Monday, June 27, 2005

"Written for our Instruction."

This is the outline for the devotional I gave this morning at Orientation:

2 Timothy 3:16-17: “Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

I. The scriptures teach our position in Christ.

Ro 4:13-25 note v. 23-24"Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was reckoned unto him; but for our sake also, unto whom it shall be reckoned, who believe on him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead."

A. The text:

1. Paul has just proved that Abraham was justified by faith, and makes the point that his justification was a pattern: It was not written for his sake alone.

2. The reason scripture contains this record was not for "for the record" of rote history

a. to show that Abraham simply passed that way;

b. to communicate something peculiar that relates only to him . . .

3. The reason scripture contains this record was to teach, reprove, correct, and train us, assuring us that righteousness is what God requires and accepts relating to our salvation.

B. We must learn from what is written:

1. We have the common privilege of righteousness.

a. In future tense, from Abraham's perspective, righteousness shall be imputed to us.

b. In present tense, the way of justification is by an imputed righteousness,

c. For the future there is hope: of the continuation of this mercy that is the same now as it has been and so will ever be as long as there are children of men to be justified;

2. We have a common duty, which is to believe God.

a. In the same way Abraham believed the power of God in raising up an Isaac from the dead womb of Sarah, so we are to believe the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

b. We are also to depend upon his grace in raising up Christ; "who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification." (Ro 4:25)

Transition: Because Paul puts a special emphasis on Christ's resurrection, we learn by what is “written for our sake also” the evidence that we are not justified by our own works, but by obedient dependence upon the finished work of Jesus Christ and his righteousness.

II. The scriptures teach our ministry to one another, namely, helping the weak.

Ro 15:1-6 note v. 4 “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.“

A. Two principles reinforce the fact that as a Christian you are qualified and licensed to be a help to the weak.

1. Ro 15:1 “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.”

a. These things were written to teach that we must “bear the infirmities of the weak.” Christ bore with his weak disciples, and prayed for them.

b. But there is more: sympathizing with them, being concerned for them, ministering strength to them. This is bearing one another's burdens.

2. Rom 15:2 says things were written to teach that we must not please ourselves, but our neighbor. We must not make it our business to gratify all the little appetites and desires of our own heart.

B. We understand that

1. That Christ did not please himself for his own ease, safety, or pleasure.

2. Instead He emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant: and all this for us: to bring us righteousness and to set an example. His whole life was a self-denying self-displeasing life.

3. In the same way we are to bear with and serve, emptying ourselves in order to provide hope.

Transition: These things were written to teach, reprove, correct, and train us to go and do likewise: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction.”

III. For Further Study, the scriptures teach
a. How to value one another: 1 Cor 9:3-16 note v. 9-10 “For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.”

b. How to “order our affections”: 1 Cor 10:1-6 note v. 6 “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”

c. That the gospel of Jesus Christ is sufficient and efficient: John 20:31 “but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name.”


Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor wrote these "directs":
· That people must be taught the principles of religion, and matters of greatest necessity to salvation . . .
· That they must be taught it in the most edifying, advantageous way . . .
· That personal instruction is recommended to us by Scripture, and by the practice of the servants of Christ, and approved by the godly of all ages, is, so far as I can find, without contradiction.
· It is past doubt, that we should perform this great duty to all the people, or as many as we can; for our love and care of their souls must extend to all."

These passages teach us there are only two ways to study the Bible: with your mind made up; or, to let it make up your mind.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Got Bible?

KJV? NIV? Thomas Chain with the big red letters?


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Proctor on "Hating Church"

"we already have a preacher for people who hate preachers; that would be Rick Warren, of course. How about a Bible for people who hate the Bible? Oh yeah, Eugene Peterson already thought of that. OK – How about a Jesus for people who hate Jesus? Oh, that’s right – Opie Taylor is bringing us The Da Vinci Code movie next year, isn’t he? I wonder if any of these former “churches” will host a special “Heresy Sunday” and show it on their big screens to help those addicted to false teaching?"

Read the entire article here


I heard two beautiful, awesome, incredible things in church this morning:
First, the pastor said, "Now everyone open your Bibles and turn to . . ."
Second, was the rustling of hundreds of pages . . .


choices and ch-ch-ch-changes

Stupid Church Tricks

"Four sets of parents are suing a church in Indiana for what happened at a New Year’s Eve lock-in. A youth leader chewed up a mixture of dog food, sardines, potted meat, sauerkraut, cottage cheese, and salsa, topped off with holiday eggnog. As if this spectacle were not disgusting enough (let the reader beware), he then spit out the mixture into a glass and encouraged the members of the youth group to drink it!"

(read the rest here)

Purple-Driven Haze: Rick Warren sings Jimmy Hendrix!

"The "purple haze" incident (as i call it) is yet one more example of how willing (and apparently eager) warren's critics are to use anything and everything as an excuse to paint him as the worst thing that has ever hit the church. this controversy, in fact, is particularly absurd (in my opinion). yet it has now been circulated around the internet (usually with great excitement) as proof of what really lurks beneath the deceptive mask of false christianity that is worn by warren."

(read the rest here)

So let's crack a beer with our crackers next communion and close the next worship service with a dirty joke (we all love to laugh, right?).

Given the choice between Holiness and Relevance, I know what I'm choosing.

Monday, June 13, 2005

circle of life?

I saw this in the Baptist Press today:

"NAVAJO NATION OVERRIDES VETO -- The Navajo Nation's tribal government voted 62-14 June 3 to override President Joe Shirley Jr.'s veto of a ban on "gay marriage." The vote means that "gay marriage" is now illegal on the largest American Indian reservation. Shirley had vetoed the ban in May, saying it was unnecessary."In the traditional Navajo ways, gay marriage is a big 'no, no,'" Navajo delegate Kenneth Maryboy, who voted for the ban, told the Associated Press. "It all boils down to the circle of life. We were put on the earth to produce offspring.""

This event is notable for the Dine', but I could not help but notice the animistic comment at the end, referring to the "circle of life." President Joe Shirley graduated from Rehoboth School (a boarding school founded by the Christian Reformed Church--from which I also graduated) and may be a Christian. I don't know if Kenneth Maryboy is a Christian, but his comment certainly is not.

The reference to the "circle of life" is actually comment that assumes there is no God, that the universe is all that ever was, all that is and all that ever will be. The comment assumes that life is responsible for itself. The traditional Dine' (Navajo) belief is they are here on earth to maintain the hozo (peace of the universe). To say that gay marriage is a "no, no" in Navajo tradition is to imply that traditional Navajo belief itself is threatened. The hozo is threatened if the nozhoni (beautiful ones) act in a way that is improper.

But is that what the Bible teaches? Yes, we are on earth to produce offspring, but it does not start there nor does it end there. God put us on earth to bring glory to Himself and while here, one of our responsibilities is to full the earth and subdue it. How desperately proper theology must be engaged! If gay marriage is wrong, it is because homosexuality is against God, and a system that does not recognize Him is in danger to doing the very thing it hates! Romans 1:18ff

The fact that gay marriage is considered any the Navajo (or any other person for that matter) is a give-away that their current system of belief is a system that fails.

Hakuna matata won't cure it, either.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

signing off

About 10:30 at night my body shuts down so its off to bed I go. Last night, my darling wife sent me off to bed with a medley of ring-tone serenades. She was setting ring tones in the phone and my approach for our goodnight kiss was greeted by "Irish Eyes Are Smiling." She is really more German, but the effect was cute. We laughed.

After enjoying the moment, she cued up the next tune on the phone list, "Love Me Tender." Oh, how cute, and other such remarks were exchanged.

The next ring tone seranaded us with "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." Awwww.

One final kiss, and I was off to bed . . . to the tune of "The National Anthem".

(If you don't "get" the implications of the last tune, ask an older person about "The National Anthem" and late-night television.)

Monday, June 06, 2005

"A New Exodus? Americans are Exiting Liberal Churches"

Monday, June 6, 2005

"We have figured out your problem. You're the only one here who believes in God." That statement, addressed to a young seminarian, introduces Dave Shiflett's new book, Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity. The book is an important contribution, and Shiflett offers compelling evidence that liberal Christianity is fast imploding upon itself.

read the rest of the article here

Yet I could not help but notice the report of continuing rise of mysticism and blatant animism that prevails to influence many pastors today: per a poll issued by Barna, Rick Warren and his books "The Purpose-Driven Life" and "The Purpose-Driven Church" topped the list of typical pastor reading material, according to a study by The Barna Group released May 30. . . Other books cited by at least 2 percent of pastors included "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Phillip Yancey, "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge, "Courageous Leadership" by Bill Hybels, "Spiritual Leadership" by Henry Blackaby, "Next Generation Leader" by Andy Stanley and "21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" by John Maxwell.

BTW: Warren's camp is heating up due to an authorized biography to which Warren responds. In that response, a few other inconsistencies are popping up . . .

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The "nature" of "nature"

Reading through my Bible during my quiet time, I was caught by the words of Romans 1:26, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural.”

The context of the verse is the rejection of God by the crown of His creation (both men and women) and the subsequent replacement of Him by man’s own creation; namely, the worship of himself and in this case, herself.

What grabbed me was the word we have translated and use here as “nature.” Shouldn’t we expect Paul to have written, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the created function for that which against creation”? Why is the word “nature” there? I thought “Nature” was a general reference to the Universe, only with God removed from the picture—an impersonal force that “controls” everything? This world considers “Nature” as the mother terra firma who drives the evolutionary cycle.

Is “nature” the best word to use here?

The Greek reads, “Δια τουτο παρεδωκεν αυτους ο Θεος εις παθη ατιμιας. α τε γαρ θηλειαι αυτων μετηλλαξαν την φυσικην χρησιν εις την παρα φυσιν,”

For those who slept through Greek class, we are focusing on the word φυσικην, or “physiquen” from φυσικός (“physicos”) or φυσιν, “physin” (from the same root).

The Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament reports as φυσικός “as belonging to the naturally regulated order of things instinctive, natural, by nature”[1] Another source defines φυσικός as, “Natural, as established by God in nature (Rom 1:26, 27); like natural or wild beasts, i.e., unreasoning, yielding only to baser instincts (2 Pet. 2:12).”[2]

Other sources refer to those “pertaining to things in accordance with nature, instinctual things,”[3] “in accord with nature; mere brute beasts, mere wild animals”[4] and “being in accordance with the basic order of things in nature, of human behavior natural (Dionys. Hal., Plut. et al. φυσικ χρσις) [and] of animals, whose natural destiny is to be the victims of predators in accordance with nature γεγεννημένα φυσικ ες λωσιν κα φθοράν (mere) creatures of instinct, born to be caught and killed .—DELG s.v. φύομαι C 6. M-M. Sv.”[5]

The problem is two-fold. First, the lexicons provide a circular argument for we find the word we are actually trying to define in the very definition. Second, men (generally speaking) are lexicographically being equated with animals, and Paul is saying they are men (generally speaking) who have preferred the creation over the Creator, who in turn, have turned them over to dishonor their bodies among themselves, worshipping the creature and not the creator. J.A. James, who finds himself often quoted lately in this blog, stated, “As to the gratification of our animal appetites, it should not be difficult to persuade us, that to sink to the level of the brute creation, and hold communion with swine, and goats and rats, cannot be the chief end of a rational being.” [6]

I think what has happened is that an untranslated Latin word has influenced the translation of the Greek and we have in a sense, defined a word by itself, which is misleading. We are also in danger of accepting a term (“nature”) that assumes there is no creator and implies the maintenance of all things by brute force.

The Latin Vulgate of Romans 1:26 reads, “propterea tradidit illos Deus in passiones ignominiae nam feminae eorum inmutaverunt naturalem usum in eum usum qui est contra naturam.”

Our English word “Nature” (a noun), is from the 14th century Latin natura, and its root, natus. The dictionary entry describes this as, “the inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing” and as a past participle, “to be born”. [7] It is the “sum of an individual” that includes physical functions and genetically controlled qualities.

Note: instinct is nowhere mentioned. Instinct is reactionary to the environment. Man has conscience and is held responsible to his choices. The Lexicons would have us believe that man is instinctual and he is not. In this light, I suggest that those lexicons that draw attention to 2 Peter 2:12 and argue animal instinct for men are doing great harm to biblical anthropology.
The miss the word "like" that makes the description metaphorical, not and equation.

The Vulgate gives us “nature” where the Greek gives us “physical”, not “cosmos.” Natura refers to the property, quality, character of a thing; though sadly, even the Latin dictionary will later commit the sin of using the word to define itself.[8]

I venture a preferred reading is ““For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the physical function for that which is against the physical.”

I suggest the word παρα φυσιν would be better understood as “physically impossible.” This would be consistent with the context because here men and women are exchanging what God has intended with a replacement, yet demanding the replacement act the same way as it should in the preferred system. This would also be consistent with the rest of scripture because in other places we find descriptions of man doing the impossible, what the rest of creation cannot: He rejects his creator while the rest of creation is groaning in waiting for the consummation of redemption. In speaking of the way man uses his mouth, James asks, “Does a stream give forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree bear olives or a grapevine bear figs?”

[1]Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Vol. 4, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament library, Page 403. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2000.
[2]Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary : New Testament. electronic ed., G5446. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000, c1992, c1993.
[3]Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament). electronic ed., GGK5879. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.
[4]Newman, Barclay Moon. Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament., Page 195. Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993.
Plut Plut , I–II a.d.—List 5
et al. et al. = et alii (and others)
DELG DELG = PChantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque—List 6
s.v. s.v. = sub voce (under the word, look up the word)
M-M M-M = JMoulton/GMilligan, Vocabulary of Greek Testament—Lists 4, 6
Sv Sv (at the end of entries)=HSieben, Voces—List 6
[5]Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. "Based on Walter Bauer's Griechisch-deutsches Wr̲terbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der frhüchristlichen [sic] Literatur, sixth edition, ed. Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, with Viktor Reichmann and on previous English editions by W.F. Arndt, F.W. Gingrich, and F.W. Danker.". 3rd ed., Page 1069. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
[6] “The Great End of Life”
[7] Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield, Mass., U.S.A.: Merriam-Webster, 1996, c1993.
[8] Harper’s Latin Dictionary, 1879.

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