Friday, October 28, 2005

The Goodnews

The good news is not - you can do it and you have been given the power, the good news is that Christ has done it for you because you do not have the power to do. There is the difference of Paleo-Protestant Christianity with other expressions of Christianity. For this reason, I have been quiet and do not comment when my minister friends are excited that they are teaching the from thePurpose Driven Life. Well that is not my call.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Sin is Original

They say that when your view of sin is slanted, your view of God's justification will be slanted too.
I remember when I first lied to my mother, there was an insistent desire to avoid pain and yet immediate guilt soon followed - I lied. I did not know the 10 Commandments yet, something told me I should have not lied and that it would have been more noble to have been honest.

Sin according to the Bible is missing the mark. When God commands, he expects us to do them perfectly. We can't unless we confine sin to actuals only, that is to external behavior. If you confine sin to the actuals then you can tap yourself in the back and praise yourself. In fact, you can even delude yourself that you are sinless for a day! Some evangelicals/pentecostals think so! If that is the case then there is a day you can make it on your own without the cross of Jesus. If you can go for one day without sinning, why can you not say that you can go for another and another without sinning.

When you consider what Jesus says - sin is not just outside behavior, it is in us. It is a condition. He says that if we thought about anger, lust we have sinned already in our heart. So sin is not just behavioral it is internal. It is not what we do/say/think that is wrong but also what we did not do/say/think that is right.

We do not sin then become sinners, we are sinners, that is why we sin. Sin is original as found in Romans 5. It is not washed or done away after baptism nor after faith in Christ (Romans 7 and 1 John 2:1-2). We continue to struggle with it and it needs to be forgiven, this God provided at the Cross of Christ, God nailed your sins and mine in his body. So we groan and are not happy and we hope one day we will no longer be in the presence of sin.

Monday, October 17, 2005

No Talk No Mistake

They feel sorry for me. My good and caring friends in the ministry feel sorry that I am not now pastoring today. I can understand and appreciate their disappointment. However, in a way I am not bothered at all.

Firstly, I can not do anything unless the Lord helps and inspires me, so I believe he prepares and equips his people. Secondly, in a way I am happy, because if I am going to stand and preach to people and it so happens that I preach something that is false, I will be responsible for misleading them. It is a serious business speaking on behalf of the Lord. I will be judged for every word I said.

Then I think of St Paul who was in prison and he still encouraged believers even while he was behind jail. I am very sure that should Paul have been in prison today, he would have requested internet access and would have sent his epistles by e:mail. I think he would have bloged too since his loved for Christ's church can be seen from his letters.

For now I like the Chinese proverb at that says "No talk, no mistake".

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Scripture is Sufficient 1

I have been listening to debates lately between Protestants and Roman Catholics on the issue of sola scriptura. For a debate question such as "Sola Scriptura or the Sufficiency of Scripture is taught by Scripture", the Protestants will of course take the affirmative side. Now of course, the Protestants do not mean to say that the phrase "Scripture is Sufficient" exactly can be found in the Bible, but is this principle taught just like the Trinity? The word Trinity is not found in the Bible but does the Bible teach such concept about God? Simply because the word is not found in the Bible, it does not mean that the Bible does not teach it.

Now for the RC apologist, what must he do to effectively rebut the affirmative? The Protestants believe that sola scriptura is vouched by 2 Tim 3:14-17. The RCs have to do more than say "I do not accept that". Also the exegesis that limits the application of this Scripture here to OT does not wash, because you will have to deny that the NT is not Scripture and I do not think you would like to go there as it will lead to a can of issues.

Think of this way, what is the Protestant position really saying? They are saying "The Bible teaches that there is only one source for a Christian's faith and conduct - it is the Bible". This is what is being said here.

This is similar to me saying - "I can prove to you that there is only One God". For you do take the negative on this you would have to prove, either of two things. You prove that there is no such God or you prove that there is at least another God and this one is not identical to the other.
For this case, the former is invariably taken as the method used by Atheist because by definition, God is supreme being and therefore unique, that is why we do not hear the latter position taken as a method (that is prove at least 2 God etc.) of proof.

From the debate I hear, RC apologists normally use 2 Th2:15 where Paul says "hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter" to show that sola scriptura is denied. Their point ,from what I understand, is the "spoken word" along with the "letter (Scripture)", thus it is not Scripture alone it has to be the oral words. Notice too that it says "either", that is this tradition is found in either spoken word or letter.

To be successful they have to show that "the spoken word" is NOT the same or is NOT identical with the "letter". That is, the contents of the two must not be identical with each other, for if they were, then they have not denied the position of the Protestant successfully. Thus they have to do a bit more work.

More later, God bless you in your thinking

Saturday, October 08, 2005

RC Bishops Doubt Bible

I got this from NTR Ministries. It is reported that Roman Catholic bishops in Great Britain doubt certain passages of the Bible to be historically accurate. They think, for example, that the story in Genesis 1-11 is untrue. Look here

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Luther and Victory of Justifying Faith

Since Reformation Sunday is coming up I thought it would be good to do some reflections on the struggle of Reformation.

This is from Philip Schaff's, History of the Christian Church, and can be found here. I am repeating it here to help in reflecting on the the Feast of the Reformation, this October

23. The Victory of Justifying Faith.

(Comp. § 7.)

The secret of Luther’s power and influence lies in his heroic faith. It delivered him from the chaos and torment of ascetic self-mortification and self-condemnation, gave him rest and peace, and made him a lordly freeman in Christ, and yet an obedient servant of Christ. This faith breathes through all his writings, dominated his acts, sustained him in his conflicts and remained his shield and anchor till the hour of death. This faith was born in the convent at Erfurt, called into public action at Wittenberg, and made him a Reformer of the Church.

By the aid of Staupitz and the old monk, but especially by the continued study of Paul’s Epistles, be was gradually brought to the conviction that the sinner is justified by faith alone, without works of law. He experienced this truth in his heart long before he understood it in all its bearings. He found in it that peace of conscience which he had sought in vain by his monkish exercises. He pondered day and night over the meaning of "the righteousness of God "(Rom. 1:17), and thought that it is the righteous punishment of sinners; but toward the close of his convent life he came to the conclusion that it is the righteousness which God freely gives in Christ to those who believe in him. Righteousness is not to be acquired by man through his own exertions and merits; it is complete and perfect in Christ, and all the sinner has to do is to accept it from Him as a free gift. Justification is that judicial act of God whereby he acquits the sinner of guilt and clothes him with the righteousness of Christ on the sole condition of personal faith which apprehends and appropriates Christ and shows its life and power by good works, as a good tree bringing forth good fruits. For faith in Luther’s system is far more than a mere assent of the mind to the authority of the church: it is a hearty trust and full surrender of the whole man to Christ; it lives and moves in Christ as its element, and is constantly obeying his will and following his example. It is only in connection with this deeper conception of faith that his doctrine of justification can be appreciated. Disconnected from it, it is a pernicious error.

The Pauline doctrine of justification as set forth in the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, had never before been clearly and fully understood, not even by Augustin and Bernard, who confound justification with sanctification.137 Herein lies the difference between the Catholic and the Protestant conception. In the Catholic system justification (dikaivwsi") is a gradual process conditioned by faith and good works; in the Protestant system it is a single act of God, followed by sanctification. It is based upon the merits of Christ, conditioned by faith, and manifested by good works.138

This experience acted like a new revelation on Luther. It shed light upon the whole Bible and made it to him a book of life and comfort. He felt relieved of the terrible load of guilt by an act of free grace. He was led out of the dark prison house of self-inflicted penance into the daylight and fresh air of God’s redeeming love. Justification broke the fetters of legalistic slavery, and filled him with the joy and peace of the state of adoption; it opened to him the very gates of heaven.

Henceforth the doctrine of justification by faith alone was for him to the end of life the sum and substance of the gospel, the heart of theology, the central truth of Christianity, the article of the standing or falling church. By this standard he measured every other doctrine and the value of every book of the Bible. Hence his enthusiasm for Paul, and his dislike of James, whom he could not reconcile with his favorite apostle. He gave disproportion to solifidianism and presented it sometimes in most unguarded language, which seemed to justify antinomian conclusions; but he corrected himself, he expressly condemned antinomianism, and insisted on good works and a holy life as a necessary manifestation of faith.139 And it must not be forgotten that the same charge of favoring antinomianism was made against Paul, who rejects it with pious horror: "Let it never be!"

Thus the monastic and ascetic life of Luther was a preparatory school for his evangelical faith. It served the office of the Mosaic law which, by bringing the knowledge of sin and guilt, leads as a tutor to Christ (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:24). The law convicted, condemned, and killed him; the gospel comforted, justified, and made him alive. The law enslaved him, the gospel set him free. He had trembled like a slave; now he rejoiced as a son in his father’s house. Through the discipline of the law he died to the law, that he might live unto God (Gal. 2:19).

In one word, Luther passed through the experience of Paul. He understood him better than any mediaeval schoolman or ancient father. His commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians is still one of the best, for its sympathetic grasp of the contrast between law and gospel, between spiritual slavery and spiritual freedom.

Luther held this conviction without dreaming that it conflicted with the traditional creed and piety of the church. He was brought to it step by step. The old views and practices ran along side with it, and for several years he continued to be a sincere and devout Catholic. It was only the war with Tetzel and its consequences that forced him into the position of a Reformer and emancipated him from his old connections.