Friday, February 27, 2009

Remember when God forgives...

I have been listening to my old record of Amick Byram's Encounter. There are a good number of Christ centered songs here.

I was particularly touched again in listening to One Voice.

Taken from John 1:29
29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold,A)">(A) the Lamb of God, whoB)">(B) takes away the sinC)">(C) of the world!

Carries away the sin of the world... carries away the sin of the world... carries away the sin of the world.

This came to mind as I listened and enjoyed this song: that it is so important to remember that when God forgives it is not an empty forgiveness that he draws from himself, but that there was an actual concrete payment for the sins of which God is forgiving us; Christ bore those sins we are being forgiven for. We like to look away from this and detach it from the Atonement. Even if some one preaches forgiveness but neglects to make us to look at the Cross, that person is not preaching the Word. Other monotheistic religions have a notion of God being merciful too!

To separate the forgiveness of God from the Atonement leaves us with no assurance and leaves us with a God whom we know is a consuming fire. It leaves us a God whom we do not know, we will be left wondering if he may or may not forgive us. This is what happens with those who emphasize the conversion or "born again experience". I fell for this myself. It happens when the Christian is not made to look again and again to the Cross but is indirectly told by impression that they clinched it when they said the "sinner's prayer" and walked down the aisle. My friend, this is not liberation but enslavement again to the tyranny of religion.

But the Biblical story is not that way. It does not present God drawing forgiveness barely from his shear merciful character. His forgiveness is concrete because there was an actual payment made, by Christ, for our sins to God. There was an actual transaction that was made, not by you, but by the Son to the Father.

For God loved us this way -- by sending his Son to die for us, pay for our sins so that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Scientific bias

Laypeople should not think that scientists are unemotional unbiased people. They have biases and as bigoted as some of us. Scientists are into the politics of ideas. They are into band wagon and what is the "flavor of the month theories". They are swayed by popular ideas just like any of us. In fact most of them follow the crowd, or the mainstream, it is good for their career.

Some laypeople think that scientists are active passionate seekers of the TRUTH. You have to laugh because right now, some of them do not have a definition of TRUTH. Most do not even adopt such category in their mental machinery.

What do I mean by politics of ideas? I mean, scientists throw their weight on a particular theory not because they have investigated the merits of such a theory but because it is popular, i.e. since lots of people are into this stuff, so they reason, then it must be good and worth their time. This happens so much so that if you present an idea that is even vaguely challenging the popular view, they look at you as a moron, someone not to be taken seriously. They did this to Godel and Einstein.

I come from a traditional mathematical background, I was taught to look for elegance. Even in my programming practice I strive for it. What do we mean by elegance? We mean it is the simplest solution to a problem. However, most scientists are not convinced that the simplest solution is usually the answer to a complex problem. Simplicity is beauty.

Let us remember scientists have presuppositions and biases, they are human beings just like the rest of us; the smartest ones recognize their biases and have learned to be skeptical of themselves.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Marriage and Birth Control

I have been listening to Issues Etc debate on this found here.

Please remember, my topic is not birth control outside marriage, I am considering here, the domain - birth control within marriage!

I am a bit skeptical on the arguments mentioned by the pastor for the contra position, but the one on the pro position could have brought forth his arguments much better from Scripture. The contra has some red herring arguments and straw man arguments which should have been fairly answered by the one on the pro side.

A few points:
-It has been claimed that in ages past, orthodox Christian leaders have always been contra to birth control. Therefore, we should be contra too.

ME: We have no article of faith on this, but the contra position holds this as dogma, a type of Law.

-It has been claimed that God's purpose for sex in marriage is for pleasure AND childbearing.

ME: This statement is an interpretation of the biblical data, notice I highlighted the AND, meaning both, i.e you must not separate. Actually most Christians who lived in the ancient world considered only the latter, sex is ONLY for childbearing, nothing else.

But what if the Biblical data says that sex in marriage may lead to childbearing? In other words, it is not an AND, but an IMPLY. It all hangs around on God's intention for sex, how is it to be used? I think that is the question.

Meaning, God intended sex for married people, it may have the consequence of childbearing. It may preclude of course that the spouses would like to copulate because they do want to have a child. It may also mean they want to do what the birds and the bees do because they just want to without in mind to childbearing. But the contra position says birth control in marriage is wrong because it violates God's intention for sex. Do I have Biblical evidence against this position? I think so, that is why I am skeptical for the traditional contra position.

Consider 1 Cor 7:

3B)">(B)">B) The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5C)">(C) Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again,D)">(D) so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

6Now as a concession,E)">(E) not a command, I say this.a]">[a] 7F)">(F) I wish that all wereG)">(G) as I myself am. ButH)">(H) each has his own gift from God,I)">(I) one of one kind and one of another.

8To the unmarried and the widows I say thatJ)">(J) it is good for them to remain singleK)">(K) as I am. 9But if they cannot exercise self-control,L)">(L) they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Paul seems to have a practical understanding of things. In fact he says if you cannot contain yourself, then you should marry, it pertains to sexual passion.

Sex is intended by God to be exercised in the realm of marriage, and the above passage bears that they are to go and engage in what is lawfully theirs. It does not mean that they have to get together for the purpose of having children. In fact it does not suggest that at all. It is silent.

If it is true that sex and childbearing should go together then what do you say to a person who decides to be single without any relationship, they are just happy being single with no relationship? They must be violating the command to multiply, correct? He must be practicing birth control is it not?

Any thoughts on this?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I got none.

Even now after being baptized and coming to faith in Christ, I still have none, none of my own.

Besides I do not want to have one that is from me.

I have righteousness, for sure, but this righteousness is for the sake of Christ, the righteousness of God. Jesus gives his own righteousness to us. Like saying, here have it, I got it for you, I achieved it for you, have mine, use it, it is yours. I bled and died and rose again so you could have what I won.

None of me, none in me, all of him,  all from him, all for his... sake.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Final answer to the question...

I wish to thank the dear friends who interacted with me when I asked the question: Did Jesus die for the sin of unbelief?

So to this question, I should answer "YES" and he died for all people including their unbelief.

Now, some have said - Jesus indeed died for the sin of unbelief of the elect, but not the unbelief of the non-elect.

So to my answer "YES", some will reply against it, "well, if he did die for the sin of unbelief of all people, then all should be saved, but why are there people in hell"?.

So the follow up question goes like this, "If Jesus died for unbelief then why are all not saved"?

This line of questioning has similarities to the question - "Why doesn't the month of February have the 30th when in fact April does"?

The question, "If Jesus died for unbelief then why are all not saved", presupposes that simply because Jesus died for all people, then all ought to be saved, but they are not, so Jesus must have died only for those that are.

I have revised my answer to "YES" because of the principle of imputation. Indeed our sins have been imputed to Christ, our unrighteousness has been imputed to him, all of it, but his righteousness only gets imputed to us through the Means of Grace, at the point of faith.

So to the question -"If Jesus died for unbelief then why are all not saved", we say that this misses the nature of imputation.

My answer is based on the imputation of Christ's righteousness, people who are not saved have rejected the gift, and so the imputation of righteousness never happened to them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What a pastor says about our bush fires.

“In my dream I saw fire everywhere with flames burning very high and uncontrollably. With this I woke up from my dream with the interpretation as the following words came to me in a flash from the Spirit of God.

That His conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria, for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb."

Read it here...Catch the Fire Ministries.

So did God chose to punish these people (by burning them) because some other people in our state (like our state government) approve abortion?

Genesis 18:25
That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Thanks for the input but let me clarify...Did the Lord die for...

Thanks to all who have taken the time to help me answer the question, did Jesus die for the sin of unbelief?

I appreciate your time.

However, I am not so sure if the post below have been read with clarity and understanding.

There are a few things to note. I have defined. what I meant by "unbelief" and I equated it with the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. That is why I answered "no".

This needs to be tackled first. Am I making the equation spurious? Should I equate unbelief with the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit or I should not? Is this a proper equation, are they equivalent or are they not?

Then, secondly while you are there, then you may like to answer the question...
did Jesus die for the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Did Jesus die for the sin of unbelief?

NOTE: This is now obsoleted by the above.
What is the proper answer to this question?

Let me define what "unbelief" means here. The word pertains to the rejection of the Gospel. This is not having doubts but it is an active putting down of the Gospel. So another way of putting it is like this: Did Jesus die for the sin of rejecting the Gospel?

My answer to this question is to say "No". I answer this way because of what I am seing the Bible say - for example the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the unpardonable sin, it is rejecting that Jesus is the Messiah and Messiahship pertains to the forgiveness of sins - see Mt 12:31 and Mk 16:16.

I notice that those who come from a Calvinistic background, and those following John Owen's idea of Limited Atonement answers this in the affirmative. So they say "Yes" Jesus died for the sin of rejecting the Gospel because there is no sin that Jesus did not die for; because to say "No" (which the way I would answer the question) means that there is some sin that Jesus left off undone and that would be blasphemous. Jesus died for the sins of the elect (not the sins of the whole world, so they say) and all the sins of the elect have been paid for including - unbelief in the Gospel.

I do not want to go off topic, but I think it really depends on where the blasphemy is being re-directed, i.e. which one is blasphemous? To say Jesus died only for some people in the world or Jesus did not die for the sin of unbelief? I guess this is where we are different from our Reformed brothers/sisters.

The purpose why I posted this essay is so I can be helped in clarifying my own thoughts.

I have answered "No" to this question, but I am not so clear yet if I have adequately accounted for the biblical data. So I like some feedback and proper position of a.) the question and b.) the answer. I hope I could hear some of your thoughts on this.

Here is my additional take on the matter why I answered "No".

  1. Firstly from the idea of the Means of Grace - Word and Sacrament. This is what God uses to create the condition of faith that receives God's gift of forgiveness. What I mean is that the unbelief in the Gospel is the rejection of the actual giving of the forgiveness of sins as transmitted to us (i.e. delivered to us by God) by God packaged to us by the Word and stated again to us in visible form by God through the elements of water, bread, wine, i.e. the Sacraments. So Jesus died for all of us as people. He also died for us as sinners. This is an accomplished fact. But the delivery of that thing that Jesus accomplished at the Cross is still on going. That is why Paul urges us to be reconciled to God - 2 Cor 5:20. What Jesus did happened in the past, what the H.S. is doing today is to deliver the benefit of that through Word and Sacrament in our here and now, so sinning against the H.S. is rejecting the reconciliation that God is giving to us today. It is rejecting the work of Christ. This is tied to Justification By Faith Alone (JBFA) or Justification Through Faith Alone. Jesus said in Mk 16:16 that those who do not believe (the Gospel) will be condemned. The point I make is that God is still justifying people today, the basis of that justification is the past, but that justification happens in our life time.
  2. To say "Yes" has several implications: It means that the elect's sin of unbelief in the Gospel has been paid for, hence, even if they abandoned faith, they have been paid for - so this means they are saved and may be saved without faith. This is not JBFA. It really makes faith irrelevant. Further, it makes the Means of Grace of no concern and hence, there is no necessity for it. This is why I think the Lutherans fathers have always claimed that in the end, Calvinism's Limited Atonement effectively denies the Means of Grace. The belief in the Means of Grace - Word/Sacrament encourages faith, a teaching that effectively for example, makes the Sacraments of no consequence, effectively also does not boast faith. Now, one can argue the elect will never abandon faith (what about Heb 6:4)? At any rate, I ask of this position, how does one know he is elect? They answer - through their (perceived) inward change/ or a changed life (I wonder why this is acceptable and that of the Mormon's burning in the bossom's is not). I have not heard from that school answer any other way but for the subjective experience, which for me is not reliable. Lastly I notice with this answer, they also collapse the categories of reconciliation with justification which I am not prone to do.
I like to hear some opinions here either pro or contra my position. Thanks for helping me.

NOTE: This is now obsoleted. Click here.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Just another service org?

I mean, is the Church just another one of those service organizations?

Of course, there is an aspect of service which the Church is to do, we are called to good works, called to serve our neighbor, but could this orientation taking over the real rational for the establishment of Christ's Church?

Seeing the Church through the model of being a service organization is easy to do, you can look at it as another corporation providing a certain service to the market. Perhaps one service is to advice people how to live happy, healthy, wealthy prosperous lives, where the pastor is CEO and the elders are line Vice-Presidents.

There is some morphing happening here. When the Church morphs to just another service organization there is a sure side effect on the nature of Christianity, its uniqueness goes out the door too. The band wagon is on the roll though, imagine if you are a pastor and you have no message but the Gospel? When you see all those around you in ministry are converting to the service model and they are experiencing results (for a time, you can bet they will get good raves), won't you feel pressured to convert too? How will you hack that?

I have no doubt the Church will be there till Jesus comes, Jesus promised this. But I think the Church that Jesus returns to will be the peculiar, small, obscure, ubiquitous people probably not as influential, not wealthy but struggling and ignored by the world.