Sounds familiar

Jeremiah develops the idea of prophets who are deluded [23:25-32], contrasting the power of the genuine with with the worthlessness of the counterfeit. He finishes with an attack on the cheapening of the Lord’s word, where it is everywhere sought but only to be tamed, and where everyone’s claim to have it makes it impossible to hear a true word when it comes.  –Gordon McConville (New Bible Commentary, 691)

Need some conversation?

If God is unable to sin, is He truly free?

If in our future glorification we will be unable to sin, will we be truly free?

Discuss.

 

‘For us’ first, last, and always(?)

For several weeks now I’ve been unable to continue my reading in Rutledge’s The Crucifixion and when I picked it up today I came across these lines:

Even as he is the Judge, he is first and last “for us.” He was for us before he was against us, and for us even as he was against us — pro nobis first, last, and always. (515)

At the risk of having my house pounded with a box of Grade-A’s from Arminian Farms, an unequivocal statement like that seems to require far more than our free will or else universalism.

What am I missing?

The winds move fast

Last night: the greatest Super Bowl game in history.

This morning: SB51 stories headline espn.com

This evening: NBA basketball stories headline espn.com

SB51 doesn’t even hold the top spot for a day. Not 1 day.

Psalm 103:15-16  As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.  16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.

A. Stanley affirms inerrancy

Stanley has issued a straightforward affirmation of biblical inerrancy.

Stanley has issued a straightforward affirmation of biblical inerrancy. In an article for Outreach Magazine, Stanley explains that the difference between himself and many conservative evangelicals isn’t doctrinal but methodological.

Glad to hear that. Far better, in this instance, for us to disagree on our methods. Case closed.

UNIDENTIFIED CYNIC: Why did Stanley need a co-author for “his” explanation???

Judas & Peter

Christian community is a means by which God keeps us from falling away (Heb 3:13; 10:23-25). But “choosing community” doesn’t explain the divergent fates of Judas & Peter.

Recently heard someone present Judas & Peter as two disciples with a shared experience but different outcomes. Both men walked with Jesus, both men turned on Jesus, & both men expressed remorse; but whereas Judas hung himself, Peter was restored and became a prominent leader.

What accounts for the different results? On this telling, it was that Judas never returned to his fellow disciples while Peter never left. The difference was community.

True, Christian community is a means by which God keeps us from falling away (Heb 3:13; 10:23-25). But “choosing community” doesn’t explain the divergent fates of these two men.

There’s no need for psychoanalysis when Scripture details the difference between the two.

Concerning Judas:

John 6:70 Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?”

John 13:18  “I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.’

John 17:12  “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.

Concerning Peter:

Luke 22:31-32  “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;  but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Look to the text.

Inspiration, inerrancy, & Paris

The subjects of inspiration & inerrancy have been running through my mind lately. {“Well, at least they have plenty of space to roam.” –Shive}

Let’s say I was persuaded that the Bible is not fully inspired/inerrant because some passages, especially in the OT, run contrary to the Christian love ethic (see Psalm 109:6ff or 137:9). Consequently, some passages shouldn’t guide or inform the Christian life.

Then I see ISIS wreaking havoc in the Middle East and now in Paris. When innocents are being murdered can I pray for retributive justice on ISIS? Can I take my cue from Jesus’ teaching in Luke 18:7-8 and from John’s vision in Rev 6:10, or were they being too Old Testamenty in those passages?

How is one to know what he can & can’t pray?

Sometimes a line from Scripture sticks out like a sore thumb. Consider Psalm 104.

An inclusio frames the song: Bless the Lord, O my soul! (v 1, 35).

A cursory outline for Psalm 104:

vv1-9 Praise for the majestic Creator | vv10-30 God’s providential care/control over all creation | vv31-35 Praise for the glorious God who is greater than his creation

A song that begins an ends with blessing. Reveling in God’s power over creation. Nature flourishing under God’s care. You get the idea.

Observing these themes and features make the final verse all the more jarring:  Let sinners be consumed from the earth And let the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD! {NAS}

It’s worth considering why an uplifting psalm should conclude with a vengeful hope.

The gospel paradigm on the lips of a prostitute

In a men’s Bible study we just finished Joshua 2 which records the encounter between Rahab (a prostitute) and two Israelite spies. One feature in particular really grabbed me.

Rahab’s confession to the spies in 2:9-11 forms a chiasm.[1] The structural center–and the focal point of the confession–becomes what “we have heard.”

A. the Lord has given this land to you

B. a great fear of you has fallen on us

B. all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you

C.  We have heard…

C’. …and so we have heard

B’. our hearts melted

B’. everyone’s courage failed because of you

A’. the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below

Rahab’s confession of faith is centered on the report of what God had done to save His people. Rahab had not seen the Red Sea crossing or the destruction of the Amorite kings. She had merely heard a word about God’s actions and that word generated a faith that led to a confession that would save her from a coming destruction.

Rahab’s faith paradigm (i.e. faith generated by hearing a report) is exactly what Paul articulates:

Romans 10:14-17 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” 16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

The “mere” word of God’s saving act was potent enough to make a believer out of a pagan prostitute. No additional signs were necessary. The potency of that word has increased in Christ. Speak it.


[1] Richard Hess, Joshua (TOTC), 99.

Non sequiturs

1) A kid is slapped in the face by his teacher. Your outrage is hypocritical since you don’t seem to care that numerous kids across the country are being punched by a school bully every day. An assault is an assault whether it comes from an authority figure or a peer. (see Isa 10:1-2; Jer 22:16-17)

2) Christians have suffered from systemic persecution, therefore when a Christian suffers it must be persecution. (See 1Pet 4:15-16)