Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Repercussions of Jesus Simultaneously Being Both Completely 100% God and Completely 100% Man

All of us know that 100 plus 100 equals 200, not 100.  If a single being is at 100 and Jesus is a single being, then He must be 100, so how can He or could He be 200?  What does all this mean?  How could Jesus effectively be completely, 100% man, when He is completely, 100% God?  This is usually a struggle when teaching about Jesus to anyone.  I've been asked about it many times and in various ways.

From my study and experience, the number one thought that brings together His complete humanity with His complete Deity is the teaching that by becoming man Jesus gave up the free exercise of His attributes, a doctrine that centers on Philippians 2:7, which reads:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

The words "made himself of no reputation" translate two Greek words, eautou kenoo, the second of which translates into the four words, "made of no reputation."  That second Greek word is the basis for a doctrine called, "kenosis."  The two words, eautou kenoo, mean literally, "he emptied himself."  If it means, "he emptied himself," of what did Jesus empty Himself?

The doctrine of kenosis says that when Jesus became man, He was still completely, 100% God, but He emptied Himself of the free exercise of His attributes.  This is saying that He had all these attributes.  He kept all of them.  He did not exercise these divine attributes freely.  This was an aspect of His condescension and humiliation, which is taught in Philippians 2:3-10.

The doctrine of kenosis has its one proof text in Philippians 2, but it also emerges from the Gospels.  It makes sense of certain statements that don't complement the Deity of Christ very well.  You read it and you ask, why?  The doctrine of kenosis answers these, bringing harmony to all of these passages.

Consider God's attribute of omniscience.  God knows everything.  Many times Jesus shows omniscience.  He can read people's minds.  He knows what they're thinking in supernatural way (Matthew 9:4, 12:25, Mark 2:8, Luke 11:17, and John 13:5).  Jesus told the woman at the well things that He could not have known about her unless He was God (John 4).  At the same time, in the Olivet Discourse Jesus said in Mark 13:32,

But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 

Jesus didn't know this.  Only the Father knew it.  This is an example of Jesus limiting the free exercise of His attributes.  There were other ways that He did, but you get the point.

Theologians call the union in Jesus of the Divine and the human the hypostatic union.  To make sense of the hypostatic union means exploring how He did divine works like forgiving sin (Luke 7:48), while doing things as a human being not characteristic of God, such as sleeping (Mark 4:38), weeping (John 11:35), and hungering (Mark 11:12).  Luke 2:52 says Jesus grew in wisdom.  If Jesus was omniscient, how could that be true?

The purpose of God necessitated the incarnation.  Jesus must become man, while remaining fully God.  He would not fulfill the Davidic covenant without a human lineage.  Jesus rose from dead with Divine power, but He was dead because He was human.  As a human He could pay sin's price for humans and yet rise again as God.  Still a tension exists.

Jesus said in Luke 22:42, "Not my will, but thine, be done."  Wait a second.  Wasn't the will of the Father and the will of the Son exactly the same?  They had the same will, right?  This is where we understand something further in the doctrine of kenosis.  As a human being, Jesus must submit His will, His human will, to the will of the Father.  As a human being, Jesus must learn obedience.  That might sound impossible, but a verse teaches this.  Hebrews 5:8 says,

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.

Did Jesus need to learn anything?  Yes.  He didn't need to learn obedience as God.  He and the Father forever had the same will.  His subservience to the Father's will, His submission to the Father's will, was an aspect of His humanity.  Like other human beings, He learned that.  This was again part of His emptying Himself of the free exercise of His attributes.

For awhile and today still an argument exists concerning the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father.  I understand why people have believed it.  The main argument against, and I agree with it, is the following. As both God in essence, the Father and the Son cannot have two wills.  They do not have two wills.  The obedience of the Son, His earthly submission to the Father, represents kenosis, Jesus' emptying Himself of the free exercise of His divine attributes.

God is one, so He has one will, not two.  As human, Jesus learned obedience.  He always obeyed, but that subordination was not eternal.  The subordination of the Son to the Father does not extend previous to His incarnation.   This is a repercussion of Jesus simultaneously being both completely 100% God and completely 100% Man.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

"They Will Reverence My Son"

In a story told by the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, He said in Mark 12:6:

Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
In the story, obviously this son is a representation of Jesus Christ Himself and so communicates the purpose of God the Father sending His Son to the earth:  "They will reverence my son."  They don't reverence the son in the story and this is why they deserve punishment.  Jesus says in verse 9:
What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.
The "lord of the vineyard" in the story represents God the Father.  I understand this to be a message to Israel, but it is one to anyone does not respond to the God the Son with reverence.  Should not all of us assume "reverence" is a necessary aspect of saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
The Greek word translated "reverence," a verb, is entrepo, which according to BDAG means "to show deference to a person in recognition of special status," including with that the following references:  Mattthew 21:37, Mark 12:6, Luke 18:2, 4, 20:13,m and Hebrews 12:9.  BDAG provides another translation of the word in other contexts, which means "to cause to turn (in shame), to shame."  Examples given are 1 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:14, and Titus 2:8.
In the story Jesus told, the husbandmen should have been ashamed of themselves for what they did to the representatives of the lord, whom we know represent the Old Testament prophets.  Feeling shame can be a part of this reverence unto the Son.  Not reverencing the Son is not reverencing the Father.  This is how someone could take believing in God.  If someone does not believe in the Son, He does not believe in God.
How can someone reverence if there isn't such a thing as reverence or no way to reverence?  Going along with the BDAG meaning "recognition of special status."  How does someone recognize someone for having special status?  Is there a way to do that?  Is there a way not to do that?  A culture where nothing is sacred anymore won't know how to reverence anything, let alone God.  This, of course, completely messes up its people's values, because they won't know how or whom to give special status.
Churches today very often do not reverence the Son with their music.  Their music isn't sacred.  It is worldly, fleshly, and lustful.  The husbandmen thought the lord, the vineyard, the representatives in the story, and the Son were all about themselves.  Because of how important they thought they were, they couldn't reverence the Son.
This reverence of the Son relates to repentance.  It relates to true faith in Jesus Christ.  When churches won't reverence the Son, they are also undermining the gospel.  People cannot imagine or know the true Son of God, when churches do not treat Him with reverence.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

My Acceptance of Hell

Hell is a common atheist argument, usually made with disdain.  It's even got a name, "The Problem of Hell."  You've got to say it in mocking tones, because scorn is part of the argument.  It can be done in one statement something like this:  "You've got to love God or else He'll torture you in Hell."  Or, "If God is so insecure, that He needs everyone to love Him, or He'll send them to Hell, I wouldn't believe in Him even if He did exist."

The Hell argument against Theism sets the atheist up as morally superior to Bible believers and God Himself, justifying atheism.  It could be a kind of dress rehearsal for an argument before God Himself at the final judgment.  It could too serve as an emotional appeal to support a bankrupt position.  Others will cheer this on.

Someone is judging in his judgment of Hell.  What is this standard for judgment in a random world of matter and motion, atoms colliding with one another?  How does someone put even two related thoughts together by a cosmic accident of naturalism?  He doesn't.  How does naturalism cause the ability to provide a nuance of disdain?  It doesn't.  The atheist mocking Hell borrows from theism by using words, which are abstract, nonmaterial ideas.  He constructs a moral system to account for behavior that doesn't exist in the arbitrary world of the naturalist.

Even so, Hell could at least feel difficult to defend in the world in which we live.  The atheist frames it as though you enjoy the future pain and anguish.  For that reason among others, people won't talk about Hell.  They call it perhaps eternal death or just eternal separation from God.  Knowing how offensive it might sound, thinking it might just shut down a conversation, it's given little mention, even though Jesus was the one who talked about it more than anyone.  There is a Heaven.  There is a Hell.

How some people have dealt with Hell is eliminating almost any opportunity for anyone to go there except for someone almost everyone thinks deserves it.  Hitler comes to mind.  A general audience might choose for a child molester or a serial killer.  Almost everyone else goes to, you know, "a better place," even if they don't know what or where it is or why that person will go or should be going there.  It's not helpful to give someone false assurance related to Hell.

I've titled this, my acceptance of Hell, because in a personal way, Hell is acceptable to me.  There are general reasons for acceptability.  The Bible teaches Hell.  Jesus taught Hell.  It is also taught in so many different ways.  The opposition to Hell isn't persuasive.  It amounts to "I don't want it" or "I don't like it," which is a version of rejection of justice for sin.

Here are my personal reasons for acceptance of Hell.

One, how bad we are.

People just don't think they deserve Hell.  This is very common.  When I'm evangelizing, it's the second greatest stumbling point.  I ask, "Do you think you deserve Hell?" 90 plus percent answer, "No."  The idea here is the punishment doesn't fit the crime.  It's way too severe, reflecting on the nature of God, His righteousness, and His justice.  People do not think they're bad enough to deserve Hell.  That's for very bad people, and few think they're that bad.

I say I deserve Hell, and I accept that, because I do think I'm bad.  How bad we are starts with the nature of God.  The Bible compares us to God.  I fall very far short of the glory of God.

God created me for His purpose and not only do I not fulfill that, but I don't want to do it.  I want to serve myself.  I can give many examples of this.  Today at church, while someone was praying, I caught myself thinking about something else.  I was thinking about something temporal and superficial and suddenly I awoke out of that trance, not even hearing what someone was praying.  I've done that many times.

God's judgment turns us over to our own lusts.  Romans 1 uses the language of "gave them up" (vv. 24, 26, 28).  God lets people have they want.  He lets them go.  They're getting what they want.  They don't want God.  They don't want what He wants.  If you get that, it ends in Hell, because that path leads to where God isn't.  His love is absent from Hell.  Where God isn't, it's a very terrible place.  That's how the Bible describes it.  Hell is the final destination for those God gives up.

I think of this aspect too.  In going my own way, I disobey, even ignore, the great command, to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  God loves me.  No one is better to me than Him.  It's not even close, but I live for myself.

Two, it's a necessary motivation.

Sin ruined man.  It ruins men.  Men easily live for themselves.  They move from one lust to the next.  This is all so strong, that Hell is a necessary impetus to reject that.

I know there's all the positive too:  Heaven, God's goodness, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and the truth of the Bible.  That's all important.  I still see Hell as necessary motivation in spite of all those good things, on the negative side.  The flesh is that strong.  Human desire is that strong.

You could call all that the world offers, what Jesus calls, gaining the whole world.  Even if man doesn't gain the whole world, the whole world is still out there offering its invitation.  The eternal loss of a soul counteracts the lie of the world.  It's a nagging reality.  Even if someone wants to block it out, it disquiets and afflicts.

When Jesus told the story of the rich man in Hell, someone sees a man who did have everything in his short lifetime, who would gladly give it all up for even a drop of water, while he's in Hell.  If there's one thing he wants to do, even when he can't escape Hell, it's to get a warning to his brothers.  This is a warning to all the living.

Hell is not over the top.  Even with it, people still choose to go there with the knowledge of its existence.  As severe as it is, it's still not enough for a vast majority of people.  Many atheists would rather mock Hell and God than receive the Lord, despite the reality of Hell.

Hell makes total sense to me personally for these two reasons.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Justin Bieber, The Cross, Evangelicalism, and God's Grace

This morning I was sitting somewhere, not by my choice, that had a television with a Justin Bieber music video playing.  I couldn't understand the lyrics, but I could see some of the action of the video.  I knew it was Justin Bieber.  He stood in a gigantic shallow swimming pool, about two and a half feet deep.  He was wearing white shorts, a dark t-shirt.  Behind him were dozens of women, filling the entire pool, wearing tight, tiny shorts and form-fitting halter tops.  They danced in sync with one another, very sexually.

Bieber drew my attention with a cross he wore.  As he moved in his sensual manner, jerking and twisting in the swimming pool, the cross flung and hopped all around, hanging around his neck.  Justin Bieber made the cross, the cross, a feature of his video.  He associated the cross with all the other lurid features of his production.  This typifies modern evangelicalism.

The two words together, "the cross," appear eighteen times in the New Testament.  Sometimes it speaks of the actual cross, such as Matthew 27:40, "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross," which is the Gospel usage in Matthew through John.  Other times, the Apostle Paul often uses it as a symbol, as in 1 Corinthians 1:17-18:

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Paul wraps up his argument Galatians by using "the cross" in Galatians 6:12 and then verse 14:

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

The Apostle Paul talks about the enemies of the cross of Christ in Philippians 3:18-21:

18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Paul gloried only in the cross, not in himself or his works.  He addresses that in Galatians.  Then the cross confronts a different problem in Philippians.  "The enemies of the Christ of Christ" have "their belly" as God, "their shame" is their "glory," and they "mind earthly things."  This is another problem, a kind of left winged legalism.  The cross makes a person at home in heaven, not at home on earth.
"The cross" as a symbol of Christianity contrasts with the Judaizers of Galatia and the libertines of Philippi.  It saves and does so by making someone holy.  The cross doesn't ward away vampires, giving a supernatural protection to someone while he sins and promotes sin.  "The cross," the actual cross, with its saving power and holy identification should not hang in the visible cleavage between a woman's breasts. It didn't belong in Bieber's swimming pool with that music, those women, and with him either.  He wraps himself in the cross and so profanes and distorts it.
Perhaps someone convinced Bieber or he deceives himself into thinking that the cross accords with his activities.  "Christians can do this; they have the cross."  The grace characterized by the cross defeats the sin problem, not indulges and promotes it.
The Apostle Paul also directs attention to the cross in Colossians 2:13-15:
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
The cross was a means of separation from sin, the sin nailed to it, spoiling principalities and powers.  The principalities and powers, the forces of Satan as the prince of this world system, want more sinning.   The cross provides triumph over sin, not participation in, cooperation with, and association with sin.  As Revelation 12:11 says, the saints overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb.  On the cross, He crushed the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15), not assisted the serpent in further temptation and lust.  Those justified through the cross of Christ were buried with Him in His death to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
The activities of Bieber's pool video are not the newness of life.  Old things did not pass away nor all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The cross in Galatians delivers from the tyranny of the law. The cross in Philippians delivers from both the tyranny of the flesh and of the world.  The tyranny of the flesh and the world, however, badly and sadly harmonizes with contemporary evangelicalism today.  This contradicts the cross.  Many become, as Paul wrote, the enemies of the cross of Christ.

Monday, February 14, 2022

How Does a Culture, Including a Christian Culture, Survive Without a Cancel Culture?

Previous Article

"Cancel culture" has a nice ring to it, a kind of poetic rhythm when one says the two words together.  Go ahead, say them, "cancel culture."  It does now have a Wikipedia article.  When I googled books with the terminology "cancel culture," a glut of books appeared written in 2020-2021 with "Cancel Culture" in the title.  I've not read one of them.  I wanted to know how early the term appeared, because it's been on my radar for at the most two years.

A book, Environmental Impact Assessment, written in 1979, reads:

We have come to the realization---yet again---that knowledge is power, that we need to keep building on our science and be ever mindful that a democratic society is based on genuine public engagement, not the so-called cancel culture that is denying genuine dialogue (author's italics).

Before I graduated from high school, the quote appeared.  Surprising.  That's the first and only usage I found in the twentieth century.  I don't know who popularized it.  I went about trying to trace it, but I don't know who originated the terminology.  Originally, it seems, it was "call-out culture," the idea here being that described by Adrienne Matei on November 1, 2019 in The Guardian:

The contemporary idea of a “call-out”, however, generally refers to interpersonal confrontations occurring between individuals on social media. In theory, call-outs should be very simple – someone does something wrong, people tell them, and they avoid doing it again in the future. Yet you only need to spend a short amount of time on the internet to know that call-out culture is in fact extremely divisive.

She pointed to a statement by former President Obama in an Obama Foundation Summit, which was on October 30, 2019, in which he said:

If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right, or used the wrong word or verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, because, ‘Man, you see how woke I was. I called you out.’ That’s not activism.

The rise of the term "cancel culture" seems to occur in the middle of 2020, which also happened to be right at the beginning of the Covid-19 'pandemic.'  Now it is well entrenched, and the earliest popular book seems to be Primal Screams, which said:

Consider an example that materialized in March 2019, captured in a New York Times piece called "Teen Fiction and the Perils of Cancel Culture."  It reported the case a (sic) young black man who identified as gay and was employed as a "sensitivity reader" by various publishing houses.  In that capacity, he enforced "cancel culture" (i.e., the flagging that progressive groupthink would deem unacceptable).

Wouldn't it be an interesting job to be a "sensitivity reader"?  I had never heard of it until this quote.  I googled that too, and it appears a lot, 40,000 times.  As a pastor, a chunk of your congregation could take that job while listening to your sermons.  The New York Times article was written on March 8, 2019.

Cancel culture emerged as perhaps one of the top issues for the 2022 mid-term elections.  The cancel culture tried to cancel Joe Rogan on Spotify and failed.  On the other hand, Whoopi Goldberg said something offensive about the Holocaust on her show, The View, and they cancelled her for a few weeks, so she could take time to reflect on her ignorance, stupidity, or callousness.  Another aspect, it seems, of cancel culture is a reaction to the unvaccinated, losing one's job even if he has natural immunity.  This relates to the trucker protest on the U.S. Canadian border, which is bigger than a vaccination issue.

During this last six months I've worked on a lot of writing projects and wrote almost two chapters on sanctification for our book, The Salvation That Keeps On Saving.  The two chapters are "Dedication and Sanctification" and then "The Biblical Theology of Sanctification, the latter of which I'm halfway done, the former I've completed.  For the latter, I am looking at every use of the related Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament words for sanctification, which is almost 1,000.

You reader know that God canceled in the most severe way everyone on earth except for eight people in Genesis 6-9.  He ordered the cancellation of all the Canaanites.  When Israel didn't, Israel suffered greatly for that.  The Assyrians and Babylonians tried to and succeeded greatly at cancelling Israel.  The Bible requires churches to cancel someone's church membership, called by us, "church discipline."  Jesus taught that in Matthew 18:15-17.

God says in Leviticus 20:24, "But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people."  Two verses later, He continues: "And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine."  It's not just Old Testament.  Jesus said in Matthew 13:49, "So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just."  Many more examples occur.

I'm sure that you would know that cancellation is a biblical teaching, that conservatives were canceling people before liberals or leftists were.  It's tough to say, but our country found it's unity around the ability to agree on who deserves cancellation.  The left wants to cancel anyone who uses "hate speech" against any type of LGBTQ, etc.  You know that.  It's not just that, but also going back into the usage of certain unacceptable words and whether someone appeared in black face in the 1970s.
The John T. Scopes trial, the so-called monkey trial, dealt with cancellation of evolution from the public school.  Now schools cancel creation.  No one can teach creation in public schools.  Conservatives, who once cancelled evolutionists, would like intelligent design at least taught.  The government cancels the ten commandments.  Governments cancel statutes of the founding fathers.  At one time, everyone would have cancelled a statue to Karl Marx.  A tiny few would like a Hitler statue erected.
The story of cancellation seems to be the following.  Cancellation was mainly conservative.  Conservatives supported it.  Now conservatives are cancelled on nighttime television, movies, mainstream media.  Everyone goes to their own network to hear their news.  Both sides cancel each other.  However, in the mainstream conservatives are cancelled.  Conservatives now, putting the first amendment up there in a greater way, accept a foul mouthed Joe Rogan.  In an effort to reject cancellation, they accept what they cancelled themselves.  Does this have a better future?
Some say that sunlight is the best antiseptic.  There is perhaps a scientific point there.  Lysol might argue against it.  If we allow everyone to say whatever they want to say everywhere on every outlet, we will be better off.  Sarah Palin is challenging this in court against the New York Times, who she says, libeled here.  Maybe they did.
What I'm writing is that cancellation is a Christian, biblical position.  I get that we don't like being cancelled.  The better thing might be to practice biblical separation.  Others are practicing a form of separation, that isn't biblical.  If you don't support their sin, they cancel you.  This is the kind of cancellation the Roman Catholic Church did during the Inquisition.  We don't like that.  We should oppose that.
Cancellation defines morality.  What will you separate over?  The left separates over its values.  The right separates over theirs.  Is the solution to accept anything or everything?  This is new too.  An acceptance culture is not the solution to a cancel culture.
Scripture is clear that without cancellation, severing or separation, a culture cannot continue.  It won't.  What we value cannot be preserved without separating it from what will corrupt it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Righteous: Declared in Romans 4:17 and Made In Romans 5:19

"Justification" is a scriptural term, one used very often, but not as much as the term, "salvation."  When someone is justified, he is saved, but that doesn't explain his entire salvation.  It's the first part of salvation.  When someone is justified, he is said to be "declared righteous."  That is the language of justification.  John Owen wrote in 1797:

[I]t is the righteousness of Christ, and not our own, on account of which we receive the pardon of sin; acceptance with God; are declared righteous, and have a title to the heavenly inheritance.
For the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, unto a person in himself ungodly unto his justification, or that he may be acquitted, absolved, and declared righteous, is built on such foundations, and proceedeth on such principles of righteousness, wisdom, and sovereignty, as have no place among the actions of men, nor can have so, as shall afterwards be declared.
John Gill differentiated between justification and pardon, when he wrote in 1750:
I readily allow that there is a very great agreement between justification and pardon, in their efficient, impulsive, and procuring causes, in their objects, or subjects, in their commencement, and manner of completion: the same God that pardons the sins of his people, justifies them, or accounts them righteous; the same grace, which moved him to the one, moved him to the other; as the blood of Christ was shed for the remission of sins, so by it are we justified; all who are justified are pardoned; and all who are pardoned, are justified, and that, at one and the same time; both these acts are finished at once, simul & semel, and are not carried on in a gradual and progressive way, as sanctification. But all this does not prove them to be one and the same, for though they agree in these things, in others they differ; for justification is a pronouncing a person righteous according to law, as though he had never sinned; not so pardon: it is one thing for a man to be tried by law, cast, and condemned, and then receive the king's pardon; and another thing to he tried by the law, and, by it, to be found and declared righteous, as though he had not sinned against it.
Divines generally make justification to consist in the remission of sins, and in the imputation of Christ's righteousness; which some make different parts; others say, they are not two integrating parts of justification, or acts numerically and really distinct, but only one act respecting two different terms, a quo & ad quem; just as by one, and the same act, darkness is expelled from the air, and light is introduced into it; so by one, and the same act of justification, the sinner is absolved from guilt, and pronounced righteous.
Many theologians continue to use the term "declared righteous" or "pronounced righteous" as the definition of justification.  Does the Bible use this terminology?  Certain translations (NET Bible) of Romans 5:1 translate, "being justified," as "being declared righteous."  If that's the translation it's in there, but if you look at the Greek words, those aren't the Greek words.  The Greek words sound like what you read in the KJV:  " Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."


Don't get me wrong, I think "declared righteous" is fine for justification.  It could be a logical conclusion to the doctrine of imputation.  If we are "counted as righteous" like Abraham was, God is doing the counting, so He must be declaring believers righteous.  Does scripture say it?  I'm saying that the closest thing to the Bible saying, "declared righteous," is in Romans 4:17:
(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even] God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
The language of "declared righteous" could be found in the words, "God. . . calleth those things which be not as though they were."  The verse doesn't use "declared righteous," but being "declared righteous" is 'being called a thing which be not as though it was.'  This is a verse that says God does this.  Imputation of righteousness is God declaring someone righteous.  A few verses later, Romans 4:22-25 say:
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Roman Catholicism has taught and still teaches that no one is righteous until he is found to be just.  He is not just through imputation.  He is just by cooperation with infused grace.  It's still up to what that person does whether he will make it to heaven.  This false doctrine that entered Roman Catholicism came because of the Latin word for justification, iustificare.  Ficare in Latin means "to make."  The Greek word for "justification" is God's pronouncing someone righteous regardless of what he did.  The idea of "being made" righteous for justification came from the doctrine that man's righteousness came by his cooperation, the wrong meaning of the Greek word.  The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913, says concerning this:
Although the sinner is justified by the justice of Christ, inasmuch as the Redeemer has merited for him the grace of justification (causa meritoria), nevertheless he is formally justified and made holy by his own personal justice and holiness (causa formalis), just as a philosopher by his own inherent learning becomes a scholar, not, however, by any exterior imputation of the wisdom of God (Trent, Sess. VI, can. x). To this idea of inherent holiness which theologians call sanctifying grace are we safely conducted by the words of Holy Writ.  To prove this we may remark that the word justificare.
Louis Berkhof wrote about this in his Systematic Theology:
Our word justification (from the Latin justificare composed of justus and facere, and therefore meaning "to make righteous"), just as the Holland rechtvaardigmaking, is apt to give the impression that justification denotes a change that is brought about in man, which is not the case. In the use of the English word the danger is not so great, because the people in general do not understand its derivation, and in the Holland language the danger may be averted by employing the related words rechtvaardigen and rechtvaardiging.


Perhaps you have considered whether justification is "being made righteous," versus "being declared righteous."  "Made righteous" is found once in the Bible and it is in Romans 5:19:
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Being "made righteous" is different than being "declared righteous."  Being "declared righteous" is justification and being "made righteous" is sanctification.  Someone justified will also be sanctified.  Man cooperates with God in sanctifying righteousness, but not in justifying righteousness.  He is made righteous in sanctifying righteousness.
Romans 5:19 uses the future tense of the verb, "shall many be made righteous."  Romans 5:1, "Being justified" is an aorist participle, completed action.  In the past someone has been declared righteous and as a result in the future he shall be made righteous.  Through believing in Jesus Christ someone is justified, declared righteous, and he will be made righteous.  Sanctification is a process that continues until glorification.  Sanctification is actual transformation, metamorphosis.
Think two verses.  Romans 4:17, declared righteous, justification.  Couple with that verse Romans 4:22-25.  Then, Romans 5:19, made righteous, sanctification.

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Machen, Liberalism, and the Language of Liberalism Now So Common

J. Gresham Machen (1881–1937) is not a name, I would think, most readers would know, even though Wikipedia gives him a long biography.  It's worth reading.  He's an outlier in that he went to Germany for post graduate education and rejected  liberalism for conservative theology.  He was a professor for 23 years (1906-1929) of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, then led a revolt against liberal theology there, and left to start Westminster Theological Seminary.  He was a Presbyterian and usually called a fundamentalist Presbyterian.

As you would know, I am Baptist, and reject Presbyterianism and Protestantism in general.  I respect though what they mean for history.  I am happy about a conservative Presbyterian.  I like him obviously better than a liberal Baptist and even a moderate Baptist.  Sometime I like a conservative Presbyterian more than a conservative Baptist, who is pragmatic, revivalistic, and a soft continuationist.  Enough of those comparisons.  I'm in part writing this because of a quote I read from Machen.  Here it is:

In order to maintain themselves in the evangelical churches and quiet the fears of their conservative associates, the liberals resort constantly to a double use of language.

It comes from his classic book, Christianity and Liberalism.  Carl Truman, Presbyterian historian, wrote this summary of the book:

The thesis of the book is devastatingly simple: Christianity, built on the authoritative, divinely-inspired, inerrant revelation of God in Scripture, embodying a robust supernaturalism, and focused on the exclusivity of salvation in the person and work of Christ, is a different religion to that liberalism that repudiates each of these things.

Machen uses as an example, a liberal saying, "I believe Jesus is God," but the words meaning something entirely different.  He uses the words to comfort the heart of a young one who has questions.  Machen says he "offends against the fundamental principle of truthfulness in language."

I see more offense than ever against this fundamental principle of truthfulness in language.  People want to play both sides.  They want acceptance from liberals and still maintain an audience with the conservative, bridge that gap.

Talking to a woman in evangelism, I said that Jesus wasn't a rorschach ink blot, that we can look into and see whatever Jesus we want to see.  She said she believed in Jesus, but she also believed that He really was like that ink blot.  He was intended to be whatever people needed Him to be.  This was what she meant by 'she believed in Jesus.'

Perhaps with regard to truth, men still believe a large percentage of orthodox doctrine at least on paper, but they cave on beauty and goodness.  They say they follow Jesus, but they don't like what He likes.  They do something different than what He did.  They love the world.

Ambiguous words become vessels for whatever meaning someone wants to give them.  They give liberty to those who hold them.  They can live what they want, expecting in the end to play a word game.  "That is what I really meant, what you said."  No, you didn't.

When I took ethics, we imagined casuistry, which was called Jesuit casuistry.  Casuistry comes from the Latin casus, which means "case."  It started out being a means of evading a difficult case of duty.  "Were you there?"  I was.  It is the Clintonian, it was all a matter of what "there" means.  I was "there," just not where you're talking about.

False religion is full of imprecision and fuzziness.  The hermeneutic is speculative and mystical.  With this use of language, man easily worships and serves the creature rather than Creator.  The creature still calls it Creator though.  Machen called it "the double use of language."

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Does Mysticism Mix With the Bible?

Mysticism pervades world history, and especially the history of the United States.  What does mysticism do for a country or a person?  Is it good?  Is it all bad?

When Jonathan Edwards described mysticism in the early 18th century, he didn't use the word "mysticism."  The term mysticism was around, but perhaps not in the kind of common usage so that Edwards would use the term to apply to the "wildfire" and "carnal enthusiasm" he witnessed in the Great Awakening.  Edwards also used the terms, "imprudences, irregularities," and a "mixture of delusion."

When the United States got to the 19th century, it was a regular experience for men to say they heard directly from God, perhaps the greatest example of this Joseph Smith.  The church history museum in Salt Lake City, Utah says concerning his "first vision":
Joseph Smith’s First Vision stands today as the greatest event in world history since the birth, ministry, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. After centuries of darkness, the Lord opened the heavens to reveal His word and restore His Church through His chosen prophet.
Johann Herrmann called it "Neoplatonic Mysticism" and defined it this way in 1899:
The essence of Mysticism lies in this: when the influence of God upon the soul is sought and found solely in an inward experience of the individual; when certain excitements of the emotions are taken, with no further question, as evidence that the soul is possessed by God: when at the same time nothing external to the soul is consciously and clearly perceived and firmly grasped; when no thoughts that elevate the spiritual life are aroused by the positive contents of an idea that rules the soul,-- then that is the piety of Mysticism.
Herrmann went on to write:
In the human Jesus, we have met with a fact, the content of which is comparably richer than any feelings that arise within ourselves.
James Hinton said:
Mysticism is an assertion of a of knowing that must not be tried by ordinary rules evidence the claiming authority for our own impressions.
The Apostle Paul addresses mysticism in Colossians 2:18-19, when he writes:
Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
Paul calls this someone "vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind."

I have no doubt that everyone has experiences.  However, scripture teaches against looking for those experiences as a means of God communicating to you.  Scripture is sufficient.  The Bible gives someone everything he needs to be everything he needs to be and do everything he needs to do.

The experiences of the biblical authors were true, real, and historical.  They really occurred.  The canon was closed and the means by which God talks to us is through His Word.  Jesus quoted Abraham in saying in Luke 16:31:
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Moses and the prophets are scripture.  God wants us to depend upon scripture.  Mysticism and the Bible are mutually exclusive.  Faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) and faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).