Category Archives: God’s Creation

According To Calvin, It’s All About God

I just watched this video about John Calvin.  After you watch  it, please scroll down for my comments.

Did you catch the part that said Calvin developed the idea that it’s all about God? Please don’t overlook that remark, as I believe 21st Century Christians have lost that attitude. Calvin contributed a great deal, and a wide variety, of things to the Christian Church, but this idea of the Lord’s centrality cannot be over emphasized.

In this series, I have made the mistake of simply repeating historical accounts of the various Reformers. Those facts can be easily accessed by doing Google searches on whichever Reformer you choose to research. I very much encourage you to do such research, believing that knowing who these men were and what they did can help you understand why we must never forget the sacrifices that freed true Christians from the Roman catholic Church. At this point, however, I believe it is more advantageous to demonstrate how the theology of the Reformers applies to the state of evangelicals in our own time.

Increasingly, evangelical churches emphasize what God can do for us, rather than teaching why we must worship Him. The teachings center on having better marriages, being successful parents, managing our money and finding fulfillment in Christ. By these man centered teachings, pastors subtly imply that Jesus exists for our benefit. Calvin would never have tolerated such self-centered doctrine! In faithfulness to Scripture, he directed attention to Christ.

As evangelicals, we would do well to pay attention to Calvin’s emphasis on the Lord as center of the universe. We cannot continue in the sin of thinking that the Lord of all creation, mighty King who deserves all of our worship, should be treated as our servant. We must remember that creation itself revolves solely around Him. He is the one who deserves all glory and praise.

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Saturday Sampler: February 5 — February 11

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Writing a guest post for Pulpit and Pen, Dr. Jeff Hagan explains How NOT To Follow the Holy Spirit. Isn’t it sad that, in a time when technology has made the Bible more accessible than ever, we still need articles like this?

Please don’t miss The Five Tests of False Doctrine by Tim Challies. His blog post provides an excellent grid for practicing Biblical discernment.

Leslie A. at Growing 4 Life writes Learn to Discern: Introduction to inaugurate her new series on discernment. I appreciate her balanced, Biblical approach to this topic, and look forward to reading her insights. I’ll be interested to see how her series complements the one Tim Challies is writing.

I regret my neglect of Pastor Gabe’s Blog last week. Gabe Hughes writes Examining the Worship Song “Above All” with such theological accuracy that I just have to include it in this week’s Sampler.

Although I have problems with the “live the Gospel” mentality, I also understand that, as Christians, our behavior must line up with our professed beliefs. So John Ellis’ article, Why Are  Christians Bad Tippers? in PJ Media, made me both sad and angry. As Christians, we’ve got to do better for the sake of the Gospel.

For those of you who mingle psychology with Christianity, please prayerfully consider Rebekah Womble’s blog post, Guilt and Forgiveness: Why We Need Both in Wise In His Eyes. She well demonstrates the corrupting influence that psychology has on evangelicals, as well as the Biblical response to guilt.

The Cripplegate includes Battalogeo & Heavenly Prayer Language, in which Eric Davis thoughtfully discusses the Charismatic practice of speaking in tongues as a private prayer language.  This article may trouble Charismatics. Hopefully, they’ll be troubled enough to seriously study the Scriptures on this matter.

Inadequate Understanding of God #1: Why did He make things? launches Jennifer’s new series on One Hired Late In The Day. In this initial installment, Jen looks at God’s real purpose in creating the heavens and the earth.

Do you belong to a good church? Over on Parking Space 23, Greg Patterson gives us Marks of a Good Church to help us evaluate our home church by Biblical standards. The church John and I belong to more than passes the test!

 

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Celebrating, Not Merely Stating

Lady Reading BibleThe First Century church at Colossae, because of its location as a major seaport welcoming tradesmen and sailors representing a variety of cultures, struggled against false teachings of various kinds. In response to the multiplicity of errors that made their way into the Colossian church, the apostle Paul wrote a letter meant to correct the doctrinal problems. Before addressing the particulars, however, he reviewed the basic Gospel message.

Paul introduced this review of the Gospel with a powerful explanation of Christ’s deity:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. ~~Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)

In describing Christ as  “the image of the invisible God,” Paul equates Him with God. From there, He identifies Christ’s role in creation, insists that He holds the entire universe together, and crowns Him as the Sovereign Ruler. Then he makes his claim even more directly in verse 19: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”

Yes, God dwells in every believer through His Holy Spirit, but He doesn’t give us all of His fulness.  Vincent’s Word Studies offers the clearest commentary on verse 19 that I could find.

The word must be taken in its passive sense – that with which a thing is filled, not that which fills. The fullness denotes the sum-total of the divine powers and attributes. In Christ dwelt all the fullness of God as deity. The relation of essential deity to creation and redemption alike, is exhibited by John in the very beginning of his gospel, with which this passage should be compared. In John the order is: 1. The essential nature of Christ; 2. Creation; 3. Redemption. Here it is: 1. Redemption (Colossians 1:13); 2. Essential being of the Son (Colossians 1:15); 3. The Son as Creator (Colossians 1:16); 4. The Church, with Christ as its head (Colossians 1:18). Compare 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 1:19, Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 1:23. Paul does not add of the Godhead to the fullness, as in Colossians 2:9 since the word occurs in direct connection with those which describe Christ’s essential nature, and it would seem not to have occurred to the apostle that it could be understood in any other sense than as an expression of the plenitude of the divine attributes and powers.
Thus the phrase in Him should all the fullness dwell gathers into a grand climax the previous statements – image of God, first-born of all creation, Creator, the eternally preexistent, the Head of the Church, the victor over death, first in all things. On this summit we pause, looking, like John, from Christ in His fullness of deity to the exhibition of that divine fullness in redemption consummated in heaven (Colossians 1:20-22).

Again, the passage celebrates (rather than merely stating) Christ’s divine nature, making it inseparable from the Gospel message. Christ, being God Himself, willingly bled and died on the cross to atone for the sins of those who trust in Him. Remember, Paul here identified Christ as both the Creator and the focal point of His own creation, and in the next breath introduced His willingness  to sacrifice Himself for our rebellion against Him. If that amazing fact doesn’t give you a desire to fall on your knees with wonder and adoration, just keep reading about the Gospel. It only gets better.

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Holy Infant And Returning Ruler

Although I’ve only recently learned that Isaac Watts based Joy To The World on Psalm 98, and meant it to be a celebration of Christ’s Second Coming, it belongs to Christmas. Obviously, Christ couldn’t come a second time without coming the first time. So we can sing this hymn at Christmas to praise Him for His Incarnation, rejoicing that it marks the beginning of redemption.

But the hymn also pulls us beyond the benign image of a “holy Infant so tender and mild” to remind us that He rules the world and makes the nations bow to the glories of His righteousness. In such bowing, as we see Him execute judgment with equity, we’ll be overwhelmed with the wonder of His love towards those who believe in Him.

John and I wish you a Merry Christmas filled with wonder at this Infant King Who Came, and will come again.

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We Overlook The Obvious

How mechanically we refer to God’s power without really thinking about it. And then when difficulties crowd into our lives, we wring our hands and furrow our brows, wondering whether or not God can do anything about them.

I praise the Lord for His reminders that He not only has infinite power, but that He controls His creation perfectly according to His purposes. So I’ve picked a hymn that catalogues various aspects of His power and sovereignty. Not only is the poetry in this hymn exquisite, but the words exalt the Lord, assuring us that He rules heaven and earth completely.

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Women: Distinctly Equal

“The Bible says it. I believe it. That  settles it.”

Many post-modern evangelicals dismiss that quote, as well as that line of reasoning, arguing that it equates to “checking one’s brain at the door.” (Do they realize that they’re equally trite?) When gender roles  come up, such people particularly assume that accepting the Bible’s declarations at face value demonstrates an unwillingness to reason things out.

Sometimes, certainly, we do need to study a verse in more detail, particular when it appears to contradict the general flow of Scripture (1 Timothy 2:15, for instance), but much of Scripture needn’t undergo massive torture simply because we don’t like it. And therefore, the passages that teach the distinct roles between men and women don’t require a vast amount of explanation. The Holy Spirit pretty much moved on the men who penned Scripture to write clearly.

Moses, for instance, described Eve’s creation by emphasizing that she came from Adam for the purpose of helping him.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.” ~~Genesis 2:18-23 (ESV)

Clearly, the order of creation places Man in a leadership position. But note that Man’s position in no way suggests Woman’s inferiority or spiritual inequality. Her very purpose as Man’s helper, in fact, demonstrates that she brings something to the table that he couldn’t have brought without her.

In 1 Corinthians 11:3-12, the apostle Paul discusses this headship of Man and the simultaneous mutuality between Man and woman. Let me point out two sections of this passage that I believe refer back to Genesis 2:18-23. 

Firstly, Paul establishes male authority within marriage.

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. ~~1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)

Husbands, although they are accountable to Christ, have the responsibility to exercise leadership in their households. Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18 and 1 Peter 3:1-6 all enforce this marital structure by instructing wives to submit (always balancing this command by telling husbands to love their wives). The New Testament consistently promotes male leadership.

Secondly, Paul affirms that husbands and wives, while having leader/follower roles, are mutually dependent.

For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. ~~1 Corinthians 11:7-12 (ESV)

As far as spiritual standing, the Lord makes no qualitative distinctions between men and women. I refer you to Galatians 3:28 (in proper context) and 1 Peter 3:7 as evidence that women share equally in the inheritance that Christ has for believers. The dignity of women that Genesis 2:18-23 implies, therefore, comfortably co-exists with gender specific roles in marriage.

The principle of male leadership doesn’t stop at marriage, however. Scripture also consistently upholds a model of male leadership in the structure of churches. 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9 enumerate the qualities necessary in holding leadership positions, decidedly couching the instructions to assert that only men meet the criteria.

Liberal people typically argue that these passages reflect 1st Century values, and so do not apply to the present-day church. I would counter by pointing out that Paul directly appeals to Genesis when he told Timothy that women should not hold positions of authority or teaching over men.

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. ~~1 Timothy 2:11-14 (ESV)

As I’ve studied these Scriptures over the past four decades (often looking for loopholes that might permit me to teach men), I’ve repeatedly concluded that churches, to be Biblical, require male leadership. Paul bases this requirement on both the order of creation and Eve’s rebellion against Adam’s leadership when she ate the forbidden fruit. Paul connects the restriction to the Genesis narrative in order to refute claims that he limited the scope of women’s ministry as a capitulation to 1 Century Ephesian culture.

Scripture definitely affirms spiritual equality between  men and women, but that equality doesn’t negate the Lord’s institution of gender roles. Post-modern society resists these roles, just as it tries to distort gender and sexuality as a whole, but Christians must accept the Bible’s teaching over culture’s demands. God created us male and female for His purposes, and we should celebrate our gender distinctions as a way to honor Him.

 

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