The Invisible Change

No doubt exists that God changes you and begins transforming you at the time of conversion (Philippians 1:6).

But are all changes God makes in your life visible?

The oft asked question, “does your life look the same after conversion as it did before conversion?” is really the wrong question to ask.

Sure, many people’s lives will dramatically change after conversion. Drug users will quit cold turkey, alcoholics will end their abuse, money launderers will cease and desist and even repay what was taken, but what about the people who are law-abiding citizens, ethical and moral in their behavior and speech?

For some people, their lives will change dramatically; others’ lives ever so slightly

We love to make the point that every life will change dramatically. But this is not always the case.

The real change is in motivation

For whose glory are we doing something?

If for the glory of self, then we will pursue money laundering, alcohol, drugs, sex, escape from reality because they become not only an end to themselves but a false ultimate end.

But if we do everything to God’s glory, we may not change what we do but why we do it. The change is invisible to the naked eye:

1 Corinthians 10:31 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Legal Schizophrenia

If we found on mars what we find in the womb, there would be no doubt life was discovered. – Garrett Kell

The inconvenient truth to Atheism is David Attenborough’s conclusion: Humans are [a] plague on Earth.

Let that sink in

The law of (un)intended consequences of this kind of thinking says old people should hurry up and die (Taro Aso, Japan’s deputy prime minister), not to mention Roe v. Wade.

Humans are viewed as enhanced animals

Humans are not viewed as made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 9:6). Man as enhanced animals precludes human rights simply because the survival of the fittest rules, and if the survival of weak people relies on large numbers, then the largest group will overcome the weak who are alone and outcast. No one wants to admit this, of course, but the reality is, no one has a right to life if others deem them inferior and unwanted.

We are plagued with Societal Schizophrenia

Google defines Schizophrenia “(in general use) as a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements.”

Abortion is Legal Schizophrenia

John Piper explains,

It is illegal to take the life of the unborn if the mother wants the baby, but it is legal to take the life of the unborn if she doesn’t. In the first case the law treats the fetus as a human with rights; in the second case the law treats the fetus as non-human with no rights. Humanness is defined by the desire of the strong. Might makes right. We reject this right to define personhood in the case of Nazi anti-Semitism, Confederate race-based slavery, and Soviet Gulags. When we define the humanness of the unborn by the will of the powerful we know what we are doing.

The website Case for Life nails the whole point of this discussion: What is the unborn? They write, “If the unborn are not human, no justification for elective abortion is necessary. But if the unborn are human, no justification for elective abortion is adequate.”

Science

Keith Mathison makes an important point: “Every embryology textbook states that a new genetically distinct human being begins its life at conception.”

C. Ward Kischer, Ph.D., expresses this point in more detail in his article When does human life begin? The final answer (HT),

Every human embryologist and every major textbook of Human Embryology states that fertilization marks the beginning of the life of the new individual human being. The reason why this is true is the following:

From the moment when the sperm makes contact with the oocyte, under conditions we have come to understand and describe as normal, all subsequent development to birth of a living newborn is a fait accompli. That is to say, after that initial contact of spermatozoon and oocyte there is no subsequent moment or stage which is held in arbitration or abeyance by the mother, or the embryo or fetus. Nor is a second contribution, a signal or trigger, needed from the male in order to continue and complete development to birth. Human development is a continuum in which so-called stages overlap and blend one into another. Indeed, all of life is contained within a time continuum. Thus, the beginning of a new life is exacted by the beginning of fertilization, the reproductive event which is the essence of life.

Herein lies the importance of distinguishing between the science of developmental biology and the science of Human Embryology. Within the science of Human Embryology, the continuum of life is more fully appreciated. The fact that development and developmental principles do not cease with birth becomes more fully realized. So, the continuum of human development does not cease until death, whenever that may occur, in utero or at 100 years of age.

In other words, We know what an apple really is.

 

Updated 6/17/2016

Surprise! Life Does Begin at Conception:

It seems that sometimes, when it serves the story, the fact that life begins at conception is perfectly clear to both scientists and the media. Sarah Knapton, Science Editor at the UK Telegraph, writes in an article titled “Bright Flash of Light Marks Incredible Moment Life Begins When Sperm Meets Egg”:

Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film.

An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.

Scientists had seen the phenomenon occur in other animals but it is the first time is has been also shown to happen in humans.

Update: 1/23/2017

The Gospel Coalition:

Here we have the core of the pro-choice argument: You are not a human person if I don’t want you to be. And I have the power to make it so.

The pro-choice regime has nothing deeper, nothing more rational, nothing more humane. That’s the whole argument. I don’t want you to be a person.

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-abortion-makes-sense

 

The Gospel Coalition:

How did Psalm 102 change Rosaria Butterfield‘s mind about abortion?

“Here was the line of my undoing: ‘And peoples yet uncreated shall praise and magnify the LORD’ (Ps. 102:18). I got it: abortion is not a right or an entitlement. Abortion steals praise from God by denying image-bearers the opportunity to live through and for him. Abortion despises and attacks and destroys the image of God.”

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/i-thought-planned-parenthood-protected-family-values

 

Crossway:

https://www.crossway.org/blog/2016/05/10-things-you-should-know-about-abortion/

 

National Review:

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430152/abortion-roe-v-wade-unborn-children-women-feminism-march-life

 

 

Thirteen Texts Showing how the Gospel Annihilates Racism

1. Every human is created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27)

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

2. The Covenant blessing is to all nations. (Genesis 12:1-3)

12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

3. The pathetic example of Jonah’s racism. (Jonah 4:1)

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.

4. The gospel-melted heart is that of the tax collector not the Pharisee. (Luke 18:9-14)

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed [1] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

5. The Lamb was slaughtered for the world. (John 1:29)

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

6. We are justified by faith not race. (Romans 3:28-30)

28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

7. Christ has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:11-22)

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

8. Racism, by definition, counts “us” better than “them”. (Philippians 2:3)

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

9. Racism is not “in step with the gospel”. (Galatians 2:11-14)

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

10. Racism categorizes while the gospel unites. (Galatians 3:28-29)

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave [1] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

11. Partiality gives glory to someone. The gospel gives glory to Christ. (James 2:1)

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.

12. The gospel creates one race. (1 Peter 2:9)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

13. Racists will be uncomfortable in heaven. (Revelation 5:8-10)

8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, “Letter from Birmingham Jail)

By: Chris Gonzalez

If God is Good: Developing a Theology of Suffering

Sadly, suffering is a fact of life. At one point or another, to one degree or another, you will face suffering. Suffering will consume your being.

It is never too late to develop a theology of suffering. We all need a proper foundation because it is not a question of if but when we will suffer (James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6; 2 Peter 2:9).

How do we develop a theology of suffering?

Read and study. Here are resources to help you in your pursuit of a good foundation in the theology of suffering.

  1. If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil by Randy Alcorn (Kindle edition)
  2. When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)
  3. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God by John Piper and Justin Taylor (Kindle edition)
  4. Kindle edition)
  5. O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Richard Baxter, Nancy Guthrie and John Piper
  6. A Lifetime of Wisdom: Embracing the Way God Heals You by Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)
  7. Why, O God?: Suffering and Disability in the Bible and the Church by Larry J. Waters, Roy B. Zuck, Randy Alcorn and Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)
  8. Disability and the Gospel: How God Uses Our Brokenness to Display His Grace by Michael S. Beates and Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)
  9. The God I Love: A Lifetime of Walking with Jesus by Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)
  10. Glorious Intruder: God’s Presence in Life’s Chaos by Joni Eareckson Tada (Kindle edition)

Do you have other books and resources? Please share!

Update: 1/15/2013
Don’t You Dare Be Caught Rejoicing with Those Who Weep, an interview with Joni Eareckson Tada and Marvin Olasky.

Revelation by Steve Camp

Steve Camp, yes that Steve Camp is the Teaching Pastor at The Cross Church in Palm City, FL has begun a series in Revelation.

Here are the sermons:

  1. “The Victor” Rev 1:1-3 – The Prologue – November 4, 2012
  2. The Exalted King (pt 1) – November 11, 2012
  3. The Exalted King, Part 2 – November 18, 2012
  4. The Exalted King, Part 3 – November 25, 2012
  5. The Vision of the Glorified Son – December 2, 2012
  6. The Vision of the Glorified Son, Pt 2 – December 9, 2012
  7. Pergamum – The Compromised Church – December 30th, 2012
  8. Thyatira – The Church That Tolerates Sin – January 6, 2013

Note: This list will be updated as time permits. You can also see the complete list as updated here.

Discussing Harry Potter

Regarding edification, things can only edify if we think rightly about them. To ask, “does it edify?” is simplistic at best. It is what we DO with the subject matter. Are we “thinking” in terms of what is right?

For instance, pastors must deal with people who struggle with a particular sin. That sin is definitely not good by any stretch, but what is edifying is that the Pastor helps the counseled person to think rightly about the issue, hence, he is edifying him.

It just seems to me that the issue of edification comes up as if the topic must do the edifying and we just sit back and be edified without much effort on our part. It is what we DO with the subject that it becomes edifying.

Paul commands us to “THINK on these things” – it is an effort, something we DO to establish edification.

I cannot shield my kids from every evil, however, I can address an issue to help them think rightly about it. When we watch a TV program they like and bad attitudes arise, I like to ask them, “Is this a right attitude? Why not? What kind of attitude must we have in a situation like that? How can we change our attitude from a bad attitude to a good attitude in a situation like that? What makes Jesus happy in this situation?”

THAT is edification. It’s engaging the worldly situations and rightly thinking and acting within those types of situations.

Sometimes it’s good and right to denounce something outright (NC+17 movies?), but to outright denounce something like Harry Potter yet you watch the Wizard of Oz every year, creates questions in your kids’ minds and shows inconsistencies.

With this in mind, let’s begin an edified conversation.

Years ago I struggled through this very issue– edification and Harry Potter. I decided to read proponents and opponents of Harry Potter, and there were some key points the proponents made, at least in my mind, that the opponents could not overcome.

  1. Scripture never condemns using innate ability. In the world of Harry Potter (Lord Of The Rings / Chronicles of Narnia, etc…) the wizards have an innate ability to do magic because their world is innately made of magic.
  2. Scripture condemns obtaining a “power” that is not innate nor from God – like real Wicca, which tries to obtain power outside themselves and God. The worlds of Harry Potter, et al, possess innate power.
  3. Quote: “While this may be considered a positive, one definite negative is that there is no higher power to answer to at all.” I don’t see this as a real point, unless there’s something I’m missing. I am thinking in terms of the book of Esther in Scripture.
  4. The magic in Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, Chronicles of Narnia are purely fictional. Can you make a patronus charm? Can you take a specific kind of stick and do wondrous things with it because IT has innate “power”? I believe there is a difference in make-believe and what Scripture condemns.

My points overlap with each other, but I wanted to show (at least try to show) different aspects of the same point.

What do you think?

Introverted Christian

Tim Challies is spot on. Hammer? Meet nail.

I am an introvert. But I have to do extrovert-type things at times. However, I must prepare mentally for my non-introverted activities, and those activities tire me out. Like speaking in front of people. I don’t fear it so much as I have to prepare for it.

This is what makes it difficult to be in a group setting in which the speaker / teacher specifically calls on me to answer a question.

Pure panic.

And then I provide the wrong answer.

But as Challies says, “introversion is what I am, not who I am.”

Who am I?

In timely fashion, Challies also wrote a review of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Who Do you Think You Are. Tim writes,

At the heart of it all is our identity as God’s image-bearers. We have been created in God’s image and this gives us inherent worth and dignity. We are created as worshippers, yet by falling into sin we worship all the wrong things, leading us to craft idolatrous identities for ourselves. Instead of being identified first and foremost in our relationship to God, we ignore the Creator and craft other identities. It is the gospel, the good news of what Christ has done, that transforms, or re-forms, our identity. Driscoll writes, “Only by knowing our false identity apart from Christ in relation to our true identity in him can we rightly deal with and overcome the issues in our lives.” Identity is a matter of life and death.

My identity is in Christ.

Interpreting Scripture – Questions

Interpreting Scripture is a challenging task. But when you read Scripture, you are interpreting it.

Here are some questions to answer which will help you interpret Scripture so you understand it as it was intended. When these questions are answered, you will discover that the fulfillment is greater than the prediction, just as the antitype is greater than the type:

  • Does the New Testament quote it or allude to it?
  • How does the New Testament treat the oracle’s themes and theological points?
  • Who is the author of the passage?
  • To whom were they writing?
  • What is the outline/structure of the passage?
  • Is the choice of words, wording, or word order significant in this particular passage?
  • Are any words repeated? Any significance to the repetition?
  • What is the cultural, historical background and context of the passage?
  • What was the author’s original intended meaning?
  • How did the author’s contemporaries understand him?
  • How would the original audience have been affected by the passage?
  • Why did he say it that way?
  • Are there any unusual words in the passage that call for more exploration?
  • How does the passage fit into the surrounding paragraph? Chapter? Book?
  • Why did the author place the passage here and not somewhere else?
  • In one sentence, what is the main point of the passage?
  • How does this passage connect to the overall storyline of the Bible?
  • How does God want this passage to function in my life?
  • What kind of response does this passage call for?
  • How does this passage reveal Jesus as savior?
  • Father, I believe this passage is about the gospel of your Son. Help me see how!

What other questions would you add?

Interpreting Scripture

Reading the Bible is challenging. We are 2,000+ years removed from when the content was written and the time(s) it was written about.

Much of the struggle in reading Scripture is truly understanding what is meant by the original author(s) rather than understanding it from our 21st Century mindset.

Striving to understand Scripture from its original context is called hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the method of interpreting Scripture.

Of course, rules for interpreting Scripture are needed. I strive to follow nine (9) rules of interpretation:

  1. Literal Sense – Seek the one intended or literal sense of the text, and to do so with the recognition that God in some cases has chosen to convey meaning through symbolism and figures of speech (e.g., metonymy, metaphor, and simile). Making the sense plain to others is not necessarily looking to the plain sense. With this said, though, be faithful to Scripture, not necessarily literal.
  2. Shortened Perspective – Events in the near and the distant future are often telescoped into one picture, like mountain peaks when seen from a distance. Sometimes the prophets focus on the immediate future and at other times on the distant future; however, both are seen at the same time.
  3. Historical Times-Coloring – Seeking the meaning of the text within the immediate historical situation. Reflecting the historical situation in which they spoke, the prophets preached to a definite life situation and delivered their oracles in terms which their original hearers could understand.
  4. Typical or Typological nature of Eschatology – A type is a person, institution, or event which prefigures and foreshadows a new and greater reality (the antitype). The antitype historically and theologically corresponds to, elucidates, fulfills, and eschatologically completes the type. The antitype is no mere repetition of the type but is always greater than its prefigurement. And since the Scriptures are Christological, the Old Testament’s types (which are so indicated by Scripture) are related to, centered in, and fulfilled in Christ (and His people, the church, reap what Christ has sown).
  5. Christological Focus – The Old Testament prophets were both “foretellers” and “forthtellers.” They were preachers of the covenant, proclaiming the Law and the Gospel to their original hearers. Even their eschatological predictions were given not to provide unrelated bits of information or to satisfy curiosity about the future, but to lead their hearers to repentance and faith.
  6. Old Testament Israel prefigured Christ and Christ is the True Israel – Christ is the New Israel, Israel reduced to one.
  7. Analogy of Faith – “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly” (Westminster Confession (1.9)).
  8. Interpret the Less Clear by the Clear – “There must be a consistency in all revealed truth because it represents absolute truth in the mind of God. Therefore each passage can have only one certain and simple sense. As the infallibly inspired word of God, the Scriptures are reliable, self-consistent and carry within them all that is needed for clarity. Since all that God makes known fits with what He knows perfectly, it is always proper to assume that no contradictions or dual realities can be attached to what He speaks.” (Bob Burridge)
  9. The Christian interpreter must regard the final form of the canon as the norm for interpretation – For instance, the New Testament provides clear and concise statements which should influence our understanding of the Old Testament. And the Old Testament provides the basis for our understanding of the New Testament.

What do you think? Are there any rules that should be added? Changed?