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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.
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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, September 28, 2007
The just shall live by faith? What is faith??
Even if you are not an evangelical Christian, you may have heard the quote taken from the second chapter of a book called Habakkuk (in the Old Testament of the bible) that says, "The just shall live by faith".

The passage is a little difficult to understand if one doesn't really know what the words "just", "live" and "faith" are talking about. Now, I intentionally say "doesn't know what the words are talking about" as opposed to "doesn't know what the words mean because by now if you are able to read this you surely have defined these words long ago. Yet it is what the words are talking that interests me in this post.

The just for starters does not imply that there are people on the earth who practice some higher moral ethic and are therefore regarded as just. The "live" does not refer to the common day moving about without dying, and the faith does not simply refer to believing a thing to be true. Which is not to say, as some might imagine, that I am about to argue that the text means something entirely foreign to the words found in it - no! I do not say that. But rather that these words are pulled together to make spiritual as opposed to natural points, and though they could not have been knit together any clearer, yet spiritual truth is not discerned because we have mighty intellects, but because we ourselves are spiritual who are in Christ.

I tend to be long winded about these sort of things, but I am opting for an abruptness this morning due to uncontrollable constraints on my time. For that reason I may not be as clear as I should like - but I will accept that as a possibility and forge on.

The "just" refers to those who shall live through the judgment, in the same way "live" refers to being in full possession of one's life on the other side of judgment (justice). Faith refers to the path through that judgment - since we pass through judgment by faith.

Yet our intellect sometimes spins its wheels here. What is faith? How do I bottle it? I want more of it, what do I do???

First and foremost, let's talk about what happens when you go about doing religious stuff without faith. Even a cursory skimming of Paul's epistle to the churches in Galatia provides the answer: you tend to try and build a bridge to God by your own effort. -That- is what faithlessness looks like. It isn't (necessarily) that you run away from the church and do as much evil as you can, nor is it (necessarily) sitting with your knees tucked up rocking back and forth while weeping in the cellar because you just can't make yourself believe... It can be those things, but more often than any other way, I believe faithlessness (doubt) plays itself out practically in empty religious activity.

I won't paint a picture about what empty religious activity is - I will let God's spirit do that. You who are reading will know what is revealed to you, if this teaching is indeed a spiritually true thing.

I mention what faithlessness looks like to give a more clear description of faith. We tend to think of faith as "believing" in some vague sense, and when we want more faith, we tend to think we need to "believe" more acutely or perhaps with more "perspiration". Yet let me try in one sentence to describe faith to you, and let the Spirit be glorified if you can see it:

Faith is trusting that no matter what your walk looks like, GOD WILL SEE YOU THROUGH IT TO THE OTHER SIDE OF JUDGMENT.

That is all there is to it.

Really, that is the heart of faith. It is trusting that God is going to see you through to the other side. It is the heart of the gospel, because it begins and ends with Christ. It cannot be apprehended by effort, but can only come by hearing the truth in the Spirit.

The heart that wonders how many commandments it must keep in order to be certain of salvation does not understand grace - it does not understand faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen. It is -not- the evidence you find in your works, it is not a substance that can be examined as such, it is a resolve in your heart that contrary to what your flesh might imagine - God is going to finish in you what He has started.



posted by Daniel @ 9:12 AM   19 comment(s)
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
An Eschatological Post? Part II
The apostasy of Israel had prompted Elijah to pray for, and receive, a drought. But the drought was about to end because Elijah had called all of Israel up to mount Carmel for the battle royal of all time - God vs. Baal!

Now, I don't say all of Israel frivolously - that is what the text says in 1 Kings 18:19:
"19Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table."
But we read something about "all Israel later in the same book - in the fifteenth verse of chapter twenty to be precise, we read:
"15 Then he mustered the young leaders of the provinces, and there were two hundred and thirty-two; and after them he mustered all the people, all the children of Israel—seven thousand."
You will recall the scene: Elijah, 7000 Israelites, and almost a thousand (950) prophets of Baal and Asherah, all gathered together on Mt. Carmel - and of course we all know what happens there. The prophets of those pretend Gods pray all day long, mutilating themselves and shouting to their imaginary Gods, but nothing happens. Then Elijah prepares a water logged sacrifice, and in the briefest of prayers Elijah calls upon God to kindle the sacrifice and demonstrate whom the Israelites ought to be following - that is to demonstrate who is God, then SHZAM! Fire from the sky - a punctuating demonstration that the Lord - He, and He alone is God.

Now we bring the verse from chapter 20 into the picture to remind us that "all of Israel" at the time was a mere 7000 men.


Doesn't that seem a little small - I mean, later Elijah as Elijah flees into the mountains to avoid Jezebel's wrath the Lord asks him in that famous still small voice, "What are you doing out here?" - and what is the prophet's reply, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."

Let's understand this together: at the time there were actually hundred's of thousands of apostate Israelites living in Israel. It wasn't like the drought had killed off everyone. "All" of Israel in this context did not mean everyone who was alive from the ten tribes - but what becomes clear in chapter 19 is that these seven thousand who are still worthy to bear the name of Israel, who are in fact by themselves considered "all of Israel" - or if I may put it into a modern cliche - these 7000 represent all that is left of what was once Israel - the physical descendants number in the hundreds of thousands, but the spiritual descendants are only a fraction of what they :
18Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." 1 Kings 19:18 [ESV]

God refers to this fraction as "all of Israel" - and goes so far as to say that these are a remnant not because of their own virtue, but because He Himself has reserved for His own purpose these particular 7000 Israelites. These are (without doubt) the same seven thousand who had not bowed down to Baal, and who watched God light up a water-logged cow like a roman candle. There were hundreds of thousands of Israelites at the time, but only a remnant who were faithful, only a remnant who had not apostatized - only seven thousand who could rightly be called "Israel".

Clearly this will be important as we make our way to Romans 11 in the next post.


posted by Daniel @ 4:38 PM   6 comment(s)
An Eschatological Post? Part -I-
Once upon a time King Solomon noticed an industrious young man, a mighty man of valor even though it was a time of peace. Solomon himself appointed this man as -the- officer over all the labor force of Ephraim, a military appointment that brought this man into the public eye in a big way. The man was from the tribe of Ephraim.

We might never have heard of this fellow had Solomon lived a righteous life to the end of his days. But we read the following in 1 Kings 11:9-13:
9So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, 10and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD had commanded. 11Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. 12 Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” [ESV]

The servant of Solomon in question was a man of the tribe of Ephraim - an industrious mighty man of valor. He was given a military appointment over a civilian body, that is he was made the officer over all the labor force of the house of Joseph. It may not sound like much, but it was a very public position. So that when Ahijah the prophet took this young fellow aside and told him that because Solomon had forsaken God in allowing the worship of Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the people of Ammon, and because Solomon was not walking in God's ways to do what was right in God's eyes and to keep God's statutes and judgments as did Solomon's father David - for this reason God had determined to tear the kingdom away from Solomon and into 12 pieces, two of which were going to be given to this young man to rule. God also made a promise to this young fellow that if he heeded all that God command him - that is, if he walked in God's ways, and did what was right in God's sight by keeping God's statutes and commandments with the same heart as David had, then God would be with him and build for him an enduring house, just as God had built for David - for even though the kingdom was being taken away from David's heir, yet a lamp was left for David's lineage. The promise was that God would give Israel to this young man, and it must have become public knowledge because when Solomon heard about it, rather than repent he sought to kill the young man. The young man fled to Egypt and stayed there until Solomon died.

Now when Solomon's son, Rehoboam became king, the young fellow returned from Egypt and publicly met with Rehoboam to plea with him over the plight of the laborers whom this former servant and mighty man of valor had previously been the officer over. But Rehoboam planned not only to continue down the path of apostasy that Solomon had paved in his latter years, but to do so with gusto - and instead of being kind to the laborers, he was fiercely harsh - and in the aftermath of this harshness Israel not only rejected Rehoboam as king, but went so far as to pursue the former servant of Solomon and make him their new king.

The young man's name of course was Jeroboam, and the very first thing we read about his rule was that he did not trust God's promise to him, but was concerned that the house of David might get back the ten tribes, and so to avoid that he took someone's advice and made two golden calves and instituted a whole system of religion that was meant to supplant/replace the need to go up to Jerusalem.

As Jeroboam was engaged in idol worship at Bethel, offering sacrifices on altars he had made for this purpose - a man of God came and told him that upon these altars he had made, one of David's descendants would sacrifice the priests that Jeroboam had appointed to these high places, the priests who burned incense on those altars that Jeroboam had commissioned. In a rage, Jeroboam pointed at the prophet and demanded his arrest, but the hand he pointed with withered. Then Jeroboam became a little more kindly, and instead asked the man to pray for him so that he might be restored physically speaking.

Upon Jeroboam's death, the northern kingdom passed into the hands of Nadab his wicked son, but only for two years. Baasha, the son of Ahijah from the tribe of Issachar slew Nadab and the kingdom passed out of the hands of Jeroboam's family and into the hands of Baasha's family (a move from Ephraim to Issachar). But Baasha was just as wicked as Nadab had been if not moreso, and the kingdom passed into the hands of his son Elah when He died, but Elah only reigned for two years before he was killed by the commander of half of his chariots - a man name Zimri whose lineage we know nothing about. Zimri didn't just kill Elah, he slew the whole "royal" family. Zimri's reign, if you can call it that - lasted only seven days.

When the northern kingdom learned what Zimri had done, they rejected him as king, and named the commander of the Army king instead - Omri. Omri went up to battle Zimri, but Zimri committed suicide by burning his house down with himself inside it. After that Israel couldn't decide whether they were going to follow Omri or some other fellow named Tibni, but eventually Omri prevailed.

Omri was a wicked fellow too, even more wicked than all those who had preceded him, but he only reigned for a dozen years before he too died, and his son Ahab took the throne. Like Zimri before him, we do not know for sure what tribe Omri came from.

It was about 107 years from the first day of Jeroboam's reign to the first day of Ahab's reign, but in that short time the northern kingdom passed through four families and at least two tribes, and possibly more, and as the kingdom changed hands it grew more and more apostate.

We mention all this to set the stage for a verse we want to examine: 1 Kings 18:1-18
"17When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, 'Is it you, you troubler of Israel?' 18And he answered, 'I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals.' " [ESV]

Ahab's claim to the throne did not come through God's promise, but rather through his father having wrested the kingdom from another, whom had in turn wrested it from another. Ahab no doubt understood that he was ruling a kingdom that had a very short history that was punctuated by bloody regime changes. Before Ahab ever courted Jezebel, he courted her father, whom history tells us was an assassin named Eithobalus, who upon assassinating King Pheles, usurped the throne for himself. Eithobalus, or "Ithobaal the first" founded his own dynasty, and amassed great power and wealth. Ahab no doubt married Jezebel, in part at least, to gain the political security of having this wealthy and powerful usurper as his in-law.

Picture therefore the relationship that Ahab must have with Jezebel. His marriage to her added legitimacy and security to his claim on the throne - politically speaking - for if someone were to assassinate Ahab, well, they would have to take on the King of Tyre and Sidon to do so, and at that time, that wouldn't have been a very wise thing to do. Perhaps that is Ahab allowed Jezebel so much freedom? Who can say. One thing is certain however, her influence was absolutely wicked, and by the time we find this conversation taking place between Ahab and Elijah, the Northern Kingdom was so firmly in the grip of apostasy, that Jezebel was not only able to put to death the prophets of God without any political objection - but was also able to establish idolatry on a level previously unheard of.

All this however is just, as I said, to set the stage for another passage we want to look at.


posted by Daniel @ 12:01 AM   4 comment(s)
Monday, September 24, 2007
Hermeneutics and Eschatology
Thinking makes my brain work...Long ago in my faith I spent some effort focusing my study of God's word on the teachings about the last days. We use the word eschatology to describe this, and I suppose that is only natural as it comes from two Greek words: eschatos and logos, which mean "last" and "word" respectively. We use the word eschatology therefore to identify "end time" specific theology.

I say, I had in the past given some considerable study to this, but was unable from my studies to conclude a cohesive model. I like to describe the outcome of that time of study not as fruitless, but rather as producing a certainty in me of what eschatological teachings I am certain cannot be correct. That is, while I did not have enough light to build a complete model, I believe I had enough light to examine errors in some of the popular systems around.

To be sure, I regard the study of eschatology as perhaps the very least valuable of all theological studies, and in saying that I suppose I put myself before the ire of those who have made eschatology their great passion, for implied in my confession is, I suppose, a thinly veiled jab at those who are preoccupied with this particular study and regard as adversarial anyone who does not share their priorities.

That is not to suggest however, that I believe a Christian is justified in neglecting eschatological teachings, for one errs in neglecting such matter just as surely as one can err in over emphasizing it. I mention this only to avoid the charge by denying the supremacy of eschatological teachings, I am necessarily demanding their neglect, or dismissing their value altogether. Don't laugh - when a person disagrees with you, they typically do so and presume that you are not only disagreeing with them, but are doing so by embracing the position that is farthest away from what they believe.

I suppose I am hindered in my study of the end times by the approach I take to when I interpret the meaning of scripture. My hermeneutic is simple enough, I read the bible, and believe it to be true, and trust that it is never going to be my intellect that reveals truth to me, (though my intellect will certainly play a role in articulating that truth), but it will be God's Spirit that reveals truth to me. I don't raise that up as some pious method, but rather as the only way I have ever studied scripture, and having had some light from the Lord in the past, I am inclined to continue to use what has worked for me so well thus far.

That is not to say that when I come to a text I disregard what is clearly stated in the text in favor of some mystical impression I presume will come to me. If that were the case I wouldn't need a bible, I could just mediate until "truth" impressed itself mystically into my understanding. Such gnostic nonsense is not what I mean - rather I believe that as we let the word of God dwell in us, as we meditate on it's meaning, that the Spirit given to us as the Guarantee of of sonship - this same Spirit illumines our understanding. The words of scripture are like a bowl that holds in it truth - when the Spirit enlightens us we can drink from that bowl, but in the same way that what we drink out of a bowl is first contained in the bowl, so too with the word of God, the truth is held in a text like living water in a bowl - and just the water conforms to the shape of the bowl, so too the truth conforms to the text. Which is only to say that my hermeneutic does not involve taking more from God's word than is there - a truth when rightly articulated draws water from the well of the word without polluting it; but while this may well be articulated by our intellect, it is not our intellect that opens up Spiritual truths to us. Our intellect is part of our flesh and blood, and flesh and blood do not reveal truth to us.

So I say, my understanding of eschatology is limited or hindered by my hermeneutic, but I mean it in this sense - I refuse to knowingly speculate beyond what a text says. That is, I imagine that scripture is not presented to us as a riddle to be figured out, but as a truth to be understood. I reject the premise that God has given us puzzle that is not only missing some pieces, but has a rather out of focus image upon it such that we must not only lend our speculation to the puzzle to fill in the missing pieces, but must also squint in just this 'right' way to see what the other imagines the blurred image to be.

I am reminded of seventies paranoia about backward masked Satanic messages in songs - you remember that don't you? Here we see the Christian alarmist playing some record backwards and you listen and no matter how many times the recording is played, you hear no messages, and in fact hear only the sound of human voices that sound all wrong and nonsensical. Then the expert tells you what to hear, and you listen again, this time trying to hear that - and what do you know? You can now make it out. Sure it doesn't really sound like that or you would have heard it the first time, but you cannot deny that if you project clarity into these verses where there is really no clarity - you can now "hear" what previously wasn't there - all you have to do is add to it a little projected "clarity."

So when I speak of that hindrance produced by my hermeneutic, I mean only that when I come to a text wherein the meaning is unclear, I make it my practice to leave the clarifying work to God, even when there are a hundred "experts" willing to clarify the text on my behalf. I respect that God has given the church men with insight and understanding, and I am glad to take instruction on such matters, yet instruction stops being instruction and begins to be speculation when instead of shining light upon a verse, instead one is told to "squint thus" in order to "see it". There are two fools: the first refuses to take any instruction, and the second is willing to take instruction even when that instruction goes beyond the text.

What that all means is that when I say something like "I don't make eschatology my passion" I am not suggesting that I neglect eschatology, or that I am better than someone because I haven't figured it out, or any such nonsense. All I mean is that my study has yet to yield a complete and cohesive model.

I mention this only because I plan to post on a passage that is somewhat eschatological in nature, and I want to grease the way a bit beforehand...

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posted by Daniel @ 10:45 AM   4 comment(s)
Sunday, September 16, 2007
You Cannot Bribe An Impartial Judge.
Deuteronomy 16:19, "19 You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous." - [ESV]

Most of us have enough smarts that we would not try and bring a suitcase full of money to God and ask him to overlook our sin in exchange for the suitcase full of money. We know that God is impartial, and that he will not overlook our sin no matter how much currency we bring to the judgment seat.

Yet many today are placing their hope in just such a bribe - only their currency is not gold or silver, it is in what they feel are "good deeds" - and by good deeds, they typically mean not killing, raping, or in some cases, hurting anyone else. That is they believe that they can appease the judgment against their sin by bribing God with what they consider to be good, and commendable behavior.

I should remind the reader that -everything- we have ever done in our whole life (outside of Christ) has been done while either passively or actively rebelling against God, that is, everything we have ever done has been self serving and not God serving. To spell it out, everything we have ever done has been so entirely mingled with sin that even what we consider to be our most righteous acts, God can by no means regard as being righteous since they are all founded primarily in our rebellion (sin) against God - even what we think of as our commendable acts, are in fact thoroughly saturated by our rebellion (sin) and rather than preserving our life, they shall be that much more weight on the anchor that is tied around our neck.

Thus, if it were folly to try and bribe God with our good deeds, it is doubly folly when we try and bribe him with deeds that are mingled with rebellion. These that will be brought out in hope of securing the bribe, will only be more evidence against us; will only damn us that much more, for these are in fact part of the mountain of evidence against us, and will by no means excuse us on that last day.

Now if the cup of folly were not full yet, I should remind the reader that the party whom the sinner is attempting to bribe is in fact the victim of the crime - sin is rebellion against God after all, and attempting to bribe our way out of punishment by offering up more sin to the one who is offended by sin can only be described as a madman's hope.

Listen sinner: You will not succeed in your hope of bribing the judge of all the world with your "good" deeds - your good deeds are not good, and even if they actually were good - their goodness in no way erases your sin. You see, scripture teaches that sin must be paid its wage, and the wages we must pay are not good deeds: the wage sin demands is the forfeiture of life. The penalty for sin is the death of the sinner, not good deeds. No one caught speeding can argue their innocence by saying that previously they weren't speeding - that in no way satisfies the penalty against them. Likewise, the debt for our sin is the forfeiture of our life, and even were it possible for us to have done good deeds in the past, these will by no means satisfy our debt. If we cannot pervert a righteous Judge with a bribe, how much less hope if that bribe is made without any currency, and again how much less if that currency is itself a crime against the judge?

If you haven't surrendered your life to God through Jesus Christ you will stand before Christ one day at the judgement seat. I tell you today that all your good deeds in that day will not remove the penalty for even the smallest lie you have ever told. The fact that you didn't kill anyone will by no means excuse you for even the most petty theft. The time that you gave the beggar a fiver will not pay for the slightest lust, let alone the darker things in your closet. God will not be bamboozled, and I remind you reader, that you are a day closer to this judgment now than you were yesterday - and your days themselves are numbered. How many days have you burned up already? Would that those who read these who do not know how to be reconciled to God would seek Him out while there is still breath to do so.


posted by Daniel @ 5:46 AM   7 comment(s)
Blue Collar Clan Member...
Blue Collar ClanMark has asked me, and I have accepted his gracious invitation, to become a contributing member of the BlueCollar blog. I don't expect that I will be posting too much over there for the time being, but eventually, as room opens up in my schedule, I hope to make some contributions over there.

Thanks Mark!


posted by Daniel @ 12:03 AM   1 comment(s)
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Dehydration and Thirst.
Two biologists found themselves at odds about their understanding how the whole hydration process.

The first biologist set forth his theory on thirst thus:

Biologist #1: Thirst is a choice made by the body in answer to the reality of dehydration. If the body does not realize it is dehydrated, it does not choose to be thirsty.

The second biologist rejected the first biologist's theory thus:

Biologist #2: Thirst is not a choice made by the body, but is in fact an involuntary reaction to dehydration, such that unless a body is in some way impaired so that it is unable to thirst, it will always thirst whenever it is dehydrated.

The following debate records their interaction with one another on the subject:

Biologist #1: Dear colleague, I appreciate the great love we both share for our present occupation and the science behind it. Yet in fairness to you I see in your opinion some room for instruction, and I hope you will allow me to show you what I believe to be errors in your reasoning - after which, upon seeing your errors, I am sure you will agree with my position.

Biologist #2: My esteemed companion, believe me when I say, I am ready and willing to be instructed out of my error, though I confess, I am blind to any fault in my reasoning. Perhaps you will convince me, but I hope if you fail to do so that I might examine your opinion with a similar scrutiny?

Biologist #1: oh, of course, my good man, of course. Now allow me to begin. You say that thirst in involuntary? Even a child is aware that they can deny their thirst at will, likewise, even a child is able to drink when not thirsty - you need only go to the fair and you will see many young people sipping on carbonated syrup water, not as a result of some involuntary thirst, but rather out of a plain choice to do so.

Likewise you say that unless a body is impaired in some way so that it is unable to thirst, that dehydration will always cause a body to experience thirst. What sort of nonsense is this? And forgive me my incredulity, for you seem such a bright fellow to make such a tragically avoidable error; and yet here it is: I have yet to find even one such person as you portray here - not even one sir - who has even been impaired in the manner that you describe. It is a ghost sir, a non entity, a phantom created by some warped imagination for no other reason than to create some greater link between dehydration and thirst than clearly exists (and again, forgive me my boldness for I am only so bold as I am certain that this monstrosity is by no means your own invention but you likely inherited the idea from some buffoon in your past, and have never sat down to really examine it closely).

My opinion sir, as I am sure you now realize, is quite unassailable, and having shown that thirst is clearly a choice, and furthermore that there is no good reason to believe such an involuntary link exists between dehydration and thirst as you suggest, we are left to conclude sir that thirst is entirely a choice made in response to dehydration - and not caused by it.

On that self evident point sir, I believe my case to be made and so I await your retraction with eager anticipation.

Biologist #2: Thank you again dear sir for your kind tutelage in this matter. I am of course intimidated by your great learning and insight, yet my resolve is to press on - trusting to an equally great humility you no doubt possess amidst your other fine and obvious qualities, I say, I trust that you will bear any folly that might find itself in my opinion.

Allow me to address first the gaping gulf between what I have truly said and what you have heard me to say. I do apologize for failing to communicate my thoughts as I am truly at a loss to explain how far your understanding of my words has strayed from their meaning; yet I accept the blame, and re-double therefore my efforts to be clear and unambiguous in my locution.

First, I believe I should begin by touching upon what we seem to agree upon. Like yourself, I too believe that a person is free to choose to answer or ignore his thirst, and likewise free to drink regardless of thirst. Upon this point there is no disagreement between us.

Where we disagree however is not upon the voluntary nature of choice, for surely choice is by any definition a voluntary thing. You do well to defend that point my friend, though we must caution, that since no one is contending it here, it neither negates my position nor bolsters your own - rather it merely takes up space in our discussion fruitlessly. Let us not babble on about those things that all rational people must agree upon, nor exhume them from whatever graveyard we have buried our own demons, but instead bypass them altogether in favor of those things which are pertinent to our discussion.

I agree therefore that even children can refuse to drink when thirsty, and can drink when they are not thirsty - yet we do not want to confuse our reaction to thirst with the thirst itself. To do so would be to blur apples and oranges together into one fruit. No sir, if we are reacting to an impetus, our reaction cannot be explained as the genesis of the impetus, if you follow me.

It is the same as catching a ball that is thrown to us. We may choose to catch the ball or not, but in determining to catch it, we must not imagine that our choice produced the throw. I hope that is evident.

To your other objection sir: you object to the idea that a physical impairment might dismantle one's ability to thirst based on the fact that you have never seen it happen personally, nor have heard of it happening.

I confess, that while I find you a worldly fellow, I can't be dissuaded from my point based solely on your ability to know a thing, and furthermore to retain in your memory all that you may have known, not withstanding, though this is sufficient to reject your objection, yet I can plainly give you examples that I am sure you will agree exist.

There was just last week a carriage accident, where a fine young lady took a spill and conked her brow on the curbstone sending her these three days into a state of unconsciousness. You will note that her nurses have been diligent in putting wet clothes to her mouth and allowing her to take in some hydration to avoid the dehydration. Might I draw your attention to this sir, clearly unless one is conscious to experience the sensation of thirst, one is impaired in one's ability to respond to it.

Which is to say, your objections seem to be so many empty or misdirected words. I do hope you will not object to my saying so, but will correct them where they are erroneous, or where my understanding of them has failed.

Likewise sir, I should like to state precisely my estimate of your own position, do bear with me.

Your suggestion that the body makes a choice to be thirsty, seems to be a confusion between the body and the mind - for it is the mind that makes choices and not the body, for as I have noted, it is quite possible for a body to be unconscious and dehydrated in the same moment, but in order to be thirsty one must be sensible.

Given this presumption of confusion on your part, I extend that presumption to the idea of the mind realizing it is thirsty. I agree with you that the mind must realize it is thirst in order to respond to the thirst, but again sir, I do not confuse together into one entity the notion of thirst and dehydration - for the one surely causes the other and is not to be confused with it on that account.

Your opinion sir, if I may restate it is that we "choose" to be thirsty in response to our dehydration, that our thirst is in fact a conscious decision. Here is where you confusion lies sir, and do tell me if I have identified it or nay: Are you not simply confusing the thirsting with the act of drinking? That is, we choose to drink or not to drink in answer to our thirst which we have no conscious control over.

Please let me know if I am confusing or enlightening you - of perhaps if I am sorely mistaken?

Biologist #1: Are you telling me you see a difference between the thirsting and the drinking?

Biologist #2: Yes sir, I am.

Biologist #1: Now hear me out dear sir, clearly the two are one and the same, you must see that.

Biologist #2: Actually, I do not see it. What I see is a choice to respond or not to a stimulus, and not a choice to be stimulated or not.

Biologist #1: Well sir, if you cannot see the truth for what it is, you are beyond my help.

Biologist #2: I am sorry you feel that way.

I am free.... mphrrrghhffph.This is, of course, representative of the discussion we see again and again concerning the freedom of the will, except that it isn't as pointless, drawn out, full of out of context verses, pride and all round tomfoolery. Well, the tomfoolery might apply, but you get the point...

The Arminian sees that everyone has a choice to believe the gospel or reject it. No Calvinist would object to that. We all -do- have a choice. Yet Calvinist understands that whatever choice we do have is fenced around by the presence of thirst in our life. Am I thirsty for Christ, or not? If I am not thirsty, I may well make a choice to follow Christ, but my choice will be as vacuous as my thirst, and eventually, the soil into which the gospel seed fell will show itself wanting. Likewise, lacking a thirst I can also choose to ignore the gospel - which is really the default choice. There is freedom to choose.

But my choice does not generate the call, it doesn't generate the thirst. If I am thirsty, I can resist that thirst for a time, but eventually I will give in. That is the nature of thirst. It isn't that I don't have free will, it is that my free will eventually chooses to slake that thirst that I have no control over. Likewise, of course, I can give into the thirst without a struggle, either way, the seed will eventually find good soil.

These things are simple enough I think, yet I still have ample opportunity to see some argue that irresistible grace can only mean robotic mind control. These who have in themselves experienced thirst would never argue that answering their own desire to slake a thirst was some form of mind control - even if the nature they find themselves in possession of (that is, a body that naturally craves water when it is dehydrated) illustrates the point clearly enough - yet still they fail to see the that there is a world of difference between having the freedom to make a choice and being outside of God's sovereign control. God has sovereignly designed us to thirst for water when our fluid levels are insufficient. There is not a man alive who doesn't daily slake that thirst of his own free will - but understand this: God has willed each of us to do that, and provided the way to do that without doing injury to the freedom of our choice.

I want to repeat that in case it was misunderstood.

God ordained that all men everywhere would choose to drink liquids. God doesn't turn them into robots to make them drink liquids, he gives them a thirst, and they choose to drink of their own free will. God's sovereignty does not hijack their free will, but their free will responds to God's sovereign decree. Our God can do that. Our God -does- do that, and if anyone cannot see that, it is because they choose to be blind.


posted by Daniel @ 11:46 AM   18 comment(s)
Definitions: Imputation of Righteousness
Our condemnation was imputed to Him, and His righteousness to us.One of the dear saints in my church, a man of uncommon discernment, mentioned last night at our prayer meeting how he has noticed that there are some in the congregation who may not understand the simplicity of various gospel elements because some of the nomenclature may be unclear. So I thought I might do a quick series, ostensibly on Thursdays, to explain in simple terms some of the words we use in our theological discussion.

Today I want to talk about the imputation of righteousness.

Psalm 32:2 says, "2Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit." [ESV]

Paul quotes from this in Romans 4:6-8 when he says, "6just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 'Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.' " [ESV]

The King James rendering uses the word impute, and comparing the two translations will help the one who is unfamiliar with the word get a good feel for how it was used and what it meant: "6Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."

Imputation means to "credit" a thing to someone.

When Jesus Christ took my sin to the cross, my sin was "imputed" to Him, however that came to be the end result was that my sin was charged to Christ's account, as it were so that I was released from my sin debt by transferring that debt to the person of Jesus Christ. That is what I mean when I say that my sin was "imputed" to Christ. It is this imputation of sin to Christ that justifies me as a sinner. My sin is not ignored by God, it is punished in full in Christ. My debt is not excused, it is paid in full having been transferred to another.

The imputation of righteousness however is the other side of that Christian coin. Jesus Christ not only lived without sinning, He lived righteously, doing good and pleasing God in all His ways. Just as Christ received my sin to his account, and was punished in my stead, so too His righteousness is given to my account - that is, all my interactions with God are brokered through Christ's righteousness and not my own.

The imputation of our sin to Christ justifies us before God, and the imputation of Christ's righteousness commends us to God. Had we only been justified we should have no reason to expect an audience with the King - for we are simply "not guilty" - but having Christ's righteousness we can draw boldly to the throne of grace, for we are regarded as the most welcome on Christ's account.

Now, I should add that God isn't playing with some cosmic switcheroo here. It isn't as though as Christ hung on the cross God pretended He was me and punished His innocent Son by pretending Christ was me. There is nothing righteous about punishing an innocent man even if the man is willing. Scripture says that we were crucified with Christ, and united with Him in his death and resurrection. Our union with Christ on the cross enabled Christ to truly and literally receive our condemnation - our mixing with Christ in this way is how our sin was imputed to Him - it wasn't mere roleplaying or mental assent, it was a union that clearly transcends the physical laws. We were in Christ, and our presence in Christ allowed a righteous God to punish Christ without corrupting His own righteousness. Christ truly bore our sin. Thus in being united in Christ's death our sin was imputed to Him.

Yet the union did not end in the grave, but just as we were united in Christ on the cross and in the grave, so too when the condemnation had been spent, and Christ's lifeless form was found by God - the righteousness by which Christ had lived demanded a righteous God to undo death - for it was not just that a righteous man should die thus. God was bound by His own righteousness to raise Christ from the dead, for the grave is no place for an innocent man - and when God raised Christ from the dead, we were still united with Him - and thus His righteousness is imputed to us.

When God raised Christ from the dead - it was God's testimony to all who were in Christ that they were acceptable to God in the beloved - that is, he no longer regarded them according to their sin, but rather according to the righteousness of Christ, for if it was any other way, God would by no means have raised Christ (and us who were united to Christ) from the dead.

This truth is a pillar in our relationship with God. We do not stand before God in our own righteousness - rather we look to the cross and the grave and the resurrection - that is, we look to our union with Christ, to His righteousness as our standing before God - and in that righteousness we rest, assured that we are accepted by God no matter how vile we understand our present condition to be.

Keeping our eyes on Christ is not some empty thought - it is the practice of a believer who is grounding themselves in truth so that they may walk in the Spirit, and walk in the path the Lord has given.


posted by Daniel @ 7:37 AM   8 comment(s)
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Wednesday Prayer Encouragement -VI-

I have included some scripture to help. If you hover your mouse over the blue text, a verse ought to show up. At least it does for IE.

Jesus came to save sinners from their sin, yet many from the very moment they believe set out to clean house themselves. Their inevitable failure only drives them harder to attempt in their flesh what can only be done by the Spirit. They have forgotten, if ever they knew, that the purpose of their guilty conscience, is to draw them to, rather than drive them away from, their Lord and Savior.

Many remain captive who know already that they have been set free. Their problem isn't that they haven't heard the truth, it is that even knowing that the truth is true, they ignore it as a matter of habit, in favor of their own efforts.

Feelings precede out of faith, they don't produce it. Likewise in prayer; if we look to our feelings to tell us whether our prayers are heard/effective, etc. - we are looking to the storm and not the Savior.

My encouragement to you Christian is to know the word of God, for it is that light by which we navigate through our fears and doubts.

A closing note: trying to overcome sin by yourself will mess you up for this reason: we have never been sanctified by the way we live, rather we are sanctified by the way we die.

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posted by Daniel @ 7:44 AM   6 comment(s)
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
The "H" word.
I know that it has been vogue of late to put a blog on hiatus because other ministries are more pressing at the moment, or perhaps for some other reason. I am sorely tempted to do that myself as I am on full overload for the next little while - but I hope to squeeze out a post once or twice a week if possible - it will be like the autumn of my blog.

My apologies; not a hiatus, rather a slowing for a time.


posted by Daniel @ 6:09 AM   8 comment(s)
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