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Posts Tagged ‘John Robbins’

The End of the World

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

– R.E.M.

To see the headlines from the past week, one would suppose we’re on the verge of an end of world as we know it moment. Stocks are crashing, the military is retreating and, horror of horrors, the government is shutting down. As Christians, what are we to say to these things?

Certainly, the headlines are disturbing. Those who have read my work in this space may already be aware that I take a dim view of our current national condition. Our nation’s finances are a mess, with exploding deficits and debt and a dollar that purchases less every year by design.

Our militarist foreign policy is an ongoing train wreck which threatens to involve the US in open wars, all avoidable, in any number of theaters.

Our culture is an open sewer where people cannot make the simplest moral distinctions and find it impossible to even answer the question what is marriage. It’s a place where classic songs such as “Baby It’s Cold Outside” are considered unfit for human consumption, but the vilest rap lyrics raise not so much as an eyebrow.

We live in a time where those in power delight in calling evil good and good evil.

How did it come to this? How can it be that a nation largely founded by Puritans can come to such a state?

One could write a long treatise on that subject, but that’s not my intent here today. But the basic answer is that for well over a century Americans have been rejecting the doctrines of the Lord Jesus Christ for those of secular philosophy. It would seem that we’re determined to learn the hard way just how brutal the world without Christ can be.

As Christians, it can be very easy to look at all this and fall into despair. And lest anyone suppose he’s not immune to despair, consider the case of Elijah, who, upon securing a stunning victory over the priests of Baal, soon found himself on the run from wicked Queen Jezebel who was determined to have him executed.

This was not an easy time for Elijah. Had he not been faithful in all God called him to do? Of course he had. And yet, not for the first time, he found himself on the run from those who sought his life.

As Christians, it can be very easy to fall into the same mindset as Elijah. We pray for our unsaved family members, yet unsaved they remain. We pray for our nation, yet our countrymen go from vileness to vileness. And not only that, but they even boast about it. Deeply disturbed men such as Bruce Jenner are praised for their courage to embrace their true selves, while Christian bakers are dragged through the court system for their refusal to endorse same sex marriage. Justice, at times, can seem far from us.

But what did God say to Elijah in his despair? “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Though Elijah thought he was alone, he wasn’t. And though the destruction of the priests of Baal was the end of the world as they knew it, for God’s elect, it was a chance at a fresh start.

Let us consider another passage in Scripture, the account of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. At Christmas we’re treated to bright lights, the hustle and bustle of the season and songs of the baby in the manger. “How idyllic it all must have been,” some may think.

But life in the first century Roman Empire was not all sweetness and light as many people seem to suppose. In his book Christ and Civilization, John Robbins pointed out that life the world Christ entered was in many ways quite brutal. It was a world of cruelty and violence. It was a world of superstition and anti-intellectualism. It was a world of slavery and poverty and injustice.

Looking at the condition of the world, who would have supposed there was any reason to hope for any improvement to the wretched conditions enjoyed by most, let alone the birth of a Savior? And yet a Savior came indeed. For the corrupt religious leaders of Israel, Christ’s coming was the end of the world as they knew it. But for God’s people, it was life from the dead.

In the early 16th century, the Church of Rome reigned supreme throughout Europe. All resistance to Rome, it seemed, had been snuffed out. The popes were large and in charge. And in spite of widespread discontent with the state of things, what hope was there for ordinary people to break free from the Church’s straightjacket?

Yet God, in his providence, sent Martin Luther and other men to preach the Gospel of Justification by Belief Alone. And as sinners were made free in spirit, so too were they made free politically and economically. For the papal Antichrist and his henchmen, it was the end of the world as they knew it. But for the Lord’s elect, the Reformation was a light and life.

In our own day, beset with strife as it is, we may be tempted to ask where is our deliverance, and where is our hope? How an unbeliever may answer, I do not know. In truth, so long as a unbeliever remains and unbeliever, there is no deliverance and there is no hope.

But those of us in Christ, we know whence comes our help. Our help, as the psalmist wrote, comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.

In this Christmas season, let us remember that the child whose birth the angels sang even now sits at the right hand of the Father and one day will return to judge the quick and the dead.

What will the new year bring? I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet and do not pretend to know the future. That said, it appears that we very well may face serious challenges in 2019. Will it be the end of the world as we know it, or a chance at a fresh start? If the past is a guide, the answer to that question will depend on whether we trust the evidence of our senses or the revelation of God in Scripture.

Come what may, my prayer is that the Lord’s people would face the future, not in fear in trembling at the end of the world as we know it, not in sorrow as those who have no hope, but in the confidence of what the angels spoke to the shepherds that night so long ago, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

 

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In anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine [of Christ], do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

2 John 10-11

While it may come as a surprise to some Christians that they can become guilty by association, nevertheless the Bible teaches that this is the case. Christians are to point out, and to avoid association with, those who teach heresy. By failing to point out the heresy of false teachers, a Christians are like, “the watchman who sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet.” That’s bad enough. But by associating themselves with heretics and unbelievers, Christians actually can share in the evil deeds of others.

This is a sobering thought, one not to be taken lightly.

I bring this up today, because, after reading through the material on the Evangelical Immigration Table website, as well as material about the organization found on other sites, it is hard for me to reach any other conclusion than that those associated with EIT not only have failed to sound the trumpet to warn Christians of the false teaching on immigration offered up by the Roman Church-State, but they have, in fact, received into their house and greeted those who do not bring the doctrine of Christ, both false Christian teachers as well as rank unbelievers.

Put another way, those who lend their names to EIT have sinned a great sin, one of which they have urgent need to repent.

So just how have those affiliated with EIT failed, not only to blow the trumpet when they saw the sword coming, but also welcomed into their house and greeted those who do not bring the doctrine of Christ? There seem to me to be at least three ways: By associating themselves with 1) feminists, 2) false teachers and 3) other infidels.

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John RobbinsYou never know what you’re going to find when looking through old computer files. In my case, I stumbled upon this little gem of a quote from John Robbins. Here, with his typical brevity and clarity, he teaches about the crucial distinction between knowledge and opinion.

“I distinguish – as the Bible and Plato do – between three noetic states: knowledge, opinion, and ignorance. Perhaps you do not so distinguish. But why would you not distinguish between knowledge and opinion, or knowledge and ignorance? It seems to me that a refusal or failure to distinguish between these thee states can lead only to greater confusion. Knowledge is always true. One cannot know that 2 + 2 = 5. Opinions may be true or false. Ignorance is neither true nor false. What distinguishes a true opinion form knowledge is an account of that opinion: It is giving reasons. Sudduth dared me to provide any passage of Scripture that so defines knowledge. It seems to me that here are many. For example, ‘Be ready to give a reason…’ ‘To the Law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to that Word, there is no light in them.’ ‘In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ All, not some. Hidden, not available to discovery by men. The Scripture is both the content and the account of knowledge.” (Yahoo Van Til Ring, msg. 373, 1-22-99).

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EIT_Logo

 

In last week’s post, we began our look at an organization called the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT). EIT describes itself as, “a broad coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values.”

The organization, which interestingly does not legally exist, is really a collection of a number of independent Evangelical organizations that have joined forces to spread the message of, what at times sounds like, the gospel of salvation by immigration alone.

Upon closer examination, it becomes evident that, while the group claims the mantel of Evangelical, the ideas advocated by EIT are really little more than the same sort of globalist propaganda one could just as easily find on the websites of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, George Soros’ Open Society Foundation or the Democratic National Committee. The only difference being that the folks at EIT take the ideas of the socialists, globalists and cultural Marxists, trick them out with a little Evangelical language and attempt to pass them off as somehow Biblical.

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John Robbins“Many people in relatively orthodox churches are confused about sanctification,” wrote John Robbins in the forward to Gordon Clark’s book Sanctification.

And not only is there a great deal of confusion about sanctification, but the errors people make on this doctrine place them in two broad categories: mystics and workers.

Mystics, as Robbins points out, are those who say of sanctification, “Let go and let God.” They tend to be Charismatics. On the other hand, the workers think that justification is by grace but sanctification is by works. Such persons tend to be Reformed.

Neither of these approaches to sanctification is Biblical.

Before talking about what sanctification is, Robbins notes that salvation, “from start to finish, from election to glorification, from eternity to eternity, is all of grace.”

Robbins notes that justification – God’s declaring us legally righteous and pardoning all our sins – is by grace alone, through faith alone apart from any works. Further, justification is wholly outside us. It is a work that God has done for us by imputing – to impute means to ascribe or to reckon – Christ’s perfect righteousness to us. Justification is not a work done in us.

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KTS_Night

As I wrap up this series on my brief time as a student at Knox Theological Seminary (KTS) and on some of the general lessons that can be drawn from the collapse of the school’s reformed witness, it seemed good to mention one last item before closing. In Part 2 of this series I mentioned that the collapse of KTS was in part a tale of missed opportunities. And so it was.

From the time KTS began to consider hiring Warren Gage right up through the events of the late summer and fall of 2007 when Gage and his posse seized control of the school, there were opportunities to expose Gage as the false teacher that he was and expel both him and his unbiblical leaven from the seminary. Regrettably, those in a position to do the job, for one reason or another, allowed these opportunities to pass them by.

Today, I’d like to suggest two reasons why these opportunities were allowed to pass by.

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