Reflections From 2 KINGS 21-24: “WARNING COMES BEFORE…JUDGEMENT IS REALIZED”

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            The last chapters of 2 Kings, concludes with God’s judgment being exacted on idolatrous Israel and Judah.  The word was given at Sinai, God’s dealings in Israel were known, but the people followed their “hearts” to exile.  The patience of God was taken for granted such that the mind of the nation became mad due to their calloused hearts.

We’re no different.  As God used the Assyrians and Babylonians to discipline back-sliden Israel, so He may very well do it again today…even if it’s not as clear from a written text.  When the herald proclaims his masters will, eventually it will come to pass.

Idolatry at the core propels us to ask, “Has God said?…” or question what He has already clearly revealed.  We doubt His integrity and treat Him as the creature.  The creature ends up calling the creator a liar by implication and decides to become His judge.  But those who ontologically and epistemologically are finite can’t be trusted to become the infinite One’s judges, nor should they be trusted.  But as it was then so it is today.

Nothing has changed and nothing will until God transforms the stony heart into one of flesh by His Spirit.  In all my studies, I must give myself over to intercession and guard my soul from idolatrous bents the creature constantly encourages.  So must the church in a day where what is wrong is called right, what is evil is called good, and what is righteous is labeled wicked.

(SDG)

 

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Summary of Chapter #4: SECULAR LIBERALISM AND THE NEUTRAL STATE (Pgs.119-143)

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In this chapter Beckwith begins pointing out that Christians who support a liberal democracy (see chapter 2) nevertheless are dismayed at the fruits of incivility, relativism, and the use of tax dollars to support abortion, SSM (same sex marriage), and public education that’s less educative and more indoctrinative in nature.

In all spheres of life people have embraced “secular liberalism” as the position to maintain and safeguard democracy while simultaneously marginalizing “religious positions” for making public policy.  There’s much confusion concerning the term “religious” but it’s assumed by far too many people such that the  cultural haze is continues to be perpetuated.

After considering the aforesaid, Beckwith delves into the meaning of secular liberalism which at its core makes the individual king when moral disputes arise in order to resolve them.  That is, the individual is ultimate never the state nor any “religious” tradition, all of which is a relativized view of the “good life”.

When it comes to the meaning of “secular” Beckwith notes that restraints on citizens can only be enforced through “non-religious” arguments or worldviews.  The problem of definition of course obtains but no one bothers with this.  They just assume everyone “knows” the meaning being employed.  In other words, “religion” brings bondage to citizens, but the “secular” non-religious bring liberty.   The state here may even pay for the poor to have an abortion, but it must never stop said procedures from obtaining lest personal liberty be hindered.

The reality here is that a relativistic presupposition is being employed in absolute terms.  It’s Secular Liberalism that’s largely responsible for advocating SSM, Abortion, etc., which is fine because the reasons used to support such acts are secular, not religious.  That’s bogus because it’s also coming from a worldview that is absolutely not neutral but “closed minded”.

Beckwith continues and points out three arguments used to advocate (SL) that doesn’t measure up to rationality and are thus self-refuting in nature.  First, is the Golden Rule argument advanced by philosopher Robert Audi which holds that we ought not to impose our religious viewpoint on those who disagree with us because we would not want that done to us.  Two problems obtain here; one is that the term “religious” is vague and second there’s always a worldview governing human affairs telling us what is and is not good.  Why is SL better than a “religious” point of view?  Beckwith then uses examples which either expose SL’s relativism or radical subjectivism [pgs123-132].

Second, there’s the Secular Argument which essentially hi-jacks reason to mean “non-religious in nature” but Beckwith rightly points out that reason has the properties of either true or false  right or wrong, not black or white, religious or non-religious.  This muddies the waters of reason and clarity  and is used to justify the issue of abortion [pgs.133-138].

Third, there’s the Err on the Side of Liberty argument which ends up being not just obtusely incoherent but also shoots itself in the foot when applied to itself [pgs.139-142].  Beckwith concludes the chapter by pointing out that secular liberalism is no more dogmatic in its stance than any “religious” view ever has been.  The irrationality here is legion and yet largely goes undetected by throngs of people.  It’s bizarre.

Reflections From ROMANS 13:3-14 “BEFORE RULERS, WHAT ARE BELIEVERS CALLED TO DEMONSTRATE?”

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In verses 1-2 Paul commands believers to submit to the governing authorities, not because they are ultimate but because God who is ultimate has placed them in said positions according to His all-wise counsel and purposes.

In the following verses Paul further explains this command of why we are to submit, who these in authority actually are, and as a result the way we are to live our lives in light of the consummation.  Paul starts by explaining the reason believers are to submit to rulers tying it to verse 1:

For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”    

Paul here implores believers to do the good (C.f., Rom.12:1-2) so that they need not fear rulers.  A great remedy for not fearing man, and especially those who are in authority, is to walk in God’s precepts.  Paul calls rulers, “a minister of God for your good” and they are “a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath” on evil doers.  Thus rulers bring a “”double-edged sword” ordained by God to keep order and peace through fear of lethal force.  He continues and says:

Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.

Paul here appeals to wrath (we should fear) and to conscience (I take to mean: we should care about our witness) for why we are to be law-abiding citizens.  But is there ever a time when rebellion is warranted?  What do we do if a ruler calls what is good, evil, or conversely calls what is evil, good?  Throughout Christian history believers have differed on this issue.  We have Old Testament examples lauded by the Hebrews writer who actually disobeyed those in authority:

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict… 31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.”    

             The king’s edict was disobeyed; Rahab lied to save these spies (she turned on her leaders).  How about Daniel’s three friends who defied the kings command to bow before the golden statue?  How about the apostles in the book of Acts who disobeyed the rulers command to stop preaching in the name of Jesus?  What of Corrie Ten Boom who hid Jews and lied about it, in order to save Jews from Nazi sure destruction?  How about the “Machine Gun Preacher” fighting off ruthless murderers in Africa in order to rescue and save orphans?

Some things are clearer than others granted, but all of us will give an account to God of how we lived in our time with the light given to us.  Nevertheless, what makes Paul’s command so weighty is that he will be eventually executed by the Roman Emperor of his day.  He continues in verses 6-10 calling believers to walk in love and thus fulfill the law:

For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

                        To love God and neighbor is what stirs the heart to obey Christ’s great commission to disciple the nations—nations which along with their rulers are even hostile to the message.  We are being commanded to do what Christ did—go to those who hate you and love them through sacrifice.  That’s powerful!  Paul not only considers this present time, but also appeals to the consummation as a motivator, or carrot of how we are to live and why:

11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.  

Here the apostle calls all believers to vigilance during their journey on earth.  He calls for strategies to be put in place so that our sinful inclinations don’t get the opportunity to manifest.  Opportunities to sin that numb the senses so that we don’t have to think about life’s perils under rulers like: carousing and drunkenness, sexual promiscuity and sensuality, strife and jealousy.

It’s because of God’s mercies that Paul is calling believers to show this sin-riddled, broken and confused world the way of real love which comes from the Master alone.  It’s a call to be and do exactly the opposite of what the world commands.  It’s a call to love which will often require our lives in the process.  God, may Your people submit to the grace and power of the gospel that alone can propel us to action of this sort.

(SDG)

Summary of Chapter 2: LIBERAL DEMOCRACY AND THE CHRISTIAN CITIZEN (Pgs.59-89)

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Beckwith begins the chapter by explaining that Liberal Democracy (LD) has been absent from most of history and thus our Christian heritage.  Yet, Christians have largely embraced (LD) because it accentuates the liberty to worship, holds governments accountable, empowers people to form the mores of society, and because it seems consistent with the Christian worldview concerning its views of  persons and natural rights which are grounded on natural law (NL).

The term Liberal concerns the freedoms government is to guarantee and Democracy refers to the principle of self-governance and equality each citizen possess before the law.  Beckwith notes that self-governance deals with having a representative government which is ultimately accountable to the people.  Thus, for (LD) to work well a nation must be under the rule of law and have a developed civil society.  These laws are to be equally applied to every citizen and under all of this must obtain 1st principles that are unassailable by government or the masses thus guaranteeing the proper use of power to move a nation.

Accordingly, the duty of government is to protect certain freedoms while simultaneously having limited power by the law and individuals they protect.  For this to work and society to flourish, individuals must be civil.  This is where the problem with a relativistic society comes in.  Such a society kills objective truth, the result is that might makes right and the mob mentality wins the day because no “1st principles” exist above the people.  Sadly, we’re there today.

Beckwith continues and explains that by separation of powers each branch of government has jurisdictional authority to perform their duties unique to themselves.  This often affords a compromise of views held between differing parties and ultimately reduces the occasion for despotism or tyranny to arise.  Historically the Parties in the USA have been the Democratic-Republican Party and the Federalist Party.  Today, it’s the Democrats and Republicans holding opposing views on many issues precious to Christians (e.g., the state of the unborn, gay rights, public education policies, religion/state relations, etc.)

The Christian citizen is the subject of two cities (e.g., one of earth and one of heaven).  As resident aliens, Beckwith accentuates the fact that justice and doing good to others is based on people being created in the image of God and both Church and State can work together to achieve such ends.  Yet, the Church must beware of backing government programs which would halt evangelism.  Doing justice is part of God’s rebuke of the nations in the Old Testament and the Good Samaritan as a swift reprimand to the Church in the New Testament (Pgs.68-69).

Inevitably, to love neighbor will require that God’s truth interrupt the cultural moral climate and when this obtains, true tolerance is carried out and thus true civility will obtain.  For this to happen, it’s critical for Christians to know the laws of the land in order to use them for the advancement of the common good as Paul often did in the book of Acts with his Roman citizenship.

Beckwith accentuates how Paul understood that all authority comes from God (Rom.13) but it’s also limited.  Significant also is to fight the split view of knowledge within Western Society that says Science gives us objective facts binding on everyone and religion provides only private subjective values binding only on the community holding said values.  For when people have this view of knowledge it prevents the Christian worldview from even being considered for making public policy.

Beckwith holds that supporting non-Christian candidates can be done and sometimes it should be done, the grounds of which is competence to rule rather than religious persuasion.  A major mistake to avoid is to think that only a “religious” view (whatever that means) is not neutral.  The fact is that neutrality is impossible specifically because everyone has a worldview from which they try to make sense out of reality.  Thus, worldviews play a vital role in deciding the desirability of a candidate.  Moreover, one can champion democracy and natural law and be informed by their theological position for the good.

Summary of Chapter 1: THE STUDY OF POLITICS (PGS.41-57)

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Beckwith starts the chapter by pointing out that political execution concerning its powers comes from worldviews that are never neutral.  He then asks, “is the Bible a reliable means to make public policy: some Christians would affirm its use, while others would deny it for such activity.

Another issue raised is the Church/State tension and how Christian values are to be established when one is a democrat and the other is a republican.  To answer these questions, Beckwith accentuates the need for us to know what politics is and why Christians should actively study and shape political discourse.

Almost every university, notes Beckwith, has a political science studies of sorts that studies the nuances of politics in areas of philosophy, history, theology, medicine, etc., within its’ sub-fields (Pgs.42-43).  Thus, this book is a mere introduction to the subject.

Beckwith points out that Political Theory encompasses many philosophical questions about the nature of government, the individual, rights, democracy, liberty, equality, and the good.  According to Locke, not only do natural rights exist, but the best form of government to protect these rights is the ‘the separation of powers’ as we have in the U.S (e.g., executive, legislative, and judicial) because unaccountable people with too much power lean toward despotism and rampant injustice.  This form of government at least makes it possible to curb said abuse of power.

Moreover, assuming that Locke is correct about natural rights, then the purpose of liberty is to secure the public good for its’ citizens so that those who  defraud, murder or steal from their neighbor are held accountable for such violations.

Beckwith explains that the fact that different forms of government exist, naturally leads to the study of Comparative Politics.  This is where one nation’s policy is considered to whether or not it would be good for another nation to adopt (E.g., Denmark the first nation to legalize same sex marriage.  How will this play out in the USA?).  Here, philosophy, worldview analysis and statistics are used to arrive at some kind of resolution.

Beckwith astutely points out that the theories these sub-fields obtain never operate alone, but rather necessarily intersect each other because of the contribution each field affords to the other and thus our political understanding.  Thus, for the responsible Christian citizen who wants to advance the good, the true and the beautiful, Beckwith insists that theology along with other disciplines must be studied in order to have a more robust political theory and application.       

Summary From CHAPTER SEVEN: THE GOD WHO BECAME A HUMAN BEING [Pages 101-119]

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Carson begins this chapter by first pointing out that before Jesus was born, the prophet Jeremiah promised a new covenant.  What this promise implicitly says about the old (Mosaic) covenant is that in some sense, it is becoming obsolete (Jer. 31:31-34):

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Secondly, Carson explains how in Jesus God became human.  For starters, “Jesus’” name means “Yahweh saves.”  This is the covenant name of God given to Moses at Sinai.  The importance of this name in Mathew’s gospel is that it sets forth the entire theme of the book; namely that Yahweh has come to save his people from their sins (in Christ).

He then explains the doctrine of the Trinity to mean that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are God.  Not three Gods, only one.  One way of explaining this, is that the Word shares one substance with the Father, but is distinguishable from Him.  That is, there are three distinct persons within the Godhead who are equally the One God, co-existing, co-equal, and co-eternal.

In John’s prologue (John 1:1-18) it’s clear that the “Word” is simultaneously God’s own peer and God’s own self?  In verse 1 this is emphatic: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  God reveals, himself to the prophets through his word; God creates through the spoken word in (Gen.1; Ps.33:6); God transforms his people through the word (Ps. 107:20), and Jesus is God’s self-revelation, self-expression; God’s own agent in creation; and he comes to save and transform his people.

Thirdly, Carson explains what the incarnation means.  It means that the Word becomes a human being (i.e., the infleshing). God becomes something that previously before the incarnation, he was not.  What John does not say is that the Word merely clothed himself in animal humanity, pretended to be human, coexisted with a man called Jesus, nor is all of God exhausted in Jesus.  But John does say that the Word (God’s own peer) became a human being.  Jesus is the “God/Man.  God in his divinity cannot change, but in Christ’s humanity there’s a distinct addition: a human nature.  This is mind baffling.

Fourthly, Carson makes the connection between the Old Testament Tabernacle and New Testament incarnation.  He does this by thematically connecting John 1:14-18 on the one hand and Exodus 32-34 on the other hand.  He explains that the Tabernacle and Temple, point to the fact that Jesus is the ultimate meeting place between a holy God and rebellious sinners.  He is said to have “tabernacled among us”.  This is where the meeting place of peace with God can be found in Jesus Christ.

Glory is what Moses wanted to see of God on Sinai, but when Jesus tabernacled among us the wonder of his glory, God’s glory, is seen in the miracles and ultimately on Calvary’s tortuous bloody cross.   Grace and Truth (Love and Faithfulness) God reveals himself not only as the One who punishes evil doers but is also kind and forgiving.  Full of grace and truth is that which brought him to the cross to pay for our sins.  Here is where justice and love kiss!

Grace and Law means that we have received grace in place of grace already given.  The gracious gift of the Law was superseded by the ultimate revelatory expression of God in the 2nd person of the Triune God who through his sacrificial death on Calvary’s bloody cross purchased the redemption price required for wrath doomed sinners to be rescued and thus adopted into God’s family.  It’s found in the new covenant, which replaces the old covenant.

Seeing God can only be accomplished through seeing Jesus. We cannot look directly on God, according to John 1:18.  What is at present, the closest we can come?  Presently, we can see the character, holiness, wrath, forgiveness and glory of God in Jesus.  He is the ultimate revelation of God the Father—he is the incarnate son of God.

And as such, Jesus most spectacularly showed that he is full of grace and truth on the cross.  Both God’s justice and love are fully expressed there.  This field will forever be marveled on by the redeemed age without end.

Reflections From ROMANS 7:14-25 “THE LAW IS GOOD, BUT THE WAR OF SIN IN BELIEVERS STILL RAGES WITHIN”

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Paul continues his argument that the Law is good, but sin remains within him still—even though he’s got new life in him.  In verses 14-17 he reveals what seems to be a “schizophrenia” within where he desires to do one thing (obey God), but instead Paul does what he hates (disobeys God).  He writes:  14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.  Now what can he be referring to by describing the Law as spiritual?  In light of the contrast between the flesh, it seems to mean that the Law righteous, holy and good (c.f., Vv.12-13).  Paul continues:

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.”  

             I think these two verse support my former view that by the Law being spiritual, it is referring to it being good.  Now Paul is in a quandary, and seems puzzled in that new birth is to produce new life and actually does.  Nevertheless, it seems there’s still remaining vestiges of the former life within that war in Paul and he thus chooses death rather than life.  And when he does what he hates, he’s saying Amen to the Law, to God’s holy command, “you shall not covet” by agreeing that it’s a transgression—sin—which results in death.  He continues:

17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.”  

My answer to Paul on the surface is, “Paul, you’re the guilty party don’t pass the buck”.  “Don’t play the victim and don’t act like Flip Wilson who famously said, ‘the Devil made me do it’”.  But am I correct?  The caption in my Bible under this section writes, “The Conflict between Two Natures”.  What is meant by nature and do we assign an outside, unbiblical metaphysical meaning here?

First, there’s clearly a conflict with sin that the Law of God exposes because it is holy, righteous and good.  Second, now that Paul is born-again, it seems that sin—the battle of obeying God—still remains and is an evidence of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  Third, the term “I” he uses eleven times pointing to his identity.  Could it be that Paul means “he” the image bearer or the “individuated self”, or the “new man” in Christ, or the “old man” before Christ?

I would answer yes to the first two, most likely to the third option, and no to the last possibility considered.  The reason for the first two options seems self-evident, and the reason for the last two options—the former being much more probable than the last option.  This is Paul’s awareness of sin and the purpose of the Law which is to expose sin, not to remedy it.  Here, Paul seems to be pointing to another reality: sin within the believer still remains.

He uses the word “sin” as an entity of sorts which causes rebellion to God’s Law to occur.  But is it a “nature”?  And, under what category does it belong?  I understand Paul is not or seems to not be making this category distinction, nevertheless assigning two natures to the re-born person is obviously one way to understand this passage.  He continues the argument:

18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. ”   

             This text argues for and gives the reason for why verse 17 is true.  When Paul says that “nothing good dwells within his flesh”, he’s not coming from a dualistic view that matter is evil and spirit is good.  That was not the point.  Instead, it’s that entity, that parasite, in the soul rebelling against God.

Now when he uses the word “good”, to what does that refer?  Contextually it must be the Law which is good, righteous and holy.  So, somehow Paul is saying that there’s a “tug-a-war” happening in his soul.  On the one hand, in his flesh Paul is rebelling against God’s Law, while on the other hand, a desire to submit to God’s will is remains.  He thus continues:

19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

             Notice how he equates evil with sin.  What is evil?  Evil is disobedience to God’s Law, to His way of thinking and living, to His design.  These two verses seem to clarify what the “two natures” means.  It’s not that Paul has two “I’s” meaning two distinct natures, but rather that as a redeemed man, unrighteousness remains even though he’s righteous before God.  He’s an individuated self that now has a battle previously non-existent in him.  When he was dead in trespasses and sins to God, all he could was to sin.  But now, because of new-birth, he has the option to obey or disobey God.  Thus, though Paul is cleansed, he nevertheless is in process of sanctification.

In my view, Paul affirms the following: 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. Paul here reveals what he’s discovered—namely that evil/sin remains but so also does the good/obedience to God’s Law and ways obtain.  Here’s the battle the believer has, that the non-believer does not possess.  Now Paul continues here but the way he uses “law” it takes on a different meaning:

 “ 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.”    

             Could the “inner man” and “my mind” be referring to the same thing?  It seems that the term “law” refers not to the Law of God but to the principle God has placed in Paul.  That is, there’s a side of him that desires to walk in holiness but there’s a side that continuously battles the “law” or “principle” of sin which manifests in his body?  I’d say yes.

The law of God which he agrees with (he desires to obey God’s commands—walk in holiness) seems to be akin to the law of Paul’s mind because it’s waging war against the law of sin and death.  Moreover, when he obeys the principle of sin—unrighteous disobedience—he becomes imprisoned to what Paul obeys.  He argued this in chapter 6 and is being consistent with the metaphor.

Thus, I see here that Paul has not two natures but one.  He’s a creature bearing the divine image of the male category.  He once was dead to God because of the Law, but now in Christ is alive to God because of imputed righteousness.  There are however two principles in Paul’s soul: one that’s evil/sinful, and one that’s good/the one being sanctified because it comports to God’s Law—in Christ’s obedience we have imputed to us the 2nd Adam’s obedience, holiness and goodness.  Paul concludes not with gloom but hope and joy:

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”      

             The sinful state of human beings, our abnormality as Scheaffer once noted, is a deeply lamentable reality that can only be remedied by the Great physician Christ Jesus the risen Lord.  Now that this battle has been exposed, Paul is going to comfort believers who may feel awful because of their battle with sin in chapter 8.

While this chapter has been very cerebral, it’s also quite visceral for it demands both mind and body to live out the implications of our struggle, Christ’s remedy, and practically working them out daily.  How much of this chapter I don’t understand remains to be mined.  (SDG)

Reflections From PROVERBS 12: “KNOWLEDGE, TRUTH & LIES—CONTRASTING THE RIGHTEOUS FROM THE WICKED”

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          The Scriptures reveal among other things that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of truth.  He cannot lie, is the grounds of all that is good and beautiful and despises that which opposes Him.  Solomon has several insights in this chapter that point to this Biblical theme:

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid.” (V.1)

 Here the object of what is loved or hated results in either the acquisition of knowledge or the lack thereof.  To acquire knowledge in Proverbs comes from, among other things, the fear of the LORD (1:4-7), the treasuring of His commandment (2:1-8), and the guarding of His instruction (4:5-13).  This knowledge instructs us in the way of righteousness always.  Thus, to hate this discipline/instruction will leave us foolish like a city without walls, a lamp without oil, and a sword that’s blunt.  The vulnerability that results is ominous because such attitudes cause a stupor of soul in those on the precipice of death.

Another Biblical theme which many in the 21st century deny is not that there’s such a thing as religious knowledge, but actual truth that’s objective.  This truth is grounded in the God of truth.  Consider here again the contrast between the righteous and the wicked:

17He who speaks truth tells what is right,
But a false witness, deceit.”

18 There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19 Truthful lips will be established forever,
But a lying tongue is only for a moment.
”   

First, we see that what is true has a moral quality of what is right.  Thus, to speak the truth is to demonstrate moral righteousness.  But a false witness (court room language) depicts what is morally wrong.  That is, he depicts what’s not true with the intent to deceive.  Thus, truth is equal to what is moral, and falsehood is equal to what’s immoral (V.17).

Second, words can either bring destruction or restoration.  The wise use their words to heal those around them, rather than to tear them apart.  The fool knows no such thing for when he opens up his mouth a reckless destruction follows; a maimed soul is left in his wake (V.18).

Third, those who speak the truth are not for a moment.  This quality of character shows the fruit of righteousness which has no end and thus this soul will never be forgotten.  Contrast the duration of a liar and its but for a moment, a vaporous instance.  The wicked will be forgotten and in their plight their silence will be eternal (V.19).

Thus, to champion knowledge and truth is righteousness displayed.  To squash or despise knowledge and to spin lies, results from the hands of the wicked.  Note that what grounds the good from the evil is the God of creation, not the creation itself. (SDG)

 

Book Summary Now Available!

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Available now is my summary of The Universe Next Door by James Sire.  This worldview catalog is part of the arsenal needed  for believers to understand the major beliefs held by both their neighbors and also themselves.

The value of this study is akin to a baseball scout taking the necessary time to understand the opposing team’s ball player’s strengths, weaknesses and tendencies.  After such due diligence is accomplished, the odds of “competing” and “beating” the “opposition” are enhanced.  Too often Christians are bested in the classroom, boardroom, or family room because we have not done our due diligence regarding other worldviews when compared to Christendom.  This book is a remedy for such maladies as Sire notes:

“For any of us to be fully conscious intellectually we should not only be able to detect the worldviews of others but be aware of our own—why it is ours and why in light of so many options we think it is true” [Opening page]

Summary of Chapter 10: THE EXAMINED LIFE—CONCLUSION (Pgs.192-200)

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            Sire concludes the book by mentioning that worldviews are not as voluminous as one might think, but many of them overlap each other in nuanced forms that make it appear there are numerous worldviews.

           To choose an adequate worldview, Sire rightly points out the need for the following.  First, humility is essential.  We just don’t know everything so it’s important to come with that reality in mind.  Second, there must be intellectual coherence where the laws of logic are rightly applied so falsehoods are avoided.  Third, there must be experiential reality where the data of all reality is considered by what we know through critical analysis and scientific investigation.  Fourth, there must be explanatory power where what is purported to be explained (e.g., human enigmas) are actually explained.  Lastly, an adequate worldview must be subjectively satisfactory whose implications can be lived.

According to Sire, at the end of the day, a worldview can only satisfy if it’s true (Pg.198).  Christianity, says Sire, meets the above mentioned criterions for choosing an adequate worldview and makes most sense of reality as we know it, even though it has its own problems.  Christianity, is not merely intellectual as a worldview, but an encounter with a person—the risen Christ that makes the examined life worth living.