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.
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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
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Friday, April 28, 2006
"Adult Language"
As a parent, I have had the displeasure of having to address others in public whose use of profanity in the proximity of my own children, was both vociferous, and unbridled. People are usually apologetic when you explain that they are using language that is not entirely familiar to the impressionable minds of your children - and they usually can appreciate how a parent might wish for such language to remain unfamiliar to their children.

Now, the fact that (at one time at least) we didn't want our children to hear this sort of language, is likely the reason it was originally labeled as "Adult Language" - to identify it as so corrupting, that we didn't want to expose children to it.

This distinction did not imply that such language was ever "acceptable" conversational language for mature adults - but rather being entirely unacceptable a manner of locution, right thinking people not only didn't speak that way themselves, but would even protect others from having to endure it.

Yet nowadays there seems to have been a shift.

Now we see disclaimers to links and what not that patronizingly warn us that "this site uses Daddy and Mommy language" and the like. The unspoken message is easily picked up however - profanity (corrupt speech) isn't bad if it used nicely. This view holds profanity as a emphatic device, or even as a way of coloring one's speech - a veritable "tickle trunk" of vernacular goodies just waiting to be used by the mature, and "artsy" wanna-be poets of our modern society.

I say to this, (ahem)... Hogwash!

Have you ever talked to God that way - that is, do you cuss when you pray? I don't cuss when I pray and I am an adult. If profanity were simply adult language (language that is appropriately used in mature conversation), I should expect myself to be cussing up a storm in my prayer time, I would expect the same from you too! Can it be that there are more serious, mature conversations than the ones we have with our Father in heaven?

Somewhere along the way we stopped calling corrupt speech "profane" - and decided that it was perfectly acceptable language (except for children and prudes). Indeed - The world really is waxing worse, and worse.

Some simply accept the premise that foul language isn't really foul anymore, but now it is okay for "grown ups" since that is what the world says and believes - and unless you love the things the world loves, you are going to be called a freak - and ostricized for your prudeness (read: obedience to the word of God).

So, I take a stand here today. I don't care for profanity, not one bit! I used to cuss before Christ came into my life - but the moment he did, I had absolutely no desire to speak or communicate using such language - and every time I even thought of it, it made me feel physically sick. I didn't make this happen either, nor was it something I tried to bring about so that I could be more prudish - I just was suddenly sensitive to the fact that I was using language that offended the Holy Spirit within me.

Woe to you if you are already dull His voice that profanity is not only unoffensive, but even acceptable.

I didn't want to say "woe to you" btw, but I couldn't avoid it.
posted by Daniel @ 4:31 PM   15 comment(s)
Hats Off...

One of the blogs I like to visit is stepping into that dark Australian twilight.

Stop by and share some parting thoughts.
posted by Daniel @ 3:03 PM   0 comment(s)
Thursday, April 27, 2006
When Pigs fly
Pigs are heavy and wingless, and not terribly aerodynamic. If you should chance to see a pig suspended in the ether - hovering as it were between earth and sky - trust me my friend, you are not seeing a flying pig - you are seeing a falling pig.

If pigs had fallen in the same manner as Adam, I expect that they would not be content with being pigs - wanting more for themselves than God had given them. Continuing this supposition - if these same pigs were able to daydream and imagine various scenarios for their lives - I expect that some swine somewhere would look to the bird and pine for wings - that he too should swoop through the blue.

This same pig, being fallen, hasn't really placed much value in the way God has made him - and rather than relish and delight in the plan of God, he is disappointed in it. "Why have I no wings?" he muses - why am I not like the thing I admire?

Now, some of these fallen pigs might not care that they don't have wings - flying, they say, has nothing to do with wings and whatnot - it has to do with desire - and if we desire to fly, we will fly. So the particularly persistent pigs soon learn that they can jump out of planes (with parachutes) or be shot out of cannons into waiting nets - and for a brief time, approximate through much effort, what God has allowed others to do naturally.

I am talking about spiritual gifting in the church.

If you are a preacher/teacher - you cannot help but preach and teach. There is no real effort in it, you simply have a God given hunger to learn, and a God given capacity to preach and teach - in fact you have a deep concern for God's church, knowing that His people perish for lack of knowledge.

If you are an evangelist, you cannot help but share the gospel, it burns inside you - you see everyone in an eternal light - and your hunger is to see Christ glorified by redeeming them - you don't generate this or work to make it happen - it is as much a part of you as your own arm.

If you are a leader, people follow you.

If you are generous you love to give.

If you are hospitable you love to get Christians together for fellowship.

The list goes on, but the point is that some of us are like the pig that wants wings. We look to someone else's gifting, and wish it were ours - failing to delight in how the Lord has gifted us.

In particular, I am thinking of those people who want to preach when they are not gifted in that way. I remember hearing Swindoll speaking of a fellow he had known in Seminary - whose father was a pastor or something like that, and his mother really, really, wanted him to go be a pastor too, but it was plain to everyone except the fellow and his family that he did not have a speaking/teaching gift. In the third year of Seminary he was finally taken aside and encouraged to learn what his gifts were and also he was encouraged to serve the Lord in the strength of those gifts that God had given to him personally (as opposed to trying to serve the Lord contrary to the Lord's provision.) The fellow was insistent however, claiming that he did indeed have a speaking gift - to which the professor who had taken him aside replied - "if that is so, then none of us seem to have the gift of listening" or something like that.

Now, you don't need the Spirit of God living inside you to be a persuasive speaker. You can learn to be an effective speaker, and even a great speaker - without having the Holy Spirit. Surely, Hitler was a charismatic speaker.

But being gifted as a teacher means that God has divinely bestowed on you his own desire to see others learn about Him. You are not the nurse who looks after the sick child for your wage - but the mother whose very heart is expressed in caring for the child. It is a matter of motive more than technique. It is a question of why you want to preach as much as it is a question of can you preach effectively.

I confess, there was a time in my life when I was petrified at the thought of speaking in public. But when I gave my life to the Lord that disappeared entirely. If I feel anything when I preach, I feel the awesome weight of standing before God - His messenger, speaking His message - a part of me often wants to second guess whether what I am about to say is entirely of the Lord, or if some of it might just be from me - but I am never afraid to speak publicly.

As a leader in my church, one of the first things I look for if a fellow wants to teach or preach is whether this person consistently comes to prayer meeting or not. I can't imagine a man who is called to preach who has not also been called to pray.

I guess what I am saying is that I shudder to think that there are men in the pulpit today who want to preach but were never called to it. They hurt themselves because they are laboring to do what they are not gifted to do, and they hurt the congregation because they are not doing what they were gifted to do - and all for the sake of their own glory.

Now, I took preaching as the main thrust here - but the same point is made for all the gifts. If you want to minister in the strength God provides - minister according to your gifts. Most of us fall quite naturally into that - but some have to be coddled.
posted by Daniel @ 11:34 AM   14 comment(s)
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The Flaw...
Look backwards over your faith for a bit.

Recall those precious times of growth and closeness to God? Sure you do. You wish every day could be like those days. You have a sense that you are stagnant in your walk – not that it is especially sinful outwardly – but that you have no sense of God’s presence like you used to. You read the same bible, and it is still interesting and all –but if you are willing to admit it, you know full well that something is wrong.

You are not obeying God anymore.

Not that you are being consistently, or deliberately disobedient – not in the least. Surely in times past your struggle with the various, seemingly insurmountable, sins caused you to be in constant communication with God. You were quick to turn to him when you failed – and when temptation came about, how you rallied against it – bridling all your unbridled inclinations, and eventually, through a regiment of denial and suppression, you managed to come to a place where you could clamp down on a temptation before it got a hold of your heart. You developed what we call a knee-jerk reaction to the temptation, a sort of motor reflex that allowed you to avoid sin –you’re your way of avoiding sin didn’t really include God, except to thank Him for giving you the strength to develop a knee-jerk habit that manages to relieve you of the burden of guilt you got when you sinned.

Now that the habits are firmly in place – you have no need of calling on God to help you through them, since your habits work well enough.

Think it through.

What you once hailed as a great victory over sin, is really, in practice, a great victory over a habit. You still want to sin, you just never let the bud grow up into sin. That is, you still have a fountain that coughs up sludge and guck, but whenever it does so your trained response kicks is so that it never grows up into anything yucky.

That works fine,… for a while,

But pretty soon you are willing to admit to yourself that you are no closer to fellowshipping with God now, than you were before. You still struggle with sin because while you have managed to cap off this problem, or that problem – the growth of sin in your life has just found expression elsewhere – and slowly, but surely, a sort of lethargic atrophy begins. Your prayer time becomes habitual, your devotion time becomes habitual – everything about your relationship with God is habitual.

The world begins to slowly, oh so slowly, charm you again. A little here, and a little there. You find yourself telling a little lie here or there, or joking a little more crudely than you used to. Perhaps you are not spending time with your children like you used to – or you are allowing yourself to indulge in a here-and-there fashion some former snare.

These are the thorns coming back into your life – and they are doing what thorns do – they are slowly choking out that life in you which at one time seemed to produce so much fruit, but now has become something of a barren vineyard.

Here is what you do to get out of that rut…

Repent again.

I know, it is pretty simple advice, but if this was written for you, then brother or sister here what the Lord has to say to you – repent! Six times in revelations we here this message from the Lord. Obey Christ again – root out the unbelief and disobedience in your life – not so that you can develop good habits in order to supplant a living faith relationship with your Lord and maker – but rather turn to God because there is life in Christ and you want it.

A gardener doesn’t fill the branch of a vine with grapes then suddenly cut the branch off now that it is bearing fruit – no, no, no. The branch needs to stay connected to the vine.

This is a bit of a paradigm for some Christians – but we must stay connected to the life of the vine. The reason we desire to be weeded, is not so that we can survive without the vine – but so that we can be fruitful. I am speaking in pictures here, but perhaps I should be clear.

Brother, sister – the only reason you should be avoiding sin is to promote growth – we sometimes miss the boat and try to avoid sin so that we either don’t need God, or don’t feel bad about offending God – not as an act of love for God, but out of a love for our own selves and our own assurance and peace of mind. Christianity is not supposed to be so selfish – one cannot love God when one is busy loving themselves.

That is where faith comes in. It is a wonderful thing to cut the anchor to self, and trust God – to commit yourself to the sea of His love and care – to obey because you want to be nearer to Him, rather obeying in order to avoid feeling bad about what a miserable shipwreck of a Christian you are.

The reason you feel so blah is because in the past when you were trying to obey, you found you believed you couldn’t do it without God – and the moment you had victory you no longer needed God, and set him aside. Not that you set him aside entirely, but you set him aside, as a tool is set aside. He had served the purpose for which you used him, at least in your own subconscious understanding – and after the momentary glow of appreciation wore off, you no longer clung to him like you used to. What does your heart say? Are the arrows finding a mark?

The thing is, it was your willingness to obey God that opened to doors to intimacy with God. I could say that biblically if you want – God gives grace to the humble. When you humbled yourself in obedience – seeking God with all your heart – you began to draw near to Him, and He to you. When you got what you came for, you stopped drawing near – satisfied as you were at that time with your accomplishments.

You are like a cordless drill, getting a charge, then letting that charge run down, and going back for another, and you are supposed to be a regular drill – plugged into the circuit directly and consistently.

My advice – repent, and obey God – but do it because you want to fellowship with Him, and not because you want to pacify Him concerning your sin. If you need to meditate on that do it – but don’t keep on flopping around like you do, it is wrong, and you don’t really like it anyway.
posted by Daniel @ 4:33 PM   4 comment(s)
Monday, April 24, 2006
The Law...
In 1646, a group of Covenant Theologians (reformed Christians) penned what we now call the "Westminster Confession of Faith" - and for many reformed Christians, it is a document that is (in practice at least) as binding as scripture.

Originally theologians would defend orthodoxy against heresy by examining scripture directly to see what the truth of the matter was. The result from such examination was that a precept or 'apology' was deduced to answer a given heresy. Eventually however, this same system of apology was used to answer questions that no one was asking. At some point doctrine was no longer being derived directly and entirely from scripture, but as it were, it was being derived from previous precepts either partially, or entirely.

In the book of Isaiah this very practice (using a theological house of cards as the rule of conduct rather than scripture directly) was recorded as the reason why Israel was going astray - because they began to regard the word of the Lord as being equivalent to their own system of theology - supposing to mine truth out of their own theology - they began to build line upon line, and precept upon precept - that is, they stepped of the straight and narrow the moment they began to pile it high.

Not that Covenant Theology has the market cornered on this sort of error. Certainly Dispensationalism follows the same error, and accordingly it derives its own clever, but extra-biblical conclusions as well.

Yet my point isn't to focus on the flaws of our various theological frameworks - I am sure there are enough theological zealots on the internet already - yet an awareness of this sort of thing is an important foundation for the topic I wish to discuss.

(Pastor) Brad Williams, in examining the twenty second chapter of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, notes that according to this document, Sunday is supposed to supplant Saturday as the Sabbath - and to be appropriately observed by the born again believer.

The document is really just a rehash of the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith, with references to infant baptism modified so that they reflect instead a believer baptism position. Here and there, the document is otherwise enhanced to add clarifying or qualifying statements and whatnot. It isn't the scope of this essay to highlight the differences - but rather we begin by noting that the 1689 LBCF is mostly just a revamped 1646 WCF.

Now, I mentioned Covenant Theology to this end - the idea that:
1] Sunday now replaces Saturday as the Sabbath, and
2] The Christian must obey the law of the Sabbath
come to us through theological presumption and not scripture directly.

It is hardly worth taking my word for anything, so I will post the places in the WCF and in the LBCF where they cite the following verses to "prove" that Sunday is now the Sabbath:

WCF 1646 - 21:7LBCF 1689 - 22:7
As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him:[Exodus 20:8,10-11; Isaiah 56:2,4,6-7] which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week,[Genesis 2:2-3; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Acts 20:7] which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day,[Revelation 1:10] and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.[Exodus 20:8,10;Matthew 5:17-18] As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he has particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him,[Exodus 20:8] which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord's Day[1 Corinthians 16:1,2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10]: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.

Examine the cited verses, you will -not- conclude from them that Sunday replaces Saturday as the Sabbath. But, if you regard these verses without a firm understanding of the remainder of scripture - I suppose you might conclude that Christians are still required to keep the Sabbath (Saturday) holy.

That would be because of the quotation in Matthew 5:17-18 where Jesus, speaking to Jews about Jewish things says, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." (NASB).

I might point out, that Jesus Christ is the only one who could and did fulfill the law. That is, Christ lived under the law - satisfying its demands; He did not come to abolish it - He came to keep it! Clearly, not one letter or stroke would pass from the Law until all was accomplished. That is why on the cross, when all was accomplished - that is, when Jesus kept the law perfectly throughout His earthly life - He said, "it is accomplished"

Now, you should be asking, "What about the heavens and the earth passing away? - Doesn't that imply a continuing of the law??"

Yet, when we understand the reference to the heavens and the earth passing away as a literal reference, we are left with the idea that nothing in the law will ever be annulled - not one jot or serif.

Think that through for a second. If we understand this to mean that nothing in the law will ever be annulled so long as the earth and sky continue to exist - then we have a bible that contradicts itself don't we? If it indeed means -that- then we most certainly have contradiction in scripture. But it cannot mean that since the Gentiles didn't have to get circumcised in order to become Christians. That is, if not one jot or tittle was going to fall from the law then certainly the law of circumcision would have to be kept - but we see in Acts 15 that this was not the case.

We are left therefore to understand the reference to the earth and sky as either hyperbole or metaphor. In the case of hyperbole the thrust would be the enduring character of the law - that is, that unless Christ fulfilled it, heaven and earth would pass away and the law would still continue unkept. In the case of metaphor, heaven and earth could represent the Alpha and Omega Himself, that is "until the Christ passed away..."

Personally I read it as an hyperbole.

Now, if you can't (or won't) see the reference to the earth and sky (heavens) as less than literal you are going to have some serious problems later on in the new testament scriptures. Remember Peter's three-fold vision on the rooftop? Surely "not one jot or title" includes the dietary portion of the law - a portion that was done away with long before the earth and sky "were no more."

I leave you to deal with it, don't take my word for it, but decide (prayerfully) for yourself if I am way out in la-la land. In the meantime I will continue.

Paul tells us that the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ. I would explain that a bit further. The law not only brought our unrighteousness to light - showing us our need of a Savior - but it also identified the Christ to us - Him being the only One to have perfectly kept the law). The Law both condemns us, and identifies the One Who would redeem us.

So looking at the verses in Matthew 5, Christ wasn't saying that the law would be binding upon mankind foever, rather He was saying the law would continue until it was fulfilled - and with that great cry, "it is finished/completed/fulfilled/accomplished" it was.

Now, it isn't that the moment Christ died, history erased the law out of the Jewish bible. We still have "the Law" recorded in our bibles today - and that same law continues to identify us as sinners, and Jesus as the Christ. That same "law" continues to profit us by instructing us in what righteousness looks like.

Stepping out of our box for a second, we know that men were unrighteous before the law - remember Cain? Cain murdered Abel, but there was no written law to break was there? No. There wasn't. Yet Cain sinned didn't he? Yes he did. We see therefore that sin isn't produced by the law - rather the law simply identifies sin to us. The better we understand the law, the greater a sinner we understand ourselves to be. This was the law's purpose - not to produce righteousness, but to show men that they are not righteous.

Okay, that is all Christianity 101. We all (should) know this.

But what role does the law play today?

This is where Brad's pondering on the Sabbath comes in. The WCF and consequently the LBCF promote the idea that Sunday is now the Sabbath - and that the faithful must remember the (new) Sabbath to keep it holy. That is, if you mow your lawn on Sunday evening (before the sun goes down) you should be disciplined by the church:
Brother, I want you to know that I love you, and that the only reason I mention this is because I want you to enjoy unbroken fellowship with both God and those in the congregation - I know that you mowed your lawn on Sunday evening, and you need to repent of your lawlessness and sin. Your wicked rebellion is not only hurting your own walk with our Lord, but you are a spot in the congregation that holds the rest of us from God's blessings. Please dear brother, tell me that you will repent of this evil - let's overcome this together - I am here for you...

How far do we take the Sabbath thing? Well, it depends on what your thoughts are on the law.

In Romans 10 we read about the error of those zealous Jews who were trying to establish themselves in righteousness by keeping the law - their error was that they weren't subjecting themselves to God's righteousness - here Paul explains that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Now, those of you who are astute enough, might remember the scene in the book of Acts (chapter 21) where Paul comes back to Jerusalem. Here he is warned that the Jews will know of his arrival, and it is anticipated that they are going to make a big stink about Paul, since Paul was being painted by these Jerusalem Jews as teaching those other Jews (those (non-converted Jews) who live amongst the Gentiles) that they need no longer circumcise their sons or walk according to the law of God. In anticipation of this, the advice given to Paul was that he demonstrate the falseness of that accusation by showing that he himself (Paul) still "kept the law" by purifying himself according to the law and presenting himself in the temple etc.

I say, the astute amongst you may reason - that if Paul kept the law - we ought to as well. And there is some merit in such a notion if taken out of the context of the rest of scripture. But we see Paul's own testimony on the matter in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22:
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.

So, while the astute might reason that Paul kept the law, we see that Paul himself explains why he "kept the law" - because if he didn't keep the law, he wouldn't be able to speak freely in synogogs, or enter into the houses of Jews, etc. He wanted to maintain a ministry amongst his brethren - something he makes no secret of elsewhere in scripture.

So what of all this then?

The bottom line is that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. Not that we are free to do whatever we want - but that the law is no longer the standard by which we live. Our new standard is obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit - who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

The reason we do not observe the Sabbath (Saturday) is because the Spirit of God didn't require it of the early church, nor does He require it of us today. The reason the Spirit of God doesn't want us to imitate the OT Sabbath is because the OT Sabbath pictures (not a day of the week, but) the rest we read about in Hebrews chapter four - "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His."

There are many in the church who dice up the law into a keep and throw away pile. These are the laws we keep (let's call them moral), and these are the laws that we can dispense with (ceremonial and dietary). But the compartmentalizing of the law goes against the idea that the law is a whole and against the idea that the one who keeps the law must keep it all as a whole. This sort of position is disingenuous (at best), and more than this - practically speaking there is no uniformity from church to church with regards to what is kept and what is thrown away. This is because the division between the keep and throw away laws is a matter of opinion, and being arbitrary in nature is therefore open to debate.

Scripture on the other hand, is plain on the matter - if you are going to keep any of the law (such as circumcision) you bind yourself to keeping -all- of it. To pick and choose some portion - no matter how vague or exacting your criteria might be - is extrabiblical at best.

If you accept that you are no longer under the law - you must accept the whole enchilada - that is, you are no longer subject to any of it.

What shall we say then? If we are not under the law are we free to sin? God forbid!

Those who are in the Spirit are motivated by God to obey God, and through doing so the Spirit of God peels away the hardened layers of disobedience in their heart, so that they become more and more willing to obey God. Put another way, God begins to sanctify them - to change them from glory to glory into the very image of Christ: the very thing the law could never do.

posted by Daniel @ 10:13 AM   24 comment(s)
Friday, April 21, 2006
Christian Floggers.
I am probably guilty of this myself to some degree - that is, I take no joy in empty religion, and much of my posting is directed against empty faith. I "combat" this sort of "spiritual deadness" by posting my understanding of what life looks like. I don't suppose I have given it much thought - though in hindsight I myself must admit, I have -never- been persuaded from a position because some wisecracker made it his or her ministry to belittle whatever position I held. Not that I made a conscious decision to keep myself from that sort of polemic - but as I say, in hindsight I am glad that I have been kept from that sort of thing.

Yet there seems to me a sort of Christian who is zealous for just that sort of <sarcasm>ministry</sarcasm>. In a church setting, this is usually the person who listens to sermons, not to find edification, but to find fault with them - and by fault, I mean to find where the speaker doesn't agree with them.

In the Christian blogosphere, this is the sort of person who has an axe to grind - and uses frequent opportunity to grind it. A good label for such a one would be a Christian "Flogger" - as they spend as much time flogging others and their beliefs as they do anything else.

Now, I am not talking about the voice of reason that stands against clear and present error. Every believer has the responsibility to defend the faith.

But there are some who believe that their theological bent is the gospel, and that if you aren't on board, not only are mixed up, you are probably not even saved. A good example of this would the the "Calvinist" who is so in love with Calvinism, that it causes him to despise (through a thinly veiled "Christian" sheen) anyone with a contrary view. The veil is taken away however when you are on such a one's blog, as the meta drips with scorn, and belittling satire - intended to ridicule anyone who is so foolish as to embrace all but Calvinism. Not only does the meta betray such a one, but some of the bolder in this genre, will even make post after post attacking anything that is non-Calvinistic.

Now, I use Calvinism, but it could easily be Arminianism making fun of anything non-Arminian - or it could some hash of the two, that makes fun of everyone who doesn't share the hashed view. It really doesn't matter what the pet theology is, what is important is that instead of persuading men to their camp through scripture, and sound teaching - these instead ridicule those who are not in their camp.

I have a message for these people:

Shame on you. You are bringing disgrace to that holy Name by which you are called.

posted by Daniel @ 8:28 AM   14 comment(s)
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Why we obey...
May God grant me both brevity and clarity in this post - for His eternal glory.

Faith, obedience, humility, forgiveness, and love. When the bond between these items is understood clearly, it will help you to be a better "repenter."

If I call into work sick, when I am not really sick, I do so against the will of God, and I do so according to my own will. By callously sinning in this manner, I immediately put myself out of fellowship with God (what has Light in common with darkness?) While my flesh wants to simply throw an "I am sorry" prayer at God and get on with my life - yet inside me I know this is shallow and false. If I were truly repentant about it afterwards, I wouldn't cover the thing up, by feeling bad about it, but pretending it didn't happen - rather I would bring it into the light - that is: I would march into my bosses office the moment I turned from my sin, and explain the whole thing to him. I would tell him how I had willingly gave myself over to both avarice greed and laziness so that I was willing to stretch the truth lie about being sick in order to get out of working and still get paid for it.

Here is where many of us fail to see the link between humility, obedience, and faith. The reason we don't go marching into our bosses office to admit our guilt is because we believe that doing so will be quite detrimental on a variety of fronts: our reputation will suffer; we might lose our job; our "witness" may suffer; etc. We look to the consequences of such an action, and we refuse to embark upon "setting things right" because we believe that doing so will hurt us more than help us. That is called "unbelief" where I come from.

Our mouths joyfully parrot the party line - "God is good, God's will is best for us" etc., but the rubber meets the road when obedience requires faith. It is imperative that this concept is understood, and understood fully. If and when we are in a situation where obedience is going to cost us something - these are the times when the nature of our faith is revealed. If we humble ourselves and go into the bosses office and "fess up" - we do so because we truly believe that God will give grace to the humble - if we find some excuse to avoid it, we do so because we do not believe God's way is best.

In my example confessing to the crime demonstrates a genuine and humble trust in God - but why would we do such a thing? To please God? While we all want to live a life that pleases God, it isn't exactly an effective motivator. We truly humble our selves for one reason, and one reason only - because we desire to be in fellowship with God - and that because we truly love Him. This saying is true, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" - why do we love Him, because looking into the magnitude of our sin, and seeing the forgiveness given, the same loves much.

Thus it is ultimately our love for God that drives our desire to fellowship with God, and it is this same desire to fellowship with God that strengthens us to repent - that is, to humble ourselves in obedience - trusting God to make our paths straight - trusting God to direct the course of our lives.

This is what it means to be a healthy Christian.

There are many counterfeit motivations for obedience - guilt, authoritarianism, fear, etc. But the Christian motivation is supposed to be that love that was poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The flesh is overcome through setting the mind on the things of the Spirit - that is, by trusting God in everything we do - utter obedience comes through utter faith, and not through utter effort.

It is something we all do well to meditate on.

posted by Daniel @ 7:32 AM   2 comment(s)
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Resurrection Sunday!
Happy Resurrection Sunday!

I know, I know, you like to say "Easter" - but that is the name of a pagan goddess - and the holiday associated with has been de-Christianized into a celebration of gluttony, chocolate, bunny rabbits and eggs.

So I like to say Resurrection Sunday instead!
posted by Daniel @ 12:31 PM   9 comment(s)
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Counting the Cost…
When we talk about “sleeper cells” we are talking (usually) about a small group of people who immigrate into a country, and live as citizens in the midst of the population they are infiltrating – but maintain allegiance to a foreign religious or political authority. The cell lies “dormant” (insinuating itself into the culture around it) until opportunity or “necessity” requires it to demonstrate it true allegiances.

These people may become U.S. citizens in time – but when they swear their allegiance, it is entirely lip service – they swear their allegiance in order to join the population and enjoy the privileges that are granted by the “title” – and while they are as much a U.S. citizen as any other citizen – yet they are not citizens in their hearts - having only an false profession of allegiance. They do not bow to the laws of the land except where necessary in order to maintain the illusion of citizenship – that is, their obedience is entirely for the purpose of looking the part of a U.S. citizen.

I don’t doubt that there are some reading this who would argue that no matter their true allegiance – as soon as the final papers are signed and the false oath uttered – those in such sleeper cells who become U.S. citizens on paper – are as American as any other American. In a sense they would be right – IF being “American” is defined by legal documents and IF the oath that is sworn is token and worthless to the whole process.

Some however would say that unless the oath is sincere, that is, unless one swears allegiance to the U.S. their citizenship is token, regrettable, and even false. I myself am of this opinion.

This is paralleled in the church. Some would say that you can become a Christian by mouthing all the right words, assenting to all the right truths, and agreeing with all the facts of Christianity – even if your oath of allegiance is lacking; that is, they believe you can enter the Kingdom of God without “bowing the knees of your heart” to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christians who do not serve Christ are called “false christians” - and they are typically deceived, having heard a false (incomplete) gospel.

In Acts 11, Peter explains to the Church at Jerusalem how God used him to bring the Gentiles into the fellowship of the church. We see in verse 18 how the Church answered Peter’s defense, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” Not that God has granted “faith” to the Gentiles unto life – but that God granted them repentance.

That isn’t to suggest that God grants repentance without granting faith (Ephesians 2:8-9 demonstrate clearly that faith itself is a gift … “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”) rather it is to connect the dots – showing that faith and repentance are part of a package deal. In 2 Timothy 2:25 Paul explains to Timothy the purpose of this God endowed repentance, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

Thus, both repentance and faith are gifts from God, granted to the elect – sometimes these are collectively referred to as “the effective call” – that is while all creation demands that there is a God (c.f. Romans 1:20), and therefore implicitly demands our seeking Him – such that everyone who fails to do so is without excuse in the world – yet there is a specific “call” placed on the elect – and this call comes in the form of a gift – the gift being the sudden ability to exercise genuine repentance and faith – these two bundled inseparably and received simultaneously – each being a facet of the other.

Such that when a man genuinely exercises saving faith in Christ – it is always coupled with a genuine, God given, repentance – the “first fruit” if you will, of the man’s sanctification. Not that repentance produces sanctification – but rather, sanctification produces repentance. God does the sanctifying, which cleanses our hearts so that we are able to truly repent – but even this is granted to us.

Repentance, practically speaking, is a willingness to (uncompromisingly) obey God.

I should note, there is a difference between having a desire to obey, and actually obeying. The desire to obey is granted unilaterally to all the elect, and while the ability to obey is granted unilaterally as well, it is granted in the same way as God granted the Promised Land to Israel. He delivered them out of Egypt, and brought them to the border of Canaan – and promised them that they could go in and take it. But those who came out of Egypt (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) refused to believe that God could give them Canaan. That is, they refused to obey God in going in and taking the land. The reason they refused was because they didn’t believe that God would truly grant them the victory.

This describes a “carnal” Christian – one who has crossed the “red sea” (saved from Egypt) but hasn’t crossed the Jordan and into “rest” yet. By and large this describes the vast majority of legitimate Christendom today – they failed to count the cost of discipleship, and continue to look back to Egypt every time their hand touches the plow.

The closing verses of Luke chapter nine struck a sound chord in my heart this morning (verses fifty-seven through to the end of chapter nine.) I wonder how few of us understand the “cost” of discipleship – we say “salvation is free” and we are right – we didn’t earn it, nor did we generate it ourselves – but Christ freely saved us from our sins. Yet just as the Israelites were assured of victory in Canaan – all they had to do was have faith in God – trusting that God was able to give them the land that He promised to them – a faith that would have been demonstrated by (as opposed to generated by) obedience. The one who is willing to press into the Promised Land on the strength of God’s promise – this is the one who has a full/mature faith in God. The one who waits on the border for God to wipe out all the adversaries up front – this one calls has an immature faith - doubting God.

How few of us there are indeed who are “fit for the Kingdom!” – our mouths say, “Lord I will follow you anywhere…. But let me first do such and such…” – our willingness being conceptual and not practical.

That is not to suggest that we can actually generate genuine willingness we cannot – that is, there is nothing within us that can ever make us willing to obey God.

How foolish we become when we try and generate in our selves a “willing” heart! I have seen sincere believers do just that. They meditate on the awesome gift of salvation – until they can “actualize” an obligatory sense of gratitude in themselves – and having worked themselves into the “gracious” frenzy, they manage to suppress their desire to disobey long enough to obey. But it doesn’t last of course. Others think of the horrible suffering of Christ on their behalf – and try to “actualize” a motivating and empathic sense of pity, or even affection – and in the strength of this carnal effort they manage to make themselves obey in spite of themselves. Some confuse Romans Six reckoning with "positive thinking" and "auto-suggestion" – trying to convince themselves (through the sheer effort of their own will) that they are dead to sin – and in the strength of their effort, they manage to suppress the beast within – at least outwardly. Whatever these do to generate external motives in themselves – all such efforts are experientially impotent, being as they are, shallow, temporal, and ultimately insufficient to motivate them to obey God consistently - concentrating on the symptoms (sins), they never deal with the problem (self).

Not that these do not want to enter the promised land – they do! They just don’t believe that God will take them there. To make up for their unbelief - they set about trying to take it in their own strength – and that is why they fail. Oh, they manage to put quite a shine on their outward lives – but inside they are still full of dead men’s bones. If they are willing to be honest with themselves they will admit that the part of them that doesn’t want to obey God wins out when it really counts. They have as much victory as one can get without God – and that much was demonstrated by the Pharisees – the suppression of self. Daily they prune their orange tree, removing every bud, and carefully hanging apples in their stead – but the tree is known by the fruit it produces, and not by the fruit that is hung upon it externally.

Everywhere we look we see orange trees with apples tied in the boughs, and we assume this is how it is supposed to work. That while there are plenty of apples, there is no such thing as an apple tree.

They forget that the ark preceded Israel over the Jordan – and that the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until all the children of the Israelites went over. Was it not supposed to have happened this way for their parents? Yet only Joshua and Caleb entered the Promised Land from amongst those who were brought out of Egypt.

Carnal Christians believe that God has saved them (that is, they have “passed through the red sea” as it were – being delivered from death (Egypt)” but they now stand on the border of Canaan (at the Jordan river no less!) and refuse to cross it and enter into the Promised Land because they don’t believe that God is able to give them victory in Canaan.

It is significant to me that the Jordan is where the followers of both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were originally baptized. It may be nothing – but our baptism ought to signify the spiritual crossing of the Jordan – that is, it ought to signify that sort of internal faith which says – I believe God for the victory in Canaan! I have crossed the Jordan of my flesh, and I go now into Canaan – into the promises of God. I have received the Lord’s Spirit by which I am able to run against a troop – I will overcome, because God has overcome my enemies.

Okay – I am not saying that baptism must be understood thus – but I am saying that it is more than just an arbitrary, obedient dunking.

Now I would add at this point that there are two ways to be obedient as a genuine Christian – carnally and spiritually. That might sound strange, but it shouldn’t when I explain what I mean.

The homecare nurse may come into a home and spends hours diligently caring for a young patient – but when the mother comes home she leaves. The mother takes over and gives the same care – but there is something different about the motivation. The nurse is fulfilling an obligation that is part of her “job” but the mother is acting in “love.”

There is a carnal sort of obedience – and obedience that is born of a sense of obligation. It really doesn’t matter how that sense of obligation is created, what matters is that instead of obeying out of love our obedience becomes an obligatory reaction to some other motivator, “guilt” being the most common. Any obedience that is generated by the flesh is carnal and not Spiritual.

Consider the Buddhist who, through sheer will power, and persistent mental focus, has conditioned his responses so that he no longer responds in anger to any provocation. You might slap his wife, or beat his child, and he will not respond in anger. Is the man really holy? No. His orange tree is still producing oranges – but he has trained himself to identify the buds (that would have grown into oranges) and to remove them before they come to fruition. The tree is still a orange tree, even if the oranges that are produced are nipped in the bud. No change has really taken place.

It is the same with every religion, and it is the best the world has to offer – suppressionism. The Christian version of this is called “Carnal Christianity” – and I have spoken about it before. The carnal variety of Christianity trains you to become a master at nipping sin in the bud, but does nothing about the real problem – the fact that you are an orange tree, when you are supposed to be an apple tree.

One might declare, “But I want to obey the right way - how can I generate the right kind of obedience, that is, how do I change from an orange tree into an apple tree?” – and the answer is you can’t. You can’t, you can’t, you can’t. But God can. No leopard can change it’s stripes, but God can change your heart through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

You say, “But I -am- a real Christian! – I -do- believe in God – I put no hope in my own righteousness to save me, but all my trust is in Christ and his righteousness to save me!”

I don’t doubt that Christ has saved you… from something – but what does the Lord say? “According to your faith let it be to you” – what exactly did Jesus save you from? Drugs? Pornography? Lying? Doubt and Unbelief? The fear of man? If you are saved, what are you saved from?

Ahhh, from “hell” you say, from Egypt, from the sting death. According to your faith let it be to you. Standing at the Jordan and looking into the promised land, you believe that God is able to save you from something, but not into something else – and that is why you try to approximate Christ in your life. That is why you trim all the bad fruit, but never get rid of it. You have believed God – right up until you came to the Jordan – yeah, even before the Jordan there was grumbling – but that is as far as you’re willing to go. You refuse to believe God for more – and there you will stay, because no one crosses the Jordan without the Lord.

There is a third variety of Christian. He or she may have begun as a nominal (in name only) Christian, may have progressed at some point to a genuine (albeit carnal) Christian – believing Christ for justification – but at some point he or she begins to read the scriptures and sees that Christ was sent on account of sin, and not simply on account of sin’s penalty.

This is the one who crosses the Jordan with nothing more than the promises of God, who presses into the Kingdom, and is given victory after victory until the whole of Canaan is subdued. This is the side of the Jordan where genuine sanctification happens – where genuine victory lies. It isn’t purchased by sheer effort, but by a heart willing to believe God for the victory. No one who takes even an square foot of this land may boast – for while it was won in battle, the battle belonged to the Lord.

But what price do we pay to enter into this rest – what ought our labor to be? How do we enter into rest? How do we press into Canaan? How do we cross the Jordan? What must we do in order to enter into this rest?

It is simple. Just as you believed God for justification - you believe God for victory in Canaan. It was promised to you and just as the lepers weren't healed until they began to walk - so too you must “walk” in that belief. Obey God, not because He is going to do bad things to you if you don’t obey, nor because he might treat you well if you do obey – but obey because you believe that as you put your foot in Canaan (that is, as you obey), God will give you the land that your foot takes by faith. That is, trust and obey – there really is no other way.

It’ll cost you this in this way – you have to stop trusting in everything else – which is another way of saying, you have to be humble. Think it through until you see the connection.
posted by Daniel @ 3:15 PM   6 comment(s)
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
1 Corinthians 1:17
"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void."

Here we see Paul differentiating between "baptism" and "the gospel" - a distinction that illustrates that baptism, while an ordinace for the believer, is not a part of the gospel - that is, has nothing to do with salvation.

Most of us don't need it spelled out like that, since a plain reading of scripture shouldn't lead one to that conclusion (nevertheless some people trip over Acts 2:38...)

Water Baptism doesn't save us.
posted by Daniel @ 2:39 PM   2 comment(s)
How to preserve meat...
Before we had refridgeration, meat was typically preserved in barrels of salt.

You would cut the meat into small "salting blocks", and lay them like bricks of meat in the salt - using the salt like mortar laying piece by piece in the barrel - being careful that no two pieces touch each other - pounding the salt in the spaces between the meat.

The salt draws out the moisture from the meat and creates an environment inhospitable to bacteria.

In Numbers 18:19 we read, "All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to the LORD, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD with you and your descendants with you." Likewise in 2 Chronicles 13:5 we read, "Should you not know that the LORD God of Israel gave the dominion over Israel to David forever, to him and his sons, by a covenant of salt?"

When we understand how salt was used to preserve meat - we get a more vivid picture of what the bible says in verses such as these.
posted by Daniel @ 9:40 AM   6 comment(s)
Monday, April 10, 2006
With a Captial T...
There is a line in one of the songs from the musical "The music man" that goes like this, "We got trouble with a Capital "T" and that Rhymes with "P" and that stands for Pool!"

The musical is about a huckster who goes from town to town selling band instruments. In order to sell them he convinces the townsfolk that they have a terrible problem (in this case a rapid decline in morality as indicated by the new pool hall) - that can only be slaked by the influx of something positive - "band instruments."

We did the musical in high school. I played a bit part, and my best friend played the lead. He always played the lead. When we did the crucible he could make himself cry right there on stage, "But it's my name..." - and that had the audience weeping in their seats. Pretty good for high school.

Anyway, that is an aside.

I like the way the huckster plays upon the sympathies and fears of the towns people - it is classic psychology inflated for the sake of humor - but classic none the less. The association of Billiards with calamity however ridiculous (in this case, the rhyme between the letters T and P) is also classic.

I know, I know - you think I am going to swing this around and talk about preachers and teachers who mishandle the word of the Lord.

But I am not. I don't really have to. Isn't that sad?
posted by Daniel @ 9:58 AM   7 comment(s)
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Saving Yourself...
Atonement Psychology
Not many Christians think about it, but our understanding of the nature of the atonement drives a great deal of our theology.

It not only flavors the gospel we preach - but for many of us, our understanding of the atonement (inherited through the gospel we our selves received) has stood untested against the word of God - being the foundational lens through which much of what we believe is interpreted.

If a man believes that the atonement is limited - it is often because the gospel that saved him or her emphasized God's righteousness - focusing on the necessity of punishment which therefore requires Christ to play a substitutionary role in the atonement - the "how does it work" question is answered with "it's a legal switcheroo" - that God isn't concerned so much about who He punishes - as long as someone gets punished. Thus Christ can graciously offer Himself to God in our place such that God punishes the (consenting) innocent man in order that a particularly agreed upon guilty person may go free. Thus God justifies the guilty by punishing an innocent Volunteer.

My father was a butcher for many years when I was growing up; he even owned his own slaughterhouse. One of the things I learned as a young man was that after killing an animal, you had to drain the blood and then let the carcass hang for a while. My father explained that while the animal itself was quite dead, yet the meat was still "dying" at the cellular level. Even though the animal had been slaughtered, the meat wasn't "dead" yet. That is why the carcass is hung in the freezer for at least 24 hours before it is butchered - to let the meat die.

In Leviticus 17:11 we read (in the context of the law against eating food with the blood still in it) 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.' (NASB).

What Moses was saying (in the context) was that the Israelites weren't allowed to eat meat with the blood still in it because the "life" was still in the meat. This verse highlighted the reality of that life by reminding the reader of the fact that it isn't the carcass of a sacrifice that atones - but the life of that sacrifice that atones - life that is pictured in the blood. This is the passage that the author of Hebrews quotes from when he writes in Hebrews 9:22, "And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

The conclusion is that forgiveness cannot be had without the forfeiture of life.

This first atonement philosophy (in absorbing the fact that a sin cannot be forgiven unless it is punished) identifies Christ as a "Stand-In" who takes the "punishment" on behalf of sinners. Because this model tightly couples "the sin" with "the punishment" it concludes that God would be unjust to punish Christ for sins that won't be forgiven - ergo: only the sins that Christ was punished for on the cross were actually forgiven. Since it is clear from scripture that not everyone is forgiven, the conclusion is that the atonement is limited to those whose sins are actually forgiven - the elect.

This model has a lot going for it, but it has flaws too.

Another 'competing' atonement philosophy is typically found in people who were saved by a gospel that de-emphasized the righteousness of God. A gospel that focuses on God's love and provision while glossing over his righteousness - tends to produce a sense of generalism - that is, Christ died for sin in general. Such a gospel focuses on the the "whosoever" "all" and "whole world" sort of verses - that is, on the reality of the possibility of (and provision for) salvation.

Here sin and punishment are not tightly coupled at all - Christ's work on the cross is inspecific - providing the possibility of forgiveness which is thereafter received only by those who choose to believe. In order to make the possibility of salvation "real" this model paints God as punishing Christ for every sin that was ever committed (everyone is atoned for) but those atoning benefits are only applied to those who ask for it.

Alternately, if the "gospel" you heard was that everyone is going to be saved eventually - then your atonement model is going to paint what happened on the cross as a "moral object lesson."

My point is that the gospel we received (typically) influences the atonement model we will embrace. Many Christians have an opinion on the atonement, that hasn't been mined from scriptures, but having been exposed to a particular teaching and having accepted it already - they project that same understanding unto the holy writ, such that they find their predetermined conviction in scripture only because they expect it to be there when they go looking for it.

The gospel I heard emphasized the righteousness of God such that my sins had to be punished and Christ was offered as a solution to that dilemma by giving Himself as my "Stand-In" taking God's wrath in my stead - so it was the most natural thing in the world when my atonement model reflected that. In that way, I was likely an "L" from the moment I heard the gospel.

As time went on however, I began to examine critically my understanding of the atonement. Scripture made it plain that sin (all sin) would be punished - that is, I knew that all sin must be punished if God is going to be consistently righteous. Yet I had to question the consistency of a righteous God being able to punish an innocent substitute (no matter how voluntary that substitution might be).

Wasn't the OT sacrificial system entirely substitutionary? It certainly looked to be. They would lay their hands on the animals, confess their sins to God, and then sacrifice the animal - it seemed substitutional enough... weren't they imputing their sins onto the animal who then was slain in their stead? I sort of thought that was how it worked. But because I knew that it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (c.f. Hebrews 10:4) - I finally understood that they weren't actually putting their sins on these animals but were really putting their sins on Christ - the animals were merely placeholders.

But how did that help me? I still had this problem with trying to understand how God can be righteous and at the same time justify the ungodly and do so in such a way as to not punish an innocent (albeit consenting) person.

I reasoned that since Christ offered himself as a sacrifice that God sort of overlooked the fact that he was innocent, and punished him anyway -but it was wishy-washy and didn't satisfy my understanding of God's characer.

During a time of contemplation upon Romans six, I happened to hear a sermon where the preacher said something radical - he was preaching that God didn't punish Jesus on the cross, but that God was punishing us - as many as were "in Christ." I rejected that as soon as I heard it - since it didn't match my model - but it haunted my thoughts for days, and the more I considered it, the more it fit.

I began to see Christ in the context of an "Ark" - understanding that all believers have literally been "placed into" Christ and were therefore literally on the cross with Christ in some sense. This allowed me to set aside the image of God pulling a cosmic switcheroo - and instead of punishing Christ, now God was punishing me directly on the cross - Christ being the "Ark" into which I was placed - the Ark that entirely absorbed God's wrath as it was poured out on me. Now Christ was truly sacrificing Himself - being bruised for my transgressions - not instead of, but on account of, me - since I was in Him and my sins were in me (my old man).

My own take on it doesn't change my bottom line at all - that is, only those who are in Christ can have their sins forgiven, because only those who are in Christ have been punished already: yet it would be wrong to start with this model (or any model for that matter), and work out the "truth" backwards from it.

Really, we must not forget that our atonement models are mere constructions that we have put together for the sole purpose of illustrating how the conclusions we have already formed answer our understanding of scripture. That is why I think it is important to recognize that the gospel we received (and likely preach) will practically (by and large) dictate the details of the atonement model we embrace.

Recognizing this, we may opt to examine our own theology in the light of our inbred bias - perhaps stepping back and seeing what an holistic approach to our understanding of the atonement might reveal. It is far too common for us to preach our model without having first examined it to see why our theology demands it.

posted by Daniel @ 2:19 PM   17 comment(s)
Monday, April 03, 2006
Back In The Saddle Again
For those of you who follow my blog - you know I have had to put aside cycling the ten miles to and from work every day (20 miles daily) because of "winter."

Winter is the time of year where I get next to nothing for exercise, and put on many extra pounds because I have gotten used to eating like someone who has been daily burning an extra thousand calories or so. ;-)

So I have been looking forward to the spring thaw, so that I can begin riding again. Today marks the first day of the season that I am riding "full time" again. Rain or shine, cold or warm - I anticipate riding five days a week from here on through to December.

Don't imagine that all the snow is gone in Winterpeg either. The streets are "mostly" clean - but there is a lot of snow out there still. Thankfully it looks like the next few days we will have a high pressure system hovering over us - which means warmer temperatures (a little above 10 degrees Celcius) - which should help the thaw, though it will make the roads wet, and even dirty. It will be many weeks before we start to see those street cleaning machines sweeping away the debris that has built up in the last five or six months - but was held suspended in snow until now.

Last year I started in May, and cycled until November - losing somewhere around 35 pounds in the process. But some of that came back over the winter. My target last year was to get down to 165 by my anniversary (August 15) - I made it down to 173 or so - and when I had missed the mark - I started taking it easy thereafter. I hope getting in an extra month this time, and starting from a lower weight than last year - I will be able to hit that target this year on the same date;

Of all the anniversary presents I have ever given my wife - apparently being her favorite is having me "fit." Being a computer programmer means sitting on my bottom for eight hour stretches - a task that carries its own stress - mostly in the shortening of the hamstrings from curling your legs under you ( a bad habit of mine) - and poor posture - resulting in lower back pain and whatnot. Anyone who thinks that sedantary jobs are great hasn't worked one. My favorite job that I ever had was teaching college - but after that - it was being a janitor.

Anyway - it begins today. See you in skinny land.


posted by Daniel @ 3:35 PM   2 comment(s)
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