What is a Sacrament?

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When I first started studying Lutheran theology I had barely heard the word “sacrament” in my life. It’s not a term that comes up in american culture or Protestantism in general very frequently. It certainly wasn’t a point of discussion in Adventism.  While I have covered the sacraments in my entry on Justification, with this post I want to dig a bit further back into the Bible and cover the old testament too.

This post will be building on concepts and Biblical teachings that I have presented in the past. For the sake of space I will not be repeating myself, so if you are just as unfamiliar with the term as I was then I recommend reading the following posts first.  Also, I will be linking to them in places that I think might be relevant to the reader.

Where does the word Sacrament come from?

 

The word Sacrament actually has it’s root in the Latin Biblical texts. Anytime the word we would use for “mystery” in the Bible would come up Jerome translated it as “sacramentum” in the Vulgate.

 

“32 sacramentum hoc magnum est ego autem dico in Christo et in ecclesia 33 verumtamen et vos singuli unusquisque suam uxorem sicut se ipsum diligat uxor autem ut timeat virum” Ephesians 5:32-33 Latin Vulgate

“32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:32:33 KJV

 

My point is the Church got the word from reading the Bible, it’s not just made up out of thin air. Just like some Christians like to use the word “rapture” instead of “harpazo” many today like to use the word “sacrament”.  That said, even though it does technically appear in the Bible the word sacrament is used more as a theological term than anything else.  Like saying “Trinity” or “Original Sin“.  Such terms refer to broad themes and teachings in scripture.

 

What does Sacrament mean then?

 

The best definition of the word is one that is based on scripture. Whether you are hot or cold to the use of the word, there are times in scripture when God uses a physical thing to deliver heavenly blessings to his people. If you are more comfortable with another word than sacrament then go for it, I’m gonna stick with it though.

 

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. ‘ Numbers 21:8-9 KJV

 

Above we see an example of an old covenant sacrament. Notice that Moses is commanded to hold up a brass snake for everyone to look at. When they look upon the physical object in front of them they receive a blessing from heaven.

 

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This is one of my favorite examples of an old testament sacrament because Jesus even uses it to point straight to the cross, which we receive in the Eucharist. There’s more though.

 

“And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.” Leviticus 4:20 KJV

 

“And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung. … For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.” Leviticus 16:27,30 KJV

 

“And one kid of the goats, to make an atonement for you.” Numbers 28:30 KJV

 

Read above, the goat isn’t a symbolic goat. Neither is the bullock, they are real physical earthly ordinary things. The atonement the people were receiving though was also real but from heaven. In this God used a physical thing to deliver something heavenly to his people. Hebrews even clarifies that the sacrifices themselves have no power.

 

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Hebrews 10:4 KJV

 

I don’t think that Moses was wrong in Leviticus when he said the Israelite’s received forgiveness from the blood of bulls and goats.  Instead, I would argue that it is what God delivered to his people in with and under the sacrifice that forgave their sins. Just as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ in with and under the sacrament from 2000 years ago, so to did the old covenant Jews receive the body and blood of Christ in with and under the sacrifice of bulls and goats.

I simply agree with the likes of Martin Luther and St. Augustine in how a sacrament is to be understood.

 

Accedat verbum ad sacramentum ad elementum et fit sacramentum” which means that ‘when the Word is added to the element or the natural substance, it becomes a sacrament,’ that is, a holy, divine thing and sign.” Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, Fourth Part: Baptism, sections 17-18, in The Book of Concord

“Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Why does He not say, You are clean through the baptism wherewith you have been washed, but through the word which I have spoken unto you, save only that in the water also it is the word that cleanses? Take away the word, and the water is neither more nor less than water. The word is added to the element, and there results the Sacrament, as if itself also a kind of visible word. For He had said also to the same effect, when washing the disciples’ feet, He that is washed needs not, save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit. And whence has water so great an efficacy, as in touching the body to cleanse the soul, save by the operation of the word; and that not because it is uttered, but because it is believed? For even in the word itself the passing sound is one thing, the abiding efficacy another. This is the word of faith which we preach, says the apostle, that if you shall confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10 Accordingly, we read in the Acts of the Apostles, Purifying their hearts by faith; Acts 15:9 and, says the blessed Peter in his epistle, Even as baptism does also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience. This is the word of faith which we preach, whereby baptism, doubtless, is also consecrated, in order to its possession of the power to cleanse. For Christ, who is the vine with us, and the husbandman with the Father, loved the Church, and gave Himself for it. And then read the apostle, and see what he adds: That He might sanctify it, cleansing it with the washing of water by the word. Ephesians 5:25-26 The cleansing, therefore, would on no account be attributed to the fleeting and perishable element, were it not for that which is added, by the word. This word of faith possesses such virtue in the Church of God, that through the medium of him who in faith presents, and blesses, and sprinkles it, He cleanses even the tiny infant, although itself unable as yet with the heart to believe unto righteousness, and to make confession with the mouth unto salvation. All this is done by means of the word, whereof the Lord says, Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” – St. Augustine, Tractate 80 (John 15:1-3)

 

To sum it up, God has chosen to convey his grace to us by means, a concept I have broken down in my post on Justification , grace, and faith.  Some of those means of grace that he uses are conveyed by physical elements.  In the Lord’s Supper we receive faith, the forgiveness of sins in his body and blood, delivered in with and under the elements of bread and wine.  In Baptism we receive faith, the forgiveness of sins delivered in the water combined with the word.

 

 

Just Baptism and Communion? What about the other five sacraments?

 

The Roman Catholic Church (and others) teach a total of seven (7) sacraments.  They are listed below:

Baptism.

Eucharist.

Confirmation.

Reconciliation.

Anointing of the sick.

Marriage.

Holy orders.

Lutherans would agree that the first two on that list are sacraments.  Confirmation is practiced and is certainly a good thing.  Even evangelical churches do it (technically) they are just usually less organized about it.  Yes, through the preaching of the word (if it is done) confirmation does give faith by means, but there is no physical element that conveys it.  Same applies for most of the others to be honest.  I do want to address anointing of the sick and marriage though.

 

“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” James 5:14-15 KJV

“Of this unction as a sacrament we find no word in Scriptures. The anointing of which James speaks in this passage, cp. Mark 6, 13, was an extraordinary means used in the early Church for the miraculous healing of bodily ailments. This anointing was not done in preparing the sick person for a blessed death, but for the purpose of healing; the forgiveness of sins is not ascribed to the oil, but to the prayer of faith.” Kretzmann Commentaries

 

On the face of it we do see how this could be seen as a sacrament.  You have a physical element, and you have a blessing of heaven.  But you don’t have God giving that blessing via the element.  Notice in this case there is a prayer of faith.  I think it could be read as a sacrament if there were other scripture tying receiving faith to the anointing of oil.  But we don’t have that in this case, since the scripture is silent there, we should be as well.

What about marriage though?  The theology nerds reading my blog probably noticed that to justify the biblical origin of the word “sacrament” I used a verse in which Paul refers to marriage as a great “sacramentum”.  Which is of course why I clarified that I am using it like I do words like “Trinity”.  It’s a theological term.

 

“32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:32:33 KJV

 

Why is marriage not a sacrament?  Simply because there is no physical element to it.  One could call it a sacramental union, that’s fine.  But biblically speaking the word sacrament wouldn’t be the best one when employed with the definition I am using.

To be fair I don’t think a Roman Catholic would argue that all 7 of the sacraments they teach entail a physical element.  They would likely just say that they define the word sacrament differently than we do.  Which is common, most denominations tend to define it a bit differently.

All seven of those things, in one manner or another, are certainly things that the christian church does.  And people do receive faith one way or another as they are done.  So really the difference does come down to the underlying theology.  For example, Lutheran ministers will still perform marriages and anoint the sick.  They just won’t refer to the act as a sacrament when they do it or theologically classify it that way.

 

Conclusion

 

Why does God use physical elements to give faith to people?  In my opinion, I believe it is for our assurance.  God is perfectly capable of giving us faith by the preaching of his word (Rom 10:17).  There is however a subjectivity in our mind of interpreting and remembering such events that is just going to be there.

Did I really hear the preacher? 

Did I really mean what I felt? 

Was my decision for Jesus decisive enough?

What if I was distracted?

Of course we shouldn’t worry about such things, but I think God knows we will because of the weaknesses of the flesh.  So, I would argue he has given us the sacraments in part to mitigate doubt or insecurity.  I know I was baptized, I remember how the water felt, there were witnesses.  They even gave me a piece of paper to prove it.  That’s my opinion, take is as you will.

Even if that’s not the true reason the why is less important than the what.  The “what” is that God has promised to deliver faith to us by means.  So logically we should go wherever that is.  See you at church next Sunday.

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Why doesn’t anyone go to church anymore?

People in church

Ask anyone over the age of 50 and they will tell you that everyone used to go to church.  You didn’t ask people if they went to church, you asked them which one they went to.  It was as simple as that.  If you didn’t go then there was something wrong with you.  It’s fair to ask why?  Why doesn’t anyone go to church anymore?  A very large church recently put out the question and got some feedback.    I have posted the photos below:

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I do find it somewhat ironic that most of the posters get a little “judgey” about how “judgmental” they believe Christians are.  I don’t know if they see the contradiction in their reasoning, but even if they don’t, I don’t think they are telling the whole truth anyways.

In this post I am going to answer the question Biblically.  My source, besides scripture, is a nice video put out by Lutheran Satire.  I will be presenting most of the same passages that they did.  Their video is linked at the bottom if you want to watch it.

The real reason people don’t go to church anymore stems from original sin, they  simply hate Jesus. Nothing has really changed over the past generations.  The only thing we have lost is the social pressure that used to exist for people to go to church.  Not only is that gone but it’s actually starting to swing the other way.  Right now we are just seeing more clearly what has always been there.

 

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:18‭-‬19 NASB

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 NASB

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11‭-‬12 NASB

“Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” John 10:25‭-‬26 NASB

“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds” Colossians 1:21 NASB

 

The unbeliever is hostile to God in their very mind.  They don’t want to be around the body of Christ.  Why would they?  They hate him.  Why would one want to spend more time with someone they hate?

An unbeliever doesn’t need you to change your worship style to make them happy.  The only thing that is going to make them happy is if you throw out Jesus altogether.  Not so coincidentally this is what the “seeker sensitive” crowd actually does.  When you do this though you end up entertaining goats instead of converting people though.  It solves the problem of low attendance, but it does it in ways that quite simply just aren’t relevant to why you want higher attendance in the first place.

We need pastors that preach the word in and out every week.  People need to be condemned by the law and risen by the gospel.  That way no matter if there is 10 people in your service or 1000 they are at least believers.

 

“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Matthew 13:23 NASB

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13 NASB

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 NASB

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19‭-‬20 NASB

 

Below is the video I promised along with another that I think is relevant.  Both are short and fun to watch.

 

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Nature of Man | Tagged , | 7 Comments

The Narcissism of Homosexuality

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It is becoming more popular today to deny what the Bible teaches about this sin altogether.  Over the past two years we have seen many evangelical leaders flip on this issue in what appears to be an attempt to maintain their cultural relevance.  If you want to find an older post on that topic specifically please click HERE.

Today I am not going there, I am assuming you have already picked through that post or other material.  I want to dig a bit deeper into this topic.

What exactly is the sin of homosexuality when we look at it Biblically? 

Sexual Orientation?

The concept of sexual orientation isn’t taught in the Bible at all.  It’s a modern term with it’s roots in psychology.  I’m not knocking the entire field, there is certainly value in it.  But one should be aware that it is one of the softer sciences and is based on a secular anthropology (study of man).  For example, original sin isn’t a concept that is interacted with in psychology.  

I’m not denying the possibility of a biological or psychological component to sin. I’m just saying that the philosophical baggage that comes with the secular concept of sexual orientation isn’t a thing I feel the need to interact with.

In the clearest passages of scripture we don’t even see a concept of a heterosexual orientation.  Biblically speaking, sexual desire isn’t a definitive reason for getting married.

 

“And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, ‘and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh‘?  Matthew 19:4-5 NASB

 

The reason Jesus gives is we were created male and female.  In an older post I presented that it is our job to either serve God as single men and women or get married and procreate.  Orientation doesn’t factor into this equation.

 

Why does created Male and Female matter?

 

Read the passage below, pay special attention to the correlation made between Adam’s helper and those of the creatures brought to him.

 

‘Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. ‘ Genesis 2:18-24 NASB

 

I find it interesting that God wanted Adam to see at least some of the other creatures that were created before making Eve.  A natural order of male and female would have been obvious to him with the types of animals (birds and beasts) that are cited.  It would be reasonable for him to ask ‘who is here for me?’.  At the end we see the verse that Jesus was quoting too which takes us straight back to the creation narrative.

The word I want to zero in on is the one the NASB translates as “suitable” in verse 18 above. I’ll repost a few different versions below.

 

‘Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” ‘ Genesis 2:18 NASB

‘Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” ‘ Genesis 2:18 ESV

‘And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. ‘ Genesis 2:18 KJV

 

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Source: Biblehub.com

The idea of ones soul being defined separately than their body is actually a gnostic concept.  Biblically mankind is a whole, body and soul.  That’s why death is so abhorrent to God’s original design.

Taking it one step further though, just as your body is male your soul is male.  Just as your body is female your soul is female.  To split the baby here and have a male body with a female soul requires a gnostic or secular anthropology under-girding your philosophy, not a Christian one.  To mix match the two worldviews for the conclusion you have predetermined is intellectually inconsistent at best.

That said, notice the scripture above teaches that men correspond to women.  We are “suitable” for each other.  We “fit” together.  This shouldn’t be a complicated concept but since our modern narcissistic culture has muddied the waters I’ll post a picture to make it simple.

 

lock-and-key-chula-vista

 

Yeah that’s what I mean

Men and women fit quite well together, almost as if we were designed that way wouldn’t you say?  This basic aspect of our nature is the only way we survive generation to generation at a sustainable rate.  All I am saying is how we fit together physically is the same way we fit together spiritually.  It’s a corresponding image, one is not the same as the other but both men and women are made for each other.

 

Homosexuality isn’t Correspondence

 

With homosexuality you have a craving for a mirror image, not a corresponding one.  Instead of a lock and key you have a lock and lock or a key and key.  Such an arrangement no longer has any design or obvious functionality.  Simply stated, the command to “be fruitful and multiply” has no meaning to two men or to two women.  And that’s because it was never intended to.

Instead of desiring the corresponding image intended at creation for a purpose one is seeking a mirror image simply because they personally want it.  What am I saying?  I’m saying when you get lower to the root of what defines homosexuality as a sin, I believe it is the sin of narcissism.

This is particularly challenging for us to see today.  Narcissism is one of the chief virtues of our modern secular society.  Luther would have called this a theology of glory (yes I will be blogging on that later).

 

You do you bro

I had to do what was right for me

I am going to have to do this my way

I had to find myself

 

You’ve heard all that before.  Narcissism isn’t a sin in secular culture anymore, it’s a pagan sacrament of some kind.  I don’t know how that happened or when it happened but we are on the other side of that shift now.    The sin of homosexuality is simply another symptom of the same disease.  To those who argue that orientation is a spectrum I would respond that narcissism can certainly exist in a spectrum of severity with an array of accidents and attributes.

 

Does that mean some people are born narcissists???

What???

How is that their fault???

 

Well the answer to the above is yes.  We are born dead in trespasses and sins, by nature children of wrath.

 

‘Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. ‘ Ephesians 2:3 NASB

For more on this read the post on original sin

The point is that there is no way anything shakes down that it’s not your fault some how.  Even in your greatest moments of self sacrifice and philanthropy you’re still guilty of some measure of pride or false piety.

Even in the nature in which you are born you’re still guilty to the point that you justly deserve the wrath of God.  Saying that we are born narcissists is no different than saying we are born with original sin.

 

Conclusion

 

This blog has a fair number of readers now so I can’t just assume I have no gay audience.  So to address any of them let me say that even though all our sin goes back to adam it still ends at Christ.  He is the answer.  The answer is not you ultimately overcoming your sin or your desires.  Expect to wrestle with sin in all its forms your whole life.   Even in your greatest moments of failure know that Jesus died for you.  Even in your greatest moments of triumph over a particular sin know that you’re still a sinner and Jesus died for you.

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Is it a sin to drink alcohol?

 

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It is common for fundamentalist groups, like Seventh Day Adventists, to teach that it is a sin to drink alcohol in any context.  I remember when I was baptized SDA I had to sign an agreement that I would never drink it.  This is pretty standard so if you were also baptized in the SDA church then it’s likely you signed off on a similar pledge as well.

Let’s take a look at the Bible and see what it condemns and what it does not condemn with regards to alcohol.

 

Drinking Alcohol

 

Is it a sin in and of itself to drink alcohol?  I’ve checked each of these proof-texts below to ensure I’m not taking them out of context.  Links are provided so that you can easily verify for yourself.  This question answers itself pretty quickly take a look:

 

“Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” Ecclesiastes 9:7

“He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine which makes man’s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man’s heart.” Psalms 104:14-15

“No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” 1 Timothy 5:23

You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. Deuteronomy 14:26

 

 

In the first two we can see that it is spoken of positively in such a manner that ones heart becomes glad or cheerful.  In the last one we have a direction for Timothy to use it to help him with his stomach issues.  I think that is enough to prove that simply allowing alcohol to touch your lips is not in and of itself a sin.  If it were we would not see the Bible telling us to use it for recreational and medicinal purposes.

The last verse is helpful for proving that the alcohol being referenced isn’t grape juice.  Notice he references both wine and “strong drink”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a mean glass of grape juice but I would never refer to it as a “strong drink”.  Additionally, the process for keeping wine in an unfermented state didn’t exist until the 19th century,  so I would argue that asserting grape juice here would be an anachronism.

 

Jesus Drank Wine

 

If Jesus drank wine that would be a good argument against it being a sin.  This one is pretty easy too.

 

‘The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ‘ Luke 7:34

‘The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” ‘ Matthew 11:19

 

Both passages reference the same comment but they also make the same point.  Notice that Jesus was being accused of doing in excess what he freely admits to actually doing.  He states he was eating and is accused of gluttony.  He states he was drinking and is accused of drunkenness.  All I am saying is that it would be twisting the text to say that Jesus is only admitting to drinking water.  The plainest reading is that he was drinking alcohol and was accused of getting drunk on it.

 

Later in this post I am going to argue that drunkenness is in fact a sin, but let’s at least concede that the mere act of drinking quantities that don’t equal drunkenness is not a sin.

 

Communion Wine

 

If drinking in any context is a sin then why did Jesus use wine in the last supper?  The Church has also used wine exclusively for the first 1900 or so years every time she has had communion.  Grape juice in communion is actually recent development, and one I don’t agree with.

Notice below that Paul was chastising the Corinthians for getting drunk on communion wine.  While getting drunk on it is certainly wrong to do, this text does show that the wine they were using had alcohol in it.

 

“for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper,” 1 Corinthians 11:20-21

“And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying,”Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”” Matthew 26:27-29

 

Since we see wine used in communion that would be further evidence that simply drinking alcohol isn’t a sin.  In my research I found that the belief that you can never drink at all comes to us from the american puritan tradition, specifically the temperance movement.  In the 19th century the Church in America was responding to problems of drunkenness and went a bit too far.

The culmination of this was of course the prohibition which made drinking illegal for everyone.  That didn’t work out too well and society in general has been moving the complete opposite direction since.  Logically some would have tried to look for Biblical reasons to support the temperance movement, and some of the bad theology and historical anachronisms they employed persist to this day.

As an aside, some do argue that since leaven was forbidden during the passover that means wine was non-alcoholic.  This is actually a creative argument but it is an anachronism nevertheless.  Ancient Jews only recognized the leaven in the bread regarding passover, not in the wine.  Below is a quote from my Jewish source on this fact:

“Of the hundreds of species of yeast, the Passover prohibition only applies to yeast which is a product of one of the following five grains: wheat, barley, oat, spelt, or rye. Yeast which is the product of grapes, or its sugars, is not considered chametz (leavened food).” – Rabbi Dovid Zaklikowski

 

The Sin of Drunkenness

 

While drinking in and of itself is not a sin, as is in fact encouraged in scripture, this isn’t true for drunkenness.  It is actually a sin to be a drunkard, this is just as easily demonstrated as the arguments above.

 

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18

“Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.” Romans 13:13

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

“For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.” 1 Peter 4:3

 

Putting it bluntly, drinking is not a sin but getting drunk is.  Some try to argue that only alcoholism is a sin but getting drunk from time to time is not.  This is an anachronistic argument because it’s not a distinction apparent in the text.  Passages like the first one I posted above though (Eph 5:18 ) are clear that you shouldn’t get drunk at all.  So let’s leave it at that.

How much drinking meets the Biblical definition of “drunk” though?  Where is the line?  It has to be somewhere.  This asks a question that we all kind of know the answer to anyways.  While you can never get a clinical answer out of the Bible on this one you can draw some helpful lines in the sand.  First I will post the definition from the 1828 KJV dictionary and then a few passages to make my point.

 

DRUNKENNESS, n.

1. Intoxication; inebriation; a state in which a person is overwhelmed or overpowered with spirituous liquors, so that his reason is disordered, and he reels or staggers in walking. Drunkenness renders some persons stupid, others gay, others sullen, others furious.

Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness.

2. Habitually ebriety or intoxication.

3. Disorder of the faculties resembling intoxication by liquors; inflammation; frenzy; rage.

 

I realize there are newer dictionaries out there.  I happen to like this one because it is free and has more theologically relevant definitions than a modern dictionary does.  What stands out to me is a loss of control of ones faculties.  The line in the sand so to speak is the loss of your inhibitions.  This actually mirrors the biblical narratives where drinking is condemned.  Here are some examples that stand out nicely.

 

“Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.” Genesis 9:20-24

 

Noah is regarded as a man of righteousness in scripture (Gen 6:9), yet above we see an example of him failing in that regard.  Even though his story was used as type and shadow of Christ saving the world from sin, he could only be a type and shadow.  He wasn’t perfect, we needed someone who was.

For the purposes of my point in this blog post we can see that when you’re so drunk that you’re stripping naked… yeah that’s a line in the sand on what we would call drunk.  Not saying it has to get to that point before we are going to call it “drunk” in a Biblical sense, but this is a pretty good indicator of the degree of inebriation the Bible writers consider drunkenness to include.

 

“So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.” Genesis 19:32-33

 

In the story above Lot becomes so drunk that he loses all inhibitions and sleeps with his own daughters, which is committing the sin of incest.

Putting it all together I would argue that a good Biblical definition of drunkenness is a state in which you have voluntarily surrendered your inhibitions against sin over to either the devil or to your own depravity.  I wouldn’t limit it to alcohol either, I would include any substance that elicits the same effect.

 

Conclusion

 

How much alcohol does it take before you lose your judgment and start to commit sins that you otherwise would not do?  It’s going to be a little bit different for everyone, but I am assuming that you probably know where that line is for you.  Don’t cross it, doing so is a sin.  When you fail in this or anything also know that in the Bible it says that Jesus died for you and forgives you of your sins, so on account of your gratefulness try harder next time.

 

Does this mean you have to drink?  of course not.  Just as you can’t Biblically impose a law that forbids drinking you also can’t impose a law that forces it.  Responsible drinking is one of those things that exists in Christian freedom.  Getting drunk though is not.

 

 

 

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Heresy & Heterodoxy | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

In Christ Alone: Keith Getty, Stuart Townsend

 

This song in particular is very popular with former SDA.  Why?  As an SDA you believe that you are sealed by the Sabbath day in the end times.  So leaving an SDA church can be very difficult.  You no longer have the Sabbath to cling to for your salvation, so you end up having to look to Christ instead.  He is the only thing you can latch onto because without him you know you got nothing else.

Instead of using CCLI I am pulling the lyrics from the older version that still has wrath in it.  You can find my source HERE.

 

 

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

 

Here are some of the passages that come to mind when I read the first verse.

“Jesus said to him,”I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 NASB

“The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.” Psalms 118:22 NASB

“The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.'” Numbers 6:24-26 NASB

 

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live

 

So in this verse get get the incarnation not only confessed but carefully so.  Notice the author says “took on flesh” rather than “became” or something.  The word choice shows nuance and care in their Christology.

Top it off with a confession of penal substitutionary atonement for our sins, well that’s just wonderful.  It’s important to include the wrath of God too.  Without a full confession of God’s wrath and what that means his love loses meaning too.  God is Holy, and his righteous wrath burns against sin eternally and infinitely.  Only by his love can such a wrath be satisfied.  Nothing man can provide comes close enough to even matter.

 

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

 

Notice how we are free from the curse of sin standing in the resurrection of Christ.  Wonderful, the song works great for good Friday and for Easter Sunday.  We got the whole thing in three small verses.

 

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

 

Oh look hell is a thing in this song too!  No wonder the liberals keep rewording this song.  It has all those little words that bug them to no end.

 

I will stand
I will stand, all other ground is sinking sand
All other ground, all other ground
Is sinking sand, is sinking sand
So I’ll stand

 

THUMBS UP

 

Was there any doubt?  Maybe I am biased with this song because of how much it means to me personally.  Feel free to wax critical in the comments if you feel I’ve missed something on account of that.

 

Theology Scorecard

Yes

No

Is this song confessing Biblical theology?  X  
Is this song centered on God instead of yourself?  X  
Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable?  X  
Is there Biblical Gospel in this song?  X  
Is there Biblical Law in this song?  X  
Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all?  X

 

 

 

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Christian Music Reviews | Tagged | 1 Comment

Does God Control the Weather?

from-fear-to-faith

 

This is an important question that gets asked frequently.  I believe based on scripture that he does.  In this post I will present the passages that have convinced me of this.

 

The Omnipotence of God

 

The power of God is infinite, to deny this is actually a heresy.  Just like his power is infinite so to is in knowledge.  You can find older posts presenting these doctrines from scripture HERE and HERE.  So you can reason fairly simply that God does control the weather for to say he does not would place limits on either his power or his knowledge.  Even still though there are clear passages that do positively teach that God controls the weather.

 

“Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning. It changes direction, turning around by His guidance, That it may do whatever He commands it On the face of the inhabited earth. Whether for correction, or for His world, Or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen.” Job 37:11-13 NASB

 

“Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters; They have seen the works of the LORD, And His wonders in the deep. For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, Which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, And were at their wits’ end.  Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!” Psalms 107:28-31 NASB

 

“”I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.” Isaiah 45:5-7 NASB

 

“And He said to them,”Where is your faith?”They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” Luke 8:25 NASB

 

The answer is an obvious yes, God does in fact control the weather.  To deny this would be to deny the very nature of God, which would be the sin of idolatry.

 

Final Thoughts

 

While it is true that God does in fact control the weather, I would advise against trying to speak on his behalf when he does so.  Best case scenario you will probably just be wrong, worst case scenario it would be the sin of using God’s name in vain.  Aside from some specific events in the Bible we don’t get a blow by blow detail of God’s reasoning.

The truth is that every city on this planet deserves far greater judgement than any man or woman has ever seen in this life.  It is a great mercy that he doesn’t send us all to hell right now.  In my opinion, the worst judgement God sends is false teaching.  When heresy is allowed to proliferate mans heart is hardened and damned to hell.  A storm that calls many to humility and repentance, though tragic, can also be viewed as a mercy in this respect.

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Nature of God | Leave a comment

Lord ‘Tis Not That I Did Choose Thee: Josiah Conder 1836

 

I did not grow up a Lutheran and would have never considered it to be honest.  In some ways I was converted against my own will.  No matter how hard I tried to prove them wrong I kept failing and then eventually just took the plunge.  If you did grow up a Lutheran then this song will be old hat for you.  But for me it’s one of those gems I got to discover for the first time late in life.  I will be just as hard on it though as I am on the contemporary songs.  Let’s see if it has sound theology or not.  You can find my source on this hymn HERE.

 

1

Lord, ’tis not that I did choose Thee;
That, I know, could never be;
For this heart would still refuse Thee
Had Thy grace not chosen me.
Thou hast from the sin that stained me
Washed and cleansed and set me free
And unto this end ordained me,
That I ever live to Thee.

 

This first verse is teaching that God has chosen us, not the other way around.  How cool is that?  It also has baptism imagery tied in with predestination.  The following passages come to my mind.

 

“because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,” Romans 8:7 NASB

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” Romans 8:29 NASB

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:4-7 NASB

 

2

‘Twas Thy grace in Christ that called me,
Taught my darkened heart and mind;
Else the world had yet enthralled me,
To Thy heavenly glories blind.
Now my heart owns none above Thee;
For Thy grace alone I thirst,
Knowing well that, if I love Thee,
Thou, O Lord, didst love me first.

 

Notice above that we are being taught it is God’s action of Grace that wipes away original sin and changes us into new creations.  Even in the song this is centered on God’s actions not on mans.  Very different from what you would get out of an arminian song, where your salvation centers in and around your actions rather than on God’s.

 

3

Praise the God of all creation;
Praise the Father’s boundless love.
Praise the Lamb, our Expiation,
Priest and King enthroned above.
Praise the Spirit of salvation,
Him by whom our spirits live.
Undivided adoration
To the great Jehovah give.

 

In the final verse we also have an exposition of the Trinity.  Way to go, no questions about who this song is addressed to.  If you have followed my older posts on christian music you know that I don’t believe all of the orthodoxy should come from the context.  It needs to be in the song.

 

Thumbs Up

 

This song is a true christian treasure.  It is God that chooses us, with his free will.  If you experience a decision moment that’s fine.  That’s not what I am getting at.  But it is important to point out that those moments happen after you have faith not before.  To flip that you end up preaching the same false gospel that Rome does, the only difference is that you have put the bar for works salvation a little lower.

 

Theology Scorecard

Yes

No

Is this song confessing Biblical theology?

X

Is this song centered on God instead of yourself?

X

Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable?

X

Is there Biblical Gospel in this song?

X

Is there Biblical Law in this song?

X

Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all?

X

 

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Christian Music Reviews | Leave a comment

Meme Theology: Monergistic Salvation

 

FB_IMG_1506773845270.jpg

 

Today I would like to review the above Meme that has recently come across my feed.  For those who don’t know, Seventh-Day Adventists are about as Arminian as you can get.  To my knowledge all of the christian cults are which should tell you something right there.

Usually when people debate free will they do so in a broad philosophical sense.  Since God knows everything and chose to create the universe with said knowledge, then logically he knew every decision that would ever be made, so did you really choose which color socks to wear this morning anyways?

While such questions are entertaining to ponder we should keep philosophy in it’s proper place, in service to the word, not interpreting it.  Scripture doesn’t address such things.  What is addressed though is matters of will as it pertains to salvation, and that is what is relevant.  Honestly, when it comes to theology it doesn’t matter who ultimately decided which socks you were going to wear this morning.  What matters is whether or not you are going to heaven or hell when you die.

Another Armchair Theologian author by the name of Baptized1985 wrote an excellent post on original sin which you can find HERE.   To summarize though, because of Adam’s sin you cannot do anything spiritually good.  This includes making decisions for Jesus.

 

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” Psalms 51:5 NASB

 

“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3 NASB

 

“because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,” Romans 8:7 NASB

 

Notice above that in an unregenerate state your flesh is “not even able” to be anything less than hostile to God.  This is what you are dealing with when you are speaking to an unbeliever.  You don’t have the power to overcome this depravity, only God does.  These people need to hear the Word of God (Rom 10:17) and be given faith (Eph 2:8).  Decision moments may come later as a “good work” if you want to call it that.

I have reviewed Arminian proof-texts carefully.  It’s not like they don’t have Bibles too.  The error they make though is they tend to use narrative verses that are being spoken to people that have already received faith as a gift from God, and are thus irrelevant to the issue entirely.  I’ll write a post specifically on this one of these days.

Growing up in Adventism I have been to my fair share of altar calls.  I also have been a part of them when visiting other churches with friends or family, or when attending a harvest festival down at angels stadium.  They even had one at my  public high school once.  I remember each time I would try to work up the courage to be the first one to walk down, I could never seem to do it.  Because of this I always doubted whether or not my decision for Jesus was real or just a result of peer pressure.

That may not be the problem for everyone, but at the core of decision theology that is the real issue.  On some level your salvation is up to you.  God comes a certain distance and you have to cross the rest.  Some may preach that shorter than others but in a decision paradigm everyone presents something that the hearer must do to help Jesus save them.

If these are new concepts for you check out my older posts on the Gospel and Justification.  Notice that it is Jesus who comes to us and saves us.  We look to him for our assurance not to ourselves.  This is what Lutherans call a “Christ Centered” approach to salvation theology.  So obviously, I think the meme is spot on.  Two thumbs up!

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Meme Theology | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Biblical Gender Roles

baby-jesus-mary-joseph-by-dewey

 

To be clear, I do not mean gender in the same sense that the world does.  I am referring to men and women in a biblical sense.  The reason I am using the word is because of what the term “gender role” typically means today.  Does the Bible teach that men have to do certain things and women have to do other things?  I have assembled a collection of very clear passages on this topic below.

 

What God expects of Men

 

“But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:24-33 NASB

 

The passage above is very clear, men have a God given duty to Love their wives.  It defines this with the manner in which Christ loves his Church.  He died for us, so to we should love our wives beyond the point of death as well.  This assumes other things, for example men are not allowed to abuse their wives, cheat on them, use porn, etc.  Does Christ abuse or cheat on his bride the Church?  No he doesn’t, men should love their wives in the same manner.

 

“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7 NASB

 

I see the above passage as very similar to the first one that I posted.  Men must honor, love, and serve their wives.  This isn’t rocket science and it shouldn’t be controversial.  We live in a wicked age where virtues such as these are considered vices.  Never the less we should be salt and light to this world and do them anyways.

 

“But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife,” 1 Corinthians 7:32-33 NASB

 

Above we see that unmarried men have a directive as well.  Your concern should be on the things of the Lord and how you may please him.  Whether married or unmarried a mans focus is not himself.  Your life is not for you or about you.  Life is not some theme park where you move from one ride to the next.  A mans mandate is to serve God and to serve his wife.

 

“Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1-2 NASB

 

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2 NASB

 

Putting it simply, men are to treat each other with respect and teach each other as well in matters of the faith.  That’s a good thing, let’s not leave that out.

 

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8 NASB

 

Above  we see that men have an obligation to provide for their families as well.  When you’re unmarried and just getting started in life, it should be in a man’s mind that the reason he is pursuing a career is to provide for the family he doesn’t have yet.  Somehow we have lost this idea in our culture altogether.  Your single life is just the phase of life that you’re single and you live it for you.  Then you get married and start concerning yourself with family.

 

I would submit that God’s vocation for men starts as a child obeying their parents, and continues into adulthood with the focus on either serving God or serving his wife and family.  This is our responsibility that we answer to God for, a deliberate departure from this vocation is a sin.

 

 

What God expects of Women

 

The Bible has equally strong prescriptions for women as it does for men.  Nobody gets off the hook.

 

“…The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:34 NASB

 

The command above is a mirror of the same verse the precedes it.  An unmarried woman focuses herself on God, when she is married her focus is her husband.  This is God’s command for her to do.  I like this passage in 1 Corinthians as it demonstrates that there is a place for single people in the Church.

 

We often miss this because we think it is a failing on the part of the Church to provide a place for them.  It is actually their place to serve God, and I guarantee you there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer your time in at any local Church.  We just don’t think this way because in our fallen society narcissism is some kind of virtue, and our first focus is “what is the Church doing for me”?

 

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 2:3-5 NASB

 

Just like how there are commands for how men are to teach and treat each other, the Bible also has mirroring commands for women.  Notice there is a focus here for caring for children and tending to matters of the home.  Are these teachings anti-feminist?  Yes they are.  Feminism and the Bible are not compatible, you can’t have both.

 

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24 NASB

 

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” 1 Peter 3:1-6 NASB

 

The Church is the bride of Christ and is directed in scripture to submit to him.  Notice that this same relationship is how submission between a man and wife is also defined.  I know that it is tempting to twist this because this teaching is not popular today.  But it says what it says.

This is as much a mandate on men as it is on women.  Just as she is commanded to submit to her husband he is supposed to be leading her.  Let’s put it this way, a man’s wife shouldn’t be the one dragging him to church.

The buck has to stop somewhere and God has placed that responsibility on men, we are held accountable to that just as a wife is called to submit to her husband.  Not a popular thing to say these days.  The secular world would actually consider what I am typing here to be immoral, which just goes to show how far apart a biblical and secular worldview are.

 

“”But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”  1 Timothy 2:15

 

I’ve written an older post on just this passage above which you can find HERE.  Basically the point I believe Paul is making is that bearing children is a good work and that it is something faithful women are commanded to do.  It should be obvious that only women are physically capable of bearing children.  If they don’t we are all gonna die.

 

Conclusion

 

The truth is we are all guilty in some fashion or another for failing to meet God’s standards.  Men have failed and so have Women.  The answer is to repent and be forgiven.  Try harder next time, and when you fail know that there is forgiveness for you at the cross.

 

I would not recommend defining your gender roles by combining a worldly view with a biblical one as some have tried to do.  It’s easier just to delete the worldly one from your brain and replace it with biblical teachings instead.  As long as you try to carry both you will always be contradicting yourself.

 

Does God have a plan for your life?  What are we supposed to do?  The answer is to be a good father or mother.  A good husband or wife.  A good son or daughter.  We are supposed to have and raise children, provide for our families, and love each other.  These are biblical gender roles.

 

Posted in Armchair Lounge, Law | Tagged , | 1 Comment

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus: by Nokseng

 

 

The story of this song is pretty amazing, please don’t consider my critical commentary on it’s theology as a commentary on the faith of the martyr that wrote it.  You can find that story and the lyrics HERE.

If you have been following my posts you may have noticed that the hymns have been scoring better overall than the contemporary songs.  With this one I want to point out that even though there is an obvious trend, contemporary songs don’t have exclusive rights to false doctrine.  Also, good luck finding this song in the LCMS hymnal.

 

1

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

According to scripture you cannot decide to follow Jesus.  A lost soul is dead in trespasses and sins.  They cannot make a decision for Jesus, which means that any decision experiences you may have had are actually irrelevant when it comes to your salvation.

 

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Romans 8:7 ESV

 

Just to be clear, I am interpreting the word “cannot” as meaning “cannot”.  If you want to do back-flips around this text knock yourself out on your own, I won’t be joining you.  In original sin we are by nature children of wrath.

 

“among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:3 ESV

 

There is no making a decision for Jesus.  He comes to you in word and sacrament and saves you.  You need God the Holy Spirit to come to you and change your heart so that you can see the things that are spiritually discerned.  Any decisions you make after that point are irrelevant, they fall into the category of good works.  Jesus is not sitting there reaching out 99% of the distance between you and heaven waiting for you to reach the extra on your own.  He does it all for you and to you.

 

2

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

I like the imagery in the second verse but since it is based on a foundation of decision theology that takes it all away for me.  In this song the only reason the world is behind you and the cross is before you is because you did something to help Jesus save you.  It’s works righteousness.  That’s Popery and I’m not in agreement with it.

 

3

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

Christianity is not a lonely thing.  You may lose the family  you were raised with that’s for sure.  But you gain much more.

 

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29 ESV

 

Not just that too, when you take the sacrament you are one body with all believers past, present, and future.  I know there can be hard times, maybe there are not a lot of Christians in your neck of the woods, but you are never alone.  So at the very least I am going to say that this verse just doesn’t resonate with me theologically or personally.

 

This is even more evident by the events that transpired after the author of the song was martyred as his entire region converted to Christianity shortly after he was killed.  Many did come with him, praise God for that.

 

4

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

Jesus does tell us to pick up our cross and follow him.  And I do like the imagery so I am not going to be too hard on this verse.  If you look at it in a third use of the law sense it’s beautiful, and to me it does read that way so nothing but love here.

 

“Then Jesus told his disciples,”If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 ESV

 

5

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back.

 

Yeah so I reject this verse for the same reason that I reject those above.  Peter didn’t call out to the heathen to make a decision.  He didn’t play sappy music to tug on their heart strings and have people raise hands with their eyes closed.  There were no Finney altar calls or any of that garbage.  He called them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins, fully trusting in God the Holy Spirit to do his saving work on their hearts.

 

“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”” Acts 2:38-39 ESV

 

THUMBS DOWN

 

The overall confession in this song is that you’re saved because you made a decision for Jesus and you are appealing for others to do the same.  That is a false gospel.  Why would we want to praise God with something that Paul says is anathema (Gal 1:8)?  The theology in this song is just as bad as the worst of the contemporary songs I have reviewed and for the same reasons.

 

Theology Scorecard

Yes

No

Is this song confessing Biblical theology?

X

Is this song centered on God instead of yourself?

X

Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable?

X

Is there Biblical Gospel in this song?

X

Is there Biblical Law in this song?

X

Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all?  X

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

I hope that those who have followed all my posts on music reviews are starting to notice a theme.  It doesn’t matter how old a song is, it doesn’t matter what language it was first written in, it doesn’t matter what style it’s sung with.  Unfortunately these are the things most churches tend to debate when it comes to traditional vs contemporary.  The most important thing we should be looking for is whether or not the gospel is preached in it.  Does the song lift the cross high and place ourselves low?  Is Christ crucified and risen for us in it?

 

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for style issues.  Just like one typically doesn’t want to wear socks with sandals or suite pants with a t-shirt there are good reasons why we may want the music style to match the liturgy.  We want the whole message to be coherent, convey the gospel effectively, and in good order.  If a contemporary service is to be done it should also be in service to the gospel, not the main event.  There are challenges to this of course, most contemporary songs don’t undergo any formal doctrinal review, and to my knowledge gospel centered liturgies have not been written to match them.  Not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying it should be a concern.

 

Those are my thoughts on this, I am going to keep doing the music reviews because I think it is a good platform for proclaiming the gospel to people.  Also I just love most of these songs and enjoy reflecting on them.

 

 

 

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