Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Anchor for the Soul

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20)

What is it that ultimately provides stability for our lives? What will keep us steady through the highs and lows, the ups and downs of life? The author of Hebrews points at several things in this passage. First, the character of God - that it is impossible for Him to lie. Second, God's promise. What can God not lie about? His intention to call a people to Himself and bless them, as first promised to Abraham and now received by the heirs of the promise. Third, the method God has used to bring this about - the eternal priesthood of Jesus on behalf of his people.

In short, the anchor for the soul is the gospel.

Now why would he point there instead of, say, their experience or feelings? These converts were enduring persecution, and the threat of apostasy was seemingly constant. What kind of spiritual malpractice - nay, cruelty - would be required to exhort these people to search their feelings and try to discern what God is telling them through their circumstances? How crazy would it be to trust your feelings when your family is disowning you, you're being kicked out of the synagogue, thrown in prison, and everything you own is being confiscated? Thankfully, we have a more reliable guide than our wildly swinging emotions - we have the unchangeable nature of God, the certainty of His promise, and the complete work of Christ.

As Jesus himself said, pointing us squarely to Him: In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On Sermons

"Church leavers think of the traditional sermon as boring, modern monologue. But the early Christians, not to mention the Reformers, had a more corporate understanding of the ministry of the Word. The preacher may have been the only one speaking (except for the occasional and welcome "amen"), but the time was still considered corporate worship because preacher and listener would exult in the Word together. The preacher worshiped as he spoke the Word and the congregation worshiped just as much to hear the Word. If our preaching seems like an oration or a simple lecture and the hearers see themselves as passive pew-warmers, then we are to blame, not the nature of preaching itself."
-Kevin DeYoung, Why We Love The Church, 174

"Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near." Revelation 1:3

Are you prepared to listen to the sermon in a manner that could rightly be called 'worship', that will bring a blessing to you, that will allow you to better obey God's Word?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How low will you go?

Stephen Hawking is known for many things, not least of which is stealing his idea for a donut-shaped universe from Homer Simpson. As you may have heard, he has a new book about the beginning of the universe which, sadly, makes you think he'd be better off getting more of his ideas from Springfield.

The quote which has been headlining the promotional material for this book - what they view as the strongest selling point, the message they most want to get out - is utterly absurd. Consider the intellectual dishonesty and intentional self-deception required for a physicist like Hawking to write something like this:

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist."

This is beyond ridiculous, and Hawking has to know it. What he knows - what everyone who has even the slightest knowledge of gravity knows - is that gravity describes the forces of attraction between things. In classical Newtonian form, the force is proportional to the product of the masses divided by the square of the distance between them. General relativity covers extreme cases such as singularities and massless particles, but even in these cases the objects involved must exist (they have mass, momentum, spin, energy, etc). Where there is no mass/momentum/energy, there is no gravity. For Hawking to pretend otherwise, to claim that a description of interaction between things matters when there is nothing, is delusional beyond imagination (well, almost).

Hawking's nonsensical idea of gravity mattering when there is nothing would be laughable - if not for the tragic ending of those so determined to be 'free' from our sovereign creator.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Oh noes - have I been misusing this scripture?

A verse that I've quoted quite often is Psalm 14:1 (also 53:1) - "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" Like many, I've used it in reference to atheists, and used the terms 'atheist' and 'fool' interchangeably. But lately I've been thinking that maybe I've been using this scripture inappropriately, and that this comparison is unfair to fools.

See, the verses say that the fool says there is no God - but he only says it in his heart. And the rest of these psalms show the result of such folly - living as if there is no God produces nothing good, to say the least. The fool of the psalms simply pretends there is no God, and proceeds to live like it.

And yet, even in his insane wickedness, there is no indication that the fool would actually be stupid enough to say there is no God. He wishes there is no God, he lives as if there is no God, but to say it out loud? Even that seems to be too ridiculous for the fool.

But in the race towards insane depravity, the modern atheist leaves the biblical fool in the dust. In his wicked quest to spread his rage against his Creator from his own heart to the public, there is nothing so obvious he won't deny it, no line so clear he won't cross it, no rationalization so flimsy he won't cling to it and bet eternity on it. (Case in point - Stephen Hawking. But that'll have to wait for next time.)

So perhaps I owe an apology to all you fools out there. Sorry 'bout that. But you still desperately need to repent.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Final Beatitudes

When the Biblically-literate hear the word "beatitude", they almost always think first of the opening of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. And for good reason - this series of blessings pronounced by Jesus is the introduction to his gospel, and works as a very brief summary of his teaching ministry. Volumes have been written analyzing these beatitudes (and the rest of the sermon), and it would be well worth your time to master this passage of scripture - and especially to live it out.

But as we've been going through Revelation over the last year at church, another set of beatitudes has stood out. Seven times in this book, Jesus pronounces a blessing on his people. Given the importance of this book as the capstone of God's revelation and the presentation of our hope in Christ, I think these blessings are worth more than a little effort to meditate on. Here they are; read, think, and discuss.

(Rev 1:3) Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

(Rev 14:13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!"

(Rev 16:15) "Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!"

(Rev 19:9) And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."

(Rev 20:6) Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

(Rev 22:7) "And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."

(Rev 22:14) Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.