Monday, March 27, 2017

Devotion 15: He Comes With Vindication

"Here is your God,
He comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
He comes to save you."

Isaiah 35:4b (NAB)

As terrible as it may sound, as self-centered and selfish it may be appear, the Bible tells believers to consider the end of the wicked, of those who reject faith in Christ, and see how it contrasts with the end of the righteous, those who trust in Christ and walk in His way.

The second coming of Christ will necessarily involve two things in connection with the saints:
1.  They will be vindicated before the sinner.
2.  They will be rewarded with salvation.

Whether I am alive or my flesh eaten up by worms when the Lord Jesus finally appears on the earth, this is certain: the sinners will know that I was right about Christ being the Savior and they were wrong to reject him.

There are two things the sinner will know when Christ appears:
1.  They will see that Christ is real and alive, just as I said.
2.  They will see me next to Christ while between them and us is a great chasm they cannot cross.

There is no delight in the recognition of these truths as revealed in the Bible.  But each will be responsible for the eternity they step into when the soul leaves the body or when Christ returns to make all things new. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: 1984

1984 1984 by George Orwell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I finally read this after having it sit on my bookcase for 10 years or so, and I read it since that was the #1 book being sold at Amazon, mostly due to Trump's election as President; and I can understand why.

Written in 1949, this is a futuristic world where the government is in absolute control of information, from it's flow to what that information actually entails. The government controls the news, even to the point being able to change past news events according to what they want the people to know or not know.

For example, the world consists of three countries: Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia. If the government wants to say that they are at war with Eastasia, they disseminate that information. However, should they change their mind and want the people to know that they are warring with Eurasia and not Eastasia, they will correct all past news reports to reflect that they had always been at war with one and not the other. The truth would never be found out because all past news is destroyed and all that exists is the news as it has been changed.

The government sets out to control not just the dissemination information but the way the people think and, primarily, to think as the government tells them to think and whenever their is a self-contradiction, there really is no self-contradiction. If the government says 2 + 2 = 5, then 2 + 2 = 5, no questions asked.

This is called doublethink, that is, to hold simultaneously two contrary opinions as true with the full knowledge that they are contrary but, nevertheless, to believe it with the belief that the illogical is logical while, at the same time, knowing it is not but dismissing such knowledge; it is consciously knowing truth while being unconscious to what is truth.

Is that confusing? Yes. it is called "doublethink." Something that, apparently, Trump may be unconsciously practicing.

This is a book that should be read, in my opinion, especially during the Trump's presidency in order to understand the dangers inherent in believing someone, without question, who speaks and tweets falsehoods practically everyday and, especially, who rails against the news media for passing "fake news."

Read the book. It reflects a dark utopia.

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Devotion 14: Repugnant Grace

On their Facebook page, someone wrote "Liars!"  And underneath was a picture of a women with the caption, "Jesus would hold women's hands to support them during their abortion: abortionist."

I thought, on the one hand, God is angered by such sins so how could he hold the hands of the women having an abortion and, also, of those performing it?  Yet, on the other hand, God loves all men and women, not as righteous but as sinners.  Doesn't the Bible read, "for God so loved the world"?

But, then I was startled to think that while I agree God's Only Son would not support having an abortion, however, he did more than just hold their hand:  He died for them on a Cross while they were having the abortion!

I thought, on the one hand, God is angered by such sins so how could he hold the hands of one having and those performing an abortion; yet, on the other hand, God loves all men and women as sinners.  Doesn't the Bible read, "for God so loved the world"?

Right after reading that FB post, I opened my Bible for my daily morning reading, and the first verse that I came to was...

"But you spare all things, because they are yours..."
Wisdom 11:26 (NAB)

I am finding that this show of God's mercy is spite of such evil acts is repugnant, to be loving the ungodly - even me! - while they were still sinning, committing the most odious crimes against God's holiness and Law.  God's love, demonstrated on the Cross is a disgraceful and discreditable action, a scandal.  I realized how repugnant is the free and sovereign grace of God to our moral sense of justice, our sense of right and wrong.

God sees the horrendous evils being committed and, yet - is this going to far with what the Bible teaches us about divine grace? - He demonstrates His own love by sending His Son to die for sinners even while they are still sinning!

Perhaps our mind rebels against such love.  Perhaps we do not understand how to emulate that love in our own lives and hinder the Spirit's demonstration by a perception of our own righteousness that excludes others who are still yet sinning, distancing ourselves from them.  We forget that, although we may be saved and walking in obedience, nevertheless, we all still possesses the same fallen condition: "therefore, let him who stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Perhaps only a repugnant grace can free the sinner from his sins.  And we, as Christians, should know.  Such a repugnant grace freed us.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Review: The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 2

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 2 The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 2 by Alexander Roberts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good volume that consists of the early church leader's in defense of the Christian faith and the repudiation of pagan religious belief and Greek philosophy through the use of Scripture and Greek philosophy. It is interesting that the Christian writers used the word and Greek concept of "gnostic"/"gnosis" when making a distinction between the true gnostic or gnosis who were the Christians and the Scriptures, in opposition to the false gnostic or gnosis who were the pagans with their pagan beliefs.

The early fathers in this volume made use predominantly of the philosophic concepts used in their day to teach and explain Christian teachings in order to portray the latter as being beyond human concepts but not beyond reason. They also emphasized conduct appropriate to Christian faith. Apparently, without necessarily excluding faith, they made repentance and corresponding conduct essential to possessing salvation and spoke little of faith (apparently, it may have been assumed as reflected in repentance and right living?). It would be hard to find the Calvinist concept of salvation by "faith alone" in the these writings.

I must admit, I did skip of few pages finding them either redundant or uninteresting, for example, pages 253-291 of the "Instructor." The topics entitled were things like, "On the Use of Ointments and Crowns," "On Sleep," "On True Beauty," etc. I was finding subjects read before these to be boring so I decided to skip the rest, at least, until I got the the topic of "Religion in Ordinary Life," "Going to Church," "Out of Church," and further more interesting subjects I thought relevant even for today.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Devotion 13: the Divine Omnipotence

In Mercy is God's Power Displayed

"But you have mercy on all
Because you can do all things"
Wisdom 11:23

It is interesting that an apocryphal book in the Catholic edition of the Bible understands (better than what is taught in Calvinism) the relation between God's omnipotence and His wrath -- there is none!

However, it is between God's omnipotence and mercy that we see a connection the text in the Wisdom of Solomon shows us:  God seeks to reveal His mercy to sinful men precisely because he is all-powerful.  God's display of mercy - His profound ability "to overlook the sins of men [in the hopes] that they repent" - expresses his omnipotence.

It was never God's intention to use wrath in order to display His glory and majesty, His attribute of omnipotence (Ezekiel 18:23,32; 2 Peter 3:9).  Rather, through extending mercy to sinners is the awesome majesty of the divine power revealed.

Just consider the Cross.