A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Scripture: No Contradiction

Never a Contradiction, Nor a Real Paradox

There are no real contradictions or paradoxes in Scripture.  But because Scripture uses figures of speech there may seem to be such to us.  God is a shepherd; God is a father; God is a rock; God is moved with compassion; God is a judge; God is immutable; God is a flaming fire.  These are just some of the many, many figures of speech in Scripture, but none of them exhaust the meaning or Being of God.  It is when we make one of these figures absolute that we run into apparent contradictions.  So men ask, "How can a father send his children to hell forever?"   The great theologies examine a great many of these apparent contradictions and point to solutions.  But we do not accept the idea that contradiction exists in God's very being, for this is to put God at war with Himself and make truth unknowable.  He cannot lie nor deny Himself [2Ti 2:13 "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself."  Tit 1:2 "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie...."]

For instance, God did not create man with an absolute [totally free] will, for that would be a denial of God's own being, a denial of His providence and rule as Creator.  Man cannot will what God has not decreed.  God's will is absolute; man's is relative.

God does not exist to make man's mind complete, nor did He create the Heavens and the Earth for the purpose of satisfying every abstract idea that rebellious man can invent.  He created it for His own glory.  Man's true relationship to creation and his fellow is found in the Person of Jesus Christ, who loved the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength and his neighbor as Himself, and hated sin and denounced hypocrites of all kinds, especially those who raise "contradictions."  He lived at peace with God and was content in His human nature not to know everything [Ac 1:7 "And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power."  Mr 13:32 "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."]  It is in His light that we see light [Ps 36:9 [For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light."]

Man is wise in his own conceits and there is no end to the logical games he plays in his rebellion. Man is like a rebellious child who badgers his weak parents until they give him what he wants.  [Ro 12:16 "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."   Pr 26:12 "Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him."]

Most apparent paradoxes or contradictions that men have raised concerning Scripture can be understood in one basic principle:  God is the Creator and we are His creatures.  If the Creator/Creation distinction is cherished we see that God's thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.  When we do this we will rejoice in the "unsearchable riches of Christ; 9  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12  In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.  [Ephesians 4]

This great gulf between Creator and Creature is bridged only by the Word of God, by the Mediator, the eternal Wisdom of God, who appeared on this earth as Jesus of Nazareth.  Amen and Amen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Some Semi-unconnected Thoughts about Organized Religion.

Some Semi-unconnected Thoughts about Organized Religion.

Question:  What is Disorganized Religion?  Selfish, individualistic religion, self-centered and isolated, thinking only of personal experience?

It is rebellion to Christ not to accept the true authority of those whom He appointed and still does appoint from heaven by His Spirit. Ephesians 4.

The church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and the church that Paul is referencing to Timothy is one with elders and deacons, with powers to receive and to excommunicate; to examine those who claim to be teachers and prophets and hold the power of the keys. The only ones who don't like it are the rebels who want to be led by their own ideas and not subject to anyone. 

Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. {have the rule: or, are the guides}

Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. {have…: or, guide}

Heb 13:24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. 

Read all verses with context.
It is also true that the churches have responsibility to each other; the leaders of the church met in Jerusalem in Acts 15 to discuss doctrinal matters and sent their decisions to all the churches. You can hang too much on this meeting, but you can also dismiss it too lightly. That's why I am Presbyterian in government--contraction of the apostolic office, expansion of the pastoral office.

From Acts 15:

  • vs 6: The Apostles and elders came together [had a meeting] to consider this matter.
  • vs. 19 Wherefore my sentence is.... 
  • vs 20 We write to them.... 
  • vs. 22,3 It pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send....
  • vs. 23 The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto....
  • vs. 25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send....
  • vs. 28 To lay no greater burden upon you.... [four things....] 

It was more than a friendly chat that they had, and their letters was a bit more than exhortation "lay burden..."

How did they know it "pleased the whole church and the apostles and elders"? How did they know they had "one accord" after all the disputes in verse 7, etc. How did they know it was the truth revealed by the Holy Ghost? Who decided that? Some never did accept it and troubled Paul until he died. Who was in one accord? Paul and Barnabas had a dispute over personnel, not the doctrine of the church or its organization.

Acts 16:4 "They went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily." Sounds like more than suggestions, for Paul and Barnabas were commissioned by the apostles, elders, and brethren to take this letter to the churches [15:25 etc.]

‎"decree" greek is dogma. Used of the laws of the Roman Senate, also of the Law of Moses.
"keep" guard, take care of, take care not to violate.

Hence: Heb 13:17 "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

Eph. 5:21: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."

God gathers His people into flocks and sets shepherds over them; their rule and authority is real.

There is peace with no divisions and strife in independent churches? Are you saying that the scripture is irrelevant and there are no real churches today; or that there were no problems in the churches of Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, Rome, or Thyatira? The Spirit doesn't "legislate" in the Scripture? or does everyone just follow his own "leading." That idea has produced wonderful unity, hasn't it? Or maybe Christ is head only over those who let Him be head.

The choice is not between organized or disorganized. The choice is obedience to scripture or not. Unless God has abandoned His people and left us in the wilderness, there is a church near you that is biblical. He does not leave his sheep in the wilderness. We are accountable to one another and ministers are accountable to other ministers and elders.

We know that knowledge puffs up; but does that mean that ignorance is humble?

We are accountable to Christ when we are accountable to those whom He has placed over His church. Christ is in heaven and has commissioned His officers to lead His church. Eph. 4.

1 Timothy 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;  4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

The order of Aaron has ceased [Hebrews 7:11,12 with context], for Christ is our priest after the order of Melchizedek, and His sacrifice was not offered in Moses' camp, but outside the camp. Heb. 13:9ff. The new order is described in Ephesians 4 and Hebrews 10:19-25 with context. Christ's sacrifice was offered once for all, but we signify our participation in His sacrifice through the sacraments, which is the New Testament in His blood, through the bread and the wine of the Lord's Supper--which is not a physical sacrifice of Christ's blood and body, for Christ is in heaven, not on the earth. The Lord's Supper is neither simply a memorial feast, nor is it a physical sacrifice, but it is a true spiritual participation by faith in the Gospel that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, according to the Scriptures. His words are spirit and life, the true bread from heaven.

The church is more than a group of adults sharing their "experience." It is the pillar and ground of the truth, a holy temple where spiritual sacrifices are offered to God through the blood of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is more than consenting adults, but a people, a holy nation, organized, ordered, disciplined, called, a holy temple whose head is in heaven. The Lord Jesus administers His people and His nation through the gifts of ministry described in Ephesians 4. Without them, we remain children, tossed about with every wind of doctrine, turned aside after folly by the sleight of men who with cunning craftiness lie in wait to turn the children out of the way by deception and false doctrine.

This has already happened to the church in America, splintered into a thousand pieces of people who fancy they are led by the "spirit' who follow their own desires and emotions and shallow opinions [it is dangerous to read the Bible only once], who despise dominion and speak evil of dignities [Jude 7 and context].

How can you say you love God whom you have not seen, when you despise men whom you have seen. I John 4:20,21. In like manner, how can you say you obey Christ, whom you haven't seen, when you despise His lawful ministers whom you have seen? Hebrews 13: "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."


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