Friday, October 24, 2014

Herman Bavinck: The Person of Christ



 “The doctrine of Christ is the central point of the whole system of dogmatics.  Here, too, pulses the whole of the religious-ethical life of Christianity.  Christ, the incarnate Word, is thus the central fact of the entire history of the world.   The incarnation has its presupposition and foundation in the Trinitarian being of God.  The Trinity makes possible the existence of a mediator who himself participates both in the divine and human nature and thus unites God and humanity.   The incarnation, however, is the work of the entire Trinity. Christ was sent by the Father and conceived by the Holy Spirit.
…Christ as the second Adam was nevertheless different from Adam, particularly here in the fact that Adam was an adult while Christ came as an infant, not to a paradise but to a sinful world where he faced its temptation and evil in every way.  Unlike Adam, Christ came in the form of sinful flesh, susceptible to suffering and death.
  It is for that reason alone that the incarnation was an act of humiliation.  Christ grew in wisdom and knowledge; on earth he too was a pilgrim.  He too lived in faith and hope by the promises of God.  His divine and human consciousness were united in that he knew the Father’s will perfectly but not exhaustively.   Jesus also grew morally.  Though he was not able to sin, his sinlessness had become manifest through response to temptation and struggle.  His power, too was limited in his human nature.  It is by his resurrection that he becomes Lord over all and is given a name above all other names.  It is as Lord of all, as the mediator who is God with us, and for us, that Christ is worshiped.”



Reformed Dogmatics;  Vol 3:  Sin and Salvation in Christ;   Herman Bavinck;  Baker Academic,  Grand Rapids, MI. 2006 Pg. 235,238

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Keeping Commentaries in Proper Perspective


Commentaries are not inspired.  This should be a no-brainer,  but it’s still something I have  to remind myself of.
 I’ve been particularly frustrated lately with a study I’ve been  doing on Bathsheba (hopefully I’ll be able to post something later).     The liberties  some  authors  take  with their speculations  can be really be annoying.     If  it’s not  spelled out pretty plainly in the text—or somewhere else in the Scriptures,  then it’s  conjecture.   I don't  have a problem with using a sanctified imagination,  but I  think it should be made clear when  that's being done.     I’m surprised by how many “speculations” in Scripture I’ve taken for  fact only to discover they  were someone’s fanciful  idea of how it might have been. 
For instance, we had a funny go-around in our home Bible study recently about whether the Bible says  the Old Testament priests tied   a rope around the ankle of  the priest who went into the Holy of Holies.  That way if he died in there  he could  be safely pulled out without exterminating  the other priests.    Some of us were just sure  it  was  written somewhere.    But no, it’s  just a legend that  began in the Middle Ages.  (see HERE)
I think  it’s wise for  Bible students to consult  a number of  reliable  resources such as  word studies,  Bible dictionaries, and commentaries when studying a passage, a  book,  or a subject in Scripture.   
I don’t believe  we should come to  the Scriptures  in a cavalier manner  thinking  we can correctly dissect a passage  using  only an inductive type of study method that never cross-references or uses any type of outside reference.   (Think about the fact the God gave the church pastors and teachers for a reason.)   
One of the  rules of hermeneutics  (which is just a fancy word that means the art and science of interpreting Scripture)  is that Scripture interprets Scripture.   The Bible passages we study  need to  be read and understood not only in their  immediate context  but in the context of the  book it’s in,  and also in the entire  Bible.   Other things need to be considered as well, such as who wrote it,  who it was written to,  when, where,  and  the cultural situation, etc.      If we don’t do this we can  come up with all sorts of crazy teachings—but that’s a blog for another day. 
When I’m studying a particular book, passage, or subject I normally  try to read at least a half dozen commentaries on that passage—more if I can.   But  the commentaries don’t always agree with each other even  when  they’re  from the same  theological perspective.  While they all bring something a little different to the table,  they can have radically different takes on a passage or subject.  (Here's a perfect example of this in an article posted at Cripplegate this week "Don't Rescue Jephthah")
So, the bottom line here is that it’s good to read a number of opinions on a matter.   And  while there are  many non-negotiable doctrines in Scripture, there can still be  a wide variety of speculation on certain passages.
As we put forth the effort to study the Scriptures the Holy Spirit will help us to understand them because it is the Scriptures that are inspired not the commentaries. 
Related studies from here:
 
Bibliology:  How We Got Our Bible
            

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chit-Chat



AROUND THE HOUSE
Well, after 25 years of using a makeshift  piece of plywood laid on top of   two ugly metal file cabinets,  this old girl finally got a REAL  wooden desk with drawers.      Then  after purging 40 years worth  of old  files and getting  organized,   I accidentally  erased  my hard drive while  trying to transfer  data to a new laptop.   I lost a year and half worth  of photos and other important stuff.    
So here I was with a  spankin' new desk and computer  feeling like I was all dressed up with nowhere to go.   
It gave me one more excuse  to come out of blogging retirement.  



THIS AND THAT
Witnessing the Gospel @ Burning Man    

Jordan Worely is a good friend who goes to our church and has a passion for evangelism.   For the past several years  Jordan  has attended the  infamous  Burning Man Festival  to share the Gospel of Christ.    The festival is held in the remote Black Rock Desert  here in Northern Nevada and draws people from all walks of life.    This year's festival   drew about 66,000 people from around the globe.   Jordan was interviewed  about his experience  last week on  KPXQ - Phoenix,  Backpack Radio – Street Apologetics.     
This is  really worth the listen  not  only because it's very interesting in regards to the  festival,  but  Jordan provides a  great example of how Christians can reach out in the most unlikely places with compassion to  share the good news of redemption.  LISTEN
                    
            PONDERING
Recent world events.   Regardless  of our positions on eschatology,  Baptists and Presbyterians alike are eagerly awaiting the second coming of Christ.
            
            GRATITUDE
I’m so grateful for the “if possible” in this verse:
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”  Matthew 24:24
And for the “never” and  “no one” in this one:
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  John 10:28



Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Treasury of David ~ Psalm 23:1


"The Lord is my shepherd"   Psalm 23:1
The Lord is my shepherd. What condescension is this, that the infinite Lord assumes towards his people the office and character of a Shepherd!   It should be the subject of grateful admiration that the great God allows himself to be compared to anything which will set forth his great love and care for his own people. 
David had himself been a keeper of sheep, and understood both the needs of the sheep and the many cares of a shepherd. He compares himself to a creature weak, defenseless, and foolish, and he takes God to be his Provider, Preserver, Director, and, indeed, his everything. 
No man has a right to consider himself the Lord's sheep unless his nature has been renewed for the scriptural description of unconverted men does not picture them as sheep, but as wolves or goats. A sheep is an object of property, not a wild animal; its owner sets great store by it, and frequently it is bought with a great price. It is well to know, as certainly David did, that we belong to the Lord. 
There is a noble tone of confidence about this sentence. There is no "if" nor "but", nor even "I hope so"; but he says, "The Lord is my shepherd." We must cultivate the spirit of assured dependence upon our heavenly Father. The sweetest word of the whole is that monosyllable, "My." He does not say, "The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as his flock", but "The Lord is my shepherd;" if he be a Shepherd to no one else, he is a Shepherd to me; he cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me. The words are in the present tense. Whatever be the believer's position, he is even now under the pastoral care of Jehovah.

From The Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon

Friday, October 17, 2014

Prone to Wander


Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten
Joel 2:12-13;25
Walter was a 90 year old saint in our  church who told us one day,   “The Lord has to come after me every fifteen minutes!”      The Old Testament provides  vivid illustrations of the truth Walter conveyed  through  two parallels  that run continuously from Genesis to Malachi.   One is the chronic failure of God’s people.   The other is  God’s consistent love and mercy towards them.
Here on the other side of the Cross,  we have many advantages the Old Testament saints  didn't  have before their shadows became our  realities.  We have the fulfillment of the Promised Seed.   We have the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit  to  bear witness  that we are the children of God ,  and  to  convict and comfort us.   The Holy Spirit enlightens  the Scriptures and bestows  gifts  which enable us to  further the gospel and strengthen the church.     And we have a completed canon with the New Testament that  is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."  2 Timothy 3:16
 Yet, in spite of  these marvelous post Calvary blessings we are still stuck with our sinful  flesh until Christ calls us home .   We  can all  commiserate with Paul,    “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind  Romans 7:22-23
BACKSLIDING
While it’s one thing to struggle daily with temptation and sin and to  keep  short accounts with God,  it’s another to stray from Him  for a length of time.    Certainly, any such doing should rightfully cause us to question our salvation.
 But if we think backsliding  is  reserved  for those who fall into gross outward sin or who drop out of church, we’re fooling ourselves.     I’m convinced that God’s children are perfectly capable of wandering from Him  while sitting in the pew every Sunday  looking  squeaky clean on the outside.    I have to wonder if this could perhaps be the most dangerous kind of backsliding we can engage in.  (Rev.3:16)
In my  42 years as a Christian there was a  period when I  had become spiritually lethargic.    No, I wasn’t  doing anything outwardly that revealed my lukewarm heart,  but my  neglect of  prayer and reading  God’s Word,  lack of  meaningful fellowship with other believers and an inordinate affection for  things of this world  caused  a  long  spiritually dry spell in my life.
I remember finally becoming so miserable and fed up with the emptiness of it all that  I began crying out to the Lord to  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”  Psalm 51:12.    I felt like I had thrown  precious years of my life right out the window by not being wholly committed to my Master.     I also began praying that God in His mercy would do for me what he promised the Israelites through  Joel and restore for me all the years the locusts had eaten.   
Things didn’t happen overnight but slowly God began moving not only in my heart,  but  also in my circumstances.   He did indeed answer my prayer to restore the joy of my salvation and not only that but   my understanding of His Word and the fellowship  of His saints  became deeper and  sweeter than  ever before.  
I am so thankful  that Christ has promised   “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”  I Timothy 2:13.   Did you get that?   He CANNOT deny Himself!   Why?  Because if we are truly saved  He "has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts." 2 Cor.1:22
Though we may grieve Him with our wanderings  the Lord will  make us miserable until He woos us  back into the  joy of His presence. 
“O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.” (1)
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(1)    Robert Robertson: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing