Sunday, October 31, 2010
The acrostic TULIP is an easy remember way to summarize Calvinistic doctrine and view of the Christian religion. The T stands for Total Depravity as you will see in this definition describes some of the natural estate of man:
Total Depravity (Total Inability)
Total Depravity is probably the most misunderstood tenet of Calvinism. When Calvinists speak of humans as "totally depraved," they are making an extensive, rather than an intensive statement. The effect of the fall upon man is that sin has extended to every part of his personality -- his thinking, his emotions, and his will. Not necessarily that he is intensely sinful, but that sin has extended to his entire being.
The unregenerate (unsaved) man is dead in his sins (Romans 5:12). Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the natural man is blind and deaf to the message of the gospel (Mark 4:11f). This is why Total Depravity has also been called "Total Inability." The man without a knowledge of God will never come to this knowledge without God's making him alive through Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5).*
As far as this definition goes no problem whatsoever. That man is fully incapable of doing good and measuring up to the glory of Jesus is needful so that we have Jesus being 100% to credit for our salvation. However, this teaching does not go far enough, as the more ancient teaching of original sin, which shows us as being much worse throughout our person. We do not even want to measure up to what Jesus does or has done. What we do should be enough in our expectation. We have no desire to love God fully nor our neighbour as ourselves. We have been, will be and must be self seeking because of our weak and fallen condition. Due to our being subjected to sin, death, disease, futility and decay to totally ignore our needs we would be unable to fully serve our neighbour and seek his good. To do that would be sin as well for it would not be good stewards of what gifts the Lord has given us.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. ESV
So strenuous and high is out Lord’s commands Jesus came to fulfill this requirement. Being God who became flesh he was fully able to empty himself and spend himself for us. He had no need to seek his own good but was not subjected to the futility and decay with which we are subjected due to sin. And because of his grace this fully spent character is granted to us through faith and has totally finished from the greatest to the smallest requirement our need in the sight of God.
Romans 5:15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ESV
May the name of Jesus evermore be praised for his gracious provision of not only what we lace in righteousness but also paying for our sinfulness on the cross.
Jesus, your blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.**
**Jesus, Your Blood and Righteousness
By: Nicolaus L. von Zinzendorf
In the name of Jesus. Amen. †
Saturday, October 30, 2010
One thing that is always surprising but should never be is the arrogance with which the flesh rebels against God. The bible clearly states that God desires all to be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4, but all are not saved. Our Lord has not seen fit to explain this in his word so the flesh wants to fill in the blanks, make things up and generally put words in God’s mouth.
Romans 9:13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” ESV
First we have an as it is written here. We have another place to look to see what this phrase means.
Malachi 1:2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob's brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the Lord of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the Lord is angry forever.’” 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel!” ESV
So we have a clue it is due to pride that God hates Esau. Or more specifically Edom his descendents. But were not the children of Israel proud? Yes but God never looks at the person or his or her behaviour for a choosing but rather it is a choosing of grace. That is the whole point of the prophecy of MalachI is that Israel has been rejecting God all along. Fallen and finite humans by nature reject God and are his enemies who do not see the love and care he has for us.
Second we are to understand what Jesus said about the scriptures testify of him. John 5:39. God told Abraham that in Isaac his seed shall be called but there were twin boys born to Isaac. Esau was first so by law and tradition he should have inherited the blessing and all else. Our Lord can operate under his law or no law at all if he so desires. So in this way the elder will serve the younger which is Christ. When the emphasis is moved off Jesus and on to the sinners involved all bets are off. This is how we end up with a horrible doctrine that teaches Jesus died for less than all humanity which leaves us to wonder if we are died for individually.
Romans 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. ESV
The above verse puts an end to speculation on for whom Christ died and wants to save. This is close context and aids in understanding what came before. Jesus died for all and wants all to be saved. We cannot have it both ways where on one hand some are died for and the rest are unwanted and un died for. What a horrible thing with which to subject yourself and others. Behold the Lamb slain for the world from before the foundation of the world. Believe this good news and live in the peace that it delivers through the means of grace.
In the name of Jesus. Amen. †
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Last evening we were in conversation with a group of Christians. The subject was “If Jesus died for only a few how do we know, objectively, he died for me?” A following question was asked similar to this; “Where do we find the Gospel so personalized and what importance is it?”
1 Timothy 1:12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. ESV
We see here the personal confession of his sins by St Paul. These were not sins of Timothy, Barnabas, Peter or any other person alive during his life. These transgressions of the clear law of God were Saul of Tarsus’ and his personally. So with personal sins laid to his charge he needed a personal payment laid to his account. Every sin we commit is personally chargeable to our account and we too need a personal payment laid to our account as well. If we refuse this payment then our only ending is to suffer in this life under the wrath of God and eternal separation from the source of all good and light.
1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. ESV
The above words are familiar to all Christians. Another participant, Bruce, continued to quote these words as assurance of personal payment for each person’s sin. This served to drive these words home to this relatively new Lutheran although I know them so well. What a wonderful gift to have the fruits of the cross of Jesus delivered to each of us personally. How much more personal can you get than a piece of bread in your mouth and a sip of wine in your belly? That is Jesus delivering these gifts for you for your sins.
In the name of Jesus. Amen. †
Friday, October 15, 2010
As my children and grandchildren are aging, which hints at me aging as well, the promise of the resurrection Jesus has in his word become more and more needful. And during times of illness it was on my mind as well. That brings a person to questions as to how do I know it is for me this resurrection to life? Clearly scripture teaches a general resurrection of all persons on the last day. John 5:28,29 So how does Jesus deliver this promise to those who believe in him? Do we have to peer in our hearts to see it? Do we examine our works to see if there is enough holiness for God to admire? No. Our Creator, Victim, Priest, Lord and Saviour has another way.
John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. ESV
All other gods of the world religions require to be fed and cared for by the followers. This is another way that Christianity, biblical Christianity, differs. With the Lord Jesus feeds his followers of himself. In feeding us he delivers to us forgiveness of sins as he promised when he instituted the Supper. In the above section we have much more detail in the benefits one receives in the Supper. So the Real Presence of our Lord in the Supper is much more than just an academic discussion. It gets right down to brass tacks on whether we can actually take Jesus at his word or not. Jesus in some mysterious way has located himself in the bread and the wine so that when it touches our lips and tongue forgiveness, life, salvation and resurrection is received at once.
Some object to this because people receive these gifts and yet are lost. I get that. Really I do. However, this does not interrupt the promises of God as St Paul said in Romans 3:3 that unfaithfulness does not nullify the faithfulness of God. Yes forgiveness, life, salvation and resurrection were won for us back nearly 2000 years ago by Jesus. He brings that forward and delivers it to you in the bread and wine which is his body broken and blood shed for you. Rather than doubting these strong promises let us believe this good news and live in the peace it gives us.
In the name of Jesus. Amen. †
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
“How can a person who believes that way be a Christian?” Oh to have a dime for every time I have heard that one. Many times it will be said by a person who has experienced a change from one doctrinal viewpoint to another. In this case it came from a gentleman who used to believe in Decision Theology. This is actively taught by many in the Christian church that a person becomes saved by deciding to follow Jesus and to believe in him for salvation. Although this can sound good to the ego that we play a part in salvation it is false in the fact one can find it nowhere in scripture. It is therefore a false teaching to believe that we are active in salvation for it would be in reward for a correct decision and a work. However, is this false teaching and the misunderstanding mean that the believer in the perfect life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for salvation is eternally damned? Do we have the ability or even the Lord’s permission to make that judgment?
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. ESV
The above teaching of Jesus is most unpopular with those who think they have a special calling to judge the salvation of others. When presenting this to the self appointed judge he or she will claim it is taken out of context. When asked to put that back into the sermon and point out the additional verses needed to make it say we are to judge it cannot be done. The person who has read more of the scripture and more often will say something about we are commanded to use righteous judgment. The following is the only passage found where we have men commanded to use righteous judgment. The other sections have to do with God doing the righteous judgment.
Deuteronomy 16:18 You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. ESV
Having served on a jury I have also received a command from a judge to judge according to the law. As a Christian we too are to use judgment using the law of God. We find a brother caught up in an offence it is very appropriate to use the law of God to point out the sin in order for the Holy Spirit to convict and we can give the blessed Gospel to him for his salvation. That is in order for him to be restored to faith not to lord it over for us to feel more holy than him. We are to never use this as an occasion to pass final judgment upon the individual as if we know what the eternal destination for him will be. That is Jesus’ job and we are to leave the Lord Jesusing to the Lord Jesus.
John 5:22 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. ESV
Using personal opinions to judge another person has horrible consequences. It will take away any peace that said person has in the Lord. They are confessing with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believing in the heart that God has raised him from the dead. Instead of taking the conclusion the Apostle give in Romans 10 that one is being saved the opposite happens. Doubt is cast upon the confession spoken rather than giving the peace that it offers. We can never tell what the person truly trusts in the heart. God alone places it there sees that and judges it. Let us busy ourselves rather to build each other up in the true faith by patiently referring to the word of God and not do the work of the devil, the world and the lust of our flesh.
Because all judgment was given to Jesus what the person is ultimately doing is breaking the first commandment against having other gods in the face of God. This is also taking the name of Jesus in vain for he or she is misusing the teachings of our Lord that are meant to comfort and using it rather to terrify. This is much more serious for Jesus said that if one should offend one of the little ones who believe in him it would be better than a millstone be hung around their neck and cast into the deep. This is not a prescription for punishment but a threat of eternal damnation if it is done impenitently. Nor can one stop doing it on his or her own. It is another sin which needs to have its back broken by confessing it and receiving the forgiveness that was purchased on Calvary.
Lord Jesus, grant us true repentance for the grievous sin of idolatry by judging falsely. Amen †