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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

Sanders and Vought

Bernie Sanders questions Russell Vought in Senate confirmation hearing, 6/7/2017.

Tolerance. It may be the single dominate buzzword or out time. Everyone has heard of it. Progressives claim to have it. Conservatives are berated for lacking it. All must bow down to it. Yet rarely does anyone attempt to define it.

There is a Christian sense to the term “tolerance,” one to which any believer in Jesus Christ would readily affirm, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” As Christians, we are to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated, “for this is the law and the prophets.”

Negatively, tolerance in the Christian sense does not mean agreeing with everybody, saying that all ideas about God, ethics, politics or economics are equally true. There is truth, and there is falsehood. There is darkness and there is light. The prophet Isaiah condemned those who put darkness for light and light for darkness. As Christians, we are called to proclaim the truth and expose the lie.

Aye, and there’s the rub, at least as far as 21st century progressives are concerned. These folks have infinite patience for every idea under the sun, no matter how irrational or destructive it may be, just so long as they can use it as a weapon to smash what little is left of Western civilization.

For the cultural Marxists, if an idea or action doesn’t shock and offend the Protestant bourgeoisie and serve to tear down their civilization, it is by definition intolerable.

Barak Obama gave voice to this notion a few years ago with his “bitter clingers” remark.

Hillary Clinton showed her contempt for ordinary Americans last fall, labeling a large swath of the American population as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic…they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

Not only does Mrs. Clinton think Americans, her present company excepted, are a bunch of bigots, but she adds that they are irredeemably so. And by stating “they are not America,” it appears that the thinks of these individuals, not as fellow Americans who deserve her respect, but as animals who must be controlled.

And she wonders why she lost the election.

All of which brings me to Bernie Sanders and his remarks in a Senate confirmation hearings this past week. If you haven’t seen the video yet, please take a couple minutes to review it.


The terse exchange between potential deputy White House budget director Russ Vought and Senator Bernie Sanders is packed with theological, legal and political implications. Let’s look at a few of them.

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Resurrection and the Life

On this Lord’s Day with its special emphasis on the bodily resurrection of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, it seemed good to present without comment what others have said concerning this miracle, foretold by the prophets, witnessed by the apostles, and preached by believers ever since.

Scriptural witnesses

  • For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth (Job 19:25).
  • For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption (Psalm 16:10).
  • Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand (Isaiah 53:10).
  • And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17).
  • He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay (Matthew 28:6).
  • “Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39).
  • I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).
  • Now when she [Mary Magdalene] had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him Rabboni!” (John 20:14-16).
  • [B]eginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection (Acts 1:22).
  • And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:33).
  • Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son or God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:3).
  • It [righteousness] shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification (Romans 4:24-25).
  • For is we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:5).
  • He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4).
  • For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:21).
  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

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separation-church-and-state

“We have the same vocabulary, but a different dictionary,” was a saying coined a hundred years or so back. It was used by Bible believing Christians to describe liberals who were surreptitiously working to undermine the churches of the day.

The liberals didn’t like a fair fight. Instead of openly declaring their unbelief in the Bible, liberal ministers and scholars were wont to cloak their liberalism in the language of Scripture. The social gospelers would speak of the “divinity of Christ” and for all the world appear to be sound Christians. But instead meaning that Jesus was fully God, they meant only that Jesus, as do all men, had a spark of divinity within him. This is not Christianity. It is a humanist lie.

But old-school social gospelers are not the only people to redefine words to suit their agenda. One prominent example of this is what some atheists and liberals have done to the term “separation of church and state.”

If you’re like me, you probably grew up thinking that 1) these words are found in the Constitution and 2) they mean Christian ideas are legally prohibited from having even the smallest influence in matters of government. Both ideas are false.

But their falsity doesn’t stop many people from passionately believing them. Take a look at this video of a recent Town Hall held by Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.


When minister steps up to pray, some in the audience scream “Prayer? Prayer?” A man can be heard loudly repeating “separation of church and state, separation of church and state.” Another says, “He’s [the minister] not supposed to be up there [at the lectern].”

When the minister ends the prayer in Jesus’ name, the crowd again explodes.

Now for all I know, the loud mouthed protesters may have been dupes paid by George Soros. Perhaps they were expressing an honest, albeit mistaken, opinion. At any rate, they would be better served taking time to learn a thing or two about the Constitution before getting so worked up a minister doing his job.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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