Bought by the Blood

January 30, 2009

Tough Questions of Faith – Chapter 6

This section of the book deals with the cross, the why, what and how of God’s accomplishment for sinful man through Christ death and resurrection.  In chapter 6 Wright deals with why Christ died for the sinners and what God accomplished because of Christ finished work of the cross.  To summarize the why of God’s love for fallen man Wright states the following:

We will never understand why God has chosen to love us, other than the revealed truth that God is love.  It is simply and essentially God’s character and nature to love.  That states the truth, but it doesn’t explain it.  Or rather, it does not explain it in relation to anything  that we can state about ourselves, other than that we are the creation of this God whose being is defined by love. The love of God is generated and motived withing God’s own being, just as the light and warmth of the sun that we fill on planet earth is generated within the sun itself and owes nothing to anything the earth or its inhabitants can do – other than to be orbiting within reach.

I love this truth!  There is nothing I can do to merit God’s love.  He doesn’t love me because I am lovable.  I am a sinner deserving of wrath.  He loves me because he is love.

In this same section is found my favorite quote from the book so far:

Whatever life brings, nothing can top the unbelievable love of God and his constanct mery, goodness, and eternal saving grace.  Such gratitude is a richly cleansing, calming, refreshing emotion.  Indeed it is more than an emotion.  It is a whole worldvier, a whole philosophy of live, the universe and everything, for it is the only proper response to the very being of God, that he is love, amazing love.

Next, Wright elaborate what God has accomplished through his finish work on the cross.  Our benefits through Christ death in our place are as follows:

  • Nearness to God (Ephesians 2:11-13,19)
  • Mercy (Ephesians 2:3-7)
  • Redemption (Mark 10:45 and Ephesians 1:7)
  • Forgiveness (Acts 2:23-24, 38 3:15-19)
  • Reconciliation with God (Romans 5:10-11 and 2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
  • Reconciliation with others (Ephesians 2:13-18)
  • Justification (Isaiah 53:6, 1 Peter 2:24 and 2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • Cleansing (1 John 1:7-2:2)
  • New Life (Ephesians 2:4-5)

How is this all possible?  Only by Christ dieing for us.

God in Christ substituted himself in order to bear in himself what we would otherwise suffer because of our sin, and to gain for us what we would otherwise eternally lose…Substitution is not metaphor for what God did; it is what he actually did.  God actually did choose to put himself in a place where we should be, to do for us what we could not for do ourselves.

January 29, 2009

Tough Questions of Faith – Part Two

Tough Questions of Fath – Part Two consist of chapters four and five that I plan on summarizing in one post.  This part of the book probably deals with the one of the most controversial aspects of the Old Testament to wrestle with, the Israelites conquest of the land of Canaan.

Wright focuses chapter four on three wrong view points to take when dealing with this piece of Scripture.  The first false view point is that the it’s an Old Testament story that has no place in the context of the New Testament.  Wright dispels this because the characteristics of God’s love and wrath are the same in the New Testament as in the Old Testament.  God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  His attributes do not change between testaments.  Wright also proves this view point wrong with pointing to how the New Testament validates the Old Testament and never critiques or attempts to show wrong in it.  Another view point that Wright disapproves of for dealing with the Canaanite conquest is that the Israelites were wrong in believing that God wanted them to drive out the Canaanites.  “The main problem with this view is that everywhere else in the Bible the conquest is never explained away as a colossal mistake; on the contrary, it is anticipated, commanded, achieved, and remembered as something that accomplished God’s will.”    The last view point that Wright tells us is unreliable is that of the conquest as being meant as allegory for spiritual warfare.  “We must remember that this kind of spiritual use (the use he is referring to is allegory) of the Old Testament narratives is secondary and derivative.  Their primary form is simply historical narrative.  In other words, we are not really dealing with allegory here at all.”

What then do we do with the conquest of Canaan?  Here is Wright’s conclusion:

I have wrestled with this problem for many years as a teacher of the Old Testament, and I am coming to the view that no such “solution” will be forthcoming.  There is something about this part of our Bible that I have to include in my basket of things I don’t understand about God and his ways…

What we really must do is what we should do with every part of the bible, namely, to put it in the wider framework of our whole Bible.  We must get into the habit of doing that when we read any Bible text, and never more so than here.

So we will look at three frameworks that help to put the conquest in perspective — not in such a way as to make it “nice” or to take away all the nasty questions it raises, but at least in such a way as to help us connect it to the rest of what we know about God and his ways.  We need to see the conquest narrative in the framework of the Old Testament story, in the framework of God’s sovereign justice, and in the framework of God’s whole plan of salvation.

Here are Wright’s three frameworks listed from above that we need to hold in our hands as deal with the conquest of Canaan

The Framework of The Old Testament Story:

There is a culture and a rhetoric of warfare for the Israelites that we are not famaliar with today.  The conquest of Canaan did not include a complete removal of them from the land, but only a subduing of them so that Israel can take the land.  Something else important to consider is that this is a unique and historical event, not something to be a model for a way of life.

The Framework of God’s Sovereign Justice

“The conquest was not human genocide.  It was divine judgment”  This is seen by the fact that it wasn’t an unconditional wiping out of all Canaanites.  For Canaanites who repented and followed Yahweh, like Rahab, they were spared.  This does not imply that Israel is more righteous, we even see God imposing the same judgment on them.

The Framework of God’s Whole Plan of Salvation:

The conquest of Canaan, is not the ultimate end, it is part of God’s plan of having Israel being His special and chosen people from which the Messiah will come.  The mission of Israel is to be a nation from which peace to God is made available and all nations comes to praise Him.  The conquest of Canaan might seem contradictory to this but, Wright states “The overall thrust of the Old Testament is not Israel against the nations, but Israel for the sake of the nations…What we need to see is that the Bible feels no contradiction between the ultimate goal of universal blessing and historical acts of particular judgment.”

In conclusion, this is an episode, like all others, which must be viewed through the eyes of the cross.

And when I do set it in the light of the cross, I see one more perspective.  For the cross too involved the most horrific and evil human violence, which, at the same time, also constitued the outpouring of God’s judgment on human sin.  The crucial difference of course, is that, whereas at the conquest, God poured out his judgment on a wicked society who deserved it, at the cross, God bore on himself the judgment of God on human wickedness, through the person of his own sinless Son – who deserved it not one bit.

January 24, 2009

The Cup by C.J. Mahaney

Filed under: C.J. Mahaney,cross,Video — cubsfan1980 @ 7:27 pm
Tags:

If you have 8 minutes to spare,  I highly recommend watching this moving video

HT: Sovereign Grace Blog

Tough Question of Faith – Chapter 3

This chapter is entitled “The Defeat of Evil” and honestly, I believe that this chapter is worth the price of the book alone.  I love the quote that Wright uses to start this chapter.  As you will see from this quote, he does redemptive theology as well as anyone else out there today.  Picking up from where he left out in the previous chapter about lament he goes on to say:

But the Bible takes us further, much further, and calls us to rejoice at the prospect of the defeat and final destruction of evil.  Evil will be eradicated from God’s creation.  This is the hope and promise of the Bible.

The whole Bible, indeed, can be read as the epic account of God’s plan and purpose to defeat evil and rid his whole creation of it forever.  That, it can be argued, describes everything between Genesis 3 and Revelation 22.  We cannot here retell or even summarize that great narrative, but we can unequivocally say that the cross and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth stand at the centre of it.  Here is the central and decisive moment of the victory of God over evil and the guarantee that it will ultimately be destroyed.

Wright goes onto state that when wrestling with the problem of evil there are three Biblical truths that we must hold in our ends.  Those truths are  1)the utter evilness of evil, 2)the utter goodness of God and 3)the utter sovereignty of God.   After explaining these three truths Wright proceeds to use two examples of these functioning in the Bible.  One from the Old Testament with the story of Joseph and the other from the New Testament with Christ being crucified.  Wright’s prose is prolific, so instead of summarizing, I will quote him extensively below:

Three truths applied to Joseph

There is no softening of the evil intent and action of the brothers or of their moral responsibility.  Their actions are inexcusably evil.  Yet the goodness and sovereignty of God not only overruled their intentions but used them for the ultimate good of saving life.

It is important to not suggest that God “turned evil into good”, or that because it all worked out in the end, it wasn’t really so bad after all.  The actions of the brothers were evil.  Period.  Evil in intent and evil in execution.  But God demonstrated his sovereignty by showing that he can take what is done as an existing evil in the world and use it to bring about h is own good purposes (emphasis mine). God remains good, and God remains sovereign.

On the cross:

The cross exposed the utter depths of human and satanic evil in hatred, injustice, cruelty, violence, and murder.  All of this was hurled at Jesus, with no justification or excuse.  Jesus died at the hands of  “wicked men.” At the cross, evil is seen at its worst for what it is and does.  

Second, the cross happened fully in accorandance with God’s sovereign will from eternity.  It is the supreme moment in history (which defines and enables all other such moments) in which God caused the wrath of human beings to praise him, somehow building the evil intent and actions of free creatures into his own sovereign purpose of loving redemption.

Third, the cross also expressed the utter goodness of God, pouring out his mercy and grace in self-giving love.  At the cross God drew the worst sting of human and satanic evil and concentrated it on himself in the person of His son, in order that it should be borne in the full depth of all its consequences and thereby release forgiveness.

Wright then goes onto to exposit Revelation 4-7.   Because Christ is the crucified one who is at the center of creaton and God’s saving plan He is worthy to open the scrolls.  When Christ opens the scroll he summons the four horsemen of apocalytpic terror.  The four hoursemen represent conquest, war, famine and disease.  Wright quotes George B. Caird on the horsemen in the following, “They are the result of human sin…The point is that, just where sin and its effects are most in evidence, the kingship of the crucified is to be seen, turing human wickedness to service of God’s purpose.”  Christ governs the universe and the evil of this present age cannot trump His sovereign and good purposes.

Revelation 5-7, then, affirms this awesome paradox that is crucial to the way we should think about evil.  All evil, disaster, and suffering stand under the sovereign control of God in Christ — and specifically under the authority of the crucified Christ (The lamb who was slain, who is in the centre of the throne, sharing in the government of God over all creation).

Tough Questions of Faith – Chapter 2

This chapter is on the offense of evil.  Wright starts out talking about “natural evil” (i.e. natural disasters) and how the moral and rational explanations that we typically come up with are lacking.  In conclusion he states:

There is just not, as far as I can see or find in Scripture, any “right explanation” as to why such things happen.  Science can tell us their natural causes, and they are awesome enough.  That is the achievement, but also the limit of scientific explanation of “what really happened.” But neither science nor faith can give a deeper or meaningful reason or a purpose for a disaster.  thus we are left with the agony of baffeled grief and protest.  “God, how can you allow such things?  Why don’t you stop them?”  I don’t think it is wrong to cry out such things, even if we know that no answer is going to come from Heaven.

Wright argues that we can cry out as lamenting to God.  Our laments are not accusatory of God, but they hone Godly anger.  Laments are common in Scripture and they help us to reflect the image of God as we develop hearts of compassion.  The grief I experience due to suffering is only a drop in the ocean compared to God’s grief over suffering.  My lamenting over pain draws me closer to the heart of God, which is why we find people in Scripture often lamenting over evil, injustice and heartache.  

The point we should notice (possibly to our surprise is that)  questions are all hurled at God, not by his enemies, but by those who loved and trusted Him most.  It seems, indeed, that it is precisely those who have the closest relationship with God who feel most at liberty to pour out their pain and protest to God -without fear of reproach.  Lament is not only allowed in the bible; it is modeled for us in abundance.  God seems to wants to give us as many word with which to fill in our complaint forms as to write our thank you notes…

You have to pour out your true feelings before God, feelings that include anger, disbelief, incomprehension, and the sheer pain of too many contradictions.

Only then can I come back to praise God with integrity.  Praise does not eliminate or override all such emotions.  Rather, it is the safe framework of total ackowledgement of God and utter dependence on him within they can be given their full expression.

Wright gives Psalm 13 as an example of a lament Psalm

 1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
   How long will you hide your face from me?
2How long must I take counsel in my soul
   and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
   lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

 5But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
   my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6I will sing to the LORD,
   because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Notice in verses 1-2, David’s questioning of God.  In verses 3-4 David requests of God that he be preserved and have victory over his enemies.  David closes is verses 5-6 praising God and confident of God’s character despite his circumstances.
Over at Vitamin Z’s blog you can read a modern day lament over the murder of the unborn

January 23, 2009

Tough Questions of Faith

Where did evil come from? How did it originally get started?” God seems to reply, “That is not something I intend to tell you.”  In other words, the Bible compels us to accept the mystery of evil.  Notice I did not says, “compels us to accept evil.”  The Bible never does that or asks us to do so.  We are emphatically told to reject and resist evil.  Rather, I mean that the Bible leads us to accept that evil is a mystery (especially in terms of its origin), a mystery that we human beings cannot finally understand or explain…

God made us human beings in God’s own image.  Indeed, this is what constitutes our personhood.  What makes human beings uniquely to be persons, in distinction from the rest of the nonhuman animal world, is not the possession of a soul, but that human beings are created in the image of God.  The human species is the only species of which this is true.  We were created to be like God and his character and to exercise God’s authority in creation…God with his infinite perspective, and for reasons known only to himself, knows that we finite humans being cannot, indeed must not, “make sense” of evil.  For the final truth is that evil does not make sense.  “Sense” is part of our rationality that in itself is part of God’s good creation and God’s image in us.  So evil can have no sense, since sense itself is a good thing.

-Chris Wright “The God I Don’t Undertand:reflections on tough questions of faith

Chris Wright is probably one of my favorite living theologians.  I have read and own most of his books.  For Christmas I was excited to get his newest book “The God I don’t understand: reflections on tough questions of faith.”  One of the exciting things about this book is how Zondervan has gotten behind this book with a massive marketing campaign.  Starting in February they are going to be doing weekly blog posts at Koinonia.  They also have a website devoted to the book with a study guide and a video intro from Dr. Wright at http://www.toughquestionsoffaith.com

There are four topics that the books deals with:

  1. Evil and Suffering
  2. Cleansing of the Canaanites
  3. The Cross
  4. The End of The World

One of the things that I am looking forward to about this book is Dr. Wright’s scholarship.  He won’t give answer answers.  John Stott says in his review of this book states, “It is because Dr. Wright confronts biblical problems with a combination of honestly and humility that I warmly recommend this book.”    He will look at the problem through the lens of all of Scripture and when it is required, he will humbly say that certain things are a mystery beyond human comprehension.   Because we can’t comprehend these mysteries, we have no need to despair, but we can still worship and have faith in the God who is soverign over all the pain and mysteries of this life.

If you want, you can check out a review of the book of here.  I am only through chapter one, which is where the quote above comes from, but I look forward to working my way through the book and hope to finish by the time the discussion starts on Koinonia.

January 22, 2009

Life or Death

Filed under: Abortion,pro-life,Ronald Reagan — cubsfan1980 @ 7:57 pm
Tags: , ,

“How can we survive as a free nation when some decide that others are not fit to live and should be done away with?  I believe no challenge is more important to the character of America than restoring the right to life to all human beings.  Without that right, no other rights have meaning.”
-Ronald Reagan

Abortion doesn’t just kill the unborn, it kills the heart and soul of a nation.  America is on the same historical path as nazi germany.  The blood of many innocent children has needlessly been spilled because of the abortion industry.

We look back at the pre-civil war era and wonder how slavery could be justified.  Hopefully our grandchildren will look back and wonder how we can justify the murder of the unborn.

It isn’t matter of choice, but a matter of right and wrong.  A matter of life and death.  Not just the lives of the child and mother, but our own lives and if we are choosing to die slowly from the inside by heart atrophy as we no longer care about human life.

Our lives begin to end
the day we become silent
about things that matter.
—Martin Luther King. j r .

Question of The Day

Filed under: 1st Corinthians,Kingdom of God,power of God — cubsfan1980 @ 11:14 am
Tags: ,

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. – 1 Corinthians 4:20

Am I seeking to experience God’s kingdom by merely talking about it or by experiencing His power working through me to do advance His kingdom and His purposes here on earth?

January 20, 2009

Abortion is a Gospel Issue

Filed under: Abortion,John Piper,sin — cubsfan1980 @ 11:12 am
Tags: , ,

The subtitle of this blog is “Devotions Centered on The Cross.”  When this blog was first started it contained excerpts from my unpublished devotional blog and also quotes from different theologians that would bring me back to the cross.  Yesterday’s post might not have seemed like an issue related to the cross, so I wanted to do a follow-up post on it.

“Abortion is a God issue, and I think the first way you see that is in Psalm 139 where it says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (verse 14). And the language that is used is that a baby is knit together in its mother’s womb. Well who’s the knitter? The knitter is not nature. The knitter is God, which means that what’s happening in a woman’s tummy is that God is at work. God is making a human being. ”  John Piper

One of the first John Piper sermons I heard he was talking about God and made a statement to the effect of, “so many people got very worked up about human rights and forget about creator rights.”  When Piper talks about creator rights, he is referring to God as the creator of the universe and having the right and authority to do whatever he wants because He is the soverign king of the universe.  We are in sin when our lives are not totally submitted to His will and desire.  

God, being the creator of the universe, is the creator of every human life. There is no child that has not been knit together by God and created in His image.  It does not matter if they make it to birth or are murdered in the womb, the Alpha and Omega has set His sights on them and given them a soul.  To murder a child that God has created is to rebel against His purposes and plans for a new life.  It is treason and an offense against God’s good and wise plan, abortion proclaims that God does not know what He is doing by ordaining that another life be born.

 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ – Jesus in Matthew 25:40

Jesus says that we do unto the least of these, we do unto him.  The unborn are the least of Him, so when an unborn child is murdered, it is Jesus that is being murdered.  It is the Prince of Peace who is being torn apart and dismembered.  It is the holy and righteous One who is have His bones crushed.  It is the lamb that bore the sins of the world that is echoing a silent scream in agony as an innocent one is being murdered for the convenience of others.

Some recommended reading:

January 19, 2009

The status of Dr. King’s dream

This is a week filled with irony.  Today we celebrate Dr. King, tomorrow the first black President of the United States is inaguarated and on Thursday is the march for life.  Thinking about the horrors of abortion, has made me realize that even though Obama is making history on Tuesday Dr. King’s dream is slipping further and further away.  Despite this historic event it appears that progress is not a reality for Dr. King’s dream.

For every two African American women that get pregnant one will choose to abort.  A Black baby is 5 times more likely to be killed in the womb than a White baby.
Statistics from The Alan Guttmaucher Institute.

The most dangerous place for an African American to be is in the womb of their African American mother.
Rev, Clenard H Childress J

Abortion is genocide that is worst than the holocaust, anything happening in Darfur or any other part of the world.  Close to two thousands black babies are murdered through abortion every day.  Dr. King’s dream was about the racial harmony, not racial extinction.

On average, 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States.

This incidence of abortion has resulted in a tremendous loss of life. It has been estimated that since 1973 Black women have had about 16 million abortions. Michael Novak had calculated “Since the number of current living Blacks (in the U.S.) is 36 million, the missing 16 million represents an enormous loss, for without abortion, America’s Black community would now number 52 million persons. It would be 36 percent larger than it is. Abortion has swept through the Black community like a scythe, cutting down every fourth member.”

Abortion doesn’t just affect children, but also women.  I am not talking about the psychological effects, but breast cancer.  A Harvard study has shown that African American women who have an abortion are almost 5 times more likely to get breast cancer than those who don’t have an abortion.

Is the genocide of African Americans through the means of abortion accidental?  It is as accidental as a pitcher throwing a strike to a batter with the goal of striking him out.  There is no coincedence that the largest abortion provider in America has 78% of their clinics in minority communities.  Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood believed in eugenics and that African Americans needed to be sterilized so they could no longer procreate On the topic of eugenics and African American she stated “Colored people are like human weeds and are to be exterminated.”

Can African Americans become extinct?  The truth of the matter is that African American babies are being murdered in the womb at a higher rate than they are being born.

In many black Communities, for every child actually born, three others are aborted. That’s more than double the rate among Whites. In just the last 25 years, 12-million blacks have been aborted.

By 2038 the African American vote that helped to get Obama into office will no longer be a factor.

Here are a couple of helpful links:

Next Page »

The Rubric Theme Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,580 other followers