Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Heidelberg Catechism

I love how John 1 tells us about the beginning from the New Testament and how creation is from Christ and pointing to Christ and His awesome power and His Glory. And everything in the Bible points toward His coming. Just as it is noted here that John the Baptist will be the herald..."Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

John 1
The Word Became Flesh

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

Below is a good message preached by John Piper called the Pleasurses of God. This message focuses on God's Good Pleasure in Creation.

The Pleasure of God in His Creation

I hope you will enjoy it.

Grace and Peace,

Chris Allen

Coram Deo!!!


The Order of Creation

by R.C. Sproul
In the Creation of the world, God made man in His own image. The term “man” is used generically, as we see that man was created male and female. In the order of Creation, mankind was given dominion over the earth. In this regard, Adam and Eve served as viceregents for God. Eve shared in this dominion; if we regard Adam’s dominion as a kind of kingship over creation, we would see Eve as his queen. Nevertheless, it is clear from the order of Creation that Eve was placed in a position of subordination to Adam. She was assigned the role of “help meet.”
Several issues that relate to this Creation order have been brought into bold relief by the feminist movement. For instance, the New Testament passages that call wives to submit to their husbands and men only to lead in the church have been greeted with vociferous protests. Calumnies have been launched against the apostle Paul for being a first century chauvinist, while others have sought to historicize and relativize these rules by arguing that they were merely culturally conditioned customs relevant to the first century but not to the modern world. It also has been argued that the principle of submission denigrates women, robbing them of their dignity and relegating them to the level of inferior humanity.
With respect to the last point, the erroneous assumption made is that subordination means inferiority or that subordination destroys equality of dignity, worth, and value. Sadly, male chauvinism has often been driven by this very misconception, with men assuming that the reason God commands their wives to be submissive to them is that women must be inferior.
That this inference is patently false is seen in our understanding of the persons of the Godhead. In the economy of redemption, the Son is subordinate to the Father, and the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son. This does not mean that the Son is inferior to the Father, and the Holy Spirit inferior to both Father and Son. Our understanding of the Trinity is that the three persons of the Godhead are equal in being, worth, and glory. They are co-eternal and co-substantial.
Likewise, in an organizational hierarchy, we do not assume that because a vice president is subordinate to the president that the vice president is inferior to the president as a person. It is obvious that subordination does not translate into inferiority.
The question of whether the subordination of wives to husbands in marriage and of women to men in the church is merely a cultural custom of the ancient world is a burning one. If indeed these matters were articulated as cultural customs and not binding principles, it would be a serious miscarriage of justice to apply them transculturally to societies where they don’t belong. On the other hand, if they were given as transcultural principles by divine mandate, to treat them as mere cultural conventions would be to do violence to the Holy Spirit and to rebel against God Himself.
In other words, if the biblical passages merely reflect the chauvinism of a first century rabbinic Jew, they are unworthy of our acceptance. If, however, Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and if the New Testament is the Word of God, then the charge of chauvinism must be leveled not only at Paul but at the Holy Spirit Himself - a charge that cannot be leveled with impunity.
If we are convinced that the Bible is God’s Word and its commands are God’s commands, how can we discern between customs and principles? I’ve written about the matter of culture and the Bible in my book Knowing Scripture. In it, I mention that unless we conclude that all of Scripture is principle and thus binding on all people of all times and places, or that all Scripture is simply a matter of culturally conditioned local custom with no relevance or necessary application beyond its immediate historical context, we are forced to discover some guidelines for discerning the differences between principle and custom.
To illustrate the problem, let us see what happens when we hold that everything in Scripture is principle. If that were the case, then radical changes would have to be made in evangelism. Jesus commanded His disciples to “Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals . . .” (Luke 10:4a). If we make this text a trans-cultural principle, then we must engage in barefoot evangelism.
Obviously there are biblical matters that reflect a historical custom. We are not required to wear the same clothing that biblical people wore, or pay our tithes with shekels or denarii. Things such as clothing and monetary units are subject to change.
One of the chief considerations in determining the question of principle or custom is whether the matter involves a Creation ordinance. Creation ordinances may be distinguished both from old covenant laws and new covenant commands. The first consideration concerns the parties to the various covenants. In the New Testament, the covenant is made with Christian believers. For example, Christian believers are called to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. But that mandate does not extend to non-believers, who indeed are warned not to participate in the sacrament. Likewise, there were laws in the Old Testament that applied only to the Jews.
But we ask, who are the parties to the covenant of Creation? In Creation, God makes a covenant not simply with Jews or with Christians, but with man qua man. As long as humans exist in a covenant relationship with the Creator, the laws of Creation remain intact. They are reaffirmed in both the old covenant and the new covenant.
If anything transcends a cultural custom, it is a Creation ordinance. Thus, it is a dangerous business indeed to treat the matter of subordination in marriage and in the church as a mere local custom when it is clear that the New Testament mandates for these matters rest upon apostolic appeals to Creation. Such appeals make it crystal clear that these mandates were not intended to be regarded as local customs. That the church today often treats divine rules as mere customs reflects not so much the cultural conditioning of the Bible but the cultural conditioning of the modern church. Here is a case where the church capitulates to the local culture rather than being obedient to the transcendent law of God.
If one studies an issue such as this with care and is not able to discern whether a matter is principial or customary, what should he or she do? Here a principle of humility comes into play, a principle set forth in the New Testament axiom that whatever is not of faith is sin. Remember the old adage, “When in doubt, don’t”? If we are over-scrupulous and regard a custom as a principle, then we are guilty of no sin - no harm, no foul. On the other hand, if we treat a principle as a custom that can be set aside, we are guilty of disobeying God.
Creation ordinances may be modified, as the Mosaic Law did with regard to divorce, but the principle here is that Creation ordinances are normative unless or until they are explicitly modified by later biblical revelation.

Dr. R.C. Sproul is chairman of the board and president of Ligonier Ministries. This article has been reprinted from Tabletalk magazine, May 1999, with permission of Ligonier Ministries, P.O. Box 547500, Orlando, FL 32854, phone 800-435-4343.


Of God the Father and our Creation

Lord’s Day 9
26. What do you believe when you say: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?”
That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who of nothing made heaven and earth with all that in them is,[1] who likewise upholds, and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence,[2] is for the sake of Christ, His Son, my God and my Father,[3] in whom I so trust as to have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul;[4] and further, that whatever evil He sends upon me in this troubled life, He will turn to my good;[5] for He is able to do it, being Almighty God,[6] and willing also, being a faithful Father.[7]
[1] Gen 1-2; Ex 20:11; Job 38-39; Ps 33:6; Isa 44:24; Acts 4:24, 14:15; Col 1:16; Heb 11:3; [2] Ps 104:2-5, 27-30, 115:3; Mt 6:30, 10:29-30; Acts 17:24-25; Eph 1:11; Heb 1:3; [3] Mt 6:8; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 8:15-16; Gal 4:4-7; Eph 1:5, 3:14-16; [4] Ps 55:22, 90:1-2; Mt 6:25-26; Lk 12:22-31; [5] Acts 17:27-28; Rom 8:28; [6] Gen 18:14; Rom 8:31-39, 10:12; [7] Num 23:19; Mt 6:32-33, 7:9-11

Sunday, June 03, 2007

More on the Trinity

I found this article below written by James Boice (awesome Preacher) posted on Steve Camp's Website just after I had posted last week's Heidelberg Catechism. How timely this is since we were looking at the Trinity. I hope you like it and look at some of the other articles on Steve Camp's website as well as his titled Audiance of One he is well written and studied. He is known for his music and now for his biblical, theological insight. If you would like to know more about business of Contemporary Christian Music from his perspective check out his The 107 THESES he wrote similar to Martin Luther's 95 Theses about the Roman Catholic Church.

Grace and Peace,
Chris Allen
Coram Deo!!!

Your Weekly Dose of Gospel...the doctrine and the nature of the Trinity
by Dr. James Montgomery BoiceThe important point is not whether we can understand the Trinity, even with the help of illustrations, but whether we will believe what the Bible has to say about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and about their relationship to each other. What the Bible says may be summarized in the following five propositions:1. There is but one living and true God who exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. We have already looked at this truth in general. We will see it more fully when I talk about the full deity of the Son and Holy Spirit in books two and three in this volume. Here we note a plurality within the Godhead that is suggested even in the pages of the Old Testament, before the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ or the coming of the Holy Spirit upon all God's people. The plurality may be seen, in the first instance, in those passages in which God speaks about himself in the plural. One example is Genesis 1:26. "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' " Another is Genesis 11:7. "Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language." A third is Isaiah 6:8. "And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' " In other passages a heavenly being termed "the angel of the Lord" is, on the one hand identified with God and yet, on the other hand, is also distinguished from him. Thus, we read: "The angel of the LORD found her [Hagar] by a spring of water in the wilderness. . . . The angel of the LORD said to her, 'I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude.' . . . So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, 'Thou art a God of seeing' " (Gen. 16:7, 10, 13). An even stranger case is the appearance of the three angels to Abraham and Lot. The angels are sometimes spoken of as three and sometimes as one. Moreover, when they speak, it is the Lord who, we are told, speaks to Lot and Abraham (Gen. 18).A final, startling passage is Proverbs 30:4. The prophet Agur is speaking about the nature of Almighty God, confessing his ignorance of him. "Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth?" Then comes, "What is his name, and what is his son's name? Surely you know!" In that day the prophet knew only the Father's name, the name Jehovah. Today we know that his Son's name is the Lord Jesus Christ.2. The Lord Jesus Christ is fully divine, being the second person of the Godhead who became man. This, of course, is where the crux of debate on the Trinity is to be found; those who dislike the doctrine dislike it primarily because they are unwilling to give such an exalted position to "the man" Jesus.Such reluctance is seen first in the teachings of Arius of Alexandria (died A.D. 336). Sabellius, mentioned earlier, tended to merge the persons of the Trinity, so that Father, Son and Holy Spirit were only temporary manifestations of the one God, assumed for the purposes of our redemption. Arius, whose main work was done just after Sabellius, went to the other extreme. He divided the persons of the Trinity so the Son and the Spirit became less than God the Father. According to Arius, the Son and Spirit were beings willed into existence by God for the purpose of acting as his agents in redemption. Thus, they were not eternal (as God is), and they were not fully divine. Arius used the word divine to describe them in some lesser sense than when applying it to the Father. In more recent centuries the same error has been espoused by Unitarians and by some modern cults.But it is a great error. For if Christ is not fully divine, then our salvation is neither accomplished nor assured. No being less than God himself, however exalted, is able to bear the full punishment of the world's sin.The deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is taught in many crucial passages. We read "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" (Jn. 1:1-2). That John 1:1-2 speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ is clear from John 1:14, in which we are told that the "Word" of verse 1 "became flesh and dwelt among us." Similarly, Paul writes, "Have this mind among yourselves, which you have in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:5-8). The words "did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself" do not mean that Jesus ceased to be fully God in the Incarnation, as some have maintained, but only that he temporarily laid aside his divine glory and dignity in order to live among us. We remember that it was during the days of his life here that Jesus said, "I and the Father are one" (Jn. 10:30), and "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn. 14:9).3. The Holy Spirit is fully divine. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who most clearly teaches the nature of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of John, Jesus compares the ministry of the coming Holy Spirit to his own ministry. "And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him" (Jn. 14:16-17). This understanding of the Holy Spirit is supported by the fact that distinctly divine attributes are ascribed to him: everlastingness (Heb. 9:14), omnipresence (Ps. 139:7-10), omniscience (1 Cor. 2:10-11), omnipotence (Lk. 1:35) and others.4. While each is fully divine, the three persons of the Godhead are related to each other in a way that implies some differences. Thus, it is usually said in Scripture that the Father (not the Spirit) sent the Son into the world (Mk. 9:37; Mt. 10:40; Gal. 4:4), but that both the Father and the Son send the Spirit (Jn. 14:26; 15:26; 16:7). We don't know fully what such a description of relationships within the Trinity means. But usually it is said that the Son is subject to the Father, for the Father sent him, and that the Spirit is subject to both the Father and the Son, for he is sent into the world by both the Son and Father. However, we must remember that when we speak of subjection we do not mean inequality. Although related to each other in these ways, the members of the Godhead are nevertheless "the same in substance, equal in power and glory," as the Westminster Shorter Catechism says (Q. 6).5. In the work of God the members of the Godhead work together.It is common among Christians to divide the work of God among the three persons, applying the work of creation to the Father, the work of redemption to the Son and the work of sanctification to the Holy Spirit. A more correct way of speaking is to say that each member of the Trinity cooperates in each work.One example is the work of creation. It is said of God the Father, "Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands" (Ps. 102:25); and "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). It is written of the Son, "For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible" (Col. 1:16); and "All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (Jn. 1:3). It is written of the Holy Spirit, "The spirit of God has made me" (Job 33:4). In the same way, the Incarnation is shown to have been accomplished by the three persons of the Godhead working in unity, though only the Son became flesh (Lk. 1:35). At the baptism of the Lord all three were also present: the Son came up out of the water, the Spirit descended in the appearance of a dove and the voice of the Father was heard from heaven declaring, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Mt. 3:16-17). All three persons were present in the atonement, as Hebrews 9:14 declares. "Christ... through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God." The resurrection of Christ is likewise attributed sometimes to the Father (Acts 2:32), sometimes to the Son (Jn. 10:17-18) and sometimes to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:4).We are not surprised, therefore, that our salvation as a whole is also attributed to each of the three persons: chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood" (1 Pet. 1:2). Nor are we surprised that we are sent forth into all the world to "make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 28:19).Threefold RedemptionAgain let me note, although we can say meaningful things about the Trinity (on the basis of God's revelation of them), the Trinity is still unfathomable. We should be humble before the Trinity. Someone once asked Daniel Webster, the orator, how a man of his intellect could believe in the Trinity. "How can a man of your mental caliber believe that three equals one?" his assailant chided. Webster replied, "I do not pretend fully to understand the arithmetic of heaven now." The doctrine of the Trinity does not mean that three equals one, of course, and Webster knew that. It means rather that God is three in one sense and one in another. But Webster's reply nevertheless showed a proper degree of creature humility. We believe the doctrine of the Trinity, not because we understand it, but because the Bible teaches it and because the Spirit himself witnesses within our heart that it is so.
posted by SJ Camp at
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