Posts for August 2010
5 Posts found

Psalm 111.10, 14.1 – Wisdom
Posted: 30 August 2010 in Psalms

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (Psalm 111.10)

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. (Psalm 14.1)

Wisdom and cleverness are two different things. It is entirely possible to be both very clever and very foolish. A wise fool, on the other hand, is an oxymoron.

Being clever is a matter of being able to acquire large amounts of information, and being able to manipulate it effectively, so as to draw new conclusions. Such cleverness can just as easily be used to build an atomic bomb as it can to serve God.

Being wise, on the other hand, involves conforming ourselves to the nature of reality, and, as a result, being able to navigate our way through this earthly existence without any major mishaps. For a Christian the fundamental nature of reality lies in its being God’s creation, with ourselves being part of that creation. Conforming ourselves to the nature of reality means seeking to know God’s will, obeying it, and living for his Glory.

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Ezekiel 9.3-6, 11 – Divine Wrath
Posted: 28 August 2010 in Ezekiel

“And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.”

“And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.”

The first four verses quoted above are an echo of some of the passages to be found in Revelation, and they remind us that the God of love is also a God of wrath. Today it is common for both theologians and preachers to emphasise the God’s love, whilst virtually ignoring his wrath. I suppose that must at least partly be put down to a reaction against the hellfire sermons of yesteryear, when the imbalance was precisely on the other foot.

But when I hear people complain that they don’t much care for the God who judges, and then casts into hell those who are the objects of his wrath, my immediate reaction is that whether or not they like it is not really relevant. The only question which matters is whether or not it is true. The biblical authors (in both testaments) certainly seemed to think it is true, and, given that Christians are supposed to believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God, they might at least give it the benefit of the doubt, when it comes to believing what it has to say about divine retribution.

As for verse 11, it is a reminder that, unlike humans, angels always obey the will of God.

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John 1.1-10, Luke 11.31 – Divinity of Christ
Posted: 27 August 2010 in John, Luke

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.”

“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”

One of the resurrected heresies to be heard nowadays involves the denial of Jesus’ divinity. It is most notably to be heard from Jehovah’s Witnesses, but they are far from being alone. Perhaps one of the most dreadful examples of that is John Selby Spong, who is supposed to be an Anglican bishop, but who (for heaven sake) does not even believe in the existence of God.

A quirk in Greek grammar allows the Jehovah’s witnesses to translate John 1.1 as “The Word was a god.” However, twice in his opening verses (verses 3 and 10) John states that the Word was responsible for bringing Creation into being, which harks back directly to Genesis 1, where God is said to have been responsible for bringing Creation into being.

So far as the verse from Luke is concerned, it has to be said that either Jesus was God Incarnate, or he must have had an ego the size of a mountain. If the latter were to be the case, it is not clear that anybody should be honouring him as their Lord and saviour; whether they be Jehovah’s Witnesses, errant bishops, or otherwise. As C S Lewis once said, you cannot sensibly deny both that Jesus was God Incarnate, and in the very next breath go on to describe him as a great moral and religious teacher.

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2 Peter 2.1-3, 20-21 Modern Heresies (2)
Posted: 26 August 2010 in 2 Peter

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not….. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

As readers of this blog will doubtless be aware, chapter two of 2 Peter contains much in similar vein. The author of Genesis 3 was certainly correct when he identified pride as the original sin, and here it is on display again. In their pride, and particularly in a culture which revolves around consumer choice, men do not want to accept the authority of the Bible, of the Church, or even of God himself. Perhaps it is unsurprising that atheists and agnostics feel that way, but for Christians it ought to be unthinkable. People are nowadays not much interested in objective truth, but only in what “works” for them. Christianity (and for that matter God) is seen as just one more amongst a range of options available in the spiritual market place. These can aim at a longer life, a happier life, a more “spiritual” life, or simply at greater material success (the “prosperity gospel”).

Unfortunately, as he makes very clear in the Bible, God is interested in objective truth, especially as that relates to what he requires of man, and also as it relates to our only means of salvation. He is unlikely to be impressed by the kind of self absorption which only asks: What feels “right” for me?

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Romans 9.6-13 – Election and Salvation
Posted: 25 August 2010 in Romans

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

The God of the Bible is preeminently one who elects individuals and nations. As Paul records, that fact is attested to throughout sacred history. First, Abraham was called with the promise that he and his descendants would be the agents through which God’s blessing would eventually extend to the whole of mankind. Next Isaac was called in preference to Ishmael, and then Jacob in preference to Esau. After that a remnant were chosen to return from exile, and now it is those born of the Spirit who are the elect of God. At every point it is the will of God, rather than the will of man, which has been the determinative factor:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1.12-13)

I sometimes hear it said in internet forums that predestination is not biblical, and I am left wondering whether somebody who says that reads the same Bible as me. We were not created to be masters of our own destiny, but to serve God’s purposes. Whilst we might not like to be dependent upon God’s grace, that is the situation as it is revealed to us in the Bible. If we do not accept what God has to say for himself, then, it seems to me, we must tread one of the many roads to idolatry.

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