Dr. James White vs. Dr. Z. Ali Shah

These are the closing statements from the debate I attended yesterday at Duke University.  They debate centered around the original transmission and preservation of the Bible and Quran.  Dr. White and Dr. Shah both did an excellent job representing their views.  However, the low point for Dr. Shah came in these closing comments, which is the only part I have available to post.  In the closing statement he mentioned a few questions that I would have expected someone of his stature to already understand.  But that reinforces the idea that much apologist explanation still needs to be done to help the Muslim people understand the true doctrines of Christianity.

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 9:18 pm  Comments (1)  

Dying With Confidence Because the Veil Has Been Torn

Tori’s great aunt passed away this morning.  She was a godly woman.  Never having any children of her own, she adopted all her many nieces and nephews as her “children.”  There was never a time when I entered her home, and did not see her magnifying glass and large print Bible lying open on the table.  She was a genuine prayer warrior, devoting time every day to intercede on the behalf of others.  Even as she lay dying in her hospital bed, she bowed her head and asked God to bless her glass of water.  Many others saw her good works, and gave glory to our Father who is in heaven, for them.

In the time of the Old Testament, God gave his people specific directions on how to build a Temple.  In this Temple, His glory would reside in the inmost room.  This would be the place where offerings would be made to atone for the sins of the people.  There were divisions in this temple.  The outer court was the court of the Gentiles.  There was the court of the women, then the court of Israel, and then the court of the priests.  After this came the place that was most revered, the Holy of Holies.  God’s Shekhinah glory, (his manifested presence) dwelled in this inner chamber.  The only one who could ever go into the Holy of Holies, was the high priest, and that, only once a year.  Anyone else who entered would immediately die, just as anyone who touched the Ark of the Covenant.

The people did not have direct access to God.  Even the Temple itself, and the sacrifices did not remove the people’s sin, it simply “covered” it; it was a symbol of the Messianic sacrifice that was to come.

2,000 years ago, when Jesus reached the pinnacle of his earthly ministry, the Scriptures reveal the following:

24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour [4] when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. [5] 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

The Death of Jesus

33 And when the sixth hour [6] had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. [7] 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he [8] breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son [9] of God!”

Mark 15: 24 – 39

Notice again verse 38.

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

When Jesus died on the cross, there was no longer any barrier between the Holy God and his people.  Jesus instantly became the bridge between the presence of God himself, and the people for whom He died.

I thought about that, as I reflected on the death of little Annie May, Tori’s great aunt.  That feeble, frail, suffering, ninety-four year old woman, left her earthly tent; and stepped out as the redeemed, blood bought bride of Jesus Christ the Messiah, the Lamb that was Slain…  and because 2,000 years ago, Jesus’ death tore the veil – and “now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, Annie May entered into the Holy of Holies, the Shekhinah glory, the presence of God Himself.

Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 6:57 pm  Comments (1)  

They Rage, but in Vain

The elections of recent weeks has sparked an increase in boldness of those who resist God and His Word.  There is an ever-increasing visibility of radical agendas, and openess of rebellion against all things Judeo-Chrstian.

The second chapter of Psalms speaks of God’s response to this carnal hostility.  God shows us the consequences of their actions and His final justice in all things – good and evil.  Notice God’s response to their attempts?  He is not exactly intimidated.  How does the God in this passage mesh with your view of God?  The God of love and mercy commonly associated with the New Testament and the God of relentless righteousness of the Old Testament are one.  Our understanding of God, based on the Scriptures, teach us of His mercy and His wrath.  They are both equally admirable.  To take either away is to break the first of the Ten Commandments and make a god in our own minds to suit us.  We should rejoice in all of His divine attributes.

It is reassuring to see the confidence and might of our God in the face of rebellion.  And He is our God when we take the advice of the final verse; taking refuge from His wrath, in the One who bore His wrath 2,000 years ago.

PSALM 2

2:1 Why do the nations rage [1]
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”

7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break [2] them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 11:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Ezekiel 18 :: The Soul Who Sins Shall Die (and it does not please God)

I was doing some Bible reading this morning, and I came upon Ezekiel 18. This passage has caused me some discomfort because of the way it, at first glance, seems to cast God in the light of having to do something He doesn’t want to do; and it doesn’t jive with my knowledge of God’s sovereign will (His Will of Decree; not His Will of Command). Let me quote you the part of it I am talking about.

The subtitle of this chapter in my Bible (ESV) is “The Soul Who Sins Shall Die.” It (as you might expect) is a message from the LORD through the prophet Ezekiel to the people of Israel about how God will punish people individually for their sins and reward people individually for righteousness. This is opposed to the current thought of the time that a Father’s sins would cause punishment to come upon his son; and a son’s sin would cause punishment to come upon the Father. God says, no, I will deal with each one individually.

And then there is this part, which was at the source of my conflict: (verses 31-32) “Cast away from you all transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.”

And so you see what appears to be God having to do something he doesn’t desire to do. It seems that if God sovereignly caused it to happen, it doesn’t make sense that He would say it doesn’t bring Him pleasure.

I asked God to help me understand it. Do you ever do that with certain Scripture passages or ideas? I do. I hate apparent inconsistencies. They bother me. And since I know God is always consistent – I ask for help to reconcile things I don’t understand. I believe when we pray and ask God for wisdom in regards to His Word, He is faithful to help us; insomuch as our finite minds can be helped.

So I went to the computer to try to look up some commentary for this struggle. I felt like I was being led to specifically check John Piper’s resources. So I went to http://www.desiringgod.org, searched for Ezekiel 18; and of course, was taken to a sermon of his from 1987 on this very subject (and yes it had audio AND text; so I got to listen to it.) It dealt with this very issue.

And so, if you also would wonder how a God who is infinitely free, can never be backed into a corner, and does ALL things according to the pleasure of His will, could say that He does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, then I invite you to see the same resource I have.

Before I give the link, let me also throw out there this verse which seems opposite, but as we find out is not. Deuteronomy 28:63, “And as the LORD took delight in doing you good, and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you.”

Here is the link, but let me give you a bit of advice before you check it out. The text of the sermon that is given is an abbreviated version edited for reading. The audio sermon is MUCH better, especially with the final explanation. So, what I would suggest is opening up the “listen” link (NOT THE EXCERPT, BUT THE REGULAR SERMON) and then skip the marker (there is no time marker) ahead to the final quarter of the sermon. Listen to the final 1/4 of the audio sermon. The whole sermon is good, but if you want to get right to the answer, check out the final 1/4 of it. The verbal answer is more elaborate and passionate than the written text answer on the page, although they are equally true.

Are you ok with having a God who can be backed into a corner and be dependent on men? If you are, then maybe Ezekiel 18 doesn’t bother you. If you know that is not the nature of God, and therefore it does bother you – you will enjoy this.

—————————————-

[Originally written March 3, 2008.]

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 8:44 pm  Comments (2)  

Warnings Against the Adulteress

I just wanted to post about this briefly (at least my part will be brief). But I need to do it in two parts.

I – When I see a story like this one about the Governor of NY resigning because he was caught using prostitutes, I have to be careful not to think self-righteously. That is not to say I don’t judge. I am commanded to by Scripture. But with humility I know “There but for the grace of God go I.”  And what he was caught doing outwardly, I and all men have been guilty of in the heart, according to Jesus in Matthew 5.

II – But I wanted to post this scripture that so perfectly reflects this circumstance.  It is the visual that usually comes to my mind when I think of the adultress.  It is from Proverbs, chapter 7.  When you read it, and get to the consequences towards the end – I feel bad, knowing that this is what has befallen the Governor of NY.  The Scriptures are so true, and accurate to describe this as it is.  And it is another reminder that there is “nothing new under the sun.”  All sin is just the same sin recycled through the lives of mankind.

6 At the window of my house
I looked out through the lattice.

7 I saw among the simple,
I noticed among the young men,
a youth who lacked judgment.

8 He was going down the street near her corner,
walking along in the direction of her house

9 at twilight, as the day was fading,
as the dark of night set in.

10 Then out came a woman to meet him,
dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.

11 (She is loud and defiant,
her feet never stay at home;

12 now in the street, now in the squares,
at every corner she lurks.)

13 She took hold of him and kissed him
and with a brazen face she said:

14 “I have fellowship offerings [a] at home;
today I fulfilled my vows.

15 So I came out to meet you;
I looked for you and have found you!

16 I have covered my bed
with colored linens from Egypt.

17 I have perfumed my bed
with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.

18 Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning;
let’s enjoy ourselves with love!

19 My husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey.

20 He took his purse filled with money
and will not be home till full moon.”

21 With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.

22 All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer [b] stepping into a noose [c]

23 till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life.

24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.

25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.

26 Many are the victims she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng.

27 Her house is a highway to the grave, [d]
leading down to the chambers of death.

———————————————————

[Originally written on March 13, 2008.]

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 8:39 pm  Comments (1)  

Glazed and Amazed

Sunshine, stars and sea-life just aren’t what they used to be.

I wanted to write about a strange phenomenon that I sense happening to me; and I believe probably happens to everyone on different levels. It’s a bit hard to explain. It took me awhile to even realize what was happening in my own experience.

Do you remember when you were a kid, and everything you did gave you a sense of wonder. When you did things, especially new things, it was like you literally felt it; like you absorbed it with a sense of wonder. Colors were brighter, smells were sweeter, and things touched your very core being. You played in the rain, stared at the clouds, watching them move by slowly until it made your neck hurt, let yourself believe things were real even though you knew they weren’t, and your imagination could scare you worse than a scary movie.

As I get older, it is almost as if life gets another coat of wax on it every year; so that things lose more and more of their sense of “real.” To my eyeball, the colors look just as vibrant, the rain feels the same, but I can’t feel it like I used to as a child. Every year more of the wonder leaves.

I believe I know what the cause of this desensitization is. It is knowledge.

That’s ironic really. Knowledge is what we all crave. It is what we spend our lives pursuing. But now when a drop of rain hits my skin, instead of experiencing a cool drop of water splash on me after an eternal journey from some mysterious home in the heavens; my mind simply translates it to H20 resulting from the water cycle. When I see the field of flowers, it is immediately converted to wavelengths and plant species.

I’d rather have the rain and the flowers.

I want to rip the wax off myself and the world.

I remember looking at the river in Chattanooga that I white water rafted down last summer, and thinking I wanted to stand in the middle of it and feel the cold water rushing against me while I raised my hands to the sky and soaked in the sun’s bright rays and breathed the invigorating wind.

But I couldn’t do that. And the problem is that I know I can’t; and even if I tried, I would get pushed down, cut my foot on a rock, inhale water, be blinded by the sun and float downstream to get caught against a rock and drown.

I notice it a lot at the elementary school I do Homework Center at. I see the same things there that I saw as a child; except now I see it all again with the all-seeing eye of wonder-quenching knowledge. Sometimes I miss the ignorance, the unknown, the excitement, …the wonder.

It feels a little weird; a little bit of unwanted morbidity. I suppose I understand more why older people don’t get too excited about much. They’ve seen so much, experienced so much, know so much. I haven’t experienced, or know as much as they do, but I can feel the annual glaze being baked on.

I’ve heard Ravi Zacharias say that this is one of the special things about God. He is the inexhaustible Well of Wonder. We were made for Him. He is the only thing that can never be encapsulated by our mind or understood by our intellect. Of time itself, He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the I AM, because He is unable to compare Himself to anything outside of Himself. He is omnipresent, omniscient and eternal. His love is uncontainable, His wrath unbearable, and His grace unexplainable. His holiness is thrice powerful, and His power undefinable. At His Word the universe ignites, and the heavens explode to their boundaries. At His raw presence men either fall on their face, or they fall down dead. He is the King of all Kings; the Lord of all Lords. His Son is the image of Him who is invisibible. The One whose hair is as white as snow, and whose eyes burn as fiery coals. From whose mouth comes the sword of judgment, and whose footstool is the Earth. And at His name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is LORD – to the glory of GOD the Father. And He will reign forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever….AMEN.

…Ah…yes…

He is my wonder.

———————————–

[Originally written April 7th, 2008]

Published in: on November 9, 2008 at 5:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Circles of Belief and Vocalization

The title probably sounds weird, but when I typed it in as a draft to write about later, that’s just what came to mind so I decided to just leave it.

I don’t really feel very motivated to expound on this, but I’m feeling like I never might…so I’ll just write the brief version.

It was just something I was thinking about and decided to blog about. I basically see it like this; every person has these analogous circles around them. There are different layers that represent a range of what we feel/believe about things.

The outer circle are things that we are dogmatic about. We espouse them without hesitancy; often with passion and sometimes with defensiveness. These might be things our worldviews are based on; whether it be religious foundations, family beliefs, certain issues of right or wrong, etc.

Then there is a closer (the person themself is at the center of this image) circle, where we hold things that we believe in, but we don’t “preach” them to others.

Then there is another circle that hold the things we believe in, but we are more open minded about and willing to discuss, debate and change our minds on if necessary.

Then there is a closer circle of things we would possibly admit to.

And finally there is the inner circle. A place where no one is allowed. A place where we do not wish to engage others with ideas, because there is always a monumental struggle going on there; with yourself. It is the locked safe in which we struggle with the truths of what we believe and feel and hate and love. Where we allow ourselves to question the unquestionable, to mention the unmentionable and all facades fall away. It is where no one is allowed to see, and no one is allowed to know. It is the uncovered, unshielded, unbridled heart/mind of a person.

The Bible describes this place as “desperately wicked.”  This is not to say that nothing but wickedness can come from it; for good things can come, but by nature it is a wicked thing.  The Bible teaches that this place is totally depraved.  That does not mean that it is as bad as it can be, but that it is as bad off as it can be; that the wickedness there transcends into every realm of the heart.

For the unregenerate – the nature remains purely evil – any restraining that is done, is done by the common grace of God.  But even for the regenerate, those with a divinely born nature (you must be born of water and the Spirit), we still have the wickedness in our flesh that rebels against our new spirit.  So even for the Christian we have this place of struggle.

This is the place I believe Jesus saw.  I’m sure you remember stories of when Jesus would be just around people…not even talking to them, and the Scriptures say He knew what they were thinking in their hearts. It was in this place I believe He was looking.

Anyone who is honest with themselves, knows they too have this place.  And if we are honest about the condition of that place, we should be immediately humbled and contrite before a holy (do not underestimate the meaning of that word), and righteously vengeful God.  Has God saved you?  What did God save you from?  God did not save us from our sin.  Our sin does not cast us into Hell.  God saves us from God.  His holy and righteous judgment that flows from his very nature.  He is a God of love, but make no mistake…He loves Himself most; His own glory is most important to Him.  For anyone else that would be vain – but for God it is the truth based on his own power, worth and holiness. It is all about Him and no other.

Thank God for his loving mercy found in the salvation given through His Son.  Through whom we have forgiveness of the sins of our wicked hearts, sparing us from His wrath.  His wrath did not disappear, but was poured out in full force 2000 years ago.  How great is our salvation!

Praise be to God for his grace!  For it is His grace alone that saves us.

(I did not intend for that to become a sermon…but a post about the psychology of people.  But everything inevitably goes to Jesus, in whom, for whom and by whom are all things.  In all things, Christ pre-eminent.)

[Originally written January 25th, 2008.]

Published in: on November 8, 2008 at 4:27 pm  Comments (1)  

Arch of Titus

I’m a little bit of a history buff – to varying degrees – depending on the time and location. But I love any and all history related to the Holy Land (especially things which relate to Jesus and His time.)

I found this to be interesting. I had not heard of it before. I’ll link here to the Wikipedia article for the full story, but the short version is this. This is a arch de triumph. The original one. The one the one in Paris, and all the other ones, were made after. Remember how the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and sacked the Jewish Temple in 70 AD, just like Jesus said they would? (No stone would be left unturned?) After the Romans did that, they went back to Rome and build this arch to celebrate it. There are still visible relief sculptures on the arch showing them walking off with the Minorah and other items from the temple. That was the last time Israel was a true self-governing nation…..until 1948. And what did the Jews do in 1948? They gathered at the Arch of Titus and marched through it in the opposite direction that the Romans paraded through it 1900 years earlier. Isn’t that cool?

[Originally written October 10th, 2008.]

Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 1:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

From 1st Peter

I struggle with maintaining my daily bible reading and prayer times. I am even in an accountability group while deals mostly with this, and it is still a struggle. But you know, I never go away after diving into God’s Word and saying, “I wish I could have that hour back.” I only feel lifted up, fulfilled and empowered. Yet, just like the children of Israel, I forget it quickly and struggle to find motivation.

This morning I was reading 1st Peter. I was also going along with the notes in my MacArthur Study Bible, and it was very helpful; but the thing that stuck with me most wasn’t from the notes, but from the text itself. I want to quote it, and then quote the notes. The imagery of what Peter says here is so powerful.

1 Peter 3:18-22

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who fomerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”

Now there are lots of interesting things in there, but there is a certian point being made through imagery that is so powerful.

3:21 an antitype which now saves us. In the NT, an antitype is an earthly expression of a spiritual reality. It indicates a symbol, picture, or pattern of some spiritual truth. Peter is teaching that the fact that 8 people were in an ark and went through the whole judgment, and yet were unharmed, is analogous to the Christian’s experience in salvation by being in Christ, the ark of one’s salvation. baptism… through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter is not at all referring to water baptism here, but rather a figurative immersion into union with Christ as an ark of safety from the judment of God. The resurrection of Christ demonstrates God’s acceptance of Christ’s substitutionary death for the sins of those who believe (Acts 2:30,31; Rom. 1:4). Judgment fell on Christ just as the judgment of the flood waters fell on the ark. The believer who is in Christ is thus in the ark of safety that will sail over the waters of judment into eternal glory (cf. Rom. 6:1-4). not the removal of the filth of the flesh. To be sure he is not misunderstood, Peter clearly says he is not speaking of water baptism. In Noah’s flood, they were kept out of the water while those who went into the water were destroyed. Being in the ark and thus saved from God’s judgment on the world prefigures being in Christ and thus saved from eternal damnation.

Now isn’t that parallel imagery so cool?

[Originally written July 15th, 2008.]

Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Working Through a Difficult Passage

Today in iCharlie 101 – 🙂 we will look at the proper exegesis of a difficult passage.  Maybe this will help some of us as we have to explain these things to people who bring them up to us sometimes.

1 Timothy 2:13-14

For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into trangression.  Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

The “For Adam was formed first” part is said because Paul is explaining why women are not to teach men in church.  He is relating it back to the garden of Eden to show why this is the case.  But a confusing part can come with the next part that at first glace, seems to say the salvation of women comes from childbearing; which we know clearly violates what Scripture teaches.

I want to use my MacArthur Study Bible to clear this up.  He does such a great job.  Here we go:

2:15 she. That Paul doe not have Eve  in mind here is clar because the verb translated “will be saved” is future, and he also uses the plural pronoun “they.”  He is talking about women after Eve.  will be saved. Better translated in this context, “will be preserved.”  The Greek word can also mean “to rescue,” “to preserve safe and unharmed,” “to heal,” or “to deliver from.”  It appears several times in the NT without reference to spiritual salvation (cf. Matt. 8:25; 9:21,22; 24:22; 27:40, 42, 49; 2 Tim. 4:18).  Paul is not advocating that women are eternally saved from sin through childbearing or that they maintain their salvation by having babies, both of which would be clear contradictions of the NT teaching of salvation by grace alone through faith alone (Rom. 3:19, 20) sustanied forever (Rom. 8:31 – 39).  Paul is teaching that even through a woman bears the stigma of tbeing the inital instrument who led the race into sin, it is women through childbearing who may be preserved or freed from that stigma by raising a generation of godly children (cf. 5:10).  in childbearing. Because mothers have a unique bond and intimacy with their children, and spend far more time with them than do fathers, they have far greater influence in their lives and thus a unique responsibility and opportunity for rearing godly children.  While a woman may have led the human race into sin, women have the privilege of leading many out of sin to godliness.”

So there you have it.  I find his exegetical explanation very helpful.  Paul is saying women will be saved, preserved, rescued from their stigma attained via Eve in the Garden of Eden through raising godly children.

[Originally written July 8th, 2008.]

Published in: on November 7, 2008 at 1:30 pm  Comments (1)