Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Jared Wilson writes:

Colossians 1:15: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Paul articulately asserts the truth of the Incarnation in Colossians 1, but his use of “firstborn” does not mean that there was a time when the Son of God wasn’t (any more than John 3:16’s use of “begotten” does — as the Nicene Creed insists, Jesus is “eternally begotten”). But Paul’s use of “firstborn” here holds such a wealth of meaning: namely, as it applies to Christ’s sovereign authority and to his redemptive activity.

Biblically and culturally speaking, the firstborn son carried the weight of the family inheritance on his shoulders. The family name rested first with him. In the absence of the father, he is the head of the family. The firstborn son receives more honor, more expectation, and more authority.

This is Jesus, of course. The author of Hebrews tells us he is the radiance of God’s glory. Romans 8 tells us that he is the heir of God. Inheritance talk is big in Galatians and Ephesians and Titus and Hebrews.
As our older brother, Jesus is due the authority and the wealth he is owed.

But unlike all other older brothers — and I am one, so I know — he walks in a way worthy of his honor. For our sake!

All through the Scriptures, from the murderous Cain to the sniveling idiot brother of Jesus’ parable of the Lost Son, the older brother is consistently an utter and absolute failure. (So are most of the younger brothers, actually, but God consistently chooses them to make a point, I think.)

But not Jesus. Where disobedience and disregard ruled the roost of the firstborn, Jesus obeys the Father perfectly, submits to the eternal cause of the glory of the Father completely, and cares for and rescues and sacrifices his own well-being for his younger siblings to the utmost.
Jesus is the older brother who will not trade his birthright for a bowl of soup. Jesus is the older brother who will not trade his siblings into slavery. Jesus is the older brother who leaves the comfort of his Father’s estate to seek out his lost brother among the brothels and pigsties and actually rescues him from the degradation of the mud and dresses him in the Father’s robe of his own accord.

To borrow from Sinclair Ferguson, Jesus is the “true and better” older brother.

To borrow from a favorite line in a favorite movie, Jesus is the older brother who does his job. Everybody else is the other guy.


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Al Mohler:

The death this month of Antony Flew brings an end to one of the most interesting lives in twentieth century philosophy. Throughout the last half of that century, Professor Flew was recognized as one of the most significant philosophical advocates of atheism, eventually writing at least 35 works, many arguing for the non-existence of God. Then, at age 81, Antony Flew changed his mind. God, he explained, probably does exist.

Mohler goes onto recount that though Flew rejected atheism, he did not embrace Christianity or any religion:

Antony Flew never embraced Christianity. He rejected the possibility of divine revelation and flatly rejected the idea of divine judgment and hell. He told The Sunday Telegraph [London] that the God he had come to believe “probably” existed is “most emphatically not the eternally rewarding and eternally torturing God of either Christianity or Islam,” but only God as First Cause of the universe. In other words, Anthony Flew embraced a form of Deism (the belief in a God who creates but then removed himself from creation), rather than theism (the belief in a communicating, ruling, and judging deity).

When atheist critics suggested that Professor Flew, then in advanced age, had experienced something like a deathbed conversion out of fear of death, the professor retorted with a rejection of any afterlife. “I want to be dead when I am dead and that’s an end to it,” he made clear. “I don’t want an unending life. I don’t want anything without end.”

Read the rest of the story here…

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There is a huge difference in trying really hard to be something, and realizing suddenly that you are something. When I first got married, I found myself trying really hard to be the right kind of husband. The same thing happened when I became a father. But the gospel is applicable, here too, and it reminds us that we aren’t trying hard to be something we’re not; we’re trying hard to embrace what God has already made us in Christ.

Brothers, we were made for this:

To work hard and provide for our families.

To bring a sense of calm and peace when we walk into a room.

To teach our children the nature of love and respect and how they fit together.

To give our whole hearts to our wives.

To teach our sons how to treat a lady.

To teach our daughters how to be self-confident and secure.

To deny ourselves material comforts for the sake of our families.

To get up earlier than anyone else in the household.

To make our families feel safe when they are at home.

To know our children well enough to understand and encourage their passions.

To know when our wives aren’t looking for a problem fixer but a listener.

To be secure enough in our identity to say “no” to an opportunity at work if it costs our family.

To eat well and exercise so we can walk our daughters down the aisle someday.

Brothers, we were made for this… and more.

What would you add?

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7 Miles

(HT: Jared Wilson)

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Jared Wilson writes about how not to waste your Easter:

In years past, churches have opened Easter Sunday services with AC/DC songs, laser light shows, egg drops from helicopters, and the like. This year the need to outdo last is pressing. One church is giving away automobiles and other prizes.

The simple explanation for all this is that they want people to hear about the resurrection, and these are ways to get people in proximity to hear the message. I am reminded of when Jesus tells the rich man in hell that if his surviving family didn’t believe Moses and the prophets, they weren’t going to believe a resurrected man. Does that sound backwards to you? The same principle is at stake here. If the message that Jesus died and came back to life(!) isn’t compelling enough to draw people, the enticement of winning a car is not going to cut it. Anyone who believes on Christ because they were attracted by “stuff” has been won to prosperity gospel, not crucifixion gospel.

The harder explanation for all this is that the PT Barnum pastoral tribe doesn’t trust that the gospel is a compelling message. They don’t trust that they can make it sound attractive and exciting just as it is. They’ve lost trust that it is, actually, power. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t feel the need to put it inside the Trojan horse of cash and prizes.

Why do churches treat the resurrection like it’s the heartworm medicine you put in a hot dog to trick the dog?

The truth is that all the bombast, the flash, the publicity, the attractions are a waste. They are the offer of mud pies, because we just can’t figure out how to sell a holiday at sea. (When, really, the holiday sells itself.)

Read the rest here.

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I found this from Gene Veith, as recorded in Loving God With All Your Mind, to be very insightful:

A young man is raised in a Christian home and has some measure of belief in Christ. He then becomes involved in some sort of overt sin. This can be any sin—pride, covetousness, addiction, dishonoring of parents, worldliness. It is often a sexual sin. He has the honesty and presence of mind to realize that this favorite sin is incompatible with the Christian faith. He has the moral sensitivity to experience guilt.

There are two ways he can respond. He may repent of the sin and turn to Christ to receive full and free forgiveness. Or he may hold on to the sin, treasure it, and refuse to give it up either overtly or emotionally. He starts to center his life around the sin, to seek from it consolation, help, and escape, to find in it, in effect, the meaning of his life.

But what about the guilt? If he is not interested in repenting and being forgiven, then there is only one way to end the torment: to reject whatever it is that brands his life as evil. If what I am doing is not really wrong, then I can “feel good about myself.” If there is no objective standard of right and wrong, I can do as I please. If there is no God, then I am not a sinner.

At this point, the “pretexts” are discovered. There are many reasons not to believe in God. They become extremely persuasive to someone who does not want God to exist. The arguments with the most force become those that turn one’s own moral failures against the Judge, so that the person’s own sinfulness is projected onto God Himself: “I can never believe in God because He allows so much evil in the world.” God becomes imagined not as the source of good, but as the source of evil.


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Carpet Wrestling

I used to bristle when people used the phrase, “Just trust the Lord.” It would pop up now and again when someone was going through a time of strain or difficulty in their lives. That person would share their struggle with another person, and the other person would pat them knowingly on the shoulder and say, “You just need to trust the Lord.”

I hated that.

I hated it because it seemed like an absurdly trite answer to the struggles of life. Cancer? Trust the Lord. Don’t like your job? Trust the Lord. Having financial difficulty? Trust the Lord. I thought there had to be something deeper to it than that – nobody can “just trust the Lord.” Where’s the angst? Where’s the struggle? Where’s finger-pointing and the tears and the wrestling?

I don’t hate it any more, because as it turns out, it’s not trite to trust the Lord. Who knew?

That’s not to say that trusting the Lord is devoid of wrestling and finger pointing. It’s not to say its without angst and questions. In fact, the brand of trust that is completely without those things might indeed be trite.

But with those things – it becomes a little like carpet wrestling. That’s what me and Joshua are doing alot of right now. He creates a persona – the Sharp Lizard or Thunder Bomb – then takes off his shirt and we wrestle. From my perspective, it’s not much of a battle (at least not yet). I know I’m going to win. But we still wrestle, because for us, wrestling is about intimacy. It’s something we do together.

Not to stretch the illustration too thinly, but when we wrestle with the Lord as Christians, we can’t really be expecting to win. In fact, righteous wrestling doesn’t have winning as its goal. It’s grappling in the midst of trusting; it’s wrestling in the midst of believing; it’s battling in the midst of faith. Or as Augustine put it, it’s faith seeking understanding.

After all that wrestling, though, you come back to what you started with in the beginning: trust.

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