Archive for December 2015

Cain Did not have A Gun, but Cain was Already Under God’s Wrath before Cain killed Abel

December 7, 2015

Hebrews 12: 23 Instead, you have come  to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to God who is the Judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, 24 to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.

Matthew 23:29-34 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to Gehenna? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you MURDERED between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will COME UPON this generation.

I John 3:12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Cain was already violent before Cain murdered his brother. Murder is an evil violent deed. Cain murdered Abel because of Cain’s previous status as a condemned sinner and unbeliever in God’s gospel. Cain was a bad tree who thereby necessarily brought forth fruit which was all bad, all unacceptable.I John is not comparing morality with immorality. It is not simply nonviolence that the world hates. It was not morality that Cain hated.

Cain hated Abel’s gospel because that gospel said that even Cain’s best efforts and sacrifices to please God (the best of his fruits, with all sincerity) were an abomination to God. Cain murdered Abel. The world violently persecutes those who believe the gospel and who have passed out of death into life(3:13).

But what does I John have to say about gospel imputation? Isn’t I John about one of the “means of assurance”?: better morality, without being perfectionist about it? I John 4:16 tells the good news of God’s love for “us”, not for those who “went out from us”.

I John 4:17-18 explains that God’s election (love) is “perfected with us, so that we have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in the world. There is no fear in this love”

Imputation is the first way (before all other ways) that the justified elect can be AS Christ IS IN the world. (Check out your commentaries on this: even those who deny that the righteousness of Matthew 5:20 is imputed, even those who deny that the “fine linen” of the saints are by imputation, even most of these commentators agree that I John 4:17 is about legal solidarity with Christ’s obedience even to death).

We can make distinctions where we say, yes my ultimate hope is imputed righteousness (not as that which makes up the difference, but as that which is enough for the elect), but right now my assurance of that verdict also depends on being more non-violent than I used to be (or others still are).

I John 3 is about the difference between a Nicodemus and a prodigal state employee, about the difference between a religious Cain and a religious Abel. Think of the context! Not only the violence but the religion of Cain is evil.

You don’t have to be effectually called to become ashamed of murder. But the reason Cain murdered Abel was that Cain wanted to glory in/ rejoice in (Phil 3:3) his saying yes and in his religion (his idolatry).

Those religious deeds of Cain were motivated by a mercenary spirit seeking assurance by means of saying yes and then acting on that with deeds. But Cain in the flesh “could not please God” (Rom 8:8). To pass over from death to life is to be put into the new creation, to be given a new legal state, in which one’s confidence is not in what God does in you but rather in what God has done in Christ outside you. Only in this way can we be in the world as Christ was in the world.

Two positions: “those who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the mind to the standard of information to which they are committed” (Rom 6:17) so that there are “things of which you are now ashamed” (Rom 6:21).

You may have been ashamed of your violence before (I was a a pacifist long before I submitted to the gospel) . But have you ever been ashamed of your religious beliefs? Have you ever been ashamed of thinking that God needed your forgiveness, or of thinking that Christ’s death was God’s appeasement and apology to you?

The Cains of this world are ready for a self-examination and contrast in terms of being consistent with their theory of nonviolence (shall I ever call the cops, should I shop at Wall Mart?). But they will not come to the light of the gospel of grace, because they love darkness and the light of gospel grace will tell them their deeds are evil, all their deeds, even their moral deeds. (John 3:19)

Weak in Christ

December 2, 2015

Thanks to my son Kevin for causing me to think about this needed topic!

One evidence that we do not have “freewill” is that our deaths are not “voluntary” but forced up on us from the outside. We are more like spectators than participants in our own dying. Judged before we were born, our only hope is the power of God to give us life.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

1 Corinthians 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 2:3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling

2 Corinthians 11:30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.

2 Corinthians 13:4 For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are WEAK IN HIM, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.

Marva Dawn first sets out the standard translation. “My grace is
sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (37). A summary of her argument against this translation consists of the fact there is no possessive pronoun to make “strength” God’s strength and that the verb televw does not mean perfect, but ‘bring to an end’, which is in agreement with its use throughout the rest of the New Testament. Therefore she thinks that 2 Cor 12.9 should be translated “My grace is sufficient for you, for [your] power is brought to its end in weakness.” (41). This allows Dawn to make two fundamental claims about weakness and God’s tabernacling. First “…Paul’s power is brought to its end in his weakness; consequently, Paul glories in his weakness because through its very existence Christ is able to reveal his presence in him” (45), and second, “Even as Christ accomplished atonement for us by suffering and death, so the Lord accomplishes witness to the world through our weakness. Thus God has more need of our weakness than of our strength.” (47).

Sounds good, but no— If there is no possessive pronoun why does she say Paul is implied when it could be God?Notice the parallelism in the couplet, grace=power, sufficient =perfect. My grace =my power. Her making perfect, ‘come to an end’ also takes away the parallelism. Otherwise it would be that Paul’s strength was taken away and replaced by his weakness.

Philippians 4: 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content

My reading of Philippians 4 makes it sound like Paul is being hostile
thanks for what you sent, but I didn’t need it
but i guess you need a thank you, and you will also receive reward from God for sending it to me (though you don’t need that it either) Philippians 4:10-20

Pity would be no more,
If we did not make somebody Poor:
And Mercy no more could be,
If all were as happy as we;

And mutual fear brings peace;
Till the selfish loves increase.
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care. William Blake

how can you solve a problem like maria (Sound of Music, sung by mother superior)

how can you give a gift to somebody who does not need anything?
create a need? first steal their stuff? Job was sitting pretty, and then there was this methodism, first take his family away, from problem to solution

now that you have kidney failure….

law before gospel, create a problem and then solve it, here’s the answer

hostile–i do not need anything

hostile back–you do need something
first 90 percent of a Billy Graham sermon

Bonhoeffer was critical of what he called ‘methodism.’ Many think that to win someone for the Christian faith one must speak to him [or her] at the point of his [or her] weakness. One who makes this assumption is then predisposed to attend to the shadow side of human existence, since it is that which proves that ‘something more is needed.’ Such ‘methodism jumps on a man when he is down’: it proves the need of God by proving we are no good without God. This is for Bonhoeffer the opposite of the gospel itself, which should be telling people, especially outsiders, about the love and goodness of God for is own sake, not trying to convince people of their misery or their guiltiness. Only if it is not seen as a response to weakness, only if its credibility does not depend on proving human weakness, is the gospel really the good news of the love of God as Creator, sustainer, Savior. Apologetic approaches that try first to make the point of human weakness and ignorance and lostness are hopeless, not because they do not say something true, but because what they are interested in proving is not the good news.” John Howard Yoder in The Priestly Kingdom: Social Ethics as Gospel, pg. 185