Archive for November, 2009

November 30, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration – Pro or Con?

Since the signing of the Manhattan Declaration, it has been getting all the buzz in the Christian blogosphere and news outlets. Even Bill O’Reilly makes it the focus of his Talking Points one day last week  (Talking Points: 11/24).

What is the Manhattan Declaration? It is a Christian manifesto that addresses the moral issues of sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage and religious liberty and how they have been and continue to be issues that “are being subverted under our eyes” to quote Al Mohler. It is a joint statement between Evangelicals, Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

You can read the declaration here and read the names of the signatories here.

A quick perusal through the signatories will reveal many well-respected and sound thinkers within the Evangelical community. Yet, for as many sound thinkers who have signed this document we have just as many respected theologians against it including Alistair Begg and John McArthur.

The argument for being part of this declaration is basically these issues are part of our call to a justice ministry.

The argument against is that when Evangelicals join the ranks of support for the Manhattan Declaration we are de facto subverting the gospel and raising a contrary gospel in its place. This is especially obvious through Dan Phillips’ 19 questions he asks of all who sign this document, which can be read here.

The most cogent argument I found pro the Manhattan Declaration was from Al Mohler. I found three arguments against the Manhattan Declaration worth reading. They are by John Stackhouse, James White and Frank Turk.

The issue of difference is a place of emphasis. Al Mohler, and the other sound Evangelical leaders who signed the MD, clearly do not see the integrity of the gospel message at risk. They clearly believe they can, with integrity, continue to preach the gospel of Christ while supporting this initiative. Those against question, at best, this ability.

Of all those against I think John Stackhouse raises the primary issue, which really is a “what now” issue? Okay, okay – you’ve signed the declaration. But now what? Where do we go from here? Have we not already been saying these things as a collective whole from our individual positions of influence? Coming along side each other will make what impact? Until I would be satisfied with answers given to these specific issues I see no reason to sign this document.

However, I don’t think that the signing of the MD is a compromise of conscience for those who signed. Their track record says different. They are men and women of faith who have been exemplary in the past and we should do well to remember that as we raise our own concerns.

On a closing thought concerning the compromise of the gospel by signing this document – the issue has been raised that Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses were not invited to sign the document because it is meant to be a Christian document. This is proof, says the argument, that we are comprising the gospel message because we are aligning ourselves with Roman Catholics and The Eastern Orthodox Church and agreeing that they are Christian de facto. But the very heart of our break from Catholicism is Soli Fide – by faith alone. This comes to the very heart of the gospel. If we agree that they preach a different gospel, why are we excluding others who claim to preach the Christian message but who in fact subvert it? This is a good question and deserves its own attention in many respects. However, let me point out that general evangelical consensus would say (and I agree) that there are Christians who are Catholic or Eastern Orthodox but not Mormon or Jehovah Witness. So some distinction is made already. Also, many evangelical churches believe that faith is a work of oneself including the possibility of loss of salvation engaging in a similar theology as both Roman Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Church. These churches are far from their reformation roots. If we are not prepared to cast out our synergistic brothers and sisters in Evangelical circles than we have no leg to stand on to do so based on the same ground to RC and EO. I am not saying the differences are precisely the same, but that faith alone is a topic of disagreement even within the Evangelical community. I admit I lament this, but that is not the point of the charges raised against evangelicals signing the document when it comes to gospel integrity. The charge is one of Salvation by faith alone. If Soli Fide is the real issue not to sign the Manhattan Declaration then we should not only not sign because of Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodoxians,  but also because of Evangelical Christians who do not have a consistent faith system of faith alone.

November 28, 2009

Saturdays Are For Stories

A child’s logic is an amazing thing.

It was a long day. I was tired, ready to be home with my precious quartet of ladies. I walked into the house, gave hugs, kisses as I numbly listened to the ramblings of three little ladies speaking simultaneously. Into the bedroom I walked to change in a comfortable outfit.

That is when I saw it. I stopped; the talking continued. The shadows from the setting sun concealed it a bit on the soft lavender paint behind it, but it was undeniably there – right above our headboard. Someone had been writing on my wall. All three girls stopped speaking, sensing something had just changed.

Me: Who wrote on the wall?

Ladies: Not me.

Me: Remember to not lie.

Charis (My oldest): I did.

Me: Why did you do that? You’re the oldest and know better.

Charis: Well I didn’t want you to get mad at me for going into the playroom to get a piece of paper.

November 26, 2009

A Memoir – A Thanksgiving Day Poem for 2009

God you call upon my name I beknow
I create firm fortress of belial
I set walls with mortar of denial
I hide within its coolness and shadow
I’m confident in a demise I sow
Beckoning of spring and life ambrosial
Upon me springs Your Spirit agential
I’m overwhelmed by Your love’s overflow

Your kindness is terrible when awoke
What I built was not stone nor abutment
I see life as it is: glass, mirror, smoke
I am naked, fragile, weak and then spent
“You’re weak, bankrupt; I am strong, rich” God spoke
Haze to truth by love my soul’s adjustment

My soul has never known such deep despair
My inheritance of guilt brings me shame
I have naught of myself to cling or claim
Grief in my soul due to this sin affair
My name, when you call it, sounds sweet and fair
Consumed by grief you beckon me by name
Inside out; my shame exchanged for your fame
Drawn by your embrace Your Presence to share

General bowed down, a king on his face
As you make me complete, an heir – whole, healed
My life wanton to a desolate place
Raised up, my place in your abode revealed
Your Spirit beckons me come to your grace
By Your peace my just sentence You repealed

My hand and my knee in gravel and stone
With people from around the global sea
Rich, poor, slave, free, male, female, Greek and me
Surrounded, I find that I’m not alone
Sing united the Name that does atone
Throne, barn, cross, grave –offense of high degree
Jesus became a curse by God’s decree
In awe, I bow at the cross I now own

My inheritance was shame with death due
Nothing have I to give for His renown
Vividly, His blood has an endless view
Instantly His heritage is my crown
Now I’m called righteous and am seen as true
I’m clothed, His righteousness is now my gown

Once upon a time, Antiquity said
O my soul, delight yourself in the Lord
A call of action I always ignored
To enjoy God? Not me, rather be dead
Now by faith graciously given – I’m led
My soul’s purpose has God as its reward
My voice culminates in a joyful chord
My soul’s result is joy, for which He bled

Wait patiently on the Lord, O my soul
Wait upon his way, be my heart’s vision
My soul’s command, my heart’s happy extole
The fight in life takes a new rotation
I live, but struggle with this fleshly whole
King Jesus is my Crutch and my Champion

Life tells that God’s faithfulness never fails
Yahweh’s promises I cannot discount
My future hope comes from a true account
I groan eagerly in my painful veil
Jesus tells me impatience to curtail
For his timing is not slow as I count
He is waiting for the number to mount
Then a full feast when the bridegroom we hail

You are more precious than a bird or bloom
They have beds of soil and houses of tree
Brief affliction holds no proper power
God’s perfect plan is timeless in degree
It points to His grace throne any hour
There is more to you than dirt, fire, sky, sea

Holy in Christ Jesus I desire
My rebellious lusts I want You to fight
So persecution is part of my plight
For Jesus’ name I toil but don’t tire
His affable grace and joy make Him sire
My life not my own is now my delight
In the midst of this hardness I invite
From my side God never will retire

I am an alien and a stranger
I am a child of another world
Here I stand on this side; A dark mirror
A veiled light, fog of soupy night unfurled
A scale refracted; Salt keeps its power
Lord let me see you; Don’t be concealed

November 25, 2009

The Miracle of Suffering

Here comes Thanksgiving Day. How are we to be thankful? What should the cause of our thankfulness be? What if you are going through a hard time? Or maybe I should ask “How can we be thankful especially when things go wrong most of the time and seem to only get worse as the days go by?” Am I doom-n-gloom? I don’t think so, but we must deal with the problem of evil in the world. It is here and our answer informs the world with how we cope. When I say problem of evil I have in view all types that fall into the classical discussion– moral, natural, gratuitous, sickness, pain. For the sake of this blog I’m going to call all these things suffering. Suffering because not all of them are in and of themselves evil, but we still deal with them and have to figure out why they exist and what we should think about them and an appropriate response to them.

Here are a few thoughts from my Christian perspective of the use of suffering and what it accomplishes in life. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just some things that suffering should and does do.

  1. Suffering results in humility. God tells us to be humble (Philippians 2:3-8). John Calvin writes “I have always been exceedingly delighted with the words of Chrysostom, ‘The foundation of our philosophy is humility;’ and still more with those of Augustine, ‘As the orator, when asked, What is the first precept in eloquence? answered, Delivery: What is the second? Delivery: What the third? Delivery: so, if you ask me in regard to the precepts of the Christian Religion, I will answer, first, second, and third, Humility.’” (Institutes 2.2.11) In our culture humility is not a good thing, but for a Christian it is a great thing. We are not self-sufficient. There are just some hurdles we cannot jump no matter how hard we try. Reality is we are spiritually extremely needy. We are spiritually bankrupt (Matthew 5:3). We are in a worse spot than the beggar at the corner of the street. But humility comes in and by calling us to recognize our situation also points to the all sufficient Provider and Healer and Comforter and Savior (Psalm 50:15). We cling to him and he reveals how he is more than sufficient in all things. We are taught how our weakness shows off his strength (II Corinthians 12:9). Suffering does this. (More from John Calvin here).
  2. Suffering calls us to repentance (Luke 13:1-5). An overarching reality in Scripture concerning suffering is that it is a result of our declaring war upon God. Just grant for a second the idea that there is a divine being out there who created the whole universe and that part of his creation was orders and rules. Then his creation decided it was going to do thing its own way. It decided it wanted to live a life to the theme of Bon Jovi – “Its my life” and all that. So it does, the Creator lets it. Ask yourself: If this is true is suffering really surprising? The Bible says no (Romans 8:22-23) and that when we see suffering occur around us one of the things it should do is to call us to stop shoving our fist in God’s face. Lest we Christians think too much of ourselves we know that God uses suffering in our lives to burn our personal dross and continually draw us to him. Discipline, when done right, is a form of love (Hebrews 12:5-11). Suffering does this. (More on Suffering in today’s world)
  3. Suffering gives us opportunity to proclaim the value of Jesus to those who don’t know him (Colossians 1:24). Even thought this point is sandwiched into the middle it may be the biggest point. When our suffering causes us to abandon God we are saying that he is not more valuable than those things whose loss we are lamenting – be it the loss of health, wealth, security, limb or life as being more precious than him. They are not more precious than him. He is the only completely unique and set-apart being there is. There is no other. Most importantly in this aspect of suffering is the offensive reality of how much Jesus suffered for you and me. For those of us not at his crucifixion it is very hard to get the overall sense of his torment. But God puts suffering Christians into the lives of others to be liaisons of suffering – to be representatives to show everyone what Jesus’ suffering looks like and why it is so valuable (Luke 24:25-27; Galatians 2:19-21). Suffering does this. (More on living out Christ’s sufferings for others)
  4. There is a hope in our suffering as Christians (Romans 5:1-5). Our sufferings today are light afflictions. Our sufferings remind us our eternal dwelling with God is one of infinite joy. We are aliens or as one of my favorite songs says, “We are poor, wayfaring strangers.” This present from of creation is not our home (John 8:23, compare with Ephesians 2:19). Our home rests with God when he brings this creation back to rights at the end of days. We look forward, with grand anticipation (I Corinthians 15:54-58), like a young girl does all through her life as she dreams of that perfect wedding day (Matthew 25). We long, we day dream, we discuss, we sing, write poems and books and music (Revelation 21:4-8). Our kingdom is another kingdom. We patiently, but restlessly await its final culmination to be complete. Suffering does this. (Listen to Poor Wayfaring Stranger here)
  5. For those who are not Christians, their suffering is also a light affliction; although it may not feel so. However, while a Christian finds hope in our momentary afflictions, we also need to feel the call to rise and proclaim God’s message of salvation to any who will hear (Romans 10:8-21). For the Christian will find infinite joy that grows with each passing day of eternity in our fellowshipping with the Perfect Father. We will know grace and mercy to a depth unimaginable each day, only to discover that the next day brings it even deeper as our knowledge of God grows infinitely throughout eternity. But for those who stay stubbornly in rebellion despite what God has done and communicated to them, there is absolutely nothing on this present sod that will compare with the intense wrath of a holy God who has been spurned by that which is obligated to love and enjoy him (Isaiah 30:18; 58:14). If Hell is real, as Christians and the Bible contend, then it is a place where God’s wrath is felt infinitely. Where it grows with each passing day in severity and when you think you can’t imagine it being any more of a nightmare it grows ever deeper with each passing day. With descriptors of burning and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Mark 9:18; Luke 13:28), Hell is a place where God’s holiness is revealed and the knowledge of this holiness spurned causes torment. Then will those in Hell long for the sufferings of this time (Luke 16:19-31), but it will be too late. So, for Christians, suffering is an anthem call to love all. Suffering can prevent this. (Listen to Penn Jillette, from the comedy team Penn and Teller, say it best. He is a committed atheist who is having no crisis of belief and still says it best.)
November 24, 2009

Materialism is a Metanarrative, not Science

Richard Lewontin, a Harvard evolutionist, in “Billions and Billions of Demons,” a review of Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, New York Review of Books (January 9, 1997) wrote the following. Do you get the significance to what he admits?

“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck8 used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”

November 20, 2009

Collision: Is Religion Absurd or Good for the World?

An article in the Huffington Post came out in October to coincide with the release of Collision. It is a documentary that follows the touring debate of Christopher Hitchens and Pastor Douglas Wilson. The article, which is written by the both of them is below. Two interesting perspectives on the issue. The article follows:

Last fall, we went on tour debating the topic “Is Religion Good For The World?” Our arguments were captured on film for a new documentary, Collison. Are our morals dictated to us by a supreme entity or do discoveries made by science and reason, make Atheism a natural conclusion? You decide.

Religion Is Absurd by Christopher Hitchens
Religion will always retain a certain tattered prestige because it was our first attempt as a species to make sense of the cosmos and of our own nature, and because it continues to ask “why”. Its incurable disability, however, lies in its insistence that the answer to that question can be determined with certainty on the basis of revelation and faith. We do not know, though we may assume, that our pre-homo sapiens ancestors (the erectus, the Cro-Magnons and the Neanderthals, with whom we have a traceable kinship as we do with other surviving primates) had deities that they sought to propitiate. Alas, no religion of which we are now aware has ever taken their existence into account, or indeed made any allowance for the tens and probably hundreds of thousands of years of the human story. Instead, we are asked to believe that the essential problem was solved about two-to-three thousand years ago, by various serial appearances of divine intervention and guidance in remote and primitive parts of what is now (at least to Westerners) the Middle East. This absurd belief would not even deserve to be called quixotic if it had not inspired masterpieces of art and music and architecture as well as the most appalling atrocities and depredations. The great cultural question before us is therefore this: can we manage to preserve what is numinous and transcendent and ecstatic without giving any more room to the superstitious and the supernatural. (For example, can one treasure and appreciate the Parthenon, say, while recognizing that the religious cult that gave rise to it is dead, and was in many ways sinister and cruel?) A related question is: can we be moral and ethical in our thoughts and actions without the servile idea that our morals are dictated to us by a supreme entity? I believe that the answer to both of these questions is in the affirmative. Tremendous and beautiful things have been achieved by science and reason, from the Hubble telescope to the sequencing of the DNA of obscure viruses. All of these attainments have tended to remind us, however, that we are an animal species inhabiting a rather remote and tiny suburb of an unimaginably large universe. However, this sobering finding — and it is a finding — is no reason to assume that we do not have duties to one another, to other species, and to the biosphere. It may even be easier to draw these moral conclusions once we are free of the egotistic notion that we are somehow the centre of the process, or objects of a creation or a “design”. Dostoevsky said that without belief in god men would be capable of anything: surely we know by now that the belief in a divine order, and in divine orders, is an even greater license to act as if normal restraints were non-existent? If Moses and Jesus and Mohammed had never existed — let alone Joseph Smith or Mary Baker Eddy or Kim Jong Il or any of the other man-made prophets or idols — we would still be faced with precisely the same questions about how to explain ourselves and our lives, how to think about the just city, and how to comport ourselves with our fellow-creatures. The small progress we have made so far, from the basic realization that diseases are not punishments to the noble idea that as humans we may even have “rights”, is due to the exercise of skepticism and doubt, and to the objective scrutiny of hard evidence, and not at all to faith or certainty. The real “transcendence”, then, is the one that allows us to shake off the notion of a never-dying tyrannical father-figure, with its unconsoling illusion of redemption by human sacrifice, and assume our proper proportion as people condemned to be free, and able to outgrow the fearful tutelage of a supreme supervisor who does not forgive us the errors he has programmed us to make.
***
Atheists Suck at Being Atheists by Pastor Douglas Wilson
From the perspective of a Christian, the refusal of an atheist to be a Christian is dismaying, but it is at least intelligible. But what is really disconcerting is the failure of atheists to be atheists. That is the thing that cries out for further exploration. We can understand a cook who sets out to prepare a reduction sauce, having it simmer on the stove for three days. But what we shouldn’t get is the announcement afterwards that he has prepared us a soufflé. The atheistic worldview is nothing if not inherently reductionistic, whether this is admitted or not. Everything that happens is a chance-driven rattle-jattle jumble in the great concourse of atoms that we call time. Time and chance acting on matter have brought about, in equally aimless fashion, the 1927 New York Yankees, yesterday’s foam on a New Jersey beach, Princess Di, the arrangement of pebbles on the back side of the moon, the music of John Cage, the Fourth Crusade, and the current gaggle representing us all in Congress. If the universe actually is what the materialistic atheist claims it is, then certain things follow from that presupposition. The argument is simple to follow, and is frequently accepted by the sophomore presidents of atheist/agnostic clubs at a university near you, but it is rare for a well-published atheistic leader to acknowledge the force of the argument. To acknowledge openly the corrosive relativism that atheism necessarily entails would do nothing but get the chimps jumping in the red states. To swallow the reduction would present serious public relations problems, and drive Fox News ratings up even further. Who needs that? So if the universe is what the atheist maintains it is, then this determines what sort of account we must give for the nature of everything — and this includes the atheist’s thought processes, ethical convictions, and aesthetic appreciations. If you were to shake up two bottles of pop and place them on a table to fizz over, you could not fill up an auditorium with people who came to watch them debate. This is because they are not debating; they are just fizzing. If you were to shake up one bottle of pop, and show it film footage of some genocidal atrocity, the reaction you would get is not moral outrage, but rather more fizzing. And if you were to shake it really hard by means of art school, and place it in front of Michelangelo’s David, or the Rose Window of Chartres Cathedral, the results would not really be aesthetic appreciation, but more fizzing still. If the atheist is right, then I am not a Christian because I have mistaken beliefs, but am rather a Christian because that is what these chemicals would always do in this arrangement and at this temperature. The problem is that this atheistic assumption does the very same thing to the atheist’s case for atheism. The atheist gives us an account of all things which makes it impossible for us to believe that any account of all things could possibly be true. But no account of things can be tenable unless it provides us with the preconditions that make it possible for our “accounting” to represent genuine insight. Atheism fails to do this, and the failure is a spectacular one. Nor does atheism allow us to have any fixed ethical standard, or the possibility of beauty. It does no good to appeal to the discoveries made by science and reason, for one of the things that reason has apparently brought us is atheism. Right? And not content to let sleeping dogs lie, reason also brings us the inexorable consequences of atheism, which includes the unpalatable but necessary conclusion that random neuron firings do not amount to any “truth” that corresponds to anything outside our heads. This, ironically enough, includes atheism, and so we find ourselves falling out of the tree, saw in one hand and branch in the other. Contrast this with the Christian gospel — God the Father is the Maker of heaven and earth. He sent His Son to be born one of us; this Son died on gibbet for our sins, as the ultimate and final human sacrifice, and He rose from the dead on the third day following. Having ascended into Heaven and taken His place at the right hand of His Father, He sent His Holy Spirit into the world in order to transform it, a process that is still ongoing. Now obviously, this is a message that can be believed or disbelieved. But the reason for mentioning it here includes the important point that such a set of convictions makes it possible for us to believe that reason can be trusted, that goodness does not change with the evolutionary times, and that beauty is grounded in the very heart of God. Someone who believes these things doesn’t believe that we are just fizzing. You can deny that this God exists, of course, and you can throw the whole cosmos into that pan of reduction sauce. And you can keep the heat on by publishing one atheist missive after another. But what you should not be allowed to do is cook the whole thing bone dry and call the crust on the bottom an example of the numinous or transcendent. Calling it that provides us with no reason to believe it — and numerous reasons not to.

November 19, 2009

The Prodigal God

I just finished reading Tim Keller’s A Prodigal God. It is a short book – at most a three hour read. Some thoughts after reading this book. Wow. Profound. Incredible. Poignant. Exciting. Liberating. Revealing.

Rarely do books capture poignancy with simplicity. This book is an exception. I cannot over-endorse this book to you, regardless of your faith position. Buy it, borrow it (don’t steal it), and read it.

November 18, 2009

Getting the Emphasis (W)right

I was listening to D.A. Carson lecture on the New Perspective of Paul. I found this following statement in the middle of the lecture to a major criticism of the New Perspective, but also for much of our own bible readings if we are not careful. Since he spoke it and I tried to write it the quote is meant to catch the spirit of his statement, not every word.

“[The issue of justification in Galatians is ] Not just a nationalistic issue. It is a fundamental issue of how you are accepted before God, how you are justified. What makes you acceptable before God? It is the whole flow of the argument. And to think you can simplify the issue to just being “one people before God” so as to eliminate boundary markers and have a unified church is not completely wrong, but it is putting the focus in the wrong place. It’s not listening close enough to the text. It’s not putting the emphasis where Paul puts the emphasis, which brings me to another exegetical observation. Are you familiar with Gordon Fee’s quite magnificent book God’s Empowering Spirit? It’s a major treatment of the Holy Spirit in Paul. What he does is work through all the Pauline passages on the Holy Spirit and then puts them all together. Last week I was in Australia speaking in at a conference. The subject of the conference was the Holy Spirit in Acts. I worked through the big passages in Acts, and all the small ones so that I worked through every place in Acts where the Holy Spirit is mentioned. After I preached through it I said to myself, “I think what I’ve done, in one sense, is accurate, but in another sense, without meaning to is that I just distorted the whole book of Acts.” Because I don’t think Luke sat down and said “I’m going to write about the Holy Spirit.” That’s not Luke’s theme as he is writing Acts. It is merely a supporting theme. It is interwoven throughout the book to support the primary theme. So you may preach on the Holy Spirit in Acts in every situation and be absolutely correct in what you say about the Holy Spirit, but miss the point of Acts. You get a distorted picture of Acts. So I spent the last two talks to deconstruct my sermons to show how they were supportive of the heartbeat of Acts, which is the extension of the gospel. To speak of the Holy Spirit of Acts is a way to quietly distort the book of Acts if you are not careful….you are foregrounding that which is in the background, and backgrounding that which is the foreground.”

You can listen to the lectures at http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/category/courses/a/series/the_new_perspective_on_paul/

November 11, 2009

Today’s Devotional

Part of my daily walk with God is to do a quick devotional outside of my biblical text I am currently studying. Currently my quick devotional is taking me through Romans. Though meant to be personal I wanted to share today’s for those who might benefit.

Romans 4:6-8 Likewise, David also speaks of the blessing of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

How happy those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered! How
happy the man whom the Lord will never charge with sin!

Of interest is the way this text is translated. ESV makes verse seven past tense, but verse eight future tense. NASB, HCSB, NIV, NET all make verse seven present and eight future. The Greek is actually aorist in both verses. However, the future sense in verse eight reveals how it should be translated. The forgiveness happens in the past but has ongoing effects even into the future. And the there is a wonderful promise here in verse eight. The Lord will never charge those who have faith credited to their account with sin. The Greek has the double emphatic negative ensuring us that in “no way, no how” is this going to happen.

And here we are confronted with another truth of Scripture. Those who are children of God are happy. We may not be happy every second of every day, but the overarching theme is a great theme of joy and happiness. It should be of great concern if, as Christians, we walk around sulky or depressed. So not only do we have places in Scripture that demand our happiness (i.e. Delight yourselves in the Lord – Psalm 37:4) but we also have places in Scripture that promise our happiness. Here is a gut check. Do we get the immense forgiveness that has been given to us? Do we understand that by justification we are declared innocent? Do we recognize that we are indeed the great inheritors of the most prized possession ever offered to humanity? Here we hold in our possession the greatest of all treasures – a righted relationship with our Lord and Savior – the Almighty, Invisible God and Creator of the Universe.

Praise be to the glory of His Name
May His People praise His Acclaim
High above His creation is His throne
His creatures he does not leave alone
For mankind’s inheritance is shame
Preserving righteousness God’s aim
God credited faith to call our own
By Jesus’ death for our sins to atone
Declared innocent our hearts aflame
Praise be to the glory of His Name

November 3, 2009

Free Audio Download of Desiring God by John Piper

A great book and now a free audio version, but for this month (November) only.

Download – christianaudio.com