. Privacy is an important environment for freedom. It means that men may express freedom without outside observation or harassment.
2. God allows forces of evil to exist in this world, both demonic and human. These forces of evil conspire to enslave man, both outwardly and inwardly. They are the enemies of freedom, using every means to destroy the freedom itself, its various expressions, and the private environment which best lends itself to freedom.
3. God gives authority and responsibility to man. He does so in order to give him a better appreciation of His character, and to provide protection for the lives and freedoms of others. By having to exercise authority and responsibilities, we draw nearer to the experience of God, and gain a greater appreciation of how well His character works in the human arena. By life and freedom, we have true leeway to express our love for God and fulfill the greatest commandment.
4. As a consequence of natural factors, the peoples of the earth organized themselves into nations. The forces of evil almost immediately saw the potential to use these nations to outwardly enslave all men. This was the Babel conspiracy.
5. God intervened, confusing the languages of the earth. The purpose of this intervention was to prevent world domination by one nation. This intervention left a permanent imprint on the course of nations through history.
6. God uses nations to protect freedom, so that man may freely seek God. This is His intent for all nations.
7. Not all nations live according to this purpose. Many nations pose a threat to freedom, and actively seek to destroy it and its expressions. They do so from various illicit motivations.
8. Nations are authorized to use force in order to defend freedom, even the force to take human lives, if appropriate. This force may be exercised in the form of capital punishment or the use of military force. This authorization is a sober empowerment to man, with intent for use only within the parameters of divine character.
9. Capital punishment has been authorized since the flood. The valid use of military force is first recorded as occurring in Abraham’s the time, and likely was employed legitimately long before that time. Again, although God authorizes these, He does not intend them to be used apart from His perfect character, or to be used outside the parameters of His expressed purpose.
10. The Bible discerns clearly between the reasons for killing a human being. Some reasons are legitimate, while others are clearly illegitimate. This much is very clear: there are legitimate reasons that one human being may take the life of another.
11. The Mosaic Law authorizes self-defense and even the taking of human life (under special conditions) in the protection of property. The Law also sets forth principles of judicial punishment. Although these are designed for individual application in threats to life, property, and freedom, they may be applied externally in the arena of international relations.
12. Being the great benefactors of freedom, believers in Jesus Christ have a responsibility to be good citizens. This responsibility of citizenship may have many expressions, but certainly one valid expression is military service. The Bible neither prohibits or criticizes military service. In fact, in nations that provide freedom, the Bible encourages military service for male citizens.
13. Therefore, Christians may serve in the military and its operations with a clear conscience. Every advantage in battle is to the believer who trusts in God.
Today more than 12,500 men of the 4th Infantry Division (about 4,000 of which are stationed at Ft. Carson here in Colorado) received their orders to deploy to the Middle East. I am sure more will follow. Pray for them and their families, and pray for success in arms toward national security and to perpetuate religious freedom in Moslem countries. Pray also that our President will think independently of the United Nations, and be willing to do what is right despite their pressure. The interests of the United Nations does not match our interests, and our interests are far, far more important.