Wednesday, November 14, 2007


The question I have been asking myself lately is: do I defend my actions?

I am starting to live fearing the words of God:

"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart."
-Proverbs 21:2

The concept here is that even when we act right, if people do not like what we say and do, do we have a biblical right to defend ourselves? Do we say "I am right because the bible says this..."?

Well, lets look at the fruits of God's spirit (Galatians 5:22-23): Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It says nothing about defending ourselves. In fact, lets look at the example in Paul

"Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved."
-2 Cor 12:19

Paul so often did not defend himself. I assume that was a lesson he took from Christ. Christ, so often, on Calvary's road, did not seem to speak up when He could have. I wince when I read Pilot asking Jesus "What is truth?" (John 18:38). Christ should have said "Me! You blind FOOL!" But He did not. Why?

So I would say we should not make a self-defense. If the core of the gospel is humility, which it clearly is, then why should I be right in the eyes of men? From Genesis 1:1 humility is the core aspect of reading scripture: God did it. We need humility when we read the bible, otherwise we put ourselves over God's word. I do not love the law of God because it just so happens to suite me, I love it because I find out that I am a wicked sinner. I praise God not because of the law, but because He sent His Son to pay the burden I cannot bear!

But that means I must live "coram Deo" (before God). Not before men. It also relates to not trusting God's sovereignty. God is in control, He will not permit a word to come from your lips unless it will maximize His glory in the end. So when we say the wrong thing, we take it as correction. When we say the right thing, we praise God for showing His work in us.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bible complaints

I have recently been challenged by someone to carefully consider my beliefs in scripture. This is an awesome challenge for me as it always provides fuel for thought. Objections are those things that do not make me cringe in fear, but rather cause me to go to our Fathers word, the bible.

There are three elements to this complaint, all supported in scripture itself. What surprises me is that this person seems to be the anti-evangelist. They want to, using scripture, prove that I should not follow scripture. I would have it no other way.

"Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life! 41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; 42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in your word. 43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules."
- Psalms 119:40 - 43

There are many other difficult verses I want to cover and these are easy practice.

Firstly, did men write the bible? Of course they did. But they did so under divine inspiration. 2 Timothy 3:16 makes that clear. Secondly, the faith I have is in Christ alone. There is no other real God, nor is there any other worthy God. What I mean by that is: if, in eternity, I am proved wrong, I will: happily burn in (whoever's) hell for believing that my God is Christ, for all of Him. There has to be this element to faith. Faith cannot exist with proof. Since faith is what I must have, then faith is what I have.

To start off the argument I would like to say that my theology may be summarized in two very simple words: 'God first'. I have a high view of scripture and in all things God is sovereign. God is true because that is who He is, not because there is truth. What I mean is that if God is gentle, if He smites someone down, He is still gentle and therefore that was a gentle God. If this were not the case, He would not be God. So when the bible says that God is gentle, yet orders the death of someone, it is for His glory and His purpose. God needs no defender for His actions. There is a beautiful quote of what should be the view of scripture:

"The debate over inerrancy frequently comes down to choosing whether or not to tolerate such problems as 'unanswered questions' or to transfer them to the category of 'demonstrated problems.' Often that decision reflects ones internal attitude toward Scripture and towards critical methods. If Scripture is accepted as the inspired word of God, as the 'standard that sets the standard,' one will be reluctant to charge it with error - since to do so one must have some other, perhaps higher, norm by which to evaluate Scripture."1

With the basis stated, lets get started.

I am not sure what the exactly the first 'complaint' is but let us look at a particularly disturbing verse:

"No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD"

This seems to me the hardest of the three. What does 'assembly' mean here? Does it mean that if a man's organ is removed (against his will, or by accident) he cannot enter heaven? Or does it mean that he cannot be a priest (or hold some office) in the old testiment temple? To be serious, the context would not suggest the former. In the very next verse, it says that a bastard child may not enter into the assembly. Does God condemn people because of their parents? I praise Him by saying NAY! Even the old testiment teaches that! See Ezekiel 18. The interpretive problem here is context. In all these verses, God is protecting the purity of His people. These verses do not speak of salvation, just old testiment rules. What is the application of this verse today? God cares who is in church office.

The second complaint (at least it is defined) is that the bible was written as "population control." This amuses me as those who were writing the bible would have, I assume, laughed in the face of someone who said that, had they not been so humble. Can you imagine telling a guy locked up in jail, after being beaten for preaching, that all he was interested in was population control? Paul got 39 lashes five times for preaching the gospel (2 Corinthians 11:24). People were dying because of the word of God. The 'population control' thing is Catholic and since they do not believe in contraceptives, they may even find this rather humorous.

Also the bible does not say it should be used as governmental rule. I was thinking this very morning how great it would be if everyone was forced to follow Christian rules, because South Africa could surely use it. However, as a baptist, I believe in the separation of Church and state. If you do not believe the bible I cannot force it on you. Only God can provide the repentance necessary (2 Timothy 2:25).

With that in mind lets look at the 'suppoting' verse:

" If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church"
- 1 Corinthians 14:35

I think the lady is more complaining about 'woman control' rather than 'population control.' Yes, the bible does teach this. But again your issue is context.

"the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says."
- 1 Corinthians 14:34

The Law said it. This is no new teaching. In fact all that is denied here is a little doctrine of original sin.

To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

That is why women must be silent in churches. This is obviously during preaching or something like that, not as legalistic as 'when they walk through the doors.' They are also not permitted to be preachers, for exactly the same reason (1 Timothy 2:12 - 15).

And finally, the last complaint. A question of old testiment law.

"Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death."
- Exodus 35:2

So what now? I must kill people in the name of the Lord for working on the sabbath. Well, Jesus said he came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). What did He do? He died on the cross. He bore the punishment of sins. So we don't have to. It's the same reason we don't sacrifice animals anymore. Jesus is the sacrifice that ended sacrifices. What is the application of the verse today? 1. God is in favour of the death penalty. 2. He takes the sabbath (His holy day for His people) seriously. Plus the new testiment changes the view, a part of the new covenant:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself."
-Romans 14:5-7

God is telling us that we are now free in Him. You'll find many old testiment laws, including the golden rule, in the new testiment. Some things fall away, but not in a sense that they are forgotten.

Praise be to God for His most awesome word of truth!

1 "The Origin of the Bible", by F.F. Bruce, J.I. Packer, Philip Comfort and Carl F.H. Henry, Tyndale House Publishers, 2003

To be or not to be, that is the question

I recently discussed this elsewhere and remembered I wanted to do it for this blog, so here it is.

Who feels like some good old fashioned philosophy?1

I have not studied philosophy or theology, these are just some ideas that I have come up with while talking to both groups, as well as my studies in AI.

Basically, as far as my feeble understanding goes, there are three categories under which proof for God may be examined:
1. Internal gestation
2. External examination
3. Proof by negation

So lets look at number 1: Internal gestation. In this area I have seen only one argument so far, with not so many spin-offs. The ontological argument for God (SEP - "Ontological arguments") - are "arguments, for the conclusion that God exists, from premises which are supposed to derive from some source other than observation of the world — e.g., from reason alone. In other words, ontological arguments are arguments from nothing but analytic, a priori and necessary premises to the conclusion that God exists."

That sounds great - determining the existence of God by reason alone! I'm so clever because I knew God was there without anything other than myself! This is an un-Christian attitude because Romans 3:11 clearly says

"no one understands; no one seeks for God."
-Romans 3:11

Also the foundation of this argument is that belief itself creates the being. Rene Descartes tried this one "I think, therefore I am" to give himself assurance of his own existence. However it was actually a lesson in unfaithfulness. It stems from "Since I know that I doubt my existence, I must exist."

Also, what is the focal point of the argument? What a shock... it's man centered: "I know God exists because I can reason and I can doubt and I can..." - hmmmm, you'd think we wouldn't need a Saviour.

2. The external examination option.
The only way truth can be gathered is in this manner. As from the argument above, truth can not be determined from within us. The sad thing is that I wonder how many "Christians" get this. There is no truth in us. There is only truth in God. That is WHY He gave us the bible, that truth may be determined. 2 Cor 3:5 displays this well

"Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God."
-2 Corinthians 3:5

We are sufficient ONLY in God. God must then be external (or a separated being) in relation to us. And praise Him that He is the ONLY being to which truth is INTERNAL.

"I am the way the truth and the life"
-John 14:6

This can make sense to any man. If there is a being to which truth is not internal, that being is NOT God. God can only be the being that knows everything, can do anything. Our question is not "is there a God?" Rather it is "which God?" On a side note - only God can reveal Himself to others. There is no need for strife or anger towards sinners. We would be so much worse if we were not so graciously saved.

So from Romans 1 we can see that he can be seen from the world around us. Arguments that follow these lines are the teleological argument (one is known to anti-evolutionists as "Payleys watch"). There are many others like this.

We have to look at the scientific method. We can only perceive what is in our immediate reality. We cannot "prove" God (specfically Christ) by our surroundings. In addition we cannot exit our realm without being absurd.

"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong"
-1 Corinthians 1:27

So when the world laughs at us you know how we are to react? In humility! Isn't it amazing that God is so logical in His word?

3. The proof by negation or contradiction.
I think this argument can fit into both categories. We can shift the burden of proof by arguing that God's non-existence must be proved. This "Kent-Hovind" style of argument is unfortunately hurtful and unhelpful. You cannot prove the non-existence of anything. But as Christians we can rejoice. Non-existence CANNOT BE PROVEN. It took me so long to get that, that since God cannot be disproved, I am free to joyful in the Lord. So just as much as I say that God exists no man can logically tell me He does not!

But in all of this, can we "prove" Christ? My honest answer is no. There is no way to argue someone through the gates of heaven. Salvation is the work of Christ and Christ alone. But praise Him that it is, otherwise we would be lost.

Another point I'd like to make is that God is the source of truth. In this we know that we have the MOST right way of dealing with everything in life. No man should be able to disagree with us, if we are able to be perfect. Since God is truth, and if He is for us who can stand against us? Paul I answer a very obvious question: NO ONE!

Also, this may sound off, but my intention is to build you all up: We cannot 'prove' God. Does this cause us distress? Well, sometimes, it can. Since I cannot prove it why should I believe it? Well, what is the core attribute of salvation?

"because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(10) For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."
-Romans 10:9-10

Seriously? Romans 10:9-10 is it? Look at this verse, belief is an essential aspect of Christianity.

We have FAITH. What is faith? "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" Hebrews 11:1. Another part of faith is that it does not come from us, it is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Know that I believe that we are not saved BECAUSE we believe, but rather, we know we are saved because we believe.

So that is my thoughts on the existence of God. Proving is impossible, because then salvation can become by works. It also helps with my understanding of why we don't see miracles and other supernatural things. It is by faith!

Praise the Lord!

1 I are not a philo-fickle person, so I's quite stupid coming to terms wif the write fing to say