Monthly Archives: January 2016

Quote Of The Day: Herman Bavinck

“The Christian mind remains unsatisfied until all of existence is referred back to the Triune God, and until the confession of God’s Trinity functions at the center of our thought and life.”-Herman Bavinck

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Hagar And The Covenant Of Works

Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.

These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. (Galatians 4:21-26 NIV)

The law-simply stated-can communicate different ideas to different people. Sometimes the term is used in reference to the Old Testament as a way of distinguishing it from the New Testament. The term law can also be used to refer to a certain collection of laws within the first five books of the Old Testament often referred to as the Pentateuch. Sometimes it is in reference to the Ten Commandments or the decalog. When we come to the New Testament we find Paul using law to contrast works (Col. 3:15, ref. Lev. 13:5) from faith (Gal. 3:11, ref. Hab. 2:4). So it goes without saying that any study of Scripture would require a good understanding of the law if for no other reason than its repeated occurance throughout Scripture and its relationship to the Gospel.

From the text above (Gal. 4:21-26) there is a significant amount that we can glean about the law. Dr. James P. Boyce has written, The two covenants of works and grace are spoken of in Gal.4:22-31, and are called “the two covenants” in verse 24… That of works, is the covenant of the law entered into between God and all mankind through the first Adam, their natural head and appropriate and appointed representative… A covenant is an agreement between two or more parties by which any one or more things are to be done under the sanction of reward or penalties (Abstract Of Systematic Theology P.235). Covenant is a term that we are not as familure with but one of vital importance if we are to understand the law and Gospel. For this we will now look at our text.

For this explanation Paul takes his readers back to Genesis 16. His reason for doing this was probably to properly explain the proof-texts used by the Judaizers who argued that obedience to the law brought about fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul explains that Sara and Hagar are two covenants. Sarah is the free woman who represents those who are united to Christ through faith. Hagar represents the law and the covenant that was given on Mt. Sinai. In this covenant Moses and the elders swore the oath of ratification and obedience to the law. Under this oath the sanction of reward was life and the penalty was death. Thus Hagar’s children are born in bondage because they were born under the law.

The principle here is one of blessing or curse in the covenant of works. If God’s people are obedient to the law given on Mt. Sinai coventat blessings will fall upon them. However if God’s people are not obedient to the law covenant curses will fall upon them. Paul believes this is the case of present Jerusalem and this would also apply to anyone who envokes the law over grace. That is why Paul says, For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:10-11 ESV). According to the covenant of works you must obey it perfectly both inwardly and out in order to recieve the blessings of life. But as Paul says “it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law.”

Having said all this it is important to keep in mind that someone did keep the law perfectly inwardly and outwardly and received the blessings of life. If it wasn’t for Jesus’ active obedience to the law their would be no righteousness for us to receive under grace. Using Paul’s figurative interpretation we are of the free woman (Col.4:28) because we are born of the promise (Col. 4:24). It is important to realize that the covenant on Sinai doesn’t simply go away, with any covenant there is a promise that is made, and if Israel doesn’t keep their end of the promise God must keep His. This reaches back to Adam our covenant head who was the first to break the covenant with God (Rom. 5:12-21).

There are a number of ways to simplify this. One scholar put it this way, Adam was offered life on the condition of his obedience, he could but didn’t. Israel was offered life on the condition of obedience, the couldn’t because they were fallen so they didn’t. Christ takes that same promise of life offered to Adam and Israel and not only could he but He did. Jesus in other words met all the demands of the law and executed them perfectly. Under the covenant of works He merited life and that life was passed on to all who have faith and believe.

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BOOK REVIEW: We Cannot Be Silent by Al Mohler

 

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 27, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718032489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718032487

In light of recent events in legislation having to do with same-sex marriage, there have been many conflicting voices on the matter. Some have been helpful some not some much. Because this is such a heated issue with significant implications we haven’t heard the best possible argumentation from either side coming from media sources.

In We Cannot Be Silent Al Mohler (President of Southern Seminary) provides a very candidly Biblical explanation human sexuality from a Christian perspective. Whether one agrees with this position or not Mohler’s Biblical and exegetical precision can not be overlooked.

Mohler begins by looking at this matter from its recent historical perspective. He demonstrates that popularity in same-sex marriage actually has its antecedents in the sexual revolution. Mohler traces out this trajectory through the redefining of birth control and contraception, divorce, advanced reproductive technologies, and cohabitation. Without the redefining of these categories, Mohler shows that it would have been impossible to redefine categories of marriage, gender, and sexuality.

From the sexual revolution to same-sex marriage Mohler explains what has been commonly referred to as the “gay agenda”. He discusses its method and effectiveness in changing a cultural mindset on the definition of marriage. He explains that be redefining marriage we are actually obliterating marriage.

There was much that I found very helpful in this book. I found his discussion on the Biblical view of sexuality insightful. He also offers up answers to 30 common questions raised about sexuality: “Is homosexual sin worse than other sins?” “Aren’t people born gay? Doesn’t this mean God made them gay?” “Should Christian parents allow their children to play at the homes of children who have parents in a same-sex union?”

I would say We Cannot Be Silent is an important read for anyone. I don’t see Mohler grinding any axes here but rather addresses the issue from a Christian perspective. He reminds us that as Christians we will always be exiles on this earth and not to be discouraged or surprised by what we see. Rather we ought to look at the situation for what it is; an opportunity for the Gospel to shine among the darkness that surrounds it.

 

PERSONAL RATING: 5 Stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Bill Nye gets science wrong, top Christian books, and social media’s affect on kids

Bill Nye Gets Science Wrong

Christianity Today’s 2016 Book Awards

What I want to know is what books would you add to this list?

App Makers Reach Out to the Teenager on Mobile

“I post therefor I am” would be a better title for title for this article. It reminds me how important it is to remind our kids that their worth is tied to them being created in the image of God and not to the number of approvals they get on social media.

“Screen Time” the Cause Of Unhappiness in Kids in Britain

Earlier this week the NSPCC chief executive, Peter Wanless, warned of a nation of deeply unhappy children, due to “the pressure to keep up with friends and have the perfect life online … adding to the sadness that many young people feel on a daily basis”.

 

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Is Star Wars Gnostic?

Is Star Wars Gnostic? The problem with broad brushing is the lack of precision. While we might find certain aspects of Gnosticism in the movie, that doesn’t make it Gnostic just as Christian aspects wouldn’t make it Christian. However, I did find the article interesting and worthy of a read.

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BOOK REVIEW: Spreading the Feast

Spreading the Feast

 

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: P & R Publishing (December 11, 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1629951765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1629951768

 

Spreading the Feast is the latest publication from Howard Griffith (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.). The book as you can infer from the title is about the Lord’s Supper, Communion, Eucharist, what ever term you chose to use they all work for me, but they seem to have more significance depending on your ecclesiastical or church tradition. As a Baptist we like the term “Lord’s Supper” because it reminds us of the Last Supper upon which our Lord was betrayed and offered Himself up as He atoned for our sin by which we “memorialize” His death. It is at this point that Griffith is so very helpful as he shows from Scripture not only the memorial aspect of the Lord’s Supper but the benefits and blessing therein, something that we don’t hear about very often yet very essential to the believer regardless of your tradition.

The book itself is very accessible and a good read. It’s 152 pages broken down in to 2 parts with six chapters total. Interestingly Griffith explains a book that he read while still in seminary by John Murray simply entitled Table Addresses which became the motivation behind this book. Table addresses are just that, brief meditations on Christ’s person and work through the promises given in the OT and fulfilled in the NT presented at the Lord’s Supper Table every Sunday. The blessing this was to his congregation left no regret in his mind for providing these meditations and was the basis for his writing this book in order to help other ministers while they minister at the Lord’s Supper table.

However, Griffith doesn’t start the book out with these table meditations. In today’s Christian circles it has somewhat become common place to communicate in broad and general terms. Fortunately Griffith lays a solid foundation in part one of the book before he begins his discussion on table meditations. Here he clarifies what is meant by the Lord’s Supper and explains its antecedents in the Gospel and Covenant so as to leave no ambiguity. Once the foundation has been established he enters part 2 which is the central point of the book, the meditations.

I found this to be an enjoyable read. The book appears to be written for ministers. However, I am not a minister. I found the book to be helpful in my understanding of the theology of the Lord’s Supper. But not only that I found the meditations to be very encouraging. So I would not only recommend this title for ministers and seminarians but I would say even the laity will find it to be edifying.

PERSONAL RATING: 5 Stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

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