Your Very Life

Living where Life is

Month: June 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Top 10 Quotes from Dissenting Judges

imgresTaken from Friday’s landmark ruling/bombshell dropped by the Supreme Court. Well worth reading. These are real statements that call believers to think carefully.

These were compiled by Trevin Wax, and published on his blog, Kingdom People, on June 26.

1. “Just who do we think we are?”

The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment… The Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are? – Chief Justice John Roberts

2. “The majority’s reasoning applies with equal force to plural marriage.”

It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage. If “[t]here is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices,” why would there be any less dignity in the bond between three people who, in exercising their autonomy, seek to make the profound choice to marry? If a same-sex couple has the constitutional right to marry because their children would otherwise “suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser,” why wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to a family of three or more persons raising children? If not having the opportunity to marry “serves to disrespect and subordinate” gay and lesbian couples, why wouldn’t the same “imposition of this disability,” serve to disrespect and subordinate people who find fulfillment in polyamorous relationships? – Chief Justice John Roberts

3. “To blind yourself to history is both prideful and unwise.”

The Court today not only overlooks our country’s entire history and tradition but actively repudiates it, preferring to live only in the heady days of the here and now. I agree with the majority that the “nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times.” As petitioners put it, “times can blind.” But to blind yourself to history is both prideful and unwise. – Chief Justice John Roberts

4. “People of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.”

The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses. Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples… Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today. – Chief Justice John Roberts

5. “The majority feels compelled to sully those on the other side of the debate.”

Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of today’s decision is the extent to which the majority feels compelled to sully those on the other side of the debate. The majority offers a cursory assurance that it does not intend to disparage people who, as a matter of conscience, cannot accept samesex marriage. That disclaimer is hard to square with the very next sentence, in which the majority explains that “the necessary consequence” of laws codifying the traditional definition of marriage is to “demea[n] or stigmatiz[e]” same-sex couples… – Chief Justice John Roberts

6. “Everyone who does not share the majority’s ‘better informed understanding’ as bigoted.”

“It is one thing for the majority to conclude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something  else to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s ‘better informed understanding’ as bigoted.” – Chief Justice John Roberts

7. “What really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial putsch.”

But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch. The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003. They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since… These Justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry. And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution. – Justice Scalia

8. “Potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.”

Religious liberty is about more than just the protection for “religious organizations and persons . . . as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” Religious liberty is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally, and the scope of that liberty is directly correlated to the civil restraints placed upon religious practice… Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty. – Justice Thomas

9. “This decision will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.”

Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage. The decision will also have other important consequences. It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent. – Justice Alito

10. “The majority facilitates the marginalization of many Americans who have traditional ideas.”

I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools… By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas. Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds. – Justice Alito

Charleston: Beyond Sympathy into Solidarity

imgres-1[Editor’s Note: I received the following note from Claude Alexander who serves on the boards of Christianity Today, Gordon Conwell, and Wycliffe. He pastors The Park Church in Charlotte. He’s a godly leader and he’s sharing his heart with me… and many. This is well worth us reading and digesting, as we continue to grieve the Charleston Nine, and continue to pray for God’s healing, and continue? (begin?) to see where He needs to change me.]

BEYOND SYMPATHY AND INTO SOLIDARITY

Bishop Claude Alexander, June 26, 2015

Senior Pastor of The Park Church, Charlotte

We do not choose our moments. Moments choose us.

They place before us the question of whether or not we will rise to their occasion. The tragic killings of the Charleston 9 presents yet another moment in the history of our nation where we’ve been chosen. The question is whether or not we will rise to it.

***

Will the church rise to the occasion and call racism what it really is: sin. The denial of essential personhood and the frustration of the will to belong on the basis of one’s race is an affront to the creative intention of God. The church must be heard unequivocally calling it what it is; sin.

In fact, it is America’s original sin.

It is etched within the initial fabric of America. The adoption of the Constitution by the colonies was predicated upon the acceptance of African slaves as 3/5 human. This served as the psychological justification for building an economy upon the enslavement of a people by way of race. Banks made profit off of loans made to slaveholders to purchase slaves. Insurance companies profited from policies underwritten to insure the slaves. Investments, in terms of stocks, were tied to the valuation of slaves.

Key to the insuring its success was a church which wrongfully used the scriptures to reinforce the aberrant view of Africans and law enforcement. The sheriff and the police chief were critical to the sustained success of slavery and later to Jim Crow. We can never forget Bull Connor unleashing dogs in Birmingham or Big Jim Clark charge against the marchers in Selma at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

While it is true that we have made progress in the form of legislation that has removed certain legal barriers, we have yet to dismantle the psychological assumptions that undergird racism. It’s residue continues. Like the Apostle Paul speaks in Romans, it is present on every hand. It is found not simply in what is done, but in what is not done, what is omitted, what is ignored, etc.

***

The sobering and sad reality for me and other persons of color is that before people know that I am on the boards of Wycliffe, Gordon- Conwell, and Christianity Today, before they discover that I am a pastor, they see me as a Black male and make judgments solely upon that. Every so often, I am reminded painfully of that fact.

While visiting the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida a White gentleman in his 60’s approached me and asked me where a certain room was. I told him politely that I did not know, to which he replied, “What do you mean you don’t know? You work here don’t you?” At which point I had to take 5 seconds before responding to say that like him I was a guest.

Even more recently, while sitting at the pool of another hotel, I watched a hotel attendant speak to every person who happened to be white on my row and then turn her head the other way when approaching me and not speak.

The residue of race is found in something so innocent as the recent preview of the upcoming Peanuts movie trailer in which every character is mentioned by name except Franklin, the one and only black character in the Peanuts gallery.

***

Will the church rise to the occasion and call America to repentance?

Will the church rise up and move beyond sympathy and into solidarity?

Solidarity causes one not simply to look as an observer, but to enter as a participant and agent of change. Solidarity is what caused White men and women along with Jews to travel southward during the summer of 1964 for Freedom Summer. Solidarity is what caused many to converge on Selma and march to Montgomery to place pressure for the Voting Rights Act.

Solidarity is what causes one to be willing to take risky action. It promotes sacrifice, the giving up of oneself for the benefit, promotion of another. Solidarity is what distinguishes the Samaritan from the others in Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable. He ignores the excuses that he could rightfully use. It’s not my problem. I’m forbidden by law. I’ll lose my status. I don’t have the time. It wasn’t on my agenda. The victim is not one of my people. He moves past all of that. He enters into what seems to be a dead situation. Unlike the Priest and Levite, whose sympathetic looks from a distance, causes them to conclude the man to be dead and cross the street, the Samaritan comes close enough to see what can’t be perceived at a distance.

Solidarity requires proximity to see what can’t be seen at a distance. It is entering into the space of the other to correctly and properly identify. The Samaritan’s proximity enables him to recognize the faint signs of life. He takes upon himself the responsibility of the victim’s care. He commits himself to the long term restoration.

***

Christ exemplified this by His coming in solidarity with humanity. He comes as Immanuel (God with us). He voluntarily takes responsibility for our reconciliation and redemption. He becomes sin for us as well as the sacrifice for our sin.

As Christ-followers, we are confronted with a moment. May God give us the power to move from sympathy to solidarity,

Gratefully, Claude

8 Thoughts on the Gay Marriage Ruling

imgresThe Supreme Court published their ruling this morning, by a 5-4 vote, that there is a constitutional right to gay marriage.

This saddens me.  And, it calls to me as a follower of Christ. Let me offer several observations and insights:

First of all, though what I’m about to write is against majority public opinion, I don’t believe that God sanctions homosexual activity. This needs to be said, because in all the pictures of people rejoicing in their newly bestowed sense of dignity, the inner crux of the issue really is one of sin in God’s eyes. I have written before about this; you can read “5 statements” about this whole question here or about “Jesus and homosexuality” here.

Two, while Scripture teaches that homosexuality is a sin, I do not mean to communicate that people who identify as homosexual (or transgender, etc.) are “sinners” in any way other than what I also am. I am a sinner who always (left on my own) tends towards my own selfishness and pride. That God’s Word calls me a sinner is extremely clear to me (and to all my family and friends who have to watch me fall short of God’s glory again and again). Thankfully, Scripture teaches us what sin is, and that none of us measures up to his goodness. Which is why Christ really is our only hope!

Three, since Christ is our only hope, the God-honoring posture toward sin is not celebrating it, but confessing it and renouncing it, that Christ might forgive it and cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). This is the universal call of the gospel: every person needs to face this and embrace this!

Four, the part that saddens me is that today’s ruling is another example of the structures of our society calling good what God has called bad. This is not the first, this will not be the last, but that doesn’t mean we don’t grieve. It will encourage people to move toward sin as a lifestyle. …and none of us need any encouragement in that; we tend there naturally.

Five, the political landscape has changed… sort of. On the one hand, Gay Marriage was already legal in 37 states; The Supreme Court ruling changes it for the last 13. Read here for more on how those 13 +37 arrived at their respective statuses; it’s a different story than the media portrays.  But, on the other hand, as we’ve said, there is a weakening of the 3500 year-old Judeo-Christian ethic that has been the basic framework of this country’s freedoms and prosperity. The political landscape has changed today and will change tomorrow because of this, and there are “unknown unknowns” that will follow. Every step away from home means a longer journey back.

Six, as believers, we should not expect a “journey back”. If once we could see in most of the structures of society an affirmation of Judeo-Christian principles (and thus, we could live “within the culture”), we can no longer. And, now we increasingly live “outside of the mainstream culture.” In essence, we are in Exile. God’s people have been here before, and can thrive “in Babylon”. But, not if we think we are in “Jerusalem.”  Read here for more on this topic from Steve McAlpine; an excellent article.

Seven, Jeremiah writes to the Jewish Exiles in Babylon: “Build houses, plant gardens, have children, and seek the welfare of that place” (Jer 29). In other words, live life for the sake of the city/country God has placed you in. You don’t have to have all the laws going your way. Continue to do what is good and beautiful and helpful for all around you. For some that will include choosing public office, civil service, journalism/media and the academy as careers. GO FOR IT! Seek the welfare of the city by serving it publicly.

Eight, the day before I was born, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a constitutional right to an abortion, in Roe v. Wade.  This was disheartening, but also motivating. For believers, and for those who understand that life begins at conception, it impelled us to action. Across the land, Pregnancy Centers sprung up, and countless moms have been counseled and enriched by the birth of their children. Countless children have been born to a mom who has been introduced to Jesus and seen her heart change. Heart change comes at the local level. Laws don’t touch hearts.

Church: what local-level heart change can we keep praying for and working toward in the lives of our gay friends, coworkers and neighbors? God never writes anyone off, and we will not either. If we have the gospel — the dynamite of God to change lives — then we need to serve and love and value every person God has put in our “circle of relationships” and invite them into the glories of the Gospel.

So, we grieve for our country and countrymen. We pray and hope in God who never fails to gain glory, even through the vicissitudes of public policy.

Joseph & Jesus

imgresThink back to the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis: Given a multi-colored coat by his dad (sort of the symbol of Joseph’s story!); sold by his brothers to slavery; accused by Potiphar’s wife; languishes in prison; raised to be the second in command of Egypt; saves his family from certain death; give his family a new home.

Many have noted similarities between Joseph and Jesus.  I was struck by them recently:

  • Especially Loved by his father
  • Betrayed by those close to him
  • Concerned to please God alone (with Potiphar’s wife)… like Jesus who said, “I only do the will of my Father.”
  • Unjustly accused, tried and convicted.
  • Served the punishment he didn’t deserve
  • Clung to his faith in God and God’s goodness, even when everything when against him.
  • After the suffering, was raised to glory (Joe as Prime Minister of Egypt, Jesus as Phil 2:6-11 & 1 Pet 1:11 say)
  • Ruled over all, and yet as “second in command”… kinda seems like the Son on the Throne, but the Father giving him the nations as his inheritance.
  • Saved God’s people – as the brothers came for the famine relief
  • Showed mercy and grace to the undeserving – forgiving his brothers
  • Gave God’s people a new home – Goshen & lush places for Jacob’s family… The New Heavens and New Earth for Christ’s redeemed.
  • Protected and guarded his people – Joe by virtue of the fact that he was Prime Minister, Jesus by virtue of the fact that we are his body!
  • Guaranteed the lasting status of his brothers – even after Jacob died and they got nervous (Gen 50)… we are inheritors in God’s family because of Christ, and sealed in the Holy Spirit, and will never be unadopted, disinherited or unsealed.

It seems like God put in Joseph’s life and times a pattern of the Messiah to come. Joseph’s life really happened and reads like it. But as you consider it through the lens of Jesus’ life, you see these similarities and echoes, and they are striking. Maybe God knows how to plan things even better than we imagine.

That makes me wonder: How much of my life might contain echoes or reflections of the Master? Hmmm…

Time to retire a “Soldier”

stars-and-bars-john-blackAs a Canadian by birth, the “Stars and Bars” only ever meant for me “The Dukes of Hazzard” TV show. As I grew up, I realized that there was a larger story behind it. Once I moved to the South, I began to meet friends and neighbors for whom the Confederate Flag was a symbol of freedom and other friends and neighbors for whom it was a symbol of tyranny. It was a little confusing.

With the Emmanuel AME shooting one week ago today, and with the forgiving response of that congregation, and with the steps taken by SC government (with others following suit), I thought I’d pass along the blog post of a very good Southern Baptist thinker, Russell Moore. His first paragraphs reads:

This week the nation reels over the murder of praying Christians in an historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. At the same time, one of the issues hurting many is the Confederate Battle Flag flying at full-mast from the South Carolina Capitol grounds even in the aftermath of this racist act of violence on innocent people. This raises the question of what we as Christians ought to think about the Confederate Battle Flag, given the fact that many of us are from the South.

I’d encourage you to read the whole thing. You can do so here. It’s worth it.

And, I’d encourage any of you from the South, who are white and believers in Christ, to reconsider public displays of this flag. Everyone else around the world sees it as a symbol of “support for chattel slavery”. For you obviously there’s more than that but in the name of the Gospel’s call to love neighbor, why not put away any rights you have to express yourself freely and say, “the time is now to retire this symbol.”  As my friend from Mississippi wrote on her Facebook feed: “I care NOTHING about a flag, confederate or otherwise. I care about people.”

How did the doctrine of the Trinity develop?

images-1How did we come to believe that Jesus, the Spirit are God along with God the Father? Did the early church make it up? If so, why? The Word “trinity” is not in Scripture; why believe it?  Why don’t Jews believe it? These are great questions. There are 4 parts to the answer.

Part A: Old Testament Teaching: It’s true that Jews have always had a monotheistic faith… on paper. All of Scripture teaches and proclaims that there is only one God. For example:

  • Deut. 6:4: The Shema – “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” This is the most foundational Jewish prayer—repeated countless times throughout life.
  • The 1st Commandment: You shall have no other Gods before me.
  • Isa 46:9-10: “I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me.”

We could list 50 more passages. Scripture is clear: there is only one God.

Part B: Jewish Practice: When in the practice of their religion did the Jews become fierce about their monotheism?

  • Abraham came from a polytheistic background, 1800BC
  • The Exodus Generation worshiped a Golden Calf (just moments after God delivered them!)
  • All through Joshua and Judges the people worshipped foreign gods of the Canaanites. That’s why Joshua said, “as for me and myself, we will serve the Lord.”
  • The Kings… they all blew it: Solomon (971-931BC) himself worshipped all sorts of different gods, in addition to the One True God.
    • And, so Israel was ejected from the Land… EXILE
  • When God brought them back from Exile, they were chastened, humbled… and, from then on, fiercely monotheistic. (From 400s onward)

Never were the Jewish people more wedded to the truth that there is only one God than after the Exile.

Part C: Jesus Arrives into this staunchly monotheistic atmosphere.  He blows the doors off everyone’s conception of who God is. Why?

1) Because, on the one hand: He talks to God, prays to God, refers to God…  so clearly he is distinct from God.

2) But, just as clearly he believes he is God–

  • He says, “I and the Father are one.” Jn 10:30
  • He forgives sins – Mt 9
  • He says he will judge the world – Mt 25
  • He receives worship – John 20:28-29

There is no doubt that he believes he is God. He equates himself to God.

3) And, just as clearly his actions are vindicated by God, who gives his stamp of approval on Jesus…

  • Jesus heals not by praying, but simple by speaking or willing it done
  • He commands nature – multiplies bread & fish, calms storms, walks on water — again not by praying, but simply in and of himself.

As the blind man says to the Pharisees: “If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything… we know that God doesn’t listen to sinners.”

4) The greatest vindication of Jesus is his death and resurrection:  Rom 1:4 says that Jesus was “declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.”

Part D: The Holy Spirit / Apostles / Church Fathers: Now the apostles/early church have to weave together these two strands:

  • OT Scripture clearly reveals there IS only one God.
  • Jesus’ life/actions/death/resurrection unavoidably declare that HE is God… yet God is also in heaven.

What are they going to do?

  • Well, think of the 40 days after Jesus was raised: he walked with them on earth and opened their mind to understand the Scriptures (Lk 24:45).
  • And, then think of the pouring out of the Spirit and the inspiration of the Spirit to write the NT. Jn 16

God reveals to them (through Jesus’ instruction and HS inspiration) that God is One and God is Three… One God and 3 distinct persons. He blows their minds and gives them a new framework, never before dreamed of!  “The Trinity belongs to the inner life of God, and can be known only by those who share that life.” (Gerald Bray, The Doctrine of God, p.119)

In fact, the heresies of the first 300 years of the Church mostly revolve around the question of the ID of Jesus:  “Is he eternal God? IF SO, is God still in heaven while Jesus is on earth? IF SO, what does this mean for our 2000 year conception of monotheism?”  The Trinity is the only way through this.

The councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus all fully and finally deal with the heresies, and define the bounds of RIGHT THINKING about God:

In Augustine’s 7 simple statements:

The Father is God; The Son is God; The HS is God;

The Father is not the Son; The Son is not the HS; The HS is not the Father

There is one God.

 

The Trinity, Augustine and St Patrick’s bad analogies

trinityknot-e1354315715207Scripture never uses the word “trinity”, but it breathes the truth of it.

All the way through the pages of Scripture, God is always portrayed as ONE.  Never are there multiple gods in the heavens.  However, when Jesus arrived on the scene, he started doing things that we reserved for God alone (like forgiving sins and accepting worship, etc.). But he also prayed to God in heaven, and called him Father. He did “God things” but he also called out to God. Clearly he believed himself to be God, even while he distinguished himself from his father in heaven.

Further, the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, sent from the Father and the Son (Jn 14:26, 15:26, 16:7). He is always referred to with a personal pronoun (“he”), and he guides us, convicts us, guards us, and can be grieved & quenched. He is the “promised Holy Spirit” (Eph 1:13), and he was promised in Ezekiel as “My Spirit” (Ezek 36:27, 27:14, 39:29). Imagine: part of God himself is living inside of us.  But, not simply “part of God”…as if he can be divided.  Rather, God the Holy Spirit is living in us!

Scripture unfolds a unique mystery

That God is one, but there is more of God than we could imagine. There are three persons inside what it means to be God. This blows our mind, and frankly, is a great sign-post to the fact that humans haven’t made God up. Think about it: all the other ways of conceiving of the divine are…

(a) One-god-one-person: think Judaism or Islam. Monotheistic, yes, but also unitary (i.e., only one person).

(b) many gods: polytheism like the Ancient Near Easter Religions, like Hinduism, or even like Mormonism which says there is only one god over our universe, but there are millions of universes each with its own god.

(c ) no gods: atheism like secular humanism or post-modernism (which says there is no true truth, which ultimately means there is no real Truth-Teller, aka “God”).

Christianity is unique in that it speaks of God not as many, but as one.  Even while it speaks of the One God with 3 different persons. How do we figure this all out?

Augustine clears the way

1600 years ago, Augustine worked to help simple folks like us start to grasp how there is one God, and yet three persons.  He formulated 7 statements about the Trinity:

1. The Father is God

2. The Son is God

3. The Holy Spirit is God

4. The Father is not the Son

5. The Son is not the Holy Spirit

6. The Holy Spirit is not the Father

7. There is one God.

This is very clearly monotheistic (one God). But we also clearly see a distinction in the persons within the Godhead.

Or, you can watch St Patrick attempt to explain the Trinity to some simple Irish peasants here.

In the next blog post, we’ll discover how Christians went from the strict monotheism of the Old Testament to the Trinitarianism that we affirm.

3 Reasons Scripture is God’s Word

imagesHas God communicated with us in Scripture… or have humans found a way to get to him?

Some people say that the Bible is not “inspired by God”, i.e., not written by him through various people.  They say that folks wrote things down that engender good living, and help us strive beyond ourselves, and give us a shared history (whether real or made up) so that the “community of the faithful” would have a governing document. In essence, they see the Bible as human effort to interpret what God is communicating.

We say that the Bible is indeed inspired by God — given by God through the minds/wills of the human authors (Moses, David, Isaiah, Paul, etc.).  The Holy Spirit worked in such a way as to bring about the will of God in the writings of these men so that the final product of their writings is counted as the very words of God. God communicated with us.  (E.g., 2 Timothy 3:16, 1 Corinthians 2:10-13, Jeremiah 1:1-5 & 9-10, Ex 19:3-6 & 20:1ff… clearly Scripture self-consciously claims to be God’s voice!)

Here are 3 reasons why (logically speaking) it makes way more sense to consider Scripture as God’s Self-revelation, than as humanity’s attempt to seek out God:

(1) God is wholly Other than creation, utterly separate from the cosmos he’s created. We can’t even visit the Sun… what makes us think we can find God on our own?  Only God can bridge the gap. So he revealed himself in Scripture.

(2) Our Sin has eclipsed God, and thrown up a huge barrier of filth and transgressions that block the way to God.  Only God can remove the giant roadblock of our sins. So he revealed himself (and his rescue plan, Jesus) in Scripture.

(3) We are God’s enemies, each of us going his own way, there is none who seek God (Rom 5:10, Isa 53:6, Rom 3:11, respectively). Humanity is in rebellion against this God who created us. Only God can woo our hearts back to him. So he revealed himself in Scripture.

The fact that God revealed himself is our greatest hope for salvation: He took the initiative to let us know his Character, Purposes and Ways… which include the Way of Rescue and Redemption through Christ. Scripture is the Revelation of a Self-revealing God. This brings great comfort and hope.

Sobering Quote

Cardinal-Francis-George-5-700x439A sobering quote about the perceived future of our society and culture, based on his interactions with it.

From Cardinal Francis George of Chicago who died in April of cancer.  (quoted in World magazine, May 16, 2015)

“It is likely that I will die in my bed.

My successor will die in prison.

His successor will die executed in the public square.

His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

Sobering, no? But, also hope-filled and taking the long-term view: yes, things may yet get very tough. BUT, God’s Word is not chained, and God’s people will outlast every other society, government, state, country or organization. And, even if we have to give our lives (like our brothers and sisters in ISIS lands, in China, Iran, North Korea, Nigeria) we give them in hope that those in darkness who are enduring the “ruined society” may yet meet Christ and watch Jesus rebuild civilization through his newly redeemed people.

The days may yet get dark in this country. The gospel of Jesus Christ will always shine brightly!

Why did God gives us the Bible?

scripture-readingGod gave us His Word so that he could give us His World.

2 Timothy 3:15 says that the “Sacred Writings are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus…” What we have in Scripture is none other than the story of how God would rescue us, and whom he would do it through! It all centers on his Son.

Now that we are in Christ, we are co-heirs with Christ of the whole universe.  We are “raised with Christ, seated with Christ” (Eph 2:5)… where is he seated? On the Throne of heaven, reigning over the world.  He is giving His Son the whole world (“Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,” Ps 2:8). Daniel 7 says the same thing: The Son of Man is given a forever and universal Kingdom that will not pass away (Dan 7:14). Daniel 7:27 promises the same things (a forever and universal kingdom) will be given to the “Saints of the Most High”. How can God give to his Son and his Saints the same thing?

Because Scripture says that we are united to Christ, we are in Christ, and Christ is in us. Col 1:27 says “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  John 15 talks of Jesus as the Vine and we as the Branches, and mutual abiding: “If you abide in me and my words abide in you…”

Scripture is the link between all that God is accomplishing in the world (the story of salvation), and how you and I can be in on it. As we read, hear, memorize, study, ponder Scripture… and then as we obey it and surrender to it… God (through Scripture!) writes us into the story of salvation.  When we discover Christ and surrender to him, God gives us Christ, and all the blessings that come with him.

In other words, God gives us His Word so he can give us his World.  That’s a pretty generous and gracious God!

Older posts

© 2017 Your Very Life

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑