Wednesday, October 28, 2009

not faith in faith, but faith in Christ

Been thinking about my salvation in Christ, and more specifically about justification by faith.

The reformation underscored that we don't trust our own works for salvation, but it must be maintained that neither do we trust in faith, as if faith is something of merit.
Solus Christus comes before sola fide.

Oswald Chambers said it well in today's My Utmost For His Highest:

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:10)

I am not saved by believing; I realize I am saved by believing. It is not repentance that saves me, repentance is the sign that I realize what God has done in Christ Jesus. The danger is to put the emphasis on the effect instead of on the cause. It is my obedience that puts me right with God, my consecration. Never! I am put right with God because prior to all, Christ died. When I turn to God and by belief accept what God reveals I can accept, instantly the stupendous Atonement of Jesus Christ rushes me into a right relationship with God; and by the supernatural miracle of God's grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, not because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done. The Spirit of God brings it with a breaking, all-over light, and I know, though I do not know how, that I am saved.

The salvation of God does not stand on human logic, it stands on the sacrificial Death of Jesus. We can be born again because of the Atonement of Our Lord. Sinful men and women can be changed into new creatures, not by their repentance or their belief, but by the marvellous work of God in Christ Jesus which is prior to all experience. The impregnable safety of justification and sanctification is God Himself. We have not to work out these things ourselves; they have been worked out by the Atonement. The supernatural becomes natural by the miracle of God; there is the realization of what Jesus Christ has already done - "It is finished."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ageism (like Logan's Run?)

The assignment for one of my kids was to clip pictures from magazines which showed people in all stages of life.

Problem: no old people.

Now, these were not magazines like Vanity Fair or Vogue, where you would expect only beautiful people. These were magazines like Family Fun, Southern Living, and Better Homes and Gardens.

Where are the older people? There were a few, but they looked... well, good for their age. Nice weight, trim, youngish, still jogging. That is, old-er with a touch of gray and a glass of wine.

Are we so enamored with youth and beauty that we are afraid to publish pictures of people in wheelchairs or with walkers? (Thank you, UP!) I'm reminded of the old movie, Logan's Run, where everyone over 30 is expected to pass out of existence. They just disappear, leaving the world young and beautiful.

Now that I'm a grandparent I am becoming more aware of ageism. I'm thankful that where I am, in a college town, I still get many requests to mentor students and young adults.

This to me is one of the hallmarks of the work of the Holy Spirit in the new covenant, that the generations love one another and relate well together. Think of the baby Jesus bringing blessing, and being blessed by, two older saints, Anna and Simeon (Luke 2).

Consider these passages:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. (Joel 2:28-29)

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. (Malachi 4:6)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children... (Titus 2:3-4)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Modern FPs not usually from U.S.

I prefer collecting and restoring vintage fountain pens (which began when I inherited my grandfather's pens). Most of these are U.S.-made, such as Parker, Sheaffer, Conklin, and Wahl-Eversharp.

Not many fountain pens are made in the U.S. anymore, except by smaller,
specialty pen-makers, like Bexley and Edison.

Here are a few of my modern fountain pens, mainly from other countries:

From the left:
  • Hero 100 (Chinese)
  • Parker 45 (UK)
  • Sheaffer Balance II (US)
  • Haolilai 801 (Chinese)
  • Pelikan Technixx (German)
  • Aurora Ipsilon (Italian)
  • Pelikan m250 (German)
  • Waterman Kultur (French)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Receiving the Nobel Peace prize

I was totally surprised to hear our president being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. For what accomplishment? Not that he won't one day deserve it, who knows? But I agree with the assessment given by Ross Douthat in this New York Times Op-Ed...

Here was a place to draw a clean line between himself and all the overzealous Obamaphiles, at home and abroad, who poured their post-Christian, post-Marxist yearnings into the vessel of his 2008 campaign.

Here was a chance to establish himself, definitively, as an American president — too self-confident to accept an unearned accolade, and too instinctively democratic to go along with European humbug.

He didn’t take it. Instead, he took the Nobel Peace Prize.

Big mistake.

And Douthat's conclusion...

.... the prize leaves Obama more open to ridicule. It confirms, as a defining narrative of his presidency, the gap between his supporters’ cloud-cuckoo-land expectations and the inevitable disappointments of reality. It dovetails perfectly with the recent “Saturday Night Live” sketch in which he was depicted boasting about a year’s worth of nonaccomplishments. And it revives and ratifies John McCain’s only successful campaign gambit — his portrayal of Obama as “the world’s biggest celebrity,” famous more for being famous than for any concrete political accomplishment.

Great achievements may still await our Nobel president. If Obama goes from strength to strength, then this travesty will be remembered as a footnote to his administration, rather than a defining moment.

But by accepting the prize, he’s made failure, if and when it comes, that much more embarrassing and difficult to bear.

Friday, October 9, 2009

God's rivals, as it were

"See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them."

(Deuteronomy 30:15-20 ESV)

“While God’s people can choose to do wrong in any number of ways—sin comes in many forms—the choice we face basically boils down to two ways to live: we can bow down to the one true God or we can bow down to other gods, or idols. … Not only is our decision to choose God personal to us, it is personally significant toward God. He regards our choices and our sins quite personally. Whatever the particulars when you sin you serve an idol; you serve someone or something other than God. And this is a personal affront to God. … At the root, sin is basically not trusting God. And idols are the focus of this mistrust. They are God’s rivals, as it were, for the hearts of his people. To make the point even more sharply, the Bible will refer to idolatry as spiritual unfaithfulness and adultery.”

(Mark Dever, The Message
of the Old Testament: Promises Made, p. 165)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The case for the deity of Christ

Jesus replied, "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."

"You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!"

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I AM!"

At this, they picked up stones to stone him.

(John 8:55-59 NIV)
Outline and quotes from David's sermon last Sunday:

1. The Importance of the Doctrine

a. It is central to Christian faith.

b. The fact that Jesus Christ is God distinguishes Christianity from other major religions

c. If Jesus was not God, than His death had no special significance, and we are still the objects of God’s

d. If Jesus was not God, than He is not coming back again to establish His kingdom.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.

(From the Nicene Creed, AD 325)

2. The Scriptural Evidence (Col 1:15-20)

3. The Claims of Christ.

a) The egocentric character of Christ’s teaching. (John 8:12; 11:25-26; Luke 4:20, 21 [quoting Isa 61:1, 2])

b) Jesus’ direct claims (John 8:55-59; 10:29-30; 20:26-29)

c) His indirect claims (Mark 2:5-12; John 5:21-23; 8:12; 9:1-7; 11:25-26,

4. The Character of Christ. (1 Peter 1:19-20; 2:22; John 8
:46; Matt 26:59-66)

"It is we [in our generation] who have pared the claws of the lion of Judah... He was emphatically not a dull man in His human life-time. It has been left to later generations to muffle up that shattering personality...
The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused Him of being a bore — on the contrary, they thought Him too dynamic to be safe." (Dorothy Sayers, author and playwright )

"It is difficult enough for anyone, even a consummate master of imaginative writing, to create a picture of a deeply pure, good person, moving… in an impure environment, without making Him a… prude or a sort of plaster saint. How is it that, through all the Gospel traditions [we find a]… firmly-drawn portrait of an attractive young man moving freely among women of all sorts, including the decidedly disreputable, without a trace of sentimentality, unnaturalness, or prudery and yet, at every point, maintaining a simple integrity of character?" (C.F.D. Moule, The Phenomenon of the New Testament, 1967, pp. 63-64)

"As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene....No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life." (Albert Einstein, physicist, 1879-1955)

5. The Resurrection of Christ

a. The tomb was empty

b. Jesus was seen by many. (1 Cor. 15:3-8)

c. The disciples were changed.

“How was it possible that his disciples, who by no means excelled in intelligence, eloquence, or strength of faith, were able to bring their victorious march of conversion .. after the shattering fiasco on Golgotha. In other words: How did it nevertheless come about that the adherents of Jesus were able to conquer this most horrible of all disappointments? There can be only one explanation for the transformation of a rabble of peasants, shepherds, and fishermen, frightened, scattered, and demoralized, hiding from the authorities, denying their leader, into the zealous and remarkably successful missionaries who took Christianity to the nations of the world. Between Good Friday and the end of Easter Sunday, something happened. What was it? The resurrection of Jesus from the dead.” (Pinchas Lapide, 1922-1997, Jewish scholar and diplomat.)
6. Conclusions.

This presents us with a clear set of choices about who Jesus is:

--He was a liar. He was just pretending to be God, but he was not. But this is not consistent with his teaching on truth and on love.

--He was deluded lunatic. But this does not agree with the balance and sanity of his teaching

--He was and is who he claimed to be, the Lord, the Son of God.

"I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him, 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the sort of thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or He would be the devil of hell. You must make a choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 55-56.)

a. Because Jesus is God, His death enormous significance, and those who trust in Him are no longer the objects of God’s wrath.

b. Because Jesus is God, then we must live for Him.

c. Because Jesus is God, then He is coming back again to establish His kingdom.

"There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin,
He only could unlock the gate
of heaven and let us in." (children's hymn)

“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16-17 NIV)
Full sermon available here.

Recommended reading: Basic Christianity by John Stott.