Friday, February 24, 2006

Doctrinal Statement for Humanity, Sin, and Salvation

The Assignment: "Utilizing no outside resources other than your own convictions backed by the Biblical text, formulate a Doctrinal Statement for the Doctrines of Humanity, Sin, and Salvation. Each statement must be supported by one or more Biblical reference. Do not consult any other Doctrinal Statement, confession, or theological resource (e.g. books, pamphlets, articles, sermons, etc). The Bible is to be your only resource."

This assignment was given as part of a Theology course (THEO 2231) at Southeastern Bible College, Spring 2006. My response was what follows…

Doctrinal Statement of the Doctrines of Humanity, Sin, and Salvation
By KC Armstrong

I. Doctrine of Humanity
In the beginning, when God created the Heavens and the Earth, He also created man (Gen 1:27). God formed man out of the dust of the ground and “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen 2:7). Man was not created as an act of natural means or by any accident that transpired over time but was created in the image of God and is the only part of God’s creation that bears His image (Gen 1:27). As a result of being Created directly by God, not by a chance process, and bearing the image of God, man is granted an individual sense of identity and is not to be viewed as a machine (insignificant and easily dispensable), simply an another animal species (for man is higher than all other species), or as a pawn in the universe (as God is intricately involved in the details of man’s life) (Gen 1:27-28; Ex 20:13; Ps 139:3-15; Eph 2:10). God, IN His wisdom, decided that it was “not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18), therefore He made a suitable helper for the man. Woman was formed by God out of the rib of the man and the two were given dominion over the earth, to subdue it, and to rule over it (Gen 1:28). Thus, God’s ordination of and blessing upon the union of marriage was declared good when exercised under the authority of God between one man and one woman committed for life (Gen 2:24). Scripture address the varying parts of the man (heart, soul, mind, body) however one is not to be stressed over the other. As sin affects the entire being and salvation accomplishes redemption of the entire being, it is to be understood that the constitutional nature of man has varying parts but one whole. Therefore, all parts are moving in one direction at all times whether in word, or deed, or thought (Gen 34:8; Lev 26:15; Deut 6:5; 1 Sam 1:15; 1 Kin 8:48; Mat 10:28; Mat 22:37)

II. Doctrine of Sin
As a result of Adam’s sin, a sin nature has been transferred from every descendant from him to include all men and therefore all men after Adam were created with a nature inclined towards sin and as a further result there is no man who is without sin (Gen 8:21; 1 Kin 8:46; Ps 130:3; Pr 20:9; Eccl 7:20; Rom 3:23; Rom 5:12-17). In man’s sinful state, the totality of his being is corrupt and therefore he engages in deeds that are hostile towards God and is considered to be an enemy of God (Rom 5:8; Eph 2:3; Col 1:21). As a result of his being total depraved, man is enslaved to his own sinful desires and unable to free himself from such desires, he will deny responsibility for his own sin, he will deceive himself of the existence of his own sin, he will find himself unable to sense the presence of sin in his life, he will become increasingly concerned about his own needs, and will never be satisfied by the sin that he wants (Gen 3:12; Jer 17:9; Ex 7:3; Zec 7:12; Rom 6:17; Heb 11:25; Jam 1:15 1 Joh 1:8; ).

The result of man’s sin affects his relationships with other humans by causing competition among them, being overly concerned with his own desires and thus unable to see things from the perspective of his fellow man, he will reject authority in his life – especially the authority of God, and sin will produce actions that are only sought for his own satisfaction with no regards for others (Ex 32:31; 1 Sam 15:23, Mat 18:6; Ph 2:3-5; Jam 4:1-2; 17)

The results of sin are also evident in man’s relationship with God. Sin results in divine disfavor, guilt before a holy God as we have transgressed His law, accountable for punishment, and justifiably able to receive the penalty of death; physically, spiritually, and eternally (Gen Deut 4:25; 9:27; Josh 23:16; Ps 78:59; Rom 3:23; 6:23; Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13; 2 Pet 2:14; 1 Joh 5:16).

III. Doctrine of Salvation
As a result of man’s sinful nature and his inability to free himself from the bondage of sin, and God in His justice must punish sin, man is in need of salvation. (Rom 3:23). Before the foundations of the world were established, God chose some to be conformed to the likeness of Christ and to those alone He has rendered it certain that they will experience His salvation (Ps 139:3, 13-15; Rom 8:28-30; Eph 1:4; Col 3:12; 1 Pet 1:1-2). Salvation from beginning to end is an act of God’s grace, that is, man presents no quality that is worthy of redemption and it is only through the grace of God that man may experience salvation, not by man’s works. Not all men will be saved, and it will be only those whom He has chosen, but no chosen man will deny the effectual calling of God (Joh 6:44; Eph 2:8; 1 Pet 1:3).

Salvation is instantaneous and a process at the same time. In its initial state, the unbelieving, sinful man has his sin revealed to him, causing him to repent of his sin, to acknowledge Christ as Lord, and to place his faith in Christ, not trusting in his own works, but he does not do so as a result of his own mind, but only in response to the grace of God. This is regeneration and, at this time, the man is then adopted, or placed, directly into the family of God and his salvation is eternally secure at this moment as he receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come (Is 55:1; Ez 11:19-20; Jer 24:7; Dan 9:18; Joh 1:13; 3:3-21; 6:44; Eph 2:4-8; Col 1:22; 2 Tim 1:9-10; Tit 3:5-7; Heb 1:3; 1 Pet 1:2-3, 23; 1 John 3:2). As a result of this regeneration, the man is now a new creation, with a new nature, and is therefore justified, or declared not guilty before the Father because of the work of Christ on the cross (Ps 103:8-12; 118:14; Is 1:18; 53:3-7; 2 Cor 5:17, Tit 3:5). Sanctification is the next step in salvation and is the period of time where the new believer is in a continual relationship with Christ and is being conformed to His image (Rom 6:19-22; 8:28-30; 1 Pet 1:2-3). All true believers, those whom God has chosen, will persevere in their faith until the end times and beyond. None have the capacity to fall away and Christ can not deny Himself by casting them off. Therefore, salvation is eternally secure (Joh 17:6, 9-10, Eph 1:13-14; Col 1:13-14; 1 Th 4:13-17; 2 Tim 2:11-13; Heb 6:4-6; 1 Pet 1:3-5). There will be a time for all those who have been chosen that they will be brought up into Heaven to take up eternal residence with Christ. At this point, they will receive glorified bodies that are no longer tainted with a sinful nature and will have the opportunity to worship Christ fully for all of eternity. (John 6:44; 1 Cor 15; Col 2:12; 1 Th 4:13-17; Rev 11:12)

As man is totally depraved while in his sin nature, that is, unable to remove himself from his position, God as an act of His grace provided the means for His wrath to be satisfied and for his justice to be given (Rom 1:18; 2 Cor 5:21). This means is not through the work of men but by the death of Christ on the cross (Eph 2:8-9). His death was sacrificial in that He was without sin and therefore the only candidate capable of presenting Himself as a spotless lamb in line with the Old Testament system of sacrifices (Ex 29:36; Lev 1:3, 3:1, 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 9:6-15, 10:5-18). In His death, He became the propitiation and substitution for sin in that, He first fulfilled the whole law and then He became sin for man so that the wrath of God could be poured out upon Him and satisfied by such pouring out although He Himself knew no sin (Is 53:5-6, 12; Mat 27:46; Joh 1:29; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13; 4:3-4; 1 Pet 2:24). In His death, He accomplished the ministry of reconciliation in that He has now provided a link between God the Father and sinful man. Without this reconciliation all men would remain alienated from God unable to approach Him by their own means (Ex 33:20-23; Lev 16:17; Mat 27:51; Rom 3:23-25, 5:11; 2 Cor 5:18-19; Col 1:20; 1 Tim 6:16; Heb 10:14).

For a Better Formulated Doctrinal Statement See "Baptist Faith & Message, 2000" Here

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Why I Blog

No one asked, but I thought I would answer. I suppose that there are many noble purposes for which persons offer as to why he or she chooses to blog. I also suppose that there are a myriad of reasons that are somewhat less than noble. Without the ability to confidently and competently ascertain why any individual acts in any fashion, I will pass on the opportunity to speculate on the purposes of the forty gagillion weblogs that are now in existence. However, I will make one comment regarding blogs of the Christian community: “Most Bloggers are not theologians and all (including this one) should be tested against the authority of Scripture – not the yea or nea comments posted by passers by.” Having said this, on to my own purpose for blogging, of which I confess, that I sometimes also question the nobility (or lack thereof) in my own reasons for posting.

As all Christians are called to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31), I ought not to entertain the idea of doing anything that falls short of His glory. However, everything that I do in and of itself will in fact fall short of His glory, so there appears to exist a conundrum. I resolve this riddle by acknowledging that I will never achieve the righteousness that Christ desires for me and thus rely on the righteousness that He sovreignly chose to give me and all those of His Church (Romans 3:23-26). And thus seek, as an earthly representative of His dwelling place (2 Cor 3:16), to act in accordance with His provisions “so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11).

But in this moment I also must confess the depravity of my own soul, knowing that there are times when I desire the glory for myself. I desire to be puffed up with compliments and adoration so that I may appear to all as more sanctified than my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The need to appear “spiritual” outweighs the command to be humble “under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt [me] at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6). Intellectually I also know that “when pride comes, then comes dishonor; but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2), yet I still struggle with the desire for my own self recognition. “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not” (Romans 7:18). And agreeing with Augustine, “…O Holy God…when Your commands are obeyed, it is from You that we receive the power to obey them” (1). Thus, I trust that the eternal weight of His presence, will drown out the impure over time, and when I am gone to glory, my desires will finally be perfected to conform to the desires of His heart.

So, if the preceding is more of a “how” I should blog, let me attempt to answer my own question of “why?” I blog so that I might see my thoughts develop into a God-centered, Christ-exalting conviction. If I can not achieve this, I ought not to publish before I have had the opportunity to bring such thoughts “captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). And this is where the blessings enter. None to the reader’s chagrin, a gaggle of thoughts preceded the finished product and through the seeking to understand my own purposes for each article, I see where my convictions lie, and words unfold. Often wrinkled, but unfold nonetheless. This is primarily a fancy method to describe the reality that I need practice organizing my thoughts in a concise and articulate expression. This is a gift that many have and I wish to develop. And therefore, by challenging my own convictions, the blog provides a means in which to force practice; for every article does not meet a posting without study and research. My aim is not to be the overachiever who can post twenty-eight pages a day telling tale of the comings and goings of everything in the western hemisphere - and there are many who are capable of such a feat. I can rattle off three or four pages of typesetting without communicating a single thought, but this just signifies that I am long-winded. For an aspiring public communicator, this is a curse. Attention spans are dwindling as the centuries troll along, and it has now become increasingly more vital to be pointed in speech so that the message of the preacher is not lost in the fluff.

Case in point. This last paragraph could have been summed up this way: “I need the practice.” But instead, I fluff – even through several revisions. Rants.

May His glory be evident despite these twisted fingers.

(1) Aurelius Augustine of Hippo. Confessions. trans R.S. Pine-Coffin. New York: Penguin Books, 1961. 181 (ix, i) as quoted by John Piper Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000. 56.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Mock Jury

I have struggled over the last few days to find the balance between compassion/respect and being completely appalled and then incensed. Unless you have been under a rock for the past few weeks, you have heard tale told of the uproar over the posting of disrespectful cartoons depicting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban. The Islamic tradition does not tolerate for any image of the prophet to be cast, respectful or disrespectful. Therefore, since these images fell along the disrespectful side, the backlash has been even greater.

I do have a level of compassion for those who truly have been offended and have chosen to express their dissatisfaction legally through the boycott of Danish products or what have you. However, I am appalled at those who have chosen to respond with violence to the extent of burning a Danish embassy and other acts that have resulted in the deaths of several individuals. And to these individuals I would like to pose the question: “Muhamad was shown with a bomb in his turban, indicating that those who follow him enjoy violence. And you are responding with an even greater violence, therefore, what message am I to take from this concerning the Islamic faith?” It simply does not make sense. My own shock and amazement increased exponentially today by an interview conducted by NPR’s Morning Edition with Ahmed Abu Laban, the religious director of the Muslim Society in Copenhagen, Denmark. Abu Laban is the man responsible for informing the world of the existence of the cartoons by sending what he calls “intimidation letters” to various centers in Egypt and Lebanon. In these “intimidation letters,” he chose to not only reprint the cartoons that he is supposedly adamantly opposed to being in print, but he also willingly reprinted other cartoons that were NEVER published. So I question what his true motivation was. Was it truly so that the Danish newspaper would apologize to the Islamic faith, or was it a way to incite those who are prone to violence so that they may have an excuse to do so? Kudos to NPR, Morning Edition, and Steve Inskeep for this here for interview

John Piper, in his article Being Mocked: The Essence of Christ’s Work, not Muhammad’s, makes a quite insightful observation: “The work of Muhammad is based on being honored and the work of Christ is based on being insulted.” Part of Christ’s incarnation was His humiliation. The very fact that He descended from the loftiest of all thrones, gave up the position above all other positions and chose to become flesh was a humbling experience for Him. As Ken Gire has written, “The baby [Jesus…]sighs, the divine Word reduced to a few unintelligible sounds. Then, for the first time, His eyes fix on His mother’s. Deity straining to focus. The Light of the World, squinting[…]She touches His hand. And hands that once sculpted mountain ranges cling to her finger.” All this before He faced angry crowds, had His character challenged, was kicked out of towns, denied by His closest friend, scorned, ridiculed, and mocked profusely by a group of soldiers who were just having a little Friday night fun. His humiliation was required for our salvation and future glorification.

Perhaps men and women of the Islamic tradition understand Christianity’s 2nd commandment more than we do: “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth” (Ex 20:4 NASB). Why would God give us such a commandment? Because He knew in our own limitations that we could not possibly make an image that accurately resembled His likeness and His character. So was the cartoon of Muhammed an accurate representation of his character or completely off the mark? If the reaction that it has sparked is any indication, I would venture to guess that it was dead on. Furthermore, it has much more of a possibility of being accurate because Muhammad was a man, not the Divine Savior, Creator, and Author of all things, through whom all things hold together. “Jesus Christ is still the only hope of peace with God and peace with man. And it means that his followers must be willing to “share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10)” (Piper).

For the complete article by John Piper,click here

Ken Gire. Moments With the Savior: A Devotional Life of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998. 31.

** UPDATED 2/13/06 **: Little did I know, Dr. Russ Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was sitting in as guest host for the Albert Mohler radio program the same day that I posted this commentary. As Drs. Moore and Mohler are much more learned than I am, I would submit the radio program to you for your review. You may access it here

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Be Diligent to Show Yourself Approved

Written to me by my beloved brother, Rev. Francois Verschelden, Pastor Living Rock Baptist Church, St-Felix de Valois, Quebec, Canada on October 21, 2002 [I have not edited so that you might receive his “tiny” little French accent]:

“To ‘Happy Memories’ add the study of the Word of God. Combine two together and you will always be able to know that you are still in God’s plan for your life and make a difference in the life of other.

2 Ti 2:15
Love you. Your Friend forever”

Francois wrote this to me during our first trip and subsequent first good-bye (of two that trip) to Montreal and the surrounding areas. At the time, I was a little miffed by what he wrote. Honestly, I was shocked that he would write to me – me of all people! – and tell me that I need to study more and that I should “be diligent to present [myself] approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Although I did not know this at the time, Francois hit me dead on, but his message fell on a hard heart. I thought that I was studying and reading “enough.” I had my quiet times, my accountability group, my Bible study group, my various ministries that I was a part of, etc, etc. But Franco (as I affectionately call him) knew that I needed to be encouraged to study more and to not be satisfied with minute niblets of the truth. He exhorted me to feast upon the Bread of Life and to get fat from it.

I recalled this admonition from my past as it has thankfully haunted me ever since. I come to realize that as one who likes to study and will make a lifetime of doing so; I have the opportunity of becoming calloused to any passage of Scripture because I have “read that one before.” Dr. Howard Hendricks reminds us,

“The genius of the Word of God is that it has staying power; it can stand up to repeated exposure. In fact, that’s why it is unlike any other book. You may be an expert in a given field. If you read a book in that field two or three times, you’ve got it. You can put it on the shelf and move on to something else. But that’s never true of the Bible. Read it over and over again, and you’ll still see thing that you’ve never seen before” (1).

It is quite simple to get caught up in thinking that a particular passage has already been mastered, or at least thoroughly examined. The only thing true about that statement is that it has been mastered, but only by the author – never the reader. I would probably even venture to say that the human authors who were “moved by the Holy Spirit [who] spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21) did not completely comprehend the message that the Lord was giving each of them to proclaim but only the source of the message – The Trinity – could understand. Peter spoke of Paul’s writings in such a way to indicate that he may have wrestled with them as well: “Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand” (2 Peter 3 15-16). I am thankful for this statement of truth to affirm that in the times when I do not fully understand Scripture’s intent, that I am not a blundering idiot immediately cast out of the Presence of the Lord.

All this as an introduction to say, if there ever was one who was diligent to show himself approved, his name was Martin Luther, the Augustinian Monk from Erfurt, Germany (2). In regards to Luther’s diligence to pursue the truth behind Romans 1:17 (“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘BUT THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.’”) which brought about the face of the Reformation and much of the Protestant Church as we know it today, he says, “I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted” (3). His passion for the truth and his utmost desire to truly divide the Word down to its marrow and to drink deeply from the riches of its well was his driving force, and thankfully, he was not content to allow his studies to be consumed with the commentaries of his contemporaries.

“It is a sin and shame not to know our own book or to understand the speech and words of our God; it is still a greater sin and loss that we do not study languages, especially in these days when God is offering and giving us men and books and every facility and inducement to this study, and desires his Bible to be an open book. O how happy the dear fathers would have been if they had our opportunity to study the languages and come thus prepared to the Holy Scriptures! What great toil and effort it cost them to gather up a few crumbs, while we with half the labor – yes, almost without any labor at all – can acquire the whole loaf! O how their effort puts our indolence to shame!” (4)

As Luther penned these words in the 1500’s, John Piper adds “With computer programs for instruction and use of the languages, how much more true is this today than when it was written!” (5)

Luther’s charge to any student of the word, and probably more ardently toward the teacher:

“The call is: watch, study, attend to reading. In truth you cannot read too much in Scripture; and what you read you cannot read too carefully, and what you read carefully you cannot understand too well, and what you understand well you cannot teach too well, and what you teach well you cannot live too well” (6).

And concerning his understanding of the laborious work of the student of the Word:

“Ask…a preacher…how much work it is to speak and preach…The pen is very light, that is true…[In other types of work] the person can sing happily or make jokes freely which a sermon writer cannot do. Three fingers do it all…but the whole body and soul have to work at it” (7).

A true teacher, who understands the power, the weight, and his accountability before the Father, will do his due diligence to make sure that he accurately handles the word of truth. For one who is fully submitted to the Biblical text and has submerged himself into it, the proclamation of this timeless truth demands the totality of his being; his mind, his heart, his tongue, his hands, his eyes, his ears, and the rest of his members. The true teacher does not achieve this thirty minutes before he is to preach or even one hour prior. As A.W. Tozer comments, “It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table” (8). The true teacher understands this and is haunted by this very reality and therefore, makes it his aim to faithfully study so that he might declare the excellencies of his Maker.

Dr. Albert Mohler, one who believes fully in the centrality of preaching as worship says

“The church has never been faithful when it has lacked fidelity in the pulpit…Those who are called to preach bear a heavy duty. As Martin Luther confessed “If I could come down with a good conscience, I would rather be stretched out on a wheel and carry stones than preach one sermon"…True preaching is not an exhibition of the brilliance or intellect of the preacher, but an exposition of the wisdom and power of God…This occasion itself represents the divine initiative, for it is God Himself, and not the preacher, who controls His Word” (9).

If you teach, study to show yourself approved. If you are a hearer, pray for your pastor, your teacher, your Bible study leader, whoever is responsible to faithfully declare what God has already revealed. As with the Gospel, the duty comes with great reward but at great sacrifice.

1 Howard Hendricks. Living By The Book. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1991. 81.
2 John Piper. The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Trumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000. 84.
3 John Dillenberger, ed. Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1961. xvii. As quoted by John Piper. The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Trumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000. 91.
4 Fred W. Meuser. Luther the Preacher. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1983. 39. As quoted by John Piper ibid. 99-100.
5 ibid. 100.
6 Meuser ibid 40-41. Piper ibid 101.
7 ibid 44-45. ibid 101-102
8 A.W. Tozer. The Pursuit of God. reprinted, Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, INC, 1993. 8. (originally written in 1948)
9 Albert Mohler. “Why Do We Preach? A Foundation for Christian Preachin, Part One” click here for article

** UPDATED 2/13/06 **:
Another much more learned scholar than I, J. Ligon Duncan, has commented on the need for maturing Christians to study. He quotes C.H. Spurgeon who is commenting on 2 Tim 4:13, "[Paul] is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books!...The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. YOU need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying." Read Duncan's article, posted on the Together For the Gospel Blog here.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

The Corruptible Image

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:4 NASB

In the deliverance of the Sinai Covenant, where God promised His blessings to Israel conditional upon their obedience to His commands, He includes the command to abstain from setting up an image as a replica of the things in the heavens. Somewhat ironically, as this command was being given, the people of Israel were at the bottom of the mountain wondering what had happened to their leader, Moses, and in need of the assurance that comes from physical sight. Therefore, Aaron created a golden calf for them and said plainly “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD” (Ex 32:5). Aaron was not attempting to undermine the authority of God or to lead the people of Israel into false worship, but he thought he was establishing an image that they could cast their comforts on. However, the image, as pretty as it may have been, was wrong.

And thus is the crux of the second commandment. Do not attempt to formulate a picture of who God is inconsistent with His character that He has revealed in Scripture, because it will be wrong. I make an image of who I want God to be every day. I want Him to be lenient, to overlook my sin, and to allow me to continue along a path of unrighteousness because it is much more convenient for me and I somehow think that I am above His commandments. I want Him to act in accordance with my timeframe and in the way in which I think is best for all creation because in my limited focus, that is all I know. But the image that I want and the image that I need are oftentimes at the opposite ends of the spectrum. I want Him to overlook sin, but I need for Him to hate sin so much that He provides atonement for it. I want Him to act in the way that I see fit, but I need Him to act in the best interest of His Church and the rest of His creation for only then will I truly see His glory and His fame.

I want to want to see Him as my ultimate need. Augustine understood this great delight in the Father. He said, “I call ‘charity’ [i.e., love for God] the motion of the soul toward the enjoyment of God for His own sake, and the enjoyment of one’s self and of one’s neighbor for the sake of God”(1). Basically, that nothing less than a true, pure image (or concept) of who God is should be able to satisfy the truest longing of my soul. Or as John Piper declares, “Grace is God’s giving us sovereign joy in God that triumphs over joy in sin”(2). That my desire for Him would far exceed any conceptual desire that I have for the things of this world, things that are in rebellion to His character, things that are not for my spiritual benefit or betterment but only possess the present-day, momentary, fleeting, and empty value that they offer. Presented with the choice of Sovereign Joy in knowing Christ and Him crucified and the offer of a tiny taste of what I know will not satisfy, apart from grace, I will always choose the morsel of disobedience.

Lord, may I truly have a right understanding of who You are and Your redemption plan that You have enacted for Your people. May I rightly see You as You have revealed Yourself in recorded truth and that I may consistently seek Your grace to allow me to choose You over all things. To choose You over me. I confess that I choose me all too many times, and I exchange the glory of God for the corruptible image of man. Help me to understand that I am in Your image, and I am in Your name, and there is more to life than the here-and-now, and there is more to life than me. Move me past myself so that I may see You fully and accurately. Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” (Psalm 119:18).

1 Aurelius Augustine of Hippo. On Christian Doctrine, translated by D.W. Robertson, Jr. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1958. 88. Quoted by John Piper, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000. 56

2 John Piper. The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000. 57

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Baby Tomato was lagging behind Mama Tomato one day as they were out for a stroll. After chiding him profusely for his slow progression, Mama Tomato went back to Baby Tomato and squashed him. She then said “Ketchup.”

And thus my Heinz 57 Variety of things comes today as a result of a diminished capacity or ability to retain an attention span long enough to satisfy a gnat.

Jan 4 – I had the privilege of being in one of he sweetest times of worship and prayer as I was presented to our church family to be set apart and ordained as a Deacon for our local body. We had a time to “lay hands” and as each hand descended upon me I felt many things one of which was the literal weight of men pressing down on me. More spiritually, however, was the weight of the responsibility that the Lord was leading me into. I really have a grand opportunity to screw up royally and my dependence upon the grace of our Lord must increase day by day. In contrast, I also felt the lifting up of men who have gone before me, some who know me intimately and some who do not, all who by their own willful admission are not perfect, but are “perfected for all time” (Heb 10:14 ESV) by the sovereign choice of our Lord. To be encouraged and admonished in such a way was an unforgettable experience of grace. I will treasure it always.

Jan 10 – School began again for the next semester and my first class has just come to a close as I record these lines; new format, different style of work loads, and thus far, much more enjoyable. Much writing has been accomplished in the areas of the Doctrines of Humanity, Sin, and Salvation. I plan to post my doctrinal statement for these in a few days. Pentateuch begins next week (Feb 7) and will continue for the following four weeks. I am excited about this next opportunity as I must confess that my knowledge of the first five books is lacking.

Jan 29 – My first official sermon delivered to a crowd of single adults during a Sunday evening worship service. I have taught Sunday school lessons, spoken in prisons, homeless shelters, and given testimony, devotional, or brief “sermonettes” (typically a soap box) on varying occasions, but this was the first officially sanctioned, wireless microphone, recorded, “guest speaker” kind of engagement. There are always the encouragers of the crowd who say “You did a great job” or “I really enjoyed” to which my response is always “Well, what are you gong to do about it?” The subjective measure of “success” will never come in this lifetime and my hope is that I will never become consumed with this desire for the praises of men. I believe that I can honestly attest that I was in submission to the Biblical text (Col 3:12-17, titled The Lion, The Diciple, and His Wardrobe), that I was “diligent to show [myself] approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15 NASB), and that the supremacy and preeminence of Christ was manifested above all things. And for these, I trust that the Lord was glorified. I haven’t been fired yet, so I trust I did not say anything heretical. For my own amusement, the notes to this sermon may find themselves posted as well at a later date.


Soli Deo Gloria

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