Friday, December 27, 2013

Final Tabletalk Thoughts

I'm off to North Georgia for the week, so I will leave this blog with thoughts from the last 4 articles in December's Tabletalk.

"The Story We Share" by J.D. Bridges
Anyone describing a square would give different answers, but to be correct, they would all have to mention its four equal sides and four perpendicular corners.  In the same way, many people describe Christianity differently, but to describe it correctly, it must include the gospel: the birth, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus.  It must speak of salvation by Christ alone through grace alone and faith alone.  And seriously, it needs to believe the Bible like a child.

"Against the Law" by Mark Jones
Antinomianism is creeping into the church.  It is a gross corruption of Reformed theology that teaches that since justification is by faith alone, then people do not have to work to be sanctified.  Seriously people, if your life does not match Christ's more and more, you have not been justified no matter how much good theology you know.  "A robust doctrine of the union with Christ provides the best antidote to antinomianism."  As justified believers, we are united with Christ in the church, therefore, he will naturally train us to conform more to him as we leave behind our past lives of sin.  In John 15, Christ is clear that if you love him, you keep his commandments.

Interview with Joel Beeke
This man makes me wish I had more time to study the puritan writings.  The more I read about them, the more I feel like I'm a puritan.  "God illuminated the Reformers to rediscover fundamental biblical truths about salvation and worship.  The Puritans wedded vibrant spirituality to a rich, Bible-based theology."  I so dream of helping lead people to not just know that Jesus saves, but to live their lives reflecting that.

I love Beeke's three misconceptions about Puritans.  1)They were legalists.  Truth: they had detailed instructions on how to live well, but they gloried in Jesus's grace as their all-in-all.  2)They hunted witches.  Truth: from 1692 to 1693, courts in Massachusetts did kill about 24 people accused of witchcraft.  However, many Puritans wrote against their methods and helped bring a stop to these trials.  3)They were prudes.  Truth:  The forbade sex outside of marriage, but within marriage, it is a wonderful thing to be cherished.  It cultivates their friendship and their romance.  In fact, if people liked each other enough to marry, they encouraged them to marry quickly so that they would not fall to temptation.

"Is the Enemy of my Enemy Really my Friend?" by Al Mohler
It is true.  We unite against many people to fight moral evils such as abortion, cheapening love through sex and gay marriage, and trying to defend traditional families.  I will work alongside anyone to stop abortion and to see pregnancy as a gift, not a curse.  To help people see their situations differently.

However, because of significant religious differences, I cannot consider myself to be a spiritual sister to some of these people.  Some may support good morals.  Some may even correctly believe in Christ's deity.  However, because our definitions of the gospel are so different, we cannot come together until we are united under salvation that looks to Jesus and only Jesus.  A salvation that does not seek restitution with God through penance or through a mediator knowing that Jesus is our only priest, mediator, and the only one that gave the perfect penance for us.  Until then, I simply consider pro-life ministry as a ministry not just to unwed mothers or mothers who feel like it is a bad time to be pregnant.  It is also a ministry to each other and a hope that Christ will lead us all to unity in him before long.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Blame it upon a rush of blood to the head

The song in my head tonight is "Rush of Blood to the Head" by Coldplay.  "I'm going to buy a gun and start a war If you can tell me something worth fighting for."

What do I find worth fighting for?  The Gospel.  Unborn children.  Since God is the definition of both love and life, it is worth fighting to defend his standards for the sanctity of life and for love and marriage.  Stuff like this is worth ending friendships and being called naive.

Do I find Duck Dynasty worth fighting for?  Yes and no.  I'm sure I have nothing against the show, I have just never been interested, and it bothers me how kooky LifeWay is for anyone who even mentions God in a positive way.  Aside from doctrinal differences from these ducks, I am just not a fan of someone taking Jesus and making him simply a part of southern culture.  It creates what RC Sproul calls henotheism - a belief in a deity based on geography.

At the same time, I find opposing such a perversion of what is otherwise beautiful love for a friend and making it sexual something worth fighting for.  People are free to insist on their right to have marital relations with someone of the same gender as them, but in their liberation, true love is not freely expressed.  I could not intensely love some woman and truly care for her like a sister without the world seeing it as perverted. 

Then again, A&E never expressed belief in the true God and his Christ.  I am not shocked that they suspended Phil as much as I'm shocked that they are shocked.  I'm also wondering with the Bible saying that we will suffer as Jesus did, why the Christians are so shocked that this is happening and not rejoicing that they get to suffer with Christ and then look forward to heaven.

I think mostly, this is still a fight over whether America is the promised land or not.  I think it's mostly between A&E and DD, so it's not my fight.  But I also oppose the cheapening of both intense love and the Gospel and reducing them just sexual obligation and southern culture, respectively.  However, I will gladly support what I believe if I have to lose my job or even go to jail.  I support the side of Christ as the Son of God and the only one worthy to judge sin.  And I totally support Phil for telling the unpopular truth and hope that I can do the same except for avoiding unnecessarily crude language.

Friday, December 20, 2013

El Nino 2: Break with Rome

When last I blogged about church history, I had given a synopsis of Martin Luther's life up until that Halloween when he nailed the 95 theses to the Wittenberg door.  How he was raised in fear of the God of the Bible because he could never satisfy his own guilt with the many acts of penance that he performed.  Finally, he read Romans, and he met Jesus for the first time, the one who paid the perfect penance on our behalf, and began to follow him.

When Johann Tetzel began selling papal indulgences in Germany and people bought them without truly repenting, he finally had enough and nailed 95 Theses to the church door.  The same 95 Theses that are mostly very much Catholic and in support of the Pope, but which call the Church to reexamine its practices.

Whatever the reaction, Tetzel worked to silence Luther.  At first the Reformation was labelled a "squabble of monks."  The thing is, people began agreeing with Luther.  He debated at Heidelberg in 1518.  Martin Bucer accepted his ideas.  Philip Melanchthon came to teach Greek at Wittenberg.  If Luther was the Moses of the Reformation, then Melanchthon was his Joshua.  He was an equal face in the struggle with Luther, and often better at communicating.

At this point, if there was a debate brewing, or even a war, the authority for Luther would not be the pope or the church.  His only authority would be the Bible.  Cardinal Cajetan first met Luther at the Diet of Augsburg to get Luther to recant his views.  Luther refused to recant unless he could be convinced by Scripture of his fault.

After that, Luther wrote three pamphlets.

The Address to the German Nobility concerned authority.  Rome at the time, claimed spiritual authority with only the pope able to interpret Scripture.  Luther used Scripture to demolish this ego of the church trying to upstage Jesus.

Babylonian Captivity is where Luther began to attack the central beliefs of Rome -- mainly the Sacraments.  Rome believed that the priesthood distributed the sacraments.  Luther argued that Baptism and the Lord's Supper were the only sacraments instituted by Jesus and that only he can distribute the means of grace in them.

The Freedom of the Christian Man explained that all people in the church are priests.  They all have access to God the Father through Christ's intercession.  They can all interpret Scripture and come to God with only Jesus as their priest.

In June 1520, Leo X excommunicated Luther in a papal bull and burned his works at Cologne.  Luther proceeded to burn the papal bull on December 10, 1520.  Luther got called to testify at the Diet of Worms, to see if he would recant.  He was promised safe passage, but he also remembered the promise not kept to Jan Hus and was very frightened.  In fact, Luther requested another 48 hours to form a reply.  But finally he said, "unless I am convinced by the Scriptures that I am wrong, I will not go against my conscience.  Here I stand, I can do no other.  So help me God!"  His friends then staged a kidnapping and took him to Wartburg Castle where he lived until 1522.  The "Holy" Roman Emperor ordered that his books be banned, which of course will make people read them all the more.

Looking at the church today, I still lean on Luther's three pamphlets as the reason I cannot come back to Rome.  I can fight abortion with them, celebrate Christmas with them, and love them until it hurts, but I cannot come back to the church as it is a false church.  It has never recanted its insistence that the Pope sits in Christ's seat and not Christ himself, its insistence that God can change his mind simply because the Pope made a new decision.  It refuses to see that Christ is the distributer of the sacraments and gives to whom he elects to give.  Christ alone made the perfect penance and we go on his righteousness credited to us.  And after centuries of Christ not being the center of the Church, now they deny that he's even necessary for salvation, continuing their own excommunication.

Gladly, I see Christ slowly bringing up back together, but we still cannot have peace under what is not the truth, what is not Christ.  Christ must be center, and not church hierarchy.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The millennium and Perelandra

December Tabletalk's articles are on the millennium.  The magazine covered end times in the first issue I received from them in January 2012.  I personally get tired of the different end times discussions because so many of the books sold at LifeWay are of the dispensational persuasion, and people usually by them because they want to have a good supernatural thrill.  They don't really seek to worship Christ or anticipate his coming (most of the ones I see at least).

Setting that aside, I still follow the amillennial perspective.  With a plain reading of Scripture, that is what I see.  When Jesus returns, all evil will be over forever.  There won't be a thousand years with Satan still breathing.  This whole church age is the millennium and Satan is out now, and Christ is coming soon to avenge us of him.  Also, Israel and the Church are not separate entities.  They are one in Christ.  The Church is the completion of Israel.  So it would make no sense for the Jewish people to have a different ending from the rest of us.

But whatever the perspective, whether amillennial (more accurately called now-millennial) or dispie, true believers all wait for Christ to come and deliver us from having to see so much evil in the world.  And at Christmas time, we are grateful that he came as a person and defeated Satan's power over his people.

That brings me to Perelandra, the second book in C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy.  I love C.S. Lewis as a best friend and excellent writer.  I appreciate the Space Trilogy and it's theological conversations.  Perelandra makes me want to tear my hair out.  Lewis will go through 10 pages about nothing more than what the character Ransom is pondering at the time.  He is on the planet Venus, aka, Perelandra, and all descriptions of that planet sound hyper-sexual, and it is clear Ransom at least feels like sex is only made for procreation and not for pleasure, which is completely wrong.  Granted, whatever God has in heaven for us will be way more pleasurable and fulfilling.  However, before we get there, sex really is the greatest joy when performed correctly within marriage between a man and woman.  In fact, it's clean, glorious, and even appropriate.

When the book has a plot line, Ransom is exploring Venus, finds a green lady who is the Eve for that planet, and he prevents her from sinning the way that Eve did on earth.  After that, the green lady and her man become King and Queen.  Then I bizarre ceremony occurs with all the angels, eldila in the books, the guardian angels for both Mars and Venus, called oyarsa, the the King and Queen who are also now considered oyarsa on Venus.  They have such an elevated status now, that I wonder, if Adam and Eve had never sinned, would they be ruling the world?  Would Christ have come to save us?

I am sad that the world has so much evil, but I'm actually glad that we did not end up like Perelandra.  Adam and Eve sinned, and so we all need someone to live a perfect life for us and then take the punishment for our sins since he won't be punished forever having lived perfectly.  We would be so much less if Christ did not come to rescue our planet.  Even worse, we would possibly be elevated to God status and then sin because now we consider ourselves to be gods.  Lewis needed to invent a world where they would still need Jesus even though Ransom saved them from sinning, because it is no good for mankind to be exalted the way they exalt the King and Queen on Venus in that book.  It is so disturbing.

The moral of this story is I'm going to finish the first few pages of the book and then start reading the Narnia books again for theology that I know is good.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas with Justin Martyr and Trypho

This is for sections 31-40 of Justin's dialogue with Trypho.  It would probably be more appropriate for Hanukkah since that is going on and Trypho is still Jewish without believing in the Messiah.

Since Advent has started, there have been sermons at CBC about Christmas.  It was about all the gifts we receive from the Lord at Christmas.  His believers receive salvation from God's wrath.  They have strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.  Also, they are to share this gift.

I could see myself asking a group of kids what they truly receive at Christmas in its true meaning.  I can see them raising their hands and saying all that I said in the previous paragraph.  Then I would be like, there's one thing your missing.  If you don't have this, you don't have salvation.  Without this, you don't have strength for today or hope for tomorrow.  In fact, you have no reason to live or sing God's praises.  That missing thing is the only gift that matters: Jesus.  There is no heaven without him, no salvation without him, and no strength or hope in our troubled times.  He is the only reason I can keep going.

Justin is still debating Trypho.  Christ's first coming was great.  His second advent will be so much greater as he shall come on the clouds as the Son of Man and the angels will be with him.  It will be frightening and amazing at the same time.

Trypho still does not get it.  Christ's life on earth was dishonorable and inglorious.  He was even crucified.  There was nothing glorious in that.
Justin insists that if the prophecies had not plainly said that he would be unattractive, would suffer God's wrath on the cross, and that he would be utterly unrecognizable as the Messiah, then Justin's words would be dubious.  However, the Jewish prophets are clear that this will be the case.  Justin tells Trypho that in his first advent, Jesus was pierced by Trypho and his people.  In the second advent, Trypho shall know whom he has pierced and his tribes will mourn.

Apparently, the Jews took obviously Messianic prophecies and applied them to certain Jewish kings.  For example, they took Psalm 110 and applied it to Hezekiah.  This is absolutely wrong.  The psalm itself says that this special person will be priest forever.  Hezekiah died and did not last forever.  Jesus the Christ rose from the dead and will reign forever.  Like Melchizedek, he was the priest of the uncircumcision that Abraham made offerings to.  He's going to unite both Abraham's seed and those just adopted into the family.

The Jews thought that Psalm 72 applied to Solomon, whose faults Christians shudder at.  "The law of the Lord is perfect."  The perfect law is the one given after Moses.  God would establish a new law and a new covenant given through an everlasting king.  Not only did Solomon die, but he let his heart be led away to idols by all the women he married.  Jesus's heart is only for God's glory and did not get distracted.  And he did not stay dead.  Christ's worshipers in the Gentiles would sooner die than worship any idol.

Trypho then tries the old, tired tactic of pointing to all the professing believers who do worship idols.  Jesus said that they would come.  There would be people who claim Christ but who do not know him at all and will deceive people.  Matthew 7:15, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves."

Trypho wants him to prove it.  Justin quotes the psalm, "Who is the King of glory?"  You can tell that he is the King of glory because he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.  Justin can prove that from all the other psalms.

Trypho, a Jew, is very offended by this and should stay away from the Christians who utter blasphemies.  Sadly, Justin replies that God's wisdom is hidden from guys like Trypho or else they would understand.  Justin is not surprised that the Jews hate him.  Those who are wise in their own eyes are foolish and honor God only with lips.  Unless they are convinced that Jesus is the real deal, they will stay away from him for fear of persecution.

Lastly, Justin points to the Passover Lamb.  The mystery of the passover Lamb was a type of Christ.  Christ is the mystery and he has been solved.  He was sacrificed at Jerusalem in the same way that the Lamb was sacrificed.  And, that is the gift we have at Christmas.  It is so much more solid than hope and strength.  Salvation is tangible and complete.