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1-2, is the very one who takes on our nature at the Incarnation, for the exact purpose of recreating what he had originally made, which was fallen.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'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."