Calvinism’s Self-Esteem

Reading a book on Willpower, the ability to control one’s self. Willpower’s history is traced first, showing its emphasis in Victorian culture, which was a result of Enlightenment thinking.

Victorian morality was based not on religion, but on human superiority, the ability to conquer/control. Willpower was its main virtue. This continued until Nazi Germany used willpower as a propaganda tool. 1934’s propaganda film, Triumph of the Will was used to get Germans to obey their dictator.

It worked great and became the downfall of celebrating willpower! Self-help books of the 50’s and 60’s stressed positive thinking and how to win friends by smiling. This led to the 70’s and into modern psychology’s self-esteem movement.

So, here we are, a people who feel great about ourselves and yet have no self-control resulting in horrible morals, horrendous spending habits, colossal debt and mental illness.

Modern psychologists have even argued that “the legal system must be revamped to eliminate outdated notions of free will and responsibility.”

Bringing me to my point–perhaps the recent surge in Calvinism is nothing more than the self-esteem movement corrupting theology to its own ends? I by no means am casting all Calvinists as immoral, un-self-controlled people.

But anytime a theology or belief becomes dominant, odds are it is held by most for insincere reasons. Self-esteem and Calvinism could go together.

1) Everything I do gives God glory, even sin, since every molecule of creation is doing God’s will.
2) God chose me for no purpose but His own, therefore I must be pretty special in His eyes, certainly more special than the majority who are not elect.
3) Calvinists write long books. Long books on the bookshelf make you look more smarterer than others.
4) I went to John Piper’s church once.
5) God can’t condemn what He has ordained, therefore everything I do is God’s will and awesome.
6) God made me do it, it wasn’t me! I’m just a hapless victim of God’s will.

Granted, any theology can be warped to promote self-esteem, Calvinists would have no monopoly. But the lack of free will and thus responsibility play into self-esteem thinking well. Self-esteem promotes no free will, someone else made me mess up, everyone is a victim of an overriding impulse.

Is there a true connection? Since God ordained it all, it doesn’t really matter, I’m awesome and esteemed for having pointed it out and am also fulfilling God’s ordained will for this post! I’m God’s chosen vessel for writing snarky anti-Calvinist posts on self-esteem. That’s pretty awesome. Rock on.

The Church, Republicans and Gay Marriage

“It’s been one of the swiftest shifts in ideology and strategy for Republicans,  as they’ve come nearly full circle on same-sex politics.

“What was once a  front-and-center issue for rank-and-file Republicans — the subject of many hotly  worded House and Senate floor speeches — is virtually a dead issue, as  Republicans in Congress don’t care to have gay marriage litigated in the  Capitol.

“Even more than that, Republican leadership has evolved, too. It has quietly  worked behind the scenes to kill amendments that reaffirm opposition to same-sex unions.”

Yet the Church continues to look to Washington to solve these issues.

Willpower, Cats and Finding God

From the book Willpower, which you should read:

“One mess at a time is all you can handle. Two messes at a time, you’re screwed. You may want to find God, but if you’re running low on cat food, you better make a plan for dealing with it. Otherwise the cat food is going to take a whole lot more attention and keep you from finding God.”

Wow, is that simplistically true. I have oft said that the reason people don’t deal with their spiritual health is because they don’t get a regular bill for it. I can list many who skip church for work, a precious few who skip work for church.

One of the simplest trappings of Satan is to use cat food to keep us from God. Which, again, supports my bias that no one should have cats.

Reformed Theology and Heaven

One thing that bothers me about the Reformed/Calvinist downplaying of eschatology is that it has a tendency then to downplay heaven. I do not mean that Calvinists don’t believe in heaven, or that heaven isn’t a desire of theirs, again it’s a matter of emphasis practically speaking.

“Hell” shows up in the index to Calvin’s Institutes, “heaven” does not. Calvin has one chapter on eternal life “Meditating on the Future Life.” It’s five pages long and the first section has the subtitle “The design of God in afflicting his people.” The Institutes is over 1,400 pages. He does mention heaven in it, but not enough for the index I guess.

William Shedd’s (main theologian of the American Presbyterian church and a Calvinist) Dogmatic Theology, over 900 pages long, has two pages on heaven and 87 pages on eternal punishment!

John Blunt’s Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology doesn’t even have “heaven” as a subject in it.

When eschatology is a minor part of your theology, heaven diminishes. Not only is this logical, it seems to play out in reality.

I won’t mind being proven wrong that Reformed/Calvinist theologians emphasize heaven, I hope they do, I just don’t see it. Again, not saying Calvinists don’t have a desire for heaven, I’m just making observations.

What’s the best Calvinist/Reformed book on heaven? I’d like to read it.

Pepsi Denies You are Drinking Aborted Babies

Seriously.

“PepsiCo does not conduct or fund research, including research performed by third parties, that utilizes any human tissue or cell lines derived from embryos or fetuses. We clearly communicate this in our Responsible Research Statement on our website,” Mr. Dahncke’s statement said. “Any research funded by PepsiCo and conducted by Senomyx for PepsiCo must abide by this responsible research statement.”

Pepsi has been under boycott from pro-life groups since last year. “pro-life advocate Debi Vinnedge called the PepsiCo denial ‘pure deception.'”

This reminds me of the Ryan Braun drama. Who to believe? Perhaps 1 Corinthians 10 applies here, “whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.”

Reformed Theology and Eschatology

Many Calvinists hold to a belief in an earthly Kingdom, a Millennium, whereas John Calvin himself denied such a thing and stuck with the Catholic line of reasoning on eschatology.

Today Calvinism means “predestination” and that’s about it. Applying the “Calvinist” label broadly will eliminate many claimants of Calvinism.

Reformed or Calvinist eschatology is pretty weak, this is even admitted by Calvinist teachers and authors, including the grat one himself, Charles Hodge, who at the end of his Systematic Theology, basically says he doesn’t know much about eschatology so he’ll just review historical views of it (first paragraph of this link).

That’s fine, he can write on what he knows. It is interesting that the one subject he does not feel qualified to write on is eschatology, though.

Reformed eschatology is pretty much non-existent, which is why there isn’t much on it. The primary reason for this is that Reformed eschatology views most, if not all, prophetic passages as allegorical or figurative, which means they don’t mean what they say.

Passages that don’t mean what they say are by nature quite difficult to deal with! If they don’t mean what they say, what do you say about them, other than, “this doesn’t mean what it says”?

Reformed Theology has pretty much the same eschatology as the Catholic Church. Catholicism was threatened by a Jewish Kingdom, which was a partial cause of such things as the Crusades.

Catholicism and its Vatican desired to be the Kingdom of God on earth, therefore they had no need for another one. All passages speaking of a Jewish Davidic Kingdom are allegory. Reformed Theology keeps this idea alive today.

Reformed Theology’s eschatology, as far as I can grasp it, says: Christ comes back and it’s good and stuff.

That’s pretty much it. That being the case, I guess there would be no need for books about it, but it sure seems like a let down. Are there any good Reformed books on eschatology? I’d like to read it. Let me know.

Entertaining Bible Prophecy

I have found that a good source of entertainment is to read books on Bible prophecy written at least 40 years ago. I will admit that I have a very dull life and very low standards of entertainment though.

I recently read a book (from my stack of books I have to read) on Bible prophecy that made me laugh several times. Ah, good times, good times.

First was when they said the verse talking about exiles coming back to Jerusalem on eagle’s wings was referring to Jewish exiles flying on airplanes back to Israel in the 60’s.

Second, every prophecy was fulfilled by the Soviet Union. As you may recall, a funny thing happened to the Soviet Union on the way here from the 1970’s.

Third, there is no mention of Islam in anything, whereas Islam is now the bogey man of prophecy in the modern versions of prophecy books.

Fourth, it’s just funny.

In sum, I mostly agree with this author’s take on things, but I disagree with the intent to find fulfillment to prophecies in the news as such. Sure, there may be general trends, but to nail it down as a nation or a person or a mode of transportation when so much can change so quickly, just makes Bible prophecy look stupid.

I fear that books like this are not read for their entertainment value but rather as a way to discredit prophecy and those who study it. That is unfortunate.

But alas, others misfortune often makes the best entertainment.

Reading Piled up Theology Books

I have a goal for this year of reading all the books that are stacked on one of my shelves. When I bring a book into my house it goes on this shelf. If no new books are capturing my attention, I go to this shelf and get a book to read.

Problem is that my stacks have been accumulating and the cream has risen to the top, so all I have left are a bunch of books I’ve determined for years I have no interest in reading.

One assumes that upon their arrival in my home I had an interest in reading them, but alas, the interest died quickly, the books sit and now I have two stacks of non-interest books doing nothing.

If I make it a goal I know I’ll do it, that’s how I roll. That’s also why I don’t make many goals!

Anyway, I’m plowing through these books, some of which have been interesting, others, well, I’m still trying to recall when I thought reading “The Birth of Tragedy” by Friedrich Nietzsche would be interesting.

That was a toughy for me. I started reading that book three times before finally finishing it. I have no idea what it was about. Something to do with tragedy plays and Greek guys and something.

One thing I can detect is my theological interests and growth through the years. Books that would have appealed to me in previous years no longer appeal to me. Others I had no interest in, now intrigue me.

Here are some of the books from my stack I’ve recently read and my thoughts on them:

A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson. Took me a year to read this one. It was OK, but his use of scripture references were misleading, which is a pet peeve of mine. I also don’t like his Calvinism. I gave it a 6 on a ten point scale.

Dispensationalism by Lewis Sperry Chafer. This book nearly killed me. I didn’t like it one bit. I see it is one of the few Chafer books not in print leading me to believe many others didn’t like it either. I’m a dispensationalist and I thought this was dreadful. Barely got a 4.

The Voice of the Devil by G. Campbell Morgan. This was a typical Morgan book. Says fine things in fine ways. In this one he says fine things about Satan in fine ways. Gave it a 6.

Jews, Gentiles and the Church by David Larsen. I liked this book. I gave it a 7. It’s about Jews, Gentiles and the Church.

Anger by Gary Chapman. I tell ya what, I never struggled with anger as much as I did reading this dreadful psycho-garbage book pretending to be Christian. No use for it. Made me mad. Gave it a 5.

Those are some of the highlights, which really aint all that high. I push on. Hoping to make it through another book soon after I’m done writing this. It’ll be lucky to get a 6. Goodness.

Chariots of Fire

The Bible mentions chariots of fire several times. These are some sort of angelic charioteers driving flaming chariots, which would be quite the sight!

The Bible’s chariots of fire should not be confused with movies about olympic running, incidentally. It is not the movie version of the book.

You are probably familiar with the two main appearances of chariots of fire

1) Elijah’s flaming equine rapture–2 Kings 2:11
2) Elisha’s servant gets an eye-full–2 Kings 6:17

But the Bible speaks of another appearance of flaming chariots we don’t hear about. Check it out:

The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands; The Lord is among them as at Sinai, in holiness.”

Granted, this passage does not say the chariots are on fire, but one can safely assume they are, or at least are easily ignited!

Perhaps the thunder at Sinai was the myriad of chariots. Perhaps the Mount shook because of them. Our God is a consuming fire. I look forward to the day when we will see all the created beings in their glory.

I await being blown away by a flaming chariot.

Salvation Means You’ll Do Good Works

Titus 2:14 says that Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

The purpose of salvation is to redeem and purify a people who have a burning desire to do good works.

Is God strong enough to save and yet not strong enough to produce the point of salvation? Many believe just that and conclude that good works are optional at best, destructive at worst because they lead to works righteousness.

To me, good works are what salvation is all about for the believer who isn’t physically dead. We were created in Christ Jesus to do them. The Bible is to be studied so we are perfected unto good works.

To me that’s more than obvious. So, here’s the question: If the point of salvation is to redeem and purify a people who burn with desire to do good works, if you are one who has little or no desire to do good works, are you saved?

“Throw Them All Out,” Cronyism and Christianity

I am a government objector, not sure what the right term is for the guy who doesn’t vote and tries not to care about government, but that’s what I am.

Some Christians think I’m horrible for not voting and caring, but for me, it’s what I have to do to stay untangled from the affairs of this world, plus I think I can make a biblical case for it, which is why I do it (more coming on this in the future).

Recently I read, Throw Them All Out: How politicians and their friends get rich off insider stock tips, land deals, and cronyism that would send the rest of us to prison.”

Why does a guy who abstains from voting and caring about government read this book? Because it backs up my point: vote for whomever you wish, they’re all basically the same.

I want to avoid making a generalization, like saying all baseball players are on the juice, but still paint with as broad a brush as applies.

As an American, you should read this book to see what’s up. He details how laws are passed, handouts are made and politicians grow their portfolios through it all. He gives names, facts, numbers and sources of both parties.

Basically, Washington DC is entirely corrupt and the rich get richer as the rich and government are increasingly the same people. This is modern-day injustice and eventually oppression.

What should the Christians’ response be? Voting won’t cut it as history shows no one is immune. Assassination is against God’s law. Moving to Quebec is just chilly.

To me the answer is what the Bible says: pray for them and let God sort it out. The wicked prosper down here, they get their earthly reward they are working for, but ultimately God decides and His decisions last for eternity.

I know, this is akin to throwing in the towel to believers since we know prayer doesn’t work. But what we need in this country is not different politicians, we need the Gospel to transform lives. We need the Kingdom to come.

It’s the only answer and always will be the only answer. Never look to men to solve the problems of men.

Stuff I Looked at Today

* How Limited Atonement and Universalism share the same doctrinal foundation. Or, Why is John Calvin praised and Rob Bell a heretic?

* A pastor’s wife shares why she and her husband remain in the church despite the struggles. Best reason: “I believe that 2000 years of church history holds a bit more weight than my personal experience.”

* An atheist who demonstrated against a nativity scene has fallen on rough health. The group sponsoring his despised nativity scene has given him $400 to help him out.

 

Satan and Your Mouth

Satan, the word, means “adversary.” One who opposes in purpose or act. Always being contrary and trying to foil the progress of others.

Devil, the word, means “to slander, accusing falsely.”

Satan is also called a tempter, the father of lies, and a murderer.

He’s not a nice guy. What stuck out to me the other day is how often his descriptions have to do with talking. He’s always accusing, lying, slandering, tempting and other garbage related to communication.

Even the murder deal, the tongue is full of deadly poison. People who follow Satan and his devices also lie, tempt, foil progress, murder and slander. It’s what the Pharisees were doing when Jesus told them their father was the devil.

People generally show their heart with their mouth. I know many a kid who others think are precious and charming and yet to me, by listening to what they say, can see the devil in their heart. Same goes for adults.

It starts with the mouth. The Bible is filled with warnings about our mouths. It’s Satan’s greatest tool. Talking less is a beginning. Speak only fitly spoken words.

Mark 13:2 and the Wailing Wall

As the disciples walked through Jerusalem with Jesus, they commented on the magnificent temple and surrounding structures. Jesus was not impressed. Instead He deflated them with this:

“Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Everyone assumes this prophecy was fulfilled in 70ad when Rome came in and wiped out Jerusalem. But one thing always confused me: what about the Wailing Wall? Aren’t there more than one stone on top of another there?

It’s a brilliant question, one that shows thought and attention to detail. Don’t know exactly what the answer is. Here are a couple guesses.

1) Recent archeological digs have found coins that predate Herod under this wall, so it could be it was made later.

2) The wall isn’t actually part of any building, it was part of a retaining wall for the platform the temple was on.

3) The rest of the chapter where this verse occurs is speaking of the return of the King, much later events, so perhaps Jesus was speaking of His return with this deal about the temple too. It’ll be long gone by the time He shows up.

So, anyway, I sort of resolved my question with a simple “I don’t know what exactly He was talking about.” But I understand more now than I did before.

Does God Change?

I don’t know if I’m going to get in trouble for this line of questioning or not, but here goes. I promise you I am not trying to be a heretic, just thinking on some verses.

I read theological books frequently. Many books begin with a look at the attributes of God. Immutability is always listed. The following verses are listed as proof that God does not change:

James 1:17–with God there is no variableness or shadow of turning
Malachi 3:6–I am the Lord, I change not
Isaiah 46:9-10–not sure exactly why this is listed but it is

At the same time there are verses about God repenting, changing His mind, here are two examples:

Genesis 6:6–it repented God that He made men
Jonah 3:10–God repented of the evil He was going to do to Nineveh

God changes His mind and yet states that He never changes. Here’s the deal, I don’t think these two things are mutually exclusive.

God can remain the same and change His mind. God warned Nineveh that He would judge them unless they repented. They did! God, who does not change, repents of His judgment against them because the people repented.

The situation changed, but God remains consistent. Since they repented, He did not send His judgment. You can have faith in God’s unchangingness to let you know our repentance is safe and has a guaranteed outcome with God!

I think this explanation makes sense, much more sense than people who try to say that God doesn’t change His mind when the Bible clearly says He does. I say we go with what Scripture says, and it says both, so let’s figure out how it works.

Stuff I Looked at Today

* Everyone says the morals in our country are declining. Divorce, pre-marital pregnancy, crime, and abortion are whined over. Meanwhile, statistics show a decline in all these things. Are our morals still in decline?

* Posing a theological conundrum I have long wrestled over: why did God create cats? Perhaps the larger question: if God is good, how could He have created cats?

* The Jimmy Carter Study Bible is now available! Of course, it is in the NIV. Which is odd considering that he doesn’t think God wrote every word in the Bible, that it has errors in it, and that thinking that Jesus is the only way to salvation “leads to conflict and hatred and dissonance among people when we should be working for peace.” Act NOW! This is undoubtedly a limited time offer.

Does God Provide?

Does God provide? It’s fashionable to say so, but does He? If He did, wouldn’t we pray more?

God’s provision is often only talked about when everything is horrible or when everything is awesome. When things are horrible, we tell people to pray for God’s provision, “this too shall pass” we say in an attempt to quote from Scripture a phrase that isn’t in Scripture.

When everything is awesome and you’re rich and you feel guilty for your riches, you give God the glory and tell everyone that God provides, which is why you work 80-hour weeks.

Hebrews 11 has a whole list of people who were faithful to God and yet they suffered. Sure, some had riches, like David and Abraham, but many suffered and lived in caves and were cut in two. Did God provide for David as much as for the hole dwellers cut in two?

Does God’s provision mean life has no problems, all needs, wants and comforts supplied, and life lacks nothing? When people die, isn’t that proof of an end of God’s provision?

The Bible seems clear on the point that God provides for His righteous people. But it also makes clear that the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. The tension exists and we must avoid extreme statements to soften the issue.

There is a provision that this world cannot supply because the world cannot give what only God can. When we have this spiritual provision, holes in the ground make suitable dwellings and being cut in two, well, if your treasure is in heaven, death has no sting.

Joel Osteen and Homosexuality

Mr. Joel Osteen was on Piers Morgan’s CNN show and was asked about homosexuality. Shouldn’t the Bible be dragged kicking and screaming into modern times to make homosexuality ok? Was the basic question.

Mr. Osteen, who I am no fan of, actually took a stand and based his stand on his belief that the Bible is our source for authority and this is what it says.

Amazing really, if a guy like Mr. Osteen can get that right, it really removes all excuse from those who belittle Scripture. Now, if he’d just see the integrity of Scripture on some other issues. . .

Letting The Spirit Talk

“take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.”

I have heard this verse quoted in many contexts, most of which are not the context in which it appears.

* Don’t have a premeditated speech when you evangelize
* Don’t plan a doctrinal argument beforehand
* Studying stifles the Holy Spirit in sermons
* Don’t argue with your wife

These are some of the contexts I’ve heard this verse related to. The true context has to do with the turning over of Jews in the day of persecution to the persecutors. In that day the Spirit comes through in an amazing way in their defense.

Cool stuff. But let’s not borrow the coolness for other purposes and thus water down the coolness. When I started preaching I once tried doing a sermon without studying. It didn’t go well.

I have also tried not preparing for theological arguments, and I think there is some truth to not having speeches ready to blast people with, but I wouldn’t base it on any verse, just experience.

You shouldn’t argue with your wife. If you’re doing it right, she’ll just automatically agree with you anyway.

Preparation in evangelism can be helpful, but can also be salesmanish. One guy came to our house and said, “I see you have a garden. God wants to grow things too,” and on he went. He was a Jehovah’s Witness. It didn’t work.

Leave this verse in its context because there’s a reason why it has a context and we should be content with it.

The Day of the Lord is A’Comin Fer Ya!

Eschatology is a good thing. The Book of Revelation promises blessing on anyone who reads the words of this prophecy. Eschatology is often seen as something for more advanced Christians, stuff you leave til you get everything else figured out.

This is silly. The first book Paul wrote was 1 Thessalonians and he spends time in there going over eschatological doctrine. Knowing how things end helps us know how to live now.

On the flip side are those who can’t shut up about eschatology. Every earthquake, economic hiccup in Europe, or bomb explosion in the Middle East is the fulfillment of some obscure passage.

Eschatology becomes everything and doctrine gets a back seat because justification aint in the news, but them hurricanes is a blowin! Hurricanes are the obscure eighth horse of the apocalypse as detailed by Job!

It is my experience, and I’m willing to be contradicted, would gratefully accept a challenge to this observation so as not to be so stinking cynical all the time, but it’s my observation that people who focus on creation or The End Times are doctrinally weak.

Talking about how the world started or how it ends sounds Christiany, sounds like you’re spiritual and this covers a multitude of sin. Really you’re just into the things of the world and want a Christian veneer.

There are too many people who are anticipating the Day of the Lord with excitement, enthusiasm and cheering who, quite frankly, aren’t going to enjoy it that much when it comes.

Allow me to quote an obscure prophecy from Amos to make my point:

“Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.”

Hearing, Doing and Justification

The Bible is filled with contradictions (perhaps better called “paradoxes”?). Students of the Scripture must face this reality at some point. Some of these contradictions can be resolved easily, some require more work, others remain regardless of our efforts.

Disturbingly, many are not content with the amount of contradictions in Scripture and desire to create more. (When I say “contradictions” I’m not referring to how many guys died according to Kings rather than Chronicles, but more the faith/works tension, predestination/free will, etc.)

Here is one contradiction I’ve heard based on two verses that isn’t really a contradiction:

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law”

and

“For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

Both statements are true with no contradiction.

Seeking justification by doing the law will get you nowhere. The law cannot give life as the law is weak through the flesh. No man has ever achieved justification by doing the law.

At the same time, those who don’t just hear but do the law shall be justified! It’s not simply doing the law that justifies them, but their desire to do what God says will be counted as righteous.

Those who do the law because it’s the right thing to do are coming from a standpoint of faith, obedience and humility toward God and this will be counted as righteousness.

Those who do the law because they have to so God will like them, to make up for their sin, to dutifully carry out obligatory commands to prove their own righteousness, are coming from pride and no man will ever be justified before God with that approach.

It is important we see the distinction. We too easily throw out doing in our Christianity. Faith does stuff, it’s sort of the point of faith. Doing for the sake of doing doesn’t count. Doing because faith means listening to God, well that there doer will be counted as righteous.

Intriguing Questions About the Law–Romans 2:12-29

Romans 2 is another intriguing passage about the law. Two main questions of intrigue:

1)Are doers of the law justified?
That’s what he said. We should not be shocked that Paul says this, it only makes sense. One who does the whole law would obviously be just in God’s eyes.

Romans 3:20,28 and Galatians 2:16; 3:11 tell us that no flesh is justified by the deeds of the law, and we should also not be shocked by this.

Apart from faith, the only way to be just before God is to do everything He said. You didn’t, therefore, your only means of justification is by the blood of Christ.

2) How does the Jews’ law obsession blaspheme God?
The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles by the Jews. How so?

Paul’s first point is that often the Gentiles, who don’t have the law, do things in the law, which sort of puts a damper on the Jews bragging about doing the law. Even heathen scum keep it sometimes.

Paul’s second point is that the Jews focus on a few points of the law to the exclusion of others. Thus, their elevation of the law looks more ridiculous when they break it, which they do frequently.

The Believer does not make his boast in the law, or how many law things he did. Rather, if any man boast, let him boast in the cross of Christ.

Elevating God’s commands to the exclusion of God’s provision leads to blasphemy. It only shows part of the character of God, makes Him into something He isn’t.

We should elevate the law and the cross, and ultimately, our boasting is in Christ, whom the law brings us to. To have the law bring you anywhere else is utter blasphemy

Intriguing Questions About the Law–1 Timothy 1:7-9

“The law is good, if a man use it lawfully”

This is an intriguing verse. Two main questions to spark intrigue.

1) Is the goodness of the law conditional?
Sure sounds like it in this verse. The other place that springs to mind is Romans 7:12. But Paul also says in the same context that his problem is that he is carnal, in his flesh dwells no good.

That being the case, the law stirs up sin and death in him. The law is good, but it’s goodness is only applied to a person if they use the law correctly.

2) Is there an unlawful use of the law?
Sure sounds like it. The law is made for unrighteous people, Paul says next. Righteous people don’t need an external law because the Spirit is in them with His spiritual law–the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

The external law is used for the unrighteous. The point is to get them to stop their unrighteousness, but they will no doubt spring into the same conflict of Romans 7–the law stirs up sin, the desire to not do what the law says.

But the law’s perfect work is to bring a man to Christ. Encouraging an unrighteous man to obey the law is a fine thing, Jesus did it several times–rich young ruler, the lawyer who desired to justify himself, etc.

They will see the sin that the law stirs up, the end of which is death, and hopefully be brought to Christ for salvation. On the other hand, a man may come to the law and use it unlawfully. Here are a few ways you can unlawfully use the law

1) Establish your own righteousness—Romans 10:1-4
2) Judging others—James 4:12—let the law judge others, not you or your law, judging displaces the authority of the law and the lawgiver
3) Boasting in it—Romans 2:17-23
4)Teaching the law and bending it for your own authority—Romans 2:20; 1 Timothy 1:7

Intriguing, no?

Stop With the Heaven on Earth Stuff!

The Lord’s prayer tells us to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” This phrase may become vain repetition, but if you sincerely want this to occur there is no problem repeating the request.

But note that we ask our Father for the Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth. It’s His righteousness and reign we desire. It’s His heaven we want and we are dependent upon Him to bring it.

When people take it upon themselves to create heaven on earth, people generally get killed. The desire for an earthly utopia is behind most of the most deranged governments this earth has ever seen–Nazism, Communism, modern Islamic regimes, etc.

Nasty stuff. People who desire heaven on earth want to play the part of God, while the citizenry plays the part of meaningless peons to rape and pillage.

Government leaders have always promised free food and free health care, yet no one has pulled it off. They can’t pull it off because of this thing called The Curse–you must sweat and toil for your food, which ruins your health.

It’s impossible, yet governments come and go promising these things. When Christ came to earth, guess what He did? He provided free health care–healing miracles–and free food–water into wine, multiplication of bread and fish.

And, guess what? People wanted Him to be king?! Jesus refused to be forced to be their king because He knew their hearts–they merely wanted free health care and free food.

They aren’t coming for the King, just the fleshly perks of His kingdom, so they killed Him. Which is the same hatred people have for yet another failed president and their desire to replace him with the next guy who promises free health care and food.

On and on it goes. Men cannot create heaven on earth, and I, for one, request that everyone please stop trying to create heaven on earth. I want Christ’s Kingdom or no kingdom. Any other kingdom is a satanic deceit. Put not your trust in men.

Repetitious Prayers Can Be Fine

Saying the same thing in our prayers is evil, it’s a cardinal sin of Christian prayer, hopefully not the unforgivable sin, but one never knows.

I remember being lectured once by someone, who heard about eight of my prayers, about not saying the same things in those prayers because, “it’s vain repetition.”

Is it when I thank the Lord for my wife, kids and my supper every night? In order to avoid vainly repeating this thanks, I would switch up my adjectives, so as not to be vainly repetitious.

“Thank you for my wonderful wife, my charming children and my delectable dinner.” But I always felt the need to be alliterate with my adjectives and nouns, and well, this became distracting.

“Thank you for my wobbly wife, churlish children and my superlative supper.” It got to the point where vain repetition was probably safer and more God-honoring.

“When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Warnings about vain repetition are not about a man repeatedly thanking God for his wife, kids and supper, nor about asking for God’s will to be done, or praying for spiritual wisdom. These are requests, often requested often. This is not a problem.

I mean it every time I thank God for my supper, wife and kids, He knows this and I know it too. You might get tired of hearing it but alas, tis still true.

Heathen scum vain repetition is what we need to avoid–repeating formulaic prayers, the actual Greek word is akin to babbling. Speaking nonsense words, not because you believe them, but because you think God can be manipulated by them.

Don’t be flippant with prayer. Mean everything you say, and if you always mean the same words, feel free to keep saying them.

Rejoice over Heaven

Rejoicing over our “ministry” triumphs is a great thing. We count our converts, our baptisms, our number of people crying or swooning during our powerful oratory. Anything we can count that makes us feel we are “serving” we readily scoop up and count.

The seventy disciples Christ sent out before Him did the same thing. They reported to Christ their wins.

“Even the devils are subject unto us through thy name” sounds an awful lot like, “even the young, restless men think I preach great!” We rejoice over our victories, and they are just that–OURS, we will receive our reward.

But notice that Christ swiftly snips this error. “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

No matter how successful you convince yourself your ministry is, no matter how many people have read your words, heard your sermons, seen your charity, always rejoice in this–that Christ has saved your soul.

To rejoice about anything else will merely destroy you. Soon you start being concerned about the numbers. Man, I only cast out three devils this week, what’s going on? What do I have to do to cast out more?

It is this thinking, although more directly tied to how many people are coming to hear you or jumping through your hoop, that has led to more heresy than anything else.

As soon as we do things for the praise of men, we kill sound doctrine. People don’t want sound doctrine, so let go of needing people and hold fast to sound doctrine.

If any man glory, let him glory in Christ Jesus.

What it means to “Be In Christ”

Do not underestimate the power, responsibility, honor, and sheer coolness of being united with Christ. We minimize this point to our own spiritual destruction.

We’re very good at explaining our depravity and our self-loathing, “all I do is filthy rags,” doctrines. I fear we emphasize it out of proportion for the believer who is in Christ, a joint-heir with Christ, a citizen of heaven, a son of God, one who has partaken in the divine nature, and a servant of righteousness.

Being in Christ means it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me. When all we think about is ourselves and our inadequacies, sho nuff you will remain so. All eyes on Christ; all eyes off of self. Take up the cross and deny yourself. Summary: get over yourself.

Being united with Christ has responsibility as well as honor.

The Responsibility–to be in Christ means to walk where Christ walked and to think what Christ thought. What did Christ do? He came to serve, not to be served and became obedient even unto death on the cross. Amazing to me how many claim to be “in Christ” and yet resist any notion of self-denial, cross-bearing, or sacrifice. “Christ did it all” so easily rolls off the responsibility avoiding tongue. He did do it all and He bids you to follow Him. This means something. If it doesn’t for you, quit the formality of calling yourself a Christian–little Christ–because you aren’t.

The Honor–as they do to us they do to Christ and as they do to Christ they do to the Father. The unity we have with Christ is no metaphor, it is a vital union. No longer I but Christ. When the world hates the believer it hates Christ. We are the temple. We are the Body of Christ. The world hates Christ and it hates His followers. Count it a blessing when the world hates you, for it hated Him first.

Being in Christ means we do what Christ did–was hated and rejected for righteousness sake maintaining humble service to His Father. He now sits in heaven and enjoys His Father for eternity.

We get both too! It’s what it means to be “in Christ.”

What Makes Jesus Rejoice

In Luke 10 Jesus sends out 70 guys to preach the Kingdom and heal people. They return as champions, celebrating their awesomeness. It’s a cool passage of Scripture.

It records the only time in the Gospels where Jesus rejoiced. He rejoices because his guys are finally getting it, they seem to hear him for once. It’s the only time Jesus rejoices! Get that point.

The success of the disciples’ ministry is a cool thing, worthy of rejoicing over, but it’s not the whole thing. I touched on this last week, wondering about our claims that our ministry is “giving God glory.”

There are bigger things. Jesus is not happy that his disciples had success healing people, he is happy that they are beginning to understand who he is.

There are two things in Luke 10 that I believe we underestimate in our Christianity, that if fully grasped, would completely revolutionize our faith. Two things that would cause Jesus to rejoice some more if we acted as though we knew these things.

1) Our unity with Him
2) That our name is written in heaven

We’ll look at em the next few days.

We Don’t Trust the Bible

Few people like authority. The group that dislikes authority the most are those in authority. They don’t mind their own authority, they mind everyone else’s.

The attack against authority is largely aimed at young people. Kids will inherently challenge authority, and people who want authority need to turn kids’ minds away from rivals.

Musicians are known for telling kids to fight authority, that parents just don’t understand and all government wants to do is kill people at Kent State.

Hollywood makes politicians, parents, priests, and teachers all look like totalitarian oafs.

Government wants to make you mistrust religion, family, talk radio and business.

Religions often fall prey to the same thinking. Cults especially make people paranoid of authority except the authority of the cult.

Pastors, particularly those who want money, want you to mistrust other spiritual leaders and the Bible itself to keep you relying on them. It’s amazing how much this exists in the church. Here are a few instances from the past week I’ve heard.

* Song of Solomon wasn’t written by Solomon even though it pretty much says that. Throw in most other books as well, Moses didn’t really write the Pentateuch, Isaiah didn’t write Isaiah, etc.

* OK so Revelation says there will be a 1,000 year period of Christ’s rule on earth, but the Bible uses numbers figuratively all the time, therefore numbers don’t really mean anything.

* Genesis is merely mythical poetry, not a literal historical account. God created over ages, not days even though that’s what it says.

* A woman wrote Hebrews even though other parts of the Bible forbid women from taking spiritual authority over a man. Of course, we also know the Bible was written by male chauvinist pigs so you can ignore all that anti-woman stuff too.

On and on it goes. What is the point of all this? The end result is that people don’t believe what the Bible says.

If we can’t trust what it says, what’s the point of reading it? You might as well listen to your pastor/professor/favorite author/podcast voice more than the Bible. He’ll never steer you wrong. I fear for us.

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