Posts for January 2012
5 Posts found

Colossians 2.1-10 – Christ and divine revelation as the only means to salvation.
Posted: 31 January 2012 in Colossians

For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.

Although not stated quite as explicitly as elsewhere, there is here a theme which recurs throughout the New Testament: Namely Christ as the only means of salvation. To accept that truth requires a certain amount of humility, and humility is a virtue not always easy to be come by; especially amongst those who pride themselves on their intellectual prowess. God speaks, and, if we would be truly wise, we listen. Without adding anything of our own, and without allowing anybody else to add it for us. That is what Paul means when he warns his readers against being beguiled with enticing words of man’s wisdom, or spoiled through philosophy and vain deceit. Of course that does not mean that there is no true knowledge to be obtained in other fields, and by other means, but when it comes to salvation, and the knowledge of God, divine revelation is the only way to true knowledge. There is nothing to be added to (or taken away from) what God has revealed, in Christ and in the scriptures.

No comments

Numbers 23.28-24.6 – Wanting to control God.
Posted: 30 January 2012 in Numbers

And Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looketh toward jeshimon. And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven bullocks and seven rams. And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar. And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him. And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.

Further to the previous post, having been told that it was God’s will that Israel should be blessed, it might be asked why Balak nevertheless tried, no less than three times, to persuade Balaam to curse them. The answer, of course, is that Balak, wanted to bring God (along with Israel) under his control. Absurd though it may be to suppose that anybody can control God, Balak was probably far from alone in that, and we too are, in all likelihood, guilty of it more often than we would care to admit to. We would much prefer to be in control of our own lives and destinies, rather than having the sovereign Lord God reign over us. Unless, however, we want to justify the atheists’ taunt that we are out of touch with reality, we had better adjust ourselves to the reality that God does indeed reign over us, and that our destinies lie in his hands (not ours).

To follow Balak’s bad example, and attempt to frustrate God’s will, as that is revealed to us (whether through scripture reading or throgh prayer); that is not a very good idea.

No comments

Numbers 23.18-24 – Election and God’s free choice
Posted: 29 January 2012 in Numbers

And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor: God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought! Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.

Those familiar with the story in Numbers will know that Balak, king of Moab attempts, on three separate occasions, to persuade Balaam to curse Israel. On each occasion God instructs Balaam to bless Israel, and puts the appropriate words in his mouth. The above is the blessing Balaam utters on the second occasion.

In ancient times, as it does today, Israel represented a very small percentage of the world’s population, and to human sensibilities it is bound to seem outrageous that God should place his blessing upon them alone. Nevertheless, the Lord chooses whom he chooses, and, as the above passage says, God is not a man that he should repent. We know, of course, that Israel’s election will include its role in bringing the light of Christ to the Gentiles. Even after the time of Christ, however, there is an elect whom God has freely chosen for himself. Nowhere in the Bible is an explanation given for why God should choose some, but not others. It is stated as a fact, and left at that.

But maybe the scandal in the particularity of election is also its point, at least in part. If everybody were chosen to be recipients of God’s special favour, and with the human psyche being what it is, it would not be long before the idea began to insinuate itself into our minds that we had some kind of automatic right to the gifts which God distributes as he will. Prior to the fall we might have conceived of ourselves as creatures wholly dependent upon the good pleasure of our Creator, and without any rights when we stand before him. But now we need something like predestination as a sharp reminder that we are but creatures, and dependent upon our Creator’s will.

No comments

2 Peter 3.1-9 – Pride and submission to God.
Posted: 28 January 2012 in 2 Peter

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

As with the Epistle of Jude elsewhere in the New Testament, we are told here that the faith was once delivered to the saints, and now it can neither be added to or subtracted from. Not in quite those words, but the message is the same. But here we are also told that in the last days scoffers will arise. I am not a great one for end time predictions; they arise too often, and fail just as often – with the last one being less than twelve months ago. Nevertheless, it can hardly be denied that the scoffers are out in force; especially in the West.

If one of the new atheists is asked whether he would believe in God if there ere irrefutable proof of his existence, he will be anxious for it not to appear that he is compromising his intellectual integrity, so he will say, “Of course.” However, he will then very quickly add, “But I wouldn’t worship any damn god,” or words to that effect. That sort of gives the game away. Pride – the original sin – is a significant part of the driving force behind the new atheism. The Bible is full of examples of what happens when an entire people turn their back upon God, and decide that they don’t want to be accountable to anybody or anything greater than themselves. It is usually the end of that civilisation.

The acids of pride and skepticism won’t stop at religion, even if the new atheists think it will, and it has the potential to undermine an entire civilisation. Already post modernists are calling science into question, with any claim to truth being dismissed as a power play. Anybody who listens to the new atheists will know that one of their great gods is science.

No comments

Numbers 12.6-8 – The uncomfortable implications of God’s sovereignty over history
Posted: 27 January 2012 in Numbers

And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and og the king of bashan went out against them, he, and all his people, to the battle at edrei. And the LORD said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon. So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land.

When we read that God ordained the destruction of an entire people, it makes us feel very uncomfotable; especially in the light of the events in Germany about seventy years ago (or at least, I hope it does). So there is a very real temptation to try and discount it in some way. And yet God is always righteous, and every thing which he wills is righteous, whilst, on the other hand, all things contrary to his will are (by definition) evil.

If we today needed a scriptural justification for dismissing as a madman any “prophet”, claiming to possess a divine commision for genocide, I suppose we could find it in Numbers 12.6-8:

And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold:

Obviously the nature of Moses’s relationship to God was quite unique (although not as unique as that of Christ). Even so, the passage at the top of this post is a reminder, if any were needed, that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways (to quote Isaiah). Furthermore, it is not for us to judge God.

No comments