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Topic: Theology

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 5.4

Calvinists are often accused of making God out to be the author of evil, even though the reformed confessions say just the opposite. Because of these accusations, however, some Calvinists will define a difference between God’s ordaining of something and His permitting or allowing it. Today’s article from the Westminster Confession addresses this issue:

The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in His providence, that it extends itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as has joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to His own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceeds only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

Westminster Confession of Faith 5.4

While the Scriptures do speak of God permitting certain things to happen, they also speak of God ordaining every single thing that happens (Ephesians 1:11). There might be more verses that speak of God permitting things than there are that speak of His ordaining all things, but this is not a right way to understand the Scriptures. Verses are not foot soldiers, battling one another on the ground until the last one is left standing. We seek to believe all the verses and and we trust that they are all consistent.

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Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 5.3

God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure.

Westminster Confession of Faith 5.3

Last week we discussed the fact that when your friend spills coffee on your lap, God as the first cause used second causes like physics to burn your lap. God built rules into the world. We have discovered many of these rules discovered through science. Some of them, we can understand how they work. Others, we merely pretend to understand.

As the one who wrote the rules, however, God is not bound by them. We observe the movements of planets and see that this movement is what causes day and night. The movement is caused laws within physics and can’t be stopped—except when one fellow got the idea to call on the God who built the thing to make it it all stop. God condescended and the heavenly bodies heeded a sort of divine pause button. • • • Read More • • •

Proud Trees and Bruised Reeds

I’m rather excited because Chris and I had a bit of a kerfuffle in our most recent podcast episode. I’m not excited because I enjoy controversy, I’m just excited because I only rarely get to use the word “kerfuffle.” I’m going to try to use it at least once more in this blog post, so stay tuned. Before you read the rest of this, you might want to listen to the episode. I’ll try to summarize the issue, though, so that you don’t have to listen if you’ve got better things to do with your time.

Our disagreement centered around evangelism and specifically how to approach someone who is actively involved in the LGBTQ movement with the intent of sharing the Gospel. Chris’s approach was to speak well of the person’s actions and intents, but to then to explain how those actions are sinful and the Bible teaches us to do better. I disagreed with this approach, but before we move forward, I want to avoid a logical fallacy that often comes up here. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 5.2

Many people misunderstand what Calvinists believe. The Westminster Confession can often be very helpful in clarifying Calvinist beliefs and that is the case this week.

Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.

Westminster Confession of Faith: 5.2

Some people think that Calvinists teach that because God is the first Cause for all things, that means that there are no other causes. This article firmly refutes that belief by stating the opposite. Although God is the first Cause, yet He in His providence He causes things to occur by means of second causes. This plays itself out in a variety of ways. It can be through things like physics and chemistry or it can be through human decision and action. Often, it’s through a combination. • • • Read More • • •

The Great Commission: Mission and Promise

The world is going to hell in a hand basket. The church isn’t doing her job and it’s only a matter of time before she’s altogether vanquished by the democrats, the Muslims, or perhaps even Fox News. That’s what many Christians will tell you if you ask them how humanity and the church are doing. Things are going from bad to worse quicker than you can say “Satan is alive and well on planet earth.”

Much of this comes from a low view of man’s moral condition, which is a good sort of view to have. We shouldn’t expect man to solve his own problems anymore than we should expect pigs to suddenly realize their repulsive reputation, bathe themselves, and start drinking tea with their little piggy pinkies extended. Man’s nature is hopelessly sinful. Biblically-oriented Christians recognize that. • • • Read More • • •

The Sleep of Death

Sleep is an odd thing when you think about it. By day, we build skyscrapers, fly airplanes, write poetry, and blow things up. By night, we lie down unconscious for 8 hours. Our heart rate slows, our brain activity diminishes, our bodies lie still. Sometimes we drool.

It’s sort of undignified when you really let it sink in. Even in the city that claims to never sleep, people still sleep. Scripture likens death to sleep—and this makes sense. Sleep is a reminder of death because we can’t keep going on indefinitely. Our bodies and our minds start to fall apart if we spend too much time without sleep, much like they do when we get older. So we go find a nice, cushy surface and lie motionless and unconscious on it for a while. • • • Read More • • •

Selling Hangers to People Fresh out of the Closet

The fan certainly has been coming into contact with a lot of stuff regarding homosexuality and marriage lately. This is because, if I may understate the problem, sin is messy. Our laws have failed to reflect God’s laws for some time and so our politicians, having redefined “up” as “down” and vice versa, find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to reengineer all our helicopters and airplanes.

Christians who are genuinely trying to understand the true gravity of the situation are finding it very difficult to avoid getting turned all topsy-turvy. There are a lot of questions about specifically what should and should not be legal, as well as questions regarding what is and is not moral. This is especially the case for people who make money on weddings, but even some people running businesses that have nothing to do with marriage, say thrift stores, can become confused. Before we get started talking about those issues, we should briefly define the difference between things that are immoral and things that should be illegal. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 5.1

God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

Westminster Confession of Faith: 5.1

Christians, even Calvinists, often act as though God is sovereign only over the big things. If something is trivial to us, we assume that God has simply left it to chance. But God governs over all things, regardless of how small. It is said that the devil is in the details, and he often is—but only by divine decree.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so the things that seem unimportant to us may be important to someone else. This is alright, though, because all things are under God’s control. Even the affairs of microscopic bacteria in otherwise uninhabited parts of the world are divinely ordained. The universe is a grand symphony to the praise of the glory of God, and He has orchestrated every note (even the disobedient ones) to bring Him the most glory possible.

Arguments with Atheists Aren’t Fair

I’ve been meaning to write more in the field of apologetics, but with the recent website downtime and other projects I’ve been working on, I haven’t had time. However, in contrast to the opinion of modern society’s poets, I don’t believe that it is ever too late to apologize.

Apologetics, for those who don’t know, isn’t about saying “I’m sorry.” The word means to defend, and so I’m talking about debates and discussions with non-Christians (especially atheists) concerning the truth of the Bible and the existence of God. If you already knew that, I apologize—er, I mean, I’m sorry. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 4.2

After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after His own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfil it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

Westminster Confession of Faith: 4.2

God made man upright, but he has sought out many inventions (Ecclesiastes 7:29). That is to say, Adam and Eve were not created as the slaves to sin that they would later become. They were free moral agents in the sense that their wills were not bent toward iniquity as ours are. Their decision to disobey, though predestined, was not due to any depravity of nature compelling them. God gave Adam and Eve the ability to choose between obedience and disobedience to His command. What He withheld, however, was the grace that would effectually incline them toward righteousness. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 4.1

Moving on from God’s eternal decree, the next chapter in the Westminster Confession deals with creation.

It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.

Westminster Confession of Faith: 4.2

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The New Covenant: The Risen Sun

When you turn on a flashlight outside on a cloudless day, it likely won’t do much. Actually, you probably won’t be able to even tell that it’s turned on. The light of the sun is so much greater than the light of your little LED-bulb that the latter is rendered almost imperceptible by the former. It would be a mistake, however, to thus assume the flashlight isn’t working or producing any light.

Many people misunderstand the Old and New Covenants in much the same way. The light of the risen Christ is so great that it can cause the light God gave in the Old Covenant to be difficult to perceive. Because of this, some people assume that the Old Covenant was deficient and broken—that it didn’t show people Christ or administer grace. As we’ve seen, however, that simply isn’t the case. Men and women have always been saved by faith in Christ. If a man can’t see Christ in the Old Covenant, the deficiency is in the man, not the covenant. • • • Read More • • •

Five Books that Helped Shape Me As a Christian

Books are funny things. Each of them shapes you in at least some small way, but some will prove far more shaping than others. This can be because of the time when you read them, the content of the book, discussions you had about the book, or factors you’re never made aware of. That said, here are the five books (besides the Bible) that I look back on as having had the biggest impact on me.

  1. Desiring God – This book is really what got me started reading theology. Piper presented theology in a way that was appealing and I don’t know that I would have read any of the books below without having read this one—even though I never quite finished it. • • • Read More • • •

Twelve Theses on Male Modesty

Rather than write an extended post on male modesty, I’ve heavily condensed my thoughts into twelve theses. If we’re being honest: it’s probably one of the best ways to ensure that men will read it.

  1. The Greek word for lust simply means powerful desire. It cannot, therefore, be reduced to only include sexual desire.
  2. Men and women are fully capable of having powerful or inordinate desires for all the same things. The difference between men and women is not in what the they can be tempted by, but rather what the are most prone to be tempted by. • • • Read More • • •

Why You Should Stop Praying “In Your Name, Amen.”

Scripture often speaks of believers as children and of God as Father. This description is comforting to believers because it teaches us what we are often like and how God responds to us. Children make lots of mistakes that their father will help them overcome. Children also rebel openly, but that doesn’t make their father stop loving them. Adoption is truly a great gift.

I’d like to address a mistake that many Christians make while praying, but I want to begin and end with a reminder that we have a loving Father who bears with us even in our mistakes. Most people do not have a good theology of prayer, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t listening—just like a child who can’t quite say “daddy” isn’t ignored on the grounds that he talks funny. • • • Read More • • •

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