Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2nd London Baptist Confession: Concerning Justification

Because I cannot seem to come up with any creative thought on my own, I thought I'd quote something beautiful from the 2nd London Baptist Confession of 1689 regarding justification. This is article 11 Sections 2 and 6:

Faith which receives Christ's righteousness and depends on Him is the sole instrument of justification, yet this faith is not alone in the person justified, but is always accompanied by all the other saving graces. And it is not a dead faith, but works by love.

The justification of believers during the Old Testament period was in all these respects exactly the same as the justification of New Tesatment believers.

What do you think of that? If you'd like to view the confession's full dealing with justification to try and figure out how sections 2 and 6 of article 11 fit together, you can check it out here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

An Apology to Dr. Marsh, a Thinking Baptist

On January 22, 2008 I printed a post entitled "Onward, Thinking Baptist" in which I reminisced about a trip I took to the home of Dr. Leon Marsh. The point of the post was to capitalize on something that Dr. Marsh said about being a "Thinking Baptist." Instead, my ineptitude and slap-dash writing led to offense. I am ashamed.

Here is the section wherein I discussed my recollection of the conversation:

Dr. Marsh and I do not agree on many things. He claims to be a 3 point Calvinist with a laugh. His idea of inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures are not the same. I did not argue with him but I let him have say his mind. I enjoyed his banter and candidness if not his theology. His love of Christ was evident, and his joy at our visit was apparent. I was thankful to have gone and hope to go back.

The first sentence is just dumb. Dr. Marsh and I agree on many things. What an absolutely idiotic thing to say, and I cannot imagine what I was thinking. We may not agree on a few things, but on the overwhelming majority of all things important, I amen whatever he said. The second line was meant to reveal his humor. Instead, it reaveled my inability to communicate his wit and only served to expose my inability to articulate things. The third line is awful by any measure. I wrote, "His idea of inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures are not the same." Same as what? Same as the Pope's? I meant to say the same as mine. I said this because Dr. Marsh said a couple of things that I did not agree with. Now, that could be due to a couple of reasons: 1) I did not understand what Dr. Marsh was saying. or 2) We disagree.

This apology is not meant to be a parsing of what is meant by inerrancy or infallibility, so I will cut straight to the chase: Dr. Marsh believes in and spent his life teaching that the Bible is completely, wholly, and totally true. My statement was foolish because of my omission of the words "like mine" and the use of shibboleths like "inerrant" and "infallible" left the impression that Dr. Marsh did not have a high view of Scripture. That is an awful thing to do flippantly, and I am ashamed.

Let me go ahead and skip to the part where I wrote "I enjoyed his banter if not his theology." This is so sloppy that I am afraid to continue writing if I cannot do any better than this. What theology did I disagree with? As I stated before, Dr. Marsh and I may not agree on some things like "3 Point" Calvinism. But to imply that I did not like his 'theology' is just awful. What I meant to say was that I really enjoyed Dr. Marsh's wit even if I did not agree with everything he said. That is so much better than what I wrote. And in case anyone thinks that it is a 'big deal' for me not to agree with everything Dr. Marsh says, let me make it clear that I do not even agree with everything that I have said, especially on January 22, 2008 in the post that prompted this apology.

In the end, just about the only thing I like in the original post and can wholly endorse are these words: His love of Christ was evident, and his joy at our visit was apparent. I was thankful to have gone and hope to go back. Dr. Marsh, I apologize, and I hope that you forgive me. I do hope to make that return visit soon in dust and ashes or with your favorite cake, whichever will help you forget my blog post the quickest.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Wonderful Post

Go over and read Tim Brister's reflection piece on something that occured on his birthday. You can check it out here. It is entitled "The Cross isn't Sexy: A Dying Man's Confession." Seriously. Go read it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One Time the Pope and an Imam Were Talking....

Go and read this and let me know what you think. Especially this line:

Muslims around the world protested and the pope sought to make amends when he visited Turkey's Blue Mosque and prayed towards Mecca with its Imam.

I swear, sometimes it feels like I am living in a Tim LaHaye novel.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Being Spared the Truth

There is a scene from the film "A Few Good Men" in which Tom Cruise's character, Lt. Daniel Kaffee, spars with Jack Nicholson's character Col. Nathan R. Jessup. In that exchange, Lt. Kaffee attempts to elicit a confession from the tough old Colonel. Kaffee pleads that he simply wants the truth, to which the Colonel famously replies, "You can't handle the truth." I'm not certain if Lt. Kaffee could handle the truth or not, but I am certain that God spares us from the full brunt of the truth to keep from overwhelming us with sorrow or to keep us from exceeding pride.

Consider this statement of Jesus, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now" (John 16:12). Why would Jesus hold back the truth from His disciples? Why couldn't they handle the truth?

The context of this saying is on the brink of Jesus' arrest and crucifixion. The reality that Jesus is about to 'go away' is sinking in on the disicples, and their hearts are nearly overcome with sorrow (John 16:6). Jesus knew that they were fragile, He knew their grief, and He knew that their faith was not strong enough to handle everything at that moment.

Can you imagine the patience of Jesus? Do you not think that He longed to share with them the glory that was to come? Do you suppose that He was tempted (as we know that He was tempted in every way) to rebuke them for their unbelief and sluggish hearts? Did they not trust Him to do what was right? In my mind, I can see them downcast and grieving as the truth of the loss of their friend and master dawned on them. The Lord saw their grief and thought, "It is enough on them. They can bear no more."

It is gracious of God to bring us along by degrees. Slowly conformed us to the pattern of holiness displayed so wonderfully in the Son of God. He will never lay more on a burdened soul than it can bear, nor will He allow us to see so much of our future glory or our current progress to sabotage our humility.

Consider Paul in this regard. He bears witness that he himself was caught up into paradise and heard things that cannot be told, which man may even speak about (2 Cor. 12:2-3). Because of these exceedingly glorious revelations, Paul was given a thorn in the flesh "to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations" (2 Cor. 12:7). Why did Paul receive and thorn in the flesh, and why did God refuse to remove it? Because Paul could not handle the truth.

The Lord handles us so tenderly, neither allowing too much or too little revelation to crush us under the sorrow of sin nor to allow us to become too proud over the progress of the saints. He is like a careful gardener who neither adds too much fertilizer or too little and who gives out water by measure. Too little fertilizer and the plant will lack nutrition, too much and it will wither. Too little water and it will dry up, too much and it will drown. He manages us carefully, each according to his own need.

As we grow in faith and are strengthened by the grace of God, the Lord brings us along into the truth. Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16:13). He will not withhold the greater things from us forever, but He will bring us along as we are able to follow.

We must take care then, those of us who believe ourselves mature, not to outpace God in the lives of others. Be discerning and wise and patient with others, knowing that God has worked patiently in you. Have you ever struggled with the truth of God's revelation? Did God reveal all your sin at once or did He bring you along by degree? If we will be merciful as God is merciful, we will see the fruit that the Lord, the greatest Gardener, entends.