Saturday, February 27, 2021

Future of This Blog

I mentioned to you that I was moving to a new location.  I would have liked the name, What Is Truth for the html, which wasn't available, I think for obvious reasons, so I just went with (or because that's sort of the address here.  For the next month we will post here and there.  Then we will start announcing that we're done here.  We will keep this site up, just let it sit here, but all new posts will appear at the new site.  We're doing this because blogspot is owned by one of the tech titans, who is involved in censoring.

This blog just sitting here available with nothing added is very much like what we still have with the blog I wrote at for awhile over ten years ago, Jackhammer.  All our articles are still there.  The ones I wrote are in the index here.  They will be indexed at the new site too though.

What Is Truth will still exist at a new site. will have no new material added after about a month from now.  Thanks.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Luther and Zwingle on the Lord’s Supper, part 4 of 4

The quotation below from H. Merle D’Aubigné, History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century in part 1, concerning the Colloquy of Marburg, is continued.  Examination of parts 1-3 above should have made the Lutheran and Zwinglian positions clear.  Please note below that Luther thought that it was essential to salvation to hold his position that one literally eats Christ’s body in the Lord’s Supper, and for that reason he was unwilling to call the Reformed true Christians, while the Reformed did not think that Luther’s doctrine kept him from salvation.  While Zwingli’s arguments in parts 1-3 were far stronger than Luther’s, in this matter Luther was correct that it did not make sense for the Reformed to want to unite with the Lutherans when they had such a striking disagreement, although Luther was terribly wrong in holding that his heretical position on the Lord’s Supper was essential for salvation.

Note as well that baptism did NOT separate the Lutherans and the Reformed.  Luther’s doctrine of baptismal regeneration was not a problem to the Reformed.  One should not be surprised to read Calvin making statements such as:

We assert that the whole guilt of sin is taken away in baptism … Nothing is plainer than this doctrine” (John Calvin, 1547 Antidote to the Council of Trent, Reply to the 1st Decree of the 5th Session).  Calvin elsewhere wrote:  “men are regenerated by baptism” (Second Defense of the Pious and Orthodox Faith Concerning the Sacraments, in Answer to the Calumnies of Joachim Westphal, 2:222).  Rejection of baptismal regeneration as a false gospel—the Biblical truth embraced by the Anabaptists of the 16th century—was, sadly, just about as far away from the Reformed as it was from the Lutherans.

To continue the quotation:

Philip of Hesse had all along shown the most constant attention, and each one imagined him to be on his side. “I would rather place my trust in the simple words of Christ, than in the subtle thoughts of man,” was a remark he made according to Jonas; but Zwingle affirmed that this prince entertained the same opinions as himself, although with regard to certain persons he dissembled the change. …

A final meeting took place, and undoubtedly the [allegedly universal] Church has seldom witnessed one of greater solemnity. Luther and Zwingle, Saxony and Switzerland, met for the last time. The sweating sickness was carrying off men around them by thousands; Charles the Fifth and the pope were uniting in Italy; Ferdinand and the Roman Catholic princes were preparing to tear in pieces the Protest of Spires; the thunder-cloud became more threatening every day; union alone seemed capable of saving the Protestants, and the hour of departure was about to strike—an hour that would separate them perhaps for ever.

“Let us confess our union in all things in which we agree,” said Zwingle; “and as for the rest, let us remember that we are brothers. There will never be peace between the churches if, while we maintain the grand doctrine of salvation by faith, we cannot differ on secondary points.” …

“Yes, yes!” exclaimed the landgrave; “you agree! Give then a testimony of your unity, and hristian one another as brothers.”—“There is no one upon earth with whom I more desire to be united, than with you,” said Zwingle, approaching the Wittemberg doctors. Œcolampadius, Bucer, and Hedio said the same.

“Acknowledge them! Acknowledge them as brothers!” continued the landgrave. Their hearts were moved; they were on the eve of unity: Zwingle, bursting into tears, in the presence of the prince, the courtiers, and divines (it is Luther himself who records this), approached Luther, and held out his hand. The two families of the Reformation were about to be united: long quarrels were about to be stifled in their cradle; but Luther rejected the hand that was offered him: “You have a different spirit from ours,” said he. These words communicated to the Swiss, as it were, an electric shock. Their hearts sunk each time Luther repeated them, and he did so frequently. He himself is our informant.

A brief consultation took place among the Wittemberg doctors. Luther, Melancthon, Agricola, Brentz, Jonas, and Osiander, conferred together. Convinced that their peculiar doctrine on the eucharist was essential to salvation, they considered all those who rejected it as without the pale of the faith. “What folly!” said Melancthon, who afterwards nearly coincided with Zwingle’s sentiments: “they condemn us. And yet they desire we should consider them as our brothers!” “What versatility!” added Brentz: “they accused us but lately of worshipping a bread-god, and they now ask for communion with us!” Then, turning towards Zwingle and his friends, the Wittembergers said: “You do not belong to the communion of the Christian Church; we cannot acknowledge you as brethren!”

The Swiss were far from partaking of this … spirit. “We think,” said Bucer, “that your doctrine strikes at the glory of Jesus Christ, who now reigns at the right hand of the Father. But seeing that in all things you acknowledge your dependence on the Lord, we look at your conscience, which compels you to receive the doctrine you profess, and we do not doubt that you belong to Christ.”

“And we,” said Luther—“we declare to you once more that our conscience opposes our receiving you as brethren.”—“If such is the case,” replied Bucer, “it would be folly to ask it.”

“I am exceedingly astonished that you wish to consider me as your brother,” pursued Luther. “It shows clearly that you do not attach much importance to your own doctrine.” … Luther remained like a rock, to the landgrave’s great indignation. The Hessian divines, Kraft, Lambert, Snepf, Lonicer, and Melander, united their exertions to those of the prince.

Luther was staggered, and conferred anew with his colleagues. “Let us beware,” said he to his friends, “of wiping our noses too roughly, lest blood should come.”

Then turning to Zwingle and Œcolampadius, they said: “We acknowledge you as friends; we do not consider you as brothers and members of Christ’s Church. But we do not exclude you from that universal charity which we owe even to our enemies.”

The hearts of Zwingle, Œcolampadius, and Bucer, were ready to burst, for this concession was almost a new insult. “Let us carefully avoid all harsh and violent words and writings,” said they; “and let each one defend himself without railing.” … It was desirable to confirm this important result by a report. “We must let the hristian world know,” said the landgrave, “that, except the manner of the presence of the body and blood in the eucharist, you are agreed in all the articles of faith.” [Note that the Reformed agreed that the body and blood were present, just spiritually present.  Neither side held to the Anabaptist position that the Supper was simply a memorial.] This was resolved on; but who should be charged with drawing up the paper? All eyes were turned upon Luther. The Swiss themselves appealed to his impartiality.

Luther retired to his closet, lost in thought, uneasy, and finding the task very difficult. “On the one hand,” said he, “I should like to spare their weakness; but, on the other, I would not in the least degree strike at the holy doctrine of Christ.” He did not know how to set about it, and his anguish increased. He got free at last. “I will draw up the articles,” said he, “in the most accurate manner. Do I not know that whatever I may write, they will never sign them?” Erelong fifteen articles were committed to paper, and Luther, holding them in his hand, repaired to the theologians of the two parties. …

Luther took his paper, and reading the first article, said:

“First, we believe that there is one sole, true, and natural God, creator of heaven and earth and of all creatures; and that this same God, one in essence and in nature, is three-fold in person, that is to say, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as was declared in the Nicene Council, and as all the Christian Church professes.

To this the Swiss gave their assent.

They were agreed also on the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ; on his death and resurrection, on original sin, justification by faith, the operation of the Holy Ghost and of the Word of God, baptism, good works, confession, civil order, and tradition.

Thus far all were united. The Wittembergers could not recover from their astonishment. … But the moment was come that would separate them. Luther had kept till the last the article on the Eucharist.

The reformer resumed:

“We all believe with regard to the Lord’s Supper, that it ought to be celebrated in both kinds, according to the primitive institution; that the mass is not a work by which a Christian obtains pardon for another man, whether dead or alive; that the sacrament of the altar is the sacrament of the very body and very blood of Jesus Christ; and that the spiritual manducation of this body and blood is specially necessary to every true Christian.”

It was now the turn of the Swiss to be astonished. Luther continued:

“In like manner, as to the use of the sacrament, we are agreed that, like the Word, it was ordained of Almighty God, in order that weak consciences might be excited by the Holy Ghost to faith and charity.”

The joy of the Swiss was redoubled. Luther continued: “And although at present we are not agreed on the question whether the real body and blood of Christ are corporeally present in the bread and wine, yet both the interested parties shall cherish more and more a truly Christian charity for one another, so far as conscience permits; and we will all earnestly implore the Lord to condescend by his Spirit to confirm us in the sound doctrine.”

The Swiss obtained what they had asked: unity in diversity. It was immediately resolved to hold a solemn meeting for the signature of the articles.

They were read over again. Œcolampadius, Zwingle, Bucer, and Hedio, signed them first on one copy; while Luther, Melancthon, Jonas, Osiander, Brentz, and Agricola, wrote their names on the other; both parties then subscribed the copy of their adversaries, and this important document was sent to the press.

Thus the Reformation had made a sensible step at Marburg. …

All,—Romanists and [Protestants], Saxons and Swiss,—admitted the presence, and even the real presence of Christ; but here was the essential point of separation: Is this presence effected by the faith of the communicant, or by the opus operatum of the priest? The germs of Popery, Sacerdotalism, Puseyism, are inevitably contained in this latter thesis. If it is maintained that a wicked priest (as has been said) operates this real presence of Christ by three words, we enter the church of the pope. … After the Marburg conference, the controversy became more moderate.

There was another advantage. The [Protestant] divines at Marburg marked with one accord their separation from the Papacy. Zwingle was not without fear (unfounded, no doubt) with regard to Luther: these fears were dispersed. “Now that we are agreed,” said he, “the Papists will no longer hope that Luther will ever be one of them.” The Marburg articles were the first bulwark erected in common by the reformers against Rome. (J. H. Merle D’Aubigné, History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century, trans. Henry Beveridge and H. White, vol. 4, Collin’s Select Library [Glasgow: R. Groombridge & Sons, 1862], 76–92.)


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Cancel Culture and Religious Persecution

Everyone should cancel something.  I remember canceling my subscription to Sports Illustrated when it started publishing the swimsuit issue.  I understand the marketing aspect of that issue.  Sports Illustrated can make more money with the issue than without, so they're willing to lose the lesser number of subscribers for the greater number.  Sports Illustrated could stay in business.  This isn't canceling Sports Illustrated.  They stay in business.  I've canceled it, because it's the right thing to do.

Amazon, the behemoth corporation, canceled a book by Ryan T. Anderson, that was published three years ago.  Joe Biden becomes president and Anderson's book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, is canceled.  Amazon suddenly wouldn't allow it on.  I understand, he can sell the book, but Amazon doesn't own the internet.  In particular, Amazon cancels a book, which isn't politically correct.  It cancels a point of view closer to a biblical view.  Silencing a biblical point of view we would understand as persecution.

When you read the book of Acts and look at the history of persecution, you can see a rising trajectory.  In Acts 2, opponents of the truth mocked the believers as drunk with new wine (Acts 2:13).  Mockery is a root level persecution, but it also portends of things to come.  We're already to mockery in this country.  It's hard to make an exact comparison, because Rome and Palestine were not democracies or republics.

More than ever people think you're silly for being a Christian.  You see the look in their faces.  This is especially in the big cities, the blue areas.  It's everywhere though especially related to true biblical Christianity.  If you dress modest, carry a Bible, so that they know you're a Christian, you are marginalized, excluded, and unfriended.

Second in Acts 4 was threatening.  Authorities threatened the disciples about talking.  Evangelism is more difficult.  The Covid-19 has affected this.  People are more emboldened to say you can' talk to someone about the Lord if he doesn't want it.  I understand the laws about trespassing.  I've been kicked out of two apartment complexes and threatened at another housing complex.  We still have opportunities.  I've noticed a difference, that's what I'm saying.

The third step was imprisonment.  This is when the government punishes someone.  That's happened too.  I would compare this to government policy even short of throwing someone into jail like what occurred with Peter and John in Acts 4.  This is the man in Colorado who wouldn't bake a cake.  This is a child punished in the public school for saying a biblical truth.  This is the outlawing of biblical child discipline.  This is the exclusion of biblical doctrine in the state schools.

Fourth in Acts 5 was beating.  Peter and John were beaten for their testimony for Christ.  Peter and John of course rejoiced because they were counted worthy to suffer for His name.  The government is punishing people, but not with actual physical punishment.  However, there is a threat of unofficial physical punishment for those who stand for the truth.

Fifth is the killing of first Stephen in Acts 7 and then James in Acts 12.  Before that, Jesus was crucified.  I think we're a ways off from being put to death in the United States for preaching Christ.  Maybe that won't even come until the Antichrist reveals himself.  Right now you'd be killed still in several other countries and the United States does not have a policy of standing for those people.

Cancel culture is religious persecution.  It's not at the level of beating and death, but it is in that trajectory, as seen in the book of Acts.

Friday, February 19, 2021

A Great Hymn

 376 Friend.

ONE there is above all others,

Well deserves the name of Friend;

His is love beyond a brother’s,

Costly, free, and knows no end:

They who once His kindness prove,

Find it everlasting love.

Which of all our friends to save us,

Could or would have shed their blood;

But our Jesus died to have us

Reconciled in Him to God:

This was boundless love indeed!

Jesus is a friend in need.

When He lived on earth abasèd,

Friend of sinners was His name;

Now above all glory raisèd,

He rejoices in the same;

Still He calls them brethren, friends,

And to all their wants attends.

Oh for grace our hearts to soften!

Teach us, Lord, at length to love!

We, alas! forget too often

What a friend we have above:

But when home our souls are brought,

We shall love Thee as we ought.

John Newton, 1779.

 C. H. Spurgeon, Our Own Hymn Book: A Collection of Psalms and Hymns for Public, Social and Private Worship (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Giving Food and Money to the Homeless

I was talking to a man this week who said he wanted to be in a church that gave feet to the love of Jesus, something like that.  His example was that this church, which he joined, even though he didn’t like its doctrine, helped the homeless.  The homeless is a relatively new term in the history of our country.  Why are there so many who are homeless?  Who are the homeless?  What should churches do?  What responsibility should they take?

We live in a day when it is important to understand what is “good” and what is really a “help.”  Just because a man might say it’s good does not mean that it is, and just because he says it is a help does not mean that it is a help.  The key is that we must be discerning.  We must determine our answer to this question by means of the Word of God, and not by a societal norm.

Man is by nature deceived.  At least forty times in the Bible we are warned about being deceived.  Eve was deceived by Satan, and Satan is the great deceiver.  The ways of man are the ways of death, and God tells us not to lean on our own understanding.

Help is alright.  Scripture calls God a Helper (Hebrews 13:6).  Eve was a help to Adam (Genesis 2:18).  One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that edify the church is “helps” (1 Corinthians 12:28).   Also, God wants us to do good. The terminology, “do good,” is found 26 times in the Bible.  However, in Isaiah 5:20, people will call evil good, and good evil.  Someone can be deceived about what good is.  In Romans 7:21, Paul says, “when I would do good, evil is present with me.”      Just because someone says something is a help and it is good doesn’t meant that it is.

Proverbs 3:27 says, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”  At the same time, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 say, “21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.”  Things must be proven as to whether they are good and not evil.

God is the definition of good.  Seven times scripture says, “the Lord is good.”  Psalm 52:1 says, “the goodness of God endureth continually.”  Whatever God’s Word says about anything is good: any person or any situation.

For instance, one might think it is always good to pray for someone.  1 John 5:16 says, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”  God doesn’t want everyone prayed for.  It’s not always good.  It doesn’t always help.

Is benevolence always good?  1 Corinthians 13:3 shows that not if done for selfish reasons.  Proverbs 11:4 shows that benevolence is not good if intended to make one righteous, because riches do not profit in the day of wrath.  Is suffering itself bad?  Genesis 50:20 says that with Joseph, God meant it to me for good.  Is sickness bad?  John 11:4 says that this sickness is to the glory of God.  We can’t assume that all suffering and all sickness is bad.  God uses sickness and suffering.  It’s not always right to alleviate either.

When it comes to helping people, it’s not always good or always a help to give someone something.  The lazy should not be given anything.  Laziness is self-imposed bondage (Proverbs 12:24).  Giving the lazy person something is to reward laziness, so that you get more laziness.  The lazy are neglectful (Ecclesiastes 10:18) and unproductive (Matthew 25:26-30).  God won’t give to the lazy and we should follow God.

Scripture shows that God brings famine on the wicked (Deuteronomy 28:15, 33, 38, 42, 51; Ezekiel 5:17, 30:12; Jeremiah 8:13).  God doesn’t keep giving good crops to a nation that is wicked.  The wicked people don’t learn not to be wicked by being wicked without repentance.  God gets the attention through the famine, through the hunger.  Feeding takes away the motive to turn to God.    This principle can and should be applied to the individual as well.  Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” You can tell whether someone is lazy or if he won’t work if he’s in the church.  In the church, this is a matter of church discipline.  Outside the church, you don’t know.

Hunger is a motivation to turn to God.  David wrote in Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”  The alternative is also true.  The unrighteous are forsaken and begging for bread. Should they be given bread without being righteous?

The welfare system of Israel in the Old Testament didn’t just give to people.  When you read Ruth, you can see that Boaz left the corners of the field for this widow to reap.  Even the two widows, Naomi and Ruth.  This fits Leviticus 23:22, “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.”  Just giving food for no work is not only not taught in the Bible, but taught against.  How about this?  “I’ll give you a job.”  But it’s not just that.  If this person is not a good worker, should he or she stay employed, and should we reward him for not providing righteous labor?  This would be rewarding wickedness.

All of the reasons that I’ve given above about giving food or money to the homeless relates to the priorities seen in scripture.  1 John 3:17 says, “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”  This is seeing a “brother” in need.  This isn’t seeing just anyone in need.  Within the church, where the brothers are, there is accountability to why there is this need.  Someone can ask, is it the direct result of sin?  Are we rewarding the sin?  Is it because of laziness?  We can know that through the accountability of a church.

Even in the church, not everyone is taken care of.  Not every widow would be taken care of by a church.  Read 1 Timothy 5.  The priority is that a family takes care of their own family members.  When we give money to someone, when the family should be doing that, then the family is shirking that responsibility.  1 Timothy 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

The problems in a society continue because people do not obey God in what He says about these things.  Matthew 4:4 gives a clue.  “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”  The opposite is the expectation to live, to survive without the Word of God.

Say this to a homeless person: “Come to our church, show that you love the Word of God, that you want God, that you want the grace of God, and the church will see that desire and will help you.  God will help you.”  See what the reaction is.  James 4:6 says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”  The humble get God’s grace.  God resists the proud.  God will send those who resist His grace to Hell.  Will we make these homeless more comfortable in their pride?  Is this is what God does?

The foolish have wasted opportunities (Proverbs 6:9,10) and brought poverty on themselves (Proverbs 10:4).  This is the drug addict or the boozer.  We first help them get saved.  Jesus provided one meal in John 6, a very sensible, humble meal.  Then He offered His audience the bread of life.  They rejected.  He didn’t keep feeding them.  Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Teach all nations.”  Make disciples.  In the realm of help, making disciples is teaching someone to fish, so to speak, rather than just giving them fish.  God wants followers.  He wants people living for His kingdom.  You don’t get to that goal by feeding them.  You’ve got to expect them to follow first or you are not really helping them.

For the most part, this issue is living like God is right, trusting Him, believing what He says.  It's like when Saul offered the sacrifice and kept Agag and the animals alive in 1 Samuel 13.  He had a better idea than God.  There is a way that seems right to man (Proverbs 14:12).  Someone may ask, "Don't you want to feed the hungry?"  The hungry will be fed forever in the kingdom and eternal state, and eternal satisfaction of hunger is more important than the temporal.  Even on this earth, the real problem isn't solved by giving food.  It might not seem like it, but that is the easy way and the wrong way for reasons described already in this essay.

Most organizations that are about “feeding the hungry,” “giving to the poor,” and “housing the homeless” do not have scriptural quality control.  They don’t care about the biblical principles.  In most ways, they are proud that they are not scriptural or godly.  They are not taking into consideration laziness, wickedness, what’s going on with the family, among other areas addressed above.  They very often cannot because they are tied into a government that requires acceptance or toleration of the sin.  Acceptance, association, and affiliation give accommodation.  Sin is to be reproved and the institutions would not allow sin to be reproved (Ephesians 5:11).  One of the ways they get more funds is through disobedience to what God said.  The best someone can do for a society is do all he can do in a church without association with these organizations.  Why do they not like the church?  Why do they not like righteousness?

It’s good to become individually involved in the lives of other people in a biblical way, one-on-one.  Do what Jesus did.  Do what the apostles did.  Help those people to help people in the same way, so that multiplication occurs.

Especially millennials want to be seen as “helping” the poor.  They often promote themselves before others for doing so.  I’m sure some, albeit few, are well-intentioned.  It brings glory in this culture to be seen to care by giving money for temporal things.  They know you won’t get credit for obeying God.  That’s living by faith.  They are walking by sight, not by faith.  Many of them aren’t true believers themselves.

Everything I’m writing here is true.  Someone isn’t doing good or helping by denying the truth.  It’s also vanity.  It’s a waste of time and energy and resources.  God wants us to be good stewards, faithful and wise stewards (Luke 12:42).

Sunday, February 14, 2021

How Does Natural Law Work in and for Evangelism of the Lost?

Romans 1:18-21 read:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

I'm assuming a lot of you readers know these verses.  According to them though, based on what people know, they will be judged rightly by God, because what they know means that they are without excuse.  At the same time, people are not going to experience the wrath of God's judgment because of ignoring information, but because of ignoring law.  When they knew God, they didn't glorify Him as God and were not thankful unto Him.  Glorifying God as God is represented by various prescriptions, which are laws.  This knowledge isn't a mere bunch of facts.  Bare acknowledgement of God's existence isn't sufficient to avoid the wrath of God.  The judgment and wrath of God is justice for disobeying natural law.

Natural law relates to the theological terminology, general revelation.  "General" is general in audience, that is, everyone knows it, so everyone is responsible for these laws.  Knowing God and glorifying Him as God in Romans 1 means knowing these laws to the extent that someone is responsible for obeying them.  They relate to the revelation of God, so according to His nature.  No one has an excuse for not knowing these.  They're natural to know.  All men are responsible for them.

In my assessment, the natural laws are those most denied, and against which men are most rebellious.  On the other hand, men like what they consider to be their natural rights, like what Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence mentions at the beginning:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

He uses the language, "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," "truths to be self-evident," and "endowed by their Creator."  Natural laws are self-evident truths.

Men know natural laws. They're natural to them, so to deny them, they are at their most rebellious.  The Apostle Paul talks about some of them later in chapter 1.  They rebel against God's natural order, because it clashes with what they want.  It's natural that the woman is the weaker vessel, and women very often don't want to hear that.  The natural order of two parents and children obeying their parents is repulsive to children.

When people think of the Declaration, they especially think, "all men are created equal."  They focus on the word, "equal."  Most often, however, I've noticed that they ignore the first four words, "all men are created."  It is self-evident that "all men are created." Equal, yes, but it is self-evident that man is created by God.  To Jefferson, creation of man carried with it more than sheer existence.  With God as Creator, He s also Lawgiver and then Judge.

I've found when evangelizing lost people that they will still act like they don't know certain things. Since Romans 1 says they really do know, I assume they do.  This is presuppositionalism.  I presuppose people know what is natural to know.  Many of those things people say they don't know, they rely on for enjoying their lives, which is why Jefferson uses "Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness."  People like those things and yet they act as though they've somehow received them by accident.  This is the part in Romans 1:19, "who hold the truth in unrighteousness."  As many of you know, it means they suppress the truth.  The way I put it is that the problem is not intellectual, but volitional.

Romans 1:18-22 assure what is already known by everyone.  I'm saying, you know that everyone knows what Romans 1:18-22 say because those verses say they do.  People can act like they don't know, but you know that they do, so that you don't believe that they don't know.  God says they do know, so they do know.

If someone is suppressing the truth, that means he knows and he is rebelling against what he knows.  In evangelism, you expose the lost on his rebellion.  How do you do that?

When I encounter someone who says he is a scientist, a professing atheist, too uncertain, or just not sure because he says he's not gotten enough proof, I rely on natural law.  I refer to a number of different examples.  "When you look out there at the vast and intricate world, does that look like it all came about by accident?"

I haven't found anyone who likes to be characterized as thinking or believing that everything came about by accident, but if this world isn't an accident, then it is design.  People know this is design.  Scripture says, according to the way I like to put it, that they don't want to have a boss.  The Designer would be their Boss.  They like having their own way, which you can read in the rest of Romans 1 and in 2 Peter.  2 Peter 3 says these scoffers are walking after their own lust.

I continue.  "Everything out there is so complex.  So many occurrences have to be going right at one time, that it is mathematically impossible to be an accident.  It looks like design.  Four or five hundred different circumstances need to be going right for us to even survive.  If just one of those hundreds does not go exactly right, we couldn't survive.  This can't be an accident.  The human body itself is so complicated, the human eye, speech, the operation of the brain, the circulatory system, our heart beat, so many that have to be functioning in just a certain way at one time.  And that's just to survive."

Romans 1:21 says, "Neither were thankful."  "So we breathe God's air, eat the food that comes from a seed growing from the ground, enjoy all of the good things all around on this earth, use all of that, and then just ignore Him."  This is when you can turn to scripture to point rebellion out.  "Romans 1 says that everyone already knows all this and rather than worship and serve the Creator, they serve the creature.  It describes this as not being thankful, being unwilling to give the credit to God, because that acknowledgement would carry with it responsibility.  Next chapter, Romans 2, says the goodness of God leads us to repentance."

The statement of what people know, natural law, aligns with what is written by God in men's hearts as a default position (Romans 2:15).  Pointing out natural law strikes a cord in men's hearts, their conscience then also bearing witness (v. 15).  They feel guilty because of their ungratefulness.

Then I may say, "What we see occurring out in the world also aligns with the Bible.  The history of the world reflects what we see there.  There is a God, we are here because of Him, He has put us here for a particular purpose, we are responsible to Him, and we are going to meet Him someday.  This is what the gospel is about.  God is just, but He also loves us, and the good news is that He wants us to save us.  However, we really do need to be saved."

Since the problem is not an intellectual one, the solution is supernatural.  The volition, the will of a person, must be dealt with scripture.  The Bible is powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and a spiritual weapon to pull down the strongholds in people's minds (2 Corinthians 10:4).

The approach I'm giving you is biblical.  It's what the Apostle Paul did in Acts 17.  It doesn't mean that it will result in your audience either listening or being converted, but it gives people an opportunity, which is what you want.  It might be too late for most.  You don't know.  More than ever, we're living in an age in which natural law is a necessity in an evangelism approach.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Luther and Zwingle on the Lord’s Supper, part 3 of 4

The quotation below from H. Merle D’Aubigné, History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century in part 1, concerning the Colloquy of Marburg, is continued from parts 1 and 2:

The conference was continued on the next day, Sunday, the 3d October, perhaps because of an epidemic (the Sweating Sickness) that had just broken out at Marburg, and which did not allow any great prolongation of the colloquy. Luther, returning to the discussion of the previous evening, said:

“Christ’s body is in the sacrament, but it is not there as in a place.”

Zwingle.—“Then it is not there at all.”

Luther.—“Sophists say, that a body may very well be in several places at once. The universe is a body, and yet we cannot assert that it is in a particular place.”

Zwingle.—“Ah! You speak of sophists, doctor; are you really after all obliged to return to the onions and flesh-pots of Egypt? As for what you say, that the universe is in no particular place, I beg all intelligent men to weigh this proof.” Then Zwingle, who, whatever Luther may have said, had more than one arrow in his quiver, after establishing his proposition by exegesis and philosophy, resolved on confirming it by the testimony of the [so-called] Fathers of the Church.

“Listen,” said he, “to what Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspa in Numidia, said, in the fifth century, to Trasamond, king of the Vandals: ‘The Son of God took the attributes of true humanity, and did not lose those of true divinity. Born in time, according to his mother, he lives in eternity according to the divinity that he holds from the Father: coming from man, he is man, and consequently in a place; proceeding from the Father, he is God, and consequently present in every place. According to his human nature, he was absent from heaven while he was upon earth, and quitted the earth when he ascended into heaven; but, according to his divine nature, he remained in heaven, when he came down thence, and did not abandon the earth when he returned thither.’ ”

But Luther still replied: “It is written, This is my body.” Zwingle, becoming impatient, said, “All that is idle wrangling. An obstinate disputant might also maintain this expression of our Saviour to his mother, Behold thy son, pointing to St. John. Vain would be every explanation, he would continue crying No, no! He said Ecce filius tuus, Behold thy son, behold thy son! Listen to a new testimony; it is from the great Augustine: ‘Let us not think,’ says he, ‘that Christ, according to his human form, is present in every place; let us beware, in our endeavour to establish his divinity, of taking away his truth from his body. Christ is now every where present, like God; and yet, in consequence of his real body, he is in a definite part of heaven.’ ”

“St. Augustine,” replied Luther, “is not here speaking of the Eucharist. Christ’s body is not in the Eucharist, as in a place.”

Œcolampadius saw that he might take advantage of this assertion of Luther’s. “The body of Christ,” said he, “is not locally in the Eucharist, therefore no real body is there; for every one knows that the essence of a body is its existence in a place.”

Here finished the morning’s discussion.

Œcolampadius, upon reflection, felt convinced that Luther’s assertion might be looked upon as an approximation. “I remember,” said he after dinner, “that the doctor conceded this morning that Christ’s body was not in the sacrament as in a place. Let us therefore inquire amicably what is the nature of Christ’s bodily presence.”

“You will not make me take a step further,” exclaimed Luther, who saw where they wished to drag him; “You have Fulgentius and Augustine on your side, but all the other Fathers are on ours.”

Œcolampadius, who seemed to the Wittembergers to be vexatiously precise, then said, “Name these doctors. We will take upon ourselves to prove that they are of our opinion.”

“We will not name them to you,” said Luther. “It was in his youth,” added he, “that Augustine wrote what you have quoted; and, besides, he is an obscure author.” Then retreating to the ground which he had resolved never to quit, he was no longer content to point his finger at the inscription, Hoc est corpus meum, but seized the velvet cover on which the words were written, tore it off the table, held it up in front of Zwingle and Œcolampadius, and placing it before their eyes, “See!” said he, “see! This is our text: you have not yet driven us from it, as you had boasted, and we care for no other proofs.”

“If this be the case,” said Œcolampadius, “we had better leave off the discussion. But I will first declare, that, if we quote the Fathers, it is only to free our doctrine from the reproach of novelty, and not to support our cause by their authority.” No better definition can be given of the legitimate use of the doctors of the Church.

There was no reason, in fact, for prolonging the conference. “As Luther was of an intractable and imperious disposition.” Says even his great apologist Seckendorf, “he did not cease from calling upon the Swiss to submit simply to his opinion.”

The chancellor, alarmed at such a termination of the colloquy, exhorted the theologians to come to some understanding. “I know but one means for that,” said Luther; “and this it is: Let our adversaries believe as we do.” “We cannot,” answered the Swiss. “Well then,” rejoined Luther, “I abandon you to God’s judgment, and pray that he will enlighten you.” “We will do the same,” added Œcolampadius.

While these words were passing, Zwingle sat silent, motionless, and deeply moved; and the liveliness of his affections, of which he had given more than one proof during the conference, was then manifested in a very different manner. He burst into tears in the presence of all.

The conference was ended.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Questioning Christianity Because Of What One Sees Occurring In the World or From People Who Call Themselves Christians

My Christianity isn't tethered to what other people are doing or have done.  Christianity is the truth.  If I were one of eight remaining believers on earth, it would still be true.  I don't doubt it when people don't live it.  I feel sorry for them, but they haven't affected what I think about Christianity itself.  My Christianity is tethered to the Bible, God's Word.

I'm writing about this, because of an article in Newsweek that came out on Tuesday this week, written by Issac Bailey, "I'm Struggling with My Christianity After Trump."  Something with that title in a major publication would be a head scratcher, except that most "Christianity" today and probably for most of history isn't and hasn't been actual Christianity.  No one should be surprised about counterfeit Christianity.  Bailey says he got his doubts about Christianity itself from the reality that professing Christians voted for Trump.  I've heard other people say this.

According to scripture, anyone who leaves actual Christianity was never saved in the first place.  Nowhere says a true Christian can lose his salvation.  He can't leave it, because he's kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5).  A believer cooperates with what God does in saving him, but it is God who keeps him saved.  Scripture is clear on this.  Many passages teach the eternal security of a believer, but two verses are definitive on the point that, if a professing believer defects, he was never saved in the first place:  first, 1 John 2:19.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Second, 1 John 3:6.

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

Read both verses.  The first one says that when someone does not continue, he never had salvation in the first place, that is, he was "not of us," said twice in the verse.  If he was "of us," he would "no doubt have continued with us."  No doubt.  The second verse says that a person who sins as a lifestyle, as seen in the present tense, "sinneth," "hath not seen him, neither known him," that is, a person who takes on a lifestyle of sin never saw or knew Christ in the first place.  A true Christian can't walk away from Christ.  As Jesus said in John 10:28-29, no man, including himself, can pluck a true believer out of either Jesus' or His Father's hand.

If you read the Bailey article, you can see he doesn't have biblical Christianity.  I'm not saying that to be unnecessarily offensive or condemnatory.  People call themselves Christians, who are not, because there are many various forms of popular "Christianity" in the world.  That could be a whole separate article, all the different types, that aren't Christianity.  They are fraudulent perversions of the real thing.  There is more false Christianity by far than there is true Christianity.

Most Christian denominations don't even preach a true gospel.  You should know that.  They are preaching a false gospel.  Most professing Christians to whom I talk don't even know the gospel.  I repeat, they don't know it.  Churches are not clear on the gospel.  Even the ones who might believe a true gospel are more concerned about having a bigger congregation and so they do more to pander to people than tell them what they need to hear.  There has been a cumulative and comprehensive erosion of the gospel in the United States for awhile and for a number of reasons.

In the first paragraph, Bailey says his "faith is in tatters."  Before I provide an assessment of what he says in his article, I have an opinion about what he's doing.  I don't think he's going to leave his spurious version of Christianity.  He's threatening to leave it like a child threatens to hold his breath until he dies if his parents don't give him what he wants.  True Christians are concerned that their testimony could result in defections from the faith.  Jesus said at the beginning of Matthew 18 that it would be better to put a millstone around your neck and jump into deep water than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Bailey is saying that Christians are sending him into apostasy because of their vote for Trump.  This is meant to strike fear into Christians, so that they at the least become non-political or disengaged from political action.  Bailey will keep supporting actual murderers greater than any holocaust in the history of the world, the same people who booed God at their party convention, but a vote for Trump will send him off the deep end.  He's already off the deep end.  His party is the party against divine design of the family, which is the most rudimentary and rebellious form of opposition to God in existence.

The people Bailey addresses specifically are the pro-life supporting Christians, implying that there are non-pro-life Christians.  You can be a Christian, a true one, and not be pro-life.  There is only pro-life Christianity.  Everything else is an impostor.  Sure, it might take a new Christian some time to get up to speed on this point, but he will get there, because he is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, if he is really saved.

Many of the Trump voters, who claim to be Christians, are not.  They do have a different Jesus.  That includes some, of not all, of the people in the picture posted in Bailey's article.  As a matter of religious or theological comparison though, these pseudo Christians have a lot in common with the type of Christianity Bailey represents.  They both have a novel fabrication or improvisation of Christianity, that is very loose with scripture.  They put more authority in their own experience than the Bible, relying more on allegorization than exegesis.

For all of Trump's many flaws, in a political way he represented to a lot of Americans and most true Christians, a last opportunity to save the federal government from a trajectory of progressive, oligarchical totalitarianism and globalism.  Of course, that's just a conspiracy theory, wink wink.  There is no new world order planned for the future of the United States with no borders and the eradication of Americanism.  Christians would like to keep their freedoms, freedom of religion and of speech.  They would like to stop the present course of the elimination the nuclear family, something basic like a father and mother of opposite sex with the authority to raise their own children.  The support of vouchers for education is about the freedom to educate their children in Christian values away from the humanistic, pseudo-science of gender fluidity.

It is not accident that today you hear the left use words like "cult" and "worship" as it relates to Trump.  I'm sure they're seen as effective propaganda.  No Christian wants to be seen or known for being in a cult or worshiping a man.  Bailey among many others uses this terminology. I don't know anyone who follows Trump, let alone worships him.  I understood why Christians would attend the rally on January 6.  I know some people who were there and none of them knew anything about breaking into the capitol building to stop the counting of the electoral votes.  I've explained this in previous posts, but they see both their voice and their vote being taken away.  It's obvious to them that a two tiered justice system already exists, where a true Christian can be prosecuted for not baking a cake for a same sex wedding and yet left wing anarchists can take over a large area of an American city without opposition.  The mainstream of the media applauds it, likes it, has no problem with a Trump voter bleeding in the street.

Much of what Bailey wrote just isn't true and other parts are misrepresentations, slanted in a dishonest way.  He might just be deceived, but I believe he knows what he's doing.  

  • True Christians don't pray to Jesus.  They pray to God the Father like Jesus taught.
  • The group filmed "praying" in the front of the Senate chamber, it's obvious, don't represent biblical Christianity.
  • True Christianity isn't white or black, as in "white church" or "black church," as Bailey represents it.
  • All the things that Franklin Graham said about Trump are true.  Graham doesn't represent biblical Christianity, but I understand why a Christian would appreciate the list of accomplishments he mentions.
Bailey argues that Trump was not pro-life, because Trump oversaw a 200% increase in civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq in his first year.  That is a very specific statistic that does not relate to the issue of being "pro-life" as defined.  Pro-life means that you're against murdering unborn children.  How many civilians would die if ISIS continued on unfettered?  That's more difficult to measure, but that is why a very narrow, cherry-picked statistic was necessary for an opening statement.  Trump oversaw a quick dismantling of ISIS his first year and then evacuation so that less future death would occur.  Consider the following statistical chart of civilian deaths in the Iraq War between 2003 and 2021:
Statistic: Number of documented civilian deaths in the Iraq war from 2003 to January 2021 | Statista
Look at the Trump years, 2017-2020, compared to the previous ones.  This belies what Bailey writes, his assuming, it seems, that no one would fact check him, if it even mattered.  Despite Bailey's twisting of the meaning of pro-life, nevertheless, more civilians were killed in Iraq in 2014 during the Obama presidency than during the entire four years of the Trump presidency.
  • Bailey blames Trump for the murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.   No president has been more pro-Israel than Trump.  Israel says this.  There were fourteen mass shootings during the Obama years.  It's sheer political opportunism to blame mass shootings on a president.  Was Trump also to blame for the 2017 Las Vegas shooting at a country western concert?  Those were mainly Trump deplorables getting gunned down.
  • Another argument Bailey makes is that abortion rates go down during Democratic presidencies, because of government programs.  It wouldn't surprise me if there were higher unintended pregnancies when Democrats are president, because of greater support for contraception, most of which is abortifacient.  Those aren't called murders, but they are.  Since 1965 over 11 million have been murdered by abortifacients, that don't show up as abortions.  That would be a good explanation for lower abortion rates too.

Pro-life people, of course, want to end all abortion, so the rate would decrease to nothing if they had their way.  Instead, with the support of Bailey, almost 70 million have been murdered in the United States, which would be enough to cause a Christian to defect, except that's impossible for a true Christian.  True Christians are happy about slowing down the abortion rate.  They don't, however, support contraception as a way of getting there.  A true Christian opposes fornication and all sexual sin that results in an unintended pregnancy.  For a biblical Christian, an unintended pregnancy is by definition one outside of marriage.  If Bailey is a Christian, he should support the biblical position, which is abstinence.  That would also end the AIDS epidemic.

  • Insurrection occurred all summer with BLM and Antifa, doing far more damage and causing far more death than the capitol "riot."  Is that justified to Bailey, because he agrees with socialism and actual fascism?  When you see the picture of unarmed crazies in costumes, a truly thinking person doesn't see the comparison.  One of the five "killed," used as a statistic by the left, was an unarmed woman, who threatened no one with violence.  Where is the outcry?  Three Trump supporters died of natural causes.  The one police death has hardly been covered.  What happened there?  Why isn't there more coverage of his death?  Not his funeral, not the way he's been used politically, but what actually happened to him?

Bailey says that 60% of white Catholic voters voted for Trump, implying that Catholics are Christian.  He lumps them with evangelicals who supported Trump.  This is the most tell-tale evidence that he doesn't understand biblical Christianity.  He is pro-abortion.  He is against the death penalty for murder.  If you are a Christian, you support what God supports.  You believe the Bible.  Bailey does not.

The crucial aspect for a lasting faith, which is actually a saving faith, is the object of that faith.  My faith doesn't stand in men.  The object of faith is Jesus Christ Himself, and He never fails.  I believe the Bible.  My faith comes by the Word of God.  1 John 5:4-5 say:

4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

One reason true Christians won't be swayed by what occurs in this world is because they aren't living for this world.  They are living for the next world, the kingdom of Jesus Christ and the eternal state. This reminds me of the hymn, My Faith Has Found a Resting Place, by E. E. Hewitt:

My faith has found a resting place,
  Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Ever-living One,
  His wounds for me shall plead.

  I need no other argument,
  I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
    And that He died for me.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
  This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
  He’ll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
  The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name,
  Salvation through His blood.

My great Physician heals the sick,
  The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
  For me His life He gave.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Reason for So-Called "Genocide," God's Commanding Israel to Utterly Destroy Canaanites: Separation unto Godliness

In a short debate I posted a few days ago, the late Christopher Hitchens attacks God, the Old Testament, and Christianity by saying, "There is no commandment saying that parents are to be nice to their children.  Why is this?  Because in the next chapter, the so-called children of this terrifying God, who exacts compulsory love, are going to be ordered to commit genocide against the Amalekites and the Midianites and the Moabites."

A few errors stuck out in Hitchens's statement.  I'm going to skip his part about being nice to children, because that's not the point of my post, so, one, God did not order this judgment in the very next chapter after the ten commandments, either Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5.  Two, He didn't order the annihilation of any of those three groups in either Exodus or Deuteronomy, where He gives the ten commandments.  God ordered the protection of the Moabites, who were not in the land of Canaan.  In Deuteronomy 2:9, God said, "Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle."  Hitchens was doing what might be called, blowing smoke.  That can be seen in a lot of what he says that doesn't correspond to the Bible.  He's making it up and then counting on people not knowing what scripture says.

Genocide is a loaded word.  Men came along to originate the word and the concept.  There is an ethnic or racial component in the invention of the word.  The idea is that a particular race deserved annihilation, complete eradication, as when the Nazis committed genocide against the Jews, just because they were Jews.  Genocide necessitates a racial or ethnic component.  Hitchens applies this man-made word to God to position God under the judgment of man, as if God is a criminal under the trial of utterly sinful men such as Hitchens. While Hitchens breathes God's air and eats His food and exists only by God's power, He uses those gifts to insult and blaspheme God.  He's not the only one.  Billions do the same every day.

If you read the Old Testament, the reasoning behind the destruction of the Canaanites was not because of their race.  God doesn't have a problem with any race.  Race isn't even a thing in scripture.  God saved and blessed Rahab.  He saved and blessed Ruth.  He exalted the Queen of Sheba.  God ordered Jonah to Nineveh to preach repentance to the Assyrians, because He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11).

God's destruction was because of unrepentant behavior.  God also has unique knowledge.  He knows whether a particular people are even redeemable, even as seen in His own destruction of everyone on earth between Genesis 6 and 9 with a worldwide flood.

Everyone is going to die, based upon the righteous judgment of God.  When people die can relate to what they believe and practice.  They may die earlier.  If they are not going to stop believing and practicing a certain way, based on God's purpose, He will penalize them with the death earlier than what they could have died.  This all relates to the purpose of God's creation.  He is God.  God didn't have to create men in the first place.  He gives men an opportunity for eternal life and blessing, despite man's rebellion against God.  Hitchens wouldn't do the same, if he were God.

The purpose of the eradication of certain groups by God, different than their punishment, according to God is because of their influence on His people.  He wants His people committed to the same belief and practice He is committed to, and this is seen in Israel's participation in the destruction of those people. God's people should associate with Him in judgment.

God will destroy people to fulfill His purpose.  We live in a society today that tolerates what God is against, and what's worse to almost all of them, especially the young people, is when someone is rejected or punished for believing and doing something different than what God says.  It's the worst sort of self-righteousness, exalting itself above God.  It's what Paul says in Romans 10:1-3, when he says they establish their own righteousness and do not submit themselves to the righteousness of God.

Consider God's reasoning in Deuteronomy 7:2-4:

2 And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:  3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.  4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

Then read how God puts it later in Deuteronomy 20:16-18:

16 But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: 17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: 18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.

It's worth it for God to have these people killed so that they will not be a bad influence on His people.  It is the ultimate in separation.  That is how serious God is about His people doing what He has taught them to do.

God is so serious about separation, that we know that one reason He killed everyone on earth with a flood was to separate them from Noah and his family.  That was what Peter meant by "saved by water" (1 Peter 3:20).  Noah and his family were saved from the world.  Eternal life itself is being saved from this present world, a world of sin.  Jesus expressed the same in His upper room discourse in John 14-16 and then in His high priestly prayer to His Father in John 17.  If any one loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15-17).

People are not as serious at staying away from the influences of this world as God is.  People are more serious about adding 30-50 years to this earthly life, years spent walking after lust and serving themselves.  They think God should be fine with that, because everything is poured into their little lives, their little kingdoms.  They think they're so important.  They can't leave their lives of lust early, so God would be wrong to cut them short.  They judge God to be wrong in this.  He must let them live.  So.

Let's say that God allows people to live out their lives in a seemingly ordinary way.  People die at various ages of different maladies or crimes or diseases.  They reach an average age of 70 to 80.  They worship idols.  They take on devout atheism.  Some give themselves to a religion of their choice, not the truth.  Now they die when they would have died of mostly natural causes.  Would this satisfy Christopher Hitchens and those who agree with him?  Their god would still need to knuckle under their demands from them under their judgment.  It wouldn't change anything, because actual God won't.  He shouldn't.  He is one hundred percent just.

God sees a separating death from a different perspective.  His desire is holiness.  He created man in His image.  His purpose was a life characterized according to Him, which is a better life and the life God intends for man.

Still today, it doesn't surprise me that an entire nation or group of people could have alienated themselves from God without exception.  Their coexistence with the offspring of the righteous does and will ruin many, and after several generations turn them into the unrighteous.  Scripture and history evinces this.  God's Word warns about it.  It is so sure that it is axiomatic.  It is of the quality of a natural law, it is so self-evident.

Separation is required to keep a people holy and in the will of God.  Everyone should assume that without the intervention of God's grace, the human race would eliminate itself.  Only God's grace keeps men from such evil that they would kill themselves off without the aid of God's commandment of His people to cooperate with Him in doing it.

My wife and I visited historic Williamsburg, the capital of colonial Virginia.  Next to the jail was a hill with a gallows for execution of thieves, adulterers, and murderers.  The point of such a public showing was to deter these practices.  More people overall would live and with a better life for all if such activities were threatened.  It also eliminated bad influences.  Criminals produce more criminals.  Toleration of ungodly behavior will result in more of it.  Toleration supports the bad behavior.

In the age in which we live, God still requires separation.  Every New Testament book teaches it.  To preserve a godly group or culture, it must separate from the ungodly.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Trinity Chart with Identifying Particularities: the Father unbegotten, the Son as begotten, the Holy Spirit proceeding

I am very cautious, as were a substantial number of my Baptist forefathers and also many teachers in Protestant orthodoxy, about analogies in this world for the Trinity:

[I]n the inward work of the Trinity is the Father said to spirate or process the Spirit in the active sense—spiratio activa—and, in view of the filioque, to do so with the Son, as indicated by John 15:26 and to a lesser extent by Galatians 4:6. Thus, active spiration is not a sole property or operation of the Father, but belongs also to the Son. Like the role of the Son in the begetting or generation of the second person, the Spirit’s role in his own emanation or spiration is, by definition, passive: he does not spirate himself, but is spirated by the Father and the Son. The Reformed orthodox note this traditionary point but typically do not elaborate it either dogmatically or exegetically apart from their discussions of the filioque, nor will they dwell on the question of a difference between the active generation of the Son and the spiration of the Spirit. Since the inward divine actions or emanations have no analogy in the created order, they cannot be adequately conceived by human beings: all that can be inferred is that they neither divide the divine essence into parts or multiply it into different beings—rather these actions result in the multiplicity of persons in the undivided essence. . . . [I]llustrations . . .  cannot be considered any more than very limited aids to understanding: here the epistemological side of the Reformed non capax comes to the fore. (Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics: The Rise and Development of Reformed Orthodoxy;  Volume 4: The Triunity of God [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003], 262, 154.)

Comparing the three Persons of the Godhead to three parts in an egg, or to water as solid, liquid, and gas, or to a person who is a father, a child, and a brother, and other similar analogies lend themselves to modalism, not to Trinitarianism.  Other analogies can lend themselves to tritheism, such as comparing the Trinity to three people who are all equally human.  The fact is that there is nothing in the created world that is one and three in the sense that the uncreated and eternal God is one and three, so all analogies fall short.  God's threeness is below the level of distinct being, at which level God is only one, and above the level of distinction of attributes, for God is Father, Son, and Spirit in a way that is different from His being holy, righteous, omnipotent, and so on.

When teaching on the subject relatively recently, I wanted to find a chart like the one pictured below:

Trinity chart Father Son Holy Spirit eternally begotten proceeding

I could find ones with the "is" and "is not" portions--very good, but not what I wanted.  I could not find one that also reflected the eternal identifying particularities of the three Persons, namely, that the Father is neither begotten nor proceeding, that the Son is eternally begotten by the Father, and that the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son as from a single principle.  I thus had someone kindly take the time to create the chart above.  I hope it finds its way into Google pictures so that people who want a chart on the Trinitarian Persons can have one that accurately represents Biblical truth.  The chart is also found in the second evangelistic Bible study at FaithSaves, "Who is God?" and likewise appears in the YouTube video of "Who is God?"

Please feel free to use the chart above when you are teaching on the glorious Triune God.

You can learn more about the Trinity from the college class online here or on YouTube here.