Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Uncreated Light


Some have wondered why The Light appeared on Day 1 of Creation, whereas the sun, moon and stars were not created until Day 4.  Before Day 4 the Light was not carried by any created object known from Scripture.  Only on Day 4 were objects created to give the created light.

Significantly, this interplay of lights appears in other places in Scripture, too.  When the Lamb of God, the Light of Men, died on the Cross it was dark in the Land for three hours, though the sun was up.

And, in eternity, continuing for forever, the uncreated Light, the Lamb of God, illuminates the earth and the holy city in the eternal day:

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 
The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its lightAnd the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (from Rev 21, NKJV)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Recreation


In his gospel John says, "In the beginning was the Word, ... "  We often use this text, in its context, as proof for the deity of the Word, that is, the deity of Christ.  This is all true, and John is certainly pointing out the deity of the Word -- without which his subsequent argument makes no sense.

But, the fact that the Word "was," and the fact that the Word made every single thing that was made, and without him not one thing was made that was made, needs to be applied according to John's evident intention in the passage:  The Word, who is the one who created the world in Genesis 1-2, is the very one who takes on our nature at the Incarnation, for the exact purpose of recreating what he had originally made, which was fallen.

Surely, surely the one who created the cosmos and all the angels and mankind, "in the beginning," is competent to perform the recreation of all things by his self-abnegation in Incarnation and death on the Cross!  The one who was the Light said "Let there be Light" in the primeval darkness, and there was Light.  So, in the darkness of Jewish and Gentile apostasy and unbelief, this same Word by his words speaks into existence the New Creation.  As the Light of the World, he comes into the darkness, where even those of his own reject him, and yet by his mighty power and glory causes new sons of God to be spiritually born through faith in himself -- sons not born of human will, but of God's Will, not of the flesh, but of the Spirit.  We are his New Creation, having our birth through the Spirit from above -- from God.

We must glory in this.  How can the tribulations of this life, and the shortness of it threaten our Recreator's work in us?  Surely, we shall be perfected in glory!

The good Name and Power of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are at stake in this, and by this Name and Power it will be done!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Presence of God and the Means of Grace

I THINK THAT THIS POST HAS MOVED FROM ITS ORIGINAL POSITION IN THE BLOG DUE TO BLOG ISSUES WHILE I'M HANDLING THE POSTS.  IF THE ORIGINAL POSITION OF THIS POST IS EVER FOUND, REPOST IT WITH THAT DATE AND TIME. IN THE MEAN TIME, THIS POST HAS BEEN REVERTED TO DRAFT STATE.

THIS MAY BE CONNECTED WITH THE POST ON JUNE 3, 2011.

I'm referring to the angle of concurrence between the actions of corporate worship in Word and Sacrament and the actual, effectual and sovereign working of the Holy Spirit upon the souls of the believers.

When the degree of concurrence between the sovereign, invisible action of the Spirit and the visible activity in Word and Sacrament is small, then the two classes of action, visible and invisible, do not necessarily interact at all.  They are independent.  The Spirit performs his actions sovereignly and probably most often unconsciously in the hearts of the elect, and probably most often independently of the immediate exposure to the visible actions of Word and Sacrament.  The ministry of Word and Sacrament finds the elect where they have been put by the invisible work of the Spirit, and when the two classes of action happen to intersect, then there is a conversion to Christ, or a step upward in spirituality and growth in grace.  There is no necessary connection between the two classes of action, visible and invisible, but each has its own place in the scheme of things.  In the extreme, Word and Sacrament are seen not as channels of real grace, but as teachers of ideas, and reminders of God's grace, and mainly as actions that we take to testify to our faith.  The downside of this view, taken to an extreme, is that there is no certainty at any point in time that the visible actions of Word and Sacrament are having any effect in the church.

On the other hand, when the degree of concurrence between the invisible action of the Spirit and the visible activity in Word and Sacrament is very high, that is, when Word and Sacrament are actual instruments or vehicles of the Spirit, then we expect to find spiritual life and progress exclusively through exposure to Word and Sacrament.  The downside of this approach is that grace can be bound to the Word and Sacrament in such a way as to discount the working of the Spirit in the elect under general circumstances, and we also now have a more difficult time explaining those circumstances when Word and Sacrament seem to "fail" in certain persons, even though they have been applied to them.

Between these two extremes there must be a nuanced medium.  We want to know what the Scripturally normative degree of concurrence should be between the activity of the invisible Spirit and the visible Word and Sacrament.

The special presence of God in the worshiping assembly would tend to put much emphasis on Word and Sacrament as instruments in the hands of the Spirit.

John 15:7   7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

John 17:8   8 "For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

Acts 5:20   20 "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life."

Acts 11:14   14 'who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.'

Romans 9:6   6 ¶ But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,

Romans 10:8   8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

Romans 10:17   17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

1 Corinthians 15:2   2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Facts and Vision


We're so used to trying to apply the truth of God's Grace in Christ as "factoids" from his Word, that we may not perceive in those facts the vision of the Glory of God which gives true and abiding faith in the facts.  Knowing the facts of God's Grace toward us raises us, but not without a vision of His glory seen through them.  Faith in the good things God does for us -- that is, reliance on a list of good ideas about Him in which we attempt to put our trust -- is no substitute for a living vision of the Living Word in the Word, Who gives us the power to believe His divine promises.  Seeing who He is -- through the gift of the Spirit bringing repentance and faith -- fills the promises with power.

This vision comes in worship -- usually corporate worship.  Without it, we are nothing.  But, in true worship, with unveiled faces we behold His glory and are changed into his image!

May you find Spirit-filled corporate worship in Word and Sacrament -- worship that points to the glory of the Triune God, and especially to Christ as Mediator between God and Man!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Science and Creation (Miracle)


The BioLogos Foundation and others are trying to create a stir in the evangelical and reformed churches by teaching that evolution and evolutionary thought are truly scientifically validated, and therefore that this scientific truth must be accepted in its answers to the questions of origins, regardless of what the Bible says in Genesis 1 and elsewhere.

A little thought can expose the irrationality of all this.

It's clear that science does teach and must teach, based on the applicability of its own principles of reasoning, that water did not turn into wine at Cana.  The reason science must teach this is that science is limited to investigating the workings of the apparent "laws of nature" in the divine creation, not the creative exceptions to those laws.

Of course, water did turn into wine at Cana.  But, the only business of science is to state that if it did happen, it violated the laws of nature, and was therefore a miracle, and not subject to the rule of science.

The discussion about Cana applies to the main miracle of the New Covenant, too -- the resurrection of Christ.  If science were to pronounce a "scientific" explanation of this event, it is prima facie junk science.

Science does not "compute" with miracles.  It is not supposed to. 

Now, consider the creation -- a veritable forest of miraculous creative acts, according to Scripture.  Because of this we have to conclude that science cannot "compute" creation, either.  In fact, we have to conclude that what "science" tries to teach about creation is prima facie erroneous.  Any attempt to make scientific claims about events not reproducible in the lab is likely to be junk science, especially when we know that miracles are involved.

To require the acceptance of the ideology of evolution even on scientific grounds is irrational, based on the lack of real scientific evidence.  But, so-called scientific evidence is irrelevant in the matter, because science cannot reason it's way back through the forest of miracles involved in creation.  The conclusions of such reasoning must be false.  Things simply did not happen that way.

No other reasonable conclusion can be drawn.

Interpreting the Book of Nature 

In view of all this, it is mistaken to say that the Book of Nature, interpreted in a Christian manner according to the best principles of science, must give answers that are congruent with the Book of Revelation (the Bible).  Actually, the Book of Nature, even as interpreted by Christians, in a Christian manner, according to the best principles of science, absolutely cannot provide answers to origins not given in the revealed Scripture.  In fact, the Book of Nature, interpreted according to the best principles of science, in a Christian manner, by Christians, must, in its own nature, give answers not compatible with revelation.  This has to be true because the best science cannot deal with the miraculous, which is a necessary part of the history of our origins.

The true interpretation of the Book of Nature is explained in the Scripture as being a direct testimony to the human mind of the creative power, majesty and goodness of God.  But, this is a spiritual observation. That spiritual observation is corroborated by the ingenious complexity of the creation, but it is a fact not comprehended by reason of "natural law."

Monday, June 25, 2012

No! to "Hypercalvinism"

This post has been revised.

One measuring stick by which to measure any system of theology is to think of the two concepts of: 1)  God's Will, and 2) Freedom, or History, as ordained by God.

Those who inhabit the so-called "calvinistic" systems have to maintain a Scriptural position which affirms God's decree of history, along with the freedom that he has ordained on the created level, and the divine interaction with that creation in the course of history.

This is affirmed by the Westminster Confession, which states that:

God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (WCF 3:1).

We could summarize this by saying that God ordained what comes to pass in history, but God also ordained that the process of history be real.  History is not a vapor that dematerializes before the decree of God, but is the reality -- the real process -- which has been ordained to take place by the decree of God, and by which the ends of his decree are met.

It is only in the process of history that prayers make sense.  It is only in the process of history that God's goodness is manifested to the undeserving.  It is only in the process of history that common grace exists -- even a measure of grace to the non-elect.  It is only within time that the love for sinners leads to the propagation of the gospel.  It is only within time that the moral process of growth, conversion and even apostasy can take place, because all this takes place in the visible church, in process of time.  The visible church is not a mistake.  Prayers that ask for anything besides simply "God's will" are not wrong.  We do not preach the gospel to all, simply because we do not know who the elect are.  The fact that the non-elect reject all natural and special revelation from God does not mean that God's exclusive motive was damnation when he revealed his goodness to them.

There is a mystery here.  God has ordained the ends.  But, he has also ordained the means to his ends.  How can he make an offer of Christ to those whom he does not call, and yet speak of this offer of Christ as a manifestation of his goodness, when he has ordained eternal suffering for those he knows will not accept it?  But he has done all this.  This is a mystery we cannot solve, and it is not a mystery simply because of our creaturehood, but it is a mystery in God, creation and time, all under the sovereign control of God.

When the ultimate ends of God's decree are used to override his expressed motives in Scripture during the execution of the decree, then elements of the moral significance of history simply vanish.  For one thing, "common grace" vanishes.  But, the church of Christ, and all her members, must play their parts in history, with all tribulations, questions, prayers, and joys.  We have to see that the Triune God, in our Lord Jesus Christ, is truly engaged in the history he has ordained.  We have no "platonic," static Greek God, but an active God involved in history.  History is real -- he has ordained it.  And, history moves to his ordained ends.  But, let us not short circuit the process by intellectually or practically denying the fact that God participates in history with us, as it moves to his ordained ends.

How thankful we ought to be that in the simplicity of his offer of his saving goodness, he has called us unto himself!  And, yet we too cannot deny that he is good, and means to be good, even to those who are not made to submit to his call, by the Spirit.  It is because they reject his real and true expression of real goodness to them that they are condemned.  They end up condemned by their response to his common grace -- but that "common grace" was a real offer of grace to them, from God, in history.

We know that the Triune God lisps to us at our level about himself, when he reveals himself as a moral agent as well as a sovereign.  Let us be content with what he lisps to us in our language, and not break the paradigm by beginning to say, "Well, I know how he really is!" by viewing our present reality only through the decree.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sola Scriptura


Recent events, such as occur from time to time in Reformed circles, have to do with some person of note leaving the Reformed fellowship for a church which does not hold to Sola Scriptura.  This always causes a lot of swirl and comment -- and hate.  But, I think that the blog discussions and articles in Reformed circles that mourn, complain about, or hate the persons who do this often display the theological weaknesses that let this kind of thing happen.

I think that the best approach to any serious religious question is to say, "Let's study the Scripture, and let's study History."  This approach is good for anyone, whether they're sure of Sola Scriptura or not.  And, we who claim to believe in Sola Scriptura ought to practice what we preach.  We should stop making Reformed "tradition," or doctrinal hobby-horses, or the pet teachings of favorite personalities the touchstone of Scripture interpretation.  We should study the Scripture, and let Scripture interpret Scripture.

We Reformed can be highly theological, highly confessional, highly technical, and, Yes! highly traditional, and prone not to always rethink our foundations in Scripture.  As a consequence we do not know our Bibles well.

But, only the Scripture is the Word of God.  Only the Scripture compels allegiance.  Only the Scripture teaches and convinces.  This Word should always be in our hearts and mouths, and we must meditate in it day and night.

The Scripture itself is capable of defending its integrity and its teaching in the minds and hearts of those who are sensitive to its teaching by the Spirit.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ashes to Righteousness


When Job and Isaiah saw God, they each gained profound moral insight about Him, and therefore about themselves.  

For Isaiah, it was the dirty mouth speaking from a dirty heart:

For Job it was his presumption that he could understand the ways of God:

In each case, these self-accusations of weakness and depravity are regarded by God to be truth-speaking.  As a consequence, these men are immediately put into greater service to God:  Isaiah as a greater prophet, and Job as priest for his friends who have spoken so brazenly and self-confidently to Job about God's ways.

See:

42:1 Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’
5 I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.”
And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.
So, repenting in dust and ashes at the vision of God is the act of persons whom God calls righteous.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"According To Its Kind"


Genesis 1 (NKJV)

A lot of time in protological controversy is spent in discussion whether the 'day' of Genesis 1 is a 24-hour 'day'.  Another aspect of that discussion must be to consider the repeated statement that all plants, beasts and men, reproduce "according to their kind."

This process of reproduction only "in kind" is a fundamental thought of the passage, and is a repeated statement of the fixity of species.

Evolutionary conceptions can find no place here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Special Creation of Adam and Eve - Is That All?


The current move in some quarters of the church is to make the special creation of Adam (from dust) and Eve (from Adam) into the touchstone of creationism in the church.  But, this point is actually the point of last resort, before entire capitulation to the idea of organic evolution.  The Scripture says much more.

In the Nicene Creed or Apostles' Creed, God the Father is called the "Creator (or Maker) of Heaven and Earth."  This includes the angelic realm as well as the cosmos visible to us.  The concept of "creation" means the creation of things we see from nothing (Heb 11:1-3).  Regardless of the notions of origin that have been hypothesized by believers (the Gap Theory, the Day-Age Theory, etc.) nothing explains away the Biblical testimony that the Universe is a "made" thing.  According to Scripture, what we see did not come about through natural law (even under the guidance of providence) after having been supposedly "created" as a ball of fire in the distant past.  That is not the Biblical doctrine of creation.

The believers need to understand that it is Creation of what we see, and not simply the hand of Providence governing natural law, which is critical.  Therefore, permitting the doctrine of creation to be reduced to a big-bang + providence (and evolution), and only letting the special creation of Adam be the essential remnant of the doctrine of creation, is the last straw before creation ceases to be a fundamental point of orthodoxy in the church.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gospel Reductionism

This post has been retitled and the language of the text has been improved.

Paul the apostle describes the accusatory function of the Law of God in Chapter 3 of his Epistle to the Romans.  I have reproduced the whole section at the bottom of this blog post, marked with a *.

Here is an extract of that long passage:  Underlines and things in square brackets in the following quotation are marks of emphasis added by me:

Now we know that whatever the law [of God] says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
The apostle means that the righteousness described in the Law of God -- a righteousness we should seek to live by -- nevertheless shows us to be sinners before God, and so we must receive grace another way than through our own obedience.

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, ... even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For ... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  ... . Where is boasting [in our actions] then? It is excluded. ... Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. ... Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.      (Romans 3:19-31)
What Paul is asserting here is that the Gospel brings us to Christ the Savior in order to have our sins forgiven because we trust in him instead of in the things that we do.  But in order to turn our hearts to faith in Christ, the Gospel must teach the Law of God as his righteous demand, in order that we may know we are sinners.  It is a standard of righteousness which none of us can meet.  The Gospel is therefore good news for real sinners, who receive forgiveness and salvation by faith alone in Christ.  And, since our hearts' desire as believers in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is to walk in his steps and imitate his righteousness, it follows that we must be taught his righteous ways, so that we can begin to practice the Law of Love by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I say all this in view of the common propensity to use the word "gospel" to describe the positive demeanor of church ministry, while at the same time underplaying the teaching of the Law and the need for repentance.  Instead, everything becomes "gospel."  The "gospel" is expected to do all things without the assistance of the Law -- because we don't want to be legalists.  Therefore, there is a preaching of goodness, peace and acceptance in Christ, yet without sufficient recognition of the need for the corresponding preaching of Biblical standards and the need for a life of repentance and spiritual warfare against our sins. We need the combined ministry of Law and Gospel, where we find that as sinners who confess their sins, we are not only safe as we believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, but we are also empowered by his Holy Spirit and instructed how to act more like him.

To reduce the preaching of the church to a weakened "gospel," without sufficient ministry of the Law for repentance and instruction will therefore weaken the gospel testimony of the church, will be less likely to lead to conversion of heart, and will not sufficiently teach the believers what righteousness before God looks like, so that they can identify their real sins and idols and fight against them.  Instead, there will be a "gospel reductionism" in which the church is welcoming to all kinds of broken people, as she should be, but people do not get better.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.  (Rom 3:19-31).

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Nature and Grace (Updated 9/10/16)


I am not a philosopher, so if I misstate some philosophical points below, you can correct me in the comments.  This post contains theses for disputation.

Somewhere in time past theological and philosophical analysts began to study the knowledge obtainable from the logical use of the mind and the observation of nature, and the relationship that this kind of knowledge has to knowledge gained in Christian revelation.  This is the analysis of the relationship between "nature" (or, "natural law") and "grace."

Generally speaking, before the Enlightenment (when the mind of man became the measure of all), it had been put forth, especially effectively by Aquinas, that grace completes nature.  That is, nature can take us a really long way in the knowledge of divine things, but the uppermost echelons of revealed knowledge available to us (the Trinity; the Nature of Christ as the God-Man; the Way of Salvation), could only be reached by revelation (grace) and were not accessible to knowledge which came by nature.

The danger in this synthesis of nature and grace is that the boundary between the two can move.  As time wore on, the boundary between nature and grace moved to include more under nature and less under grace.  Finally, in the eyes of many who saw the supreme doctrines mentioned above as useless or wrong, the mind of man took over, and nature ruled.  Grace appeared to die.  There was nothing left for grace to provide to human knowledge.

One can speculate that this process was due to the sin of man, and that the relationship between nature and grace could supposedly have been kept clear if the sinful kinds of thinking, theologizing and philosophizing had been kept out of the process.  But, this still leaves open the question where the boundary between nature and grace lies.  Things can remain unstable.

We do note in this situation, as it was left by Aquinas, that though grace is seen as supreme, nature is actually the foundation.  This is why nature is always eating away at grace.  It isn't simply that man is a sinner, and therefore always makes mistakes in locating the boundary between nature and grace.  The mistake is that nature -- the knowledge supposedly accessible to all -- is made the foundation of knowledge.  This is close to the doctrine of the Enlightenment, which hypothesized that Nature (natural law) is the foundation of all -- period.  This, I think, is why science (nature) rules in many intellectual circles. For the poor believers struggling under this load so-called science is always eating away at God's Word.

But look at the doctrine of creation.  It is impossible to conceive of the process of creation as entirely natural.  It is impossible to have overall scientific or natural knowledge of the universe as it is being created, because of the miraculous content, and yet that finished creation is supposedly made the ground of natural knowledge (and the testimony to God which is created within it is rejected).  But, the fact that the creation was made under circumstances inaccessible to the human mind implies that nature does not precede and underlie grace.  Natural understanding does not come first.  It is the other way around.  Grace underlies and explains nature.  This changes everything.  The Word of God (grace) rules nature.  The arguments from "nature" which contradict the Word of God are false arguments, prima facie.  Nature is understood in terms given by the Word of God, not the other way around.

Therefore, we must not say that the Book of Nature is a revelation of God accessible under common grace to the mind of the common man, speaking to the common man as clearly about God and nature as the Book of God speaks to the minds of believing men, in the subject matter that they share.  This makes nature superior to grace, and reinstitutes the degenerative process of harm that has been caused by this.

Actually, the Book of Nature first and fundamentally tells men what the Book of God says it tells men -- namely, that God is the creator, sustainer, and giver of all good, in sovereign control of his cosmos, that the creation which is seen and denied by the common eye is testimony to his creative power, and that things in natural revelation only actually work the way that it is said that they work by special revelation.

The idea that the Word of God can be forcefully interpreted against its own claims and intent by the Word of Nature is simply a hoax, perpetrated by a long run of success in the hard sciences, which has supplied the courage to many philosophical "men of science" to proclaim their rule over all things.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Evolution Among the Public


One can examine this link for a discussion of belief (or not) in human evolution among the American public:

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/01/survey-nearly-half-of-americans-subscribe-to-creationist-view-of-human-origins/?hpt=hp_t2

One can see from this, if these statistics are accurate and meaningfully interpreted, that the body of folks who disbelieve in human evolution is not small, and is even surprisingly large (25%) among those who seldom or never attend church.

------- The article linked to above follows here -------


Survey: Nearly half of Americans subscribe to creationist view of human origins

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – Forty-six percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years, according to a survey released by Gallup on Friday.

That number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years, since 1982, when Gallup first asked the question on creationism versus evolution. Thirty years ago, 44% of the people who responded said they believed that God created humans as we know them today - only a 2-point difference from 2012.

"Despite the many changes that have taken place in American society and culture over the past 30 years, including new discoveries in biological and social science, there has been virtually no sustained change in Americans' views of the origin of the human species since 1982," wrote Gallup's Frank Newport. "All in all, there is no evidence in this trend of a substantial movement toward a secular viewpoint on human origins."

The second most common view is that humans evolved with God's guidance - a view held by 32% of respondents. The view that humans evolved with no guidance from God was held by 15% of respondents.

Survey: U.S. Protestant pastors reject evolution, split on Earth's age

Not surprisingly, more religious Americans are more likely to be creationists.

Nearly 70% of respondents who attend church every week said that God created humans in their present form, compared with 25% of people who seldom or never attend church.

Among the seldom church-goers, 38% believe that humans evolved with no guidance from God.

The numbers also showed a tendency to follow party lines, with nearly 60% of Republicans identifying as creationists, while 41% of Democrats hold the same beliefs.

Republicans also seem to be more black-and-white about their beliefs, with only 5% responding that humans evolved with some help from God. That number is much lower than the 19% of both independents and Democrats.

According to Newport, a belief in creationism is bucking the majority opinion in the scientific community - that humans evolved over millions of years.

"It would be hard to dispute that most scientists who study humans agree that the species evolved over millions of years, and that relatively few scientists believe that humans began in their current form only 10,000 years ago without the benefit of evolution," writes Newport. "Thus, almost half of Americans today hold a belief ... that is at odds with the preponderance of the scientific literature."

The USA Today/Gallup telephone poll was conducted May 10-13 with a random sample of 1,012 American adults. The sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
- Dan Merica

Monday, May 28, 2012

"Christian" Theistic Evolution and the Pace of Time


One of the paradigmatic problems understanding the origin and development of the universe from the standpoint of "Christian" theistic evolution concerns the pace of time.

If evolution, deemed slow by theistic evolutionists today, is responsible for the origin of all the species including man, then our expectation of the pace of time is "very slow."  The origin of all the species, including man, took a few billions of years to be accomplished, according to current standards, beginning with the big bang.  It really wasn't a "creation" in the theological sense at all.

It is plausible, then, that the progress of history, under the evolutionary regime, would likewise be slow.  Perhaps it could take 10,000 years (or 10,000,000 years?) for Christ to return.

Furthermore, if the first "creation" (which isn't actually a "creation") took so long, why shouldn't the so-called "recreation" of the new heavens and the new earth also be an evolutionary process that takes just as long? If the first so-called "creation" was actually a natural process operating under the providence of God, why shouldn't the second be the same?  Why should the so-called recreation take place for us believers "in the blink of an eye," when the first creation took billions of years?

Conclusion

The whole purpose of theistic evolution is to reconcile Christianity to organic evolution, as naturalistically understand today, because of the supposed scientific proof of the hypothesis of evolution.  But, this is done by doing away with "creation."  Instead of "creation," there is only the hidden hand of "divine providence" acting to control the pace and direction of organic evolution through the workings of natural law, in directions which result in the origin of our species, and in the direction of the so-called "creation" of man.  But, it just isn't creation any more.  And, if there is no creation, then why should there be any  instantaneous recreation either?

Why is it any easier to believe in the transformation of the cosmos when Christ returns than it is to believe in the actual creation of the cosmos by Christ at the beginning?  Why is the process of creation, which stands outside the bounds of science, judged by "science"?  True science, which exists, cannot judge the bounds and limits of real creation.  That's the whole point of the concept and the doctrine of creation!

A real creation is an article of the Christian faith, not the result of scientific inquiry.

 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.  (Heb 11:1-3)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Polytheism -- Again?


Though the pagans of historic antiquity knew of the great God who made all things (Acts 17), they were much more at home putting him out of their minds, and worshiping the small gods instead.  

In fact, I suspect that the idea that one god was big enough to govern all nations must have seemed unreasonable.  The inhabited world is too big for one god.  One has much more reliable contact with the divine if one worships gods which are closely associated with one's homeland or perhaps the neighbors.

But, now that the non-divine ones can travel around the world in hours or a couple of days in subsonic jet planes, this has changed.  Perhaps one god can govern the whole world.  But, can one god govern the cosmos which has supposedly been expanding for billions of years?  Did the Fall of Adam affect the most distant galaxy?  Instantly?  Is your god big enough for that?  The preponderance of "naturalism" in the "advanced" world's thought today simply says "No!" to that.  The universe is too big for the Fall of Adam and all the other things said in Genesis to be paradigmatic for the whole thing.

See!  The change is just a matter of scale.  God has always been too small to suit the reason of man.

This is why Christians should not argue from within the confines of the present, modern, naturalistic world-view, when they argue that creationism and Genesis must be true.  God is too big for that.  It really is true that the cosmos was made supernaturally in all its vast capacities and extent, and was all made by an infinitely more vast God who exists outside all created things.

Let us be Christian theists!  Let us believe the Word of God, that the cosmos was created from nothing by the Word of God, and let us know and believe that all attempts to bring Christianity into correspondence with naturalism in any form -- be it evolution or otherwise -- are simply futile.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Righteousness vs. Wrath


In Romans chapter 1, why doesn't Paul write that the righteousness of God is revealed from Heaven in his wrath which he is planning to inflict on the godless (vs 18)? Instead, in the previous verse Paul writes that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel (vs 17).  In fact, the righteousness which is spoken of there is the righteousness that is given to sinners for their salvation.

So in one verse, God is righteous to give righteousness to the undeserving and sinners, and in the next verse God is righteous to reveal his wrath against the godless who do not receive his righteousness.

But, just speaking from these two verses, the most exalted revelation of God's righteousness is in the righteousness by which he makes sinners righteous.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Leaven of the Pharisees


The Problem

Jesus warned his disciples about the "leaven of the Pharisees":

Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.”
But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? 10 Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? 11 How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matt 16:5-12).  

It's clear that the "leaven" or doctrinal teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees can also attack the church and must be guarded against.  Christ cannot mean simply that we should discern the presence of the persons of Pharisees and Sadducees in the church, and avoid them.  He must mean that we must beware of being infected with their kind of doctrine ourselves.  It's clear that most of the Pharisees and Sadducees were blind to their own sin, as they opposed the Person of Christ and his teaching.  They cannot discern their blindness at all, as they make false judgments in the name of "righteousness."  And, so we also conclude that when this "leaven" affects us, this same blindness begins to grow over us and turn our spiritual vision and Christian behavior into paths more characteristic of the Pharisees than of Christ.

So, we need to investigate what this self-deception is, and we need to learn how to deal with it.  As true believers, we ought to have power by the Spirit, to become aware of self-deception, and to begin to fight against it.

The Law of God

A first principle of Pharisaical leaven has to do with the Law of God.  In Romans, chapter 2 we observe Paul rebuking those who judge others:

Rom 2:1 "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things."  

Paul can never mean that people, even believers, give up all judgment.  What Paul is talking about is the propensity to willfully find fault in others, with the intention of destroying them.  This fleshly propensity is fed by knowledge of the Law of God: 

Rom 2:17 "Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?"  

The flesh, in a self-deceptive manner, feeds on the doctrine of the Law of God, in order to apply it to others, but not to itself.  Blame-shifting has been characteristic of mankind since the Fall.  It is subtle, because the Law that is taught or preached according to this doctrinal leaven may indeed be truth, but it is preached from a hidden, unacknowledged false motive.  It is preached to tear down or subordinate others.  The leaven of the Pharisees thus masquerades in the conscience as Truth.  But, depravity secretly lies behind the real reasons that this "truth" is being applied to others, in order to bring them to judgment.

James speaks of this:

 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 

It is certain that the desires for pleasure -- the lusts that James criticizes -- are not manifested outwardly in so carnal a manner, but are mostly put forth as righteous judgments!  After all, prayer is part of their lustful activity!  Yet, it all stems from depravity!  It is clear then, that simply speaking the truth, outwardly and literally, is not necessarily a spiritual activity!  The hidden reasons for the speaking must be evaluated.  Why is the Law used to judge another?  It cannot be simply that the other person is wrong.  There is a Pharisaical reason why that other person is being brought to judgment, and it cannot be simply because they are sinning!

James goes on to say:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. 11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

The conclusion is that the hidden depravity in fleshly hearts -- even in believers' hearts -- can parade as "righteousness," masquerading as having the right to judge, but, in spite of all, with the secret intent to blame and judge the other rather than to minister the gospel to him.  All the outward warfare of mutual judgment wears the garment of righteousness, even while its engine is secret inward depravity.

Self-Diagnosis

How do I get the log out of my own eye, especially since the hidden motives of my own heart are mostly hidden from me?

A hint appears in the text of Romans 2:

21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.

Please notice how Paul indicates that the "judges" are equally guilty of the sin that they judge in others.  He clearly implies that the false "judges" are guilty of the very type of sins that they judge in others!  Those who preach the law of sexual morality, but do so in a legal and non-gospel spirit, and who have the hidden intent to blame and destroy such sinners instead of save them, are guilty of the very sins that they disparage in the "sinners." 

There is a clue for self-diagnosis here.  It is this principle:

The very sins I am most exercised about when I complain, inwardly or outwardly, about my spouse, my church, my pastors, my boss at work, my government, etc., are, in some parallel manner, the very sins that I'm committing against God, and against my spouse, etc., while hiding them from myself!

We can at least begin to read off our own secret sins from the judgments we apply to others, and begin to discern the secret motives of false and godless judgment we bring against one another.  Repentance can begin here.  And, God help us in this process, because we cannot deliver ourselves!  Only the grace of the Holy Spirit can deliver us, and give us a righteous vision.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Intellect, Mystery and Worship


As good Presbyterians, we are especially attracted to the system of theology.  Biblical interpretation and the establishment of systematic theology through the rational investigation of the teaching of Scripture is one of our "forte's."

But, what do we do with the mysteries?

For one, we seem to believe that we should try to eliminate them :-) .  But, without in any sense wanting to disparage the investigation of questions, I might broaden the base of the inquiry by making the following suggestions:

1)  Since God is incomprehensible (cannot be fully comprehended by the creaturely mind), then there must be mysteries.  This fact should not be resisted.

2)  We do need to investigate mysteries, not only to seek explanations, but also to seek not to explain them away, but to see their true bounds.  What exactly is a mystery?  What are the reasons for its existence?

3)  We are masters at "using" the doctrines we think we understand -- at least by babbling the words, but also most times having little enough illumination about their true scope.  But, of what use is a mystery?

I conclude that mysteries are at the root of worship.  Insofar as our theological efforts try to explain everything -- an impossible and un-Scriptural goal -- then our efforts tend to do away with real aspects of Christian worship

Let me give an example:

Why am I a true believer in Christ?  Is it because of anything I did?  No.  In fact he did not have to choose me for salvation.  He could have chosen someone else in my place, and left me in my sins.  How should I feel and think about this?  With wonder, admiration and gratitude!  Every day I spend in Heaven, in the fellowship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and all my fellow saints, and the holy angels, I will think with abounding and daily increasing holy gratitude how all this is a gift.  I, who am nothing, and have been a sinner and rebel, have been brought to this by the grace of God, for no reason but his goodness and grace.  How can the contemplation of his goodness and grace, and the mystery of his choice of me, not result in ever-increasing worship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit now and forever?

Or, consider the Fatherhood of God.  I know what a human father is, having known my human father.  I know what being a father is, for my own part, though I cannot boast.  But, how can we ever exhaust the simple meaning of this word "father" as we live under the fatherhood of our Father in Heaven?  Will we ever cease to extoll his greatness, the more we perceive of it forever?  We will be eternally worshiping, marveling and saying, "Thank you, thank you, thank you -- I never realized before how much you have cared for me!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

On Heaven's Seat


It's hard, from our lowly position in God's World, to envision how our attitude toward this world should be shaped, unless our vision is shaped by God's Word.  In that Word there is certainly a lowly vision of ourselves, as servants, even slaves of God, living by the rule that the last shall be first, and that the greatest is the servant of all, and that our hope is in resurrection.  But, behind this Godly lowliness is the Godly vision of the human race on the Throne of Heaven.  It is all in Christ, of course.  But how little do we ponder how he rose to heaven's throne in our nature.  Of course, we believe he is a real human being.  But, don't forget:  We are in him!  In him, we are risen and seated there!  Think of yourself on that throne!  What is your perspective on the world's business as you sit on that throne?  What do you think of all the outward excellence in the world, even if it came to the Christian dominion of all the world's business?  Is this vision of the government of this age ultimately worthy of your position?  Is this what you are co-ruling with Christ to bring about?  No.  Isn't the current vision of Christian dominion a sanctified Enlightenment, Western 19th-century liberal, upper-middle class, educated vision, which is successful in business, science, liberal arts and politics?  Is this really a Christian vision?  Most of the believers in this world have not, and up to now cannot, share this vision because of "backwardness," "lack of progress," and persecution.  No.  They have a higher vision.  Even if you told them of the Western Enlightenment vision that God's dominion might eventually bring to them, would they truly look forward to it?  Would it replace the Eternal Vision?  No.  It would be a seduction.

We must be grateful to God in his providence for the excellencies of our earthly life, and the seeming successes of our Christian efforts, but these are not in themselves God's Kingdom, though they bear traces and signs of it.  But, God's Kingdom is far higher than these things.  We should think again, how the last shall be first, and the lowest shall be highest, and the least will be the greatest, and how the cross will triumph through his suffering servants, and God's Kingdom -- the one that really is his -- will one day, when all cares of this earth are past -- shine forth in eternal glory, in the fellowship of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Seeing this now, we shall have power.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Christian Sacrifice


Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (NKJ)

First of all, this is not the command of God, but rather our Father beseeches us, in view of his sacrifice of his best for us, which he made by not sparing his own Son from death on the cross for our sins, that we should in response to his sacrifice give over ourselves entirely to him as living and active sacrifices for the sake of his Name and Glory, ready to do all that he calls us to do in the light of his sovereign grace.

It is not my life to live, but His in me, nor my ambitions, but his for me and through me. Whether he call me to menial or maximal service, in the end it will have his praise, his crown of reward, near his throne.

Is this yours?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Be What the Lord Wants You To Be


Last evening in our small group we discussed the Divine Election to salvation which all of us believers enjoy.

A big take-away for me is to continue to contemplate the intersection of ambition and predestination.  It seems that they are at cross-purposes when carnal ambition masquerades as godly aspiration to Christian service.

How hopeful and satisfying it is to rest in God's predestination (of me).  If I follow Him, then I can "be all I can be," to use the old slogan, knowing that I will be made to be what He wants me to be, and it will please Him.  That's all that counts.

Glory be to God.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Distinction from the World (Revised)


This is a comment on the previous post.

The point of the previous post is that the church must maintain spiritual separation from the world.  But, sometimes the word "separation" has a bad image.  So, I will express what I mean by using another word -- "assimilation."  The church permeates the world, but is not to be "assimilated" to the world.  There remains a spiritual distinction from the world -- a distinction which is visible not only in worship and in personal Christian behavior and testimony, but also in the serious requirement of intra-church Christian social communion where the Lord's grace, wisdom, and encouragement is shared between the believers.  This fellowship manifests the spiritual bond which makes the believers' first priority in prayer and action to be the welfare of other believers in Christ.  We should do good to all men, but especially to the household of God.  Our lifestyle is not to dissipate ourselves by throwing ourselves into the embrace of the world to convert the world, but to draw people from the world into the embrace of Christ.  The church is a "counterculture."  That distinction of worship, life, and spiritual separation must characterize the body of believers, lest their testimony before the world lose its vitality.  My thesis in the previous post is that engaging the world while forgetting to be the counterculture is spiritually fatal to the welfare and testimony of the church.

Therefore, whether it's too much preterism, or too much visionary medieval-style communion of church and state, the spiritual effect is the same.  The church and the world become only formally, but not vitally, distinguishable, to the detriment of the church.

During the days of union and communion between church and state, it was the monks who continued to preserve the distinction between the church and the world.  In a sense the church of Christ, following Judaic principles rather than Greek philosophy, must adopt the monk's sense of spiritual separation from the world, without the asceticism.  The good that those monks did could only be done because they were monks -- separate.  Likewise, the good that we do can only be done because we are separate.  If we lose our separation, we will lose our calling and our effectiveness in the world.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Preterist Hope and Resurrection


This article keeps being revised, in order to clarify the language, remove unnecessary offense to brethren, and be more correctly adjusted to its practical environment. However, any hyperbole still present is intentional, because if there were no hyperbole, no attention would be paid to its technical language and apparent theological blandness.  This article is commented on in the next post.

In the Reformed "Covenant of Works" it is regularly assumed that the destiny of the race is properly understood from the standpoint of the original creation, as if the Fall was a fatal blot on that original plan which was cured by Christ's redemption, so that the recovered plan of world dominion can now be carried forward in the present age in Christ.  When this idea is coupled with a preterism which denies a final apostasy, the Kingdom of God becomes an immanent kingdom.  It comes here and now, in this age, though gradually.  The distinction between the "Now" of Kingdom life in the present age, and the "Not Yet" of Kingdom life in the Age of Resurrection gradually fades away as the kingdom comes, and, in the end, a saved and glorious world is made ready for the final advent of the Savior, and the destruction of the last enemy -- death.  But, resurrection is icing on the cake, in what may be a far distant future.  The focus of the church is on this age,* and on the expectation of the increasing triumph and glory of the kingdom of God in this age.  As a consequence the resurrection age inadvertently becomes distant, ethereal, disembodied, perhaps even "gnostic," compared to the realism of kingdom now, the beginnings of which we perceive with our senses.  Life is now.

This focus has a profoundly negative effect on the practical mission of the church and on the life of faith. By asserting a vision of increasing fulfillment, contentment, triumph and glory in this age, the church embraces the world, hoping to redeem the world through Christian accomplishments and good works and (hopefully) the preaching of the gospel, but the result is that the world embraces the church.  A vision of world-conquering, world-integrating moral triumph through charity (and a subsidiary profession of orthodoxy) replaces the gospel vision of salvation from the world-system, personal and corporate holiness, and Christian accomplishments and good works that preach this deliverance.  We've been here before:  Look at the policies, activities and failure of the "liberal" churches.

There are theological reasons why this is an unworthy way to conceive of the divine plan.  For one thing, the Fall occurs so early in the Scriptural record, and so little is revealed of the original creation, that it's clear that the Scriptural record is just not focused on the restoration of the original creation in its original form.  That original creation is irretrievably lost in death, just as Christ's participation in the life of this age was brought to the fullest and most complete death on the cross and in the tomb.  And yet, in triumph, Christ rose from the death of the first creation, and he himself became the embodiment of the New Creation, along with all those spiritually in him.

The New Testament is clear that this redemptive work is accomplished by our Lord's participation in the first, fallen creation (yet without sin on his part), as he dies.  But he is not resurrected back into the first creation.  He remains "dead to the Law," which killed him, for ever and ever.  Yet, He himself becomes the New Creation in Resurrection, living to God in a new way, by the Spirit, corresponding to the New Covenant.  The home of the New Creation is the resurrection body, ultimately in the resurrection age.  Therefore, we should only see our redeemed destiny in resurrection terms.  We are spiritually resurrected now, as believers, but we live in bodies which are the products of the first creation, and we live in a fallen age.  We cannot see the Kingdom of God fully manifested in this age, because this is not the age of resurrection.  The Kingdom of God is not inherited by flesh and blood (the Adamic inheritance of the first creation).  The Kingdom of God is fully inherited only in the resurrection body, in Christ.

This explains why Paul is so insistent that our spiritual attention be directed to Heaven where our treasure lies waiting for the age to come, the resurrection age, and that our spiritual attention not be directed to this age, which is groaning under bondage to corruption and death.  After all, the creation is also doomed to be delivered from death in the same glorious resurrection that we will experience at the Last Day.

Therefore, we must divert our vision from an immanent kingdom of God, with a vision of glory in outward life in dominion and triumph in this age, and direct our vision to the future and transcendent kingdom coming with resurrection, with only a hidden glory now in the triumph of our suffering, until the great day of deliverance from death comes, and we participate in the full manifestation of the Kingdom of God.  This is the only vision that separates us from the world-system and makes us a holy people of Kingdom-come, and this is the only vision which testifies to the world that Christ has come.

Unless the End comes first, we will all die a death that was ordained for our sin, and that has been transformed by Christ's resurrection into a doorway to the presence of Christ, until eternal glory dawns.  Yes, the last enemy to be destroyed is death, but what an enemy!  It's really paradigmatic of all evil and sin in our lives.  Death is the curse!  Therefore, let us no more have "boys' religion" about these things, confusing our vision of eternal life with a vision of worldly glory in this age.  No.  Our destiny is death and resurrection, following in the steps of our Lord, unless he should return first.  Focusing on the glorious manifestation of the Kingdom of God in this age will have a carnalizing influence on us and on the practical ministry of the church.  But, focusing on the eternal kingdom in resurrection will make us a holy people who preach a holy gospel, and do holy works testifying to the glory of Christ.

There is a warning here:  The true vision of the city whose builder and maker is God is held by those who view themselves, like Abraham, as migrants and pilgrims through life in this age, seeking that city and glory which is eternal, and is not of this age, but of the age to come -- the age of resurrection.  Only a converted heart can rest in that vision.  The flesh wants glory now, and anything that satisfies that urge in this life has corruption in it.

This post is commented on in the next post.

*  My claim about "focus on this age" is not vain, because, after writing this post, with my own ears I heard an ordained PCA Teaching Elder (Minister) not associated with my church, use these very words unguardedly in a comment stating that our attention should be focused on this age and not on some other (future) age.  He wasn't thinking, but the loose and uninterpreted comment nevertheless illustrates what I mean.