Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Direction for Blog

I've decided that the kind of posts I've been writing here on this blog have not always been entirely appropriate. For example, if I am commenting on theological issues, it should really be under more supervision for something so public as a blog. I am pretty sure that apart from my earliest posts (in which I was starved of biblical teaching, and still attending what I later saw to be a false church), my more recent posts have not contained anything which is going beyond the teaching of my church and I have been careful to prove meticulously what I say from the Bible. But it was coming close in some areas to presumptuously assuming the role of teaching, while not having been appointed a teacher, which is a very dangerous place to be in.

The reason these particular issues were in my heart was due to the false doctrines with which some of my friends seem to be affected. In future I hope to perhaps address these by maybe posting links to various appropriate articles from my church's website and writing a short review/recommendation, and direct my blog more towards news of what's been happening with Limerick Reformed Fellowship, and some of the various adventures the Lord brings me through, and of course poetry and praises for those rare occasions (rare only because every detail is to the praise of God and our observation and understanding is sorely limited and pitiful) in which we catch a bright and clear glimpse of God working out all things for the good of His people and His glory.

The reason I always mention those two together (the good of His people and His glory) is because the greatest and only delight of His people (though not in their flesh yet) is His glory. In Him glorifying Himself, He is working for the highest good of His people. And in working for thehighest good of His people, He is glorifying Himself. The two are inextricably linked and it is impossible to mention the one without also having mentioned the other anyway. In the blog, I hope to continue to draw attention to this, and to evangelize for the Church, while being careful to usurp no other office than what God has given to me: that of "believer".
"Eternal life is this, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom [He] has sent." - John 17:3.
- Samuel W.

Calvinists notice embedded visual patterns quicker than Atheists

I commented on this article from New Scientist with what I could see to be the only reasonable response:

Calvinistic Attention To Detail

Tue Nov 25 13:55:19 GMT 2008 by Samuel Watterson

The interpretation of the findings seems rather skewed, like many "findings" of modern science, such as those reported in this popular magazine. I would suggest that the findings more likely suggest that in general Calvinists, due to their religion have developed a keener attention to detail. Atheists don't have this because they have all learnt, without exception, that the closer they pay attention to detail, the more insurmountable challenges they find against their viewpoint, such as the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellar motor, which is of course why the Bible calls them fools. Calvinists, on the other hand have a religion which is built upon keen attention to detail; historically no other religion so highly regards the importance of every word of the Bible, because it was this attention to detail that led Luther to conclude that the Bible was self-authenticating and self-interpreting, and to conclude that most fundamentally, the Roman Catholic institution had got the Gospel totally wrong. It was the same attention to detail that led Calvin to develop these views and logically connect the details of the Bible to expound right doctrine. It is the same attention to detail which Calvinist pastors use before every sermon to ensure that they speak only what the Bible teaches, and the same that every Calvinist member of these churches use to judge what they hear against the Bible. Without this attention to detail, they cannot be called Calvinists with respect to the tradition of the Reformers. Attention to detail is (at least in part) an acquired trait, one which is developed with constant practice. The right conclusion here would seem to be that those most practiced in attending to detail would be the best at it, in general, which as I've put forward, would seem to be the Calvinists.

The reason I see for this attention to detail being a decidedly Christian characteristic is because I believe that God's sovereignty in all things is such that every most minuscule detail of this world is entirely and independantly governed and controlled in every way by God's eternal providence for His saints and for His own glory.

In short, if God is attentive to details, then us Christians should be too. And the antithesis tells us that the ungodly are not attentive to details. If the scientists had simply read the Bible, they wouldn't need to have conducted the experiment...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I just wanna be a sheep!

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep... But ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." - John 10:11, 26-28.
By linking the previous two posts together, we can begin to understand why it is that only Christ's sheep hear His voice and follow Him. Central to a correct understanding of this is, I believe, that Christ gave His life for the sheep, with the necessary inference that He did not give His life for those who are not His sheep. This is the reason that He gives the Pharisees for their lack of belief. So we see this; that the result of Christ giving His life for His sheep is that they believe.

We found previously from 1 Corinthians 2, how it was necessary for receiving the spiritual things of God, such as the Gospel, that one has a spiritual mind. This prerequisite for belief is therefore having a spiritual mind. We concluded that this spiritual mind (which is life and peace), rather than a carnal mind was a result of having received the Spirit of God. This is the rebirth, or regeneration, which we learn occurs when, by the Spirit's work alone we hear Christ preaching to us (Lazarus, come forth!), and by the Spirit's work alone we believe.
"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" - John 11:25-26.
Romans 6 to 8 teach us not only that the power of regeneration (the mortification of the old nature, and the quickening of the new) is the power of the Spirit of Christ, but also, since it is the Spirit of Christ, it is the power of being united in the death and resurrection of Christ. We are told that it is by union in Christ's death and resurrection that this regeneration occurs by the Spirit of Christ. But how are we (or were we) united in Christ's death and resurrection, and how is it that some are undeservedly regenerated by the Spirit and others deservedly are not?

We find the answer to these two question in one place: the eternal decree of election and reprobation. This is the fountain of our salvation, the basis by which we are eternally united with Christ, and so united in His death and resurrection. This is union is the basis by which Christ is our representative and substitute, so that not only did He fully pay for all our sins, but that we are now clothed in His righteousness, partakers of Him and all His benefits in the unbreakable covenant relationship of love with the Father, sealed in His blood. And being elect in Christ, we are thereby also united with the Spirit of Christ.

Now we see that it is by being united in Christ from before the foundation of the world by election, that the Spirit worked regeneration in our hearts when the Gospel was preached to us, and not in the hearts of the wicked reprobate. The others had no union with the Spirit of Christ by election, and therefore no union with Christ in His death and resurrection, and therefore Christ did not pay for their sins, and so they will be condemned deservedly for their wickedness.

Therefore, though this union is manifest in the course of history by faith, and by this faith we are consciously in union by the Spirit with Christ (because by faith, the Word dwells in us, who is God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the revelation of the Father to us), it is an eternal union by the fountain of election. And this should greatly humble us who believe by the Spirit, and spur us on with confidence to love and good deeds to bring thanksgiving to God, as we remember that our salvation is entirely undeserved and eternal, sealed by the blood of the Lamb before the foundations of the world in the book of life, though we see its manifestation in the course of history:
"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." - Revelation 13:8.
I hope you will correct me if this does not seem entirely accurate.

Love in Christ,

- Samuel W.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Do "all men" and "world" really mean "every single person"?

"Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." - Romans 5:18.

"For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved." - John 3:17.

There are some who say that Christ died for every single person. These people point to verses which use the terms "all men" or "world", like 1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 2:4, 1 Timothy 4:10, John 3:16, John 4:42 etc. This issue I have with this position is that it tears down what Christ actually did by His death and resurrection. If Christ died for every single person and some of those people are not saved, then what Christ did wasn't enough to save every person for whom He died. And worse, then the reason that some are saved and some are not is not the grace of God, but something of themselves.

If the difference is not of God but of man, then it is not of grace but of works.

This was the central point of the controversy at the time of the Reformation. There were many faults in the church at that time, but it came down to this one crucial issue: are we saved by grace alone, or do we contribute something of ourselves to our salvation. To put this another way, is Christ our complete Saviour, or are we and Christ both half-Saviours. Is salvation the work of God alone, or is it the work of God and man. Is salvation by unconditional grace alone of God, or is it by merit conditional upon something of man. The Bible presents only two options, grace or works (it cannot be both):

"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." - Romans 11:6.

A universal atonement means one of two things:
  1. Every single person is saved (Universalism).
  2. The atonement is conditional.

Every single person is not saved, so that leaves us with a conditional atonement. A conditional atonement means one of two things:
  1. If the condition is supplied by God, then salvation is by grace but the extent of the atonement is in conflict with the extent of His intention (Amyraldianism), but God is supposedly one and all wise.
  2. If the condition is supplied by man, then salvation is by works and not by grace (Romanism and Arminianism), but man supposedly has no grounds for boasting.

The Apostle Paul summarizes our conclusion from this in the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:8-10.

In summary a universal atonement denies the efficacy of the atonement, the total depravity of man, salvation by grace alone, and that all glory belongs to God alone. It also tears down the theological basis for the perseverance of the saints (yet many try to retain that, at the same time as introducing the concept of "carnal Christians" along with their Semi-pelagianism). We can clearly see now that the doctrine of universal atonement is a vile heresy. It is insidious also, because it often comes under the guise of being "more loving" and "more inclusive" and "less offensive". It makes people feel better to think that Christ died for every single person and really wants to save every single person. But all the while it makes a wretched mockery of Christ's sacrifice, and God's sovereignty and His all-powerful love and man's depravity. To such blasphemies the Spirit loudly declares:

"What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is He that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" - Romans 8:31-35a.
"But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." - Romans 5:8-9.

But aren't the verses of the many "gainsayers" compelling? "For God so loved the world!" "Who will have all men to be saved!" "He is the propitiation for ours sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."

Yet these verses actually condemn their position. If God loved every single person, every person would be saved, for isn't that the greatest expression of love? Surely God would not leave those He loved to their own sinful depraved wills, only enslaved to the sinful nature! If God would have every single person to be saved, then what power is greater than His that it might stop Him from saving them? Surely not our feeble resistance! If He had been the propitiation for all of every single person's sins, then how could He send any to hell? Surely He is not unjust to punish twice for one offence? If He is the Saviour of every single person, then how could some not be saved? Surely if some are not saved, He could not be called their Saviour!

Their argument is entirely based on their erroneous, alien and unjustifiable interpretation of the words "all men" and "world". Firstly "all men" quite often just means a general "all" which is only defined by the context, such as all fish, all sheep, all stars, all angels, all reprobate or all elect. Here the context defines what all refers to. For example:

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." - 2 Peter 3:9.

Peter has just spoken about God's word keeping into store the heavens and the earth reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, and about the false teachers of whom Jude 4 says that they "were of old ordained to this condemnation". Clearly he not teaching that God is not willing that they should perish and come to repentance. They were ordained by God to condemnation, and the heavens and the earth are being reserved unto fire against the day of their perdition! The plain meaning of this verse (and the only meaning that makes any sense in the context) is that the "any" that God desires not to perish and the "all" that He desires to come to repentance are the "us" that Peter refers to. Verse 1:1 explains, that Peter is speaking of the elect of God, the Church of Christ who will obtain like precious faith.

The phrase "all men" is best demonstrated in Romans 5:18 where Paul uses it to mean two different things in one verse. First he says that judgment came upon "all men" unto condemnation by the offense of one. There is no confusion here. The "one" refers to Adam (clear from the context) and the "all men" refers to every single person (clear from the context). This teaches us that by Adam's offense, judgment came upon every single person unto condemnation. This is what Ephesians 2:3 means when it says that we were by nature children of wrath. Every single person was born with a sinful nature and therefore justly under the condemnation of God.

Secondly he says that the free gift came upon "all men" unto justification of life by the righteousness of one. There can be no confusion here either. The "one" refers to Christ, the only Righteous One. The phrase "unto justification of life" means that just as the judgment was unto condemnation by the offense of Adam, the free gift was unto justification of life by the righteousness of Christ. Just as every person on whom the judgment came was under condemnation, now every person on whom the free gift came is under justification unto life. In this context "all men" can only mean those who are justified unto life, and all those whom the free gift came upon. If some are not justified unto life (which must be the case since not all are saved), then the free gift only came upon some and all of those on whom the free gift came are justified unto life.

In this one verse then, we find that in the first part "all men" probably refers to "every single person" and in the second part it can only refer to all upon whom the free gift came or all men of the elect. In other words, all men who Jesus Christ justified by His blood. The context must always determine what such a vague term as "all men" really means. In 1 Timothy 2:4 it means the same as in verse 1, all kinds of people, that is ranks and classes etc. Certainly we are not to pray for every single person, for example: not the dead and not those referred to in 1 John 5:16. 1 Timothy 4:10 of course explains itself: Christ is the Saviour of all kinds of people, that is in particular, those who believe, not those who do not believe. He cannot be the Saviour of those whom He does not save, and all those whom He saves will believe; He is only the Saviour of those who believe. To try to make these verses mean anything different is blatant Scripture-wresting.

What of the word "world"? This word simply means kosmos as in, the universe, the entire creation, space-time-matter continuum. It can refer to many different things depending on context: the world of the wicked reprobate (John 17:9 where Christ does not pray for the "world"), the evil world-system of the ungodly (1 John 2:15 where we are told not to love the "world" or anything in it), the world of the elect of every tribe, tongue and nation (John 3:16-17 where Christ declares God's love for the "world" and His Father's intention that He should not condemn the "world" but save it, while teaching the Jewish Nicodemus that salvation was for whosoever believeth, and 1 John 2:2 where it tells of who Christ's propitiation is for, and those propitiated for can no longer come under God's wrath).

In Noah's day, God both saved a "world" and destroyed a "world". He preserved the godly world with the Ark through baptism, and destroyed the ungodly world with the Flood by immersion. Afterwards He revealed His cosmic covenant of grace with the world of the elect, and reminds us of it every time we see the rainbow. Of course not all Noah's family were elect believers, Canaan was cursed, just as today in the church there are some who are wicked hypocrites. So today we know that there will be a new heavens and a new earth along with the New Jerusalem.

Those who claim that "world" means every single person have a completely untenable interpretation. It is not correct, and cannot be correct. To take that interpretation leads to the heresy of a universal atonement and wrests the Scriptures violently. Now, I boldly claim that there is not a hint anywhere in the Bible that Christ's atonement was universal or that some of those for whom He atoned with His blood would be condemned. Such would be to call the blood of Christ an unholy thing and to trample it underfoot.

There is just one final objection that is made (yet again Scripture interprets Scripture, so this cannot be an honest objection when so many passages speak so clearly about the efficacy of the atonement): that is a few verses like 2 Peter 2:1 and even Hebrew 10:29. Even a cursory glance at a few cross-references explain these without a doubt. 2 Peter 2:1 speaks of false teachers "denying the Lord who bought them". This is explained in verse 20 of the same chapter (if its meaning was not already apparent) they had "escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ", that is, these people were in the church institute (not the church organic). Outwardly they were in the church (the called ones, apart from the world), but inwardly they were not. They were hypocrites (Jude 1:4 says that they "crept in unawares"), without saving faith, only a surface knowledge. They knew all about the Saviour, and could recite the creeds in church etc, but they didn't know the Saviour and their hearts were far from Him.

They were bought in the same sense as the wicked hypocrites in Israel were bought from slavery in Egypt (Jude 5). They were bought out of the pollutions of the world into the church, but as the unbelievers with uncircumcised hearts in Israel died in the desert, the hypocrites in the church will also be condemned on the day of judgment. They were not of course truly ransomed by the blood of Jesus, because then they would be saved. They appeared to be bought with Christ's blood from a human perspective, but not in God's eyes.

Likewise Hebrews 10:29 carries the same idea, to the human perspective, they were in the church and had been baptised, and therefore seemed sanctified with the blood of Jesus (set apart as holy like the children of believers in 1 Co 7:14), but in God's eyes they were wicked hypocrites, still polluted by the stains of their sins. Just as not all the children of believers are elect, not all those in the church are elect and not all those baptised are elect. These reprobate covenant-violaters had received the outward sign of being sanctified with the blood of Jesus, by being outwardly baptised, but they were not inwardly baptised. Jude calls them blemishes in our feasts of charity (Jude 12). These verses use strong language to highight the depth of the hypocrisy and profaning of the covenant which these apostates are. To suggest that these verses teach that there are some who Jesus died for that are not saved would be to try to overturn all of Scripture and of course rob the believer of assurance and introduce the heresy of salvation by works again.

May we not err regarding the atonement, that we might say with Paul:

"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." - Galatians 6:14.

Thanks to AiG for the pic!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Who is speaking in Romans 7:14-25?

"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." - Romans 7:18

We may rightly wonder in amazement at Paul's bold statements in this passage. Many have even said that he is describing someone else. The views may be split into five different ideas:
  1. An unregenerate man
  2. A Christian without the Spirit
  3. A regenerate Jew without the Spirit
  4. A man in the process of being regenerated
  5. A Christian
What are we to make of these things? What is God teaching us here? Again, the first rule for understanding God's word is that the Scripture came from God (2 Peter 1:19-21) and therefore if our understanding of it is to be from God, we may only interpret Scripture with Scripture (1 Co 2:12-16). Here we find our first indication that option 1. cannot be correct. Romans 7:16 says "If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good." Romans 7:22 also says "For I delight in the law after the inward man:" and verse 25 says "... So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God".

Since Paul began this discourse stating "For we know that the law is spiritual", it is clear according to 1 Co 2:14, this man cannot be unregenerate because he delights in the spiritual law. To be unregenerate is to be unspiritual and natural. In 1 Co 2:12-13, we are told that only because we have been given the Spirit do we understand spiritual things. An unregenerate man is carnal and cannot even receive spiritual things. Romans 8:6-7 explain this to us also: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

In Romans 7, the person described serves the law of God with his mind, and so certainly cannot be carnally minded (Romans 8:6-7). But what of verse 14? Doesn't this say "I am carnal, sold under sin"? Yes it does. But does this mean that this man is carnally minded? Not necessarily. In verse 18 he gives the clause that it is specifically in his flesh that there dwelleth no good thing. Verses 16, 22, and 25 prove beyond doubt that though this man claims to be carnal, he is not carnally minded. He is spiritually minded because he serves the law of God with his mind and delights in the (spiritual) law after the inward man. Again he gives a qualifying clause, the "inward" man. So we see in Romans 7:14-25, a contrast being levelled between being spiritually minded and yet carnal, in that he serves the law of sin with the flesh. His mind is spiritual, but his flesh is carnal. This at the very least means that this man is not completely unregenerate, because that would be to also have a carnal mind.

The next option is a false idea (popular in many charismatic/pentecostal circles) that someone could be a Christian and yet not have the Spirit. Romans 8:9 clearly says in refutation of this idea (along with a plethora of other Scriptural proofs): "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Someone who does not have the Spirit is not a Christian.

Option 3. is a bit more complex (probably quite popular in certain dispensationalist circles which teach more than one way of salvation), but this too is refuted abundantly in Scripture. No matter if a man is a Jew or Gentile, in the Old Testament or New Testament, he cannot be regenerate without the Spirit. Titus 3:4-7 explains that we are saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit. 1 Co 6:11 also explains that we are washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God. Jesus also tells us in John 3:3-8 that "except a man be born again (regenerate), he cannot see the kingdom of God" and unless he is born of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, and "that which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. As the wind blows where it pleases, so it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

These and many other Scriptural proofs show that it is impossible for someone to even see the kingdom of God (let alone enter in) without having been born of the Spirit. A man cannot be regenerate without the Spirit, whether in the Old or New Testament. Some say the Spirit did not come until Pentecost but this is not true, the special outward manifestations of the Spirit which were signs associated with the apostolic ministry did not come until Pentecost. Psalm 51:11 gives us the example of David who had the Holy Spirit.

There is no way to be saved unless a man is regenerate, and if a man is regenerate, then he has the Holy Spirit. This is because we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone, and the only way in which we can have this faith (to see the kingdom, to receive the things of the Spirit - the Gospel which is spiritual) is if the Spirit of God is given to us (that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God - 1 Co 2:9-16 makes this abundantly clear). So then salvation is, and has always been a sovereign act of God's grace (which He is free to give to whom He will, and free to withhold from whom He will - Romans 9:11-23), not prompted by anything of ourselves, for none of us are any better than the rest. And since we know that many in the Old Testament had faith (Hebrews 11), then we know many were saved, and we know that each one of them was regenerated and was given the Spirit.

Our fourth option is perhaps the most contrived. This presents an idea totally alien to Scripture (probably popular with the postmodern existentialist relativistic emerging-churchians). Either a man is regenerate or he is not. Someone is either born of the Spirit or they are not. A person either has the Spirit or they do not. One cannot have half the Spirit. Either a person is saved or they are not. There is no state between unregenerate and regenerate ever mentioned in the Bible.

This brings us to our last option, which has most likely been proven already. We have seen that this man is spiritually minded and not carnally minded though in his flesh, he is carnal. Romans 8:5-10 explains how this is. First, "they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit." Here the word "mind" tells us that those who are unregenerate only mind the things of the flesh, whereas those born of the Spirit (regenerate) mind the things of the Spirit. This is what we also saw in 1 Co 2:9-16. The next verse confirms this by telling us that "to be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." This is also what we are told in Ephesians 2:1-10. Once we were dead, and now we have been quickened (made alive/regenerated) by the Spirit.

Those that are in the flesh in the sense of being carnally minded (verses 7-8), we are told cannot please God. This is why we cannot possibly prompt God in anyway to regenerate us. In fact the first time we even have an honest desire to be born again (because such would please God) is our first indication that we most likely have been born again. Without this regeneration, we cannot please God. Now then, this Romans 7 man is spiritually minded, and therefore he must be regenerate and therefore must have the Spirit and therefore must be Christ's. Verse 9-10 tell us that if Christ is in us, then "the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." This is exactly how it is for the Romans 7 man, his mind is alive and spiritual, but his flesh is carnal, yet dead because he is in Christ. This is why he tells us in Romans 7:17, 20 that it is no longer he who sins but the sin dwelling in his flesh. In verse 24 he confirms this, "who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

Yet Romans 8:11-13 gives the calm assurance of the power of the Spirit of God in the Christian life. Christ has quickened us by His death and resurrection, so that we delight in His law after the inward man, and though no good thing dwells in our flesh, Christ has delivered us so that there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Romans 7:25-8:1). But does this mean we are free to sin? No! Does it mean we can only sin? No! We are told that Christ "shall also quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you". There is indeed no good thing in our flesh, and so we are told "through the Spirit... mortify the deeds of the body" so that we do not live after the flesh (because we are not debtors to the flesh - v.12), but after the Spirit.

Here we have the three things which we need to know to live out our lives for God's glory and enjoy Him forever:

  1. How deep our sins and miseries are
  2. How we are delivered from these through Christ alone
  3. How we may express our gratitude to God for such deliverance

Praise God!

Finally this passage teaches us that indeed there is no good thing dwelling in our flesh. Even being born again, we, of ourselves, are incapable of serving the law of God in our flesh, but of ourselves our flesh can only serve the law of sin, though our regenerated hearts hate what we do. What we accomplish, we do not recognise, and what we want to do, we do not practice, instead what we hate, we habitually do. Of ourselves in our flesh, this is all we can do. Praise God for His Spirit which quickens our mortal bodies so that we can walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh. This is why all our obedience, even though we are now regenerate, is nothing from ourselves, but all of God, to whom be the glory in the lives of His saints and in all things, both now and forevermore. Amen!

Of course, I finish by saying that, again the most obvious explanation of this passage is the one which presents itself first, that Paul is genuinely talking about himself in the present, from the simple fact that he continues his use of "I" and speaks in the present tense. There is no Scriptural evidence anywhere to use some special method of interpretation on this passage.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Glory to God alone for the lives of the saints!

I walk among a blind people,
The world, eyes shut, wonders.
My God has made the universe
The trees and the flowers,
The heavens, stars and planets all
With the fields, bogs and plains,
The mountains, hills, rocks and rivers,
Were form'd by God's good plans.

I gaze across the vast oceans,
Seeing the horizon,
This planet too great for my mind,
Amaz'd by our own sun.
The dawn takes my breath all away
The mist terrifies me,
The quaking earth throws me to ground,
In awe and fear to be.

The clouds billow and thunders roll
The sky flashes with light,
God makes His voice, His anger known;
Boasters all flee in fright.
Fear, all you men who boast, the Lord
Who alone is worthy
Who alone works obedience,
In the saints and in me.

You fools who boast in deeds and will,
Sacrifice and service,
Hear what the prophets spoke of old,
And wander not amiss.
The Lord delights not in these, but
A humble, contrite heart,
Such pleases Him who has no need,
Whose love does not depart.

As by the disobedience,
of one man all were sin,
So by the full obedience
of one man, redemption.
With one sacrifice was God pleas'd,
His Son and none beside.
And all His saints do nothing good,
And should not have such pride.

We love because He lov'd us first.
No good thing dwells in us,
Except His Spir't who works alone
Obedience in us.
Apart from this we only sin,
And nothing add do we,
That Scripture be prov'd when it says
All glory to Him be!

As God alone work'd to create,
That none else may glory,
So He alone work'd salvation,
To set His people free.
Now all you boasters in man's will
Who makes you to differ?
Does not the mighty Lord alone,
Set you from another?

Let him who boasts, make this his boast,
That he does know the Lord.
Without pride, let him who glories,
Glory alone in God.
God, I confess, open'd my eyes,
And freely forgave me,
And though God's this reveal'd to me,
I'm better not than thee.