Monday, December 25, 2006

Stupid kids and their stupid questions. 

Actual conversation:

Andrea walks into my office and says, "Could you explain to Katie what a spiritual marriage is?"

Me: "huh?"

She says, "well, I was explaining to her that Jesus is our king, and she asked who Jesus' queen is, since every king needs a queen. So I told her the church is Jesus' bride."

Me: "ah."

So I say, "Katie, it, ah, just means that when we die, we'll all go to live with Jesus and be with Him forever." (Oversimplification, I know, but she's 4.)

Katie: "Oh, when we die. OK. Cause I didn't know that CHURCHES could marry LORDS."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


knife edge air, bright stars
winter's no joke in these plains
heater is so slow


Monday, December 18, 2006

The Relevance of Revelation 

I have been enjoying immensely my study in Revelation. An idealistic interpretation of the book, which sees it not as some kind of timeline of events whether past or future, but rather an uncovering of spiritual truths that underlie the outward realities we see with our eyes, means that the book is an extremely relevant one.

It is so unfortunate to me that particular fantastical readings of the book, which try to construct a timeline of future events, a timeline that flatly contradicts a good bunch of the rest of Scripture, has become so popular over the last century and a half or so.

The first result of this is that the people who believe this interpretation are robbed of the book, by making it apply to something other than their present lives. Many of the parts of the book (most of chapter 12, for example) are made irrelevant to anyone who would ever read them. It supposedly applies only to Israel halfway through the tribulation. If that's the case, then nobody who believed it now (Christians) would find it at all relevant to anything that will ever happen to them (they'll be raptured before it occurs) and nobody to whom it applies (Jews who will be converted) will believe it now (since they won't be converted until halfway through the tribulation).

The second consequence of this is if anything worse than the first. The rest of the church, so turned off by dispensationalist interpretations and confused by those interpretations, simply throw their hands up in frustration and say "nobody can understand this book". And thus the book is taken away from them as well.

But the book is immensely important. It shows us the true nature of the struggle we're in right now, and the importance of standing firm in that struggle. This has relevance in all kinds of areas of our lives, just one of which I go into here. The real struggle is a fight over the integrity of our faith, and enduring in that faith even unto death, even in the face of every kind of pressure, every kind of incitement, deception and coercion to give in to the beast and accept his mark. I am afraid that way too many Christians, lulled into thinking this is a fight that will only happen after the church is raptured, or thinking that there isn't any real fight at all, are being overrun by the enemy without even realizing it.

In science, in politics, in business, in psychology, in personal morality, in ecclesiology, in a thousand different ways, the church is giving in to the philosophy and the ideas of the world. The Bible refers to this as being ashamed of the gospel, as receiving the mark of the beast, as tolerating the Nicolaitans among us, as bringing the idols into the temple, as loving your life, loving the world. The result of this is always the same- judgment from God and death. We have to turn back. The church will never die, but the church in America can die. If you think that's impossible just remember that North Africa was once one of the centers of orthodox Christianity (Augustine came from there). Now it's a spiritual desert.

One really good way to start turning back would be for us to recapture the truth of Revelation in our churches and to take its message seriously.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Compromising with the Beast 

We have been studying through the book of Revelation, and I have been preaching through the book of John. These two particular books have come together for me in an unexpected way.

The book of John has a repeated focus on the issue of epistemology- where do we get our information from? Where do we get our understanding of the facts presented to us?

John 7:15-17
15 And the Jews marveled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?"
16 Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
17 "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.

Here's one important principle concerning knowledge, and the correct analysis of doctrines: Truth only comes as a result of being dedicated to doing God's will. Those who are not committed to doing God's will cannot know the truth or falsity of a doctrine. They will understand only lies. This is because:

Revelation 13:
11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast...

This is the false prophet. He has a resemblance to Jesus; note the horns like a lamb. But his power is to deceive, and he deceives with signs so convincing that they would lead astray, if it were possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24). In Revelation, the power of the beast and the false prophet is extended over the whole world except for the elect. This must mean that the signs and wonders are broader than simply supernatural signs, but all kinds of lying evidence. Many people in the world who are not believers do not even believe in miracles or supernatural reality.

Jesus exhorts us in John 7:24 not to judge things according to appearances, but according to righteous judgment. And He just defined that as being accomplished by being committed to do God's will. In John 8:31 Jesus tells us that it is being His disciples that give us the ability to know God's truth, and that it is this truth which will set us free from slavery to sin. Knowing the truth and enslavement to sin are therefore contraries. Which agrees with Revelation's perspective. In Revelation 14, it is the followers of the Lamb who have been sealed in their forehead and are the only ones who can learn the hymn of praise to God. Those with the mark of the beast in their forehead or on their hands, by contrast, believe the lies of the beast and worship the lying image. Jesus goes on in John 8 to say that they reject the truth because they are the sons of the devil.

So where do we get our information from? Do we get it from the interpretations of the world? The opinions of unbelievers about things? Do we get it from so-called Christians in the church who do not trust the Bible as the final authority in all matters to which it speaks? Or do we get it from the word of God, as understood by those who take it seriously?

This line of thinking was touched off by this post on Lee Johnson's fine blog. He is reacting to a poll on the Boar's Head Tavern at which Christian bloggers have taken a poll on various issues. Lee is lamenting the fact that of the 23 who took the poll, only two held to a Young Earth Creationist view. He also pointed to the fact that ten did not hold to an inerrantist view of Scripture. I went and read the BHT for a while, and not only do most of them not hold to a YEC view, they also say that those who do are "dishonoring God" and have a weak view of the Bible. I have heard all these comments before of course.

One of the purposes of the book of Revelation is to draw back the curtain and show the spiritual realities that lay behind the world we see with our eyes. The spiritual reality is that there is an ancient dragon, Satan, who hates the church with all his might, and is trying everything he can to destroy us. He has dispatched for this purpose the beast from the sea, who is the power of this world, and the beast from the earth, the false prophet, who is the lying philosophies of this world. Believers are exhorted throughout the book not to compromise with the world for even one inch. They will bring a great deal of pressure on us. They will bring economic pressure on us, political pressure on us, epistemological pressure on us. This last is to say they will present to us amazing "signs and wonders" that will seem to be utterly irrefutable, evidence with which we cannot argue. But we must devote ourselves to doing God's will, and this means that people who do not believe in God have absolutely nothing to say to us on this issue, or any other issue touching the truth of God's word.

As I have said before, nobody ever gets to a "framework hypothesis" or any kind of old earth view from the Bible. They get it from so-called "scientific" evidence and the arguments of the world, which they find so compelling that they must re-read Genesis in this light. They sometimes claim that this is because God's natural and special revelation must agree, and this is true. But evolutionary beliefs are not natural revelation. They are man's interpretation of natural revelation. Natural revelation is, "Look, there's a rock, there's a bone. That bone or that bone-shaped rock has X amount of Y radioactive isotopes in it." When man says what those things mean, then it's no longer natural revelation, it's the opinions of men. And if those opinions differ with Scripture, it's clear where our sympathies ought to lie. Any belief which differs with Scripture, no matter how compelling it may seem, is a lie of Satan, a lie of the beast, which is intended to destroy the church. We cannot compromise with such views for a second.

I am sending this out as a plea to all Christians. Wake up. This is a war. It is a spiritual war for your souls. It does not matter in the slightest what you think you know about the fossil record or carbon dating or redshifts or speciation or anything else at all. What matters is whether you believe the Bible or not. Don't judge by appearances- don't judge by what you think you see with your eyes. Judge by righteous judgment. And the issue does matter. How you view Genesis 1 and 2 will affect a lot of things, as I go into some here. If you can jettison all of your scientific beliefs and tell me from Scripture itself that the world is fifty billion years old, then that is an argument I'm interested in hearing. But your accommodations, your reading of Genesis 1 and 2 in such a way as to encompass Darwinistic thinking is no different than the early Christians saying they could go worship at the pagan temples and participate in their feasts and still worship God in their hearts. What did Paul have to say about that?

1 Corinthians 10:
18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?
20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.
21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons.
22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

Do you know better than God? What do you think God wanted you to know when He divinely inspired Genesis 1 and 2? If He wanted you to know that the world is fifty billion years old and came about through millions of tiny changes, then He's either a very poor communicator or a liar. Which of those roads do you want to pick? And if He didn't care about you knowing the details of the physical creation, why spend so much time talking about those details?

Do not fellowship with demons. The lie of Darwin is one of the fiercest attacks against the church in a long time. It doesn't matter what the scientists say or Pharyngula says or the Smithsonian Institue says or anyone else. It matters what the Bible says. God said what He meant to say. Submit yourselves to His will and believe the Bible.

I am not saying that everyone who rejects a literal view of Genesis 1 and 2 is a servant of the beast. But I am saying that everyone who rejects that view in order to accommodate a philosophy that rejects God and rejects the Bible is compromising with demons.

I'll let John have the last word. First a note- we're not sure exactly what the Nicolaitans believed, but it's clear from Revelation 2-3 that they believed that some participation in the paganism of the world around them was acceptable, which is essentially the argument of those wishing to accommodate Genesis 1-2 to Darwinism. If there are any demons at all in the world today, what do you think they're teaching?

Revelation 2:
12 " And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ' These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:
13 "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
14 "But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
15 "Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
16 'Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
17 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." '

Labels: ,

If Not... 

The expression "if not..." has to have become one of the most useless expressions in the English language. This expression takes the form "X if not Y", but the relationship between X and Y in this expression is very ambiguous. In usage it appears to be one of those very few phrases (like the word "sanction") that can express opposite ideas.

Take the statement, for example, "liberals, if not outright communists". Someone who believes in universal health care for example, might be said (fairly or not, just using an example) to be "a liberal, if not an outright communist." But what is being said here? The formal expression would be saying that the belief makes someone a liberal, but the commenter would stop short of calling them an actual communist.

But oddly, the way this phrase is very often used and interpreted, the above statement would be read as accusing the person of holding this view of being a communist. This seems to be a violation of the plain meaning of the words, and yet it is how it is often used. Thus the phrase has become virtually meaningless. I suggest that in order to avoid misunderstandings and ambiguity, the phrase should be avoided, if not prohibited altogether.

By the way, check out the new blog on my blogroll, Aspiring Polymathis. It's the blog of Shawn Mathis, an OPC pastor in Denver and I've very much enjoyed it so far.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Google Analytics Alternative