Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Trinity - Proven by Logic

Glenn Chatfield at The Watchman's Bagpipes has posted on the logical case from scripture for the Trinity (one God, yet three persons in the godhead).  I recommend that you print off a copy for yourselves and keep it with you to learn.

Don't Get Cocky!

Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar.  Moses alone shall come near to the Lord, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”…Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel.  There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.  And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.  Exod 24:1-2, 9-11

I read the above passage in my morning reading and considered the marvelous privilege these men had.  Seventy-four leaders of the people were allowed to come into the presence of YHWH, see a glimpse of his glorious splendor, and commune with him.  Consider for a moment: the God of all glory desired to share intimate fellowship with his creatures.  What marvel for those men to have such an audience!  At the same time, we must make a sobering review of how these ended.  None were allowed to enter the promised rest in the land to which they were being taken.  What went wrong?

Seventy elders—Nothing specific is mentioned of these men, however there is one glaring instance of group think in which they must have been complicit.  Twelve spies went from Kadesh-barnea into the land as spies, bringing back a report and examples of fruitful harvest available. What happened next?

Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.  And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron.  The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt!  Or would that we had died in this wilderness!  Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword?  Our wives and our little ones will become a prey.  Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”  And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”  Num 14:1-4

Where were the elders?  Why did they not intercede on behalf of Caleb and Joshua and affirm the good report.  But no, they chose to bow to the majority wishes and remained silent.  What was their reward of service?

But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers.  And none of those who despised me shall see it.…And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me?  I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me.  Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.’”  Num 14:21-23, 26-30

They were faithless, suffered discipline, and missed the blessing ultimately delivered to the next generation.

Nadab and Abihu—These eldest sons of Aaron seemed to have started well, yet what do find?

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.  Lev 10:1-3

The sons of Aaron apparently got cocky and decided to go about things their own way. For whatever reason they attempted to bring something God had not prescribed as a token of worship, but the Lord considered it profane.

Aaron and Moses—Leaders of God's people and the two most closely aligned with the Lord and his precepts, above all they had an obligation to be examples of conduct and reliance on the Lord, but in one notable case, they failed miserably.

Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”  And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.  And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”  These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy.  Num 20:10-13

All this time, Moses and Aaron had done the Lord's bidding and put him first.  Now they tried aligning themselves as somehow on sufficient divine footing to do what something besides what he had said and gained some glory for themselves.  God will have none of that.  His name is to be upheld holy and supreme (Exod 20:7; Deut 5:11).

Conclusion—Regardless of our privileged status before the Lord of lords and King of kings, we must understand that he alone is to be exalted.  It is not our place to seek a position that he has not granted or work in a way in which he does not approve.  The correction will be painful and possibly final (death) but will be for our ultimate good because he loves us.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Falling Away

I am studying Hebrews with another brother.  Earlier this evening, we looked at Hebrews 6 which contains this notoriously difficult warning passage in verses 4-8.
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.  For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.  But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
The difficulty comes in figuring out the spiritual condition of the theoretical person.  In order to understand, we need to determine who fits the five-fold condition given:

          •  [having] once been enlightened
          •  [having] tasted the heavenly gift
          •  [having] shared in Holy Spirit
          •  [having] tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come
          •  [having] fallen away

If not for the final point, one would assume the person is a Christian.  But what of the last point?  Can a Christian fall away?  Yes.  Notice that there is no possibility of repentance as long as the person is experiencing the five-fold condition, but what if the last condition changes?  What of God's doing?  The Holy Spirit continues his work.

John Chrysostom, the fourth-century preacher put it this way in Homily IX: Hebrews vi:1-3.
What then (you say)?  Is there no repentance?  There is repentance, but there is no second baptism: but repentance there is, and it has great force, and is able to set free from the burden of his sins, if he will, even him that hath been baptized much in sins, and to establish in safety him who is in danger, even though he should have come unto the very depth of wickedness.  And this is evident from many places.  “For,” says one, “doth not he that falleth rise again?  or he that turneth away, doth not he turn back to [God]?” (Jer. viii. 4.)  It is possible, if we will, that Christ should be formed in us again: for hear Paul saying, “My little children of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.” (Gal. iv. 19.)  Only let us lay hold on repentance.

For behold the love of God to man!  We ought on every ground to have been punished at the first; in that having received the natural law, and enjoyed innumerable blessings, we have not acknowledged our Master, and have lived an unclean life.  Yet He not only has not punished us, but has even made us partakers of countless blessings, just as if we had accomplished great things.  Again we fell away, and not even so does He punish us, but has given medicine of repentance, which is sufficient to put away and blot out all our sins; only if we knew the nature of the medicine, and how we ought to apply it.
Chrysostom then gives the application given in full.

What then is the medicine of Repentance and how is it made up? First, of the condemnation of our own sins; “For” (it is said) “mine iniquity have I not hid” (Ps. xxxii. 5); and again, “I will confess against myself my lawlessness unto the Lord, and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my heart.” And “Declare thou at the first thy sins, that thou mayest be justified.” (Isa. xliii. 26.) And, “The righteous man is an accuser of himself at the first speaking.” (Prov. xviii. 17 .)
Secondly, of great humbleness of mind: For it is like a golden chain; if one have hold of the beginning, all will follow. Because if thou confess thy sin as one ought to confess, the soul is humbled. For conscience turning it on itself causeth it to be subdued.

Other things too must be added to humbleness of mind if it be such as the blessed David knew, when he said, “A broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.” (Ps. li. 17.) For that which is broken does not rise up, does not strike, but is ready to be ill-treated and itself riseth not up. Such is contrition of heart: though it be insulted, though it be evil entreated, it is quiet, and is not eager for vengeance.

And after humbleness of mind, there is need of intense prayers, of many tears, tears by day, and tears by night: for, he says, “every night, will I wash my bed, I will water my couch with my tears. I am weary with my groaning.” (Ps. vi. 6.) And again, “For I have eaten ashes as it were bread, and mingled my drink with weeping.” (Ps. cii. 9.)

And after prayer thus intense, there is need of much almsgiving: for this it is which especially gives strength to the medicine of repentance. And as there is a medicine among the physicians’ helps which receives many herbs, but one is the essential, so also in case of repentance this is the essential herb, yea, it may be everything. For hear what the Divine Scripture says, “Give alms, and all things shall be clean.” (Luke xi. 41 .) And again, “By alms-giving and acts of faithfulness sins are purged away.” (Prov. xvi. 6.) And, “Water will quench a flaming fire, and alms will do away with great sins.” (Ecclus. iii. 30.)
Next not being angry with anyone, not bearing malice; the forgiving all their trespasses. For, it is said, “Man retaineth wrath against man, and yet seeketh healing from the Lord.” (Ecclus. xxviii. 3.) “Forgive that ye may be forgiven.” (Mark xi. 25.)

Also, the converting our brethren from their wandering. For, it is said, “Go thou, and convert thy brethren, that thy sins may be forgiven thee.” And from one’s being in close relations with the priests, “and if,” it is said, “a man hath committed sins it shall be forgiven him.” (Jas. v. 15.) To stand forward in defense of those who are wronged. Not to retain anger: to bear all things meekly.
I do not condone all of the above, however, the point is made: repentance can and will come when God works in them by the Holy Spirit and the word of God.

Monday, September 27, 2010


One of the men in my Bible study is, among other things, a good father to four boys.  I was touched by his Facebook status going on about how he
is married to Super Woman!!! (for example: the other day she gets up early, runs 9 miles, then wakes us all up, feeds us breakfast, help runs a home-school co-op, feeds my boys lunch, homeschools my boys, wrestles with a moyer-like toddler (don't know what that is - watch Veggie Tales), has time to buy her friend a birthday present, cleans up the house before i get home, and feeds us all dinner) she's amazing!!!
He was wrong about one thing though.  She actually ran 11 miles that day.  Still, that is how to build up your wife.  Take notes, gentlemen.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:28-31

Sunday, September 26, 2010

James MacDonald on Songs They Don't Sing at His Church

I respect James MacDonald's for his teaching ministry.  Here is something else deserving of respect.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spiritual Leadership

I know this is a commercial, but it fairly accurately reflects the life of spiritual leaders in the local church.

Pray for those men who undertake this task for you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


On the Sept. 21st broadcast of Issues Etc., Dr. John Kleinig of Australian Lutheran College was interviewed on the subject of holiness.  Here is a partial transcript of the first minutes.

Todd Wilken, Issues, Etc: In the Old Testament you could find this. God told you where it was. He told you in the Old Testament where he was. Moses sees a burning bush on a mountain side. He goes up to see what it's all about, and the God who speaks to him from this burning bush tells him to take off his shoes for he is standing on holy ground. In the Old testament it was a place. It was things. There were people who were holy. God's own people were called holy because of God's holiness. Is the same true of holiness now in the New Testament?

[Program and guest introduction]

Wilken: Why is it best that we begin in the Old Testament to talk about holiness?

Kleinig: Because without the understanding that the Old Testament gives us of holiness, it's very easy to misinterpret and misunderstand what the New Testament has to say about it. And what's most important in the Old Testament is the understanding that only God is holy and that anything or anybody's holiness borrows holiness from God himself. And that's in a very tangible way. God communicates his holiness to his people via the most holy things in the most holy place.

Wilken: I want to come back to the Old Testament roots for this idea. Let's dispel some of the misconceptions about holiness. I think the primary one—among, kind of in the Protestant context—is that holiness is primarily a moral quality or a moral character that I possess or that you possess. How would you correct that?

Kleinig: Yes, there's no doubt that if you talk about holiness, particularly here in North America, people immediately think in moral terms. So if somebody is holy, they're a moral person, and an immoral person is unholy. Now, there is some connection between, with morality and holiness, but holiness is not morality. And sanctification is not moral self-improvement or even spiritual self-improvement. So for example, the body and blood of Christ is holy, or the temple is holy. Things are holy. A name is holy: God's name is holy. It doesn't make sense if you think of holiness in terms of morality or even of sinlessness. But it's very hard on the other hand to say what's meant by God's holiness, because all the other attributes of God have to do with the way God resembles human beings. We say God is loving. But he's not just loving like human beings, but he's supremely loving. Or he's almighty. We have some power, some might. He's almighty. But when we come to God's holiness, we're dealing with the way God is unlike any human being, and so there's no analogies possible anymore.

Wilken: I hadn't thought of that before. I mean we do take these other attributes of God, and it is essentially the superlative of things that we, even in our fallenness, possess or God possesses incompletely. Is that a good place to begin outlining the concept of holiness—God's otherness than us, his being holy other than we are?

Kleinig: That's partly it, but it's also very misleading, because as soon as I think in terms of otherness or even transcendence, I think in terms of God's remoteness, rather than his presence. So God is holy in the midst of us; God is holy with us. And God's holiness has to do with God's presence with us. So it's not so much remoteness or even his otherness in the sense that he's different—but yet not alien to us, because he made us and we are made in God's image. So God's holiness is a power; it's a state of being in which we share something of the power or being of God.
The remainder is equally good.  I recommend the interview to you.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Te Deum Laudamus

While working at my computer this evening, I listened to an interview with Wil Weedon on Issues, Etc. concerning the Te Deum hymn “We Praise You and Acknowledge You, O God.”  The original song is in Latin and is translated in the Book of Common Prayer this way.

We praise thee, O God :
    we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
    the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud :
    the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim :
    continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
    Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty :
    of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world :
    doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man :
    thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
    thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
    whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people :
    and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us :
    as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted :
    let me never be confounded.

The words are traditionally attributed to Ambrose and Augustine at the latter's baptism but are splendid regardless of author.  The revised lyrics used in the aforementioned interview and found in the Lutheran Service Book is by Stephen Starke and can be viewed here.  The tune was written by Gustav Holst from his symphony The Planets and has been adapted for the song.  The result is simply wonderful.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Giveaway

Diglot is giving away a copy of Holy Writing, Sacred Scriptures.  To see how, visit here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I considered using Hodge-Podge or Miscellany in the title, but my word choice had a more refined air about it.  Anyway, I offer the following bits for your pleasure.

The Pastoral Touch of Jonathan Edwards: Three Examples by Jeff Lacine – I was touched by Edwards' pastoral heart. Honestly, it took me by surprised.  That shows how unaware I am of his life.

Discount Books – If you happen to be in the vicinity of Notre Dame University, there are good discounts being offered for some titles. Check it out.

Pastoral Formation in Theological Education: Retrospect and Prospect by John Kleining – The author itemizes concerns for the Lutheran church in Australia, many of which relate to denominations and local churches in the U.S.

  • The disappearance of the family altar and of sound Lutheran spirituality from members
  • Pastors who have been taught to offer inept psychological counselling rather than spiritual care to their members and people in need
  • The prevailing Pentecostal-Protestant theology that teaches the real absence of Christ and separates the Spirit from the word
  • The spirituality of neo-Gnosticism with its contempt for the created order and the body, a spirituality that sanctions abortion, euthanasia, divorce, and homosexual intercourse
  • The managerial approach to church leadership and organization with its reliance on psychological and sociological data as a modern kind of divination
  • The view that success in the ministry of the gospel can be assessed by a pastor’s performance rather than by his faithfulness in receiving and delivering divine gifts
  • Theology and practice that is “Unitarian” rather than truly Trinitarian with a proper understanding of the order of relations in the Trinity and the cooperation of all three persons of the Trinity in dealing with us
  • The growing disillusionment of the Lutheran churches in Africa and Asia with the Lutheran World Federation and their need for theological help in countering the challenges of Pentecostalism, secularism, and Islam
  • The resurgence of Islam and its spread in the so-called Christian West with its promise of law and order and its charge of sacrilegious immorality against the church
He goes on to note several points to turn the tide at the seminary level.  I especially enjoyed number four:
4. We should teach our students how to use God’s efficacious word in the divine service and in pastoral care.
Practice and promote the sufficiency of scripture.  What a thought!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

95 Theses Rap

Martin Luther disses the pope, et al, and gives a "shout out" to Gutenberg.

If you have trouble understanding the lyrics (like me), they can be found at the YouTube location.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Just Me and My Bible" Is Unbiblical

I have been busy of late—a week of late nights working, followed by a week of late nights studying to preach this past Sunday, and now a new week of late nights with work.

I have tried to catch other blog entries. One that caught my eye is "Just Me and My Bible" Is Unbiblical by Justin Taylor.  It's short but says enough.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bare Your Death

Jonathan Fisk of Worldview Everlasting and pastor at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church presenting some good teaching on hating this world and taking up the cross (Luke 14:25-35) as part of Greek Tuesday.