Archive for November, 2008

War with Pakistan?

Posted on November 30, 2008. Filed under: Political Issues |

Tuesday, December 2, 2008–Here are some updates on the Mumbai attack. First is a column by Pat Buchanon that absolutely nails it. This is the best analysis yet and confirms some of my own opinions expressed on Sunday:

www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=29724

The hostages were tortured prior to their execution in the Jewish Center:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/3539171/Mumbai-attacks-Jews-tortured-before-executed-during-hostage-crisis.html

Why people do not believe this is a religious war eludes me. And the fact that our government was warning the Indian government about the nature of this attack, yet it was not taken seriously…people just do not want to believe ti can happen to them. Not us, not here, no way. See this story at abc:

abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=6368013&page=1

And it looks like the bad guys may have escaped and could be on the loose ready to E&E back to Pakistan or maybe move into the next phase of the attack.

www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article5265938.ece

And here is an excellent analysis from Robert Kagan    that basically states that Pakistan is not able to control their wild western border area with Afghanistan and this is where so much of the terrorist stuff comes from. Kagan believes that the UN ought to get together and tell Pakistan “We are taking over this region because you can’t manage your own country.” I appreciate the sentiment, Dr. Kagan, but the UN can’t manage a donut shop. I have no use for the UN, it is a useless entity. I doubt seriously tha the Pakis would cooperate with the UN moving in on them.

The bottom line is that this is why you should never allow Third World or Muslim countries to have nukes. What can be done to get Pakistan to comply? The US has armed the Pakis for the last 30 years or so. We are going to end up with a war between Pakistan and India, it might go nuclear, and we have an army stuck in Afghanistan. Voof. Good luck with this one Pres elect BO.

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/01/AR2008120102438.html

Next, we find out a bit about their training and how they used steroids and drugs to enhance the fighting experience for all:

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/3540964/Mumbai-attacks-Terrorists-took-cocaine-to-stay-awake-during-assault.html

Finally, all you need to know about the professionalism of the Indian SWAT team is shown in this pic:

www.weeklystandard.com/weblogs/TWSFP/2008/12/how_to_drop_hostages_instead_o.asp

If Thirdworlders ever figure out how to shoot we might be in trouble.

Sunday,November 30, 2008–In observing this al Qaeda attack in India I am not surprised at the viciousness and professionalism of the attack. The Al Qaeda queers have proven themselves to be quite good at the suicide attack. Apparently this attack had been planned and trained for over the last year but their goals of killing 5,000 fell far short. The death toll today is about 300, but it will likely go up. Though they planned on blowing up the Taj Majal hotel, they only damaged it. Eyewitnesses are saying that the bad guys were not armed with the normal AK-47s, but with MP-6s from H&K. That seems odd to me because the AK has got superior firepower and greater range; the MP-6 is a 9mm. And apparently the haji’s were using Blackberries to communicate.

www.gods-inc.de/macavity/IsleOfShadows/weapons/heckler-koch.html

But was a high body count and a few landmarks in Bombay (Mumbai) really all that the Qaeda Queers wanted?

Hardly! The American tendency is to focus on the dead, the wounded and the grieving. It is my humble opinon that the real goal of the Al Qaeda Queers is to start a war between India and Pakistan. That war will do at least 3 good things for Al Qaeda. 1) It will draw Pakistani troops away from the border of Afghanistan, where a lot of the Qaeda hide out and train. The Pakis are being pressured by the US to do more in that wild tribal region to hunt the Bin Laden boys. 2) If the Pakis are in a for real shoot em up war with India, they won’t take too kindly to American aircraft overflying their land to get troops and supplies to our Army and Marines in Afghanistan. If you look at a map>

www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.welt-atlas.de/datenbank/karten/karte-0-9014.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.welt-atlas.de/map_of_middle_east_(asia)_0-9014&h=1428&w=1382&sz=692&tbnid=HjRUaOBvSWIJ::&tbnh=150&tbnw=145&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmaps%2Bof%2Bmiddle%2Beast&usg=__0E50Feai1gWP7pKSjlqxhx8XwSo=&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=7&ct=image&cd=1

you will see that Afghanistan is landlocked and all of its borders are with people not too friendly to us. We aren’t overflying Iran to get to Afghanistan but I think we might have an arrangement with Turkmenistan and Pakistan both. Any country that ends in “stan” is always iffy at best. If the Pakis are at war with India then our only flight path is Turkmenistan… don’t you think the Russkies and the Qaeda Queers might put pressure on Turkmenistan?

The 3rd thing the Al Qaeda bunch would want from a war with India is to disrupt the already shaky government of Pakistan. The Qaeda queers want to “own a country”, especially one with nuclear ballistic missiles, like Pakistan. They may have figured out a way to accomplish that goal!

What wil India do next? Will they attack an al Qaeda base in Pakistan? Or just get right to it and start a major war?

And here is an excellent analysis from Human Events:

www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=29702

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Genesis 6:5-8 “Crucial Question: Is Man Wicked?”

Posted on November 30, 2008. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Redeemer Church Sunday School, Genesis Class

Genesis 6:5-8 “Crucial Question: Is Man Wicked?”

Sunday 11-30-2008

 

Read Genesis 6:1-8 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Introduction: If you were to ask the average American if mankind was basically good or fundamentally wicked, what do you think would be the answer? Do you think that most people consider themselves to be mostly good or mostly bad? Do they think their righteousness exceeds their sinfulness? When the world looks at biblical Christianity and our doctrine of sin, what does the world think of our understanding of sin? Why do they think what they think about sin?

 

What do you think about sin? Are you a sinner? Are you basically good or wicked? After you are saved, do you remain a sinner? What is the difference between a saved sinner and a lost sinner?

 

Last week we saw one of the most difficult to understand texts in the entire Bible; today we examine one of the most challenging texts of the Bible; challenging because it is so horrible and blunt in its evaluation of man. Yet we will also find hope as we see God’s amazing grace. Sin, judgment and grace, all three are in these 4 verses.

 

I.                   Literary Analysis

A.     Keep in mind that these four verses are the end of the second toledoth that began in Ch.5:1. These toledoths (this is the book of the generations of) seem to be the way that Moses outlines Genesis. However, these 4 verses serve as a bridge between two toledoths. The themes in these 4 verses are continued into the next section that begins with vs.9- the sinfulness of man and the character of Noah. In John Sailhamer’s commentary (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 2 “Genesis”, Zondervan, 1990, p.79-82) he treats 6:5-12 as a unit because the themes are so similar.

B.     As we look at the words and sentences in these verses we do see that Moses is again tying things together as he links ideas and words with what he has written in previous passages. Compare vs. 5 with vs. 2 “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great…” and “…the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive.” What man sees as attractive, God sees as wickedness. That shows the difference between God and man; God is holy and man is not. Matthews (NAC, B&H, 1996, p.340) sees this as a deliberate mimicry of the sons of God. Moses doesn’t put anything in the text that isn’t intentional. Time and again he pokes his finger in the eye of the pagans around Israel, and he does again here. But this phrasing in vss. 1-5 goes back all the way to ch.1:31 “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Now, man has corrupted what was good, and defiled it to the point where God sees it all as wickedness. It is sadly ironic that though man has fulfilled the command to be fruitful and multiply (1:28 and 6:1) it has only resulted in the spread of sin.

C.     Notice the intensifiers used- the wickedness is Great, Every intention of the thoughts of man is Only evil Continually. The Nephilim may have been the mighty men of old, men of renown, but in God’s Word they are renowned for their wickedness.

D.    Look at the contrast between man, whose thoughts of his heart was only evil, and God, whose heart was grieved by man’s wickedness. And Moses ties vs. 6 with 5:29 by using 3 similar words in both verses: relief/comfort and sorry/grieved, work/labor and made, painful toil and pain/grieved. Matthews writes (p.341) “Thus Lamech’s hope for his son as the deliverer from the toils of human sin is realized in part through Noah’s survival of the flood.”

 

II.                The Problem- Can God Be “Sorry” for Creating Man?

A.     Before we get to the teaching about sin, we must look at the big problem in this text; at least it is a problem for some. There is a good answer. Vs.6 says, “the Lord was sorry he had made man on the earth”. It is repeated in vs. 7 “I am sorry that I have made them.” The KJV uses the word “repent” and the NIV uses “grieved”.

B.     Other places in Scripture tell us that God cannot repent, or change his mind. Look at Num. 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

In Exodus 32:12,14 we see the exact same expression yinnahem YHWH.

12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

Here the term is translated “relent”.

1Sam.15:29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”

C.     The key to interpreting this passage is the context in which the words are used. God’s grief over making man, his being sorry that he has made man is not admitting that He made a mistake, it is a heartfelt attitude of grief over what man has made of himself as a sinner. In vss.5-7 the word “man” is used 4 times. It is man’s sinfulness that is grieving God. God’s being sorry for making man is here related to his wrath at sin. God’s grief and anger are linked. Moses is using anthropomorphic language, expressing to some extent the heartfelt emotions of God.

D.    When we say that God has emotions we must be careful to explain because God’s emotions are similar but also very different from ours. The fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God and we have emotions, tells us that God also has something like emotions. He loves us, he expresses joy over us, he gets angry with sin and is pained by our sin. We are all too often controlled by our emotions. God is never caught by surprise and is always still in control so he is never ruled by his emotions. His emotions are much more tied with his attributes. God is love, therefore he loves us. God is holy, therefore he is grieved over sin and must burn hot against it. God does not react in wrath, his holiness burns like a steady fire, wrath, against sin always and forever. So when we see in our text that God is sorry he made man, the context shows the wickedness of man and we understand that God’s holiness is grieved over man’s wickedness. God’s love for man is grieved because sin must be punished.

E.     Let me quote Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994, p.163ff) “Unchangeableness. We can define the unchangeableness of God as follows: God is unchanging I his being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations. This attribute of God is also called god’s immutability.” In Malachi 3:6 we find that “For I the Lord do not change…” and James 1:17 “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

F.      Herman Bavinck, the great Dutch theologian writes, “The doctrine of God’s immutability is of the highest significance for religion. The contrast between being and becoming marks the difference between the Creator and the creature. Every creature is continually becoming.” Psalm 33:11 “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” So God does not change in his essence or in his eternal counsel, his sovereign plans for the universe.

G.    But in dealing with man, who is a creature of time, God deals with us in time according to the situation we are in at that time. He sees man’s sinfulness and he is sorry he has made man, and he is going to bring the flood to wipe out man, yet he preserves Noah and his family- his purposes never changed. We see God answering our prayers, he changes according to our using the means he has ordained- prayer. The question of God’s impassibility, not having passions, is not agreed upon within conservative theology. I would say he has emotions, but he is not ruled by his emotions.

H.    We see our point from Gen.6:5-8 illustrated best in the person of Christ in his cleansing of the Temple where he displayed wrath, zeal for his Father’s house and in the healing of the leper in Mark 1:41 where the word can be translated “moved with pity-compassion” or even “anger”. And Jesus mourns over Jerusalem in Matt.23 in a passage that speaks of judgment. Jesus experienced the full range of human emotions as a man, but these are not inconsistent with his being God.

I.       In conclusion then, God’s being sorry that he made man does not throw us into any kind of false problem with God changing his mind or being inconsistent.

J.     Application- What problems, if any are related to God being unchanging and impassible? You may have to consider that question from the fallen, lost man’s perspective. Does the doctrine of God’s immutability comfort you as a Christian? How does it affect your prayer life? The spreading of the Gospel? How do the “Open Theists” approach this doctrine? What other doctrines must the Open Theists compromise?

 

III.                The Wickedness of Man and the Sin Problem

A.     Total Depravity- since ch.3 Moses has been making the case for the sinfulness of man. Beginning with man’s disobeying God while in a perfect Garden and in full communion with God he goes on to fratricide, brother killing brother. Then he moves to the arrogance of Cain who never repents and in fact disregards God’s judgment and instead of being a restless wanderer on the earth, founds a city. We see the two lines of man with the line of Cain vs. the line of Seth. We have seen Lamech who takes 2 wives and kills a young man. Now we have seen the sons of God intermarrying with the daughters of man, in some kind of a demonic arrangement. Now the resulting evil has caught God’s eye and his evaluation is that man’s heart is only evil all the time.

B.     Wickedness/evil- the word here means being wrong in light of God’s intentions and purposes, going against God’s design is wickedness or evil. But Moses intensifies it by saying the wickedness was “great”. And that our thoughts and intents were only evil/bad all the time. Not just sometimes, but all the time. In the New Testament

The best passages that show the same force come from Rom.3 and Ephesians 4. Rom.3 “None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Ephesians 4 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

 

C.     Grudem defines sin- “Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude or nature.” We have an inherited aspect of sin that we get from Adam. David understood this in psalm 51:5 “I was brought forth in iniquity, in sin did my mother conceive me.” We are natural born sinners; we sin because we are sinners. It is who we are. Parents, do you have to teach your babies how to sin, or do you have to teach them to do right? In Rom. 7:18 Paul writes, “I know that nothing good dwells in me.” Everything about is tainted with sin, from birth.

D.    Are different ages or areas more sinful than others? It may be that the age of Noah was exceptionally bad. But I look at our own age and cannot even think of any other age being worse than ours! But it may be.

E.     The doctrine of sin is proved every day in the news. And in our own hearts I may add. I have a friend who is a Christian but claims he never sins. Certain holiness denominations teach that.

F.      Picture sin this way- Every human is born in the deepest part of a dungeon, chained to the wall in a locked cell in a strong fortress where the guards are the demons and they are tasked with keeping  you in the dungeon. The fortress is on an island surrounded with shark infested water. Our position is hopeless because we not only cannot escape, we don’t want to escape, this place is all we know and we cannot conceive of not being in the dungeon. It is normal for us.

G.    Sin is like leprosy- it is fatal, it is numbing, it is contagious, it is smelly, it is unsightly, it separates us from God and each other, it cripples us and makes us unclean. We are unable to join in worship in that condition.

H.    Application- Go back to the questions I asked in the introduction. How would you respond to a person who does not believe man is fallen, wicked and “only evil all the time”? In recent weeks, Pastor Tim has been preaching from the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, in Matt.5. How does this doctrine of the sinfulness of man affect your understanding of the Beatitudes? How does this doctrine affect how you view the News? In Southern Baptist life right now, there is a skirmish between the Calvinist wing of the SBC (and Redeemer Church is largely Calvinist) and the Arminian (non-Calvinist) majority. How does this doctrine of sin impact that debate? How might a proper understanding of the wickedness of man affect our evangelism? Our missions? Our sanctification? Our politics?

 

Conclusion: God is just in condemning man to judgment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Matthew 5:3-7 “Citizens of the Kingdom” part 2

Posted on November 28, 2008. Filed under: Redeemer Sermons Matthew |

Friday, November 28, 2008– Here are my notes from Pastor Tim’s sermon of a couple of weeks ago. My note taking skills are not what they used to be! Voof! I really need to improve in this area.

Matt. 5:3-7 “Citizens of the Kingdom” part 2

In these Beattitudes Jesus is telling us what it means to be a Christian in the world. He begins by describing our Character. Being a Christian like the Sermon on the Mount shows simply cannot be done on our own; it must be wrought by God.

What does it mean to be blessed? To Be happy? The world would say it means being wealthy, beautiful, powerful, etc. But Jesus says being blessed is being in a right relationship with God. Who are the “blessed ones”? those who are poor in spirit, mourning over sin, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, etc. We are to long for righteousness, hunger and thirst for it. Our cry to God is a cry of longing for His Righteousness. The Jews in Jesus’ day knew oppression under Rome, no righteousness was going to come to them politically. The righteousness that we long for far surpasses any righteousness we can get in our modern day political process as well.

I. The Desire for Righteousness- We long for that which we lack. We have to first be convinced that we are missing righteousness before we can long for it. We must acknowledge we are bankrupt spiritually and have no righteousness of our own. A lot of churches today preach a false gospel of Health & Wealth and say the better off you are in $$$ the happier you are, the more blessed you are. The Health & Wealth gospel tells you about Your Best Life Now or how to Become a Better You.

II. The Thing Desired–But true blessedness comes when we seek the right thing, His Righteousness. To seek His righteousness is to seek his salvation for our soul. More religiosity does not lead to righteousness. The Pharisees were very religious and Jesus says that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. We are saved when Christ’s righteousness is applied to us. We are never saved by our own righteousness- we have none. It is only the righteousness of Christ that saves us. His righteousness is applied to us when we trust in him. We need a justifying righteousness. Every sinner needs a declared, accounted and justifying righteousness found only in Jesus Christ. We want to be like him in righteousness- sanctification, to be made right.

III. The Blessing of Righteousness– In Christ’s righteousness we find Satisfaction. Reminds me of the old Rolling Stones/Mick Jagger song, “I can’t get no, Satisfaction” As long as we try to achieve righteousness on our own we will never be satisfied. In vs. 7 we see Blessed are the Merciful. Christians are to be merciful; we are called to a life of compassion. The Spirit calls us to be poor in spirit, to mourn over our sin, to hunger for righteousness and to be merciful. Mercy is love for those in misery, love for those who need forgiving like us. Luke 10 is the story of the Good Samaritan. Are we compassionate to the depressed, to our subordinates at work, to those who hurt us? Those who give mercy have experienced God’s mercy.

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Puritans Who Changed the World: William Perkins 1558-1602

Posted on November 28, 2008. Filed under: Church History |

Puritans Who Changed the World: William Perkins 1558-1602

Overview: William Perkins, a former drunk who dabbled in the occult, became by God’s grace, the most influential Puritan Theologian and Pastor in England. His work at Cambridge and at St. Andrews church influenced two generations of Puritans and his legacy set the tone for Puritanism in America from the Pilgrims at Plymouth to Jonathon Edwards and the Great Awakening.

Biography: Born in 1558 (the year Queen Elizabeth took the throne) at the village of Marston Jabbett, Warwickshire, to Thomas and Hanna Perkins. Perkins showed promise with his academic abilities, but while at Christ’s College, Cambridge, he showed a talent for drunkenness that was quite notorious.

  • 1577 Perkins entered Christ’s College, Cambridge. He was a student of Mathematics but also dabbled in the occult and black magic.
  • 1581 received his BA and his MA in 1584. At some point in those years Perkins heard a mother of a small child refer to him as a drunk; this convicted him and was instrumental in his coming to Christ.
  • After his conversion he was mentored by Laurence Chaderton. They met with a few others and studied Calvinist theology and became Puritans.
  • Soon after his conversion he started preaching in the Cambridge jail. One account has Perkins leading a convict to Christ on the scaffold where he was executed immediately after trusting in Christ. Crowds began gathering at the jail to hear Perkins preach grace to those undergoing the disciplines of the law.
  • 1584 he became a faculty member of Christ’s College, where he was a teaching fellow until 1595, and started preaching at St. Andrews Church, Cambridge, where he preached until his death in 1602 at the age of only 44 years. In those 18 years he influenced two generations of Puritan students who went on to pastor, teach, and write.
  • 1590-91 Perkins was the Dean of Christ’s College and he catechized students on Thursdays and counseled on Sunday afternoons.
  • 1595 Perkins marries a young widow, Timothye Cradocke. They would have seven children though three died in infancy.
  • Perkins died of kidney stone complications in 1602, one year before Queen Elizabeth’s death; he lived his whole life during her reign.

Impact: Though Perkins taught God’s sovereign election and reprobation, he was a passionate soul winner amongst the prisoners in the jail (who were often mere moments away from the hangman’s noose) as well as with the cultured and refined scholars of Cambridge. Calvinism was no cold, formal formula for Perkins; it led to a burning compassion for the downtrodden and lost.

  • His writings totaled over 2500 pages and enjoyed 8 printings by 1635, with translations into half a dozen languages including Latin, French, Dutch and Spanish. His writings focused on the Apostle’ Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Galatians, the Sermon on the Mount and Hebrews 11. In his lifetime the sales of his books in England exceeded those of Calvin, Beza, and Bullinger combined.
  • He was such a gifted preacher that even though his church consisted of scholars, students, townsfolk and people from the surrounding countryside, his sermons were understandable and satisfying to all. He aimed to join strong doctrinal preaching with practical godly living so that “his preaching was a comment on the text and his practice was a comment on his preaching.”
  • A “moderate Puritan’, Perkins worked to purify the Church of England from within rather than separating from the Church.
  • Not just a scholar, preacher and evangelist, Perkins was much sought after for his skills in counseling.
  • Perkins was responsible for introducing the theology of Theodore Beza into England and taught Beza’s Double Predestination.
  • Perkins’ students included: William Ames, author of The Marrow of Theology, the theology book most often used in America in the 17th and early 18th centuries; John Robinson, who would go on to separate from the Church of England, move to Leiden, and then to the new world as the pastor on the Mayflower; Thomas Goodwin; James Ussher- famous for his Chronology of the World; Richard Sibbes and John Cotton.
  • “Nearly one hundred Cambridge men who grew up in Perkins’ shadow led early migrations to New England, including William Brewster of Plymouth, Thomas Hooker of Connecticut, John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay, and Roger Williams of Rhode Island. Richard Mather was converted while reading Perkins and Jonathon Edwards was fond of reading Perkins more than a century later. Samuel Morison remarked that ‘your typical Plymouth Colony library comprised a large and a small Bible, Ainsworth’s translation of the Psalms, and the works of William Perkins, a favorite theologian.’” (pp. 475-6 Meet the Puritans).

For Further Study:

1. Meet the Puritans by Joel R. Beeke & Randall J. Pederson. Reformation Heritage Books: Grand Rapids, MI. 2006, pp.469-480.

2. “Gallery: Preachers and Poets” by William Barker and Leland Ryken in Christian History and Biography, issue 89, Winter 2006, p,28. Published by Christianity Today International, Carol Stream, Illinois.

3. http://www.apuritansmind.com/WilliamPerkins/WilliamPerkins.htm

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2 Chron.18 “The Prophetic Role of the Church to the State”

Posted on November 27, 2008. Filed under: A Theology of Patriotism |

2 Chron.18 “The Prophetic Role of the Church to the State”

Sunday 10-3-04 PM

Introduction: In our Sun. night sermons we are studying the relationships between the church and the state and between the individual Christian and the State. We have seen that the Christian is a citizen of 2 cities, the City of God and the City of Man, as Jesus said, render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s, we have obligations in both realms and this series is an effort at discovering what the Bible tells us about these obligations. We also studied what the government’s obligation is to us; the government is to restrain and punish evildoers and encourage those who do good. Government is established by God. We looked at the concept of the Freedom of Religion, religious liberty and how a free church, one that is neither oppressed nor joined with the state, is the best arrangement. But now we are looking at what the role of the church to the State is.

 First of all we examined the missionary role of the church and saw how the very best thing the church can do for a state is to spread the gospel. The Gospel changes lives and the more people in a state who are converted, the better and stronger that state will be. Last week we looked at the Compassionate role of the church and saw that the church’s various ministries also assist the state in many ways. The church is to assist in feeding the hungry, caring for the elderly, sick and poor, helping in disasters, etc. As the church ministers in these varied ways, doors for the gospel message are also opened. We also saw a little bit of what happens when the government subsidizes bad behaviour; welfare robs people of the dignity of work if they are able bodied.

            Tonight we are going to examine the Prophetic Role of the Church to the State. Before we can do that we have to understand what the role of the prophet was and is. Many people think that the prophet only foretold the future and worked miracles. That was only one aspect of the prophetic ministry. The biggest ministry of the prophet was, and remains, the speaking forth of God’s Word in a timely manner to a people who desperately need to hear it. Speaking God’s Word faithfully to the situations around us is a calling of God upon the church. With that in mind let us examine the Prophetic Role of the Church.

 

I. The State Church and the Prophetic Role

            When the State and Church are joined, do you think that would affect the Church’s prophetic role any? In England the King or Queen gets to appoint the head of the Anglican Church, Her Majesty the Queen is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and she also has a unique and special relationship with the Church of Scotland, which is a Free Church. In the Church of England she appoints archbishops, bishops and deans of cathedrals on the advice of the Prime Minister. The two archbishops and 24 senior bishops sit in the House of Lords, making a major contribution to Parliament’s work.

Now if you are appointed as the archbishop of Canterbury and sit in the House of Lords, there would be some unstated pressure on you at times to maybe protect the Queen when perhaps you ought to speak out against the queen.

            In our story from 2 Chronicles what did the Prophets of Ahab do when asked about going to war? They all told Ahab to “go for God will give it into the king’s hand”. There is clearly a danger of compromising the Word of God if the church is too close to the State.

            But, look at the prophet Nathan in 2Sam.12:7 “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says…” Clearly Nathan is a prophet in the State Church of Israel, but he is not appointed by the king so there is some independence. Still a king has the power to execute whom he desires, as in Bathsheba’s husband. So Nathan exhibits some courage and is faithful to his call. But also notice the tact which he used in confronting David. There was a long relationship of trust and confidence between Nathan and David.

            The State Church still has the obligation to speak the word of God faithfully even at the risk of losing its position of power and prestige within the State. But being a state church does automatically mean that the message will be compromised. There are still men of courage and faithfulness within the State church.

            John Knox 1513-1572 Scottish reformer. Born in Scotland, John Knox was ordained as a Catholic priest between 1530 and 1540. He was converted to Christ after he met two Bible-believing Christians, Wishart and Beacon. Wishart was burned at the stake in 1546, and shortly afterwards Knox was arrested by the authorities and made a galley slave for 19 months.   He went to England in 1549 and preached the Bible until the reign of Bloody Mary, during which time he lived in Frankfort, Germany. There he came under the influence of Calvin.  He returned to Scotland after several years in Geneva, and began preaching against the Papal Church. He was arrested under Queen Mary Stuart in 1560 and tried for trea- son, but was acquitted. He spent his remaining years preaching and lecturing in Edinburgh and St. Andrews. Above all others, he was the maker of Protestant Scotland. He preached hellfire and damnation to Queen Mary of Scotland, and also to Bloody Mary, queen of England. Of him it was said, “Here is one who never feared the face of man.”

 

II. The Oppressed Church and the Prophetic Role

            Back to Ahab and Jehoshaphat, we have a prophet by the name of Micaiah who represents the faithful religion of the Jews in the North. He is clearly a minority and is imprisoned for his constant preaching against wicked Ahab. Here we see that the oppressed church still has a prophetic role. Ahab says of Micaiah, “I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.” Micaiah is thrown into prison because of his prophecy.

            With the oppressed church much more courage is required to speak prophetically because you are not just in fear of losing your power and prestige, you are in fear of your very life. Think of John the Baptist in Mk.6. Herod had arrested John for preaching against Herod’s adulterous relationship with his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias. John was speaking out against the moral failure of the king and eventually was beheaded for it.

            The temptation for the oppressed church is to keep quiet out of fear instead of speaking boldly against evil. But even here, in a lot of cases, the oppressed church may be able to accomplish the main mission of evangelism more effectively by not addressing the ethical and moral issues of the day in the public arena. I think that there may be times when the church is called to be vocal and other times when the church should probably be more subtle.

            Think of Daniel who broke the law and prayed to the Lord as was his custom. He ended up in the lion’s den, yet God defended him. Were there any public protests against the edict to not pray? I don’t think so. Daniel just prayed, he did not protest. But when we read the book of Esther we see God’s people rising up in a very public and violent way to defend themselves against a great injustice, with the blessing of the King!

 

III. The Free Church and the Prophetic Role

            What about our situation as a free church in a free land? Here in America we have a pretty unique situation in world history. We have no state church and no significant state oppression, although there are certainly some small matters of persecution that are growing.

            Clearly we have freedom of the press and free speech in a free market place of ideas in which we can proclaim our message. We have a freedom to proclaim the gospel and a freedom to speak out against the evils of our day. I believe that the prophetic role of the church is strong in today’s society.

            The danger for the church in our environment is that freedom and prosperity can bring with it a spiritual apathy that leads us to not confront our state with the Word from God. Another danger is that in a free market of ideas there will be a plethora of kooks and nuts in the religious realm. Just watch the local access station on TV or some of the TV preachers and you will understand this.

 

IV. The Prophetic Role: Speak God’s Truth

            In the story of Micaiah and Ahab, what I notice is that the true prophet of God is often a lone figure speaking out against what is popular. There were 400 other prophets who Micaiah was disagreeing with. He was swimming upstream, against the current. Let us look now at the job of the prophet and how that relates to the church in our day.

            A. Confront Evil- The prophet is to speak forth the Word of God, Thus saith the Lord. He is to speak the truth of God’s Word to the situation of his day. In other words, the message of the prophet was pointed and relevant. A common message of the prophet was to confront evil and announce the judgment of God against evil.

            In the case of Micaiah, he was announcing judgment against Ahab, Ahab was going to die in the upcoming battle. Jonah was sent to Ninevah to announce God’s impending judgment (which he was all too eager to see) and the people of Ninevah actually repented, thus delaying judgment. Jesus confronted the Pharisees with messages that contained judgment and he pointed out their sins, such as hypocrisy. Nathan and John the Baptist pointed to the Kings’ adultery. Hosea points to a spirit of prostitution present amongst Israel’s spiritual life. 4:1 “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery…bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

            How can the church confront evil today? First and foremost the church needs to practice what it preaches, and always preach the gospel while ministering to the hurts of those around it. But should the church remain silent in the face of evil?

            I believe that the church should confront the evils of our day in a proportional manner. I believe that we should have the courage to say to our society, Thus saith the Lord, and point out where our culture is breaking the 10 commandments.

            In confronting evil however, we must avoid seeming overly negative and unloving. We should be firm and pointed, but also compassionate and loving.

            B. Point to the Truth- If the church is going to confront evil we must also think it through so that we can refute the arguments that support evil and then point to the truths of God that can remedy evil. It is one thing to tell people what is wrong, it is much better to show how to correct the wrong and get on the right path of righteousness. We must present alternatives to the world’s ways of doing things that bring on evil.

            For instance, in our culture right now there is a great debate about allowing homosexuals to marry. This is an urgent crisis that should never have been allowed to get this far. But the church was relatively silent and ineffective years ago during the sexual revolution of the 1950’s-70’s. The church did not fight hard enough against the loosening of the divorce laws. The church did not resist enough against the bad stuff on TV, in the movies and music, etc. The church did not offer up much of a defense to the psychologists who changed homosexuality from a disease to an alternative lifestyle. The church did not promote a biblical view of marriage with the vigor that was needed.

            Confronting evil and pointing to the truth is not a one dimensional battle. It is fought on many fronts and requires eternal vigilance.

            C. Provide Hope- The church should not be known for its negative stands against evil, but should be known as a bastion of love and hope that will stand strong against evil but in a respectful and gracious way. We offer alternatives to the ways of the world both in teaching and in how we live our lives. This hope is centered in the gospel of Gods grace through Jesus’s atoning death on the cross, but this hope is not just for the afterlife, it also affects how we live today. We need to show the world as we confront the world, that there is a better way to live our lives.

            How to Serve as a Prophet: 1)speak out 2)proclaim the gospel 3)write 4)vote 5)call 6)one on one 7)as a group

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Thanks Be To God: America Is Great Because America Is Good

Posted on November 27, 2008. Filed under: A Theology of Patriotism, American History |

Thursday, November 27, 2008– Happy Thanksgiving 2008! We are not just generically thankful, we are thankful to the One True and Living God, the Triune God of the Old and New Testaments whose Son is the Lord Jesus Christ and whose Holy Spirit indwells each Believer. We thank God for who He is, Omnipotent, Holy, Sovereign, Gracious, Omnipresent, Merciful, All-Wise, Just, Omniscient and Glorious. We thank God for what he has done- the beauty of creation, his abundant provision, and most of all for his forgiving us of our sins and adopting us into his family, granting us everlasting life because of the work of his Son on the cross.

We thank God today for allowing us to live in the greatest nation in the world, the most free nation in the world, America. This morning I would like to quote from a book I am reading, “A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror” by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, published by Sentinel of the Penguin Group in New York, 2004.

The quotes are from the introduction, pp.xii-xiii: “The reason so many academics miss the real history of America is that they assume that ideas don’t matter and there is no such thing as virtue…that is what America is all about- ideas. Ideas such as ‘All men are created equal’; the United States is the ‘last, best hope’ of earth; and America ‘is great, because it is good.'”

“Honor counted to founding patriots like Adams, Jefferson, Washington and then later, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Character counted. Property was also important; no denying that, because with property came liberty. But virtue came first.”

“It is not surprising, then, that so many left-wing historians miss the boat…They fail to understand what every colonial settler and every western pioneer understood: character was tied to liberty, and liberty to property. All three were needed for success, but character was the prerequisite because it put the law behind property agreements, and it set responsibility right next to liberty. And the surest way to ensure the presence of good character was to keep God at the center of one’s life, community, and ultimately, nation. ‘Separation of church and state’ meant freedom TO worship, not freedom FROM worship. It went back to that link between liberty and responsibility, and no one could be taken seriously who was not responsible to God. ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’ They believed these words.”

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Rama Revealed, by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee, a book review

Posted on November 26, 2008. Filed under: Book Reviews, Science Fiction |

The final chapter in this 4 volume  series, Rama Revealed, offers up a feast for the thinking SF fan as the authors conclude this fantastic journey into the hearts  and souls of humans, human society, an alien society and cosmology. This book deals with the emotional struggles of family and friends forced to live in an alien culture, the nature of two different kinds of authoritarian societies, the morality of war, and debate over creation, evolution and Intelligent Design. It is my humble opinion that the Rama series by Clarke and Lee is the best SF series of all time.

Matthew 25

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, [6] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Rama Revealed by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee, Bantam 1994, picks up where Garden of Rama left off, with Nicole in prison, awaiting execution while on board the Raman starship heading for Tau Ceti. The 2,000+ humans on board have managed to wreck the environment, allowed themselves to be led by the nose into serfdom, and have participated in a genocidal war against another species for no reason other than coveting the other species’ land.

Nicole is rescued from death thanks to the high tech, miniature robots sent from her husband Richard who is living underneath the island of “New York”. She and most of her family and a few friends escape the totalitarian state of New Eden and spend months living in hiding before being “captured” by the octospiders and spending months trying to survive in an alien civilization. The humans of New Eden eventually wage war against the octospiders and the pacifistic octospiders eventually, reluctantly fight back with their only weapons- biological agents which decimate the human side.

As the two species are set to destroy each other the Ramans intervene by putting everyone to sleep until the spaceship arrives at the Node at Tau Ceti. At that point judgment is meted out and the vast majority of the humans are placed on a ship that will carry them nowhere but to their deaths and the decent minority are rewarded.

In this review I want to focus on a few themes that Clarke and Lee brought out and interpret them through a biblical world view. First is the idea of continuing to sin when there is overwhelming evidence that you are being observed. Throughout the Rama series it is made known, even to the characters in the story, that the Ramans have the technology to observe you 24×7. The Raman purpose for this grand experiment is to thoroughly know, understand and catalogue all space faring creatures in this part of the Galaxy. Throughout the books it is made clear that everything is being watched and studied.

On p.56 ‘I suppose you’re right,’ Nicole said wistfully. ‘But it’s depressing that we, as a species, behave so barbarically, even when we are fairly certain we’re being observed.’ At times later in the book the octospiders show the humans how they have “bugged” the human side and can see everything that goes on. Even one of the alien species has such a perfect memory that when it links with Richard in Garden of Rama or with Nicole in Rama Revealed, they can see things perfectly that they never witnessed. The idea is that we are being watched.

Two lessons from this idea: 1) Are there aliens here now, watching and observing us humans? Are they watching us like some kind of grand experiment, ready to intervene if we cross the line and try to nuke ourselves? With the hundreds, yea thousands of UFO sightings, one can get the idea that if there are that many aliens flying around in cloaked star ships or flying saucers, what are they doing? What are they waiting for? 2) God is watching us all the time; he is omnipresent and omniscient. He sees all and knows all. It is insane to sin.

One of the more morbid scenes in the book is when Nicole asks to see what her straying daughter, Katie is doing. Reluctantly the octospiders let her watch as Katie engages in intravenous drug use and kinky sex. The idea though, is that the Ramans, not just the octospiders, are watching and evaluating the humans; and judgment day is approaching.

But we have a tendency to ignore the fact that we are being observed. We put that out of our mind. The old bumpersticker “God is my Co-Pilot” is true, yet we behave as if it weren’t. Luke 8: 17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

Another idea from the novel is faith. Nicole invariably has faith in the goodness of the octospiders and in the mission of Rama. She is not merely optimistic, she has a stalwart faith. This is contrasted with the unbelief of the crowds of humans who fall in behind the dictator Nakamura or who just try to live their lives. Ellie’s husband, Robert is a good case in point. He never believes and would rather be lost in his work. He eventually goes back to the ‘dark side’. Nicole’s faith is rewarded in the end with the ‘beatific vision’ in the Knowledge Node (hearkening back to the tree of knowledge in Genesis?) There she receives the revelation of the meaning of it all. Faith is rewarded.

There is an interesting duel between Creation, Evolution and Intelligent Design throughout the book that is never resolved; they are left in a useful tension. P.168 “I don’t believe all this just happened,” Nicole said. “Not on another planet. Not anywhere. Natural evolution simply does not result in the kind of interspecies harmony we have witnessed the last two days.” “What are you suggesting?” Richard asked. “That all these creatures were somehow designed, like machines, to perform their funcitons?” “it is the only explanation I can accept,” Nicole said.

As they spend time with the octospiders they realize that their strength is in biolgical engineering. From food and energy production to transportation the octos have engineered animals/bugs to do their work for them. Conversations at the end of the book show Nicole that God was involved in creation and is using an experimental method to produce a harmonious universe and includes some evolution and some direct interference to get the job done. In this train of thought throughout the book I can see the atheist Clarke and the Catholic Believer Lee, also a scientist, arguing back and forth, yet settling on this compromise. Now, if only the school systems would agree to compromise and allow for all three ideas to be taught and discussed….

The political discussion in the book is also quite revealing. The octospiders live in a type of socialistic state, that optimizes everyone’s usefulness. They allow room for the free spirits who want to do their own thing, but they must at lest pull their own weight or face execution. Be productive or die. This is very different from the human form of socialism that allows people, indeed it motivates people, to be non-productive. The authors are good to show that the price of socialism in loss of liberty.

This also touches on the subject of euthanasia amongst the octos. When one of their species gets too old to pull their weight they are terminated. Ultimately, sadly, Nicole takes this option in a way, and allows herself to die at the end when she could have lived on. But more on that later.

Dr. Blue, one of the octospiders, says on p.305 “We have plenty of evidence that without sound termination and replenishment policies, a colony of nearly immortal beings undergoes chaos in a relatively short period of tme.” Here is a staggering way of dealing with what would be a population explosion that would consume all the resources of a planet or spacecraft. This is a common theme in much of the SF I have read. What do you do with people when medical science advances so far that you can live for hundreds of years? And this issue is not merely for the future, we live in age that has got more promised in medicare and social security than it can possibly produce and pay out. With life expectancies growing and food supplies not growing, we have a problem.

One of the issues presented in books 2-4 of this series is the differences between children whether between Ellie and Katie or Galileo and Kepler. The book shows that genetics plays a huge roll in behavior and our choices in life. Are we predestined, programmed for how we turn out or is it a result of our nurturing and choices? After reading this series I would say that Gentry Lee may be an Augustinian in regards to predestination verses free will.

On p.455 is a brief but interesting discussion of free will vs. sovereignty: “Why didn’t you intercede a long time ago? Before all this occurred? Before there were so many deaths?” The Eagle didn’t answer immediately. “You can’t have it both ways, Nicole, ” he said at length. “you can’t have both free will and a benevolent higher power who protects you from yourself.” “Excuse me, ” Nicole said with a puzzled look on her face. “Did I mistakenly ask a religious question?” “Not really, ” the Eagle replied….

Yes Nicole, you did ask a religious question. One of the standard questions I have received through the years as a minister is this very question. “If God is good and all powerful, why doesn’t he intervene and stop the evil? Why does so much pain and sorrow and tragedy have to continue?” The Eagle’s answer here is less than adequate, but it is a start.

People do grow tired of the effects of evil in the world. They cry out for God to do something, to intervene. But when I pose the question, “how much evil would you like God to stop? Stop the hurricanes and earthquakes? Stop the wars? Stop the murderers? Stop you from hating your neighbor and talking bad about them and passing on rumors?” You see, we are always for God to intervene and stop somebody else’s evil, especially when it is hurtful to us. But we are less than enthusiastic about God stopping our free will, stopping our evil But then our evil is always accompanied by good reasons…

The Ramans do eventualy intervene, but only when their investment in the experiment is about to be destroyed. God also intervened at just the right time to accomplish redemption when he sent his Son Jesus to be born of the Virgin and to die on the Cross and to be Resurrected from the grave. He will intervene again when he sends the Son back to complete what he started at the cross, banish evil.

The interesting twist in the tragedy of Katie’s life is how she ends it all. In her story I see glimpses of Samson and Delilah. She is doomed and knows it, so she takes out the Philistine when she goes. In the end, her love for her father overcomes her addiction to drugs, sex and power. She dies redeemed and her story screams that there is hope for all, even to the end.

I was fascinated by the octospider way of war. Being an Army veteran and having studied military science most of my life, I was suprised at the theory of war the octos had developed. They were pacifists, until their very existence was threatened. Then they would fight dirty, using biological weapons, and fight to anihilate the enemy. No partial war with them, send a virus and wipe them all out! The war was mercifully stopped only when the Ramans intervened or there would have been no humans left. The really surprising thing however, was not their mode of war, nor their determination to win; rather, it was that they would then execute all of their own who participated in the planning and conduct of the war. They so hated war, and rightly understood that those who fight are forever changed, that they would eliminate the warriors as soon as they were not needed. I was somewhat reminded of Orson Scott Card’s novel, “Enders Game”, by all this. This used to describe the American way of war. We were naturally a peaceloving people who tried to avoid war. But get us involved and we would fight to the end. Not any more.

The final section of the book presents us with something like Judgment Day with a heaven and a hell. When the Carrier docks at the node, the Ramans separate the “sheep from the goats”. The vast majority go on board the Carrier where each species is separated from the others, thus symbolizing exile, isolation and loneliness- attributes of the biblical hell. Furthermore, the selection process was conducted by the ‘god-like’ Ramans based upon their continual observations which are recorded in files on each person- the book of life. Broad was the way to destruction as the vast majority of humans boarded the Carrier and only a few chosen went on to the Node. On board the Carrier there was no reproduction, all were sterilized- thus symbolizing death and decay, fruitlessness. They were going nowhere, just away from the Node, into the “outer darkness” with no destination. They could not return to the Earth, nor were they of any use to the Ramans. The Ramans promised they would not interfere or intervene. Hell is the absence of God. Left to our own devices, without the presence of the Holy Spirit or God’s Word, we will surely make hell worse than it was originally. Theirs was to be pointless existence until they died, slowly, one by one. Can you imagine being the last few? And then the last one? On board a huge alien ship with no hope. Hell.

Compare that with life at the node. The aged could receive new bodies and virtually live forever and have all their wants and needs taken care of by the beneficent Ramans. Heaven. When Nicole was in the Node of Knowledge I couldn’t help but see a comparison with Moses on top of Mt Nebo, looking at the Promised Land, but dying there and never crossing over.

In the end, Nicole chooses to die rather than live forever. She had strangely adopted the attitude of the octospiders when she did not need to. Though her death, in many ways, was a fitting end to the book and the series, I wish it were different. But one of the goals of Clarke and Lee throughout the series was to portray a normal human life lived in extraordinary circumstances. The character development of Nicole and Richard and many of the others was deep and detailed. Many reviewers had nothing good to say about the book because of the “soap opera” qualities in the book with all the details of Nicole’s feelings and thoughts and everyday activities. To me, that is what made the book.

The authors realistically portrayed what real people would go through if they were marooned on board an alien spacecraft for the rest of their lives. This story was believeable and yet fantastic at the same time. It was not a shoot ’em up space opera. It was a thorough analysis of the questions and problems of living with aliens.

In my final analysis, this is the best series of SF books I have ever read. It is obvious to me that Gentry Lee has a theological as well as scientific mind and I deeply appreciate the way he addressed many serious issues. This is indeed a novel, a series, for the thinking SF fan.

I am surprised at the scarcity of good reviews on this book. Here are the few I found.

www0.epinions.com/review/Rama_Revealed_by_Arthur_C_Clarke_and_by_Gentry_Lee/content_22121647748

www.amazon.co.uk/Rama-Revealed-Arthur-C-Clarke/dp/1857232526

search.barnesandnoble.com/Rama-Revealed/Arthur-C-Clarke/e/9780553569476

Finally, check out this great article from Christianity Today about Sci Fi and Spirituality:

www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/february/16.20.html

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Mark 3:20-30 “The Unforgivable Sin”

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: The Gospel of Mark |

Mark 3:20-30 “The Unforgivable Sin”

Sunday 7 November 1999 PM

__________________

 

Outline:

Intro

I. Lunatic

II. Demonic Liar

III. The Unforgivable Sin

__________________________________________

 

Introduction: Have you ever met somebody who worried about whether they had committed the unforgivable sin? Maybe even someone here tonight has wondered about this. As we shall see in this passage the main idea revolves around the question, “Who is Jesus?” We shall find that the unforgivable sin is clearly related to our answer to this question.

 

I. Lunatic?

            Was Jesus crazy? Was he insane? deluded? confused? Was he a religious kook? In vs 20 we see the ministry of Jesus in public again after the time alone with his disciples. We see Jesus in a house with a gathering crowd that is so pressing that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. We see this same phenomenon today with virtually any famous person out in public- the crowds gather for autographs and interviews. Imagine sitting down in a restaurant and looking over at the next table and seeing your favorite actor, sports star, or recording star. You see others around you stealing glances, whispering to each other with quizzical looks. Finally one brave, impetuous person stands and walks over to the table and asks for an autograph, if the autograph is graciously given what happens next? A flood…. and the person’s meal is not eaten. So it was with Jesus, the text seems to say that Jesus and his disciples were merely at the house to eat a meal and the crowd shows up. Imagine you were the host…. your place would be overrun with strangers, the sick, the curious.

            But the next element was certainly embarrassing for many. The family of Jesus shows up, indicating that this story is taking place either in Nazareth or somewhere close, perhaps back at Capernaum. Did Jesus’ family show up to assist in the ministry? To encourage and support Jesus? NO! They went to take charge of Jesus, the Greek means basically to arrest him, to take him by force, to compel him to return with them.

            Why would they do this? “For they said, ‘He is out of his mind’ ” Stories had come back to Jesus’ family that he was crazy, and they wanted to help him by forcing him to come back home. Imagine  their shame and embarrassment over Jesus. But now imagine how Jesus felt knowing that his own family considered him to be insane.

            Keep in mind that the family unit of those days was considerably tighter and more tradition bound than anything we see today. The freedom we have today to do our own thing was not available then. For Jesus to give up the carpenter business and be a preacher was bad enough, but now apparently the stories had floated back home that he was a radical, he was opposing the Pharisees and scribes, that he was saying some outlandish things, that he was casting out demons and demons talked to him.

            Imagine the condescending attitudes of his brothers; imagine the hurt his mother felt, she was just looking out for her son, her firstborn. This showed some genuine love for Jesus however, they were convinced that his extremism was endangering his health, they wanted to shelter Jesus. John 7:5 says that even his own brothers did not believe in him. They were not agreeing with Jesus about who he was and what his calling or task was.

            We see this similar attitude towards Jesus in our day when people say that he was a good man, even a miracle worker, but that he was not the divine Son of God, the risen Lord. People look at his death as an example of courage, dying heroically for right- anything but a substitutionary, penal, atoning sacrifice that appeases the holy wrath of God the Judge. A comfortable way, a safe way of looking at Jesus is that he was just a good guy that was a little bit misunderstood and even misguided as to who he was and why he came here.

            Look at Acts 26:24. 1Cor 4:10; 1:18.

 

II. Demonic Liar.

            What did the experts say about Jesus? What did the educated, trained, religious elites think about who Jesus was? vs22 “He is possessed by Beelzebub” Jesus is possessed by a powerful demon and that is the source of his power. By the prince of demons he is driving out demons. This makes Jesus the son of Satan himself in their thinking.

            Notice that they are not denying the mighty works that Jesus is doing, they never disagree that Jesus is a miracle worker or that the demons obey him. What they are saying is that his power comes from the devil. They are calling evil good, and good evil. Isaiah 5:20. This makes Jesus a sorcerer, a master of black magic. The scribes and Pharisees could not believe that anyone who disagreed with them so much could possibly be working on God’s side; hence they are ultimately very arrogant and proud though they could not do the miracles Jesus did.

            How did Jesus answer them? Vss23-27 Jesus is the one who has entered Satan’s house, the strong man’s house, to bind him. Only one stronger than Satan can overthrow him and can bind him and liberate his possessed souls. Isaiah 49:24-25.

            Here we see outright antagonism and hatred for Jesus by his opponents who not only disagree with him but demonize him. This tactic is common in argumentation when you run out of evidence and logic, simply resort to name calling. We see this all too often in our political processes today.

 

III. The Unforgivable Sin.

            Here Jesus calls it exactly as he sees it, to attribute his works to the devil is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. To call the work of God the work of the devil is blasphemy. Guilty of an eternal sin, never to be forgiven, extremely harsh words by Jesus.

            What is this sin? Quite simply it is the sin of denying the Spirit’s testimony about who Christ is and what he has done. It is nothing more than and nothing less than rejecting Christ persistently, continuously til the day you die. This sin is unforgivable in the sense that if you die in your sins there is no second chance. This is not talking about a one time mistake, an ignorant mistake. This is a steady, thoughtful, informed rejection out of hatred for Christ.

            Look at the life of Paul Phil 3:5-6. 1Tim1:13 Gal 1:13-14

            The unforgivable sin is not the normal laundry list of sins: adultery and lusts, even perversions I Cor 6:9ff

            If you are even worried that you have committed the unpardonable sin that is a sign that you have not! Take time now to repent of your sin and call out to Jesus for his grace and mercy. Today is the day of salvation, trust in Jesus.

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Happy First Anniversary to Mark12ministries Blog

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Tuesday, November 25, 2008–Last Thursday, Nov. 20th, 2008, was the one year anniversary of my new blog, Mark12ministries. I began the blog kind of under the inspiration of Billy at:

abettercountry.wordpress.com/

Billy and I have served together at two churches now, and he is a constant joy to be around and has been used by the Lord in my life in many ways. So thank you Billy, for helping me return to the Blogosphere!

I also want to thank Pastor Tim at Redeemer Church in Fort Worth, the staff and Elders for giving me another chance. They welcomed me and my family with warmth and granted us a place to worship, serve and teach. This church is the most miraculous and gracious place I have seen in my life, surpassing even my time at the Baptist Student Union at OU back in the 1970’s. When Tim asked me to teach a Sunday School class, I seriously did not think I was ready, but he did. I submitted to the Lord’s calling and really struggled those first few weeks, but the Lord has blessed and we are continuing to work our way through Genesis together. My wife, Dawn, is now teaching in the 2 yr olds and loving it and we are serving with Wayne and Sheri in a Care Group as well. More ministry opportunities are opening at Redeemer. I am happier and more fulfilled in ministry than I have ever been. The Lord is good.

When I began this blog I was wounded and hurting from a fairly long and traumatic ordeal at a church that I had served for 15 years. I was unable to read, study, write or do anything productive. I viewed blogging as a way of getting my mind and heart back into the fight. My first stories tended to focus on on the issues at my former church; I called that series of blogs Worship Wars. I eventually want to follow those articles up in a more detailed fashion, but they served their purpose, I am much more at peace with that whole experience. God is sovereign and wise and loving even when we do not understand why things happen and we suffer lasting damage from those experiences.

This blog has grown beyond what I originally had planned. As the Lord worked healing in my heart and mind my interest in studying and reading has returned and I now have a very eclectic blog that deals with everything from my son’s military adventures, to guns and hunting, Christian Preparedness, cooking, science fiction, book reviews, theology, history, politics and economics, the news of the day, sermons and Bible Studies.

In the blogs I read it seems that most are very focused in one or two areas. Mine is all over the place. Why? I follow my interests which are diverse but I also want to draw people into a theological site from all different directions. It is a scatter brained way of reaching out to those from all kinds of backgrounds. I have no clue if the blog is helpful but it is at least fun!

The blog is small in terms of the numbers of hits, averaging just over 1000 a month, and it may not ever grow beyond that. I’m fine with that. But it has been growing. The two weeks surrounding the election were my best ever. I have no idea of the number of regular readers other than a few friends like Don, Stephanie, Gramps, Randy, Erich and a few more.

The “tone” of my blog varies hugely. When I am writing about politics, Democrats (demoncrats), Republicans (republicrats), homosexual activists, muslims, Russians (Russkies), and the Chinese (chicoms), I can get a little bit irritated and use strong language. I use the term “pervert” to describe the homosexuals at times because words have meanings and that word is an important word that our culture is forgetting to our peril. I use the term “Marxist” to describe the modern day demoncrats because that is what they have become: authoritarian collectivists. If those terms offend people, too bad. Words have meanings and should be used. People get offended too easily today over the wrong things and we do not get offended over the right things. I am so disgusted at our political leaders today, from both parties.

Spiritually speaking, I am in much better shape today than I was a year ago. Writing here has helped. The actual studying has helped even more. It is a challenge to confront the news of the day- the political, economic and cultural turmoil of our society- with faith and trust in our Sovereign Lord. The election results were definitely a challenge and I am just now beginning to calm down from that. Not that the loss was a surprise, I pretty much thouhgt it would end up like that.

I am attempting to cultivate the attitude of the Resistance. As a Christian, a Conservative and Patriot I realize that we are behind, we are surrounded, we are outnumbered, but help is just across the channel and He is coming soon. Therefore, attack in any direction with the truth of God’s Word and rescue the perishing. Every area of life should claimed for the King, Jesus.

Equality 7-2521

viva le Resistance

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Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

Posted on November 25, 2008. Filed under: Apologetics |

Redeemer Church Central Care Group

A Study of RC Sproul’s Book: Reason to Believe

Chapter One “The Bible Contradicts Itself; It’s Just a Fairy Tale”

All religions appeal to some kind of an authority. Christians appeal to the Bible as their authority. The Bible is written thousands of years ago and has been the subject of a huge amount of critical study through the centuries and today, many have called its trustworthiness into doubt. Tonight we will deal with some of the common questions about the trustworthiness of the Bible.

I. Many people believe the Bible is like other ancient literature and is full of myths. Ancient myths are non-historical but may convey some moral lessons, but certainly not authoritative truth. There are 3 reasons many people assume the Bible is full of myths. 1) The Bible has many miracles all throughout and we live in an age that does not believe in the supernatural. Miracles must be myths. 2) There are similar stories in other ancient literature, like the flood account in the Epic of Gilgamesh, that are clearly myth, so the biblical accounts must also be myths. 3) Even in the stories of Jesus there are similar accounts in pagan stories.

1) The question of miracles. If people a priori rule out miracles as myths then this is a philosophical issue. Here the critic must prove their assumption by demonstrating we live in a closed universe where there is no God and no intervention by God in space and time. But, if there is an omnipotent God, then miracles cannot be ruled out. The materialist has a problem with “mind”. If the mind is only atoms behaving randomly in a biological process how can we have any truth, any justice, any beauty?

2) Just because miracles may be possible does not prove every claim to a miracle is valid. We must look at the context and content of miracle stories and see if there is evidence. What is the tone of the account? The biblical miracles have a sobriety about them that is not found in the Gnostic gospels’ miracle accounts. The men of the Bible who perform miracles have a demonstrated godly character and are willing to die for their beliefs. 2Peter 1:16.

3) Parallel accounts of miracles in pagan literature can be looked as a validation of the basic story of the miracles. A comparison of biblical miracles with the pagan versions will also show the dramatic differences between them. Sproul writes (p.22) “At the heart of the difference between Greek mythology and biblical literature is a radically different view of the significance of history. For the Greeks there is no overt attempt to ground myth within the framework of history. Indeed, for the gods to become actually incarnate in the realm of space and time is utterly repugnant to the Greek mind. On the other hand that which is non-historical or anti-historical is relegated to the level of falsehood by the Hebrew. This radically opposing view of history is essential to understanding the Jewish-Greek antithesis with respect to the question of myth.”

II. Does the Bible Conflict with Science?

1) The conflict between Scripture and Science has likely done more to harm the credibility of the Bible today than anything else. From the Church’s condemnation of Galileo to the Scopes Monkey Trial the church is still feeling the embarrassment of wrongly interpreting scripture, not understanding science and allowing the secular media to run roughshod over the Church. Some argue that the Scriptures are in complete conflict with science.

2) How do we as Christians respond to these kinds of misunderstandings and allegations? We must readily acknowledge that the Church has been wrong in the past on some serious issues. But we must also then point out that the Bible nowhere teaches anything like the Earth being the center of the universe. The Bible uses phenomenological language to describe things like the sun rising, and this term is still used in secular science today. The biblical view of the spiritual realm including demons does not conflict with any scientific fact or natural law. The Bible is not a science textbook, however. But there are serious conflicts about the origin of man and the universe. But keep in mind that the scientist frequently strays into history and metaphysics when they try to talk authoritatively about origins. Sproul writes (p.24) “But the question of man’s origin can never be determined by the study of biology. The question of origin is a question of history. The biologist can describe how things could have happened, but can never tell us how they did happen.”

III. Is the Bible Filled with Contradictions?

1) People accept without question the charge that the Bible is filled with Contradictions, yet they don’t really understand what a contradiction is. Certainly the Bible has some passages that are very difficult and there are some discrepancies that remain unresolved. But are there any actual contradictions in the Bible? Such supposed Bible contradictions as the number of angels present at the tomb of Jesus on the day of the Resurrection are easily shown to be not contradictions. One Gospel author states that there were 2 angels at the tomb and another one states there was an angel, implying one but not necessarily only one. Sproul denies that the Bible is filled with contradictions and gives an anecdotal story of one of his students whom he challenged to find 50 contradictions over night, and failed utterly.

IV. Is the Bible Historically Accurate?

1) The historical investigation of the Bible has been so thorough and has discovered no significant historical problems that we have every reason to trust the Bible as being historically accurate and verifiable. The 20th century discoveries at Ugarit, Qumran and Ebla have confirmed much of the Old Testament while the work of William Ramsey has confirmed much of the gospels and Acts.

V. Why Is Some of the Bible so Offensive?

1) People today frequently reject the Bible because of its violence and the wrath of God. The Old Testament in particular is singled out and many people will say that they can believe in Jesus but not that angry, wrathful God of the Old Testament. And yet it is the cross of Christ that is the real stumbling stone of violence and there is an abundance of grace in the Old Testament. We fail to understand the violence of the OT because we take sin lightly today and do take the holiness of God seriously at all. Sproul writes (p.30), “If we are offended by the Bible, perhaps the fault is not in God but in our own corrupt and distorted sense of values. I wonder what would happen if we called a moratorium on our criticism of the Bible and allowed the Bible to criticize us!”

VI. Are the Scriptures Infallible?

1) It is one thing to agree that the Bible is generally historically accurate and is not myth and has no serious contradictions. But it is something else entirely to state that the Bible is inspired by God and is infallible and inerrant. Sproul walks us through a series of premises that lead to the conclusion that “On the basis of the infallible authority of Jesus Christ, the church believes the Bible to be utterly trustworthy, i.e. infallible.” (p.31). If we are persuaded that Christ is the sinless Son of God then we should take his view of the Bible seriously.

VII. Conclusion

This first chapter dealt with the questions concerning the Bible itself because the Bible is our beginning point, our authority. If we cannot have an agreement on our authority it is difficult to answer any of the other questions that the book brings out. When the world comes to us with questions we should never back down from claiming the Bible is accurate and authoritative. It is the Word of God.

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    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!

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