May2011Archive for

Ask RC: Can Someone Be Damned If They Repent and Continue to Repent?

Ask R.C.

Of course. Even Judas was sorrowful over his sin, according to the Bible. The world is full of people who are disgusted at at least some of their sins, who seek to put particular sins behind them. This kind of sorrow is not how we have peace with God. While repentance is intimately connected to how and why God forgives us, it is not at all by itself a sufficient cause. Properly speaking that repentance which “saves” is not merely a turning from, but is a turning to. We have peace with God because Jesus suffered the wrath of the Father that is due to us for our sin, and because He lived a perfect life. The work of Christ becomes ours when we, because of the work of the Holy Spirit in first regenerating us, repent and believe, or trust in the work of Christ. If we so trust…

Ask RC: Adultery and Remarriage

Ask R.C.

How would you counsel someone who has committed adultery (and subsequently been divorced by his spouse) regarding any future relationship with the person with whom he committed adultery? Here is a classic case that illustrates the importance of this hermeneutical principle- we are to interpret the historical in light of the didactic and not the didactic in light of the historical. That is, our wisdom here will come from God’s law as it is rightly recorded in the Bible, not from God’s history that is rightly recorded in the Bible. That David married Bathsheba has no more bearing on the right thing to do than that David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Both are historical realities. Neither is biblical wisdom. There are, of course, nearly countless permutations on the ethics of divorce and remarriage. There are likewise varying understandings of what the Bible teaches. One principle has long been the strong…

Humility: In the Name of Love

The Kingdom Notes

One of the deepest theological and exegetical conundrums is found in Mark 13:32: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” We know that Jesus, touching on His humanity, was not omniscient. But we don’t know how it could be possible for God the Son not to know. That may not be what Jesus is saying, but it sure seems that way. This we do know, that it is a good thing from time to time for even the most astute theologians to find themselves giving this most astute answer to some hard questions- I don’t know. We know in turn that it takes rather a lot of pride to respond to this text how Harold Camping did- “Jesus did not know the day or the hour, but I do.” One did not need to dig…

Harold Camping: False Prophet?

The Kingdom Notes

As I type we are still days away from the purported rapture of the church, as predicted by Bible teacher and radio guru Harold Camping. Though his first prediction, that Jesus would return in 1994 failed, that hasn’t kept him from predicting, nor his followers from expecting that Jesus would come for His own May 21, 2011. Which raises the question- when the sun rises again on May 22, are we warranted in concluding that Harold Camping is a false prophet? The Bible, after all, says that one way to distinguish the false from the true prophet is to see if their prophecies come true. What God speaks happens. What men predict usually does not. Despite this, and my overwhelming confidence that the Rapture will not occur in a few days (or ever for that matter) I would argue that this does not mean Camping is a false prophet. It…

Ask RC: Does the Bible say anything about cremation?

Ask R.C.

No. Cremation, however, may have something to say about the Bible. The proper handling of human bodies after death is not something the Bible expressly deals with. There are sundry ceremonial laws in the Old Covenant about touching dead bodies, but no instruction on what to do with these bodies. As such we need to be careful not to condemn what the Bible does not condemn. How though, could cremation speak to the Bible? Cremation, strange as it may sound, is a form of liturgy. It is a form for dealing with matters of eternal consequence. As a form it in turn communicates a message. That message, it seems, does speak against the Bible’s understanding of death. Cremation, however subtly, suggests that our bodies are of no significance or import, that they are simply so much trash that must be burned. It is implicitly a Gnostic practice, a denial of…

Faux Pearls

The Kingdom Notes

Maslow was wrong. Well, he was right before he was wrong. It is true enough that we all have a hierarchy of needs. Some things are more important than others. Trouble is, he didn’t know what the most important things were. Foundational in his system are those things necessary for survival, things like food and water. King David had a different, a better perspective. He said that the Lord was His Shepherd, and he shall not want (Psalm 23:1). David, at this point, has no green grass, and no still water. To be sure God does provide these things, but before He does, David already has everything he needs, the Lord for His Shepherd. Survival is still up in the air, but David has already finished with his worrying. He has what he needs. One of the most foundational principles in the modern marketing of the church is the notion…

Ask RC: How Do We Learn to Best Pick Our Battles?

Ask R.C.

The devil, who is more crafty than any of the beasts of the field, is well aware of the nature of our warfare. He knows that eternity is at stake, and delights first to make us forget the reality of the war. As we identify with the world we lose sight of the antithesis, and find ourselves at home in Babylon. If, however, we are rightly conscious of the battle, such doesn’t mean we are rightly focused on the issues that matter most. If the devil can distract us, encourage us to focus our energies on peripheral issues, it’s almost as good for him as if we weren’t fighting at all. There are, after all, innumerable problems in our world. We live under a rapacious and irresponsible government. The evangelical church is sliding swiftly toward theological liberalism. Souls remain under the wrath of God, and babies are being murdered in…

Goodness Gracious

The Kingdom Notes

Common grace is more potent than we normally think. Special grace, on the other hand, is likely more nuanced than we tend to think. As these United States celebrate the just end to the life of Osama Bin Laden, I’m afraid we are in danger of missing both of these truths. First, common grace is keeping the world from being populated with nothing but Osama Bin Ladens. The difference between Bin Laden and Gandhi isn’t that Bin Laden was evil enough to embrace an evil, violent religion while Gandhi was good enough to at least choose and teach a more gentle, false religion. The difference is the amount of common grace given by the living God, the Father of our Lord Jesus. Both men were sinners. Neither gave any sign of having turned to cross and clinging to the finished work of Christ. And so both men find themselves well…