Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

  • Ephesians 6:10

Commenting on Ephesians 6:10, Gordon Clark said of this verse, “Here begins the peroration of the epistle.” 

“Peroration” is not a term most of us commonly use.  It means the concluding part of a discourse, especially the concluding part of an oration.  A second meaning of “peroration” is highly rhetorical speech.  In light of this definition, Clark’s calling verse 10 the beginning of the epistle’s peroration certainly seems appropriate.  Verses 10-18 of Ephesians chapter 6 are memorable, not only for the message itself but also for the rhetoric Paul uses to make his point.

In this passage, Paul uses the figure of a Christian soldier armed to do battle against the wiles of the devil

Now this passage on Christian spiritual warfare has many applications.  But the focus of my comments today will be concerning Christians and the present battle against Covid tyranny. 

For nearly two years, Christians the world over have been subjected to a remarkably intense political, economic, and psychological assault by the political, academic, religious, and business elite of the world.  This assault, whether in the form of unprecedented lockdowns, vaccine mandates, or restrictions on movement, ultimately is not a political battle, although it involves political oppression.  Neither is it fundamentally economic in nature, even though the pushers of the Covid narrative have certainly attacked ordinary people economically while at the same time vastly enriching many billionaires who benefited from the lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

Read Full Post »

“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God concerning you.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I’ve always been thankful for the Thanksgiving holiday.  From its Christian origin in the early history of America to its central message of giving thanks to God for his providential blessings, to the food and family, it serves as an annual and much-needed reminder to God’s people to consider the many blessings he brings to our lives and express our gratitude for them.

In thinking about my own sinful tendency to see the worst in things, I would add that setting apart a day to give thanks to God for his many blessings is of no small importance. 

The verse from 1 Thessalonians quoted above is remarkable for the extent of its application.  Paul didn’t tell the Christians in Thessalonica to give thanks in some things, or to give thanks in many things, or to give thanks when things went well for them.  He told them, “In everything give thanks,” that is, Christians are to give thanks in all circumstances.

Does anyone else find that a bit challenging and convicting? 

Giving thanks can be hard, even when things turn out as we like.  Perhaps we get caught up in the moment and forget the Lord.  Or maybe we, as did Nebuchadnezzar when overlooking the glory of Babylon, want to attribute some great achievement to our own wisdom or goodness or skill rather than to God who is the giver of all good gifts.   

But if it can be a challenge to give thanks when things go well, much more is this the case when events are not to our liking.  Whether it’s illness, or economic loss, or the suffering of some injustice, it can be hard to see the good in any of those things, let alone give thanks. 

To the natural mind, the thought of giving thanks to God for life’s disappointments and tragedies likely seems not only foolish but even madness. 

Yet the plain language of this passage is a command by the Apostle Paul to give thanks in everything, leaving nothing for which we are not to give thanks.

But how is it that Christians can make the case for giving thanks in all things without sounding like madmen? 

The key is understanding God’s sovereign purposes, both for his own glory and for the good of his people.  In Romans 8, Paul provides an explanation of his broad statement “In everything give thanks.”  There, he writes, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Note here that while Paul speaks of “all things” working together for good, he qualifies “all things” by limiting the scope of this promise “to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The promise of all things working together for good is true, but it applies only to those who are the called in Christ Jesus.  Those who are outside of Christ have no basis to claim this promise.  Indeed, if all things work together for good – even those things we would call disasters – for those who love God, it follows that nothing ultimately works together for good to those whose minds are enmity against God – even those things we would commonly call blessings.

Whether the events in our lives are blessings or curses depends not on the events themselves but on God who works all things according to his own purpose, for his own glory, and for the good of his people.

Commenting on 1 Thessalonians 5:18, John Calvin noted,

For this is the will of God — that is, according to Chrysostom’s opinion — that we give thanks. As for myself, I am of opinion that a more ample meaning is included under these terms — that God has such a disposition towards us in Christ, that even in our afflictions we have large occasion of thanksgiving. For what is fitter or more suitable for pacifying us, than when we learn that God embraces us in Christ so tenderly, that he turns to our advantage and welfare everything that befalls us? Let us, therefore, bear in mind, that this is a special remedy for correcting our impatience — to turn away our eyes from beholding present evils that torment us, and to direct our views to a consideration of a different nature — how God stands affected towards us in Christ.

Did you catch that?  “For what is fitter or more suitable for pacifying us, than when we learn that God embraces us in Christ so tenderly, that he turns to our advantage and welfare everything that befalls us?”

Many in our own decadent time, some of whom claim to be Christian theologians, will argue that knowledge, if indeed we are able to have knowledge at all, is of little value.  But what could be a greater practical value for dealing with the difficulties that life throws at us than understanding God’s sovereignty and his goodness to his people is such that all things without exception work to their good and not to their harm?

To such a God and Savior how can we, his people, not give thanks? 

Wishing you and your family a happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day 2021,

Steve       

Read Full Post »

I’m really glad I’m not one of those people,” I thought to myself. The year was, I think, 1978 and I was 12 years old and in the 6th grade.

So what was it I was glad I wasn’t? Just who were those people?

Calvinists. Yes, the dreaded Calvinists

You see, I was reading my history textbook. You know, the kind of big, thick general history textbooks we used to have. The ones that started out talking about the Sumerians and ended somewhere around WWII.

This particular textbook had managed to find room for a paragraph or two on the Protestant Reformation. Part of me is tempted to blast the textbook writers for devoting one or two lousy paragraphs to the greatest Christian movement since the days of the apostles. But when I think about it, I shouldn’t be too harsh on them. After all, at least they mentioned the Reformation. I’m not sure if textbooks today would do even that. Further, the textbook writers managed to get at least one important detail right: the importance the Calvinists laid on of the doctrine of election.

It was the doctrine of election that offended me. It struck me as insufferable arrogant. To me, it sounded as if the Calvinists thought they were God’s chosen people because they were innately better than everyone else. Of course, that’s not what Calvinists taught then or teach now. But that was my assumption. Calvinists believed then and believe now that no one is worthy of God’s grace. That’s why it’s called grace! If sinners were in some way worthy of God’s grace, then grace would no longer be grace.

But I didn’t understand that then and wouldn’t until many years later.

I was a church kid growing up. Looking back on it, I believed many true things about God, but I didn’t know the Gospel of Justification by Faith (Belief) Alone.

One of the points I was confused on, and it’s a very common point of confusion in American evangelicalism, is the relationship between regeneration and faith.

In my 12-year-old self’s understanding, I thought that I first had to believe before I could be regenerated.

I’ll come back to this thought later, but for now, let’s leave it at that.

Read Full Post »

Take heed that you not be deceived.

  • Luke 21:8

There are in Scripture numbers commands directed to Christians not to be deceived.  Take, for example, Christ’s warning to his disciples at the beginning of his discourse about the end times.  “Take heed that you not be deceived,” he told them. 

My Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines “deceive” thus: the imposing of a false idea or belief that causes bewilderment or helplessness or furthers the agent’s purpose.”  On that definition, there are certainly a lot of Americans who have failed to heed Jesus’s injunction. 

Our being deceived is no light matter.  Speaking of Eve, the Apostle Paul noted that she was “deceived” by the serpent in the garden and that by her deception she “fell into transgression.” 

In Deuteronomy, we read, “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and you turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the LORD’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.”  In this case, one’s being deceived would result in death and dispossession. 

In 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” Here we have a list of sins common, no doubt, in Paul’s day as well as in ours.  It would be easy enough to excuse them as they were common practice.  It might have even seemed strange to people in the first century if one did not practice such things.  Perhaps the Corinthian Christians were tempted to pass over such behavior as customary and not worth mentioning.  Maybe they were afraid of challenging those who were involved in them out of misplaced fear of men.  Yet Paul says no one who practices such things “will inherit the kingdom of God.”   

Many other examples of deception and the Scriptures telling us to avoid it can be found.

I bring up the matter of deception because we live in a world that is working to deceive us 24/7 and doing so with tools that are more sophisticated than at any time in history.   

Read Full Post »

“Ye are the salt of the earth…Ye are the light of the world.”

  • Matthew 5:13, 14

“That’s the job description of a Christian,” said my Sunday school teacher many years ago.  By this, he meant that Christians are called to be salt and light in a lost and dying world. 

Salt in the sense Jesus spoke of here meant “savory” or “flavorful.”  As John Gill put it,

This is to be understood of the disciples and apostles of Christ; who might be compared to “salt”, because of the savoury doctrines they preached; as all such are, which are agreeable to the Scriptures, and are of the evangelistic kind, which are full of Christ, serve to exalt him, and to magnify the grace of God; and are suitable to the experiences of the saints, and are according to godliness, and tend to promote it:  also because of their savoury lives and conversations; whereby they recommended, and gave sanction to the doctrines they preached, were examples to the saints, and checks upon wicked men.

In the Scriptures, “light” is often a reference to knowledge of the truth.  And that is the sense in which Jesus used it here.  Again, John Gill,

What the luminaries, the sun and moon, are in the heavens, with respect to corporal light, that the apostles were in the world with regard to spiritual light; carrying and spreading the light of the Gospel not only in Judea, but all over the world, which was in great darkness of ignorance and error; and through a divine blessing attending their ministry, many were turned from the darkness of Judaism and Gentilism, of sin and infidelity, to the marvellous light of divine grace. 

As Christians, are words out actions, even our thoughts, are to show Christ to our neighbor in a lost, dying and hopeless world. 

Doubtless, most Christians would agree with this assessment.  But how hard it can be to put into practice!

If I’m honest with myself and with you, I have to say that I don’t always do a very good job at this.  Perhaps you’re a bit like me, and look around you at the mess, the perfect babel of confusion our civilization has become and despair.  The forces of evil are overwhelming, and I cannot overcome them.  They have power, money, influence, and prestige in abundance.  What are my puny efforts in comparison to that?  And you can probably guess at some of the great discouragers I’m talking about.

Read Full Post »

Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

“Is there any good news?” That was a text a friend sent me a few months back.  My answer to him was something like, “not really.”

As a Christian, I know full well that there is good news in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that all who believe in him are justified and accepted as righteous in the sight of God.  That promise never changes no matter what the headlines say.

But if we look strictly at the headlines concerning the events of the day, there has been very little good news at all for nearly a year and a half.  In truth, the bad news has been pouring in for a long time, but it seems to have gone next level since early 2020. 

The Covid hoax – I say hoax not in the sense that no one died of Covid-19, but in the sense that the wildly overstated danger of this disease was used to crush political, economic and religious liberty in what appears to be a world-wide orchestrated event to centralize power among the globalist elite – the BLM hoax – we’ve been lectured for what seems like forever that America is hopelessly racist and that racist police unfairly target black Americans, but there is little evidence to support these statements and much to contradict them; yes, black Americans have higher rates of incarceration than other groups but that is because of the uncomfortable fact that they commit a wildly disproportionate amount of violent crime – and the 2020 election hoax – we were told in no uncertain terms that the 2020 presidential election was the most secure in history, while at the same time anyone who pointed out glaring irregularities in the election was dismisses as a QAnon conspiracy theorist and deplatformed from social media – all worked together to make 2020 a uniquely depressing year for those of us who lover liberty and truth. 

And the knock-on effects of those hoaxes are still with us in 2021 and likely will continue to be with us in the foreseeable future. 

At the very least, these hoaxes are examples of false witness bearing, a violation of the ninth commandment.  Which law, although not formally committed to writing at the time of the events in Genesis 1-11, was nevertheless in effect. 

The three hoaxes listed above are certainly not the only hoaxes Americans are subjected to daily.  We must not omit the transgender hoax in which we taught to accept that men really can become women and women really can become men.  And if you don’t believe it, well, very bad things are in store for you.

And we’re not yet done with hoaxes.  As if all the above weren’t enough, now the major news networks are pushing UFO’s. It’s almost as if a there’s a concerted effort to distract people.

Read Full Post »

Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

Smash the patriarchy.

That’s a common turn of phrase these days.  And those who use it fell fully justified in their doing so.

After all, it’s self-evident that patriarchy is an evil social construct from the benighted past that cannot be removed from society fast enough. For those slow to embrace the revolution, opprobrium, exclusion and possibly even violence await.    

Patriarchy, in the eyes of a doctrinaire feminist, is merely a social construct.  Feminists view man – a feminist likely would prefer a less “sexist” term such as humanity – as a blank slate whose thinking can be shaped in one way just as easily as in another.  In feminist thought, a matriarchy is just as natural as a patriarchy.  Traditional sex roles – man as primary breadwinner, wife as keeper at home – could be changed to a 50/50 partnership in all things, or even flipped on its head. 

Put another way, the historic relationship between men and women is merely a convention such as deciding which side of the road to drive on.  In America, we drive on the right side of the road.  In Great Britain, Australia, and Japan, they drive on the left side of the road.  It really doesn’t matter which side of the road you drive on.  The important thing is that every agrees which side. 

But in feminist thought, it’s not enough to say that patriarchy is a convention.  In feminist thought, patriarchy is oppression, a system designed by men to unfairly keep women from achieving their full potential.  Such an unjust system must be smashed. 

According to the article “Smash The Patriarchy: 8 Ways To Do It With Love And Compassion,” smashing the patriarchy, “refers to challenging the dominant social, political, cultural, and economic thoughts that value the idea of hegemonic, toxic masculinity over everything.” 

Feminists, it seems, have made a Baal out of smashing the patriarchy together with all it supposed toxic masculinity.  While King Jehu feigned to serve Baal much, the feminists have actually done so and reaped the rewards of their choice.

It’s not unusual to find articles talking about how much more unhappy and stressed out women are today compared with their mothers and grandmothers.  Unable to account for this phenomenon, the simultaneous success of women smashing the patriarchy and their increasing unhappiness, secular writers have taken to calling it “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.”   

Read Full Post »

Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

In an article titled “Pope Francis Calls for Giving United Nations Organization ‘Real Teeth,’” the current occupant of the seat of Antichrist says that, “The twenty-first century is witnessing a weakening of the power of nation states, chiefly because the economic and financial sectors, being transnational, tend to prevail over the political.” 

That economic and financial sectors have throughout history have operated across national borders, and that the Bible in no way prohibits international trade, these things the Pope does not want you to think about.  These forces, the Pope tells us, in some undefined way “prevail over the political,” and this, we are to take on the Pope’s word, is a very bad thing that can be fixed only by ushering in an even bigger government, a world government run by the UN. 

So what does the Pope mean by “economic and financial sectors” prevailing over the political?  Given his authoritarian dislike of economic and political liberty, he likely means that, despite the best efforts of regulators to stamp out economic and political liberty, people, ordinary people, are still free to make voluntary economic decisions in their perceived best interests.  Liberty of this sort is deeply disturbing to globalist tyrants of all sorts, whether we’re talking about religious globalists such as the Popes of Rome – all of them, Francis included, are Antichrists who hate, loathe and despise Christ and his people whom he freed spiritually, politically and economically – or secular tyrants of the sort who run the UN, the World Economic Forum or any number of other globalist busybody organizations. 

There’s an old saying, if it doesn’t fit, get a bigger hammer.  The drive for world government is all about elite globalists such as the Pope getting a bigger hammer to beat the nations and peoples of the world into their mold, imposing on them by force the choices and behaviors the elite want them to exhibit, but which if left to themselves the people would not choose. “There’s just too much liberty out there,” is ever the cry of the tyrant. 

In times past, those who warned about a plot to impose world government on the nations of the earth were viewed as kooks.  “That’s conspiracy theory!” people would cry. 

But the push for world government, while it is a conspiracy in the proper sense of the term, is certainly no unsubstantiated rumor spread by fact challenged individuals.  It’s an open secret, possibly one of the worst kept secrets ever.  The Pope’s of Rome and other Vatican officials simply cannot stop themselves from openly longing for world government and constantly take the opportunity to tell everyone how wonderful their brave new world will be.

As Christians, we cannot endorse world government.  But how can I say this?  As Christians, we must always ground our ideas about politics and economics in the Scriptures.  So where in the Bible does is the matter of world government and individual nations ever brought up?  Is it brought up at all?  In short, yes.  The Bible has a stance on world government.  God opposes it.  Further, God endorses the idea of a system of nation states of the sort that came about as a result of the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, which concluded the Thirty Years War.     

Read Full Post »

Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

“Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”  This quote, or some variant to it, has been attributed to several prominent people.  In searching for the origin of the quote, I found it credited to such notables as John Knox, William Tyndale, and Benjamin Franklin. Thomas Jefferson used “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God” on his personal seal.  Jefferson wanted to use this saying on the Seal of the United States

Whatever the origin of the quote, many Christians today are troubled by the notion that it is ever a Christian’s duty to resist tyranny.  Citing Paul’s injunction in Romans 13 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities,” they take Paul’s command to be, if not an absolute, at least something very close to it. 

The extent of the civil magistrate’s legitimate authority came to the surface in 2020 with the coming of the Covid 19 restrictions across much of the world.  These restrictions not only affected schools, universities, and businesses, but also churches.  Sincere Christians, when considering how to react to government restrictions, in particular government restrictions on church meetings, came to different conclusions.  Some believed it was the duty of Christians to obey every command of the various civil authorities that restricted, or outright prohibited, church meetings.  Others considered it a Christian duty to resist such edicts.  Because of these different views, as a follow up to last week’s post on the divine origin of civil government, it seemed good to me to say something about the relationship of civil government to the church.

To take the suspense out of things, I’ll tell you my view of the matter up front.  Christians are required to obey civil magistrates, but only in the Lord.  The civil magistrate, while a legitimate minister of God, has limited authority.  This was also John Calvin’s view.  He wrote,

The characteristic of a true sovereign is, to acknowledge that, in the administration of his kingdom, he is a minister of God. He who does not make his reign subservient to the divine glory, acts the part not of a king, but a robber. He, moreover, deceives himself who anticipates long prosperity to any kingdom which is not ruled by the sceptre of God, that is, by his divine word (Institutes, Prefatory Address).

Later in the Institutes, Calvin wrote,

We are subject to the men who rule over us, but subject only in the Lord. If they command anything against Him let us not pay the least regard to it, nor be moved by all the dignity which they possess as magistrates – a dignity to which no injury is done when it is subordinated to the special and truly supreme power of God (Book IV, Chapter 20.32).

It is the view of this author that the civil authority has no jurisdiction to regulate how Christian churches conduct their worship services, and that all such regulation represents overreach on the part of the civil magistrate. This is not to say that Christian ministers and Christians themselves are not subject to the governing authorities.  If Christians commit acts that are contrary to the law of God and the just civil laws of society, then they are justly punished by the civil magistrate.  But the regulation or prohibition of singing hymns, capacity limits due to Covid, or even outright prohibition on gathering on the Lord’s Day?  All such restrictions by the civil authorities are tyrannical and ought to be resisted by Christians everywhere.        

Read Full Post »

Detail from The Tower of Babel by Peter Brugel, 1563.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

  • Genesis 1:1

In the famous opening sentence of his Treatise on the Social Company, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, “Man is born free, but he is everywhere in change.”   

While Rousseau’s social compact theory of government is not Christian, his observation that man is everywhere in chains certainly rings true.  We can see this in the history recorded for us in the Bible as well as from secular sources.  For that matter, we can see it simply reading the news of the day. 

Jesus himself noted the authoritarian nature of civil government in his response to the disciples’ arguing about who among them was the greatest.  Jesus responded to them,

The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’  But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves (Luke 22:25-26).

Note that the kings of the Gentiles do two things.  First, they exercise lordship.  The Greek verb translated “exercise lordship” can also mean “be the lord or master of.”  Perhaps another way of expressing the meaning of the Greek is to use the English expression “lord it over.”  We talk that way.  We say so and so is lording it over someone.  Certainly, that was true of the kings and emperors who governed during Jesus ministry.  They lorded it over their people.  What the kings of the earth wanted, they took, and there was little to stop them. 

The second thing these kings did was be called “benefactor.”  On one hand they oppressed their people, but on the other, they wanted to be known as men of generosity.  A modern example of this is Joseph Stalin, who, while being one of the most ruthless of the 20th century dictators used the title “Dear Father” among others. 

From Jesus response to his disciples, we clearly see that there is a large gap between the Biblical teaching about how government should operate – the idea that government is a servant to the people – and how it actually does operate.

But even more basic than the questions what should government do and how should it go about doing it is the question, why should one man obey another man? 

To answer these questions, we must turn to the Scriptures where we find the origin of civil government. 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: