H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
Blogroll
 
T.U.L.I.P.
  • - Endorsed
  • - Indifferent
  • - Contested
 
Autobiographical
 
Profile
Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
 
The Buzz


Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
Email Me
email
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Unconditional Election in John 10 - part 3
This picture always makes me giggle...If you haven't read it already, you should read the first and second posts in this series.

As I mention in the previous posts, Rose posted a wonderfully edifying devotional by J. Vernon McGee, on the text of John 10:27-29, and I made some comments in the comment section about how this same text not only preaches eternal security (which was the bread and butter of McGee's devotional), but also teaches what that eternal security rests upon, that being the unconditional election of God.

I entered some comments, and some of that conversation became substantial enough that I thought I ought to post it here, if for no other reason because it would be easier for me to find if I post it here.

Rose's suggestion that the "call" was not soteriological (wasn't the gospel call) struck me as worthy of a decent reply. I had to go back to the text myself to be sure that I wasn't simply trying to make the text say what I "wanted" to believe - but that I was in fact believing what the text said because that was what was found there.

My reply follows:
Rose, thanks for taking so much time to answer my comment.

I apologize for the length of my comment here, but I wanted to address your first comment as best I could.

You rightly identify the point of convergence in our understanding of this passage. Unless I misunderstand you, you believe Christ is calling people who are already believers to continue to follow him.

To put your mind at ease, I am not a covenantalist, neither in the extreme nor in the least. Which is not to suggest that I am dispensational either, frankly, I don't fit into any one box well. ;-)

I appreciate that newborn lambs become the property of the shepherd, and that the inherent procreative ability of the sheep can be seen as a means by which one can dismiss the interpretation that the shepherd's call to his sheep represents Christ's call to the gospel. But the question I would ask is whether the basis for that dismissal is warranted.

There are a few ways I could answer this. The most obvious would be to remind us that the metaphor Christ used was catered specifically to the immediate situation: Recall that Christ had healed the blind man who was thereafter cast out of the synagog. Upon finding him again Jesus explains a riddle to the healed man: that he has come into the world to open the eyes of the (physically) blind and to close the (spiritual) eyes of the sighted (c.f. John 9:30). Some of the Pharisees who happened to be with Jesus in the street heard this conversation and asked Jesus whether they were spiritually "blind" - and Christ explains that had they been victims of blindness they would have no sin, but because their continuing "blindness" required them to intentionally ignore what they were plainly seeing their sin remained.

John 10 begins in the middle of this conversation - where Christ figuratively expounds what He had just told the Pharisees who were with him and overheard the conversation.

He starts by vividly prefacing what he is about to say by emphasizing that it is the full and only truth in the matter ("Amen, amen, I say to you" - John 10:1a). Then he expands upon what he has just told them (you Pharisees having made yourselves intentionally blind, are not part of the true flock), by way of this parable, expounding both [1] their error, and [2] what is really true.

Now, as I said above, this is a specific parable, but I want to be unambiguous - the parable is directed specifically at both the false religion being taught by the Pharisees, and its consequences.

So we see in verses 10:1-2 the identification of "Who holds the truth" the false teachers have come into the flock, not through the only doorway - that being through a turning to God - but rather they have come in a false way - through a regiment of religious tradition that has been molded to look like a relationship with God, but is in fact a relationship with the traditions of man.

Recall that the purpose of the law was (and is) to teach people that they are sinners. The Pharisees however taught that the law could be kept, and invented workarounds, circumventions, and misinterpretations whereby they appeared to be keeping the law. This was (of course) spiritual poison because instead of humbling a man so that he would call out to God, their tradition exalted the man so that he believed himself to be righteous (recall the prayer of the Pharisee: God, I thank you that I am not like other men...")

So Christ begins by hitting the bases. Here is the false hope, and it comes from these false teachers who have come into flock through means other than coming to God in broken repentance (thieves and robbers). Here is the right Teacher of the flock, He comes through the door (that is, through God), the door keeper (God) opens the way to the flock to Him (Christ), and His sheep hear His voice, and He leads them out. (verses 10:1-3)

Now we ought not to lose sight of this fact - Christ is explaining to the Pharisees who overheard his conversation with the healed blind fellow why it is that they are blind (spiritually), and why it is that this formerly (physically) blind man now sees (both physically and spiritually).

In verses 4-5 He explains that He goes before His sheep, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. Christ notes that not all the sheep who hear his voice are going to follow Him; only the sheep that are of His flock are going to follow Him, and more than this - that these sheep who follow Him would not follow a stranger - this is to say that the very fact that the sheep are following the Shepherd demonstrates that they are His sheep, for they would not follow a stranger.

But the Pharisees with Him didn't get it (verse 6) so He spelled it out again, with a little more clarity - and we do well to note some of the finer points here...

In verse 7 Christ identifies himself as the only door of the sheep, in verse 8 He explains that His sheep didn't listen to the thieves and robbers (false teachers) who came before Him, and in verses 9 and 10 He identifies (in no uncertain terms) that what he has been talking about is the way of salvation - that the Pharisees do not have it, nor are the teaching men how to be saved, but that He has it, and that He is teaching men how to be saved, "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

He is contrasting the false teachers (Pharisees) and their false teaching (Pharisism) with the genuine Teacher (Himself) and a true teaching (the Gospel).

In verses 11-18 he again contrasts Himself with the Pharisees, this time showing that they are loveless and he is loving, that He is willing to die for the flock, but that they are only concerned about the "righteous" wages they imagine themselves to be earning through their imagined "righteous" shepherding of the flock.

In verse 22 and 23 we see a segue into another scene - Christ entering Solomon's porch in the temple, and being surrounded by Jews who want to know if He is the Christ or not. Christ's response to them is a continuation of this same metaphor. Perhaps John linked two separate but overlapping narratives together to logically link (and therefore emphasize) what was clearly the same teaching, or perhaps this scene is a continuation of the last, meaning that the former conversation took place as Christ was coming to the temple and John stops here to interject that now they had arrived at the temple and more people were joining into this same conversation. Whatever the case, it is no coincidence that these two passages are linked immediately together, and it is a not some empty speculation to suggest with some certainty that what is being discussed in verses 24 to 42 is a continuation of what was being discussed previously in the chapter.

We already know that Christ is talking about the gospel - he said that in verses 9 and 10, so when we begin to see the theme come up again, we understand that John isn't pulling a confusing switcheroo, but is still presenting the same gospel truths in the same figurative language.

In verse 24 the Jews ask Jesus plainly, are you the Christ?

Now, understand that they weren't asking because they believed He was the Christ, and wanted some sort of formal declaration so that they could commence worshipping Him. It is plain in verse 25 that these Jews did -not- believe that He was the Christ. That needs to sink in for us to understand why they asked the question. They weren't asking the question in order to decide whether to follow Him or not - they had already decided that He was not the Christ - they were asking for the sole purpose of having a justifiable reason to reject Him and His teachings "formally" - they were trying to get Him to admit to something that they could say was blasphemous.

His response in verses 26 and 27 is perfect - they did not believe that He was the Christ because they were not His sheep, that is why they did not "know" His voice.

Verse 28 reminds us that this was speaking of the gospel - had they "known" Christ's voice He would have given them eternal life. That is, had they responded to what Christ was teaching (recall that Christ's ministry was summed up as preaching "repent" and "believe" in the gospel) - had they responded to the message to repent and believe, they would have demonstrated that they were part of Christ's flock - but failing to do so they demonstrated that they were not part of Christ's flock.

In verse 29 Christ again re-emphasizes the fact that the Sheep are Christ's because God gave them to Christ, that is, Christ didn't purchase them, they were God's gift to Him, He came, as I said in a previous comment, to redeem those whom God had already given Him.

Also in verse 29, and especially in verse 30, Christ identifies Himself as the Son of God, and introduces the theological conundrum that He and God the Father are one - which gives those Jews the excuse they were looking for - but even in this Christ calls their attention to the works He had done - the very things that bear witness to the legitimacy of His claim - really, giving them even in that moment ample opportunity to rethink their theology, repent, and be saved.

But of course they don't want that - they want to stone Him, so He answers their charge in kind - showing that it is not blasphemous to call oneself God's child since scripture makes it plain that God himself calls us that, he quotes from Psalm 82, the first part of verse 6 "I said, "You are gods," - but the remainder of the verse says, "And all of you are sons of the Most High." Recall that the Jewish hymn book at the time was a psaltery - so that by quoting the first have of the verse, he left them to fill in the latter - never theless, they tried to stone him anyway - but he eluded their grasp.

That is how I see the passage.

Your understanding of the passage fails to convince me on the grounds that Christ himself in several places puts the passage into a soteriological framework. He is speaking specifically about whose teaching brings salvation - His or the Pharisees, and explains why it is that the Pharisees get it wrong - because they are not His sheep (v. 26), which is the same as saying because they have not been given to Christ by God (v.29).

I am not suggesting that Christ's discourse in this passage was intended to teach the Pharisees about UE. What I am saying is that Christ's answer to the Pharisees and Jews teaches UE.

It isn't the first place I would go in scripture to make the case for UE - (that is better demonstrated elsewhere - starting with Christ's coming to Paul on the road to Damascus) but it certainly illustrates the point if one understands the metaphor.

I should mention, the passage in John 8 where Christ refers to the Pharisees as being children of Satan (8:44) - that conversation took place in the treasury of the temple, and ended with those Pharisees picking up stones to stone Christ, and Christ left the temple through the midst of them (and therefore left that conversation c.f.John 8:59) to go and find the man whom he had healed.

The conversation that takes place after Christ finds the man He healed, is (presumably) overheard by different Pharisees, as I hope we will all agree. It would be difficult for me to accept, as you seem to suggest in a different comment, that these same Pharisees who picked up stones to stone Christ, and from whom Christ escaped by walking through their midst (c.f. John 8:59) - were in fact the same Pharisees we encounter in John 9 and 10. I say, it would strike me as rather remarkable that those who were crying for His blood moments ago, and whom He had presumably left behind at the temple - should suddenly be with Him wherever it was that he found the man whom he had formerly healed.

I think it is fair to say, all drama aside [ ;-) ], that those comments we find in John 8 are not to be understood as being contextually significant to the conversation in John 9 and 10 - certainly not (at least) in the way you seem to be inferring. I appreciate that it was 3:00 a.m. when we wrote this, I have four little ones myself, and I know all about sleep deprivation. ;-)

Let me know if this all makes sense. I appreciate this post because I had to go back and look at the text quite closely to make sure I wasn't messing up anywhere - and in doing so I had to put myself before the Lord, that is, I had to be willing to be wrong if what I was saying wasn't being borne out by the text. But I think I am being true to what the text says - which is my way of reminding you that I am not trying to "be right" - rather I am trying to rightly divide the word, and I am entirely open to having any errors on my part revealed - since I am not pursuing "being right" but rather I am pursuing what is truth.

I know your heart is the same, or I wouldn't bother commenting. ;-)

Labels: , ,

posted by Daniel @ 1:41 PM   12 comment(s)
Unconditional Election in John 10 - part 2
If you haven't read it already, you should read the first post in this series.

As I mention in the previous post, Rose posted a wonderfully edifying devotional by J. Vernon McGee, on the text of John 10:27-29, and I made some comments in the comment section about how this same text not only preaches eternal security (which was the bread and butter of McGee's devotional), but also teaches what that eternal security rests upon, that being the unconditional election of God.

Some exchange of ideas took place and another commenter suggested that thieves and robbers who come in over the fence represented false religion in general (and that the heart of the metaphor was the centrality of Christ as viewed in appostition to other world religions. This commenter went on to support the position with some verses from scripture that suggested the heart of the comment was that no one was chosen by God, but that we choose God and are saved.
When Christ heals the blind man on the Sabbath in John 9, the Pharisees conclude that Christ is "not from God" because Christ did not "keep the Sabbath" (John 9:16). In questioning the blind man they contrast themselves with Christ - they were disciples of Moses and Jesus, because he healed on the Sabbath was obviously a false teacher. They wanted the man who was formerly blind to agree with them that Christ was a false teacher, but the man felt that Christ was no false teacher, but at the very least a prophet, for no one had ever opened the eyes of anyone born blind. When the man refused to agree with their condemnation of Christ they put him out of the synagog.

The description of the good shepherd and the sheep etc. follows this encounter in the narrative, and the figurative language is not arbitrary, but is the very language used in the OT to describe the major OT men who pictured the coming Christ - men like Moses (Ps 77:20) and David (Ps 78:70-72; Ezek 34:23). Using the imagery of the shepherd and the flock Christ demonstrated whom God was endorsing, himself or the Pharisees.

Jesus paints the picture using a scene from everyday first century life in Palestine. Many families owned sheep, but not all families had sheepfolds where the sheep could be penned in for the night. In a village it was common to keep the sheep from many families in the same pen at night. During the night the sheep would mingle and mix, and in the morning the shepherd would come to take his own sheep out of the fold. When the door to the pen is opened the shepherd makes a distinct call, or even blows a special whistle, and his own sheep recognize him and follow him out. The sheep do not follow a shepherd they don't know, so the only sheep who follow the shepherd are his own. Likewise at watering holes and whatnot, flocks were inclined to mingle and mix - but when it was time for one flock to leave, the shepherd would call to his flock, and they would separate themselves from the other sheep and follow him.

It is good to understand that this was common knowledge to the people Christ was addressing - when Christ spoke of His sheep hearing His voice, it was picturing this very phenomenon.

Let's not mix up what is being described here. The call to the sheep is the gospel - and those who respond to it do so because they are God's flock.

In the comment it was said, The reason Jesus knows who His sheep are is because He knows our hearts. It's not because He CHOSE particular people for no reason, but rather He KNOWS and has ALWAYS known who will and will not receive the gospel.

In John 6:44 we read, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." (emphasis added).

That is, Christ does indeed call all men to Himself, but no one answers that call ever, unless God the Father (who sent Christ) draws them to Christ.

Note what Christ says in John 10:26 - "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep."

Whenever we see the word "because" in a simple cause and effect relationship, we do well to examine the effect, and see what causes it. In this case, the effect is that they did not believe. Why didn't they believe? BECAUSE they were not of His sheep. It wasn't that they were not of his sheep because they didn't believe - that is ==NOT== what the text says, it says they did not believe because they were not of His sheep.

In the comment it was said "No one is chosen by God ..."

You may wish to read again the account of Paul's conversion, it describes an encounter between Christianity's greatest enemy (at the time) and Jesus Christ who came to him on the road to Damascus. To deny that God -chose- Paul, strikes me as a little myopic.

The fact is that Hebrew means "chosen ones" - God chose Abraham, He chose Issac (not Ishmael), he chchose Jacob (not Esau) - He chose Moses, chose all the judges in the book of judges, chose David and his family. That claim that God doesn't choose people is just ... just... magnificent. I do hope you will reconsider what you are saying there.
It was following this point that Rose identified a key difference in how she and I were understanding the text. She replies:
I think we see the call of the shepeherd in this metaphor as a different item. You say it is the call of salvation, but I think it is the call to believers to follow Christ.
She then explains herself by way of inferrence about the question she had previously asked me regarding the way in which a shepherd procures sheep - her point being that since the shepherd owned both the sheep that he purchased with money, and the sheep that were procreated in the flock - that the metaphor Christ was using could not be soteriological since it broke down if you extended the metaphor to procreation.

My reply will be in the next post in this series, and is really the heart of it I think.

Labels: , ,

posted by Daniel @ 1:09 PM   0 comment(s)
Unconditional Election in John 10 - part 1
doe, ram, ewe...
Rose posted an edifying devotional by J. Vernon McGee, on the text of John 10:27-29 the other day, and I couldn't help but respond to it, for in that passage we not only find eternal security, which Mr. McGee's devotional highlights, but we also find the root cause of eternal security - the unconditional election of every true believer.

To be sure, this isn't the first text one would go to if one wanted to "prove" that the bible teaches the unconditinal election of the individual believer, but nested in the dialog of John 10 we find it, and my first comment drew some attention in that direction:
The sheep are already owned by the Shepherd - that is, they don't suddenly become his sheep because they respond to his call - they respond to his call because they are his sheep. It isn't really that subtle, but some miss it anyway and putting the cart before the horse they get confused about what is being taught.

When I responded to the gospel, I was one of those 100 sheep. I didn't become one of those hundred sheep by responding to the gospel - I responded to the gospel because the Lord is my Shepherd - if the Lord were not my shepherd, I would not have responded to His call. It isn't that I became one of his flock when I responded to the gospel, it is that my status as one of his flock became manifest when I responded to His call. The call goes out to all the sheep in the fold, but the ones who reject the gospel demonstrate that they are not of Christ's fold.
Rose responded within 10 minutes with the sort of pre-emptive and pregnant question I typically ask intended to draw out an answer that will eventually be used against the argument being made. So I wanted to be careful in how I replied to that. No one likes to knowingly shoot themselves in the foot, even if deep down they know that sometimes it is the best thing for you. Her question was this::
How does an earthly shepherd aquire sheep, Daniel, and how does that relate to the parable?
Now to me this seemed to be one of those questions that if you answer it directly you affirm the premise - you know, if someone asks you whether you have stopped beating your spouse, any answer which doesn't address and dispel the premise (that you beat your spouse) is an affirmation that you do. So I didn't want to answer the question in a way that would suggest something other than my own understanding of scripture - in this case, I didn't want to answer in a way that suggested that sheep (Christians) became the property of the Shepherd (Christ) through the purchase (atonement), but I wanted my answer to reflect what I believe - that Christ redeemed His own, and that the "purchase" was not an act of aquisition, but rather of redemption as scripture teaches. So my answer, which stood unquestioned for a day at least was as follows:
Rose asked, "How does an earthly shepherd aquire sheep?"

An earthly shepherd purchases a flock of sheep with currency.

Rose also asked, "... and how does that relate to the parable?"

We should be careful about mixing metaphors at this point. To be sure, Christ did not "purchase" His flock - He redeemed it. Understanding the difference might help one to understand why the sheep are already the property of the shepherd.

Purchase suggests that one is aquiring something that was never their own, but redeemption suggests that one is paying a debt to retrieve something that one already owns.

Christ is our Redeemer, He paid the "purchase" price to redeem us, but make no mistake - His flock was already His before He ever redeemed it, otherwise it would have been a purchase and not redemption.
And that would have been the end of it, except for one comment that came the following day, the sort of comment which suggested that election was simply divine fortune telling, and that God loves everyone, and that all of us have a real God given, bible recorded opportunity to respond to the gospel.

I will post my reply to that in the next post, and you will see that this is where my take on John 10 comes into play.

Labels: , ,

posted by Daniel @ 1:05 PM   2 comment(s)
The Cry of a Convicted Sinner
Thou righteous and holy Sovereign,
In whose hand is my life and whose are all my ways,
Keep me from fluttering about religion;
fix me firm in it,
for I am irresolute;
my decisions are smoke and vapor,
and I do not glorify Thee,
or behave according to thy will;
Cut me not off before my thoughts grow to responses,
and the budding of my soul into full flower,
for Thou art forbearing and good,
patient and kind.

Save me from myself,
from the artifices and deceits of sin,
from the treachery of my perverse nature,
from denying Thy charge against my offences,
from a life of continual rebellion against Thee,
from wrong principles, views, and ends;
for I know that all my thoughts, affections,
desires and pursuits are alienated from Thee.

I have acted as if I hated thee,
although Thou art Love itself;
(I) have contrived to tempt Thee to the uttermost,
to wear out Thy patience;
(I) have lived evilly in word and action.

Had I been a prince
I would long ago have crushed such a rebel (as I am);
Had I been a father
I would long since have rejected my child.

O, Thou Father of my spirit,
Thou King of my life,
cast me not into destruction,
drive me not from thy presence,
but wound my heart that it may be healed;
break it that Thine own hand
may make it whole.

-- taken from "The Valley of Vision" p.68

Labels:

posted by Daniel @ 6:20 AM   5 comment(s)
Monday, February 26, 2007
The Sky Is Falling!
The Sky Is Falling!
My assumption is that if I wanted to convince a person that the sky was falling, I would be more successful trying to convince a man born blind of this idea than I would be trying to convince someone who is currently able to see for themselves.

That isn't to suggest that being born blind makes you gullible - rather it is to suggest that being born blind you have no direct frame of reference to objectively affirm (or deny) whether the sky is in fact falling. Given this want of personal, objective evidence, you would simply be inclined to assume the whatever opinion is most common - and we tend to regard commonly held opinions as being correct, and we even give them the label "common knowledge".


If a man who was born blind begins to hear from everyone that the sky is falling, even if he was formerly convinced that the sky cannot fall - yet if he began to hear that the sky was falling, he may well begin to believe it - if enough people make the claim. Thus, anyone who wants to convince a blind man that the sky is falling needs only to inundate him with that message until he begins to believe it.


But the sighted man isn't going to be convinced that the sky is falling even if a multitude of voices makes the claim in his ear - he sees for himself that the sky is not falling, and is convinced by his own experience. The only way to convince a sighted man that the sky is falling is to convince him that his evidence has no value, and the method for doing so is the same method used against the blind fellow - inundate him with the message, and if he is susceptible to that sort of intellectual tomfoolery - you can convince even him that the sky is falling.

But there are some people that you cannot convince - those who see the sky standing firm with their own eyes, and who are not swayed by an ocean of public opinion to the contrary.

I am of course referring now to the recent, highly sensational claims that the tomb of Jesus Christ has been found.

I suppose this is to be expected, and that worse is coming - but I still stand in awe of the magnitude of such a delusion. It is simply magnificent to see first hand that when God says, "eyes that cannot see" he isn't whistling dixie. Blind leading the blind - wow.
posted by Daniel @ 11:53 AM   9 comment(s)
Friday, February 23, 2007
Ministerial Vision:
Rose Coloured Glasses
In the first year of our new church the leaders determined that it would be a good idea to put together a Christian Education Ministry Committee. The function of this committee was to oversee and organize both people and materials for the various Bible Studies and for our Sunday School program.

At the time I was becoming convinced that the reason I had such a burning passion for my fellow believers to understand "how to be a Christian" - the reason I started and taught bible studies out of my home for years - was that I was in fact gifted by God in this direction.

When I first became a Christian, I read about all the miracles in the new testament, and wondered why I couldn't do that stuff. My presumption was, of course, that perhaps I had in some way messed up my salvation - perhaps I wasn't sincere enough? For years my secret conviction was that I was not really genuine "enough" - I mean I was genuine, but not enough to raise the dead or even heal the sick.

My casual knowledge of scripture allowed me to overlook the fact that not every Christian in the New Testament could do miracles, and that even amongst those who could, it didn't happen all the time. I recall the relief I felt when I began to see in scripture how Christ gave authority to do the miraculous to the seventy, and even more authority to the 12. I recall Simon the magician (c.f. Acts 8) seeing great things being done, not by converts, but by the apostles, from whom he tried to purchase this power. That helped a lot. I believed that God could do miracles, and that perhaps some are given such gifts, but even in the NT times they seemed to be temporal and with a purpose that was far more profound than simple mercy - they gave validated the claims that the church was making, first to the Jew, then to the Samaritans, then to the Gentiles. Jesus really was the Christ, and the gospel that was being preached really was the only way for sinners to be reconciled to God.

Yet there were other gifts listed in scripture, gifts that were just as miraculous with regards to their origin and function, but that were "character" gifts. Generosity, leadership, mercy, etc. These gifts had a divine origin, but worked themselves out in the character of the individual.

I have discussed my understanding of gifts elsewhere, but I will briefly review them here because such an understanding is pertinent to the point I hope to make. I believe that when God's Spirit begins to indwell a believer, He imparts to that believer (in accordance with His own counsel) some of His own character. God is merciful - and some Christians when they receive God's Spirit receive into themselves something of God's mercy for others. This mercy is expressed through their own personality - however it happens, and soon they find that being merciful is not only natural - it is the defining character of their faith. Likewise with the generous one - God imparts his own generosity into them, and this shared divine attribute works through that one's character so that they find themselves generous - and their faith is flavored by this profound magnanimity - it permeates all they do.

So it is with teaching - God imparts his desire for his children to learn wisdom, to be set free from the bondage that deceit and ignorance - He puts this same hunger in the teacher - and the one who receives this hunger works it out in his own personality - he not only digs deep into the word of God, but wants to share the treasures he finds there. The teacher is a willing student, and the flavor of his faith is according to his gift.

Now, I could run through all the gifts, but I am sure you get my drift. Spiritual gifts share some common elements; first, they work themselves out in your personality. You aren't zapped by God and suddenly have superhuman ability. You have only as much ability as you ever had - but what is "new" is that you have a new driving desire that "didn't used to be there" It isn't that you feel it ("Hey, I suddenly feel some new desire!" - rather it is that you find that you are more interested in certain aspects of Christianity than others.

Now, when I first came to the Lord, I noticed that I had a devouring hunger to read the word of God, to attend bible studies, and to understand exactly how to be a Christian. It was not a chore to read the bible for hours on end, nor to listen to sermon after sermon online, nor to study theology, or attend three or four bible studies a week - it was no chore, it was my pleasure.

I was quite surprised when I joined my first church to find that there were believers who did not enjoy studying God's word. What was wrong with them? Were they really Christians?

Now, let's go back to this Christian Education Ministry Committee (CEMC) thing. I had come to understand that this passion inside me for learning God's word, and then for sharing what I had learned indicated that God had gifted me as a teacher. It took a while to accept that, but once I did it was plain enough. So I offered my service to the chairman of the CEMC - because I felt I should be involved in a teaching ministry.

The Chairman had other plans however. He was an administrator, and boy did he love meetings. I didn't get to teach, but I suddenly found myself attending "what are we going to do" sort of leadership meetings. And it was in such a meeting that he and I came to a very pronounced disagreement.

He was of the opinion that the sole purpose of Christian Education was to train people to go door to door and share the gospel. I kid you not - all that seemed to matter to this fellow was that we get Christian's out there winning souls as soon as possible. I was of the opinion that what was needed was a solid biblical foundation - that soul winning happens naturally enough when a person is settled in their faith, and that the best way to settle a person in their faith is by teaching them to be biblical Christians.

At the end of that meeting, I determined that it would be best for this team if I resigned. Perhaps I was being narrow minded? This fellow had been an elder in His previous church, and was now a leader in our church - He had been a faithful servant of our Lord for at least twenty years longer than myself - who was I to disagree with him? I was convinced that he was dangerously wrong, and I felt that there was something more to my own convictions than just wanting it done "my way." Surely it would be a healthy thing for me to step down and consider my own ways, to examine myself and see if I was merely being pig-headed and carnal.

Yet I couldn't step down, there was too much to do, and because we were in the middle of a very large project, I decided that whatever I did decide, it would be best to humble myself for the time being, and seek the Lord in it - the pressing need allowed me to put a deadline on it - when this project was done I would make up my mind.

It took a year or so.

In that time I had many opportunities to clash with this fellow, and always it was on the matter of what direction and emphasis should be placed on the ministry in the church. He felt that as a new, small church we needed to bolster the ranks - to establish ourselves as a viable church with numbers - but I was of the opinion that numbers do not make a church, and that our primary duty as a new work was to make certain that the foundation was strong before we began building. When the project ended I was still of that opinion and so I resigned.

But it wasn't until years later that I began to see what was really happening there.

You see deep down, I had always been suspicious of any Christian who didn't or wouldn't take the time to pour over God's word with the same zeal and zest as I had. I was looking at Christianity through the tinting of my gifting. If you weren't driven in exactly the same way as I was being driven, I secretly doubted that you were even saved, or that if you were saved, that you were probably backslidden or something. But I saw one day as I looked back on these first meetings that the problem was that both myself and this other fellow were looking at Christianity through our own tinted glasses. He was an administrator, and probably something of an evangelist - he wanted meetings, meetings, meetings, and souls, souls, souls. He was concerned that there was something wrong with my faith because I didn't want to have so many meetings, and while I saw evangelism as an important thing, I didn't see it as the primary ministry we as a church should be investing ourselves in.

There were others on that team - one was clearly gifted in the direction of hospitality and was something of a peacemaker this one felt that we should be reaching into the community more, with programs and whatnot - that we should getting busy - we should be letting people know we were there in the community and finding ways to minister to the community, and I am sure this one probably thought the others on the team simply didn't see "the obvious."

When I realized that we as Christians tend to do this - to (in our ignorance and pride) presume that whatever our own experience has been, it is the universal measure of what legitimate Christianity looks like. We might not say it, and some may express this more than others - but largely, until we know better, we tend to see "the thing the church needs the most" in the context of our own spiritual gifting.

I can't tell you how understanding this has helped me as a leader in our church. What once had the power to frustrate and even upset me - now I rejoice over. Where once I was on a mission to see my vision of the church come to be, now I see that my vision is only one piece in God's puzzle - that the role of the leader is not to impose their vision on the church, but to see how their vision fits into God's greater plan - and to understand that much of what I think the church needs is flavored by my own gifting. When I begin to =value= what God has given others instead of viewing it as an impediment to what I think has to be done - then I am on the doorway to genuine leadership.
posted by Daniel @ 7:10 AM   7 comment(s)
Monday, February 19, 2007
Exponential spike...
I was glancing at my site stats just now, and saw that there was a ridiculous number of first time visitors to my blog on Saturday (twenty times above normal!). Clearly, it wasn't my charm (or lack thereof) which caused this sudden, exponential popularity. My guess is that the potent combo of vasectomies, birth control, and scripture draws 'em in like flies.

That is interesting of course, but not in a good way.
posted by Daniel @ 1:41 PM   6 comment(s)
Friday, February 16, 2007
Vasectomies and Birth Control Oh My!
Ouch!Is God really sovereign? I was taught in school that live begins at the moment of conception - that very moment that a man's sperm penetrates and fertilizes a woman's egg. It was clear that in the same way you or I might starve to death if we stopped receiving nutrients, so too this fertilized egg would have to embed itself in the rich lining of his or her mother's womb, if he or she was to avoid a very early death.

The beginning of life was not some divine miracle - it was just a biological function that happened, and in fact, science had demonstrated as much by fertilizing eggs in a laboratory - no magic, no divine spark - just a biological event that could be (more or less) recreated at will. I never really thought about our ability to "create" life in a petri-dish - except to take note that it had been done, and could be done - and that the great mystery of life was really just a simple formula that even a child could comprehend: sperm + egg = life.

When I began to regard the bible as the word of God however, certain passages in scripture began to clash somewhat with my scientific certainty. David, Isaiah, and Jeremiah all maintained that it was God who formed them in the womb (Psalm 139:13; Isaiah 44:2,24 and 49:5; Jeremiah 1:5). David says specifically that God's hands made him (psalm 119:73), and Job gives perhaps the best description of a "blob of cells" I have ever read in Job 10:10 ("Did [God] not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese?"). Likewise didn't the Lord close up all the wombs in the house of Abimelech (Genesis 20:18), and wasn't it the Lord who closed Hannah's womb (1 Samuel 1:5), and wasn't it the Lord who opened the wombs of Leah (Genesis 29:31) and Rachel (Genesis 30:22)?

Science had convincingly taught me that life was a formula that didn't really include God. When I read and believed scripture, I simply modified the formula a little: sperm + egg + "Divine spark" = life.

That was good for a while. It allowed me to hold onto my scientific definition of life, but injected a satisfying divine element to it whereby my sovereign God could always "veto" the fertilization process - and remain sovereign.

I don't even want to begin to examine why according to Levitical law (c.f. esp. Leviticus 15), both semen and menstrual fluid were unclean to the Jew - was it merely a hygiene issue? What was being pictured there? Let's not go there today.

Then we have those verses in Genesis 9 where God assigns to all of Noah's descendants the task of re-populating the earth.

They are specifically told to go into the earth and to fill it with their progeny - to abundantly populate the earth (Genesis 9:1,7). Now unless God was suggesting that Ham, Shem, and Japheth's wife were to deliver billions of babes in one lifetime - the command was given to Noah and all his descendants which began with Ham, Shem, and Japheth, but included their children, grandchildren, and all the way down to you and I.

Now many will suggest that this was not really a command, but that it should be taken as a suggestion along these lines: "Hey, if you are inclined - why not chip in a little and populate the earth - you know, as much as you feel comfortable with? that would be swell, but if not - Hey - no pressure."

Others would suggest that this was God's will right up until the whole earth "was" populated - you know, like if I told you you had to paint the fence, and you went out and painted it - once it was entirely painted you could say, "I am free from the charge to paint the fence because the fence is now painted!" - and although they have no biblical criteria to define just "when" the world became populated enough to dispense with this call - yet surely it has happened, and even if mankind was once obligated to populate the world, certainly that obligation has been met and having been met is no longer an obligation.

There are also some who would argue that when Christ came, he set us free from any sort of obligatory nonsense. That because we are in Christ we no longer are obligated (if ever we were) to populate the world.

Perhaps some have other schemes, but they all share the common element that either there never was a real obligation, or that obligation no longer applies to us for whatever reason.

Yet all of this remains in the realm of "theological musings" until one is married and faced with the question of whether or not the ability to prevent the creation of life (through any means of birth control) equates to a "God given" authority to deny life.

One may well argue that abstaining from intercourse is perhaps the first and most effective form of birth control - and since we have the ability to "say no" - that must mean that God has given us the keys of life.

But scripture teaches that if we marry, our bodies are not our own, and that we are =not= permitted to continue in abstinance. If we do engage in abstinace it is by mutual agreement and then only for a time and specifically because we are going to devote our selves to prayer during that time - and that following that time we will again resume our normative sexual activity so that this abstinence won't give Satan room to tempt us to deal with any sexual yearnings in some other way (c.f. 1 Corinthians 7:5).

So on the one hand we certainly have some opportunity to abstain from activities that inevitably produce offspring - but biblically speaking, we cannot soberly claim that the temporary abstinence permitted by scripture for the sake of devoted prayer is some sort of divine endorsement for birth control. Yet some would turn to Hebrews 13:4 and argue first that anything and everything is acceptable in the "undefiled" marriage bed; and from that perspective argue that it is possible for a couple to come together sexually regularly and often without engaging in actual intercourse - and thereby satisfy the instruction to come together, without warranting any activity that might result in procreation.

Now what is acceptable in the marriage bed is not the topic here - so let's just ignore our own opinions about what is acceptable for now - this is only on the table as a rung in the ladder.

So this one may reason that since we have the ability and even the "right" to abstain from procreation (by natural means - i.e. abstinence) - that this is a sort of "birth control" that God gives us implicit permission to exercise. The argument jumps from there to a logical tangent - if we have implicit permission to practice one kind of birth control - surely we have the same implicit permission to practice any kind of birth control.

Now here some might do a little homework and in doing so they would learn that -most- forms of birth control do not "prevent" conception - they simply kill fertilized eggs - either directly, or indirectly. Those who believe that life begins at conception must conclude that killing a fertilized egg (or intentionally forcing it to die) is in fact an act of semi-intentional murder, since although they did not specifically intend to kill any one egg in particular, they certainly intend to kill any egg that becomes fertilized. The pill, IUD's, certain creams, day-after pills etc. all fall into this category - they don't prevent the fertilization of eggs, they prevent that fertilized egg from staying alive. These methods do not stop life from beginning, they stop life that has begun from continuing.

But there are other forms of "birth control" that are in fact preventative - the various barrier methods for example, menstrual cycle methods, and/or the surgical options. These latter methods do not starve out a life that has already begun, but they do deny the possibility of life beginning.

Of the two classes, surely the latter is to be preferred regardless of where one stands on the issue.

But now we come to the great question, the one for which I bothered to post today.

Did God really give us the right to open and close the womb, or is that his providence alone? Yes, we can kill life before it takes root, and we can even prevent life from happening - but is that our prerogative?

Is God sovereign and wise enough to open the womb exactly as many times as He feels is right - or did He intend for us to one day realize that it is all just a biological phenomenon - and that the moment science allowed us to understand the building block of life, we became endowed with authority to open and close the womb according to our own counsel (assuming we have "peace" about our decision of course)?

This is one area where godly men disagree. Some are of the opinion that as long as you have the power to play God - you have the authority to do the same.

I am reminded of a conversation I had only recently, and I suppose that is what sparked this post. A fellow was considering getting a vasectomy because his Christian wife didn't want any more children. She had made up her mind and if he didn't get a vasectomy pronto - she was going to get a hysterectomy!

Now, at that point, the fellow reasoned that because a vasectomy is a much simpler procedure than a hysterectomy, he owed it to his wife to undergo the procedure - regardless of where he stood on the issue of birth control.

Our conversation came back to whether or not God was sovereign. Of course the typical arguments were given - just because God is sovereign doesn't remove responsibility from my shoulders. I can't afford more kids - it would be fiscally irresponsible for me to have more kids - I am justified in my decision to have a vasectomy, and anyway we prayed about it and we feel at peace with our decision. Um.. yeah. Or the other classic: Just because God is sovereign doesn't mean that we are supposed to put ourselves at risk - he gave us brains and wants us to use them! My wife is not a young girl anymore - if she has another pregnancy the likelyhood of having a special needs baby increases. God would never want that - so we prayed about it, and feel at peace about me getting a vasectomy.

The list could go on and on, and it isn't my intention to catalog all the ways a man might justify not wanting to have kids - but they all come back to the same problem - self.

"I don't want kids because we can't afford them." - Oh really? How are you being fed and clothed now, on your own dime or is God feeding you and clothing you. Do you say grace like this, "Thank you God that I made myself talented, and with my self made talents I went out and made money for myself and my family, and with that money which came from my own power, I furnished my family with the shelter, raiment and food you see here this evening - thank you for the food that I was entirely responsible in bringing to our table." It boils down to either "I don't trust God", or more kids will throw a wrench in my plans for the future - that is, I am more concerned about myself than I am for any plan God has.

"I don't want kids because we might have special needs kids" Um, and ...that would be ...bad? Listen: the one who thinks there is something "wrong" with a special needs child thinks there is something wrong with the one who made him or her - that God is not sovereign for if he was every baby would be born "normal". This is just selfishness wrapped up as concern for someone else. I don't want to deal with the stigma and I don't want to put the lifetime of effort into such a child - I just want to come home, read my paper, and use my own time according to my own counsel. A child like that would just be a burden. Me, me, me.

In my own life, I have had to struggle with this very thing. I am zealously against any form of birth control that actually kills babies, and while I am not against abstinence, I am against all other forms of birth control.

Now you might think to yourself as you read this: Daniel, that is easy for you to say, you pompous windbag. It is easy for you to judge from your ivory tower - you don't know me, and you don't know my situation - if you did you would shut your mouth. But bear with me brother, perhaps if I inform you something of my own situation you will cut me slack.

My wife has a heart condition that has been aggrivated by each of her pregnancies. When she talks about birth control it is not about money or fear of having to bring up more kids - she would adopt as many as possible - but her fear is that having another child might harm or kill her, maybe even leaving her other children motherless. There is no guarentee that anything bad will happen - in fact it is quite possible that she could become pregnant again and again without complication. But she is afraid, and this sort of fear is the kind that whatever theological convictions I may have about the sovereignty of God - do little to comfort her.

So trust me when I say, this topic is not something I handle lightly - it is close to my heart. Until this came up I thought there was nothing in my life or that life could throw at me that could cause me to compromise a conviction - but this one has come powerfully close. When I ask myself whether or not God is sovereign, it is no longer a theological question - it is a practical one: Is my God completely sovereign, such that I can walk according to a conscience instructed out of His word, or is there room for me to take matters in my own hands when it really matters.

Now, as a note to all you men who have had vasectomies, or practice birth control with your wives in some form or other - and upon reading my musings you feel inclined to justify your self or maybe you feel offended that my present opinion doesn't mesh with your own opinion - I would absolutely =love= to be convinced that there was some way in God's will for me to take the reins. So you will not find me chomping at the bit waiting to dismiss some contrary opinion, but rather giving perhaps the most careful and prayerful consideration to any contrary opinion that presents itself.

What say you?

Labels: , ,

posted by Daniel @ 10:54 AM   31 comment(s)
Thursday, February 15, 2007
The Gap.
The Gap...As a young man in high school, when the guys would get together and kid around, we used to imitate talking like Elvis for laughs, I can still hear my friends trying to master the art of saying, "I'll ah, I'll have a big 'ole cheese bugga, and ken ya put a whole lotta mayo on that darlin'?" We cracked ourselves up thinking we were so clever and funny.

I mention this so that when I say that there is in many of us a "whole lotta" difference between what we intellectually agree to be true and what we put into practice.

Consider the following quote from Walter Marshall, first published in 1692:
Consider these things well, and you may easily perceive that our spirits are not in a fit frame for the doing of them, while we apprehend ourselves under the curse and wrath of God, or while we are under prevailing suspicions that God will prove an enemy to us at last.
What Marshall is saying here is that you can't really love God if you always hold onto the secret suspicion that God is really your enemy. The context (and you can go and read the whole book at the link) is that until a believer is convinced in a practical way that they are in fact reconciled to God, they will be unable to accept the truth that God loves them in any practical way.

I think the best path for discipleship is to identify the most common obstacles to (genuine) Christian growth, and deal with them first. But often new believers are either left to their own devices (worse case scenario), or given a brief and systematic overview of the core Christian beliefs and encouraged to study the bible and pray (a little better), or thoroughly indoctrinated into both the core beliefs of the Christian faith and a variety of denominationally appropriate theological dogma (magnificent, but still putting the cart before the horse).

You see, you can be a believer, and have your head filled with all the right interpretations of all the various doctrinal stances your theological persuasion allows - and all the while be hopelessly in bondage to sin because in spite of all your "learning" - you didn't believe some of the very first things you were supposed to learn. There is a "Gap" between what you know to be true intellectually, and what you see happening in your faith.

You know, for example, that God loves you. If someone asks you, you have the right answer - "Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so" - only deep down, you suspect that every time you failed to be perfect, God stopped loving you. Oh, it was your <whispering> deep, dark secret, </whispering> but you imagined that this doubt was either normative, or more likely, that your faith was somehow flawed, and that if you could just obey more genuinely it would go away. But it never did.

You see, the gap? They are trying to generate God's love by their genuine obedience. Oh it looks crazy when we drag it out into the light and look at it, but that is what can happen.

You see, unbelief is spiritual cancer, it grows over time and gets worse - and unless it is identified for what it is, a person may well wonder why they seem to be getting worse in their faith rather than better, why they seem farther away from God now, than ever before. The problem goes back to the basics:

=If= you are in Christ, you are acceptable to God right now, and no sin that you can ever commit will change that. You cannot make God love you by your "genuine obedience" - God's love cannot be purchased - it is freely given, and if you are in Christ, it is already yours.

You are reconciled - the gap between you and God has been filled entirely because you are in Christ. God loves you right now, and so long as you continue to imagine that God's love is conditioned upon your obedience, you will never be able to believe that God loves you. And though you must become a fool to understand this, since it goes against all our logic - THAT must come first. First you trust God's love, and when you do THEN obedience flows naturally out of you.

Brother, sister, are you convinced intellectually that God loves you? Do you find that secretly you aren't loving God? It is because you are wrongly prefacing God's love upon your obedience - and as long as your conscience refuses to trust in a perfect and completed reconciliation - you will never be released from the guilt of your sin, and until you are released thus, you will not be free to love God from your heart. Your mind may well agree that loving God is proper, but your heart won't be convinced.

So if this was written for you, let the Spirit witness that to you, and do something about it. Crack open your bible while it is still today and settle for yourself whether God prefaces his love towards you on your good works. Learn that God's love is real, and stop giving into unbelief. It is true that you are not worthy of this profound love that God has exercised towards you - but it is high time you excusing your guilty conscience as a pious thing - when your conscience is trained not by truth but by suspicion, it is an evil conscience - you must train it again with the truth, for such will set you free.

Labels: , , , ,

posted by Daniel @ 8:51 AM   5 comment(s)
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Valentines Day.
Are not flowers appropriate?I don't love my wife half as much as she deserves.

With each passing year I see her worth more clearly, and my own love seems hardly an adequate match for such a giving person. She runs herself ragged for our family, and though I ought to spend every night praising her for it, I see that I am not doing this. To be sure, I am more inclined to say something if she slackens her break neck pace.

How can such a worm as I be so fortunate as to be gifted with so fine a wife? I hope in this coming year I will give myself for my wife with greater abandon - my goal is to love her with the selfless love that Christ loved the church - a love that no human being can imitate or approach, but must rise from our union with Christ, for I am not to love her with a love that is similar to Christ's love - but with Christ's actual love - the perfect love He has for her.

God grant this grace.

Labels: , ,

posted by Daniel @ 7:39 AM   3 comment(s)
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
To The New Believer...
I recall watching two men battle one another in one of those arcade style games that involves hitting the right button + joystick combinations to make certain moves. The one fellow seemed to know every move you could make - I think he had them all memorized, yet as he pounced upon his foe, he used the same two or three techniques over and over again. He could have used any of the dozens he knew, but having known all the moves, he used the ones that over time he knew to work the best.

Now come with me into the wilderness for a moment. Here we see our Lord Jesus - not at the end of His ministry, but right at the very beginning - baptized only moments or perhaps days ago, he is here in the wilderness because that is where the Holy Spirit has sent Him - why? To be tested.

Now, when we think of testing, we tend to think of a pass or fail situation, but here the test is more like testing fine gold to demonstrate that it is pure. The test wasn't for God to see if Jesus was the Christ, I mean, God knew that - and Jesus knew it too, but here the validity of His own claim would be revealed to Himself through these temptations.

Now it is interesting that God spoke to Jesus out of the Heavens only days before, declaring audibly that He was God's Son. But the devil finds him out there in the wilderness starving, and what is the first temptation? =IF= you are the son of God, turn this stone into bread.

That is the devil's ace in the hole. He may have trillions of "moves" - but he knows which ones are the most effective, and he uses them immediately on the Christ. He doesn't ask Christ to doubt that there is a God, He wants Christ to doubt that He is God's son, to deny the reality of the spiritual (as opposed to water) baptism He just received. To question if what happened yesterday still applies today - to demand a sign to show that God is still there.

The new believer faces the same temptation and it comes from the same source. They give their life to Christ, but they are babes, they do not know how to deal with indwelling sin in their life, and their failure to be perfect now that they are saved puts them in a wilderness where the enemy comes to them with his polished game - Are you really a Christian? Did you really mean it? Why all this sin then? If you are a son of God, do a miracle or something, call out to God in prayer and see if he obeys your voice?

Brother, sister, if you are new in the Lord expect these temptations - if the enemy plied them against our Lord, they must be the best weapons in his arsenal, and you can expect to be attacked this way.

Don't demand of God "proof" of your salvation by way of miracles. The natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God - know this, if you have a genuine desire to know God, it didn't come from your own heart - scripture makes it plain, no man comes to the Son unless the Father draws him. The very fact that God called you into His Son and you believed is a miracle - and it is sufficient for the temptations to doubt.

Consider this truth - God doesn't hold heaven above you and keep it unattainable - men come to Christ every day, and they come through faith - and when they do their guilt over residual sin makes them vulnerable to the temptations of the enemy - they are primed and ready to doubt the validity of their sonship - and that is when they are most sorely attacked by these temptations.

Only the Holy Spirit can assure you that you are in fact a child of God, I don't pretend to offer any assurance to you on that ground - but assurance is not a feeling that comes to you and wraps you in its arms so that you never doubt - assurance comes from the kind of trust that only God can generate. When we struggle in this area we find little assurance - that is why the apostle Peter writes the following:
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. - 2 Peter 1:5-9 [ESV]
Assurance comes when we recognize that the Holy Spirit really is inside us prompting us to obey God - since no unsaved person would every do that (the unsaved mindset cannot obey God).

So take some strength in this thought if you are a new believer and full of doubt - your Savior has walked this same road before you - He was tempted in every way (yes even tempted to believe that He was not God's Son), and this is the same Savior who Himself put you into His own body (the church), and in doing so became inseparably united with you through that spiritual baptism. God did it, not you - and you certainly cannot undo what God has done. Turn your eyes therefore to your Savior when you are in trouble and doubt. He is there, and you can talk to Him. Read His word, see His faith, and rest in it rather than your own power.

Go in grace, you are beloved of God.

Labels: ,

posted by Daniel @ 6:22 AM   2 comment(s)
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Lables and Libel...
Here is the prayer that I prayed just now because I was quite concerned that I might write a post that wasn't very honoring to our Lord:

Lord, you are sovereign, and some of your precious children will be reading what I write here. Grant me the grace to be submitted to your will as I write this out, and allow your love for them to be my love for them so that I would encourage and edify those whom you love - for your glory, and for the sake of the church you love, in the name of your Son I ask this, because His hame is perfect, Amen.


Brother, sister, if you are convinced that your theology is more perfect than that of the Christian beside you, then go to him in love and share what you have known. If there is any truth in what you share, God will use that to open his eyes. You cannot convince another of truth, that is the work of Christ. Go to your brother with your five loaves and a few fish rejoicing for God can multiply them in your brother's heart.

But if you are learning to bait your brother, and tease him for what he or she believes - if you are willing to strike back when his theology insults you - then there is either something wrong with your theology, or you are an empty theologue, one who assents that a truth is true, but doesn't lift a finger to live it out.

Do you hate Arminianism? Do you hate Calvinism? Is that what defines your faith - how much you hate someone else's? If you are apt to teach then teach, but if you are just a clanging gong -a viper spitting your venom at those who disagree with you- perhaps you would take some advice? Love the Lord, and you will not find it in your heart to hate your brother, to ridicule or bait him or to make yourselves stumbling blocks before him. It is better for you to close your mouth in love than to open it in hate.

If another isn't seeking the Lord as diligently as you and your cadre, I hope you will choose to encourage their efforts rather than poke "fun" at them. By now it is high time you learned to blush.

Labels: ,

posted by Daniel @ 7:47 AM   8 comment(s)
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
From the Conference...
AWESOME.

Marc H. is a great guy - we jammed for a bit, but the timing wasn't good - we will go out later for a soda. James - I am saying hi to you, you lurker - you know who you are.

Dan

Labels:

posted by Daniel @ 5:58 PM   9 comment(s)
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Back on Thursday...
Well, I am off to the Conference. Be back on Thursday, well, late Wednesday night - it is a nine hour drive or so, and we leave Monday at 4:45 a.m. - I need to get some sleep if I am going to have any devotional time before that.

Dan

Labels:

posted by Daniel @ 7:34 PM   3 comment(s)
Friday, February 02, 2007
Me! Me! Er, I mean Meme.
I was reading over at Garry Weaver's blog today and saw that old book tag thing - you know, where you follow some rules abou the book closest to you and share what it says. The rules were as follows:

1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123; go down to the fourth sentence.
3. Post the text of the following three sentences.
4. Name the author and book title.
5. Tag three people to do the same.

I grabbed the book closest to me off the shelf next to my desk, and found that it was simply infected all over with a disgusting looking black mold. I have no idea how long I have been breathing these mold spores, but I was quite thankful to have noticed it, and hereby credit Garry with likely saving my life from spore induced death.

Anyway, I got rid of that book pronto because I didn't even like to be touching it. I kind of cheated a bit on my answers, because the closest book to me was my bible, and I didn't want to look like a Christian keener, so I grabbed the mold book - and put that aside too. So here you have it, third times the charm will of God - page 123, sentences four, five, and six from "A Christianity that really works" by Ron Marr -

That is why the life that is in Christ is so repugnant to many Christians and neglected by many teachers. Die they will not! While initially attractive because of all the promise it holds, when the Christ-life demands our death, all that is of the old man rises up in rebellion.


Garry didn't tag me btw, but I tag Tim Challies, who has never visited my blog ever, James White, who likewise never visits my blog, and Steve Camp, who also doesn't visit my blog. Surely they will sense this challenge and become regular posters here.

Labels:

posted by Daniel @ 9:26 AM   5 comment(s)
 
Previous Posts
 
Adult Bible Study
 
Archives
 
Search Doulogos
Search Doulogos...
 
Links
 
TTLB
 
Atom Feed
Atom Feed
 
Hits
 
Copyright
Creative Commons License
Text posted on this site
is licensed under a
Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5
License
.