Thursday, August 30, 2007

Weak Vessels To God's Glory

Many years ago I asked my dad if he desired to be healed. To be shut into a silent world, which at times may be extremely lonely, would in my mind create a longing for God to work a miracle. His response, however, is something I will never forget. He said, "No."

"Why?" I asked.

His reason was simple and yet profound. "God made me this way."

Perhaps that may have triggered something in how I viewed God. Nevertheless, a passage of Scripture was brought to my mind.

Exo 4:11 The LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
Exo 4:12 "Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say."

Here is a video demonstrating that God may do with us as He will and that His power is manifested in our weaknesses. This man truly has experienced God's grace in ways we may never understand.

2Co 4:6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2Co 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
2Co 4:8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;
2Co 4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
2Co 4:10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Partial Savior

A friend of mine asked me about my belief in “Partial Redemption”. I responded by asking, “Do you mean Particular Redemption?”

He said, “No, because your belief has Jesus only saving part of the world.” Perhaps he sees Calvinists as throwing the lead balloon? Or better, withholding the Life Preserver from men lost at sea who so desperately want to go to heaven but the big mean Calvinist God won't save them.

Of course the objection raised was his usual “Whosoever” argument from John 3:16. I reminded him (since he knows Greek) that John 3:16 does not say in the original language “Whosoever”, but instead says, “Everyone believing” or “all the believing ones”.

He agreed but insisted that the sense still calls for the idea of whosoever, to which I agreed. But I objected to his unspoken Tradition. He assumes an inference from the text that is simply not warranted. He assumes man must have a free-will and ability to believe when he desires.

“You infer from the verse (John 3:16) that does not speak specifically to the nature of man’s will that man has a free will. Then when you read a clear text such as John 6:44 that specifically says man does not have the ability to come to Christ, you turn the text on its head to fit your Tradition.” When I said this, I simply got no response.

The logic of the John 6:35-45 passage is so water tight, I am amazed there are any Arminians left.

There is another obvious point that needs to be challenged though. Unless this person is a Universalist, he must also believe that Jesus does not save people who go to hell. As I expressed to him later, my view is that Jesus may not intend to save everyone equally but does so perfectly, but his view of Jesus is that He intends to save perhaps billions of people and fails miserably.

Now who’s view has the Partial Savior again?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pastors Accountable To Deacons?

Our pastor preached an excellent message yesterday on Eph 4. Since our church may be having a candidate in the next few weeks, he spoke on some characteristics of pastors and how they are to equip the body for unity in the faith. He spoke of congregationalism as being our form of church government and that everyone is involved in the life of the local church.

He also spoke on the accountability of pastors to the Deacons. He rightly said that our "Baptist Tradition" calls for pastors to be challenged by Deacons when they may be in error. Now what is interesting is that he is correct in saying that pastors need accountability. Tradition obviously teaches it. The Bible also plainly teaches Congregationalisam. The question I would like to pose for this post is where does the Bible teach the idea that pastors are accountable to Deacons?

The reason I ask is that church government seems to be something of a free-for-all. The attitude seems to be as if God left His church without sufficient teaching as to how she is to function. Do we really believe this? How much freedom God has given to the church should not so much depend on her structure but the wisdom in which to apply the teachings of Scripture. What think ye?

For a good book to get into this discussion, I recommend Prespectives On Church Government.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Kerry's View: Somebody Died...Where?

To think John Kerry was the Democrat's nominee for President is just unbelievable. You may actually watch him say that after we pulled out of Vietnam, "there was not a massive bloodbath."

Now I have to wonder what planet this guy lives on. To say there was not a massive bloodbath could be technically correct. Although, I am not sure those who were killed would see it that way. One web site states, "research show an extremely strong probability that at least 65,000 Vietnamese perished as victims of political executions in the eight years after Saigon fell."

Another site recognizes that Cambodia suffered tremendously at the hands of Pol Pot. Yet this site's thinking must be where Kerry aligns himself. For the site blames America's bombing of Cambodia that is at fault. It states,

"Yes, Cambodia did turn into a death camp, but it is clear that it wasn't the American troops leaving Vietnam that caused that horrific crisis. It was the bombing of Cambodia during the war that created the vacuum that allowed Pol Pot to come to power."

So it is America's fault. If we just hadn't been there in the first place, the world would have been hunky dory. Why is it the Left can't see that if they had not caused America to lose a War we had won, maybe, just maybe, the vacuum would not have existed? I guess the conclusion is that if we pull out of Iraq, no problem. Does anyone remember Bush Sr.'s massive failure to truly win the Gulf War in 91'? He pulled out and guess what happened?

Kerry then goes on to assert that there were re-education camps. Nobody likes those kinds of things. But hey! (There were only 65,000 killed.) He knows a lot of Vietnamese that are doing just fine and even thriving. So let's just re-institute those camps. Surely we conservatives could use a little re-education...right?

Iron Sharpens Iron

James Swan has started a Blog for Chris Arnzen's radio program Iron Sharpens Iron. Arnzen is a Reformed Baptist. Here is a description from the site.

"The blog of Chris Arnzen, host of the "Iron Sharpens Iron" radio program, heard live every Monday through Friday, 3pm-4pm Eastern in New York and Connecticut on WNYG 1440AM Christian Radio (also heard worldwide via live-streaming on the Internet at "Iron Sharpens Iron" is sponsored by the Law Firm of Buttafuoco & Associates."

Swan is providing MP3s daily. Topics range from New Perspectivism to divorce and remarriage, with much more. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Top 10 To Prevent the Tiber Jump

A person, who is considering converting to Roman Catholicism, ought to consider the top 10 reasons for consideration to see if he "has examined his situation sufficiently" before jumping the Tiber.

Read here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Objection from Matthew 5

Russ brought up in the comments Matthew 5:17-19. He makes a great point from this passage. Jesus says in verse 18

"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Now the problem that is being held against my position is that the Law as written Numbers 18 would have the Christian Church tithing to the Levitical Priesthood. However Russ says that Christ has fulfilled the Law. Therefore we may look to these passages for principles, but not as law.

The objection I raised earlier is basically the same here. How does this differ in substance to my own position? I certainly do not tithe to a Levitical Priesthood. So am I being inconsistent?

If we deal with the text, the verse says that the Law will not pass away till the end of the age. Therefore, we are both wrong. However we are only both wrong because of an assumption made by Russ. He has equated Law with Covenant. By doing so, he has made the application of the Law as summed up in the Decalogue and the ceremonial aspects of the Law under the Old Covenant to be equal to Covenant. In other words, he equates Law with Covenant. This has been demonstrated to not be the case.

There are many laws under the Old Covenant Economy that are simply portions of the Ten Commandments applied in a ceremonial way. For example, we see this in many of the Sabbath laws. These laws were to separate the Israelites from the other Nations. Russ rightly observes as I also argued (but he seemed to miss my point, probably due to my poor ability to explain it) from Ephesians 2 that Christ abolished the law that separated the Israelites from the other nations. In other words, how the law was applied under the Old Covenant was specifically meant to divide while the Gospel brings together.

The Law (not to be confused with how it was applied under the Old Covenant) is now being applied under the New Covenant. Therefore, when the Christian reads the Scriptures including the Old Testament, he does so believing that all of it is authoritative, but the Old Testament laws are applied according to how the New Testament dictates.

Here is many will object. Before you do, remember the Apostles themselves cite from the Ten Commandments and many other laws from the Old Testament. Paul in 1 Cor 6:19 makes reference to Leviticus as well as 1 Cor 9:9 makes reference to Deuteronomy 25 and applies it to the church. I realize this raises many other questions, and this is just a Blog. The New Testament is not going to the Old and saying, “Let’s look at the major principles.” The New Testament reminds us that there is still a Law and Christ has written this Law upon the hearts of believers that all may know Him from the least to the greatest.

I will finish this post by citing from Richard Barcellos’ book, In Defense of the Decalogue.

"It is very clear from this passage and other explicit statements of the New Testament that the Old Covenant and its law, as Old Covenant Law, has been annulled by Christ's death. Though the law of the Old Covenant still exists and is called law [a point he defends by demonstrating the NT still does this] it no longer functions as the Law of the Old Covenant, because the Old Covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant."

He also says:

"What Jesus is saying is that the Old Testament is still binding upon His people, but not in the same way it used to be. The Old Testament is still authoritative as far as our sanctification goes, but the coming and death of Christ and the inauguration of the New Covenant now condition its application."

I realize [Owen] Russ and many of you probably have [Owen]much more to object, but that is the nature of this kind of discussion [Owen]. There are far greater minds [Owen] than my own that have debated this subject. It might be wise to go read them. [Owen]

Sorry about the subliminal thing. :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tithing Objection Part 3

Another objection occurred to me while I was putting my son to bed. A Dispensationalist might argue that the church is not national Israel. Gentiles do not come under the Law like Israel did. During this church age Gentiles are under Grace and during the Millennial Reign Christ will reestablish the Jewish nation with her laws.

Now this objection is something that is based firmly in a theological method or interpretational hermeneutic approach to Scripture. I think however that Covenantal Theology is far more consistent. I believe that there are not 2 peoples of God. Nor do I believe that Hebrews 8 merely allows for the participation of Gentiles in the New Covenant blessings.

The New Testament very specifically teaches that Gentiles are not merely participants in the New Covenant Blessings but are fully under the New Covenant. The reason they are full participants is because Gentiles and Jews have been united together and are the true Israel of God.

According to Ephesians chapter 2, Gentiles have been brought near. Near to what?

Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Gentiles are brought near to Christ, brought near to covenant promises, have hope, with God and are now brought into the Commonwealth of Israel. As Paul says in Romans 11, they are grafted into the one stump. Gentiles are now the true Jews, circumcised in the heart.

Having been raised in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I understand that someone who lives there comes under the authority of the state and is a full citizen of it. To be in the Commnowealth of Israel is to be an Israelite!

Therefore, whatever would have applied to the Jew, now applies to those Gentiles grafted in. The Jewish person in the days of the Apostles would have fully recognized the Law as still being valid. Even Peter struggled with the application of the Law in Acts 10 when he would not eat unclean foods. Jesus had repealed dietary laws not only for Gentiles, but for Jews too! Are we really going to argue that Peter would have not believed the Decalogue and the rest of the Mosaic Law that reflected the moral law of God was now done away?

Neither Jesus nor the Apostles repealed the moral laws of God. They are not only still in force, they are now applied under the New Covenant with Christ fulfilling them in our behalf. The Christian has this law written upon his heart by Christ. He s joined to Christ by faith and in perfect union with Him even though in this age we live imperfectly.

Tithing Objections Part 2

In this post, I would like to answer some objections that have occurred in my head. If you have others I have not thought of then please comment them.

First, now someone might say that Jesus is speaking to Pharisees under the Old Covenant. The Christian is under the New Covenant for the Book of Hebrews informs us that the Old has passed away.

I would simply ask, “Is ‘thou shalt not murder’ still in place?” Or how about honoring your parents?

It has been argued that if Jesus positively gives us commands, and He does about these things, then those things apply and only those things.

My response would still be the same. For there are many laws that Jesus does not address specifically that the Old Testament would address. For instance, Jesus never mentions homosexuality, yet who doubts that Jesus did so implicitly by quoting Leviticus in other matters?

Therefore, Jesus’ clear teaching in Matt 5 that He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it informs the Christian the Law is still in place, even more so for God’s people.

2) This could lead to legalism.

Yes, it could. That was exactly the problem Jesus was speaking to. Yet does Jesus do away with the Law simply because men have built Tradition around it? In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus spends much time debunking the Traditions of men by saying, “You have heard it said….” Yet Jesus doesn’t do away with the laws such as adultery. Instead Jesus strengthens the Law to the point that it breaks the backs of men’s souls.

The point of the Sermon on the Mount is to teach that the Law of God points to a perfect and Holy God who demands nothing short of Glory and perfection. It is to bring men to their knees and cast themselves on the mercy of God.

3) How could we keep the law if we cannot keep the law?

It is intuitive that Christians must keep the law. Even my own pastor would agree that even Christians desire to do what is right. The New Testament however teaches that no man is able to keep the Law.

The answer according to the New Testament is that Christ fulfills the Law for us. Therefore, since we are joined to Him by faith, we have a new life. This new life in Christ desires and delights in the Law of God. We do not keep it to gain righteousness, but because we possess that alien righteousness by faith. The true regenerated heart will cling to Christ.

4) The New Testament teaches us Principles, not Law?

This objection begs the question. Where do the principles of tithing or Sabbath observance (a day of rest once a week) or other aspects of these principles come from?

The book of Genesis is clearly taught in Romans 2 that God has written His Law upon the hearts of men. Have you ever wondered why men are trying to “earn” their way into heaven? The answer is simple again. God made Adam in the Garden of Eden to obey the Law and to gain his way to eternal life in the Covenant of Works.

No one is recorded as to commanding tithing to Melchizedeck. Yet Abraham tithed to him and his priesthood long before the Old Covenant. This is not merely because Abraham felt this to be a good idea of worship. He was obeying a command recognized universally by true men of God as dictated by God at Creation.

There is much more that could be said and other perspectives on this very subject that I haven't even begun to explore. I am sure there are plenty of other objections. Perhaps you will think of many I haven’t thought of. It is late, and I am not able to think anymore.

God Bless

Tithing Challenge Accepted: Part 1

The challenge was issued forth from the pulpit. Does the New Testament teach “Tithing”? My answer is a resounding, yes!

I believe the hermeneutic used in Covenant Theology would be helpful in showing how Tithing has been a part of the moral Law of God instituted at creation and applied under the covenants with God’s people, but I would only be reinventing the wheel. Richard Barcellos has already done a great series of Blog entries on the Sabbath. Just as with the Sabbath, Tithing would be a part of the moral law of God instituted at creation and administered to God’s people under both the Old and New Covenants.

For now I will just point out one text in the New Testament and attempt to demonstrate that Jesus teaches that Tithing is still a part of the Christians life. Before I do, I must agree that my pastor is correct in that God wants all of the Christian including his finances. However, in a later conversation he did clarify his meaning as to say that all of our finances must come under the Lordship of Christ. Therefore if I purchase a new couch, or buy a new car, I must do so in submission to God’s clear commands and using the wisdom He has given to His church.

In Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees He says,

Mat 23:23 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Here, Jesus specifically refers to Tithing as a part of the Law. I grant that it is not a part of the “weightier” aspect of the law, yet it is one we should not neglect along with the weightier aspects of the Law.

Jesus is instituting the New Covenant for He is the Israel of God in the flesh. He is the promised Seed of Abraham. Jesus in no way tells us that the Law is now useless or that it is somehow not for the coming Christian Church. Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Mat 5:17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”

The Law of Tithing was instituted at creation. It was applied to the Old Covenant people in a unique way. It is now applied to the New Covenant people. Although it may not be the “weightier” matter of the Law, it is nevertheless a part of it. Hebrews 8 tells us that the Law of God that was given to the Old Covenant people is now written upon the minds and hearts of God true people. This is an act of grace. Therefore out of a contrite and cheerful heart, the Christian gives to God what belongs to Him.

Much much more could be said on this subject. Once the Christian rids his mind that he may worship God anyway his heart feels and submits his heart to the Law of God, he will see that God is the One who demands what worship is and how it is to be done.

This Sunday, when you offer to God what belongs to Him, when you submit to His authority to tell us what worship is, may your heart be blessed in knowing that you are worshiping Him as He commands, even in less weighty matters of the Law.

Monday, August 13, 2007

John Piper Says What Needs To Be Said

Now Pastor Piper, don't hold back. Please, tell us how you really feel about the Prosperity Gospel (which is really no gospel at all).

Beckwith Interviewed By Koukl

Some of you may be following the Francis Beckwith "Reversion" back to Rome. I haven't finished listening yet, but at 30 minutes during Koukl's interview with Francis Beckwith, Beckwith confesses his denial of Justification by faith alone. Listen here. At one point Beckwith admits that Justification is not forensic nor is it imputed but "infused". Click here for a short clip of this admission.

This is a flat denial of the faith he once professed. To deny the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is to deny the Reformed Protestant faith. It is to deny the plain teaching of Paul in Romans 4. Therefore, no matter how much Beckwith tries to make himself sound like he has peace with God, he must by definition subvert the very foundation for Paul's conclusion in Romans 5:1

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Local NYT On Using Fear

Our Local New York Times Editorialist has written two editorials that just have to make you scratch your head. The first one I want to mention is entitled, Infrastructure: Tax Cuts Have Contributed to a Nation Wide Crisis.

In the editorial Haxton states, “At one time, this nation’s infrastructure was the envy of the rest of the world.” This is simply the mantra of the Left. There is no evidence of a nationwide crisis. There is no breaking down of our infrastructure. This is just fear mongering. (I want to deal with his other editorial that deals with “fear”.)

He also says:

“This goes back to the lack of accountability that’s at the heart of today’s conservative agenda. Republicans have convinced taxpayers they can somehow get a ‘free ride.’ There are no consequences to unlimited government spending and tax cuts for the wealthy. Cash strapped cities, counties and states have let this nation’s infrastructure slip into disrepair for lack of money.”

First, we have a clear reference to the Minnesota bridge that collapsed. The major premise must be questioned. We don’t have any idea yet as to why this bridge collapsed. To assume it is because of disrepair and lack of tax money is just a Liberal party fear-mongering line.

Second, why is it assumed Republicans are against building bridges? We like to drive to work too.

Third, assuming that tax cuts are the problem is just plain phony. Tax cuts are not the issue. Due to Bush’s tax cuts, the economy has brought in record amounts of income to the IRS. They are literally swimming in our money. Therefore Haxton’s assumption is a bold face lie. He can’t possibly not know this.

Fourth, the knee jerk reaction by the Left that taxes must be raised is typical. Why? Is the government somehow going to become this efficient machine and start repairing and building our infrastructure? Has anyone read about the Massachusetts Big Dig?

Massachusetts, or better known as Taxachusetts, is a Liberal safe haven. If there is any place in the country that Liberalism should be proud to proclaim as a model of greatness, it is there! Yet we see taxes are not about raising funds for truly building and maintaining infrastructure, but they are about power and control over the lives of its citizens.

But let’s move on to the other editorial.

Without Fear, Where Would We Be Today?

I want to tackle this one paragraph by ridiculous paragraph.

“Our nation was founded on the fear of religious persecution. Without that fear, the Pilgrims would not have overcome their fear of traveling across the Atlantic to begin life in a new world.”

Now obviously he is using his great ability to write sarcastically. Yet a little history would make him think twice about saying silly things like this.

“It was our fear of excessive taxation without representation that helped to stir discontent leading to the Revolutionary War.”

Ummmm, there is so much one could say I am at a loss for words.

“This nation’s fear of having to learn to speak German or Japanese finally pushed us into entering WWII.”

Yea, there certainly was no parallel between modern problems and the rise of Hitler. So what if Neville Chamberlain acted like a modern Democrat and made peace with Hitler and ignored Churchill’s warnings. But then if Churchill had been allowed to destroy Hitler’s war machine earlier on, there would have been no WWII, no deaths of millions of people, and we would never have realized how right he was.

Also, there was this thing called Pearl Harbor. We tried to avert the War. We were literally dragged into it not due to fear but due to being attacked.

Bush is not trying to fear us into a War, we ARE at War, whether Haxton wants to acknowledge that (Chamberlain style) or not. We must deal with our enemies now or deal with their huge war machine later. The evidence was clear that Saddam Hussein had huge plans with the Oil For Food Program to build an arsenal of weapons. I would think Haxton surely would understand this point easily if he were not so blinded by his bizarre worldview.

“Our fear of nations tumbling like dominoes in Southeast Asia was so great that we were willing to sacrifice more than 50,000 American lives in Vietnam.”

This paragraph was extremely insulting.

First, we had won the war till Leftists like Haxton aided and comforted and committed traitorous actions against our country. Jane Fonda or John Kerry anyone?

Second, it was a great policy. Communism had to be stopped. We are still dealing with China. To join China’s side of things is to betray the many who are seeking freedom there (Tiananmen Square anyone?). We should not be helping China’s communistic/atheistic leaders, who murder their own citizens and imprison Christians at will, but instead we ought to be sending clear signals of hope to these people as Reagan did to those in Eastern Europe during the 80s.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Does this man like having the freedom to publish his paper without government control? Has Bush ever sought to arrest him for his stupid views? Has his Freedom of the Press been violated?

How about the Left’s revival of the Fairness Doctrine? Is this just another way for the Left to control the Rush Limbaughs and to silence those who would protest their nonsensical arguments?

“It’s the fear that a small civil war could escalate into a large civil war that has kept our Troops in Iraq.”

First, there is no Civil War in Iraq. We are fighting the enemy there. Everyone ought to know that Al-Qaida is beginning to lose heavily since many are turning against them. The Muslim population is tired of the grotesque tactics and tired of having their own people murdered. We are winning! Haxton seems to have joined those who would gain political victory by our losing. It would be nice if Haxton actually reported the truth about this war. Reporting has to do with facts and a solid worldview though and…….

If anyone is using fear tactics, it is the “Drive-By Media” including our Local New York Times Editor. It is the media that feared Bush over our enemies when they gave Terrorists information about cell phones and the flow of monies into Terror Cells, and the ability to track them (which we have lost in part due to their fear). It is fear of violating Political Correctness that keeps the guilty minded, self-loathing Leftists in the Loser Party.

This is why the Left must not be allowed to have control over this nations defense. We will lose if they do, just like in Vietnam when we watched millions slaughtered by Pol Pot.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mike Gravel and Gay Militaries

I was listening to Rush and heard the audio of this U-Tube clip. I just love it. Mike Gravel seems to really believe the nonsense of what he is saying. If we all just trained to be gay, we would have a better fighting military like the Spartans.

Fighting for freedom or liberty or country is not why men fight. No, military men fight for their lovers in the foxholes! This is just too much. I wonder if Mad TV will make fun of this?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Psalm 22 and the Victory of Christ

Based on a misunderstanding of Jesus at the cross Christians often conclude that God and Jesus departed ways (at least for a moment). Yet, every few years someone explains to me that God the Father and the Son were not actually separated, but instead are in perfect union in the work of salvation of the people of God to the Glory of God.

Cory Kitch has been revisiting this issue. We have discussed this before, but with more time to study he has come to a much tighter conclusion. His post below and his recent sermon are very good at demonstrating why there is a need to properly and rightly interpret Scripture.

His sermon may be listened to here. It is under 30 minutes. Enjoy!

God Forsaken of God. Who Can Understand That?

That's what Martin Luther thought anyway. I've puzzled a long while over the words of Christ in Matthew 27, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" This is why the necessity of Scripture in interpreting Scripture is so paramount. The Webster Dictionary definition of "forsaken" is "to renounce or turn away from" and the synonym listed is, "abandon." Somehow I never questioned the idea that God the Father "turned away from" the Son on the cross or that He abandoned the Son, unable to look upon the sin Christ took upon Himself.

Then I read Psalm 22. Christ's words on the cross are a direct quotation of the first line in Psalm 22; a psalm of lament and praise by David. But does that automatically mean that we have to apply the whole meaning of Psalm 22 to the cross? That depends. If you believe that Jesus was simply abusing the context of Psalm 22 out of His own despair then, no, we don't need to understand the rest of the Psalm. However, anyone who takes the time to look at the Psalm will see that Christ is actively fulfilling the whole meaning of the Psalm. Just look at how many verses correspond to Christ's experience on the cross aside from the first verse...

Psalm 22:7, "All who see me mock me; they hurl insults at me, shaking their heads: 'He trusts in the Lord, let the Lord rescue Him. Let Him deliver Him, since he delights in Him.'"

Matthew 27 "39, And those who passed by blasphemed Him, shaking their heads." 42,"He saved others, but He can't save Himself." 43, "He trusts God, let God deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'"

Psalm 22:18
“They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

Matt. 27:35; John 19:23,24
“Then they crucified Him, and divided his garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet...”

Then of course there's verse 16 of Psalm 22, "They have pierced my hands and my feet."
Both John and Matthew saw this passage as prophetic of Christ on the cross. But what about the rest? Is there really a precedent for attributing anything in this Psalm to Christ, beyond the portions that refer to His suffering? The author of Hebrews would certainly seem to point us in that direction.

Hebrews 2:12-17"I will declare your name to my brothers, in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.
'I will put my trust in him.'
And again he says,
'Here I am, and the children God has given me.'
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”

So, a passage about how, through suffering, Christ became the perfect means of atonement for sin, applies Psalm 22 to Christ yet again. Only this time the connotation is victory and accomplishment through suffering. What does the rest of Psalm 22 talk about then? Beyond the suffering parts that is.

Psalm 22:22-31“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the Lord praise Him. All you descendants of Jacob honor Him! Revere him all you descendants of Israel.
For He has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from Him but has listened to His cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The Poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise Him – may your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him for dominion belongs to the Lord and He rules over the nations.
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before Him – those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve Him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn – for He has done it.

Suddenly we have to wonder if Christ and David for that matter would agree that God had forsaken them in the Webster sense, that is, that he had abandoned them. An interesting aspect of all the times God "forsakes" is that it never has the connotation of strict abandonment. For God to forsake something is to poor his wrath upon it.

Psalm 89:46, "How long O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?"

Psalm 22 agrees with the rest of Scripture in painting the picture of the Messiah, victorious in suffering, faithful to His Heavenly Father, having accomplished a perfect atonement for sin. Christ cried out in a loud voice, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" - because He wanted us to see that victory, that accomplishment, that faithfulness so that we would look at all the other things we think might save us or make us secure and turn to Him in faith.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Horn Creek Vacation

Another great year at Horn Creek! Here are a few pictures. I am kind of bummed I didn't get any of the water slide. That is always fun even with all of the minor injuries. :-)

The second night we had the usual log pillow fight. Here Steven gets the best of me.

Rachel also seemed to have improved her Jedi Knight abilities.

We also spent a day Buckskin Joe's. I thought this place would be really corny, but we spent the whole day having fun. The cowboy shootouts were very entertaining.

At the end of the day we watched a "Live Hanging" that occurs daily.

Rachel climbed the Rock Wall so many times I almost had to take out a loan to pay for them. ;-)

Steven played a lot of bowling. I'm not sure if this is a Michael Jordon thing?

Jacob loved walking around the huge gym.

Jacob gets the Big Cutie Award?

Mommy and daughter ride the beasts.

Last night at camp.

The man on the left was our fantastic speaker, Ron Blue. He is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. The man on the right is his son-in-law, a Reformed Baptist. How's that for unity! ;-)

The couple in the middle are missionaries to the Ukraine. What a blessing they are.

It was a great week of fun and activities. I hardly read anything I brought. I thought I'd close this post with a couple of mountain shots. This first one has a cloud at the peak of Horn Peak.

God has truly blessed us.

Free Will For Who?

Here are excellent examples of presentations of the Gospel from someone who believes in man's free-will verses from someone who believes in God's free-will. To put it another way, one man believes anyone may exercise saving faith and the other believes faith is the gift of God.

Tonight I hope to load up some pictures from Horn Creek.