Tuesday, September 30, 2003

 
SEX

Sex. The word inspires an incredible variety of images. It’s everywhere. Movies, advertisements, books, video games… you name it. Ultimately, it’s in the bedroom, or perhaps a Buick. Subaru’s tend to be too cramped.

Now we Christians also have need of sex. After all, it’s perhaps the most enjoyable way to enlarge the covenant community. However, from the Christian view, there is a right and a wrong way to engage in this activity. There is great symbolism in it, and the bible is not silent on this topic. So, let’s spend some time looking at godly sex.

The Marriage Union

Genesis 2:24- “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
This passage has been interpreted in many ways. Some folk have even reasoned that it indicates that just having sex with someone else means that they are married. Upon closer examination, we find that to be untrue. Sex outside of marriage is called fornication. Sex, in of itself, is not a covenant before God. In John 4:17-18, Christ agrees with the Samaritan woman that she has no husband, even though she was having relations with a man at the time. What we have in Gen. 2:24 is the establishment of the covenant of marriage. Ephesians 5:22-33 describes marriage not in terms of sex, but in terms of covenant. Hosea 2:14-23 also demonstrates marriage as covenant, in this case covenant between God and Israel. So in marriage, we enter into covenant before God, to display His covenant here on earth.

The Glory of the Covenant

So, how does sex fit into this covenant? Well, the obvious answer is to continue the covenant family. God speaks to generations, so we need to provide generations. Well, God provides the generations, but the means that He uses to do this is our joining physically. But there is far more to it than this. Gen. 2:25 reads, “And they were both naked, the man and wife, and were not ashamed.” The covenantal language of Gen. 2:24 is demonstrated here. God’s covenant with man is pictured in marriage, and the shame of sin is removed within these covenants. Our nakedness between husband and wife continued beyond the fall, in reflection of the relationship that our Lord established in the garden and secured on the cross. Paul in Ephesians 5 refers to this type of relationship concerning Christ and marriage, and Revelation 21:9-11 further ties this similarity of covenants. Note that in both of the above passages, the bride of Christ is referred to as without flaw or blemish or as being holy, filled with the glory of God. This is a state of redemption- blamelessness restored. So then, within a marriage, sex is demonstrative of that perfection. To be together without shame is like being together without sin. Obviously, we aren’t actually sinless during sex, but that is what it is a picture of, and we should approach the wedding bed with that in mind- the righteous future of the redeemed glimpsed here on earth, symbolized physically through the covenant of marriage before God.

Erotica

So then, what is proper for Christian sex? For that, we turn to the Song of Solomon. We know that when we engage in godly sex, our end purpose is to glorify God through His covenant. However, once the festivities begin, that’s not where our thoughts are going to be. Son. 7:1-9 starts off the union festivities with words from the beloved. He is lavish and metaphoric in his description of the Shulamite. She responds not with similar praise, but with surrender to his passion. He has described and touched her with great detail, and explained in many ways what he plans to do with her. This is foreplay at it’s finest, and an absolute necessity for pleasurable sex for both participants. Son. 7:10-13 is very poetic (as if the rest isn’t), and does not mean that she plans to lay with him in all of those places, but rather is describing the extent of her surrender to him. Through this passion and surrender (and union), the understanding of love within marriage is strengthened. In verses 8:6-7 the Shulamite declaring an eternal, deep love for her beloved. Unquenchable, unyielding, deeply rooted love that has sealed their bond of marriage, and cemented their desire for each other.


Theognome

Monday, September 29, 2003

 
BIBLICAL SHPERES OF LAW: OF GOD AND GOVERNMENT- PART 1

We know that the whole earth is filled with His glory, but it is also filled with His governments. The Lord has established all governments of this world, and to them he has delegated authority according to His good measure. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing and posting a series of articles on this subject. For this post, we’ll be discussing the roots of government and the nature of authority.

In modern America, it is common to think of Washington DC when the word ‘government’ is mentioned. So vast is the American apparatus that it overwhelms the conscience. But leviathan as it is, the U.S. Federal Government is so insignificant as to be imperceptible when compared to the One who has established it. So, when beginning a discussion of this topic, it is first important to understand what is or is not a government, and the natural causes under God for governments.

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20

The above passages are one example of the relationship between government and authority. Biblically, any and all governments are established by God, and exist to exercise aspects of His authority on earth. Authority itself has two primary components or aspects. A government will wield one or both components in practice, but at least one must exist for it to be a government. The components are:

1. Punitive authority
2. Reconciliatory authority

Punitive authority is the power to punish, or to exact restitution. A government exercising punitive authority enforces law, seeks justice and demands payment for transgression. A government that wields the sword is wielding punitive authority.

Reconciliatory authority is the power to restore, or to forgive transgression. A government exercising reconciliatory authority intercedes between combatants, seeks restoration among its constitutes and promotes grace in the face of transgression. A government that exhorts is wielding reconciliatory authority.

Governments may be led by a single person or a group of persons, however all persons are subject to the Lord, as He alone has ultimate authority. Thus, in the Great Commission, Christ commands His people to not only spread the Gospel to all nations, but to disciple them as well; that they would know the Lord and seek His ways in their various governments.

Another principle of government is dominion. All governments exercise dominion over that which they govern, be they punitive, reconciliatory or both. The sphere of influence of a particular government is its dominion, biblically. Dominion begins with the Lord, of course, and from there governments exercise their dominion in accordance to what the Lord has given to them to rule. Here are some examples:

1. The Lord, being the supreme Governor, exercises dominion over all of creation. He gives rain to the just and the unjust; He gives His common grace to all men, and His saving grace to those He loves.
2. God has given all men dominion over the earth to subdue it. Each person is responsible to the Government of the Lord to subdue the earth with godly fear.
3. God has given His Church dominion over sin. The Church is responsible to the government of the Lord to disciple His body and to grow in godliness.
4. God has given the nations dominion over law. The nations are responsible to the government of the Lord to seek His justice and to trust in His precepts.

And so, we come to the next point- accountability and responsibility. All governments exercise authority within their domain, and are therefore responsible for said dominion. Conversely, all governments are accountable for this domain, ultimately to the Lord. The relationship between responsibility and accountability is the ebb and flow of all governments. Lets look at them a bit closer.

Accountability can only flow from the top down. For example, the Lord holds a king of the world accountable for his rule, whether it is just or unjust. This king then holds his advisor accountable for the collection of taxes. The advisor then holds a collector accountable for collecting the proper tax. Accountability always accompanies authority, and authority also can only flow from the top down, be it punitive or reconciliatory. Notice the root of the term accountability- to render an account. Authority can and indeed must be quantified for a government to function, and accountability is likewise quantified.

Responsibility flows mutually in any government. The king mentioned above is responsible to his advisor to use the taxes wisely, just as the advisor is responsible to collect them according to the direction of the king. Responsibility always accompanies dominion. The Lord is perfectly responsible; thus His statutes are perfect, His promises eternal and His grace, everlasting. Responsibility is not quantifiable, but is rather principle or ethical.

We’ll stop here for questions and comment. Part 2, the Civil Sphere, will be posted later.

Theognome



Saturday, September 27, 2003

 
IT'S INTERVIEW TIME

Okay boys and girls, here are my answers to Valerie’s interview questions.

1) How did you manage to meet and woo and win "the purdiest girl"?

Like most salesmen, I went through my Amway stage. I was living in Tucson, AZ in March of ’98 and was told by my upline that I needed to attend a seminar in Irvine, CA. I had a few folks in my group, and so I and my friend T.J. drove the nine or so hours from Tucson to Irvine to attend. I had broken up with a girlfriend a few months prior, and had decided that I was destined to be a single guy whether I liked or not.

We arrived at the Irvine Marriot Hotel Friday morning, and began to attend the festivities. The meetings lasted all weekend. On Saturday, during lunch break, I saw that they had forgotten to lock their piano in the lobby. Now I am quite addicted to pianos, so I sat down and began to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. I played the first movement, which most folks are familiar with, and then played the second movement.

Now the third movement was beyond my skill, and it still is. So I looked about before I began to play something else, and I saw this knockout gorgeous woman standing behind me, listening to me play. So I said, “Hi there.” We chatted about music for a bit, and she played some Chopin for me, and I then did likewise. We exchanged voice mail phone numbers, and parted ways, me for Tucson, and her for Pittsburgh, CA.

I called her voice mail the following Tuesday, and gave her my home phone. She had a bible study on Wednesday, so we spoke on the phone Thursday. We did this daily for another month, for hours at a time. Finally, in April, I flew up to Pittsburgh CA (it’s in the Bay area near Oakland) for a long weekend. After three days, I knew for a fact that I could not go on without this woman, and so as we were on the way to the airport to put me back on the plane home, I asked her to marry me. She said yes, and we were married in her church six months later.


2) What is your earliest memory?

When I was three years old, our family moved from Pico Rivera to Anaheim, CA. My dad was driving the U-Haul truck, and his friends Bernie and Cecil were riding in the truck. I was sitting on Cecil’s lap. It was fairly late in the evening, around nine PM. We approached a major intersection (which I later came to know as Orangethorpe and Imperial) and there was a Union 76 gas station on the corner. At one of the gas pumps was a car that I will never forget. It was a 1914 Stutz Bearcat, in absolutely mint condition.

3) When and how did you become Reformed?

I was taught from my youth that Christians were stupid, hypocritical, gullible and ignorant. When I was living in Tucson (a few years before I met Toni) I finally got tired of these idiotic Christians all trying to ‘witness’ to me. None of them said the same things about God, and it seemed to me that the whole lot of them were just lemmings. So, I decided I’d beat them at their own game. I’d steal me a Bible (I sure wouldn’t pay good money for one), read it, and then when they came at me with their nonsense babble I could slaughter them with the very the book they claimed to believe but probably never read.

I went to a local hotel first and grabbed a Gideon bible, but the fool thing was written in the king’s English, and I didn’t want to muddle through all of the Elizabethan garble. So, I went to a bookstore and found a translation that was in modern English called a NIV. I wrote a check for it on a bank account that didn’t exist and then took it home and read it, every word, cover to cover, twice.

After that, I had to wonder. What I had been told about God and what was in this book here didn’t agree. Just what were all of these churches out there doing? Didn’t they use the thing? So, I went on a mission. I decided to see if there were any churches in my city that actually taught the stuff that was in there. Mind you, I read the Bible as if it were any other book- that what it contained was exactly what it meant to portray, nothing more or less. At this point, I was not a believer. Worse, I was a heathen that knew what was in the Bible. I was the worst nightmare to the Churches of Tucson, AZ.

And it showed. When I went into a goofy church, I would tell them just how goofy they were according to this here Bible that they, as Christian idiots, were supposed to follow. And I would tell them these things very loudly right in the middle of their services. I was forcibly ejected from five churches for such outbursts, and barred from even entering two of them that I had not gone to before. I guess that the word had gotten around.

Finally, I went to a big Southern Baptist church, and which, unknown to me, was in theological flux i.e. going reformed. I sat down in the front row one Sunday (I always went to the front) and, Bible in hand, waited for the fool preacher to say something stupid. He didn’t. Through the entire service, I couldn’t find one thing said that was not in agreement to the Bible. So, after the service, I went up to the preacher and said, “Listen a**hole, I couldn’t find anything you said that wasn’t in here (holding up my stolen Bible), but I’m after you now. I’m gonna be here every Sunday until you screw up, and then I’ll know that your version of Christianity is just as lame as everyone else’s.” He replied, “Well, we have a Bible study on Wednesdays, why don’t you come to those, too?”

So I did. For two months, I never missed a service or a study. I argued, cursed, accused… oh, I was hell on Scripture. I just knew that there was no way a church could actually be faithful to the Bible. After all, no one else was, they were all just a bunch of idiots. Finally, one of the pastors (there were two) gave a sermon concerning Paul on the road to Damascus. It hit me like a ton of bricks. That was I; full of the knowledge of the Lord, and yet fighting tooth and nail against Him. I was undone that day… and made anew.

To put it simply, I’ve been reformed from day one. I couldn’t read the whole of the Bible cover to cover and get any other doctrine out of it. The Word is Semper Reformanda.

4) If you could have lunch tomorrow with one person named in scripture, whom would you choose, why, and where would you take him to eat?

Peter. He’s as loud mouthed, brazen and likely to say the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time as I am. I’d like to take him out to a good sushi bar, so we can enjoy the rise, kill and eat routine.

5) If you suddenly won an enormous scholarship that would provide for all your family's needs while you studied for four years, what school would you choose and what would you study and why and why?

I’d give the scholarship to someone who would use it. Winston Churchill once said, “I love to learn, I just hate to be taught.” That’s me. Heck, I couldn’t even stay in High School, much less some college.

And so, there are my interview questions. And of course, below are the rules that I’m supposed to put with them. So there.

Theognome

::If you would like to participate too, here are your instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying "interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as you see here).
3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.::



Thursday, September 25, 2003

 
HOW TO DISCIPLINE YOUR _____________
Well, this post should make some folks cringe. So, what are we going to discipline? Your self? Naw, there's already plenty written on that subject. Your kids? Naw, again more ink has been spilled on that topic than I can shake a tome at. So, ladies and gentlemen (especially the gentlemen) here’s what we’ll be discussing in this post:

HOW TO DISCIPLINE YOUR WIFE

This topic will be addressed in three sections. First is the why of discipline, then the foundation of discipline and finally the application of discipline. Now it is usually proper to give ones credentials before writing such a work, so here are mine: I’m married to Toni A.K.A. Knoxienne A.K.A. Purdiestness. So, without further adieux, let’s get to it.

The Why of Disciplining Your Wife

Men and women are different. Well, duh. Say something profound, why don’t I? But we often just gliss over what those most crucial differences are. Yes, men and women are different physically, and also men and women think differently. But what we often fail to recognize is than men and women sin differently. Men have sin struggles that are typical of men and almost alien to women. Likewise, women struggle with sins that men may not even recognize as being sin issues. Here’s a bare-bones sketch of the dynamics:

1. Women by their peculiar sin nature resist earthly authority and trust.
2. Women will seek earthly security at the expense of emotional and/or spiritual security.

Let’s look at the first one a bit. This is a classic Genesis 3 classification. Women seek to usurp their husbands’ authority by the nature of the Fall. Now of course men, due to the same Fall, seek to allow this to happen. The root of this is trust, or rather a lack of it. Indeed, this very nature in women is the single least common denominator in the equal rights movement i.e. Feminism. Were women born naturally with the inclination to trust, Feminism would not exist. Understand that I’m not speaking about trusting in the Lord, for this is something that only the Holy Spirit can do, man or woman. Rather, that any woman, regenerate or otherwise, will struggle with trusting any earthly authority, be it ecclesiastical, familial or otherwise.

The second dynamic, the desire for earthly security, is in opposition to the first. To be truly secure emotionally and spiritually requires trust, but since this trust is difficult for a woman to muster, many will choose to seek earthly, particular security to replace the true security that all women crave. For many women, trusting in themselves alone, or even placing trust in institutions (state, corporations, etc.) is the means by which they achieve their sense of security. It is extraordinarily rare to find a Christian woman who can honestly state that she has never struggled with this security desire.

A husband is going to have to deal with these two dynamics whether he realizes it or not. A wife must be disciplined by her husband if she is going to be able to exercise her Christian calling to trust and achieve true security. A woman who cannot rub two copperheads together but is trusting and emotionally/spiritually secure will be far happier than the richest woman on earth. This kind of trust and security is only achievable if her husband has the wisdom and strength to discipline her.

The Foundation of Disciplining a Wife

Before a husband can effectively discipline his wife, he needs to build the proper foundation for said discipline. To attempt discipline without the fundamental foundational principles in place will inevitably backfire, and cause resentment and contempt. Let’s go over them individually.

1. Your wife must know, feel and be assured constantly that she is cherished. This is a prime need for any woman, just as it is a need of the Church to feel cherished by Christ. As a picture of Christ in the home, husbands must always remember that they are not simply dealing with the woman that they married, but the most beautiful, incredible perfect gift that the Lord has ever given to him second only to eternal life itself. Love notes, gifts, intimacy, conversation, sharing, compliments… Shower this woman with your love every day to show her just how much she is cherished. Remember that your wife is only as beautiful as you make her, so lift her up as if she is without flaw or blemish.

2. You must be the prime Bible teacher in the home. Husbands, lead devotions in the home every day. Remember that it’s not you who takes a half-hour or so out of your day to do this, but rather that the Lord gives you the remaining 23 hours or so to attend to your personal business. It’s His time, so don’t rob Him. And if your wife is more biblically knowledgeable than you are and so more qualified to lead devotions, lead them anyway, and bone up on your Bible while you’re at it (I certainly had to). When the wife leads instead of the husband, the husband robs her of spiritual security. I cannot say it any stronger than this- husbands, if you don’t lead devotions in your home, don’t claim to be covenantal leaders of the home. You’re in abdication, and will be living under judgment for it; and it is your wife and family that will suffer the most. If you truly love your wife, lead her spiritually.

3. Praise her in the gates. Understand that when Proverbs 31 speaks of this, it means that husbands need to praise their wives no matter where they are. Praise her at work, play, home or wherever your path takes you. Tell your friends, co-workers and even total strangers how wonderful the woman you married is. Praise her in the church, praise her to your children and praise her to your boss. Will people think you’re strange for doing this? No, not really. I know this from experience- not only will your wife be edified, but so will Christ and even yourself. Never miss an opportunity to praise her, and be willing to create some opportunities as well.

Applying Discipline to Your Wife

You must always remember those two sin dynamics common to all women, for the vast majority of your discipline will stem from her struggles concerning them. Of course, each wife has peculiar struggles for you to deal with as well, and you’ll need to be aware of them when they rear their heads.

First, do not attempt to discipline your wife without first going to the Lord in prayer concerning the matter yourself. No man alone is wise enough, and we must seek the Lord when faced with discipline issues.

There are two primary methods to discipline in the home towards wives, and one necessary means of grace. Here are the methods:

1. Exhortation. When your wife is sinning, exhort her with the Word. Use your Bibles, gents! This needs to be done with gentleness, and often you will need to repeat yourself several times (using similar words) before it sinks in. Remember always, when disciplining that the person before you is the most cherished, adored person in your universe. Treat her as such. If you have Children, it may, depending on how her sin touched the children require that they be present. However, keep control of the situation. DO NOT LET THE CHILDREN EXHORT YOUR WIFE DIRECTLY! There are times when children may do so, but once you’re involved, it’s your show, Mr. Husband. If the children have something to say (and you feel that it needs to be heard) have them address you, and not her. You are your wife’s leader and authority in the home, not the children. Do not risk upsetting that balance.

2. Rebuke. This is the harshest discipline (outside of bringing the church elders into the picture) a husband should administer, and should ALWAYS be done privately and with godly, biblical love. Usually, exhortation would have already taken place before rebuke is done, but there may come situations where rebuke is the first step. Rebuke should be reserved for serious situations or where exhortation was not successful. Rebuke requires a very generous application of Scripture. Know your Bibles, husbands! Never use ad-hominem attacks and NEVER bring up past sins that have already been forgiven. Deal with the issue at hand, and nothing more.

Once discipline is administered and repentance is given, we can hopefully move onto the next phase, which is forgiveness and prayer. Once she has been convicted, be willing to forgive immediately. Don’t waste a moment, and show this forgiveness through praising her and showing her right then the extent that you cherish her. Remember that being cherished is the greatest enabling thing you can show her that gives her emotional and spiritual security, as well as builds her trust in your leadership. This is a crucial step; don’t neglect it!

And finally, consummate the forgiveness and repentance with mutual prayer. Pray together and for each other. Remember that you are a sinner too, and are not above reproach. Demonstrate this to her, and to the Lord.

Now if the above discipline does not bring repentance, then it is time to involve your church in the manner that Matthew Chapter 18 requires. Don’t be afraid to do this, gentlemen. Don’t be to embarrassed to let the elders or pastor know of your family problems. The Lord will edify you, your wife and your family in the long run. The Lord requires us to turn to the Church, and you can expect to be blessed through faithfulness.

And there you have it. I’m sure the comments on this post will be interesting.

Theognome

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

 
BAD THEOGNOME! BAD THEOGNOME!

Okay, I'll admit it. I've been accused of being a reformed, Presbyterian version of Weird Al Yankovic. I've written a half-dozen or so parodies of some praise songs and hymns. So, here's one of them.

(Sung to the tune of The Battle Belongs to the Lord)

It coughs and it wheezes when I turn the key,
it rattles along it's a Ford.
It belches so much smoke that I cannot see,
it rattles along it's a Ford.

(Chorus)

And I scream Lemon! Piece of junk!
I hate this car it's a Ford!
And I scream Lemon! Piece of junk!
I hate this car it's a Ford!

The wipers don't work and the A/C is bust,
it rattles along it's a Ford.
The paint-job is primer with patches of rust,
it rattles along it's a Ford

(Chorus)

The windshield is cracked so it leaks when it rains,
it rattles along it's a Ford.
It drips so much my driveway's covered with stains,
it rattles along it's a Ford.

(Chorus)


Theognome

 
HERE'S ANOTHER ONE

(Sung to the tune of Great is Thy Faithfulness)

Floors are real sticky and children run rampant,
food stamps are used more than hard currency,
most of the canned goods are covered in large dents,
and all the milk has expired last week.

(Chorus)

Shopping at Food-For-Less, shopping at Food-For-Less,
strolling down each row new bargains I see,
scrape off the mold and that bread will still be good,
shopping at Food-For-less... more grub for me.



Eggs are all cracked and the meat smells real rancid,
veggies aren't fit for a third-world country,
none of the checkers can speak any English,
and the shopping carts have two wheels or three.

(Chorus)

Medicine's old and the seals are all broken,
mushrooms are growing where they keep the cheese,
Health Deparment is afraid to go in there,
so shopping at Food-For-Less means quality!

(Chorus)


Theognome

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

 
AN INTRO TO WORSHIP MUSIC

In our church, most of our worship music comes from the Trinity Hymnal, with occasional smatterings of Psalms and modern praise music. Personally, I’m not a promoter of exclusive psalmnity, although I have nothing against it. I do promote worship music that has something to do with the worship of God. There’s plenty of ‘Christian music’ out there that might be just dandy for listening to while washing the dishes, but really doesn’t belong in a worship service.

The reason should be obvious. Worship is to God, and should be Christ-centered, not man-centered.

It is my opinion that in most reformed churches, there is some thought that goes into what songs will be sung on Sunday. Now I realize that most pastors are not educated in music theory and such (George Miladin being a shining exception) and therefore may not be well equipped to discern whether the ‘tune matches the words’, but most will check the words of the song to discern theological intent. Thus, the songs sung on Sunday follow a particular theme or themes that the pastor intends to preach upon.

Now not all persons within a congregation are churched from birth. Many are not familiar with the hymns and such. I myself fall into that category. So, when the pastor says, “Open your hymnal to #493 and let’s sing the first 4 verses,” I’m often concentrating on just singing the tune right, and not so much on the words that I’m singing. In my case, this is especially important, because I sing the tenor line, and I’m also one of the loudest (obnoxious?) singers in the congregation. So, when I mess up, everyone knows it.

So, here’s an idea: What about an intro. to the hymn? For example-

“Now let’s open our hymnal to #493, ‘We have Not Known Thee As We Ought’. This hymn speaks of our struggle with sin, and how we as Christians still do not turn to the Lord and trust in Him fully. Thankfully, the hymn is also a prayer, asking the Lord that He would give us the strength and zeal to seek Him in fullness, and of the joy that is ours for faithfulness.“

You see, even though I’ll still be trying not to mess up, now I’ll be more keenly aware of just what it is that I’m singing. I would think that this practice would help a congregation to focus in on what the hymns, Psalms and spiritual songs are meant to do- be a means of grace in our worship of the Lord.

Theognome


 
MANLY MEN

I've seen a lot of things written concerning Proverbs 31 and what it is for a woman to be truly, biblically feminine. So, Here's my take on what it is for a man to be truly, biblically masculine.


Masculinity in Submission
In the same way that wives are commanded to submit to their husbands, so husbands are commanded to be in submission to Christ. As the spiritual head of the household, men are required to defer to the scripture and to the discipline of the church on spiritual issues. You have probably seen my article on head coverings by now. This is an example of this kind of submission. My wife, who was doing her own study, came to the conclusion that perhaps she should wear a covering of some kind. She came to me asking if this was the case, and if she should wear one, or if she was not interpreting the scripture correctly. Therefore, I studied the scripture intensely, and after study and deliberation with other godly men, came to the conclusion that the article suggests. I can’t just arbitrarily make household spiritual decisions and be in submission to Christ’s Lordship. I’m compelled by His Spirit to search the scriptures, and to lead worship in the home. It is the man who sets the spiritual tone of the home. For me to be in submission, I must adhere to the models for spiritual living and households that Christ by His apostles described in the epistles. My wife also submits to Jesus’ spiritual Lordship, not only in her personal Christian walk but also by her submission to my spiritual lordship. My submission to Christ requires me to lead in His name. Bible studies, devotionals, tons of forum and blog posts and other Christian activities are subject to my judgement in the home, and in submission subject to Christ. Television, radio, movies, and other worldly forms of entertainment in the home are also to be discerned, by men, for their correctness when compared to the Word. By so doing, men exercise their authority in submission.

Masculinity in Love
In marriage, there are three types of love. We have charitable love, affectionate love, and physical love. Many men only acknowledge love in the physical sense, and although it is important, it is probably least on the list. A true man will love his wife in the same way that Christ loves His church- in charity. This love is selfless. Sacrifice is key to charitable love. Service is key to it as well. A true Christian man will love Christ in the affectionate sense, for this is to love in leadership, love in submission. True, men are affectionate to their wives (or should be) but this contemporary context of affection actually falls under charitable love. Women, on the other hand, are naturally good at affectionate love. Men though, aren’t particularly inclined to love in either the charitable or affectionate sense, and need to work on them over time. The scripture doesn’t say much to women about loving their husbands, because there really isn’t a challenge there. Husbands, however, are exhorted repeatedly to love. So the masculine man ‘washes the feet’ of his wife. He protects her, and does his work with her interests and needs in his heart, just as Christ did for His church. When I make coffee, build a cabinet or wash dishes for my wife, I am in effect displaying charitable love. When my wife is distraught, and needs to just talk, and I sit and listen, I display charitable love. When she is feeling down, and needs to be held and caressed, and I do so, this is charitable love. This is the way that men were made to love. Men do not love their wives in the biblical affectionate sense, because to do so would be to submit to their wives. Men submit to Christ.

Masculinity in Leadership
Submission and love tie into leadership. Masculine leadership is more than spiritual leadership, but also worldly leadership. Where do we live? What kind of car(s) do we buy? Do we let the kids hang out with the neighbor boy? How do we balance our budget? These are important questions that require input from both male and female perspectives. But the decision on any of these issues, or any other in the same venue, rests with the man. If the man is loving, he won’t make rulings on such things without conferring with his wife and the scripture. The masculine man also leads in his workplace, and strives to achieve more. He considers his options, needs, wants, and responsibilities, and makes decisions based on them. Masculinity demands that a man lead not only his wife but also himself. For a man to lead, he must first follow. Hence Christ must be followed in leadership. A man that demands submission to his leadership from his family but does not lead himself in a godly fashion (in submission to Christ) is a fool and a hypocrite. Discipline also falls under leadership. A godly man will not only submit to church discipline, but also will discipline himself, and discipline his household. In submitting to church discipline, he accepts responsibility for the spiritual condition of himself and all that is in and of his home, and repents as needed. He also keeps himself focused on the Lord, and is watchful for his own misgivings and sinfulness. He also disciplines not only his children, but his wife as well. Obviously we’re not going to discipline our wives with spankings (although there are those who would put that under physical love, but that’s another subject ; ) but there are times when we should admonish our spouse in love.

Masculinity in Providence
Men provide. That’s what we’re made for. A man that is not providing for his household is a man that has surrendered or abdicated his position. There may be times when a man can’t provide in the classical sense for a period of time, but when a man simply does not provide and has no intention of solely maintaining the needs of his household, he has demonstrated lack of leadership, submission to Christ, and charitable love. In my home, my Wife does not work outside of the home. She may, if she so wishes, teach piano or do some other business within the home, but any earnings she makes may not go toward mortgage, foodstuffs, bills, and the like. Half must go towards savings, and the other half must go to whatever she wants, as long as it is not to the aforementioned items. If she gets a job outside of the home, then for eight hours a day she must submit to another man’s authority, which the scripture denounces. If I owned a business, and she left with me to work within it, I feel that this also is not good, since she was not created to provide, but to help. Her talents were designed for homemaking, not house making. Likewise, my talents were designed for providing, not nurturing. We commonly hear the argument that in today’s world it takes two incomes to make ends meet, but frankly I feel that this demonstrates a lack of faith and discipline. God promises to care for our needs in His word, and he tells us that He provides through the man. Also, if one income seems not enough, them the problem may be overspending and covetousness rather than lack of provender. If we can’t live on a thousand dollars a month, we won’t be able to do it with ten thousand either. Men must be responsible with their earnings, and teach that responsibility to their family.

Masculinity in Worship
Responsibility for godly worship in the church falls to men. Teaching, leading, exhorting, all are lead scripturally in a patriarchal fashion. It is required in the epistles, with the created order being the primary reason, although leadership in Israel was no different. When this is breached in the church, the men and the Lord are dishonored. When the roles are reversed, then submissive love is leading sacrificial love. That’s backwards. Men are required to lead, and are held responsible for their leadership, whether it’s praiseworthy or damnable. No man who is truly godly would submit to a woman’s ecclesiastical leadership in worship, nor would a woman who is truly godly accept such a position, since both are specifically forbidden in scripture. Christianity is patriarchal because the Lord created a patriarchal world. Godly masculinity requires men to accept this responsibility in the church, and thus the repercussions associated with such responsibility. Even if men abdicate their masculinity in worship, they are still judged by it, for it is mandated in the scripture. There are those positions and needs for women’s teaching in the church, but leading the church and teaching the men is not among them. Likewise, men should not be teaching the young women how to be godly wives and Christians, but rather the older, godly women of the church.

Masculinity in Parenting
Masculine men lead by example. They teach their sons how to be godly men, and how to submit to Christ, love in charity, lead in humility, provide with faith, and worship in truth. They demonstrate by their love of their wives the man their daughters should seek. A woman who is married to a godly, masculine man is a woman who can be strong and joyful in her femininity. Likewise, daughters can rejoice in theirs as well by experiencing this godly household. The wife of a masculine Christian is free to teach her femininity to her daughters, and the husband is free to teach his sons to respect her nature, by respecting his wife.

Masculinity in Humility
The godly, masculine man is humble. With all of this responsibility placed upon him, he must be humble to be respected. The first point of humility is found in his submission to the Lordship of Christ. A man of pride is not humble before the Lord. Secondly is his love of the Lord and of his wife and family. A humble man demonstrates his masculinity when he sacrifices of himself to those that he loves. Next is his humble leadership. He must remember first who he leads, not where he is leading. The masculine man places others above himself. Fourthly he is humble with what the Lord has, through His goodness and grace has provided to him. He is thankful daily in prayer and deed for these gifts. His humility is seen in his worship. The masculine man understands his awesome responsibility within the body of Christ, and goes about it with a servant’s heart. He is humble towards his children, always pointing them to Christ rather than to himself.

Theognome

Saturday, September 20, 2003

 
AHNOLD SHWARTZAGOPHA

I live in a small town (well, small by Southron California standards) of about 5,000 persons. And so, it was quite suprizing to discover that the county had decided to resurface the street I live on. My home sits on about 1/3 acre, riddled with weeds and gopher holes/mounds. So, I'm not usually suprized to see a new little hill when I pull up into my dirt driveway.

Well, it would seem that the county folks decided that they would resurface my street with gravel. You know, that really small and sharp stuff that becomes like concrete when wet. And, it would also seem that they brought a whole lot more of the stuff than they needed to complete the job.

Now, I was at work when they were doing this. And they asked my neighbor across the street, "Hey! We got some gravel left over. Ya want it?"

To which he replied, "You know, my neighbor across the street would probably like to have it. Why don't you give it to him."

And so, they did. About seven yards or so of the stuff was dumped on the exact spot that I expected to put my car after the long days work.

When I pulled in and saw this five-foot tall, twelve foot diameter mountain of gravel where my Benz is supposed to go I thought, "wow. That's a gopher I don't ever wanna tangle with!"

Frankly, I don't want the stuff at all, especially in my driveway. Now don't get the wrong idea. That the county would be willing to give the stuff to the local homeowners who want it warms my heart to some extent. that's quite a good gesture on their part. it's just that this particular homeowner didn't want it.

Well, I've since found a few other neighbors who would like it, and so the wheelbarrow brigade begins. it should take 50 or so barrow loads to get this mound off of my driveway. Joy.

Theognome

Monday, September 15, 2003

 
Here’s the reason why I’m not a political blogger- I’m terrible at it.

None the less, this recall thingy going on in California is truly beyond pathetic. When will they do it now? Will they do it? Are chads really a threat to Democracy?

No, Chads are not a threat to Democracy. They’re a threat to the Constitutional Republic. This is mob-ocracy at it’s worst.

Now why is it that someone who votes no on the recall can then choose a successor to Davis? By voting no, didn’t they just vote FOR him? What gives?

There is a word for this kind of thing: Stupid.

Theognome

Saturday, September 13, 2003

 
PRIDEFUL PACHYDERMS

No, I’m not talking about elephants. That being the case, the above two words should strike us as an oxymoron.

Isn’t it interesting that it is nigh on impossible to be humble and sensitive at the same time? Now when I say sensitive, I’m not referring to sentimentality. Rather, I’m referring to the opposite of being thick-skinned. How easy is it to ‘get under the skin’? Is everyone talking about you? Is it an easy thing to assume the worst when a comment is made, even if it is not directed towards you? Are criticism and correction things that cause anger or depression?

Such things demonstrate a self-centered attitude that defies all humility. Don’t be fooled- self abasement is no replacement for humility. You simply can’t be thin-skinned and humble at the same time.

I’m quite guilty of thin-skinnedness myself. When I get criticized, look out! I may act nice towards the person who gave the criticism, but make no mistake; I’ll be in a foul mood for the rest of the day, looking for some poor sucker to dump on. Only then will I feel that I’ve validated myself in some fashion and can be tolerated in polite society.

If you think this reeks of foolish, prideful sinning against God and others, you’d be correct. I know that when I think of selflessness, I think of being charitable towards others and ‘thinking of their needs’ before mine. But is this really the origin of selflessness? I can be egotistically charitable. I can be pridefully considering others. Until I can operate with a thick skin: until I can, by the grace of God, put my own ego and desire to be validated and/or vindicated aside and strive to view my daily routine through the mind of Christ I won’t be a pachyderm at all. I would be instead a steaming kettle, just waiting to burst. Or I could be a dagger, looking for a chink in someone else’s armor to plunge into. Either way, I’m just a prideful pissant.

What I need to be is a humble Pachyderm.

Theognome

Friday, September 12, 2003

 
I have nothing to say.

Really. I mean it. Everything that's worth saying at the moment has already been said. If I add to that, it's just overkill.

In fact, I don't have a single original thought at the moment. Of course, there are those who would contend that that is the norm, but we'll forgive them. But I will state presently that I have nothing to say presently. That is, at this present time, presently (if you look up redundant in the dictionary it says, "see redundant").

So, to conclude, let me just say that I have nothing to say. Now just because I said that I have nothing to say does not mean that I have something to say, for that something is actually nothing. So, I have nothing to say.

Theognome

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

 
FREEDOM IN CHRIST... ON THE JOB

There was a time when I had what most salesmen would consider the 'dream job'.

I worked for Mr. Huge Company. I was paid a salary whether I worked or not. I had the company car, no clock to punch, a corporate American Excess card that I didn't have to pay the bill for... All the perks of a corporate sales job.

I truly believe that the greatest work of literary fiction is a weekly expense report. Oh, us salesmen could lie our way into getting paid for all kinds of stuff. And call reports? Another work of pure imagination. Here's an example of what we would write:

"Met with CEO of XXX corp. concerning the BIG project. Worked out a timeline to push forward. Expect to close deal soon."

here's what really happened-

"Ran into CEO in local bar. Talked about football. Suggested that I might see him sometime. CEO passed out in pretzel bowl."

I was utterly unhappy in this job. For one thing, I did have to be on the road all the time. Secondly, I was going to get paid whether I worked or not, and the incentive to really work was simply not there. And I was not alone. Most of my peers were in the same boat, and all they did was complain about how bad the market was, how bad company policy was, how bad the economy was, how bad their health/family was, etc. It was just a bunch of slaves complaining about their slavery.

Let me say that again in case you missed it. It was a bunch of slaves complaining about their slavery.

I'll say one thing in favor of slavery... It's comfortable. No worries. Someone else will take care of you, whether you are a hard worker or just lounge around in the shadows of mediocrity. I was resentful, angry and lazy, but none the less grateful that I could receive food, clothing and shelter in exchange for my beauty and freedom. I could gripe, but do no more; for to do more would destroy my security.

But I came to a point where I realized just how wretched I was. I looked upon my own faith, and was ashamed.

Who was I to proclaim this great freedom in Christ, when I sought to be a slave to another? I had no freedom. Oh, I had the corporate trappings of it, but it was no freedom. I was bought for a price- a salary every week. And the price that Christ paid for me was only part of my life one day of the week.

So I up and quit the dream job. My peers thought I was nuts.

I tried a business of my own, but I really didn't know what I was doing, and failed. I ended up applying for a sales job with my current company, and boy was I surprised. You see, Transworld is a Christian company, and it does not 'employ' its salesforce. I still punch no clock. But I also write no call reports, expense reports, or anything else.

I also don't get a salary.

You see, I now have true freedom. I only get paid for what I produce. I either do the work it takes to sell, or I starve. Period. Straight commission. This is freedom... and it is truly terrifying.

Imagine... you not only get to prove what you're worth, but you HAVE to prove what you're worth; no paycheck just for showing up. Do the job, or get paid zero.

If you think that this may be easy, don't kid yourself. Out of every 100 salesmen that the company brings on, only two to three last more than six months. The reason is simple: It takes faith and integrity to be free, and most people just don't have enough of either. Faith in Christ that the Lord will provide through the work that you do, even if you don't see the immediate results. Integrity to press on, and keep doing the job even if you don't feel like doing it... even if you are afraid to do it. There is nothing scarier than being free. No one is going to do it for you, you won't get a paycheck for just trying... you must succeed or die. That takes faith and integrity; a faith and integrity that Christ alone can generate within you.

This, my friends, is true freedom. It is not for the weak and vacillating, but reserved for those who strive to be true to their faith seven days a week. Work when you want, get paid what you want, for you are driven by a power that is beyond your comprehension... the power of the Lord whom in prayer we can seek every moment. The free pray constantly. Indeed, the praying without ceasing is really moot for the working slave. It is the true freedman who relies upon constant prayer to drive him onward in the name of the precious Savior. This is the calling of the faithful. Be that slave to His righteousness and claim your freedom!

Theognome


 
FALLING OUT, FALLING IN

It seems that the Little Geneva forum has had a face lift. Or, perhaps a heart lift. Check it out.

I left the forum, as well as my wife (the Purdiest of all of the girls) some time ago. although neither of us really wanted to. Frankly, some of what the folks over there had to say concerning race and racial issues was agreeable. It was the manner that it was presented that caused us to stumble. A lot of things were said and written that really should have been left unsaid and not written, on both sides of the fence.

But I do hope that with the change/renewing of the Little Geneva forum that there will be a change in presentation. I do think that Harry and his gang have some things to say that not only are worth hearing, but need to be said clearly and boldly. Americans do tend to get confortably complacent, and a healthy dose of 'hey! look at what you're thinking and doing!' is something that we need plenty of.

I do pray for Harry and his Little Geneva ministry. I pray that they will continue to boldly contend for the faith of our fathers. I also pray that they will grow in humility and grace as well, to not stand between the truth and the reader; growing towards gentleness in Christ. When discussing issues of race, which is a volatile subject in this world, such gentleness is essential to be heard rather than ridiculed.

...And they do need to be heard.

Theognome

Monday, September 08, 2003

 
Okay, I did a quiz thing. Sorry.

What Classical composer am I?

Ludwig Van Beethoven
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770 -
1827)

Growing up, Beethoven endured
mental/physical abuse by his demanding and
alcoholic father who pushed him to become a
musician in order to augment the family income.
In 1795, Beethoven became publicly known as a
rising and brilliant composer. But in 1801, his
confidence began to disappear as his hearing
slowly deteriorated, and in 1818 became
completely deaf. He sank into depression and
paranoia, and was viewed as an eccentric by
others. Though musical tastes had changed in
the 19th century (people then preferred light
rossini operas), Beethoven's genius as a
composer was still known and respected.
Beethoven died in early 1827 during a
thunderstorm. Sources say that Beethoven rose
up and lifted his right fist as thunder lighted
his room, and soon after, sank into eternal
sleep. His funeral was attended by around
30,000 people.


Which Classical Music Composer Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

 
Here's an old favorite... The King james Bible Baseball Game!

The people gathered (Numbers 11.32) to see the battle (1 Sam. 14.28) and sat down to eat and drink (Ex. 32.6) old corn...and (Joshua 15.12) sweet water. (James 3.11)

Eli sat upon a seat by a post (1 Sam.1.9) and he stretched himself (1 Kgs. 17.21) that he may see good. (Ps. 34.12)

So the people shouted: (Joshua 6.20) "Where are the nine? (Luke 17.17) Let the young men now arise and play before us." (2 Sam. 2.14)

The first came out (Gen. 25.25) and went into the field (Num. 22.23) and stood every man in his place. (Jdg. 7.21)

And Peter called, (Mk. 14.72) whether it be good or bad. (Lev. 27.12)

As one mocketh, another do (Job 13.9) with loud voices: (Lk. 23:23) "Thou art blind!" (Rev. 3.17)

And he stooped to (1 Sam. 28.4) make clean...the platter. (Lk. 11.39)

And the trumpeters sounded: (2 Chron. 29.28) "Kohath shall pitch." (Num. 3.29)

And Samson went and caught. (Jdg 15:4)

David was up (2 Sam. 24.11) on the left side (Eze. 1.10) and he struck it into the pan (1 Sam. 2.14) foul. (Matt. 16.3)

The second was offered; (Jdg. 6.28) he striketh-- (Job 34.26) he missed! (1 Sam. 20.18)

On the third (Gen. 22.4) he struck him out! (2 Sam. 20.10)

So Levite went in; (Jdg. 17.10) he stood and measured the earth; he beheld, and drove (Hab. 3.6) for a homer. (Hos. 3.2)

And all the people shouted with a great shout. (Ezra 3.11)

And Noah went in, (Gen. 7.7) and did fly (2 Sam. 22.11) into the field. (Num. 22.23)

And Jotham ran away (Jdg.9.21) and looking back (Lk. 9.62) gathered it. (Isa. 62.9)

And Aaron went in, (Ex. 5.1) and he worketh it (Isa. 44.12) two and two. (Gen. 7.9)

And Samson said: (Jdg. 15.3) "Strike it!" (Ex. 12.7)

And Aaron spake: (Ex. 4.30) "A good man would (Rom. 5.7) be not one of them that strike." (Prov. 22.26)

And the man refused to smite. (1 Kgs 20.35)

And Aaron took, (Numbers 16.47) and he walked. (1 Kgs. 15.3)

Amon sacrificed (2 Chron. 33.22) and Aaron ran (Num. 16.47) into the second, (Heb. 9.7) and overran! (2 Sam. 18.23)

And with the bag (Micah 6.11) afar off-- (Gen. 22.4) a good man out. (Matt. 12.35)

Now Jeremiah came in; (Jer. 37.4) then he went out, (Gen. 31.33) being caused to fly, (Daniel 9.21)

And the men of Israel retired. (Jdg. 20.39)

Then the Philistines went up (Jdg. 15.9) And Joseph was...captain (Gen. 39.1) of the Philistines. (Jdg. 3.31)

And Absalom pitched. (2 Sam. 17.26)

Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks. (Gen. 42.25) Shimei came forth (2 Sam. 16.5) and stood and walked. (Acts 3.8)

The pitcher (Ecclesiastes 12.6) looked this way and that; (Ex. 2.12) He stretched out (Hos. 7.5) and threw. (Acts 22.23)

And Archers hit. (1 Sam. 31.3)

And it came to pass on second (Lk. 6.1) Job caught (Job 38.5) the line (1 Kgs. 2.28) and threw (2 Sam. 16.13) at the first; (Gen. 13.4)

Therefore David ran and stood upon (1 Sam. 17.51) the first, (Gen. 13.4) put forth his hand, and caught (Ex. 4.4) the toss. (Jer. 5.22) This is the second death. (Rev. 20.14)

Then Joseph could not refrain himself, and he cried: (Gen. 45.1) "Goodness, if thou continue in (Rom. 11.22) going down, (Gen. 15.12) our hope is lost (Eze. 37.11) and my garments (Isa. 63.3) and job." (Job 32.3)

And Abram went up (Gen. 13.1) and Abram drove (Gen. 15.11) into the air. (Acts 22.23) And Judah came in (Gen. 38.8) under it, (Dan. 4.14) and through idleness of the hands (Eccl. 10.18) the fly (Isa. 7.18) droppeth through (Eccl. 10.18) giving him a double. (Lev. 21.17)

Abraham took wood and (Gen. 22.6) caught hold of (2 Sam. 18.9) an hard (Matt. 25.24) and high (Rev. 21.12) delivery (Isa. 26.17) and smote it (Jdg. 7.13) into left. (Lev. 14.15)

Thus and thus (Jdg. 18.4) Israel fought against (Josh. 10.29) the Philistines (1 Sam. 19.8) till the ninth. (Lev. 25.22) For each, one (Num. 7.3) in the first, (Jer. 25.1) and seven times (Lev. 25.8) after that they (Eccl. 9.3) gathereth eggs. (Isa. 10.14)

In the ninth, (1 Kgs. 25.1) Israel went out (1 Kgs. 20.21) in a row, (1 Kgs. 7.3) and none came in. (1 Sam. 18.13)

He sent divers sorts of flies among them (Ps. 78.45) And they caught them every one. (2 Sam. 2.6)

The first man (1 Cor. 15.45) for the Philistines (1 Sam. 28.15) drew the third, (Rev. 12.4) and the fourth (Dt. 28.20) came to the outside; (Jdg. 7.19) he walketh. (Job 22.14)

The pitcher (Eccl. 12.6) climbed up upon (1 Sam. 14.13) the mount (Dt. 1.7) and pitched. (Ex. 19.2) And Moses put it on a pole (Num. 21.9) for an homer, (Hos. 3.2) and Israel was beaten. (2 Sam. 2.17) And behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter (Eze. 9.11) and wrote it in a book. (1 Sam. 10.25)


Sunday, September 07, 2003

 
Do Calvinists love God?

Sometimes talking to Calvinists is like talking to a lawn mower. While you’re busy reasoning with them, they’ve run over you, blades spinning, chopping your tender skin into little bits. Can’t those stuck-up Calvinists love their brothers and sisters in Christ that don’t agree with their understanding of the Word of God? Or, worse yet, do they love their theology more than the Lord? Consider John 9:24-34:

“So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this man is a sinner.”
He answered and said, “whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”
Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?”
He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”
Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.”
The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.”

I’d like to look at two points here, the humility of the blind man, and the pride or arrogance of the Pharisees.

The blind man demonstrated godly humility. This blind man did not yet know that Jesus was the Son of God. He had assumed that Jesus was a prophet from God. Regardless, He understood that it was by the power of God that he could see. When he said, “He has opened my eyes!” it meant more than just he could see with his eyes. Also, he could see God through the work of Christ. He knew that Christ was in fellowship with God, because Jesus does the will of God. God heard Jesus and healed his eyes. So, by the standard that the Pharisee’s understood – God does not hear sinners, he had proven that Christ was not a sinner and that he came from God. For as we know, the Pharisee’s had told him that they did not know where Christ came from, and that he was a sinner.

So this blind man, unlearned and impoverished, had the grace to be humble before God, and speak boldly the truth. He did not give in to their persecution; rather he gained in faith through it. He was humble before God, and not men, and therefore he could teach the blind.

Let’s look at the other side of this coin. Biblical, saving faith can be distilled, or broken down into three components: Knowledge of God, trust in God, and love of God. Now the Pharisee’s had tremendous amounts of knowledge about God. They were the rabbi’s and teachers of the law. Also, they trusted God, in that they believed that God’s word was true and that His promises were eternal and guaranteed. However, when we are prideful, we do not show love for God. The Pharisee’s, like Satan, loved their knowledge and station more than God. Even though they asked the blind man to give God the glory, they wanted him to deny Christ in the process. In spite of their great knowledge, their unloving faith blinded them to the truth of the Gospel and the deity of Christ. They even demonstrated that they loved themselves above God when they said, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” The idea that a mere sinner had anything of value to teach them was beyond their belief. So great was their knowledge that they stopped seeing themselves as under the law’s curse, but above it because of their great righteousness. But the blind man showed them his love of God, and in so doing exposed their lack of it.

Being young in the faith, even seconds old, makes you wiser than anyone who does not know, trust, or love God. And anyone who is our Lord’s is qualified to teach others about Christ. But I’ll admit that I’ve seen some Pharisee in me. There are times when I look at my own knowledge of the word and doctrine, and assume that I’ve arrived. I’m reformed, Calvinist, and learned. Who could possibly teach me?

I’ll tell you. Any brother or sister in Christ. What greater arrogance is there than to love doctrine above God’s grace? When I feel that someone is ‘under’ me or inferior because of their lack of knowledge, I demonstrate to God, myself and the world that I’m a hypocrite who claims a faith that I don’t have. For you must know, trust and love God to have true faith. If I deny or belittle a younger Christian’s faith, or a Christian from a church that teaches the basics correctly but has other doctrines that I believe to be in error, I’ve sinned against God and my brother or sister in Christ. We can of course discuss doctrine with others, but when we question their salvation or sanity when they have demonstrated saving faith, we’ve hardened our hearts to the children of God. It is by grace, and not doctrine, that we are saved. If Calvinists would only love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind instead of our doctrine, Which many Calvinists (including myself) often do, and love our neighbor as ourselves, the body of Christ would be a better place.

Theognome

Saturday, September 06, 2003

 
All right... Let's have a bit of civil discussion on the topic of race then.

Please note that I'll be writing some things at this point without much exegesis. I would be happy to exegete any supposition I post here in the comments, if anyone so wishes to debate further. I've been writing a book on the subject for a couple of months now, so I just wanted to give some overview thoughts first. I need a break sometimes.

Before two or more Christians can have a profitable discussion on the topic, we must first agree upon what is or is not race. What does the word mean?

Here's my first proposition: The common use and definition of the word race, as it pertains to the various distinctives among humanity, is very different in modern American culture than it is in Biblical terms. The two positions are not in agreement.

Here's how Websters 1828 defines race:

RACE, n. [Fr. race, from the It. razza ; Sp. raza, a race, a ray, and raiz, a root, L. radix; Russ. rod, a generations, race; roju, to beget. The primary sense of the root is to thrust or shoot; the L. radix and radius having the same original. This word coincides in origin with rod, ray, radiate, &c. Class Rd.]

1. The lineage of a family, or continued series of descendants from a parent who is called the stock. A race is the series of descendants indefinitely. Thus all mankind are called the race of Adam; the Israelites are of the race of Abraham and Jacob. Thus we speak of a race of kings, the race of Clovis or Charlemagne; a race of nobles, &c. Hence the long race of Alban fathers come. Dryden

2. A generation; a family of descendants. A race of youthful and unhandled colts. Shakespeare

3. A particular breed; as a race of mules; a race of horses; a race of sheep. Chapman Of such a race no matter who is king. Murphy

And, here's how the World Book dictionary defines it:

RACE² n. 1 any one of the major divisions of mankind, each having distinctive physical characteristics and a common ancestry.

As we use the word in common usage, the World Book definition is how we usually think of the word. It's about the physical differences, and often social distinctions are made based on those differences. The Websters definition also focuses on the particular, physical differences as prime. The Bible, however, does not.

Now let's not go off on tangents just yet. I did not say that the Bible ignores physical/biological differences. It's just not the first place that the Scripture goes in defining a people.

To understand how the Word of God speaks of Race, we need to understand how race was viewed in the ancient world, for the ancient understanding is demonstrated in Scripture.

There are three distinctions that ancients used when speaking of race. They are:

1. The religion of a people
2. The genealogy of a people/nation
3. The region that a people primarily dwell

Let's look at the first distinction. It was the primary factor used to identify race. In the ancient world, whether a person was white, black, red, yellow purple or plaid was not as important as the gods said person worshipped. Religion was the prime motivator in racial issues, war, economics, and so on. This is still the case with Mid-Eastern cultures. The Bible also refers to this distinction as prime. For example, the faith of Abram preceded the Abrahamic covenant, and the prominence of Jehovah worship was a prime principle in said covenant.

The second distinction is the one that is most like the modern idea of race, although there are significant differences between the two. In the ancient/Biblical view, the biology of race was directly linked to a specific person, rather than to a general physical trait. So, the Bible, rather than stating that someone is black, states that the person is a son of Cush. Part of the prominence of faith is seen here, for nations were/are built upon the faith of their respective fathers. To be a son of Abraham implied a particular faith just as being a son of Sidon did. Biology and genealogy are biblically inseparable, whereas in modern thought, biology reigns supreme and genealogy is irrelevant or forgotten.

The third distinction, demography, is the one most used when ancient texts, Bible or otherwise, speak of race concerning large numbers of people. This distinction is virtually indistinguishable from the concept of nation. Unlike the United States, ancient nations were founded upon a united faith (primarily) and genealogy (secondarily). The territory where said peoples lived was usually identified by the genealogical father of the nation: Ammon, Canaan, Israel, etc. When regional verbiage is used Biblically in reference to a people, it is their national or genealogical unity that is brought to bear. Any physical characteristics (with the single exception of the sons of Anak Numbers 13:33) are not mentioned or even implied.

To conclude, let me state simply that we can't discuss race from the scripture using an unbiblical understanding of the word from the get-go. If we can't agree to how the Bible uses and refers to the races of men, there is no point on going further: We’ll just be talking past one another. I'd be happy to discuss this very narrow portion of the race debate here, but only this point at this time. I pray that from here we can discuss the subject in much greater depth and detail in a manner that is edifying to the body of Christ.

Theognome

 
John Bush, aka Discoshamen, posted a formal apology to Harry and Badonicus on his blog today.

Allow me to also put in a few words:

To Harry and Badonicus-
We disagree on much, but much has been said on my part that was not spoken in the spirit of Christian love. I have sinned against you both in the following:

1. I have accused Badonicus of heresy without proper confrontation.
2. I have accused Harry of lack of discerment, which was not my place or propriety.
3. I have stated that I had refuted their positions on multiple occasions without having engaged properly in said disputation.

It is my hope that I can be forgiven these things as well, and that in the future we may be able to engage in godly, Christ-centered discussion.

Bill Cunningham
"Theognome"

 
I'm not looking forward to this. I've shot my television for less.

 
And yes, I have shot my television. I was 19 at the time, and living in Valejo, CA. I was in the Navy, and I had rented a small apartment off base. One evening, I had about eight or so friends over for some dinner and to play some games, usually Dungeons and Dragons. We had the TV on, and while we were getting ready to game, a commercial came on for Downey fabric softner. The commercial parodied and old Alan Sherman song, 'Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda'. It was unbearable. So, I grabbed my shotgun (which I kept next to the stove. Don't we all?), took aim, and fired at the screen. The TV exploded in a tremendous display of glass, noise and sparks.

Now my friends who were sitting in the room sat there stunned. After a few minutes one of them said, "Bill, you could have just turned it off." To which I replied, "True, but now, that damned commercial will never be back. I won!"

Theognome
 
Here's something to chew on...

Have you ever noticed that the more mankind learns, the craftier we are in our sin? Modern technology can make our sins so insidious as to be nearly invisible, and technophiles accept them as progress. So, when we look at new aspects of our lives, it is important for Christians to look at them with the basics in mind. The scripture does not state, “thou shalt not visit porno sites on thy web,” but it does state, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and Christ explained well in Matthew 5 to what extent we should apply the Law.

With this in mind, let’s look at something that for the last ten years we have been inundated with, and many of us have bought into with little biblical thought: modern nutrition.

Back in the 1920’s, doctors first began to assert that city-dwelling Americans typically didn’t eat right. Some doctors at the time began to look into the matter more in depth, and developed the food groups that we all know and love. In the 30’s, we find the development of the nutritionist, and the first dietary supplements. Progress was steady but slow until the 1970’s, when scarcity was the buzzword, and people began to wonder if there would be enough food to feed everyone. Diet fads went big business. The eighties and nineties saw massive amounts of dietary information to be handed to the general public. Today, several magazines, countless books, talk shows, and radio shows have dedicated themselves solely to inform and educate people about what they should eat… and should not eat.

The interesting thing about this is that the medical industry as a whole has not been involved in this process since the 20’s. Since medicines are not being prescribed, the AMA and FDA are under no obligation to test or screen these types of supplements and advice. Whereas a new medicine that hits the market has been rigorously tested and proven, supplements carry no such pedigree. What the medical industry does say as a whole is the same thing that they said 80 years ago- eat right, exercise, and get regular check-ups.

Faced with the mountain of data before our TV and computer screens, how should Christians respond? The first answer is prayer. The second is with insight from the scripture. Both methods simultaneously is even better.

Anyone who was expecting me to jump on the Acts 10:9-15 ‘all foods are clean’ bandwagon will be disappointed. It’s simply not the issue. I would agree that how we eat is important. We need to care after our bodies and keep ourselves healthy (Re.1 Cor. 6:19). The question is, to what extent? At what point do we leave behind godly health and enter dietary idolatry?

Sin is pervasive. When we find ourselves in an issue of sin, we will find that it has found its’ way into many, if not all, aspects of our life. From our theological understanding of the word of God to how we perform on the job to how we discipline our children will be affected. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Let us compare the drunkard with the Dietary Idolater. Drinking, in of itself, is not sin. It becomes sin when it controls the drinker. The booze dominates the life. They may still function well in society, but liqueur is the dominant force, and it is irresistible to the drunkard. Now nutrition is not, in of itself, sin. It becomes sin when it controls the dietary idolater. In the same way that booze snares the drunk, the worry, fear, and obsession with what lies within that pork chop is just as destructive. The worklife, homelife, and walk with the Lord are impaired. The dietary idolater sees every tidbit of new-age thinking on nutrition as cast in stone fact that will kill if not dealt with drastically. I recently heard someone state that they would no longer eat any kind of bread, because they read somewhere that the yeast could cause cancer. Consider Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about you life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”

We will worship that (or whom) which we fear. Psalm 5:7 reads, “But as for me, I will come into your house in the multitude of your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.” The dietary idolater is fearful. But this fear is of food. The temple they worship is not the Lord’s temple, for it is not the fear of the Lord that drives them. Rather, it’s MSG, RBGH, Cholesterol and other such ilk that are feared. The dietary idolater seeks to lengthen their lives and stave off disease by submitting to these fears, but consider Proverbs 10:27, “The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened” also 10:24 “The fear of the wicked will come upon them, and the desire of the righteous will be granted.”

Obsession is, at is basis, Idolatry. When our trust in the Lord is supplanted by another trust, the idolatry line has been leapt across. When we violate our trust in the Lord, it is pervasive. It affects our prayers, fellowship, and study. These in turn affect our sanctification and our daily walks. When we don’t give thanks to God for providing a meal but instead refuse to eat because the vegetables are cooked we need to look into whom our trust is in. Remember the words of our Lord- “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mat. 6:31-33)

Theognome


Friday, September 05, 2003

 
It's Friday. Yay.

With the work week over (for the most part), I can relax and ponder over a glass of good rum the various forums and blogs that I haunt.

I have noticed a trend. The more I write, both here and elsewhere, the more ignorant and foolish I demonstrate myself to be. I have been accused, on some of the forums that I've posted on, of being a pastor, a professor, or other such ilk. Here's the truth:

I was expelled from high school at the tenth grade.

I can pretend to be some kind of intellectual, but I have worse than no credentials- I have never completed the most basic of them. I've been perusing some blogs around about that are filled with P.H.D,'s, graduate students, and other such. All I manage to do is demonstrate my utter ignorance.

Thankfully, I need it. I praise the Lord that there are plenty of folks out there who can show me the extent to which that I am clueless. Were it not for that, I'd be strutting myself around like a peacock going, "See? See how smart I am?"

Gag. Grow some humility, dude.

Here's a fact: I have opinions, but they are wrong more often than right. I have ideas, but they are foolish more often than wise. I have issues, but they are foolish more often than prudent.

Don't take me too seriously in what I state. I have already been convicted of taking myself too seriously. Humility is a hallmark of godliness. I'm miles from the mark.

Theognome


Wednesday, September 03, 2003

 
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”
Romans 12:1-2

With that said, let’s discuss grape juice.

Should there be wine or Welch’s at the Lord’s Supper? Perhaps both? Most churches, including reformed ones, offer either grape juice or both it and wine. Few offer wine alone. I’ve asked many pastors why this is so in their churches. I’ve been given, in so many words, only three defenses for the practice, and I’d like to address them.

Defense #1: There is no specific commandment in the Bible that states we must use wine, therefor it is a priori argument to demand wine at the Lord’s table. Thus, there is freedom in Christ to chose between wine and grape juice.

Response- Speaking of a priori arguments; the Trinity, church government, the regulative principle and the various principles of baptism fall under that same category using this logic. Also, there is no specific commandment or instruction in the scripture concerning the Internet, microwave ovens or Ford Escorts. Like grape juice, these items did not exist when the Bible was written. Grape juice naturally ferments only a few hours after squeezing, and without pasteurization or refrigeration it could not be nor was it a common drink. Since the days of Noah, the fruit of the vine was culturally assumed to be wine, and this assumption continued right through to the 19th century. We are commanded to eat of the bread and to drink of the cup; and Christ Himself stated that it is the fruit of the vine that filled the cup. The bitterness of wine and the bitterness of the Blood of Christ… the bitter herbs of the Passover… these are inseparable. So, like the Trinity, church government and other such doctrines, wine at the supper is an indicative rather than an imperative principle.

Defense #2: There is no distinction linguistically in the bible between wine and grape juice whatsoever. Fruit of the vine does not mean wine grammatically.

Response- Not so. The distinction is found in Numbers 6, concerning the law of the Nazarene. In Hebrew, the most common word used for wine is ‘yayin’. In Numbers 6:3, yayin is used several times to describe the extent that the Nazarene must stay away from all things grapish. However, the juice of the grape is specifically mentioned here by the term ‘lach’, and is used no where else concerning grapes in the scripture. Lach transliterates into the word ‘moist’, but in the usage in Numbers translates into ‘juice’. In other words, a clear linguistic distinction is being made between wine and unfermented grape juice. No where else in the Bible is such a distinction made. Also, the word ‘tyrosh’ is translated from Hebrew as ‘wine’, and its use is actually poetic. Tyrosh is most often found when a field of grapes (a vineyard) is described (Gen 27:28, Deut. 7:13, 2Kings 18:32, etc…). However, the word speaks not of the raw grapes themselves, but of what they will eventually produce. This is the common usage of the word linguistically.

Now ‘gephen’ in Hebrew is translated by the word ‘vine’. It is often used contextually to denote prosperity and/or wealth, and also poetically to give genealogical allegories. Ezekiel 19:10-14 is a good example of this kind of allegory. Be it tryosh, gephen or yayin, it is always wine, and not the raw grapes themselves that are in context. You cannot separate grammar from culture. How the words were used in the culture that produced them must be the basis for linguistic arguments. Anything else is transliteration.

In Greek, ‘ampelos’ is the term for vine, and ‘oinos’ is used for wine. The idioms of Greek are not the same as those in Hebrew, but it was the Hebrew culture that gives them context. If the Old Testament gives any cultural, linguistic models for NT interpretation, then there would have been a specific term (like lach used in Numbers 6) to show that grape juice was also in view. No such term is presented in the NT at all. Only when there was an exception to the understanding that the fruit of the vine meant more than just wine was there any mention of it in the Bible, and the Lord’s Supper is not party to that exception.

Defense #3: People are sensitive to alcohol. In accordance to 1 Corinthians 8, we must not make a weaker brother face that temptation, lest we make the Lord’s table a stumbling block.

Response- Someone who is stumbled by the Lord’s table should not be there in the first place. 1 Corinthians 11:27-34 Speaks of the need to examine our own hearts.

This is pure Temperance movement in action. Man is not the sinner; rather alcohol is a sinful substance. Note that Dr. Welch, a dentist, who first pasteurized grape juice, did it in the hopes of putting it in place of wine at the Lord’s table, not for making a new popular drink. Why? To keep people from actively sinning by drinking the devil’s brew. It’s an argument that the Evangelical Church and many reformed churches as well have bought into lock, stock and barrel.

By giving in to the ‘it makes me sin’ argument, we’re acknowledging that it’s the substance, and not the person who is the sinner. If a person cannot drink a sip of wine in the context of receiving a means of grace without fearing the alcohol within it, they have already judged their own hearts as overtaken by the sin. Christianity is not Alcoholic Anonymous. A.A. is not an organization that teaches grace; they teach absolute abstinence. I see no benefit to lowering the Lord’s Supper to the requirements of the ‘twelve steps’.

It’s in this third defense of using grape juice that churches are bowing to the world rather than submitting to the Lord. True, it is easier to bow to the desires of the masses than to stand on godly conviction, but can we expect blessings from such lack of faith? Do we ignore the clear indicative evidence, linguistic exegesis and clear command to be discerning of the Body and Blood in order to appease worldly error? It would seem that many churches feel they need to. And why not? After all, the prophet Hananiah was right to give the people just what they wanted, and he was blessed greatly for it. Yeah, right. Check out Jeremiah 28 for more on Hananiah, and grape juicy churches.

Theognome

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

 
At least they mean well.

I'm referring to the folks at the Southern California Center of Christian Studies.

Now these folks have a lot of good things to say, and I do pray that they are heard. There is one subject, however, where I can't say that I totally agree with the propositions that I hear from these folks.

It's about Reconstructionism; Theonomy and its' logical conclusions for effecting reform within society. Now don't get me wrong- I pray daily that the Lord will do a mighty work in the land to make this nation a place where God in Christ is trusted, loved and feared. It's how we should go about it that we differ in opinion.

Their message is clear- change will take place gradually. As individual Christians are brought into covenantal thinking, congregations will do also. As these individual Christians enter the civil sphere, and covenantal churches lobby for the interests of Christianity, slow but steady progress will be made. It will take at least 100 years to do this, according to Andrew Sandlin. It's not about a quick fix, but a slow movement towards social righteousness.

It's a pipe dream if you ask me. Look at the Bible. Look at the problems in the early church. Look to Christian history as a whole. Look at recorded history. I'm afraid that the Biblical model and the historical model don't jibe with their vision of how the reforming of a society happens. Slow changes in society (as marked generationally just as these folks do) will without fail follow the path of degradation. Societal reform is tantamount to revolution and/or massive upheaval of the 'old order'. There are simply no examples in scripture or history that show a people slowly reforming their society towards godliness. Reform is swift, and often bloody and destructive in the process.

Now if these folks feel that they can reconstruct society at a snails pace, may God bless them. I just don't see it. Mind you, I don't particularly desire a revolution of any kind, either, nor do I deem myself fit to initiate such. It's just inevitable. I don't know who will lead the next revolution; the reformation of American society that tumbles the politics and media in this nation. I just fully believe that it will inevitably happen. God does not whittle away tiny chunks of idols; He rips them down with a great crash. When will it happen? 10 years? 20? 50? I dunno. But when the hand of God tears down the American Idols and the nation seeks the Lord on a single bended knee, it will be a day of terror, destruction and mourning.

May the Lord be merciful to us all.

Theognome

Monday, September 01, 2003

 
Spiritual gifts are an interesting topic.

Amongst reformed folks like myself, we often get a little edgy when the subject of spiritual gifts is brought up. I’ve heard the reformed argument that they do not exist anymore, and although I do believe that there is a context in which this is correct, I would not affirm it carte blanche. The history of the Church plainly demonstrates the continuance of spiritual gifts, and I feel that Her history continues too. I personally can give no biblical reason for all spiritual gifts to cease completely, nor would I endeavor to.
It’s what they are and the use of them that the bible addresses, as well as their misuse. It basically depends on how we exegete 1 Corinthians chapters 13 and 14.

First, the overall subject matter is love. He echoes the importance of this love in association with the spiritual gifts again in Ephesians 4:7-16. The greatest love is that of Christ, that he would die for us, and Paul here is teaching how we should live under the love of Christ- by seeking to love in all things. Paul in 1 Cor. 13 is describing not only how we should love others, but love Him as well. When we compare the attributes of love that Paul describes here with Micah 6:3-8, we do see some similarities. In Micah 6, the Lord declares His love to Israel with His tearful pleas. “What have I done to you…?”, “I redeemed you from the house of bondage…” and other very deep emotional cries are stated. The crux is love, and He requires of his people to show their love to Him as stated in verse 8. Furthermore, Paul, in Ephesians 3:14-21 clearly points out the grounding of our love being in union with Christ.

So I think that it is safe to say that Paul is speaking of Christ centered love, and since we as congregations gather to worship, we should seek to love the Lord as He seeks for us to love Him.

In chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, he begins to do some practical teaching on how the church should practice their love for the Lord, both individually and corporeally. However, the continuity between the chapters should not be ignored. Let’s remember who he was writing this epistle to, and what he was addressing here.
The Church of Corinth in the middle of the first century had quite an interesting congregation. Made up of both Gentiles and Jews, it grew quite quickly in the sprawling metropolis. Corinth was a lot like Las Vegas is today- known for it’s sensual pleasures. The temple of Aphrodite was there, in which religious prostitution was conducted with drunken fervor. Corruption in the local government was rampant. The city encompassed two major seaports, making it also an important national and international economic power. The constant bombardment of secular philosophy and ideology combined with the natural tension between the Church and the ungodly made for a lot of challenges within that church: incest, drunken fellowship, random and cacophonous worship and so on. A lot of problems had to be addressed.

Now I believe that when correcting the Corinthian church, Paul did so with an understanding of how the gifts were used in the synagogue and the OT. Although many spiritual gifts are mentioned in the OT (tongues [1 Sam. 10:9-11], mercy [1 Sam. 24:1-7] and others), the one most demonstrated is prophecy. Now the high priest, as the leader of corporate worship, wore the Urim and Thummim and the Ephod. Priests were also to speak as prophets and often called upon to do so (Ex 7:1, Eze 1:1-3, 1Sa 23:9-11 and others). This was essential to OT thought and worship as it was practiced. The will as well as glorifying of God was sought in the tabernacle and temple. With the redemptive work not yet completed, Hebrews naturally sought after signs and gifts to be edified in their tabernacling with the Lord (Judg 6:36-38, 1 Sam 14:8-9, etc.).

This concept continued during the intertestamental period. With the Hebrews scattered across the known world during the rule of Antiochus, temple worship was no longer possible for most Hebrews. The synagogue replaced the temple for most of Judaism. Corporate worship focused upon prayer, personal sacrifice, and spiritual gifts in lieu of lambs and goats. Spiritual gifts in worship were critical to intertestamental thought, and reflected God’s continuing presence and love for His Israel. Also, synagogue worship was orderly and methodical in operation, spirit-filled though it may have been. Rules, law and procedure dominated Hebrew thought.


With all of that said, the question I ask myself is, “How was Paul applying the completed redemptive work of Christ to the spiritual gifts in the worship of God in the Church?” I believe the answer to that is in 1 Cor 13:8-10. The context of the chapters as well as the situation in Corinth lead me to apply this as a principle of corporate worship. It of course should be orderly, but what is the role of Spiritual gifts? His appeal is to our assured love in Christ Jesus.

“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” 1 Cor 13:8-10

First, I am assuming that the canon is closed. Many folks do not agree with this, and perhaps I’ll post on that later.

The Greek used by Paul for perfect is telios, and is not a title. It refers to a work or task. I believe that Paul is referring to the word of God here, and not redemptive work- lest he would have used a different term (Christ isn’t a ‘that’). The seeking of God’s will through gifts of prophecy, tongues and such in worship would eventually not be necessary, for the complete will of God would be in the hands of His Church. This passage does not, in my opinion, imply that spiritual gifts will simply cease to exist. It does though show us just how great the love of Christ is, for we need no other assurance to approach the throne of God.

Allow me to summarize. Paul had to teach the Corinthians how to properly use Spiritual gifts in worship, since they were starting to imitate the secular practices in that matter. His arguments from scripture and history show me that they were never to be used in worship in a disorderly fashion, and that a day would come when they would not be needed in worship at all. The admonition from Paul is simple- trust in Christ’s love and not in spiritual gifts.

The early church and beyond have all had tons of spiritual gifts. But were they consistently used in worship in the manner that Paul suggests here? Do the churches of today strive to use gifts in the fashion that Paul describes, or have they taken on a whole new meaning beyond what the Lord has revealed in His word? That is a whole different question.

Theognome

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