Wednesday, May 30

Romans 3:21-22A (The good news)

Romans 3:21-22a But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

In the photo above, the moon gives the appearance of glowing as if it were producing its own light. However, the light that is seen is actually coming from the sun. Paul begins an explanation of the good news of the gospel by asserting that men can have righteousness from God through faith in Jesus Christ. This righteousness is not dependent on the law or on anything men can do in and of themselves. Just like moonlight does not come from the moon, this required righteousness does not come from men. Moonlight comes from the sun and the required righteousness comes from Jesus Christ.

Paul has just finished a lengthy portion of Scripture where he has pointed out that all men are ungodly and unrighteous and have absolutely no hope or desire to become righteous. They are under the wrath of God and do not have the ability to reconcile themselves to God. Man has, in fact, offended a holy and just God and cannot save himself from God’s wrath and just penalty. But now, as Paul says, God has intervened and provided what man cannot acquire on his own. He has provided the righteousness of God that is acquired through faith. Further, The Old Testament has pointed to this from the beginning of the Scriptures.

Praise God that He provides what he requires for reconciling sinful mankind to himself.

Doctrines of Grace Index

1. Total Inability

Unconditional Election

Particular Redemption (Limited Atonement)

4. Irrestible Grace

5. Perseverance of the Saints (Eternal Security)

Monday, May 28

Romans 3:19-20 (First, the bad news)

Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The law speaks to all who are under the law and gives them knowledge of sin that renders them without excuse. Since the performance standard that God requires for keeping the law is perfection, it is painfully obvious to everyone that nobody can keep every point perfectly. In this passage Paul warns that all who attempt to justify themselves before God by their own effort of law keeping will fail. This failure places them squarely under the wrath of God. Experts who attempt class 6 whitewater rapids (photo above) with the latest safety gear face a possibility of death. However, even non-experts with physical limitations would have a better chance in these rapids than they would have trying to justify themselves by perfect law keeping.

Since he began this section in Romans 1:18, Paul has shown that all human beings are totally depraved, ungodly, and unrighteous. He has shown that God’s wrath is set upon all that are unrighteous and ungodly. This is a serious problem that humans face. As a matter of fact it is the most serious problem they will ever encounter. After a lengthy explanation of this problem, in these two verses Paul is basically telling us that men are powerless to do anything about the problem. Man is under God’s wrath because of a debt that he cannot pay. God is holy and has sworn to execute His justice for the sins of man. Therefore, He will not just wink and make everything O.K.

While this is a tremendous problem that man cannot solve, praise God that it is a problem that He can and, in fact, does solve for many. Paul, in verse 21, begins the great fantastic good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ that saves sinners. Sadly, there are millions of people who think that on judgment day they will have salvation because they have tried to be a good person. Instead of relying on Jesus Christ, they are relying on the very thing that Paul says in this verse has no chance of success.

We will begin the good news in our next post.

Friday, May 25

Historic Church vs. Scripture

In my May 20 post I quoted an Emergent Church pastor, Mike Clawson. Part of what he said is as follows:

"I believe that Jesus death on the cross was a demonstration that God had forgiven our sins, not the reason God forgave them. That is, I find the conservative theology of sacrificial atonement rather repugnant (as many of you do as well I’ve noticed), but I do still think that the cross was more than just a moral example (though it was that too)."

In the comment thread of that post he said the following about those of us that believe that the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for payment of our sin debt is the means by which eternal life is offered to those that place their faith in Jesus Christ:

"Sadly you guys are living up to your reputation of ignorance and condemnation of those who differ from you. My advice (not that you're likely to care) is to familiarize yourself with what the historic Church has said about the atonement and not limit yourself just to what Calvin taught about it."

My ignorance about what the historic Church has said about the atonement means nothing. I believe in the principle of Sola Scriptura. It is my only rule of faith and practice and I need not go any further. My view comes directly from Scripture and not Calvin, the historic Church, or anyone else. I have not condemned you, I have refuted you as Scripture calls me to do where in Titus 1:9 it says to encourage sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Instead of relying on what the historic Church or other “scholars” might say, I suggest you check what the Bible very clearly teaches. Please check out the Scripture passages at the end of the following article.

The Lamb of God

The core theme of the Old Testament is that God chose the nation of Israel to bring redemption to some of fallen mankind. Due to God’s justice, this redemption required atonement for sin in the form of a blood sacrifice. Thus, a system of animal sacrifice was set up by God, through his prophets, to prefigure the ultimate sufficient sacrifice that Christ would make for the atonement of sin since animal sacrifice cannot atone for sin. For God to sacrifice his own son to satisfy his justice is a most unbelievable display of his love and mercy. In Genesis 22:8 this is vividly pointed out when Abraham told his son Isaac, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” While Abraham was referring to what he thought was going to be the sacrifice of his son Isaac, it points to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ. Seven hundred years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah predicted in chapter 53, and elsewhere, this ultimate sacrifice. In verse 7 Isaiah said, “he was led like a lamb to the slaughter.” The sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ as a propitiation for human sin is the central theme to all of Christian theology. Doctrine after doctrine lead back to the cross and the crucifixion of Christ. The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy about Christ is shown in its most concise form in Romans 3:19-31. Salvation is from God and is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Faith is the key that opens the door to heaven and eternal life.

The following verses are but some in the Bible on the subject of atonement:

Leviticus 5:6 and, as a penalty for the sin he has committed, he must bring to the LORD a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.

Leviticus 17:11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

1 Chronicles 28:11 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement.

Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Colossians 1:22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-

Hebrews 2:17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 9:26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Hebrews 13:11-12 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.

Romans 3:25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—

Romans 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Hebrews 10:11-12 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.

1 Peter 1:18-19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Tuesday, May 22

Romans 3:10-18 (First, the bad news)

Romans 3:10-18 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes."

The world says that man is basically good, but empirical evidence, such as the many millions of war and murder victims in cemeteries worldwide, proves this to be false. This does not count the approximately 50 million aborted babies that never received a grave. In this powerful passage, Paul sums up his explanation on the total depravity of man by saying that no one is righteous, does good, or even understands. This does not mean that men are as utterly depraved as they possibly could be, but it means that depravity is pervasive in our hearts, thinking, speaking, and actions. We sin by word, deed, actions, and inactions. We are all guilty and subject to the wrath of God. The following items are some of the problems and sins common to fallen man, and everyone has struggled with some items on this list:

murders, robberies, rapes, burglaries, cheating, lying, pornography, child abuse, wife abuse, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, nicotine addiction, pedophilia, abortion, sexual perversions, sexual abuse, lust, envy, coveting, character assassination, verbal abuse, gossiping, rudeness, polygamy, hate, self-righteousness, animal abuse, extortion, deceiving, Islamic fascism, racial hatred, organized crime, white collar crime, forgery, etc.

Although the fall of man rendered him depraved with a sin nature rather than basically good, praise God that he provided a way that man can become righteous and be reconciled to fellowship with Almighty God.

The Good News Photo Devotionals Index

Romans 3:21-22A
Romans 3:22B-25A
Romans 3:25B-26

Romans 3:27-28
Romans 3:29-39
Romans 3:31

Sunday, May 20

Emerging dead!

The following in red is a direct quote from a comment taken from an atheist site by a pastor of an emergent village church. He had agreed to answer questions posed to him by atheists. This answer was in response to a question about Chirst's atonement being for sin or to set an example for us. Then does faith or works secure the benefit........... I have one word of advice for anyone caught up in this emergent movement. Leave! Do it immediately!

Good questions. My answer is: a little of both but not entirely either.
I believe that Jesus death on the cross was a demonstration that God had forgiven our sins, not the reason God forgave them. That is, I find the conservative theology of sacrificial atonement rather repugnant (as many of you do as well I’ve noticed), but I do still think that the cross was more than just a moral example (though it was that too). It does have something to do with forgiveness.

For those who are not familiar - “sacrificial atonement” theology posits that Christ’s death was necessary because God was really, really angry at us because of our sins, and since he needed to take that anger out on someone, he took it out on Jesus instead of us. Now that he’s blown off some steam he can forgive us and everything is cool between us again.

My question with that theology (besides the fact that it makes God sound like someone with some serious anger management issues) is why, if God wanted to forgive us, he just couldn’t forgive us. Why is punishment necessary? What good does it do to punish someone else in our place?
Instead, I think God did “just forgive us”, and to demonstrate to us that he has forgiven us of all the evil we could possibly do, he came to earth and took the worst that we could throw at him without retaliation. He took our scorn, our betrayal, our violence, our greed, our hatred - and showed that, rather than “getting even”, God-in-the-flesh was willing to give up his rights to revenge and simply forgive those who had made him their enemy. He was willing to endure one of the most painful deaths imaginable rather than return violence for violence or hatred with more hate.

Of course, this stands as a moral example for us as well. If God himself was willing to go to death on a cross rather than take revenge on our enemies, then perhaps we too can begin to love our enemies and become “ambassadors of reconciliation” as Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians 5.
Thus, for me, salvation is both about knowing that God has forgiven us unconditionally, and then also about beginning to follow God’s example by forgiving others and overcoming hatred and violence with love and peacemaking.

(BTW, I realize that for those of you who think this is all just a fictional story to be ignored or mocked, how I interpret the significance of the crucifixion is totally irrelevant to you. I’m simply trying to explain for those of you who are interested how this all works out in my theology. If one already believes in God and in the Jesus of the Bible, then this, I think, is the best way to understand what Jesus’ death was all about.)

Thursday, May 17

Romans 1:28-32 (First, the bad news)

Romans 1:28-32 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Here in the final four verses of Romans 1, Paul lays out the case for the depravity of man with a lengthy list of sins that are common to the human race. When God allowed men to follow the inclination of their fallen nature, bondage to sin became pervasive in all men. Each and every man may not become extremely depraved in every sin that Paul lists, but the inclination of his heart is evil and, apart from God’s grace, he cannot escape the depravity of his sinful nature.

When I was around nine years old, I got a BB gun for Christmas. One day in the backyard of a friend, I saw a bird similar to the cardinal in the photo above light on a limb. I took aim at the little bird and pulled the trigger and, as when Opie shot the bird with the slingshot on the Andy Griffith show, the bird fell dead to the ground. Why did I do it? I had an urge to kill the bird for nothing more than the thrill of the kill, and I was fully aware that it ought not be done just as Paul said. This desire was a part of who I was and it illustrated vividly that I met Paul’s standard for being heartless. It is not at all unusual for little boys to have these desires to hunt and kill animals for this reason alone. This sort of thing is often passed off as boys will be boys, but in reality it is boys have a sin nature. Although I may not have struggled this much with some of the other sins on Paul’s list, it clearly demonstrated that I had a serious problem with compassion. I am convinced that this sin did not improve at all until God gave me the gift of his grace some forty years later. Paul is laying out the case in these few verses that everyone struggles to varying degrees with all kinds of sin. He is asserting that fallen man has a serious and fatal sin problem known as total depravity. This is a problem that man cannot fix in and of himself.

Praise God that he did what we are incapable of doing by applying his intervening grace. He provided a savior to pay our sin debt and gave us a new heart that is needed to access saving grace through saving faith. This new heart also enables redeemed sinners to begin to mortify such sins as being heartless. Perfection has not or will not come in this life, but praise God that I could no longer kill a bird for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Monday, May 14

Romans 1:26-27 (First, the bad news)

Romans 1:26-27 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

The Apostle Paul is very clear in this passage that homosexual activity is not only a sin and wrong, but it goes against nature. People know that it is contrary to nature. They do not have to conduct studies because it is obvious that it is a dysfunctional practice that the human body is ill designed to perform. Many practice this behavior and claim they were born with these desires. Others say that it is an alternate lifestyle that is just as valid as a heterosexual relationship. If this logic were valid, then any abnormal sexual behavior could be justified by a person claiming he was born that way or because it was an alternate choice. Polygamy, nudism, and whatever else people came up with, would also fit under the same umbrella.

Paul, in this passage, says otherwise when he says that natural relations were exchanged for those contrary to nature. He points out that those practicing such acts are shameless and consumed with passion. Therefore, they become obsessed at the expense of other human activities and receive, in this life, the due penalty for this error. Statistics bear out that homosexual activity brings increased diseases to those that practice the behavior. Aids, hepatitis, rectal cancer are a few diseases that take an increased toll on homosexuals.

Most in our secular culture validate homosexuality as normal and O.K. Also, many liberal and “emergent” professing Christians also assert that homosexual activity is valid as long as fidelity is maintained between the partners. Christians that take the Bible seriously view the practice exactly as Paul explains here in these two verses. For having this belief, conservative Christians are falsely accused of hating homosexuals. The fact is that all people, including believers, are sinners and struggle with sin. While hating our sin first and in others next is appropriate, hating sinners is not appropriate and would only mean a hatred for everyone on planet earth. We are to love all human beings, including those that practice this particular sin.

Praise God that his Word in its entirety enables us to form a Christian world-view that allows Christians to sort through all of the secular misinformation and Christian false teaching and come to a right understanding on the subject of homosexuality.

Friday, May 11

Romans 1:24-25 (First, the bad news)

Romans 1:24-25 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

By giving them up, God allowed them to pursue their sins unrestrained. In exchanging the truth of God’s glory for the worship of created things, man brought wrath upon himself. Tattoos, as shown in the photo above, are just one way that men can reveal where their attention and heart are focused. Therefore, the wrath of God is revealed against sin by the consequences of sin itself. It does not take a separate act of judgment by God to punish sin because sin is its own punishment. When sinners pursue sin unrestrained, the results always serve to punish the sinner. Drug, gambling, sexual, and alcohol addictions all bring suffering and punishment to those that pursue these lusts. The lust for wealth, power, and fame also take a heavy toll on those who pursue them with reckless abandon. Since these lusts and addictions are never fully satisfied, the sinner is in bondage to his own lustful desires. This bondage does not bring peace and contentment.

Praise God that by his grace believers hold on to the truth about God and are not only eternally secure but have the peace that surpasses all understanding in this life as well. It is a Christian characteristic to be happy and contented due to a focus that is placed outside of themselves and on the Kingdom of God rather than on worldly lusts. This does not mean Christians do not enjoy the glory, beauty and majesty of God’s creation. But, their world-view is conformed to the truth of God rather than the lie as is expressed in these verses.

Monday, May 7

Romans 1:22-23 (First, the bad news)

Romans 1:22-23 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Throughout the history of mankind there have been spiritual leaders and other leaders that have claimed to be wise and possess knowledge of metaphysical truth. However, instead of being wise they became fools and exchanged God’s glory as revealed in nature for images of created things. Rather than develop a reverence for an obvious all-powerful creator God, they relied on their imagination to create their own gods that suited their needs. While Paul was referring to man’s response to general revelation alone, nothing has changed with the addition of special revelation and the testimony of a savior. Many still rely on their imagination instead of biblical revelation.

Highly educated “self-proclaimed Christian scholars” routinely deny the deity of Christ, the physical resurrection of Christ, Christ’s atonement for sin, biblical creation, and most of the events and miracles of biblical revelation. They claim to be wise and have exchanged spiritual salvation through Christ for a temporal worldly works oriented social gospel. They affirm that all of man’s attempts to “get in touch with the sacred” are equally valid. They have adopted a secular liberal post-modern politically correct world-view and make biblical truth conform to this view. They have rejected, reinterpreted, and revised Scripture that does not fit their world-view and have emphasized and focused on the Scripture they are comfortable with. They affirm that killing partially born babies should be legal, yet think capital punishment for murderers should be illegal. They proclaim Jesus Christ as a great moral and ethical teacher, but are ashamed of the cross of Calvary. They are critical of economic freedom and would like to exchange it for the tyranny of socialism. The world praises them and is very comfortable with their social activism, which makes them safe from persecution or criticism. They are not only claiming to be wise, but they are claiming to be the true church as opposed to those they label as conservative, hateful, bible believing Christians. Although the best of Christian Churches are comprised of sinners and have some doctrinal error, these teachers, that deny basic tenants of the Christian faith, have become fools and are little more than advocates and activists for the prince of this world.

Praise God that his true Church, through his sovereign providence, will prevail against all foes and the gates of hell will not stand against her. Let us pray that those that have been negatively influenced by their secular humanist education will come to rely on the entire counsel of God as revealed in the Holy Bible. This biblical truth contains a foundation for a Christian world-view that is as solid as rock and is based on absolute truth rather than the shifting sands of secular humanism.

Sunday, May 6

Seven things about Jazzy

Marcian of ruminations and ramifications has tagged Jazzy to give seven interesting things about herself. She has delegated the job to me and I hope I do not reveal anything too sensitive as I know she will call her attorney the honorable I.R. Sleaze to take legal action if I do.

1. Jazzy is 9.5 years old.

2. She loves to get in my lap, purr, and get nose to nose.

3. She pretty much gets to go outside on demand, but she stays real close to the house and lounges around. When she was younger she loved to stalk and try to catch squirrels.

4. About a year ago Jazzy had an encounter with a copperhead snake that I killed. (See Dec. 1, 2005 in Jazzy’s own words post.)

5. Jazzy needs a tummy tuck.

6. In the above photo Jazzy is using her tail to shield her eyes from the light as she naps on the couch.

7. Jazzy has been enjoying her super retirement plan since she was about 6 weeks old. At that age she methodically climbed into my lap and up on my chest. She got eyeball to eyeball with me and proceeded to rub her face against my cheek. My heart melted like a popsicle in an Al Gore global warming movie and her retirement was secured.

Wednesday, May 2

Romans 1:21 (First, the bad news)

Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Darkness overcomes light that enters a cave, as light is absorbed in short order and cannot reach into the depths. In a like manner, spiritual light in unregenerate man cannot reach into the depths of his heart. Man, through his senses and his ability to think, knows there is a God. However, Paul says this thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. The spiritual light that is available in general revelation is squelched and not allowed to penetrate. Men do not desire to glorify and give thanks to God. They do not want to be accountable to a creator. Men will even choose the nonsense of matter popping into being from non-being with no outside cause before they believe in super-natural creation by a creator God.

In these latter days men believe that science, which has brought amazing technological advances in the last hundred years, will solve the problem of why there is something instead of nothing without a creator God as the cause. Apart from God’s grace, man’s thinking is as futile today as it was in Paul’s day, and spiritual light still does not penetrate the hearts of men without this grace.