Posts for May 2011
5 Posts found

Job 4.17-21 – Judging God
Posted: 31 May 2011 in Job

Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth. They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for ever without any regarding it. Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they die, even without wisdom.

The answer to Eliphaz’s question is of course: No, mortal man cannot be more just than God, or more pure than his maker. And yet, when predestination is spoken of, or whenever Gd allows some natural disaster to occur, a common response to to ask: “What does God think he is about?” The whole thrust of the book of Job is that natural disasters cannot necessarily be interpreted in terms of divine displeasure, but that is not the point. The point is that God has his reasons which are not ours to know, and for man to question his maker, or cast aspertions upon him, is wholly inappropriate. We cannot say that we will worship God, just so long as he lives up to our expectations, because that is no worship at all.

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Genesis 1.24-28 – The place of mankind in Creation
Posted: 26 May 2011 in Genesis

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth

I do not personally think that Genesis 1 can be read as a scientific or historical account of creation, but that most definitely does not mean that it is without theological importance. One thing it makes very clear is that God is the creator of all that is. In particular he is the creator of man. Another thing it makes clear is that, in spite of his common biological origin with other creatures, man has been set apart by God, and given a special commision. He is to have dominion over the earth and, in effect, be God’s vice-regent on earth. Nevertheless, he still lives under God’s authority, and he has a duty to serve and worship his Lord. That fact just makes it all the more deplorable when men, in the person of Adam, are not content with the exalted position bestowed upon them by God, but still want to usurp God’s authority, and become gods themselves.

It can hardly be said too often that we are here to serve God, and glorify him in all things. Insofar as man has been set apart from the rest of creation, it is so that we are the better able to perform that primary duty.

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Predestination in the New Testament
Posted: 25 May 2011 in Acts, Ephesians, Hebrews, Mark

“And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, THEY WHICH ARE CALLED might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9.15)

“For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God SHALL CALL.” (Acts 2.39)

“And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, WHOM HE HATH CHOSEN, he hath shortened the days.” (Mark 13.20)

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Ephesians 1.4-5)

The above passages could be multiplied endlessly. I find it scarcely possible to pick up the Bible without stumbling across another verse, which I had previously glided over without noticing its real meaning. The above all speak of they same thing, which is the absolute sovereignty of God in electing some people to eternal salvation, whilst leaving others to perish as a consequence of their sin. It is easy to see why this is an unpopular doctrine, but it is one which runs throughout the New Testament, and, to a lesser extent, the Old Testament as well.

A reasonable expectation might be that, if we are unable to effect our own salvation, and we are wholly dependent upon God’s grace, then he might elect all equally to salvation. Reasonable though that might be, there seem to be many sayings of Jesus which tell against it. For example:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7.13-14)

Clearly the Christian God is not the santa claus god atheists love to lampoon, and for us Christians our ability to accept what God reveals of himself in the Bible is a test of our humility and theological seriousness.

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Psalm 104.10-19,31 – Our dependence upon God’s Providence
Posted: 23 May 2011 in Psalms

He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.
They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.
By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.
He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.
The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;
Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.
The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.
He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.
The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.

The psalmist knows, as modern man does not, that all things come from God, and that we are wholly dependent upon his providence. Instead of praising God, he prefers to praise our own achievements, and he thereby derogates from the glory which belongs to God alone. He also fails to acknowledge that his achievements are only possible because of God’s prior providential care. This refusal of worship is one of the manifold consequences of the fall, which echo throughout all creation.

Verses 28-29 of the same psalm read:

That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

And the same goes for us. We are not the authors of the biological processes which bring forth sustenance; we merely make use of them. We live on this earth for as long as it is God’s good pleasure that we should do so, and when he decides to bring our lives to a close, we die.

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Mark 15.22-33 – Sin and Salvation
Posted: 20 May 2011 in Mark

And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

This story is so familiar it can be difficult to make yourself realise the full enormity of what is going on. The Bible has much to say about the sinful nature of man, but with the crucifixion of the Son of God, the sin endemic to the human race reaches its furthest extent. Even though none of us were present at the crucifixion, we shouldn’t kid ourselves that we can escape our share of guilt. We share in the same sinful nature of those who crucified Jesus, and, given half a chance, we may well have been amongst those helping to drive the nails in. If that is true for Christians, it is even more true for those who actively set their face against God. The condemnation which is promised for rebellion against God is wholly justified.

And yet, for those to whom God is graciously pleased to grant repentance, and acknowedgement of their sins, the crucifixion and ressurection of Jesus makes salvation available.

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