Showing posts from 2010

Is Jesus God?

Is Jesus God? And if so, to whom is Jesus praying when the Bible speaks of him praying? Is he praying to himself? To the first question, “Is Jesus God,” I answer, “Yes, he is.” But having said this, I must be careful to explain exactly what I mean. When we say that Jesus is God, we are talking about his nature, not his identity. In other words, we are not saying Jesus is the Father. Rather, we are saying that with respect to his nature, Jesus is what the Father is . Sometimes when we use the word God we specifically mean God the Father . When we speak about praying to God, for instance, we are identifying the one to whom we are praying. But sometimes we use the word God in a different way. For instance, when we say Jesus is God, we are saying he is God as opposed to human or angelic . We’re talking about his nature . We are talking about what he is. The Scriptures are very plain on this point. John makes it quite clear when he says at the very beginning of his Gospel, “In the beg

Is the Devil real?

I’ve heard it said that the devil doesn’t really exist and that whenever the Bible mentions the devil it is simply a personification of evil. What do you think? Many people have questioned whether or not it’s possible in this day and age to believe in a personal devil. Many otherwise sincere Christians, who have been affected far more than they should by the Enlightenment, have suggested that “Satan” or “the devil” is simply a personification of evil; that there is no real personal being, no real malevolent spirit, known as Satan. They think this is just the Bible’s way of speaking about evil to a pre-scientific and superstitious people. “ Now , of course,” they say, “we know better. Now we’re scientific. We’re rational. We now know that this is just a figure of speech.” We know nothing of the sort . In fact, just the opposite is true. The devil is mentioned often in such a way and in such contexts that lead us to exactly the opposite conclusion. He is a very real being, spiritual

On Jesus' Genealogy

In Matthew it says that Jesus’ father was Joseph, and in Luke it says that his father was Eli. How can this be? The genealogy of Christ is given by both Matthew (1:1-17) and Luke (3:23-38). There are some important differences between them. In Matthew, the genealogy runs from Abraham forward to Jesus, while in Luke it runs from Jesus backward to Adam. From Abraham to David, the two genealogies agree. But from David, Matthew traces Jesus’ descent from Solomon, while Luke traces it from Nathan. So here is our first question:  How can Jesus be descended from two different sons of David? But more importantly, how can Joseph be the son of Jacob as Matthew asserts, and also the son of Eli as recorded by Luke? Several theories have been advanced to reconcile this apparent discrepancy, but the two most probable ones are as follows: Some have suggested that Matthew gives Joseph’s genealogy, while Luke gives Mary’s. In this case, Eli (Joseph’s father according to Luke), was really Mary’s f

Why was Jesus Baptized?

Why was Jesus baptized? The Bible says that John preached a baptism of repentance, but Jesus wasn’t a sinner who needed to repent. So why was he baptized? It’s interesting that John wondered about this himself. So we’re in good company if we wonder why it should be that Jesus came to him for baptism. Scripture tells us that when Jesus came to be baptized, “John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by you , and do you come to me ?’” (Matt. 3:14). John was aware that he himself was a sinner and needed cleansing. He was also aware that Jesus was not a sinner in need of repentance. But Jesus didn’t come to John and receive baptism for the purpose of confessing his sins and seeking forgiveness. His baptism served a different purpose. He hinted at this when he said, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). This fulfilling all righteousness has to do with Jesus fulfilling the Law and the Prophets. In the Sermon on

From our dear friend, Rev. Steve Schlissel

Ministering in Corinth, NY An intro to the texture of ministry in NYC by Steve Schlissel The report on the radio said a husband in Coney Island became enraged when he found his wife with another man. He stabbed his wife, his two daughters, seven and three years of age, then stabbed himself and set his apartment on fire, further injuring himself. No one died, all were hospitalized in stable condition. I wondered if I would meet any of them on my rounds as a volunteer Protestant chaplain at the local municipal hospital. Later that week, I did. As I left off speaking with a patient in a ward I turned toward the Chaplain whom I assist and found him speaking in Spanish with a Black female patient who appeared to be in her early thirties. The woman’s head was bandaged. Her sister, a portly and pretty woman, was visiting her. The sister did most of the talking. My grammar school Spanish helped me to keep up with much of the conversation. She said the children were on the ninth floor of the

A solution to Tiger's golfing woes

The LPGA just voted  to allow "transgender women" to play on the tour. As I read the story, it occurred to me that this may be the solution to Tiger Wood's golfing woes. Since returning from his short, self-imposed exile from the PGA, he's been having difficulty regaining his pre-scandal form. Perhaps he can undergo "gender reassignment" surgery and compete as a woman. I'm sure in the interests of egalitarianism no one would complain that he...uh, she ( it? ) would have an unfair advantage. It's just this sort of thing that demonstrates the absurdity of rebellion against God. When we fail to acknowledge him, we lose touch with reality and seek to create an alternate reality--an enterprise which is inevitably doomed to failure. How ironic is it that the man/woman/thing's name  is Lana Lawless ? "Sin is lawlessness" (1 Jn. 3:4).

The Pilgrims' cautionary tale

Kate Zernike, writing for the New York Times, finds fault  with Tea Partiers for their "interpretation" of the Pilgrims' early ecomonic experiment in socialism. The Pilgrims were required by the terms of their agreement with the London Company, which financed the colony, to hold all things in common. As you can imagine this created all kinds of disincentives to work. Eventually, William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony, decided to parcel out the land for each family to farm, with each family benefitting according to the labor they put into it. The result was a stunning increase in production. (Should we be surprised?) This little experiment in collectivist policy has served as a cautionary tale for years among conservative and libertarian thinkers. Ms. Zernike, however, objects. She refers to it as "one common telling" of the story of the Pilgrims. Perhaps it's a common telling of the story because this is the story that no less an authority tha

My kingdom is not of this world

Why are so many Christians today so concerned about politics and trying to reform government when Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:36). Why are so many Christians concerned about politics? Because it matters to God, and it should matter to us as well, whether the righteous or the wicked are in power. And it will matter to us if we have any regard for the glory of God and any love for our fellow man. Solomon says in Proverbs 29:2, When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan. The people groan under the rule of the wicked because it is a burden to be governed by them. The bad example of their private lives and the folly and injustice of their rule are hard to bear. We should be concerned about politics—about government—because government has to do with the ethics of a nation. The ethics of a nation are reflected in its laws and in the faithful administration of the laws. In the same way that the Lord blesses or

What About Baptism for the Dead?

Please explain the baptism for the dead that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15:29. Paul speaks of baptism “for the dead” in a context in which he is defending the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead at the last day. Some of the Corinthians apparently had denied that there would be such a resurrection, as we see from verse 12. Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Cor. 15:12) This skepticism concerning the resurrection also appeared while Paul was preaching in Athens in Acts 17. Scripture says that some of his hearers mocked him when he mentioned the resurrection of the dead (Acts 17:32). This skepticism apparently infected some in the church at Corinth as well. And then he proceeds to defend the resurrection against those who for whatever reason denied it. One of the points that he brings up in defense of the resurrection is the practice of baptism on behalf of the dead. What do people mea

And they say one culture is as good as another

Many Afghan women suffer a living hell .

On the Power and Glory of Christ

The following is from the pen of St. Athanasius (ca. 293-373), the great champion and defender of the deity of Christ at the Council of Nicaea. It's from his work entitled De Incarnatione Verbi Dei ( On the Incarnation of the Word of God ). In the following passage, he speaks of the power of Christ over all the forces of evil. When did people begin to abandon the worship of idols, unless it were since the very Word of God came among men? When have oracles ceased and become void of meaning, among the Greeks and everywhere, except since the Saviour has revealed Himself on earth? When did those whom the poets call gods and heroes begin to adjudged as mere morals, except when the Lord took the spoils of death and preserved incorruptible the body He had taken, raising it from among the dead? Or when did the deceitfulness and madness of daemons fall under contempt, save when the Word, the Power of God, the Master of all these as well, condescended on account of the weakness of mankind

Can we really know that we have been born again?

Can we really know that we have been born again? And if so, how do we know? The answer is yes, we can know that we have been born again, or born from above, (as the passage might be better translated). In his first letter, the apostle John gives us several marks or effects of the new birth by which it can be known. Let’s look at what he has to say. The first mark of being born from above is found in 1 John 2:29, “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of God.” John points this out because there are many who, as Paul says, “profess to know God, but by their deeds deny him” (Tit. 1:16). They say that they are Christians, but they practice unrighteousness. John says, “No, those who have been born of God practice righteousness.” That is, their lives may be characterized by this. They live in obedience to God’s commands. The second mark is closely related to this. It is found in 1 John 3:9, “No one born of God make

Off by 38 years

What a difference a couple of years make. After the 2008 election cycle the incredibly annoying James it's-a-wonder-anyone-ever-listens-to-him Carville predicted the democrats would rule for the next forty years. Every four years Americans hold a presidential election. Somebody wins and somebody loses. That's life. But 2008 was an anomaly. The election of President Barack Obama is about something far bigger than four or even eight years in the White House. Since 2004, Americans have been witnessing and participating in the emergence of a Democratic majority that will last not four but forty years. He was off by 38 years.

Marching Orders

Princeton theologian A. A. Hodge (1823-1886), in his Evangelical Theology writes, The kingdom of God on earth is not confined to the mere ecclesiastical sphere, but aims at absolute universality, and extends its supreme reign over every department of human life. It follows that it is the duty of every loyal subject to endeavour to bring all human society, social and political, as well as ecclesiastical, into obedience to its law of righteousness... It is our duty, as far as lies in our power, immediately to organize human society and all its institutions and organs upon a distinctively Christian basis. Indifference or impartiality here between the law of the kingdom and the law of the world, or of its prince, the devil, is utter treason to the King of Righteousness. The Bible, the great statute-book of the kingdom, explicitly lays down principles which, when candidly applied, will regulate the action of every human being in all relations. There can be no compromise. The King said, wi

It's OK to Leave the Plantation

Check out this two part interview with Mason Weaver about his new book It's OK to Leave the Plantation . Good stuff. Part 1 . Part 2 .

The Extremists are Coming!

This  Klavan on the Culture is classic.

What does it mean to be born again?

What does Jesus mean when he tells Nicodemus, “You must be born again”? What exactly is the new birth? To begin let me say that instead of “born again,” the original Greek might have been better translated “born from above.” “Unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God.” There is another very common Greek word that means “again” but it’s not the word used here. The word used here has the primary meaning of “from above,” or similarly “from the top,” and this is how it is translated in its every other occurrence in the Gospel of John (3:31; 19:11, 23). Not only in the Gospel of John, but in every other occurrence in the New Testament, the word most naturally means from above, or from the top. This seems to be how it should be understood in the passage, “Unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3). The coming down of Jesus from heaven is a prominent theme throughout the Gospel of John. No one has ascended into heaven except him who d

On Resolving Conflict

As Christians, how should we go about resolving conflict with a neighbor? The first thing you should do when someone does something to offend you is to go tell a bunch of other people about it. Or if it’s a really serious offense, you should punch him in the nose, right on the spot. Of course I’m teasing. This is what we might want to do; but not what we should do. What we should do is follow the Bible’s instructions. The Bible is a very practical book and gives us instructions about how to deal with offenses in a godly manner. The first option, of course, is simply to overlook the offense. Good sense makes one slow to anger,      and it is his glory to overlook an offense (Prov. 19:11) Jesus speaks of this also, when he says, You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:38-39). In other words, absorb the shoc

The gist of the argument

More than half of Thomas E. Woods' book, Nullification:  Resisting Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century , consists of historical documents explaining and defending the right of states to nullify unconstitutional acts of the federal government. One of these documents is "An Exposition of the Virginia Resolutions of 1798" written in 1833 by Judge Abel P. Upshur. He sums up the argument in five points: 1.  The Constitution of the United States is a Compact between the States, as such. 2.  The Government established by that Compact, possesses no power whatever, except what "the plain sense and intention" of that Compact gives to it. 3.  Every act done by that Governement, not plainly within the limits of its powers, is void. 4.  Each State has a right to say whether an act done by that Government is plainly within the limits of its powers or not. 5.  The States are not bound to submit to, but may resist, any act of that Government which it shall so decide t

A reflection on heroes

Some good words from my son, James. Heroes are not made in a moment, but often heroes are defined by a moment. Often a moment where all others abandon hope. Heroes are not born into greatness but often greatness follows them. Heroism is never thrust on someone, though often trying events are thrust on a hero. It is never events that create a hero, though it is often events that allow someone to be heroic. Heroes are always looking out for the good of others even when others are not looking out for them. Heroes are not arrogant or proud, though many will be proud of a hero. Not everyone is a hero, but everyone could be a hero. It's not every day you see or meet a hero, but many heroes are everyday heroes. A wise son makes a glad father (Prov. 15:20).

A dangerous compromise

In August the general presbytery of the Assemblies of God backed away from a commitment to uphold the Scriptural teaching of a recent six-day creation by issuing a wavering statement that reveals the denomination has made a dangerous compromise with the spirit of the age. The advance of scientific research, particularly in the last few centuries, has raised many questions about the interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation. In attempting to reconcile the Bible and the theories and conclusions of contemporary scientists, it should be remembered that the creation accounts do not give precise details as to how God went about His creative activity. The "lack of precise details" is no reason to reject what is clearly revealed. We should not be dogmatically  more precise than the creation accounts themselves (Gen. 1-2), but we most certainly shouldn't be less precise either. This is true of other portions of Scripture as well. Shall we say that because Scripture d

Benefits of reading the classics

There are a number of benefits to reading the classic works of antiquity. One is simply our natural delight in things beautiful--and there is something truly beautiful about a well-written work. Another is the fact that what passes for a classic work usually achieves that status not only on the merits of the writer as a writer, but on the merits of the writer as a thinker . Classic works deal with grand themes and timeless truths about human nature. As a result of this, for good or ill the works have served as a formative influence on the development of western thought. One simply doesn't understand the modern world as well as he should if he doesn't know how we got here. For the Christian, perhaps the greatest benefit of reading the ancient classics is the ability to "inhabit" the world of the Bible. Reading the classics helps us to experience the historical and cultural context in which God revealed himself to the prophets and apostles. I have had the opportuni

Go figure

Here is another example of the tortuous twisting of the Constitution:  Federal Judge George Caram Steeh ruled yesterday that Obama Care's requirement that everyone purchase health insurance passes Constitutional muster. Under what provision of the Constitution is this requirement justified? Why the "Commerce Clause," of course--one of three clauses, as Thomas Woods points out in his recent book, Nullification, which have been used by the federal government to justify all manner of unconstitutional tomfoolery. (The other two are the "General Welfare" clause and the "Necessary and Proper" clause). The Commerce Clause of the Constitution is found in Article I, Section 8:  "The Congress shall have Power To...regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." It is the part about regulating commerce "among the several States" that has been used to cause so much mischief. Woods explains t

Obama's Ideology

Dinesh D'Souza gives the best explanation I've ever heard of President Obama's ideology.

Let's hear it for the states!

You may have noticed that I have added a feature (below left) entitled “Now reading…” If you check it out you will see that I am currently reading Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century , by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. He’s an author for whom I have a growing appreciation. Last year I read his, Who Killed the Constitution , and the year before that his, Politically Incorrect Guide to American History . Good stuff all. The current book, published earlier this year, has the potential—if enough state officials read it ( and have the courage to take their responsibilities seriously )—to make a huge difference in the way the federal government and the states relate to each other by reducing the federal government’s power to its Constitutional limits. “Nullification begins with the axiomatic point that a federal law that violates the Constitution is no law at all. It is void and of no effect. Nullification simply pushes this uncontroversial point a step further: if a la

The Founding of Israel and Bible Prophecy

Do you think the formation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of prophecy? Yes and no. I really don’t mean to be evasive or waffling; it’s just that I’m not sure the question is capable of being answered without a number of important qualifications. Let me explain. On the one hand, I don’t believe the formation of the modern state of Israel was a fulfillment of prophecy in the sense that there is a particular passage or group of passages that specifically point to the events of 1948. Some prophecy teachers point to Jeremiah 16:14-15 as a passage that prophesies the formation of the state of Israel. The days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their

About as simple as it gets

Liberals like to talk about how complicated our economic woes are and often charge conservatives with offering simplistic solutions that are just unworkable. The fact of the matter is that most of economics has to do with understanding human nature and the motives for behavior. John Stossel makes it about as simple as it gets when it comes to taxes.

The Anguish of the Jews

I have just finished reading a book that was very painful to read, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism , by Edward H. Flannery. The book was painful to read, not only because it is a tale of terrible suffering endured on an unprecedented scale for so long a time, but also (and especially) because so much of that suffering was inflicted by the hands of Christians. Flannery, although a Roman Catholic priest whose own church figures prominently in the story, doesn’t shy away from exposing the instances in which the church was either complicit in the persecution of the Jews or the actual perpetrators of said persecution. While Flannery cites many examples of Christian leaders’ affection for, and defense of, the Jews, the sad fact of the matter is that the church as a whole has a terrible track record. And this in spite of what Paul says so clearly in his letter to the Romans. We are not to be arrogant toward the Jews, much less persecute them. Instead, we ar

End of life issues

What things should we consider when making decisions about end of life issues for ourselves and for our loved ones? This is an important question, and one that affects us all very deeply, seeing as how we are all going to die. More than this, we are all likely going to be called upon at some point in our lives to help make such decisions for others whom we love, whether an aging parent or a terminally ill spouse. It’s an issue which is greatly complicated by the advance of medical science. A hundred years ago the question was much simpler because there were not the artificial means that are available today to keep people alive. Now we have respirators and IV’s and feeding tubes and pacemakers and a plethora of other mechanisms that can cause organs to continue to function when in previous generations they would have ceased to do so on their own. This has had the effect of blurring the line between life and death, so that there is some question among medical and ethical experts as t