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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.
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 30, 2010
960: You Do Church The Wrong Way!
Your worship style is all wrong. Your programs are all wrong. The church decor is all wrong. The sermon length is too long. The prayer time is artificial. The singing/sermon time is all out of balance. Your small groups are all wrong. Your big groups are all wrong. The way you organize yourself is all wrong. Did I say the service was all wrong? The way you meet is all wrong, and where you meet is all wrong. In fact, everything you do is wrong. Yet for all that you saddle up every Sunday to slake your wrongfully motivated bovine appetites.

Okay. We have all heard how whatever church we go to, is "doing" church wrong. Everyone wants to have a "New Testament" church, but no one wants to admit that almost every church mentioned in the NT was only mentioned because they too were "doing" church wrong.

Yet scripture's criticism of these churches was not that they organized themselves in the wrong way - but rather that they conducted themselves according to their own leading, and not the leading of the Holy Spirit, both individually and corporately.

What made a New Testament church a New Testament Church™ was not the length of the sermon, or whether or not they shuffled their children out of the service the moment the singing stops - rather it was whether or not individuals in that church were surrendered to God in their will.

Your church is stale, and your service old fashioned. Everyone in your congregation knows that it could be so much better, but they have also, for the most part, become increasingly numb to what they are supposed to be, and moreso in the pacifying wake of each passing, slumbering year.

But always and ever the problem is identified as something external. As though there was some group of people holding the real go-getters back. As though if it weren't for the way we organize ourselves, we would be so much more. etc.

Blah, blah, blah.

The problem is spiritual inertia, and it causes the staleness, the deadness, or the slow decay that we see in some churches. But you must understand, that spiritual inertia wasn't produced, nor is it maintained or strengthened by the order of our service, or the manner in which we organize ourselves. Listen, the people who are hyper-concerned about the "way we do church" are the same people who are working in the strength of their flesh, and trying to squeeze out a spiritual sprint out of a new pair of shorts.

Well, I suppose I have penned better analogies, but I am going to stick with that one for now.

Look, do you want a new testament church? Stop trying to clean the outside of the church's cup, and work instead on the inside. What is true of the individual is true of the church. If you have a collection of believers who are sold out to do the will of God with all their heart, it isn't going to matter if they meet in a cave or a cathedral, if they sip coffee, or chew gum - you are going to have a church that finds its unity in their shared Savior, and in His service, and the rest will look after it self.

If you want to do work for God's kingdom, then make it your work to draw near to him. Don't make that a means to an end. Don't draw near to him as a rung on the church change ladder, draw near to him, and forget about the rest, because if you do draw near, the things of this world (such as how we should best organize ourselves) will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

That isn't to say that you get all flaky with your doctrine, and develop an "anything goes" attitude in how you organize yourself. Rather it is to say that once you deal with the real problem, the other things will solve themselves, and if they haven't solved themselves yet, it is because, contrary to what you thing, you haven't actually drawn near to God.

What must you do to do the work of God? Believe on Him whom God sent. That's it. Do this and the other stuff won't be an issue. Try doing the other stuff first, and you will be labouring to build your house in vain.


posted by Daniel @ 8:44 AM   8 comment(s)
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I'm a Red Herring, er... I mean Journalist.
So, on his birthday, this Ferrari engineer drives one of the companies 2012 prototypes to a bar in Redmond, and gets plastered enough that he takes the bus home, forgetting the company prototype.

After he leaves, another customer sees the car parked in the lot, unlocked, and decides, in good faith, to take it home, and try and find the owner. What a saint. He sees the driver's license on the seat, but realizes, as he drives the new Ferrari home, that this is not just any Ferrari, but must be a prototype Ferrari.

So rather than try and return the car to the dude from facebook from the license, he calls the Ferrari help desk. After spending an hour in their automated answering loop, he finally talks to a person and somehow fails to communicate the fact that he has one of their top secret prototype Ferraris.

Now this being in California, the law says that if he find someone's car parked on the street, and decides to take possession of it, he obligates himself to that person as a steward of their property. A stewardship that he willfully assumed the moment he presumed to take possession of the lost vehicle; a stewardship that does not grant him the right to say, sell the car, or worse, disassemble it, or still worse, show photos of the innards to every Ferrari competitor in the world.

His stewardship is limited to keeping it as he found it while doing all that is possible (within reason) to return it to its rightful owner.

As said, rather than call the police and let them know that he had a prototype Ferrari that had been driven by the man from facebook the license, or better yet, taking driving the vehicle to the Ferrari head office in town, and delivering it there - this fellow determines to sell the found car to the highest bidder.

The highest bidder is a car magazine blogger. The seller explain that the car is not his to sell, but belongs to Ferrari and is a prototype, and after examining the car, the blogger is so entirely convinced that it truly is a prototype from Ferrari that he lays down $5000 in cold, hard cash. The deal is done.

Now the moment the original finder stopped trying to return the vehicle to Ferrari, and instead decided to fence it on the black market, that finder transgressed the stewardship that the law imposed on him. As mentioned earlier, just as an airport is the steward of property left in paid lockers, and cannot, as steward, legally sell the property after a few days and leaving a message on someone's answering machine, so also the finder is not granted the right to sell property that they are in fact obliged by law to return - especially when the owner is known at the time of the sale.

Likewise, the shield laws that were written to protect journalists from revealing their informants, was not written to protect bloggers who deal in black market goods, under the pretense of journalism. Make no mistake. This car blogger was not purchasing a story, he was purchasing a prototype Ferrari from someone who was not qualified to sell it. The moment the seller determined to set aside his legal obligation, and instead sell the car for profit - in that moment he stole the vehicle and became a theif, so that at the point of sale the blogger was knowingly purchasing stolen goods, even if he was convinced that journalists are free to do so.

But the tale doesn't end there. The car blogger doesn't return the vehicle either. First he takes it apart and takes pictures of its innards. Then (in the name of journalism) he smugly posts the pictures for all Ferrari's competitors to see, and makes a bundle of cash for his blog by and through the multitude of curious er, gawkers, who flock to see the new secret Ferrari.

So we have a tale of two theives, the first who turned theif the moment he or she sold the car, and the second who purchased the car from the first, then disassembled it.

Now, here is where the story takes a fun turn. After raping the virgin Ferrari online, the car blogger then makes a big deal of how he returned her to her betrothed.

Well, because one or more crimes were committed, the police eventually get a search warrant, and search the car blogger's home for evidence. But the blogger claims that he is allowed to be a criminal because he is a journalist, and as a journalist, he can't have his stuff seized.

The problem with that is, that blogger isn't a person of interest because they are protecting some informant, rather they are a person of interest because they knowingly purchased property from someone who did not have the right to sell it, and once in possession of that property they disassembled it and published the contents of its innards to the world.

Do we live in a country where car journalists are free to engage in crime, just because the fruit of their crime produces a story that makes them hundreds of thousands of dollars?

Time will tell.
posted by Daniel @ 7:22 AM   4 comment(s)
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The Blindness of Sin (In 5 Minutes or Less)
" There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil." - Job 1:1 [NASB]

Do you see that Job turned away from evil?

The blindness of sin happens when we stop thinking of sin as evil. When we think of sin as just something we struggle with, or worse, just a character flaw, or something that is merely bad.

It is easy to embrace sin and still feel pretty good about yourself if you forget that what you are embracing is actually evil. You are embracing evil. When scripture speaks of having the forehead of a harlot, and refusing to blush (c.f. Jeremiah 3:3) or not knowing how to blush (c.f. Jeremiah 6:5, 8:12), it is talking about what happens when a person stops thinking of sin as an evil thing.

You have heard the expression, "making peace with sin" - and you imagine that it is painting a person who has decided to stop worrying about sin, and just live life as best as they can or something like that. But people make peace with sin long before that. The first step in making peace with sin is to emasculate sin - removing the gender of evil from it - so that when you "struggle" against sin, you are not struggling against evil, you are struggling against something you "shouldn't be doing".

Now I know that victory over habitual behaviours can take time. I likewise know that obeying God is not easy, that there is a war going on between the will of God and the will of the flesh, and that war often includes real (spiritual) battles. But we use the word struggle when we really mean near consistently giving into cyclically reoccurring sinful desires. We mean that we know a thing is sin, and we don't want to do it, and we are struggling under the weight of guilt that comes with this kind of failure, and especially with the certainty in our hearts that we don't really plan to do anything about it beyond feel bad that we are sinning.

That's not struggle friend. That is surrender, followed by guilt. That is loving darkness rather than light because your deeds are evil. That's what it looks like.

One of the ways our enemy snares us, is with blindness. We stop seeing what we are doing as evil, and so we stop turning from it. We are just failing to do what is right. We want to do what is right, but as Paul writes, we cannot find the way to do it. The reason we cannot find the way is because we are double minded - we want to be righteous without actually turning away from sin.

Here is what I want you to take away from this post. Today you have already settled it in your heart that you are either going to make war against every evil you find in your own desires, or you have settled it in your heart that you are going to fail and have decided to live with the guilt of that. I suggest that if you open your eyes and see evil for what it is, if you look and see what you are doing, that you may, at least this day, awake out of your habit of slumber, and turn from evil, calling it what it is, and abhorring it as is fitting a servant of God.

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posted by Daniel @ 6:23 AM   4 comment(s)
Monday, April 26, 2010
OT Prophets vs. NT Flakery.
"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." - Hebrews 1:1-2 [NASB]

One of the things very first problems that the new believer has to contend with, is the supernatural record of the Bible, and the less than supernatural experience of modern day Christianity.

We read of God speaking to men like Abraham and Moses, or any of the Old Testament prophets, and we see the miraculous performed by these men, and marvel that God gave such authority to men on earth. Then we see, in the New Testament, Christ and the Apostles performing the miraculous, and receiving instruction by and through the Holy Spirit, and we read Luke's account of the acts of the Apostles, well, primarily Peter and Paul - and we come away with an image of first century Christianity as being awash with, and even underscored by the miraculous, and the naive presumption we make is that this is what "normal" Christianity is supposed to look like.

We honestly believe that if we are genuine and legitimate Christians, or alternately, if God is genuine, and the bible legitimate, that we too should be able to hear God speak to us in some way, and that we should be able to do the miraculous, at least to some degree.

Of course, the moment we realize that we still cannot do the miraculous, we come to the first "failed" spiritual expectation, and it is a major crisis in our faith. Didn't Jesus say in Matthew 17 that the reason the Apostles failed to cast out a particularly nasty demon, was because they didn't have enough faith? Didn't Christ say, and I quote, "for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you"?

We read that and reason that if nothing is impossible to the one with faith, and if we have failed to summon forth the miraculous, it must mean that we simply lack the faith. Who amongst us hasn't read Salinger's, "The Catcher in the Rye"? Remember Holden's conclusion, as he muses over the text of Matthew 17, that no one ever has "enough" faith; as evidenced by the fact that no mountain has ever picked itself up and thrown itself into the sea. We wince at the naivity of that, and perhaps pity Salinger, given that this sentiment is a reflection of his own thinking at the time - but that sentiment is not unlike the sentiment of the immature believer - I will never have enough faith to do that.

We come out of that crisis of faith with the conviction that we could, in an ideal world, with an ideal faith, peform the miraculous, and though we loathe ourselves for not being possessed of this ideally adequate faith and though it's lack may cause us to ponder the legitimacy of our claim to being a Christian, yet we typically come out of it with our faith intact, if a little bruised.

The experience we have with our failure to perform the miraculous, often comes in concert with another failure: the failure to receive direct revelation from God.

This particular failure is both is not helped by the sort of inflated, religious jargon that has become common amongst many Christians. "God led me to...", "God spoke to me about....", "The Holy Spirit impressed upon me the thought that...." etc. etc. To listen to some Christian's talk, you would think that God was micomanaging the minutia of their existence through direct, revelatory (and apparently precise) instructions. Of course these are actually talking about the way in which they are interacting with their (hopefully biblically informed) conscience, whether they know it or not (and sadly, more and more fall into the "not" category).

So that when it comes to "hearing God speak" - some are led to believe that God speaks through the vague and iffy language of personal feelings, intuitive proddings, and mystical hunches - and that the more spiritual you are, the better you are at interpreting what God intends for you to do when you get that "Holy Spirit" feeling. These are (typically) sincere believers who, because of their own immaturity, lack of discernment, or unbiblical expectations, have reimagined their own intuition as the voice of God, and are zealous to obey whatever they imagine (and I mean that literally) God wants them to do.

Just as a broken clock is right twice every day, so also well meaning, and zealous believers will have be subjectively prompted by their own feelings to do what is right on occasion. That is, so long as the prodding is from their conscience, they will likely respond in a way consistant with their profession, at least insofar as their conscience is biblically informed.

But such as these can go decades, or even their whole lives, imagining that this is how God speaks to His children - and in the fervor of this error, they will imagine themselves as being obedient servants of God when they follow some heartburn or other into what can only be described as flakery.

I know that a lot of believers really buy into this hokey-pokey. They want/need something spiritually tangible to hang their faith on. They want a personal relationship with Jesus, but not one that is brokered through His word, but rather one that is brokered through personal, spiritual experiences. Let a man call this stuff quackery, and he will hear from them that he is probably not a real™ believer, because he doesn't assent to the idea that God speaks to people today.

Listen: I posted the opening verses from the book of Hebrews because I believe them with all my heart. God did speak in all kinds of ways to various messengers in times past - and these messengers passed along that message to the peoples of their day; but in these last days, that message is not being delivered to prophets and dreamers - but was delivered once and for all to Christ, who has delivered it in full to us. There is no more new revelation. No bedside talks. No voices. No revaltory spiritual impressions or proddings. Nothing. Christ's message is sufficient for all my life. I don't have to guess what the Lord wants from me, for Christ's message tells me in full exactly what He wants for me.

Which is all to say that I don't have a lot of respect for personal decisions that are made in accord with personal intuition, which itself is being mistaken for divine instruction and all because of a flawed theological understanding of how God speaks to people today. There I said it.


posted by Daniel @ 12:03 PM   7 comment(s)
Saturday, April 24, 2010
The Right Tool For the Right Job.
Our enemy chooses very carefully those tools that best fit his purposes.

Every believer who is not consciously putting on Christ, that is, any believer who is not labouring moment by moment to maintain himself or herself in the wearing of that same Christian armour that the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul has instructed every believer to don daily, is in danger.

Not merely the danger of daily denying God, rather than self, for all who neglect the command of scripture in this duty are daily denying their Lord, whilst indulging themselves in a sloth that is not only sinful, but harmful to their joy and well being. No not merely these things, though they are by no means trivial. The one who disregards this particular command is in danger of being snared by the enemies subtle attacks.

Here is something you need to be sure of: you will be deceived, no matter how smart you are, no matter how spiritual you have been in the past - eventually the enemy will snare you, in whole or in part, if you make it your habit to neglect the command of the Lord, and fail to don the armour of God whenever and however you are able.

You see, the enemy is subtle; he doesn't just come out and zap you, though if he had permission he might - but that wouldn't be his main attack by any means. No, he chooses the season of his attack according to that which is most advantageous to him. When you are newly converted or beset with some affliction. When you doing something noble, for God's glory. When there is some means present by which a temptation might be enforced, or perhaps following a great manifestation of God's love - in other words, when you guard is down. Likewise, in times when you are most likely to be frail, and fragile, anxious or desperate. The hour of death is almost a given - you will be assaulted more often than not, in those moments and places where an assault is most likely to succeed.

That's the way the enemy works. We call that a subtlety because he doesn't just come out and full on front assault you, but chooses to ply his trade when it is most likely to succeed.

Our enemy is likewise a strategist, using the well oiled machinery of his schemes and plans to deceive us. What temptation ever looks to be, at first blush, hideously sinful? How often does a temptation come through someone whom we trust? An angel of light? The enemy is apt to tempt us through those we least expect, and to present a temptation in the guise of something good or noble, when it fact it just the wrapper around some other sin.

He is not dormant, but gathers information on every child of God. When God asked Satan about Job, Satan's reply was that the only reason Job was so righteous is because God had him hemmed in on every side. How did Satan know that Job was hemmed in on every side? My guess, and it is a good one, is that Satan knew this first hand, from trying to get to Job from every angle. He was studying Job, and couldn't find an "in". So too, Satan, or more likely, one or more of his underlings, is studying you. Learning how best to tempt you, gathering information, and planning assaults against you. Few assaults spring forth in a day, but come gradually. We have all experienced it. All week, we say, things have been piling on. We feel like Job, who had horror upon horror stacked upon one after the other, and with increasing severity. So that when the final straw is added, we are ripe to crack beneath the weight of it all, yet even then the enemy holds a temptation or two in reserve, in case we master the one, he can ply us with another. Just as a general fills in the line as soldiers fall, if we withstand him on one point, fills that point with a different temptation, till at length we fail, even feigning defeat so that as we drop our guard, he strikes!

But today I wish to talk about a third subtle. While it is true that our enemy [1] chooses the most advantageous season for temptation, and [2] uses well planned strategies and schemes to snare and deceive us, he does not stop there. He chooses to work through people as well. People who have authority over us. People who are witty or clever, the kind we like to repeat, people of reputations, either for holiness or wisdom, or even people we personally admire and respect. The enemy can and will use people (even other believers) to subtly mislead us.

Consider first how we respond to people who have some authority over us, whether the magistrate, our employer, our parents if we are still children, or even our husband if we are a wife. Consider King David's treachery in the matter of Uriah:

Not only had David committed adultery with Uriah's wife Bathsheba while Uriah was away with David's army, but now, because David could cover his sin up no other way, he sends Uriah with a sealed letter to Joab, and written in the letter are instructions that inform Joab that he is to set Uriah up so that Uriah dies. The scroll was sealed, but David had to trust that Uriah wouldn't open the scroll and learn of David's plan. David was counting on Uriah's faithfulness, Uriah's honour and desire to obey his King - it was these noble traits that David used to bring his wicked plan to fruition. I don't think people spend a lot of time thinking about that. I mean, we know it was horrible for David to kill Uriah, and we know it was a betrayal, but putting the orders to kill him into his own hands and sending those order to Joab, knowing and trusting to, Uriah's faithfulness - the wrongness of that stinks worse than any corpse could ever smell. Do you see that Uriah, even should he suspect David, would by no means suspect Joab? I mean, what had Joab to do with any of this? Yet it would be Joab whom David used to bring Uriah to nothing. If David, whom scripture described as the apple of God's eye, was capable, in a pinch, of such betrayal and deception - of using Joab, a man under his own authority, to cause the death of Uriah, who was under Joab's authority - how much more so shall the enemy of God and all His children, use those authorities who stand over us to bring us to nothing?

David didn't just send the message to anyone. He had to consider who had both the authority and the ability to see the job done. So too, our enemy who is far better at this than David could ever hope to be, he chooses his instruments wisely.

Consider the fact that if the enemy can corrupt a pastor or a preacher, get that man to teach a thing that is wrong, or live in a compromised way and so encourage the whole congregation (or at least some good portion) by his own failure, others are sure to fall into line in the wake of his failure, would that not be easier than corrupting individual's one by one?

Again, consider how difficult it would have been for the enemy to sell this generation on the "normalcy" of homosexuality? How much work would it have been to try and convince an entire generation one by one that what has forever been a perversion is not merely a neutral choice? Impossible! Oh, but see how simple it becomes when you need only influence the universities, who in turn put out teachers to influence the children who grow up with the message spoon fed to them that what was previously wicked is not moral and good. A little pressure on the television networks and the cinema, and soon anyone who dares to name a perversion as perverse is labeled a hater, a bigot, and regarded as a narrow minded fool. One generation is all it took.

Can it be that the enemy has ever used any scheme in all of history to such great success? If there is some better way to bring moral decay, I am not aware of it. But should we not expect the enemy to increase in his trade? What creature is perfect? Sure we all can improve upon our best, given time. So the enemy has had all of creation to perfect his art, and he is stronger in it, and more fit in his ways now, then he has ever been before. Do not turn a blind eye, I say, but look full faced into the reality of what is being shared here today. The enemy uses people of power, and authority - the people who have influence in our society. Those people used to be kings, queens, nobles; but today they are the media, and the schools. If the enemy's work is hidden elsewhere, it is almost plain in these areas.

Remember Korah? There was a man of influence. Who are you Moses, to take these things to yourself? I will offer incense also. How many followed Korah in his rebellion - how many men, women, and children did the earth open up and swallow? Yet it was Korah whom they followed - corrupt the man of influence, and you have corrupted as many as will follow him. Corrupt the leader, and the flock will fail.

What King in Judah didn't drag all of Judah after him when he gave his heart over to sin? If a man wants to kill every person in the village, how much easier is it to poison the town well, than to poison each individually? Do you see it? Who will persuade Ahab to go up to war and die? The spirit who lied through the mouth of all Ahab's prophets. When a believer coddles another with regards to their sin, it is the pouring out of water of the first of God. It is crying out "peace peace" when there is no peace.

The enemy uses, to great effect, people who are in authority, and who have influence. Guard yourself against all you hear, be a Berean at all times, and perhaps especially so concerning things said by those whom you admire and trust. Do not assume that because you like/trust/admire someone, that they are never going to say anything wrong. Test all things, and do not let down your guard, for the enemy is not sleeping, but using, and will continue to use - in YOUR life, the very things, and people, and circumstances that have the most sway over you. Parents and children, spouses and friends - and especially television, movies, and "experts" and anyone who has "fans". Be on guard against the blogs you read, the preachers you like, so that in all things you are diligent in retaining the armour of God, bringing it up and keeping it between you and every influence that would entice you.

Be especially on guard when it comes to those people whose humour, intellect, or charm affects you the greatest. How many charismatic speakers have lead whole flocks astray? They have wit, and being clever they dress up the best of worldly wisdom, and sell it as divine. How many health, wealth, and prosperity churches are there? How many word faith congregations? How many are causing men to turn away from eternal life in order to strive for a best life now? How many men treat the pulpit as a stage, and count their followers as fans?

A clever man, when he is corrected, can turn the correction on the corrector. That is what you heard me say, but it is now what I meant to say, or perhaps your correction is valid insofar as you apply it to some narrow picture, but I was speaking to a broader canvas, and in that broader canvas your correction is unfounded. A clever man can turn every error into a misunderstanding, so that he is never wrong, either in his own mind, or in the minds of those who highly regard him. These are perfect vessels for the enemy, for they are already slippery as an eel in hiding their pride behind their intellect, so that instead of growing humble, they grow more proud, having looked upon their natural talents, and mused themselves superior thereby, even as Satan looked upon himself with pride. Such as these serve two purposes for the enemy, first they can long inject error into the body, and so are employed that way by the enemy, and second, should they be found out, then they shall bring shame upon their own talents so that the next man who studies Greek, or theology, or attends a seminar, will be regarded with suspicion, or even outright disdain, on the former one's account.

Have you ever performed slight of hand? Much of the illusion depends on having the observer look in the wrong direction at the right moment. So too, the more clever a speaker is, the easier it is to cover up errors and false teachings with wonderful notions and real truths. They sprinkle so much truth around, that you fail to notice that mixed into it is some corruption. The Judaizers held many truths, but they mixed these truths with errors, so that to some they seemed right, because they were saying a lot of right things - but in practice, these things were mixed with errors - yet such was the power of their persuasion that even Peter was swayed from a proper course by it.

Again the more intelligent or clever a person is, the more likely they will be inclined to justify, by argument, the indulgences of their flesh. They wield worldly wisdom like a surgeon wields a scalpal. Here we have those who argue that evolution and creation are both right - that God created the world through evolution. Here we have those great "thinkers" who will believe that every miracle in scripture has some natural explaination. Oh the parting of the Red sea just happened to coincide with a great cosmic event whereby the planets all lined up just so, and rather than exerting a somewhat mild influence on the tide, instead a gaping maw of water hollowed itself out of the Red sea, coincidentally as Moses happened to be there. Here we find many arguments intended to persuade men using human wisdom - and many go astray thereby.

Then we have those clever ones who have taught themselves to nourish every doctrine that increases their own opinion of themselves. Man is not so depraved, they say, that he cannot turn to God of his own free will. What a high opinion of self? What a low opinion of God! And yet it is pride that feeds such rubbish.

Again it is the clever ones who are more inclined to preach liberty where there is none. Come they say, you need not repent, only believe! Come they say, you need not have a faith that produces good works, all you need is a moment of intellectual assent, and you are eternally secure! These imagine they are preaching Christian liberty, when they are preaching carnal liberty dressed up as a ticket to heaven.

The clever ones, I say, are fitting vessels to the enemies work.

Again, a good decoy is more likely to draw a flock to water, than a bad one. Those who have the reputation of being holy, can easily sway even the godly. How many in the church would sooner hold their tongues than disagree with someone who is regarded as holy? How many in church leadership are glorified yes men - simply taking their cue from someone whom they think is holier than they are? How many Catholics refuse to hear scripture, having their ears so full of tradition and popery? These are used daily of the enemy, for they are fit vessels, are they not? If a man sets his reason aside because he is so in awe of another, then Satan has found a breach or a weakness to exploit.

Finally, the enemy also chooses to work through people close to us. Would Adam have accepted the fruit from Satan's hand, yet it came through Eve's. Consider what would have happened had Nabal showed up with the food instead of Abigail! David would have slaughtered Nabal, but the same food was received by the hand of Abigail. Delilah did more harm to Samson, than the entire Philistine army. Why did Satan spare Job's wife? Surely it is because she was close to Job, and a fit instrument by virtue of her closeness - when she told Job to curse God and die, it would have carried more weight than had any other person said it. Who was it who tempted Christ to avoid the cross? Was it not Peter, one of the three? Would the temptation have been as strong if Satan himself showed up?

You see in all this, I hope, that our enemy employs people against us. They don't have to be his servants, they just need to be influenced at the right moment. You, in your life, have probably been used by the enemy to tempt others to sin. We are not unaware of the workings of the enemy. What I want you to get out of this post, is a certainty that the enemy is at work in your life through people you know and admire, to destroy your faith, and render you useless. I briefly mentioned that he is a strategist, and chooses the season of his temptation wisely, but this post focused on the use of people to move us away from service, joy, and peace.

Perhaps some of you who are reading are already floundering in your walk, lacking peace, assurance, and joy. Plodding on feeling like you're a big failure, and like Christianity doesn't really work. All I can say is that this describes a person who lives their Christian life in such a way as to ignore daily the call to equip ourselves in the armour that the Lord supplies. If you are not wearing the armour of God, you need to. Not just because failing to do so is a sin, and neglecting it day after day is a sin - but also because that is the means by which God intends to protect you against the enemy. It isn't like He has left you naked on the battlefield - He hasn't. He has not only supplied you with a full set of armour, but even commanded you to put it on. It stands to reason that unless you do, the onslaught against you will continue to leave you spiritually crippled.

So read Ephesians, and read it again if you must, and again, and again, Convince yourself that wearing the armour of God is not optional, and learn, if for the first time, that the promises of God hinge on your obedience - if you do not put on the armour you cannot receive the benefits of wearing it.
Have a good Lord's day.


posted by Daniel @ 9:20 PM   2 comment(s)
The Christian Heritage Party of Canada
Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law" - preamble, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982).

Most Canadians remember that in and around 1982 we, as a nation, became in some vague way less dependent on England and her Queen with regards to how we, as a nation, govern ourselves. The average Canadian is by and large ignorant of Canadian history, and especially so when that history is political in content.

The thought expressed in the quoted preamble above, became part of the Canadian Constitution in 1982, but was originally expressed in 1958 as a federal statute: The Canadian Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights received royal assent in 1960 and is still
in effect today. In that bill we read:

"The Parliament of Canada, affirming that the Canadian Nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God, the dignity and worth of the human person and the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions;" - Canadian Bill of Rights, 1960

Because Constitutional rights trump federal statutes in a court of law (i.e. legislative law trumps federal law), it was important to have a constitutional charter of rights, over and above a federal bill of rights, should a matter need to be decided by higher courts (and this was not an uncommon thing). What I want to note here, is that in both the 1960 bill, and in the 1982 Constitutional Amendment acknowledge the supremacy of God as a principle upon which the nation of Canada was founded. These statements were intended to answer the question of authority.
Where did they get the moral authority to say such and such is a human right? The answer is in the preamble: they regarded God as a higher authority than man, and as such, they
conformed (in part at least) their rule of law (with regards to rights and freedoms) to what God says about these matters.

Fact: John Deifenbaker, the primary drafter of the 1960 Bill of Rights, was a Canadian Baptist. I think it is safe to assume that when Deifenbaker wrote about God's supremacy, he was referring to the God of the Christian scriptures. Likewise, in order to defer to God's authority, it must be known what God has said. That is, I expect (and I think it is unreasonable not to think this way) that Deifenbaker, in appealing to God's authority in such moral matters, was appealing to what scripture claims concerning these matters.

What I have done, in case you arn't following closely, is show that the authorial intent of the original drafter of the 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights was to claim the authority of scripture in forming Canadian rights. The text and flow of the 1960 Bill of Rights was transplanted into the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, (though not without some tweaking), and along with it, the roots of that original authorial intent. Which is to say, that if someone wanted to argue that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as included in Part I of the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 looked to the scriptures of the Christian bible for its authority, they would have, at the very least, a leg to stand on.

The Christian Heritage Party of Canada, or the "CHP" as they have recently re-branded themselves, is a Canadian Political Party that makes a lot of this preamble. Consider this from their home page:

The CHP is Canada's only pro-Life, pro-family federal political party, and the only federal party that endorses the principles of the Preamble to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Canadian Constitution,
which says:

"Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law..."

From what I can tell, what they mean by saying this (perhaps I am misreading them) is that they are the only party that recognizes the supremacy of God.

That's awesome, but somewhat of an incomplete/immature thought, though that might be intentional.

Brushing past all the fluff, what is being asserted here is an argument that goes like this: If the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms derives its moral authority from the testimony of God as witnessed in the Christian Scriptures, then this same Charter must uphold the human rights of the unborn.

I think that's a very fair argument - it is saying that you cannot on the one hand appeal to the supremacy of God as your moral authority in these matters, then deny that same Witness by denying rights to the unborn when scripture clearly refers to the unborn as people from the moment of conception.

The reason I say that the thought is a little incomplete, or perhaps just immature, is because it fails to frame itself in the context of what it is really saying. Perhaps the CHP assumes a common knowledge in the reader that
simply isn't there? I don't know. Maybe I am wrongly presuming, but I think that the average reader is going to read that and interpret it to mean that they are [1] calling themselves the only political party that recognizes the supremacy of God, and [2] that this belief in the supremacy of God is in fact part of Canada's collective heritage.

Now, I don't know about you, but when someone speaks to me about my heritage, I am not looking back to things that happened in the tenth grade (1982 for me). I am looking back at the founders of my nation, I am looking back to confederacy under British Rule, and the events that brought us to that. Consider this brief history of religion in Canada. The early colonization of "New France" carried no religious restrictions, Roman Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots) settled side by side, until 1627, when the religious strife threatened to escalate into a civil war. At that time, since the Protestants showed themselves to be less inclined to royal control than the Catholics, no more Protestants were allowed to immigrate to New France (Canada) from France, and so New France remained almost exclusively Catholic until French rule was abolished in 1763 by the conquest of Canada by the British.
At that point, the Catholic only immigration policy was functionally reversed, giving all possible encouragement to the erection of protestant schools and churches to the end that the inhabitants of Canada by induced, by degree, to embrace the protestant religion.

At that time the British offered free land to British loyalist living in the US - and through this, the population of Canada was suddenly inundated with more protestants. In 1792, Parliament of Great Britain passed a Constitutional Act to provide for the administration
of the province of Quebec, which now was home to many British subjects who had fled the US on account of the war of independence. The Act separated the province of Quebec into upper and lower Canada - a division that was primarily a division between English speaking British protestants, and French speaking Roman Catholics, or, as we see it today, between Ontario (British) and Quebec (French).

By 1850, (16 years before confederacy), Most of Canadians were either Catholic or Protestant; By 1867, it would be fair to say, that Canada was a nation that, on the whole, regarded the Christian Bible as authoritative, though higher criticism and Darwinism were
already eroding the notion of God's word as an objective standard.

The question then, when we use a phrase such as Christian Heritage, in the venue of Canadian Policy, we must ask, which Christian Heritage? The Roman Catholic Heritage, or the Protestant Heritage? Are we talking about the low or high ebb of these various heritages? Presumably, since confederation took place in 1867, and because we are talking about Christian heritage, as it pertains to governance and policy in Canada, it seems reasonable to conclude that we are talking about British Protestantism. Given that the first six Prime Ministers were all Protestants, I think our conclusion is demonstrated to be true.

Why the boring history lesson? The lesson is to say that I am aware that Canada does have a Christian Heritage; I am aware that those who eventually confederated this nation were Protestants (what we would call "Evangelical Christians" today), and that if we are going to talk about Canada's Christian Heritage, we are likely going to be talking about what influence
Evangelical thought had in forming the policies and governance of Canada.

When we speak of the US founding fathers, we are speaking of actual founding fathers. There was a war of independence that ended with a group of people having to define themselves apart from any previous definition. The founding fathers of the US had to form a government from scratch, inheriting nothing, even as they innovated and borrowed according to whatever wisdom and light they had at the time. Canada however did not have a war of independence. Our government was not formed by the people who originally governed us. When Canada was confederated, we inherited a system of government from our (then) sovereign nation Britain. It wasn't as if we a group of men, mostly Christians, sat down and newly invented a form of government that drew from their own (mostly)
Christian faith and morality.

To be sure the 1689 English Bill of Rights, does not draw its authority from God, but rather from the throne of England. That means that when the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms looks to the supremacy of God, it isn't following the traditions that founded our nation, but in introducing a new tradition, ostensibly injected into the Canadian mainstream by Deifenbaker, though assented to by the Queen, in the 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights.

So why all that?

Well, when I read the front page of the CHP website, I find the equating of their policy to my Christian heritage a bit misleading. They represent their platform as though there was some
political Christian heritage that previously set the matter in antiquity, and present themselves as clinging alone to what was, and is in danger of being lost. When in reality they seem to simply be a Christian party, with a narrow agenda, co-opting one line in a
very recent Constitutional Amendment for the sake of painting their agenda as [1] Christian, and [2] historical, as though Christianity itself was our heritage, and not the recent amendment preamble upon which the door of their platform appears to be swinging.

Having said all that, this is a very small, politically insignificant party. I doubt there is anyone in the party whom I would consider more conservative or biblical in their views than most of the people in my own congregation. But having flipped through their platform, it seems at once pie-in-the-sky, and childish; lacking both vision and direction while sending the entirety of their being into orbit around the idea that people are people at the moment of conception because the God of the Christian scriptures says so.

Don't get me wrong - I believe that life begins at the moment of conception, and this agrees entirely with what God has said. The weight of God's word on the heart of a believer should be enough to satisfy any doubt, but truly, one need not be a believer in God, or a respecter of God's word to see that scripture is only stating what is patently true. From the moment of conception a human life is formed and grows. I believe that. And I likewise believe in the supremacy of God, and that any moral decision I will make in my life must agree with the objective morality reflected in the God of the Christian scriptures. If I were a politician, I would vote according to this same objective moral standard - because I am a Christian first, and everything else second.

What then, is my beef? Well, one of the reasons the Christian Heritage Party of Canada, rebranded themselves as the CHP is because they were experiencing some negative feedback for having the word "Christian" in their name. I don't get the sense that this party is ashamed of the name of Christ, so I don't believe they removed the name out of a desire to distance themselves from Christ's name - but rather that the name suggested the party was a ... well... a partywhose main focus was restoring a lost Christian Heritage.

The trouble was, that the idea of Christian Heritage ends up being an all to thin facade for their all Christian anti-abortion platform. Rather than change their name to match their agenda, they instead hid their name behind a three letter acronym style branding - and someone honestly thought, somewhere, that this was going to correct the floundering party image.

If you want to be a member of the party, you have to sign your name to a declaration that says that you believe that the preamble in the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms is referring to the "God of the Bible" when it says, the "supremacy of God".

Think that through for a second.

Simon is a Jew. His bible is the old Testament. Maybe its just the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament)
Sue is a Mormon. Her bible is the 66 books of the Protestant Canon, plus the book of Mormon.
Zach is a Jehovah's Witness. His bible is the JW-sanitized "new world translation" plus everything ever printed by the Watchtower Society.
John is a Catholic. His bible is the 66 books of the Protestant Canon, plus seven others.
Jim is of the Greek Orthodox faith, his bible has the the 66 books of the Protestant Canon, plus twelve more
Jane, a Baptist, has only 66 books in her bible.
Mohamed is a Muslim. His bible is the Qu'ran.

When the Jew says that he believes that the supremacy of God is referring to the God of the Torah, he means that it is Not referring to Jesus.

When the Muslim says that he believes that the supremacy of God is referring to the God of the Qu'ran, he means that it is not the God of the Jews, or Jesus.

When the Jehovah's Witness says that he believes that the supremacy of God is referring to the God of Watchtower, he likewise does not mean Jesus, for Jesus is just (according to him) the angel Michael

When the Catholic/Evangelical/Orthodox says that he believes that the supremacy of God is referring to the God of the bible, they mean the God of their own bible, and only according to their own interpretation.

How then, can anyone, in good conscience, become a member of this party? Anyone who could say that the preamble to the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms is referring to the God of the "Bible", and not believe that some bible is true would be a hypocrite; so rules out all non-believers of any faith, except for the hypocrites. And anyone of any kind of faith who is willing to make a very open ended and highly ambiguous declaration concerning their faith, demonstrates that they are either so entirely liberal and ecumenical as to make no distinctions between what one person calls the bible, and what another calls the bible - or they are so undiscerning as to not notice that there is a distinction. The bottom line is that the only people who can become members are hypocrites, liberal ecumenicals, and the undiscerning and/or ignorant.

Now, why would anyone vote for someone like that?

The point of my post is not to draw attention to this however. I am sure that many of the party members are good, principled, morally upright, Christians, who probably find the whole thing as poorly thought out as it seems, but are willing to work with it for the greater good.

No, the point of my post is that I don't think this party even knows who it is trying to be. Its platform, though well meaning, seems immature, even naive. It presents itself under the cloak of Christian heritage, but really it means that little bit of heritage we have picked up in the last few decades, at least insofar as it pertains to policies concerning the unborn. In a word, the party doesn't seem comfortable in its own skin - as if it isn't sure who it is or whom it is supposed to be.

I mean, I think they haven't really decided how to get my vote. Do you appeal to the fact that you are a Christian? Do we appeal to your desire to abolish abortion? Do you try to combine those two? Do we appeal to your desire to wag whole dog of the Canadian Constitution by the tale of its one sentence preamble? What is it?

I honestly couldn't see myself voting for this party as it sits. Their platform seems to me to be a collection of ideas, some of which have merit, but none of which seem well thought out. There is certainly a morally conservative angle, but this at the unnecessary expense of a narrowness in both scope and mind.

This being my blog, I am at liberty to offer my opinion on these things in broad sense, without qualifying it - since it is only my opinion. Yet it all comes down to this for me. When I heard that the Christian Heritage Party was changing their name, I thought, to myself, of all the things they needed to change, the name was probably the least important. They need to figure out who they are going to be, and stop trying to be ten other things at the same time. When they finally figure that out, then they can pick a name that makes sense.

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posted by Daniel @ 2:19 PM   13 comment(s)
Thursday, April 22, 2010
In Your Face Matt!
That's right. It's Thursday, a mere six days since my last post!

I don't really have anything to post though, so I will tell you I got a good chuckle out of this.

Discuss it amongst yourselves.
posted by Daniel @ 2:52 PM   5 comment(s)
Friday, April 16, 2010
Righteousness vs. Righteousness, etc.
I must assume, for brevity's sake, that your theology recognizes Christ's own righteousness as the sole (and therefore only) grounds upon which you stand justified before God. I will pause here however, at the outset, to spend a moment making sure you understand the chicken/egg, or rather, the horse/cart relationship between righteousness and obedience.

Whatever righteousness is, it certainly is linked in some way to God's will. We might say that God is perfectly obedient to His own will, and in this way define His obedience to His own will as righteousness. For many people that would be a sufficient definition of righteousness; especially given how well that kind of definition lends itself to scale: Righteousness, they would say, is produced by obeying God's will.

Yet that puts the cart of obedience before the horse of righteousness, so that a person produced new righteousness through present acts of obedience. The truth is that a state of righteousness is not, and cannot be, produced by any number of righteous acts. We cannot reclaim perfection by acts of righteousness subsequent to the fall anymore than we can reclaim virginity by and through abstinence. Thus obedience does not produce righteousness; yet obedience - the kind that is described as worshipping in spirit and in truth - can flow from real righteousness, though not from any righteousness that originates in ourselves.

Consider Jesus. He didn't become righteous by obeying the law of Moses. The reason Jesus obeyed the law of Moses was because Jesus was righteous. That is what righteousness produces: obedience. If it were the other way around, if obedience produced righteousness, then Jesus, during the incarnation, was without righteousness until such time as He could comprehend and obey the world of God. The idea that our unchanging Lord lacked righteousness for a time is, of course, absurd. Jesus never experienced a lack of righteousness, not prior to, during, or following the incarnation - and He never will. He had always been righteous and it was on account of this self existent righteousness that Christ obeyed. His obedience revealed the fact that He was righteous, just as our disobedience reveals that we are not.

Can I restate that last point in a way that might help to put the fact that Christ was righteous into a biblical context? The fact that Jesus was the only righteous man who had ever been born (Adam wasn't born) revealed that Jesus alone was the Messiah. His righteousness proved it. The opposite is also true, and worthy of note: the fact that we are not righteous shows that we are not the Messiah. The law of Moses is the tutor that teaches us who the Messiah is. He is the one who can keep the Law of Moses. The law is the tutor that brings us to Christ, first in that it identifies the Christ, and secondly in that it identifies us as in need of Christ, since it proves to us that we our selves are not righteous. Even if we could keep the law from now until the day we die, it would not undo our current state of unrighteousness.

I mention this because the quick point I hope to make in this post has to do with the distinction between [a] being right with God in Christ, and [b] what we would commonly call acts of righteousness.

Let me give you an example using the virginity/abstinence model again: A widowed mother determines that she will not remarry after the death of her spouse. She raises the children she has without remarrying, and thereby lives a life of perfect celibacy. Does/Can her rigid and perfect celibacy restore her virginity? Unless you are trying to make points in a liberal university for how soft-hearted and tenderly kind you are (not to mention how fluffy and air-headed your thinking tends to be) you are going to answer that no, celibacy cannot restore a person to a state of virginity. In this same way, no righteous act can restore a state of righteousness.

That single truth is foundational to a right understanding of sanctification, by the way.

The person who doesn't understand the relationship between [i] a state of righteousness, and [ii] their own acts of righteousness, will often fall into the error of meritorious works. These may try to "be righteous" in order to recapture (by "righteous" acts of merit) God's favor. In fact, they may well regard sanctification as simply doing things that are "righteous", for the sake of staying in God's good books. People that fall into this error conclude that you become more sanctified as you force yourself to greater and greater acts of righteousness.

Of course in practice few (if any) every progress very far on that road. They try, they fail, they try again, they fail again, and then they start to get used to failure, so they don't bother trying as hard. Then they feel guilty, so then they try really, really hard, maybe even recommitting themselves to Christ, and "getting serious" with all their failure - only to fail at that too (eventually). They continue (usually) until the despondency of their unending failure becomes sufficient to convince them that they are either [1] not Christians, or [2] that God can't (or won't) help them. Either way they make a shipwreck of what they originally were given.

Back to our opening thought for a moment...

What a right thinking believer refers to "his righteousness" is not actually his own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ that is his through his having been crucified with Christ, having died with Christ, and most importantly, having been raised with Christ. He is a recipient of Christ's righteousness - the same righteousness from which Christ's own acts of obedience flowed, becomes the well from which the believer's acts of righteousness flow. The believer does not merely have Christ's righteousness put to my account for the sake of a justified standing before God - but the believer has access to the Christ's own righteousness through so strong a union that even death was not able to break it. For the believer became a partaker of Christ's own righteousness through faith, and more than having this same righteousness accounted to him, the believer has this righteousness through the union described in Romans six as a baptism into Christ, a union whereby we received the life and righteousness of Christ directly (in the person of the Holy Spirit) who then indwells us and moves us to act in accord with His own righteousness.

I want to be clear about what that means. It means that I am not personally righteous apart from the righteousness of Christ. Succinctly stated: I am not righteous at all (in and of myself), nor do I (or can I) become righteous by engaging in the doing works that are themselves considered righteous. That may confuse some people, but it is true never-the-less. Doing something righteous does not impart righteousness to us.

Here then is the doctrine of righteousness: I am a partaker of Christ's own eternal righteousness, and this by faith, and not by any works of righteousness that I might do. If a work I do is a genuinely righteous work, the work itself does not imbue me with righteousness, nor does the righteous deed flow from my own personal righteousness - but the work flows from Christ who is in me through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and it flows from His righteousness that I have become both [a] a recipient of, and [b] am a vehicle for.

While this is an entirely true accounting of the nature of truly righteous deeds (and when I say "truly righteous" deeds I mean those deeds that flow from Christ's own righteousness and not from any inherent personal righteousness that I might imagine myself to possess.), yet it does not account for those acts that we or anyone else might do, as a personal act of charity or goodness.

Is it Christ who is at work in the Muslim/Buddhist/Atheist/non-Christian who feeds the poor? Is this not simply an adherence to a false religion or moral framework? Don't these people simply believe, deep down, that their adherence to these acts of charity/kindness/goodness increase their odds of a better afterlife, or maybe even just a better reputation in this one? We don't want to confuse acts of self preservation or self promotion - acts that ultimately flow from selfishness, for acts that flow from Christ's own righteousness.

Each of us, regardless of our religion or lack thereof, is inclined by our fallen nature, to serve our own best interests. If we imagine that doing good will produce for us a better afterlife, or that doing evil will secure us a worse one, doesn't it stand to reason that we choose to respond to sense of self preservation or self interest that we will at the very least limit our evil, and attempt to perform (at the very least) some few pacifying "good" deeds? Few people think that deeply about their own motivations. They live in a world where good and evil are defined not by their motivations, but by the act itself. This sort of naivety is as pervasive as it is unchallenged. We might even call it common knowledge.

Self preservation/interest is the underlaying motivation for every single "good" act performed by anyone outside of Christ. That is what Isaiah means when he says that even our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. No one, Christian or otherwise, can do a good work in and of themselves - every such act performed outside of Christ is an act of selfishness dressed up as something better. Whether it benefits someone else or not, whether it is big or little - the outcome of the act does not define whether it is righteous or not - but the heart that it flowed from does. Every wise person puts away money for their retirement. No one enjoys living in the moment with less, but we are willing to do so in order to avoid living without in our old age. Many are willing to do good and forsake evil today because doing so is like putting away something for their future afterlife. Others may benefit from their self preserving efforts, but it is their own comfort which is the ultimate motivation, and not the comfort of others. That is the moral economic that drives every false religion. That's "karma" - do unto others in order to secure the best afterlife for yourself...

The problem with that formula is that it rests upon the flawed idea that we become righteous by doing things that in and of themselves are universally considered righteous: taking in orphans, feeding the poor, etc.. in fact, most of what passes for righteousness today is really just deceitful fruit that grows from our own self service or self preservation.

But this post isn't intended to define the difference between truly righteous acts and those self serving acts that only seem selfless. This post is concerned instead with the subtle distinction between our being righteous, and our doing deeds that flow from that righteousness.

If we think our righteousness is being generated by, or maintained by good works (i.e. righteous deeds), then we not only [a] misunderstand our own righteousness (for we have none in and of our selves, and look only to Christ's righteousness which we are partakers of by faith), but we [b] misunderstand works of righteousness altogether.

I said earlier that a right understanding of this distinction is required for a right understanding of our sanctification. Some are taught that the moment they sin they fall out of a righteous standing, and into an unrighteous one. This is just bad theology, but I fear that needs some qualification...

God doesn't abandon the believer the moment the believer sins. The Spirit of Christ within that believer remains within that believer according to the promise given in the new covenant - God does not leave us, God does not forsake us, but continues to work that same work in us that drew us to Him when we were yet unsaved.

Some cannot accept such a thought without qualifying it in such a way as to make it mean almost the opposite of what they say. I am talking about those who use the language of "broken fellowship". Theses make a distinction between [1] our status as God's children (which they would defend with all their strength as being impeccable, unbreachable, and eternally secure no matter what) and [2] our "fellowship" which they would argue is severed the moment we sin.

Severed fellowship? ...huh??

I know this will shock some of you who have been swallowing this pabulum since the cradle, but I have to say, I think this is a wrong-headed (albeit, well meaning) teaching.

Listen: When my conscience is quiet within me, and I am walking in obedience, I am at peace with my conscience, and so are you. That is what the language of scripture tells us to expect - that is what is supposed to be our personal experience according to God's word. I know (from scripture) that knowingly transcending my conscience not only sears it, but grieves the Holy Spirit within me; but God doesn't walk away from His work in me at this point. God doesn't stand suddenly aloof in His work in me on account of my transgression; neither does He withhold His blessings from me. The story of the prodigal son doesn't have the father leaving the son... When I sin, I lose the joy of my salvation until such time as I repent of my sin. You who are the Lord's and have sinned know by your own witness that this is true.

Some people describe the feelings that are associated with having sinned - the guilt etc. - as experiencing a "broken fellowship" between themselves and God. I understand what they are trying to describe, or at least I understand what the first person who ever used that phrase probably meant. He was describing the sensation of guilt that Satan uses to keep the sinning believer from getting off the ground, where he has fallen on his face, and continuing on in trusting in God. That is the language of severance and separation - the language of the sheep being singled out and separated from the flock - the language of hopelessness and despair. You are out of fellowship with God! Your sin has severed God's love for you! You are unclean and dirty, a hypocrite and a false believer. You don't deserve to be called God's child. You are false and phoney, and until and unless you can prove otherwise, God wants nothing more to do with you. You are out of fellowship.

It is bad enough that our enemy is so well versed in this attack, but he has the most unlikely accomplices in those who are in the church, for many a Joe-has-been-a-Christian-for-years not only falls on his face under that assault, but then becomes a unwitting soldier in the enemies army in promoting this propaganda to others. This one uses the language of broken fellowship to teach that God sets aside those who stumble until such time as they "make things right".

When I first became a believer, I wondered at all the wonders of Christian-ese. God told this person such and such, and showed another this and that. This guy over here is out of fellowship with God, etc. etc. I thought people were hearing voices, seeing things, and experiencing some sort of tangible mystical union that I, for all my fervor, had never known. Surely there was something lacking in my faith, lacking in my walk, lacking in my zeal. The harder I tried to apprehend these wonderful experiences, the more convinced I became that either something was entirely wrong with my faith, or something was entirely wrong with my understanding of these things.

In time I came to see that these people weren't hearing voices - at least not the rational ones. Likewise, God wasn't showing people things visually and in person, this was just the language they adopted so that every intuition they felt (or heartburn for that matter) was explained as being spiritual significant. Many did all kinds of wacky and unbiblical things in the name of these ... er.. passions. They pursued these experiences, and believed their imaginations even when doing so led them to believe that God was directing them to do things that were inexcusably contrary to His word.

I threw all that in the trash early on in my walk of faith - trusting that the same God whose careful stewardship over His eternal commands ended in a book that hasn't changed one jot or tittle over the course of millennia - that is, the same God who went out of His way, as it were, to make sure that His truth came to mankind objectively, and without a shadow of turning (if you will), could not possibly be the God of intuitive, subjective, spiritisms. We are told to test the spirits, and I find the "spirit" of interpreting my own intuition came up lacking.

Yet I held onto the notion of "broken fellowship" for a long time, since I knew that when I purposely and willfully set aside obedience in favor of entertaining some temptation, that I felt absolutely awful, and full of shame, and far, far, away from God. I was told that this was the conviction of the Holy Spirit - but it wasn't conviction I was feeling, it was condemnation.

Do you want to know when the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin? He convicts you before you do it. I marvel that people go to such elaborate lengths to try and articulate the difference between Holy Spirit conviction, and Satanic accusation. Listen: The Holy Spirit convicts you up front: "don't do this, it is a sin" that's Holy Spirit conviction. It works in concert with your conscience, assuming you haven't entirely seared it into deadness. Once you have sinned, then the enemy accuses you. You are not a real believer, you are not God's child, God doesn't love you, God won't forgive you, you alone must atone for your transgression some way, you must so mourn over your sin that God knows you're really, really sorry - and until you do, don't expect to have any fellowship with God!

Hear this: The Holy Spirit, after you sin, is the voice of reconciliation. It is the Holy Spirit who continues to draw you to God even in the onslaught of these accusations. It is the Holy Spirit that comforts you in the mire of your sin, who (through scripture) reminds you that you are God's child and -that- through faith. While the enemy works to devour you, the Holy Spirit continues to draw you to God, just as He was drawing you to God prior to your sin. Notice I don't say that the Holy Spirit is drawing you "back" to God, as though God has gone somewhere. God didn't go anywhere, and His work in you didn't come to a halt just because you fell on your face on the battlefield. All that has happened is that you have served your own flesh instead of God, and in doing so, denied yourself peace and joy. You have become the prodigal son, who has taken all that God gives, and tried to enjoy it apart from Him. He hasn't turned away, but you are trying to take what He gives of Himself, and enjoy it in a vacuum.

I could go on and on (and I am sure my friend David Kjos will testify that I have been doing that for the past ten paragraphs... Thanks David), but the notion of broken fellowship is grossly exaggerated in many congregations, and even out right wrong-headed in some. When a person has this kind of thinking, they embark on trying to "get right" with God, in order to restore this mystical fellowship, that apparently is brokered through their own obedience, or worse, emotional state, or subsequent ability to re-remind themselves that they are acceptable to God in, and only in, Christ.

Thus their sanctification suffers for it, since they are constantly falling flat on their sinful faces, and taking forever to convince themselves that they are back in God's good book, only to once again fall on their face at the next "big" temptation.

Having thought about this problem for many years now, and again, from many angles, I think people fall into this sort thing because they are on some level convinced that the things they do will form the reality of their faith, rather than understanding that it is the reality of their faith that is supposed to form the things they do.

My wife always wants me to take anything I teach, and then reduce it to some practical thing that people can do. I suppose one way to put such a teaching into practice is to ask yourself why you are doing whatever it is you are doing that you regard to be spiritual. Are you going to church this Sunday because you feel that if you don't God will disown you? Are you sharing the gospel this week because you know that if you don't, that probably means you aren't really a Christian? Are you putting the toilet lid down after you use the John because that's just what a good Christian does? Ask yourself why you do what you do, and compare that against the thought that you do what you do, not to make God like you, or to pacify Him, or to satisfy Him, or to stave off His wrath, but rather because [1] you are convinced from scripture that it is the right thing to do, and [2] you know that this conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit in you. Relish in your obedience - not because it makes God like you, but because when you look deep enough into yourself (and are God's child) you will remember that you actually love God; and being biblically literal - you will remember that you only love Him because He first loved you.

If I don't stop there, this post will get too long, and I will not post it, so I will pick it up in the meta if there is anything unclear or weird sounding in what I have written

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posted by Daniel @ 11:55 AM   10 comment(s)
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Friday Thoughts
John Piper invites Rick Warren
I would love it if Rick Warren's interest in Jonathan Edwards was just the first fruits of a profound turning away from pragmatism, and I would love it if John Piper has been the first to see this turning in Rick Warren, and is only giving Rick the platform to put what God is doing in his life on display. My temptation however is to imagine that Warren has hoodwinked Piper by capitalizing on Piper's well known respect for Edwards, which is in itself a judgment against Piper's discernment. I think it wiser not judge these things before their time.

The iPad™
I think the iPad™ would be awesome for preaching (in place of paper notes) or in place of sheet music (it would fit nice on the music stand), and maybe for watching streaming media (audio is another story); but other than these things, I see it as too underpowered for serious use, and to overpowered (and over priced) for trivial use. I'll pass.

Free healthcare comes at a price. In Canada we routinely wait months to undergo certain tests that can be had over the border on a walk in basis. The reason for this is that in a free market, demand drives the supply. Government healthcare does not (and cannot) respond quickly or adequately to demand, since health spending becomes a budget balancing issue - which ends up being a political issue; which in turn ends up being just one of several competing election issues. My word for the Americans? Good luck with that.

I hate that word. I prefer "Resurrection Sunday". Easter is a secular celebration of chocolate, eggs, and bunnies; and if I may, superficiality.

Together For The Gospel
Man oh man. I wish I were going. Not so much because I want to hear the messages in person, as I can hear them downloaded; but because I know the time will be God centered, and rich with fellowship. There are a lot of people I would like to meet in person, and frankly, I love that kind of stuff.

Aborted Post
As some of you may have noticed this post was a little "off" when I first posted it. In particular it said nothing, and even the title made no sense being incomplete. Sadly I didn't notice it until today.

Briefly, I was going to write something polemic regarding the notion that Jesus' death atoned for everyone. In particular I was going to look at the way that understanding, when followed to it's natural conclusion, results in people going to hell, not because they are sinners who deserve hell, but rather because they "reject Jesus' offer of salvation". I wanted to show that the idea that Jesus died for everyone is not only unbiblical, but also incoherent. Because if Jesus paid for everyones sins already, God could not justly send anyone to hell for their sins. In order to overcome this truth, a new reason for going to hell has to be invented, then projected into our theology - and that reason is because men "reject" Jesus. Of course that doesn't answer the problem of men who never heard about Jesus, but hey, if you're going to be persuaded by something that is incoherent and unbiblical, you are already on your way to believing whatever feels right to you anyway.

Perhaps I will pick up on that thought again sometime.

Thought for the Day
Deuteronomy 8:16-18 says that God "...fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.' You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day." [ESV]

Here is what I want you to remember; that the day of your spiritual triumph is actually the day of God's grace. That if you are looking back to some time when things were more spiritual, you are not looking back to a time when you were stronger by your own might, but rather to a time where God blessed you with strength. The first mistake we make is to imagine it is our own zeal that has put us where we are, or put us where we were, or will put us where we want to be. A right understanding humbles you, and turns to God in thanksgiving for what was provided, rather than crying out that it isn't enough, or worse, getting puffed up by your present spiritual "success".


posted by Daniel @ 7:28 AM   5 comment(s)
Thursday, April 01, 2010
I Like The Music!
Every city has a few of them: the big church.

You know the one. On a scale of one to ten, the fluff factor is eleven? The main pastor is slightly off theologically on almost every doctrine in the bible, except for those doctrines where he is actually way, way off. It doesn't really matter to the congregation, because most of them come to the church for the show anyway. The great majority of the congregation "love" their church, yet few of them could name five other people in their congregation (excluding those who speak into the microphones).

The lobby has a bookstore and a coffee shop, and a windows that overlook a landscaped scene; there is plenty of open floor space, and comfortable furniture, and the color scheme changes every three years "just because". Everything about the church screams "success" and "money" - and not surprisingly that is the main theme of most of the sermons.

Every Sunday is a performance, and weekly programs bring in all sorts of cool and interesting people. Do you have marriage problems? Sure you do! Those who don't are either not married or in denial. Why not come to see our guest expert on marriages? We will bring in people who love God, and have them speak alongside people who are little more than liberal feel-good psychologists, set them in the same venue, and you can take home whichever teaching works for you.

You got family problems? Not to worry, we will get in some "experts" from whatever is popular, and slap them on the stage next week. In fact, we will have an ongoing "ministry" on the side, consisting largely of musical concerts and popular speakers speaking on popular topics. It's a religious smorgasbord because that is what brings in the crowds.

You know, it is easy to be polemic about this sort of schlock, and it is easy to solicit the proverbial "amens" when you speak out against it, because we all know people who think that that is Christianity, or that that is church. We all watch people we wish we could convince otherwise, continue on year after year, giving their money and attention to this dog and pony show, and lament the stalled and empty faith that refuses to grow in the light of such a facade.

It is a head shaking, gut turning thing.

Scripture says their will be wolves in sheeps clothing, my prayer is that some of these lupine pastors would grow real wool, and that the flock of God would be less fleeced by the same.

Rant over.
posted by Daniel @ 2:25 PM   5 comment(s)
Five Years is long enough.
Well, as you can see from my side bar, I have now blogged at doulogos.blogspot.com for five full years. In that time I have written close to a thousand articles.

But five years is long enough. I have been putting this off for some time now, but I think it is high time I shut 'er down.

It has been great blogging here, and I plan to leave the blog up for a while, but this is going to be my final post.

Five years. It was a good run.

Thanks for all the fish.

UPDATE: This makes a good Maunday Thursday read: Did Jesus really...?
posted by Daniel @ 7:38 AM   5 comment(s)
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