Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today.

– Pink Floyd

An email came to my inbox recently claiming that people who hold to the Scriptures think “money is the root of all evil.” The notion that the Bible teaches money is evil is quite common. Pink Floyd referenced this idea in their hit “Money,” and people often repeat this idea in everyday conversation.

goldBut as is the case with other popular ideas ascribed to the Bible – for example, most Americans mistakenly think “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse; and how many times have you heard someone take Jesus’ words “Judge not” as a general prohibition against making necessary ethical distinctions? – this one is also wide of the mark. And it is wide of the mark in at least two ways. First, the quote itself is not accurate. And second, when the quote is presented accurately, the true meaning of this verse is seen to be quite different from what is in the popular mind.

The actual quote is found in 1 Timothy 6:18 and reads, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (New King James). The language of the Authorized Version is “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” When comparing either of these two translations with the popular version of the quote, it becomes readily apparent that the big difference is that the Bible identifies, not money itself, but the love of money as the root of all sorts of evil.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

shepherds_illuminationFor the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

“I have no idea why justification is by faith alone,” said the hapless minister in story related to my class by Dr. Robert Reymond. The minister, it would seem, was a well intentioned but rather confused fellow.

“Good grief!,” Dr. Reymond continued, “the Bible tells right in Romans chapter 4 the reason why we’re justified by faith alone. ‘Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed…’ ”

The saints of God of justified – that is, they are declared righteous by God – not on the basis of their works, but on the basis of faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone, so that their salvation may be on the basis of God’s grace – that is, his unmerited favor – alone.

The redeemed have nothing to boast in except their great Savior. As the old hymn puts it, “Noting in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling.”

Grace is God’s giving his people, not what they deserve, but the blessings he has purposed for them out of the mere good pleasure of his will.

And nowhere is God’s grace more evident than in the birth of Christ Jesus, who, as Paul tells us, was “born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

In Christ, God has made a way to save his people. The law was given through Moses. And the law condemns us, for we all are guilty of violating it. In it, we have no hope. But Christ fulfilled the law perfectly. And those who believe in him are credited with his righteousness, that they may live for God.

And while it’s important to understand the graciousness of God’s grace, it is also important to remember that his grace is never apart from the truth.

Unlike what some modern day theologians would tell you, God does not speak to us through myth or falsehood. Those who say such things impugn the character of God by their words and bring condemnation upon themselves.

God speaks to us through his Word, and his Word is truth. Always.

Jesus declared that he himself was truth, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

How is it that Christ could say “I am the truth”? Doesn’t that seem to be a rather strange way to speak? We might say that so-and-so spoke the truth. But we don’t say of him “he is the truth.” Yet Jesus described himself, not as speaking the truth, but as truth itself.

The answer, I believe, lies in what Gordon Clark taught about truth and persons. Truth, as Clark insisted, is a characteristic of propositions only. A proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence.

For example, “The ball is red,” is a propositional statement, because it states that a certain property, in this case “red”, attaches to a certain subject, “the ball”. Now if we perceive that the ball is in fact red, we would say the proposition “The ball is red” is true. If, on the other hand, the ball appears green to us, we would say the statement is false.

But what do propositions have to do with the person of Christ? It has to do with how one defines a person. A person, in Clark’s definition, is a complex of propositions. Or to put it a little less philosophically, a person is the thoughts he thinks.

Christ could say of himself “I am the truth” because all his thoughts were true. And since a person is defined by his thoughts, it is proper for Jesus to speak of himself as “the truth.”

When Christ was born in Bethlehem all those years ago, it was the birth, not of one who merely spoke the truth, but of truth itself.


Read Full Post »

moses

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

The first chapter of John is a gold mine of theological insight. To paraphrase the apostle himself, if all that could be written on the chapter actually were written, one supposes that the whole earth could not contain the books.

And while it is not the intention of this writer to attempt anything like a comprehensive review of all that John has to tell us, it seems that a look at one small portion of the chapter is not too daunting a task.

In verse 17, John draws an important distinction for us, namely the distinction between Moses and Jesus Christ. The law, John tells us, was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

This brief statement is loaded with implications, a few of which, Lord willing, I will endeavor to point out over the next two weeks.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

 

daniel-and-neb

Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

One of the key points of Gordon Clark’s Scripturalism is that we are just as dependent on God for knowledge as we are for salvation.

 

Those in the Reformed community, at least those who are actually Christians, will readily admit that salvation is by grace alone, through belief alone, in Christ alone.

But oddly, many of the same people are sound on the doctrine of salvation at the same time hold to a theory of knowledge (epistemology) that is at odds with their view of salvation.

It is not uncommon to hear some Christians talk as though there are two sources of knowledge, revelation in the 66 books of the Bible and sense experience (empiricism).

This admixture of revelation and sense experience in Christian thought can be traced back to Thomas Aquinas. John Robbins explains,

Thomas Aquinas, the great thirteenth-century Roman Catholic theologian, tried to combine two axioms in his system: the secular axiom of sense experience, which he obtained from Aristotle, and the Christian axiom of revelation, which he obtained from the Bible. His synthesis was unsuccessful. The subsequent career of western philosophy is the story of the collapse of Thomas’ unstable Aristotelian-Christian condominium (An Introduction to Gordon H. Clark)

One of the problems with Protestantism over the centuries is that it never produced a philosopher who challenged Aquinas’ theory of knowledge. As a result, Aquinas’ erroneous synthesis of “the secular axiom of sense experience…and the Christian axiom of revelation” was accepted by large segments of the Christian church.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

egyptAmong the besetting sins of Old Testament Israel was an unfortunate tendency do what seemed right in their own eyes. When faced with a difficult situation, many times the Israelites, both the common people and the leadership, chose to wing it rather than to seek God’s face.

Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God condemned this way of thinking in no uncertain terms.

“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD,

“Who take counsel, but not of Me,

And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit,

That they may add sin to sin;

Who walk to go down to Egypt,

And have not asked My advice,

To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh,

And to trust in the shadow of Egypt!” (Isaiah 30:1, 2)

Some commentators believe that the likely targets of these words originally were King Hezekiah’s counselors. Assuming that is the case, how can we apply these words to what is going on in our own day? To do this, a little history is in order.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

you-are-what-you-thinkMost of us have probably hear, and maybe even used, the saying “you are what you eat.” From a strictly physical standpoint, it would seem hard to argue with this. Our bodies are composed of nutrients we take in.

But there is another, more profound way of defining our identity. One that goes beyond the physical, touching on who we really are. And on the authority of the Word of God it is this: You are what you think. Proverbs 23:7 puts it this way, “For as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.”

And it is for this reason that God is supremely concerned with the thoughts of our heart, the things we believe, the things we say.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

 

zedekiah_is_chained_and_brought_before_nebuchadnezzar

Zedekiah is chained and brought before Nebuchadnezzar, from Petrus Comestor’s “Bible Historiale.”  

Traditionally attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, Lamentations recounts the author’s reflections on the ruins of Jerusalem in the aftermath of the city’s fall to the Babylonians.

 

When a city, when a nation, falls, it is natural for people to ask why it happened. Chapter One of Lamentations provides the following succinct summary of the sorry state of Jerusalem.

Her uncleanness is in her skirts;

She did not consider her destiny;

Therefore her collapse was awesome.

Now that’s what I call getting right to the point. Jerusalem, which was really a part standing for the whole of Judah, had become morally unclean. God sent prophets to warn the people, but they did not heed, they, they did not consider their end, therefore judgment befell them.

Now I’ve always been a history buff. And, in particular, I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of civilizational collapse. That sounds pretty depressing, I know. But I don’t say that, because I’m rooting to see a contemporary collapse myself.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: