29 Nov 2006
I refer to A.A. Hodge’s Outlines of Theology as much as any book in my library. It is a superb one volume collection of the Biblical knowledge of the 19th century titans at old Princeton. It’s more practical and manageable than, say, a three-volume Systematic Theology. Condensed and brief, it encompasses a colossal amount of Biblical knowledge.
And perhaps consider getting someone in your family a Reformation Study Bible. I wonder how many don’t read their Bibles because no one has bought one for them and encouraged them to read it?
24 Nov 2006
Though I have misgivings about Google’s liberal culture, I generally like the power and simplicity of their products. Their Google Reader is quite good and allows one to track blogs in less time.
22 Nov 2006
Sparks and suns
And all these [Old Testament examples], though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. -Heb 11:39-40
If those on whom the great light of grace had not yet shone showed such patience in bearing their ills, what effect ought the full light of the gospel have on us? A tiny spark of light led them to heaven, but now that the sun of righteousness shines on us what excuse shall we offer if we still hold to the earth?
18 Nov 2006
Perseverance through warnings
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. -Heb 4:1
Geoffrey Wilson comments:
Such warnings against apostasy are misunderstood when they are thought to teach that true believers may fall away and be lost. For just as accidents are avoided by obeying the road signs which are put up for our safety, so we are preserved from the dangers of our pilgrimage by paying heed to those warnings which are annexed [attached] to the promise of salvation. This truth is further illustrated by Paul’s experience on the voyage to Rome. He had been divinely assured that all would be saved despite the loss of the ship (Acts 27:22-25), but that did not prevent him from warning the centurion that none could be saved if the sailors were allowed to desert the ship (Acts 27:31). … [A]ll who know the plague of their own hearts will never deem it safe to dispense with what God considers to be necessary for their spiritual safety.
15 Nov 2006
Another major advance. Seriously now, folks…
14 Nov 2006
The folly of opposing the King
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. -Heb 1:3a
John Owen comments:
This abundantly discovers the vanity and folly of them who make use of the creation in an opposition unto the Lord Christ and his peculiar interest in this world… They hold their lives absolutely at the pleasure of him whom they oppose; and they act against him without whose continual supportment and influence they could neither live nor act one moment: which is the greatest madness and most contemptible folly imaginable.
11 Nov 2006
Ted Haggard and grading on a Curve
Endless print has been spilled on Ted Haggard. I don’t wish to defend the man’s bad arminian theology or his hypocrisy, nor speculate on whether he is really a Christian.
More interesting to me is the hardening that always occurs after incidents like this. The same theme appears over and over again in the media: “Aha! Mr. Anti-Gay-Marriage has been caught indulging in homosexual activity! The weasel! I lust and sin, but at least I’m not two-faced about it.”
Why is it a gleeful occasion when the unrepentant man sees a seemingly upright man exposed as a dreadful sinner? The answer seems pretty simple: Unbelievers look about ceaselessly to justify their own sinfulness.
The problem is that God doesn’t grade on a curve. He doesn’t say “Well, you scored a 5 out of 100 on your test, and Ted Haggard got a 2 out of 100, so let me just apply a curve here and give you an ‘A’! Come on in, pal, and have a seat at My table.” In other words, on judgment day, tell God “at least I’m not as bad as Ted Haggard” and see if that propitiates His wrath.
You’re worse than you think anyway. In reality you’re a zero:
Rom 3:10-12 as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
And only through true faith in Christ do you get the 100 you need to enter His kingdom:
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. -Hebrews 4:13-16
08 Nov 2006
A victory for George Tiller
Hebrews 12 speaks of Christians as strangers and exiles on this earth. Always a minority.
This became clear yesterday when ELCA parishioner and late-term abortionist George Tiller won a major victory after contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to oust a pro-life attorney general in Kansas who was fishing around his hellish “business” for evidence that he was doing late-term abortions under false pretenses. Such is justice on earth that murderers like Tiller run loose.
I don’t believe that late-term abortions are more vicious than any other abortion. In fact, I think(?) I’d prefer to have pincers jammed in the back of my neck and my brains sucked out rather than being scalded to death in saline as has happened to tens of millions of our unborn fellow citizens. However, it surely says something that consciences aren’t even pricked by a fully developed baby who may be days away from birth.
And yet we can be comforted:
Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. -Ps 37:1-3
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. -Rom 2:6-8
06 Nov 2006
A new and deadly disease
Ah, election season. Our political parties, like all political parties always and everywhere in our fallen world, are filled with power seekers attracted to power like flies to manure. Most politicians eventually discover found that dispensing the public treasury wins supporters. Both major parties do it. And yet our parties are different. One party has some good principles, and many decent lawmakers who implement them quite inconsistently. The other party espouses bad principles that at every point break the second table of the law. Covetousness- check. Immorality- check. Theft- check. The Democrats have it covered. Even the areas where they may conceivably be right (the war), they are right for the wrong reasons.
So get out and vote. I will be voting for men like this. At the same time, consider also these words from Lewis’s essay “Membership.”
As long as we are thinking only of natural values we must say that the sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal, or two friends talking over a pint of beer, or a man alone reading a book that interests him; and that all economics, politics, laws, armies, and institutions, save in so far as they prolong and multiply such scenes, are a mere ploughing the sand and sowing the ocean, a meaningless vanity and vexation of spirit. … But do not let us mistake necessary evils for good. The mistake is easily made. Fruit has to be tinned if it is to be transported, and has to lose thereby some of its good qualities. But one meets people who have learned actually to prefer the tinned fruit to the fresh. A sick society must think much about politics, as a sick man must think much about his digestion: to ignore the subject may be fatal cowardice for the one as for the other. But if either comes to regard it as the natural food of the mind – if either forgets that we think of such things only in order to be able to think of something else – then what was undertaken for the sake of health has become itself a new and deadly disease.
03 Nov 2006
A wonderful, 1826 passage from Swiss pastor Felix Neff, quoted from “Evangelicalism Divided:”
[I]n this impure and dark world, this obscure quarry, whence the Great Builder is pleased to take some stones for his edifice, what shall we find, but work-yards for a season, where everything appears to be in a movement and disorder? What unshapen stones, what rubbish, what fragments!
How many things fit only for temporary service! How many arrangements merely provisional! How many mercenaries and foreigners are occupied in these quarries… How many dissentions among the laborers, how many conjectures and disputes about the final purposes of the Great Architect… which are known only to Himself! Shall we search in this chaos for the true church, the spiritual temple? Shall we endeavor to arrange, in one exact and uniform order, all those stones that we find in the various quarries opened in a thousand places in the world? Oh, how much wiser is the Master! While some are disputing about the excellence of this or the other department of the work; and while others are spending their strength in endeavoring to introduce perfect order, the wise Master-builder surveys, in silence, the vast scene of operations, chooses and marks the materials which he sees to be prepared amidst all this confusion, and causes them to be removed and placed in his heavenly edifice; assigning to every piece the place most proper for it, and for which he has designed it. Such, my beloved brethren, is the sublime idea which we ought to form of this universal church. Oh! How contemptible now will appear, in our eyes, those endless disputes which have at all times divided the believers, and continue to do so to the present day. Let us rather labor in the quarry where our work is assigned, to prepare as great a quantity of materials as possible; and especially, let us entreat the Lord to make us all lively stones fit for his building. Amen!