Friday, February 29, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 37

Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?

A. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory (1 Cor. 15:43), shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment (Matt. 10:32), and made perfectly blessed both in soul and body in the full enjoying of God (1 Jn. 3:2) to all eternity (1 Thess. 4:17).

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 36

Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?

A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness (Heb. 12:23) and do immediately pass into glory, (Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8; Lk. 23:43), and their bodies, being still united to Christ (1 Thess. 4:14), do rest in their graves (Isa. 57:2) till the resurrection (Job 19:26).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Circularity and Reasoning

Consider this question: how do you know that your rationality, your reasoning faculties, are reliable?

I find this to be fascinating question. To answer most questions, we use our reasoning faculties to arrive upon an answer, yet, in this case, such a move is not necessarily allowed. To do so would be to descend into circular reasoning: you use rational thinking to decide whether or not rational thinking is a reliable way of knowing. To even think about this question, we automatically assume that rational faculties are reliable and offer a generally reliable way of making sense of reality. I do not know about anyone else, but I am hard pressed to even begin to imagine what an alternative would look like. If not rationality, how else are we to make sense of reality? How ironic that the very faculties we use to discern the validity and verity are themselves without means of verification. How do we really know that that by which we discern reliability from unreliability is itself reliable and an adequate tool for such tasks?

Assuming for the moment that we are evolutionary naturalists, how do we know that our reasoning capacities have evolved with reliability being favored? Reliability is not always necessary for survival. The antelope that runs at the rustling of the grass around the water hole will probably survive longer than the antelope that stays around to see if the grass moved because of the wind or because of a predator.

One of my pet peeves is when Christians forget that our sinful nature affects every part of our humanity, including our reasoning. The consequence of sin is that we no longer reason without error. Our thinking is faulty and broken, though not completely useless. By itself, it is not a solid basis for knowing. Only when human rationality can be tested against the revealed truth in the Scriptures can we know if our rationality is working correctly or not.

A Puritan Catechism: Question 35

Q. What are the benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification (Rom. 5:1-2, 5), are assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17), increase of grace, perseverance in it to the end (Prov. 4:18; 1 Jn. 5:13; 1 Pet. 1:5).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 34

Q. What is sanctification?

A. Sanctification is the work of God's Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13), whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God (Eph. 4:24), and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness (Rom. 6:11).

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 33

Q. What is adoption?

A. Adoption is an act of God's free grace (1 Jn. 3:1), whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:17).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 32

Q. What is justification?

A. Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins (Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:7), and accepts us as righteous in his sight (2 Cor. 5:21) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Rom. 5:19), and received by faith alone (Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 31

Q. What benefits do they who are effectually called, partake of in this life?

A. They who are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification (Rom. 8:30), adoption (Eph. 1:5), sanctification, and the various benefits which in this life do either accompany, or flow from them (1 Cor. 1:30).

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 30

Q. What is effectual calling?

A. Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit (2 Tim. 1:9) whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery (Acts 2:37), enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ (Acts 26:18), and renewing our wills (Ezek. 36:26), he does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel (Jn. 6:44-45).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 29

Q. How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

A. The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us (Eph. 2:8), and by it uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling (Eph. 3:17).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 28

Q. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?

A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us (Jn. 1:12) by his Holy Spirit. (Tit. 3:5-6)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 27

Q. Wherein consists Christ's exaltation?

A. Christ's exaltation consists in his rising again from the dead on the third day (1 Cor. 15:4), in ascending up into heaven, and sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Mk. 16:19), and in coming to judge the world at the last day (Acts 17:31).

Monday, February 18, 2008

Grace, Truth and the Gospel

Roger Overton at The A-Team posted this video on their blog. I was shocked by the exchange that takes place between this terminally ill patient and a hospital chaplain on a tv show. 

Then, Marc at Purgatorio, posted this clip of John Piper.

These videos both deal with the Gospel. The first shows a man, convicted of his sins, who is looking for answers. He wants to know how he can be made right with God. Rather than accept the mindless drivel of the "chaplain," he  demands to speak with a real chaplain who believes in a real God and a real Hell.

The second video shows how people take the Gospel and pervert it. Piper goes after those who preach a false gospel of prosperity and wealth; a bankrupt theology devoid of answers for real suffering. "God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, no prosperity."

A Puritan Catechism: Question 26

Q. Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist?

A. Christ's humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition (Lk. 2:7), made under the law (Gal. 4:4), undergoing the miseries of this life (Isa. 53:3), the wrath of God (Matt. 27:46), and the cursed death of the cross; (Phil. 2:8) in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time (Matt. 12:40).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 25

Q. How does Christ execute the office of a king?

A. Christ executes the office of a king in subduing us to himself, (Ps. 110:3) in ruling and defending us (Matt. 2:6; 1 Cor. 15:25), and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 24

Q. How does Christ execute the office of a priest?

A. Christ executes the office of a priest, in his once offering up himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice (Heb. 9:28), and to reconcile us to God (Heb. 2:17), and in making continual intercession for us (Heb. 7:25).

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 23

Q. How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A. Christ executes the office of a prophet, in revealing to us (Jn. 1:18), by his Word (Jn. 20:31), and Spirit (Jn. 14:26), the will of God for our salvation.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 22

Q. What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?

A. Christ as our Redeemer executes the offices of a prophet (Acts 3:22), of a priest (Heb. 5:6), and of a king (Ps. 2:6), both in his state of humiliation and exaltation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 21

Q. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?

A. Christ, the son of God, became man by taking to himself a true body (Heb. 2:14), and a reasonable soul (Matt. 26:38; Heb. 4:15), being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary, and born of her (Lk. 1:31, 35), yet without sin (Heb. 7:26).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dost Ask Who That May Be

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
In light of this Puritan Catechism question, this verse from Luther's "A Mighty Fortress" came to mind. Christ is the Redeemer who came to save us from sin and death, and "He must win the battle." It is no accident that Luther begins the verse by addressing man's efforts and then introduces Christ. If man is capable of keeping the Law, then Christ's death is for naught. I have been studying Romans for the last month and a half, very slowly, taking only a few verses at a time. It is amazing to see the case Paul lays out against those who say that we are saved by works and the Law. By establishing men as sinners, which Paul has done since chapter 1, he is setting up the only option left to men: Christ Jesus.

A Puritan Catechism: Question 20

Q. Who is the Redeemer of God's elect?

A. The only Redeemer of God's elect is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5), who being the eternal Son of God, became man (Jn. 1:14), and so was and continues to be God and man, in two distinct natures and one person for ever (1 Tim. 3:16; Col. 2:9).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Communities: Voluntary and Involuntary

For some time, I thought that relationships formed through voluntary communities were better than those formed through involuntary communities. Some of this had to do with comparing the friends I had in high school to the friends I was making in college. In high school, and even before, my friends were usually the only people my age that I was in regular contact with. I was involved in a small home schooling community, and while we had some involvement in a larger group (which afforded a certain amount of voluntary association), most of us in our small group were friends because we saw each other at least weekly and had a few common interests. When I started college, I was in a community with twelve hundred other people, all close to my age and at similar points in life. The people I met and spent the most time with were friends not because they were the hand I had been dealt, but because we had a lot of common interests. 

It is interesting to contrast this with how the staff teams at Worldview work out. They are very much involuntary in the sense that I have never had any control over the team. From time to time, I might be able to recommend a few people, but the final decision rested with the directors. Thus, more often than not, complete strangers with different backgrounds are thrown together and given the common mission of doing camp for two months. 

The other day, Boundless published an article by Tim Challies called "Involuntary Community." In it, Tim talks about the local church and how we spend time looking for the one that we want, and not the one we need: "Customizing our appearance and our gadgets is not enough. We also want to customize the groups of people we spend time with, preferring those who are most like us" and "We demand today to be individuals and to customize everything we have and everything we are. But is this making us happier?"

While I do not regret any of the relationships I formed in the voluntary setting, I think the ones I had and have continued outside of the involuntary settings, have taught me about God's provision. In the context of the church, Tim describes it this way:

He is building a community that is involuntary — one for which He determines the membership. And it is in the context of this community of people who may be vastly different from us, that we are to learn to love one another even more than we love ourselves. We are to love one another on the basis of our common humanity and on the basis of our shared kinship in the family of God rather than on the basis of preference or perceived compatibility. It can be difficult to love those who are unlike us, which is exactly why God calls us to do so.

As I look back over the last few years, considering all the people that I have come into contact with and shared a community with, the involuntary ones presented challenges to me that I could not walk away from. When conflicts arise, they must be addressed in the involuntary setting, if disaster is to be avoided. When we can pick and choose who we will hang out with on the weekend, it's easy to not find yourself around people who annoy you. When you're stuck with the same people every weekend, you seldom have anywhere to go without the people getting on your nerves. In such a situation, there is more opportunity to grow in grace and learn patience. 

It is easy to love those who are most like us, so God calls us to more; He calls us to better. God calls us to love and delight in those who may not be much like us at all. And when we do so, we bear witness to the One who binds us all together in this fascinating, miraculous, diverse, involuntary family called the church.
So perhaps we really can pick our friend's nose after all...

A Puritan Catechism: Question 19

Q. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery?

A. God having, out of his good pleasure from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life (2 Thess. 2:13), did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the state of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer (Rom. 5:21).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 18

Q. What is the misery of that state whereinto man fell?

A. All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God (Gen. 3:8, 24), are under his wrath and curse (Eph. 2:3; Gal. 3:10), and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever (Rom. 6:23; Matt. 25:41).

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 17

Q. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that state whereinto man fell?

A. The sinfulness of that state whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin (Rom. 5:19), the want of original righteousness, (Rom. 3:10) and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin (Eph. 2:1; Ps. 51:5), together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it (Matt. 15:19).

Friday, February 08, 2008

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 15

Q. Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression?

A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression (1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:12).

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 13

Q. Did our first parents continue in the state wherein they were created?

A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God, (Eccl. 7:29) by eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6-8).

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 12

Q. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the state wherein he was created?

A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; (Gal. 3:12) forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death. (Gen. 2:17)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 11

Q. What are God's works of providence?

A. God's works of providence are his most holy (Ps. 145:17), wise, (Isa. 28:29) and powerful (Heb. 1:3), preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions (Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29).

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 10

Q. How did God create man?

A. God created man, male and female, after his own image (Gen. 1:27), in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Col 3:10; Eph. 4:24) with dominion over the creatures (Gen. 1:28).

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 9

Q. What is the work of creation?

A. The work of creation is God's making all things (Gen. 1:1) of nothing, by the Word of his power (Heb. 11:3), in six normal consecutive days (Exod. 20:11), and all very good (Gen. 1:31).