Monthly Blog Archives for
His Master's Voice
|Copyright © 2006, 2007 - All rights retained by author|
|Written by: C. W. Booth|
November 6, 2006
Sin City is Back!!!!
I was watching television earlier this week. I saw an advertisement that should shock and offend everyone, not Christians only. Essentially it shows a person who is intimated to have surreptitiously gone to Las Vegas. His wife suspects that his alibi of amnesia to account for his weeklong unexplained absence is a lie. She cannot prove it because, as the voiceover states, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
It bothers me that advertisements telling people that their sins will remain hidden and undiscovered if they commit them in Las Vegas is about as disgusting a public mass media campaign as I can imagine for a city of the United States to endorse.
On the other hand, it is refreshing that Vegas has dropped its pretense of being a "family friendly" vacation destination. The Vegas campaign is disgusting, but at least the city's true nature has displayed itself once again.
Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you." Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:11-16)
November 10, 2006
Is It ‘Born Once, Die Twice,’ or, …?
The old Christian cliché states: "Born once, die twice; born twice, die once." It is a cute expression, and may even be an aid in evangelism. Though, like many other clichés and doctrinal assumptions, it has some rough edges when tested against Scripture.
Life tells us that we are all born once, from our mothers' wombs, and so we have corporeal bodies with minds that function and appetites that tell us to feed our corporeal being. In other words, if we eat, breathe, and think, we can have confidence in the fact that once upon a time, we were born in the flesh (i.e. "I think, therefore I am").
Paul tells us that if we have been born once, we have also already died once. That is to say, our spirits have already died. For all have sinned, at which time we became enemies of God, and deserving of Hell. This is called by Paul, being dead in our sins even though our bodies continue to live (Ephesians 2:1, Romans 6:13). Therefore, everyone who has been born in the flesh has also died in the spirit once.
Note: Even if one were to say, "but our spirits were stillborn, dead even from our mothers' wombs," they must deal with the fact that anything that is now dead was alive before it died. Using the word "stillborn" changes nothing, for even an infant was alive at conception before the tragic circumstances of its death. And why is it that our spirits must be "born again" if our spirits never were born the first time? Whether our spirits died at birth, or died when we became accountable for committing our first sin, at one time after conception and before our physical births, our spirits were alive.
If you have followed the discussion to this point, for everyone who has ever breathed the air on this planet (except for Jesus), the score so far:
For everyone: Body alive = 1, Spirit dead = 1
If we repent to God, believe on Christ, and confess Him as Lord and Savior, our spirits are "born a second time from above," that is, we become born again (John 3:3).
The new score:
For Christians: Body born = 1, Spiritual death = 1, Spirit born (again) = 1
For unbelievers: Body born = 1, Spirit dead = 1
When our bodies finally expire (sorry, no extended warranties honored), then we enter into our final estate. At that time, the unsaved enter the final death, that is, Hell (Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 20:14, 21:8) while believers enter the final rest (Hebrews 3:11, 3:18, 4:3).
Body born = 1, Spiritual death = 1, Spirit born (again) = 1, Body dead = 1
Body born = 1, Spirit dead = 1, Body dead = 1, Final death (spirit) = 1
So in summary, the score stands:
So, to say, "Born once, die twice; born twice, die once," may not really be all that accurate. And yet, to say, "Born once, die thrice; born twice, die twice," really lacks poetic and emotional impact--kind of like being age seven and opening socks on Christmas Day.
So, I guess we will have to stick with "Born once, die twice; born twice, die once," but only under protest.
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:10-11)
November 15, 2006
First, an apology. If you have come to expect nothing but theological discussions on this blog, or if you have assumed I am a humorless-emotionless droid, then I apologize. What follows is out of character for the blog, but sadly, entirely within character for myself.
On the drive home from church this past Sunday, my son (who is within days of becoming a teenager) explained how I had warped his perception of holiday songs forever. "You see," he said, "you used to sing me this song about Santa on the roof with words that you had written, and I am afraid it has warped forever my images and use of that song. I rather always assumed those were the authentic words!" Or, he said something like that.
For any parent who also would like to forever warp their child's mind with regard to holiday tunes, here are two which I have misappropriated and also altered the words (apologies to the songs' authors). For best effect, sing them to your child over and over, and have them join in when they learn the new words--the younger they are, the better the warping results you can achieve.
(Sung to the tune of "Up On the Rooftop"--duh)
(Sung to the tune of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland")
I think I need to go buy a copy of "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." Now that's a seasonal song that needs no alteration… or does it????
November 19, 2006
How Does One Access God’s Sufficiency?
Entire books have been written on the subject of God's sufficiency. And rightly so. For Paul tells us that to keep him a humble man, God gave Paul enough weaknesses to constantly remind him that every spiritual success was entirely God's doing. God's graciousness is sufficient (all that is required) for spiritual success.
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Even in the matter of giving money to the poor, God instructs us that we will have enough material resources, in fact an abundance of resources, to perform "every good deed."
Each one must [donate money to the poor] just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)
All this is wonderful to understand. But how does one actually obtain this sufficiency? Or maybe another way to ask it is, "How does one acquire a sense of this sufficiency during trials and pragmatically implement that knowledge so as not to despair?"
Paul attained it from a special revelation in answer to his prayer. But Paul was an apostle with the surpassingly great gift of prophecy. How do we non-apostles attain it?
It is interesting that God provides for all our needs; about that there is no question or doubt. Yet, He has decreed that He provides us His sufficiency through many different avenues.
First, understand that Paul passed along this knowledge to us. So, what Paul received via prophetic revelation, we received equally plainly from Paul through the Word of God. So we can attain God's grace through His Word, but only if we read it and understood it.
Second, His sufficiency comes to us by way of His Spirit to ours. But only if we have repented of our sins, otherwise, spiritual fellowship is broken.
Third, we gain a sense of the reality of His sufficiency through the encouragement given to us from other believers. However, this practical sufficiency is only available to us if we are humble enough to accept such encouragement from those with whom we have surrounded ourselves.
Fourth, God's sufficiency is realized by way of exploiting the human mind and human knowledge with which He has blessed us so abundantly. Knowledge of this sort includes medicine, automobile repair, plumbing expertise, and even legal study. This form of God's sufficiency is only provided to those who seek it and use it, such as being willing to go to the doctor to have things like intense stomach pain investigated.
God is our sufficiency. But never mistake that truth for how He delivers to us that sufficiency. When God made the world He called it "good". Yet, when He made man, He said, "It is not good that man is alone." Yes, God was Adam's sufficiency, and Adam fellowshipped with God in a way that few men ever have and in a way that we cannot, yet, that was not sufficient for Adam, at least according to God's own judgment. So God made man a helper--someone suitable to provide sufficient companionship to alleviate Adam's corporeal loneliness.
God is our sufficiency, but that does not imply that we do not have need of other people by which to receive God's sufficiency. God is the source of the sufficiency, men and the corporeal world are often the conduit by which it comes to us. When we got saved, Jesus said that if we leave house and family for His sake, He will provide a hundred new families for us -- Mark 10:29-30 (along with eternal life)! We must be careful not to pass up our neighbor's rowboat (which God has sent) in the midst of the flood because we are expecting God's own hand to simply pluck us from the rising water--the rowboat is sufficient.
God is our sufficiency. And He sends us that sufficiency in a huge diversity of practical ways. We run the risk of not realizing His sufficiency when we reject His people, His Word, and ignore the creation itself which He has given us to thankfully use in His service.
Finally, we miss understanding and implementing His sufficiency when we forget why He gave us sufficient grace. Grace is given in sufficient abundance to save us so that we may do "every good deed," to conform us to the image of His Son, and to spread the Gospel. God's power is perfected in our weakness.
November 28, 2006
Anger???? Who's Got Anger?????
There certainly are an abundance of warnings in Scripture about not succumbing to the excesses of anger. Yet we also see that Christ was angry, and did not sin (Mark 3:5, John 2:15).Further, we read that we are to become angry ourselves, and that without sinning (Ephesians 4:26)--which we understand to mean that we are to restore ourselves to composure and to restore broken relationships all in the same day.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
This is a fascinating segment of Scripture. And as much as it sounds like a blanket prohibition against all forms of anger, it is not. Let us understand it based on the meanings of the words used.
Acridity, poison (of mind or in word)
Indignation that is murderously fierce
Vengeance (same word in Greek as in Mark 3:5)
So, if we paraphrase what Ephesians 4:31 states:
Let all poisoned speech and poisoned attitudes, and murderous indignation, and vengeance, and angry screaming, and unjust vilification of God and others, and all wickedness against other people be replaced by treating others with goodness, sympathy, and gracious pardoning of wrongs, just like Christ has graciously pardoned us.
Agape love is defined as: intentionally doing good deeds for the benefit of someone else. Selfishness, intentionally doing good deeds for oneself, is the opposite of agape love. Anger, as used in Ephesians 4:31, is the use of that emotion to drive us to deeds of selfishness. Selfishness is sin because by definition, selfishness is done at the expense of doing good for others, and often involves hurting others. Labeling someone else as a "dumbhead" or a "fool" does not edify them (does not do them any good), nor is it intended to be helpful to them; it is used just to vent our own frustration and make ourselves feel "better"--it is selfish.
There are certainly many different words for the varying kinds anger used in Scripture. One of the more interesting is "thumos." It is often translated as "wrath." It means to be so fiercely angry that you literally intend to murder your brother. In fact, it is most often used to express that a mob or a person became angry enough to actually attempt to commit murder (Matthew 2:16, Luke 4:28).
It is this level of anger that is forbidden to the Christian. It is this use of anger that the Christian is called to put off. As odd as it sounds, anger (in its brief life) must only be used to drive us to do good for someone else. To pray for them. To assist someone in a desperate situation. To protect a family member. Be angry, but use it only in love, never selfishly. Selfish anger which seeks vengeance does not accomplish the righteousness of God (James 1:20).
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