Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Boxing Day is a holiday in many countries that have been influenced by England. It is the day after Christmas, where one boxes up their leftovers to take to the poor. Rather than discussing the British Realm's holidays, this brief article is about another kind of boxing. There are theologies that box God in and put a ribbon on that box. That boxing comes in the form of redefining words of scripture. It often sounds to my ears like a boxing match that fights with scripture.
All systematic theologies aim for one thing: to understand God in a logical fashion. While that goal is noble, we should hold our theologies with an open hand willing to let God blow away the chaff in those theologies. God has revealed to us that the way he thinks and acts is higher than our understanding.
Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your waysand my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ESV
Total depravity teaches that all aspects of humanity has been affected by the fall, including our own thinking. That means that our prized theologies may be incorrect, even when systematized by the bright lights of church history. With total depravity in mind, we must hold our theology lightly and be willing to be corrected.
If a change of word definitions in scripture is required to make verses "fit" the preferred theology, beware. Most often, the plain reading is preferred. "You" means the reader; "all" means all; "is" means is. Yes, context qualifies words; but not to the extent it changes the whole of scripture.
Our goal as believers is to have faith. Faith is a gift as scripture tells us. Jesus wants to find faith on the earth when He returns. Jesus also chastised the apostles for having little faith. How do those work out logically, I'm not sure. What I do know is that I can pray for more faith and that Father always gives His children good gifts.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Reformed theology teaches that we must observe the Sabbath. For some elaborate reason this commandment is singled out and believed that we can do no works on one day a week. There is no guarantee, though, that the things consumed on Sundays were not manufactured on another Sunday. Perhaps the processed food eaten during the week was worked on Sunday; what about the electricity used throughout one's house, that too could have been manufactured on the Sabbath. How about the paper plates you are using on the Sabbath (so the wife won't have to work by doing dishes, just throw them away), were they made on a non-Sabbath day? Who knows? The list of possibilities of the ways we might break Sabbath could be quite long, as you can see from the examples I have given.
From the Westminster Confession, Chapter 21, we read:
VIII. This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their wordly employments and recreations, but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
Matthew 12 tells us that Jesus worked on the Sabbath and upset the Pharisees. On the Sabbath Jesus and his disciples gathered grain to eat.
From Matthew 12, we read:
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath." He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath." ~ESV
Jesus also healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. Again, Matthew 12 describes what happened:
He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"— so that they might accuse him. He said to them, "Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. ~ESV
Are we better than our Lord in keeping the Sabbath? No! It is not humanly possible to keep this commandment. No need to fool ourselves. Be honest with Father.
I know that I should listen to His word, hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
My parents raised me in a Presbyterian Church. I loved being in church from a young age. I recall people in pews ahead of us turning to see that it was my mother attached to the lovely voice they heard singing hymns. There was a time that I wandered away from my mom into the sanctuary. It was a joy to be in that room alone. I recall when I was taught the doctrine of the Trinity. I puzzled and puzzled and tried to understand it. Walking down the breeze way with my Sunday School teacher, I asked her to explain it to me. Her response to me was very wise, "You don't need to understand it, you need to believe it." That brought me great peace as a youngster.
As an adult, I am still asking questions to understand God better. As a result of those questions this last year many of my beliefs have changed. I am starting this new series and labeling it "What I Believe". It won't be in any particular order; but I will attempt to lay out my beliefs.
Am I still a Calvinist? You will have to read the series to find out.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
How does a person know that Jesus died for them? The answer is because scripture says so. Our salvation is assured on the works of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
God says when we trust in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, we are forgiven and saved.
John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
The world includes me; it also includes you.