Archive for November, 2015

Faith Demonstrated – a Central Jacobian Theme

November 30, 2015

After a brief greeting, James immediately begins his first of several brotherly admonitions.

James 1:2-3 calls believers to be thankful for trials because the testing of faith works patience.  
James 1:12 promises the crown of life to those who endures temptations.
James then approaches the same point another way.  He points out that the engrafted word is able to save our souls, but immediately distinguishes between a (mere) hearer and a doer. (James 1:21 and following)
James 1:26 proposes a specific test – the use of the tongue.  A person who seems religious but fails to bridle his tongue is self-deceived and his religion is “vain.”
This vain religion is then contrasted with a pure religion that results in care for those who have lost fathers and husbands.  
This second test becomes more central in the second chapter.  Here James suggests that care of these poor people is a part of obeying the law of God.  
He even explains (vs 18) that faith is shown by works in the form of a challenge to a “vain man” (vs 20) who claims to have faith but lacks works.
James then illustrates the principle by providing two examples of people performing works that demonstrated their faith:
1). Abraham offering his son
2). Rahab sending out the spies another way
James then compares faith without works to a corpse.
James then returns to his previous example about the tongue (ch 3).  He argues that wisdom is demonstrated by – you guessed it – works (vs 13).
James contrasts such works with sinful envy and the like.  James concludes that the good works are the fruit sown by the peaceable wisdom from above (vss 17-18).
Chapter 4 is an extended call to holiness. James begins by identifying an internal source of sin (vss 1 and 5).  James contrasts that with the grace that God gives (vs 6).  
Chapter 5 begins with a condemnation of rich oppressors before turning back to exhort the brethren to patience.  The letter then ends with a variety of practical guides for such endurance, including the prescription to sing Psalms when we are merry and to pray when we are not.
James is a sort of anti-Joel-Osteen – eager to exhort his listeners to go beyond surface level professions of faith and especially to beware of rich hypocrites, rather than favoring people who are rich.

Infants and the Millenium – a Pre-Millenial Quadralemma (Guest Post by Ben. W)

November 14, 2015

The following guest post by Ben W. presents a question to our premillennial brothers and sisters:
*** Guest Post ***
What happens to babies born during the millennial reign after the return of Christ?

  1. Babies are born and some believe in Christ and are saved, others do not and are damned.
  2. 2. Babies are born but none of them believe in Christ and they are not saved.
  3. 3. Babies are born and all of them believe in Christ and are saved.
  4. 4. No babies are born during the millennial reign.

Each of these options is problematic.
1. Babies are born and some believe in Christ and are saved, others do not and are damned.
The problem with this view is that scripture makes it clear that Christ will not return until all of his people have been brought in.
In 2nd Peter 3, Peter makes the argument that Christ has not returned yet, and that God has not yet judged the Earth because not all of God’s people have been saved, “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” God waits until the full number of his people have been gathered.
In Matthew 24:29-31 Jesus says of his own return that he will gather his elect from the entire Earth, “the four winds” North, East, South, West and from one end of Heaven to the other, both those on Earth and those in Heaven will be gathered together upon Christ’s return. All of God’s people will be gathered upon Christ’s return.
Finally, in Romans 11:25 scripture says that “a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” This hardening will end when Christ is reigning from Jerusalem and the temple has been rebuilt. If the hardening of Israel has ended this must mean that the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and if that’s the case, it would appear that no Gentiles will be saved during the millennial reign.
2. Babies are born but none of them believe in Christ and they are not saved.
This view has the benefit of avoiding the problems brought forth by the previous view; however, it introduces two problems of its own.
First, it describes a world in which Christ is physically ruling from the Earth, and yet, there are none for a thousand years, while Satan is bound from deceiving the nations, that believe in him.
Even from the view of premillennialism the outlook is never this bleak, which leads to the second problem.
In Isaiah 65:23-24, which premillennialists view as a description of the millennial kingdom, it says:

They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.

Here we see it is said that the children born during the millennial reign, and their children will be called offspring of the blessed of the Lord. If every generation’s descendants are called the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, it follows that their parents too will be his blessed. The next verse makes it clear that God will hear and answer the prayers of these generations; surely this is not descriptive of a planetary population that has rejected King Jesus and his rule.
In Zechariah 14, and Micah 4 it is said that all the nations will come and worship Christ in Jerusalem when he reigns there.
If we read these texts without spiritualizing or allegorizing it seems clear that there will be a partial, if not total conversion to Christianity by the population of the Earth during this time.
3. Babies are born and all of them believe in Christ and are saved.
If there are no unbelievers during the millennial reign, who rebels against Christ at the end of the 1000 years? If all those born during the millennium are saved, there is no one to rebel as described in Revelation 20:7-10.
4. No babies are born during the millennial reign.
This position too fails because as we previously saw, Isaiah 65 describes the offspring of those living during the millennial reign, and as we noted in the previous option, if there are no unbelievers in the millennium, then there is no one to rebel against Christ when Satan is loosed.
A person might argue that, while there are no babies born during the millennial reign, those unbelievers still alive when Christ returns will enter into it, and they will be the ones to rebel. However, Revelation 19:17-21 describes the total destruction of all unbelievers upon Christ’s return. There will be none of God’s enemies left after Christ returns.
*** End of Guest Post ***
As noted elsewhere, I (TurretinFan) am not particularly dogmatic on eschatology. I found this puzzle interesting, but it’s not the reason I’m postmillenial. I’m postmillenial because I think the Lord is coming back on the last day, as per John 6 and 1 Corinthians 15. I think the author of the post, Ben. W., is actually ameillenial, which is a quite similar position.

James White: The Same Sex Marriage Debate vs Codrington

November 3, 2015

Dr. White debated Graeme Codrington on the topic of same sex marriage (link to debate on SermonAudio). I agreed with Codrington that Dr. White did an excellent job defending the “traditional” view. I wanted to mention a few points that occurred to me in listening to the debate, while encouraging you, my reader, to go listen to the debate for yourself. Also check out the related debate that I mention in my comments below.

1) Heteronomative Scripture
Dr. White made a good point in the debate that it’s more than just the “six verses” that specifically call out homosexual practices as sin. Instead, the remainder of Scripture provides a positive presentation regarding sexuality. That positive presentation makes heterosexual relations the norm. That’s an important point, because it frames the issue. Within the context of Scripture, the pattern is “husband and wife” not simply life partners.

2) Patriarchal Scripture
Codrington raised the point that Scriptures present a patriarchal model in which there is male headship and even male ownership of wives and children. I noticed a similar issue arise in the debate between Jason Wallace and Scott Dalgarno (link to youtube video of that debate). One thing we need to be prepared to do is to confound Codrington and Dalgarno by affirming that the Biblical norm of patriarchy. Basic consistency does demand this from us – if we are going to affirm the creation ordinance of heterosexual marriage, we should also affirm the creation ordinance of how that heterosexual marriage is to be ordered. There is a sort of perverse consistency to Codrington and Dalgarno rejecting the Biblical norm of heterosexuality, given that they have already rejected the Biblical norm of patriarchy. If Biblical norms for the ordering of society matter, we should hold the. If they don’t matter, we shouldn’t insist on them.

3) Ownership of Humans in Scripture
Codrington and Dalgarno raised the ubiquitous objection that Scripture doesn’t condemn slavery. Again, we need to be prepared to confound these men by affirming the Scripture’s position. We are “bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20 and 7:23). We are slaves of Jesus, our master. He owns us. We are his property. We are not absolutely opposed to slavery on Enlightenment grounds, even though we are opposed to any form of slavery that is based on denying the full humanity of people based on their skin color or the like. We recognize that the Bible affirmed that slaves were the property of their masters (e.g. Exodus 21:20-21 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.). Thus, we don’t agree with the idea that it is somehow intrinsically immoral for a man to own another man, even though we recognize limitations on that ownership (see the same verses above).

Both Codrington and Dalgarno seem to take for granted that the Bible was wrong on the relationship of masters and slaves, husbands and wives, and parents and children. The “liberal church” has certainly begun to take those debates for granted. We need to be ready to shock them by affirming that the Bible was right on those things.

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