Friday, October 31, 2008

Prove It

The following question was asked on a recent discussion forum: "How would you "specifically" prove the God of the Bible exists? " Here are my thoughts:

Several verses come to mind with this question:

Rom 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them: for God hath shewed it unto them.
Job 11:7 Canst thou by searching find out God?

Utilizing a musical metaphor, there seems to be, according to the Romans 1 verse a resonant "God Chord" within man that if generally revealed truth be followed without corrupting, it would lead one to at least discover the "eternal power and Godhead" of God.(vs 20). And of course when the truth of God’s general revelation is encountered that resonant chord within begins to vibrate to the tune of "Holy, Holy, Holy" and unconverted man then begins to run as fast and as far as he can from this truth. So it seems to me that to try to "prove" that the God of the Bible exists is a futile effort from the outset. The answer to the Job verse is, of course...No! God must reveal Himself to be the God of the Bible. And....."Amazing Grace"....He does just that!

William Dembski writes in the introduction of his book MERE CREATION: "To say intelligent causes are empirically detectable is to say there exists well-defined methods that, on the basis of observational features of the world, are capable of reliably distinguishing intelligent causes from undirected natural causes." He goes on to say..."Intelligent design detects intelligence without speculating about the nature of the intelligence"

Man even runs away from the truth of "intelligent design" which doesn’t even attempt to identify the designer. Rom 1:20 "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen...." Man wants no part of, even, an unidentified "intelligent designer" even if empirically detectable.

But to the one for whom you would desire to prove that the "God of the Bible exists.." you pray for that one, you preach the Word and be prepared in season and out.. that: "...the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto (that one) the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:.." Eph 1:17 and then you can say to that one with Paul, "And you hath he quickened who was dead in trespasses and sins:.." Eph 2:1 It is truly by GRACE that we are saved!

Then...he needs no proof...Christ says to him " I was made manifest to them that asked not after me". Rom 10:20b I KNOW whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able...." II Tim 1:12

This question could be the basis of a good sermon, by a good preacher, or, at least, a good song:

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;
it was not I that found, O Savior true;
no, I was found of thee.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Here Come ‘Da Judge

Twice this week the phrase, "judge not", was commended to me by two unrelated sources. The first from a friend advocating an aberrant theology and the second in a news story regarding a political hopeful in a Florida congressional race. Now, I will admit that the first was stated on a humorous note..from the self proclaimed Pastor and only congregant of "The Church of Dynamic Pragmatism" whatever that is..however, the second from a political hopeful who has been caught in a sex scandal who won his seat in 2006 against an opponent that was caught in a sex scandal. Hypocrisy abounds, unlimited by political ideology.

This warning comes from Matthew Chapter 7:1. "Judge not, that you be not judged." Just what does this mean? I have heard it used as a command to not question erroneous theologians and defective theology, to advocating tolerance of all deviant behaviors. "Judge not"...rolls glibly off the tongue in this age of tolerance, supposedly as a loving and caring statement against insensitivity.

When the context of this particular command is examined it becomes readily apparent that this is a prohibition against individual hypocritical condemnation that may in the end result in the exposure and condemnation of one’s own faults. The passage continues.. "For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you." This is in essence saying what has become the common jargon of our day: "Be careful what you say and do because what goes around comes around." I’ll bet you didn’t know you were paraphrasing scripture with that adage. This reminds me of the Baskin-Robbins Bible verse. Yes, they have built an ice cream empire on the principles found in Matthew chapter 7 and elsewhere. How so? Have you ever gone into a Baskin-Robbins store and ordered a quart of ice cream? It is a thing of beauty to watch the clerk fill the container with ice cream. The closest description I can relate to you is found in Luke 6:38. It is lovingly packed "...good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over." I’ve dubbed that the Baskin-Robbins verse. They can really pack some kinda’ ice cream! And..they ain’t stingy with the product. They live out the statement "...with what measure you use it will be measured to you".

"Judge not".. does not mean, do not attempt to discern truth from error; it does not mean, do not analyze the situation to determine good from evil; it does not mean, do not decide if one is a true prophet or a false prophet. In verse 15 Jesus says beware of "false prophets" it can’t mean do not attempt to ascertain the truth of a matter. In 1 John 4:1 we are admonished to "try the spirits, whether they are of God"

So...what DOES it mean? In essence, I believe, it means (in modern jargon) do not attempt to take the law into your own hands. Just as an individual is not permitted to declare war against another nation, which is a government’s prerogative, so also an individual is not permitted to utilize the "keys of the kingdom" which have been given to the Church. The judgment, which is spoken of in Matthew 7, is a judgment of condemnation. In other words, in passing judgment, one has taken on the responsibility of "Judge, Jury and Executioner". Jesus said in Mt 16:19 "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." This is the discipline that is necessary in the Church, but to be administered only by those officers so ordained. The individuals first responsibility is one of self-judgment. Then, he is able, not to condemn his brother, but, to help him see the error that may have crept into his understanding. (remove the piece of 2x4 out of your own eye...then you can see to help your brother with his sawdust)

"The marks by which the true Church is known are these: If the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in chastening of sin; in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself." Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 29

What happens when the Church abdicates it’s responsibility to "judge" righteously? That’s a whole ‘nother blog!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

....I put away childish things.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXI Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day
V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,[17] the sound preaching [18] and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence,[19]....... which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.[26]
17. Luke 4:16-17; Acts 15:21; Col. 4:16; I Thess. 5:27; Rev. 1:3
18. II Tim. 4:2; Acts 5:42
26. Heb. 12:28

H/T: Hannah

Thursday, October 16, 2008

An Open Door?

My wife and I once visited a large church in the inner city. The building was probably constructed in the early 1900’s and was a magnificent Gothic structure. It was called the "Church of the Open Door". Evidently we somehow became confused regarding service times. We saw no one entering the church and therefore we were not sure about the main entrance to the sanctuary. We tried the nearest door and it was locked. We went on a little further and found another door and it was also locked. We turned the corner and found another door. Guess what? Locked! Finally we found a door that opened into the vestibule and we made our way to the back of the sanctuary as services had already begun. Even though this was a thriving inner city church, it seemed not a little ironic to us that we had trouble finding an open door at "The Church of the Open Door".

There was another church way back in the first century that may have been called "The Church of the Closed Door". This was the church at Laodicea. We see in Rev 3:20 that Christ is on the outside, knocking. The door was not was locked. What had happened? It appears that they had "property" they needed nothing else. They said "I am rich and increased with "property" that as long as I have "property" and I have the keys to the "property", I have need of nothing else". What else happened? They had forgotten their mission! Or perhaps they had re-defined their mission. Maybe the "great commission" actually meant something other than preaching the pure gospel and making disciples of all nations. Perhaps it may have some political overtones and undertones...a concentration on the systems that would promote "human liberation".

Whatever it was it garnered the rebuke.." I will spue thee out of my mouth". They said.. "because I am rich and have property and hymnals and pews, vestments and endowments....I need nothing else!" The answer came back in stark reality..."you don’t know that in actuality you are miserable, wretched, blind, and naked. Buy from me pure vestments and riches that will last for eternity. I have the medicine for your eyes...that you may truly see. Repent. Repent!" True riches come by way of repentance. For the church to regain it’s’s vision, it must repent. To fill once again those emptying pews, it must repent.
The alternative is to be spued out of His mouth. "Behold I stand at the door and knock..."

This first century story has an eerily familiar ring to it!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An Imperishable Inheritance

This past week has particularly driven home the point that the silver and gold of this world is a perishable item. Most of the items we buy at the super market provide a date beyond which a particular item may be of questionable use. As the stock market lost nearly 1800 points this week we are reminded that perhaps our silver and gold, 401k’s, IRA,s also have a perishable date or a date of diminished value.

I sent the following e-mail to a friend this week:

"I took what little money I had in the stock market in my IRA and converted from stocks to a money market fund. What this means is that the market was just waiting for me to take my little hit and get out. Now the market can recover fine. I think I may have been like Jonah on the boat to that they threw me overboard there will be smooth sailing for the rest of you. Buy, buy, buy! I have been swallowed by the big fish."

His reply: "I wish you had done that a month ago, Jonah.....we’d all been better off!"

The market seemed to react as though the world was coming to an end. I heard one wag on TV say that "the world seldom comes to an just sit tight"

Peter reminds us that we have a pipeline to the true riches. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (I Pet 1:3-5)

We can truly give thanks to our great God and Savior, even in times like these, that we were "not redeemed by corruptible things...but by the precious blood of Christ." This is the "Imperishable Inheritance", that fadeth not away..reserved in heaven for you!