Society’s Need For Hell

“In the fifth place, that endless punishment is rational is proved by the history of morals. In the records of human civilization and morality, it is found that that age which is most reckless of law and most vicious in practice is the age that has the loosest conception of penalty and is the most inimical to the doctrine of endless retribution. A virtuous and religious generation adopts sound ethics and reverently believes that “the judge of all the earth will do right” (Gen. 18:25); that God will not “call evil good and good evil nor put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isa. 5:20); and that it is a deadly error to assert with the sated and worn-out sensualist: “All things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous and the wicked” (Eccles. 9:2).

The French people, at the close of the eighteenth century, were a very demoralized and vicious generation, and there was a very general disbelief and denial of the doctrines of divine existence, immortality of the soul, freedom of the will, and future retribution. And upon a smaller scale, the same fact is continually repeating itself. Any little circle of businessmen who are known to deny future rewards and punishments are shunned by those who desire safe investments. Continue reading

Justification Already: How Reformed Eschatology Helps Us In Current Controversies

Even our standing at the Final Judgment is by faith alone, since in Christ we have already received all that we will need for that Day which is not yet here.

The debate over faith and works at the Final Judgment has been steadily brewing for awhile now. Launched by John Piper’s controversial “Does God Really Save Us By Faith Alone?“, the article has received a steady back and forth from Mark Jones (The Calvinist International) and Scott Clark (Heidelblog), as well as important contributions from other confessional voices (see here [With Heart and Mouth] and here [Kyle Borg | Gentle Reformation]). Now that the heat of these articles has died down some (I saw too much personality and not enough careful reading), I think one more observation is worth making. I bring this up not because it is original to myself (the rest of this post merely elaborates others’ ideas), but simply because I haven’t seen much of the eschatological nature of Reformed soteriology brought up.

Eschatology of Justification
Many New Testament scholars have pointed to the “already/not yet” pattern in Scripture, where God’s future blessings are already experienced by believers now, even though the fullness is not yet experienced. A classic example of this in Scripture in Jesus’ work with the Kingdom of God. In Christ’s first coming, the Kingdom has already been inaugurated among us (“the kingdom is in your midst,” Luke 17:21), but we await the day when the Kingdom will come in its fullness (“Your Kingdom come,” Matthew 6:10). Scripture repeatedly points to an eschatological fulfillment of present realities.

What if this eschatological fulfillment was also applicable to justification? Throughout Scripture, we often see the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, as being responsible for this eschatological character. So we should not be surprised when “justifying” language and the Spirit come together in Scripture to point to an eschatological character, even for justification. We see I Timothy 3:16 stating that Jesus was “justified” or “vindicated in the Spirit” (ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι). Clearly Jesus did not have a need to be justified like sinful humanity does, so understanding the eschatological role the Spirit plays in Christ’s vindication/justification is important for understanding this passage. Continue reading

Godfrey On the Puritans

I’ve loved this series by one of my favorite historians, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey. He will surely be missed at WSCal! Thanks to Ligonier for having these resources! (Click the image for the video)

Puritan Piety

http://cfvod.kaltura.com/p/1916491/sp/191649100/thumbnail/entry_id/0_npus90xj/version/100000/width/601/height/338
Inward apathy toward the Lord masked by outward obedience is a real and constant threat in any church. Keenly aware of this danger, the Puritans zealously proclaimed the importance of heart-felt affection for the Lord. They sought to nourish genuine faith and piety especially through passionate preaching, Bible studies, and conscientious Sabbath observance. Though frequently portrayed as joyless legalists, we will see in this lesson that in reality, Puritans were more frequently characterized by their pursuit of joyful, sincere devotion to the Lord.

Puritan Politics

http://cfvod.kaltura.com/p/1916491/sp/191649100/thumbnail/entry_id/0_zvg7uc7q/version/100000/width/601/height/338
During the mid-seventeenth century, England was embroiled in a civil war between the king’s forces and those of parliament. The aftermath of this conflict saw political change and much theological reflection. It was during this time period that the Westminster Assembly met to reform doctrine, church government, and worship. In this lecture, you will study this tumultuous time period, focusing on the connection between the Puritans and politics. You will also come to a better understanding of the climate within which the Westminster Assembly took place. Continue reading

Same Essence For All Subsistences: Ames On Trinitarian Controversy

amesiusWilliam Ames (1576 – 1633) was used by the Lord to influence Puritan thinking and beyond in England, on the Continent, and (through his writing) in the New World. One of his most important works is The Marrow of Theology (Amazon), the translated version of Medulla theologica (1623) from his lectures. Ames’ clear thinking can help us in our current discussions regarding Trinitarian relations.

See more on William Ames

As the debate regarding the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS) has continued, Ames’ reminder that how we speak of subsistences and essence in the Godhead is so important. Withholding further comment, here is the raw data from Marrow I.v.i-xv. Tolle lege

*    *   *

1. This subsistence, or manner of being [subsistentia] of God is his one essence so far as it has personal properties.

2. The essence is common to the three subsistences. As far as essence is concerned, therefore, the single subsistence is are rightly said to exist of themselves.

3. Nothing is attributed to the essence which cannot be attributed to each subsistence in the matter of essence.

4. But what is attributed properly to each subsistence in the matter of subsistence cannot be attributed to the essence

5. The subsistences are distinguished from the essence, because the mode of subsistence, though consolidated with the essence, are distinguished from it considered by itself. Continue reading

Grace For Burned Out Christians

GraceBurnedChristian2_800Last night we had a great start to our church seminar for when we face burn out or spiritual exhaustion; or get burned by a pastor, another Christian, or a church. Some of the resources we used are presented here. Here are some other Diakonos lectures from the past.

BrentHowlandOne of our main speakers, Brent Howland of International Messengers, was unable to be present last night due to his missions schedule. He will be presenting his material at a later date, Dv. We look forward to his teaching on “A Gospel Primer For Burn Out.”

Our first active session was “Withering: A Biblical Theology of Burn Out.” Exploring the word נָבֵל, navel, as well as various biblical instances of this spiritual drought, the following passages were surveyed:

Moses | Exodus 18:14 – 23

Israel | Deuteronomy 8:1 – 10

Elijah | I Kings 19:1 – 8

Solomon | Ecclesiastes 2:9 – 11

Disciples | Matthew 14:22 – 27; John 6:60 – 69

Solutions to this nabol tibol were desiring God’s Word (Ps 19:7 – 11), covenant prayer (Ps 120:1), communion with the risen Christ (Matt 11:25 – 30), evangelical obedience (Deut 8:1 – 2), and meditating on our eschatological rest (Heb 4:8 – 11).

Our second presentation was by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, professor and minister in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, via the magic of the internets. His seminal talk, “The Gospel For Those Broken By the Church,” is below. Continue reading

Faith & Hope For A New Year

FaithHopeDear Zion,

The month of January is named for the ancient mythical character named Janus, a figure drawn with two faces – one face looking back into the past, and the other looking forward into the future. I don’t know about you, but that is often how I feel during January: one eye looking backwards at the year of 2015 as it has come to an end, and one eye looking ahead, wondering and praying about what 2016 will bring. As you ponder and pray about God’s work in your life in the year ahead, and evidences of His grace from the close of 2015, do you tremble?

Zion_Arch_CircleI know I do. The close of a year brings with it memories that leave me nearly speechless. There were uncounted blessings in 2015, each of which were undeserved gifts of grace. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above from the Father of Lights, in Whom there is no shadow of change or turning” (James 1:17). Have you awakened to the sheer number of blessings of 2015? But I also tremble at the undeserved mercies that built up over a year of needing His forgiving love. Each year that passes marks 365 days of falling deeper into the debt of grace, having been desperate for the cleansing blood of Jesus. Without His majestic mercy, none of us could get through one day, let alone an entire year! “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3).

It helps us to look backwards into a year spent and look forward into the year ahead if we think about the Christian blessings of faith and hope. These twin virtues from God help us deal with the past (faith) as well as the future (hope). And God’s Word often puts them together, like in I Thessalonians 1:3, “your work of faith… and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,” or even closer in I Peter 1:21, “your faith and hope are in God.”

We talk a lot about biblical faith, but what is the difference between faith and hope? And how does faith inform our past, and hope inform our future? Continue reading

Your Doctrine Of The Trinity Is Not Missional Enough

TrinityMissionsHere’s Kostenberger on Trinity and missions:

Rather than being one of several aspects or implications of John’s trinitarian theology, mission was shown to be the nexus and focal point of his presentation of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, individually and in relation to one another. Hence it can truly be said, not only that John’s mission theology is trinitarian (which in and of itself is a significant statement), but that his trinitarian teaching is part of his mission theology – a truly revolutionary insight.

The insight is revolutionary because, if heeded, it calls the church to focus its major energies on acting on and acting out her Lord’s commission, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (20:21), in the power of the Spirit, rather than merely engaging in the study of God or cultivating personal holiness (as important as this may be within the larger framework presented here). The insight is revolutionary also because a proper understanding of John’s trinitarian mission theology ought to lead the church to understand its mission in trinitarian terms – that is, as originating in and initiated by the Father (the “one who sent” Jesus), as redemptively grounded and divinely mediated by Jesus the Son (the “Sent One” turned sender, 20:21), and as continued and empowered by the Spirit, the “other helping presence,” the Spirit of truth. Continue reading

An Unfortunate Plagiarism

Plagiarism is wrong, because it takes what belongs to another – a violation of the eighth commandment – and it does not give full credit to my neighbor’s reputation – violating the ninth. There’s also the tackiness.

So I was deeply disappointed to learn that I had recently engaged in plagiarism of the most unfortunate kind. At our recent Faith & Work seminar, I had been unpacking I Corinthians 15:10 with regard to our subject, which says in part, “on the contrary, I worked harder than them all, though it was not I, but God’s grace that is within me.” Building off that truth to our topic, I made the following point:

Grace is opposed to earning,

but grace catalyzes effort.

FaithWork_800I made that point repeatedly. And it was not my point to make. Continue reading

Cultural Faithfulness Through Divine Summons

Quote

We need to be reminded that whenever we cease to offer resistance, to compromise with the world, then we are the victims of the world. The only way for us, is to be summoned again and again, and to summon ourselves again and again!, to the unchanging and unalterable norms of behavior, established by God and therefore regulated of life, in all circumstances and conditions.

John Murray The Lord’s Day – It’s Blessing, Sanctity Sermon on Genesis 2:2