Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Not long ago a friend was attacking what I consider to be a caricature of “Lordship salvation” (a term which seems to foster much confusion and consternation). He wrote, somewhat tongue-in-cheek: “if you get GRACE because ya ‘live fer Jesus,’ then...what yer gittin...ISN'T GRACE!!! 

Below is my response. 

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As for "Lordship salvation:" I'm not exactly sure what you envision when you say this. I'm guessing you equate "Lordship" with "legalism." But I want to focus on the word salvation. What does the concept of salvation entail? 

I understand that to be saved is to be regenerated, to be born again, to be a new creation. Such terminology connotes change (as does the term conversion.) 

And so I ask: Changed how? (Notice, I am speaking of God's activity—not man's.) God CHANGES us (when He regenerates us) how? 

The change God brings is not physical or biological. It is spiritual. The Bible is clear: God changes the heart. 

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them (Ezek. 36:25-27). 

We are not speaking of changing ourselves. Rather, the God of promise pledges to make these changes for us—regeneration is what God does to us. 

Thus, salvation isn’t a matter of me changing my behavior. It’s a matter of God changing my heart which inevitably results in a change of behavior—the byproduct of a changed mind. 

Think on it: How can the regenerated, new heart of flesh have no impact or influence on the mind and behavior? How can one logically say, “I feel towards God and I think and I reason and I behave just as I always have. I have been born again!”  

So, the question is this: Can God convert me but not change me? If words mean anything, I don’t see how.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Unreason For The Season

          “The White Witch? Who is she?” 

“Why, it is she that has got all Narnia under her thumb. It’s she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!” (C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) 

Alas, it seems Christmas is assaulted in realms both real and imaginary. 

Oddly enough, in our bizarre world, Christmas is besieged on all sides. Secularists hate the true meaning of Xmas and traditionalists bemoan its loss. Christians fear the holiday is too pagan and atheists aver it isn’t pagan enough. 

And this year, the Christmas card has been upstaged by the race card. Rabid race baiters are tearing into Megyn Kelley like Tiny Tim on a Christmas ham. Why?  

Well, she apparently had the poor taste to claim that St. Nick is not only jolly, but also White. (Call me cynical, but I suspect the vitriol has less to do with Santa’s lack of color than Megyn’s. But…I digress.) 

I can’t help but wonder when the LGBT troops will join the fracas because transracial Santa—despite the queer hat and suit—isn’t quite gay enough.  

Or who knows when militant feminists will finally have had their fill of male-Santa? Break that glass ceiling, Mother Christmas! 

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” It’s a race-less, genderless creature that will late at night slip unnoticed into your home and leave behind some environmentally-friendly fun (unless, of course, you’re a Jehovah’s Witness). HO! HO! HO! 

The fact is our world is much weirder than Narnia. Ours is a mad world. 

Not long ago it was a different kind of mad. There’s a popular story of a peculiar incident in World War I.  

. . . on Christmas Eve of that first year of battle [1914] one of the most unusual events in military history took place on the western front. . . . the British began to hear a few German soldiers singing a Christmas carol. It was soon picked up along the German line as soldiers joined in harmonizing. The words were these: “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” British troops immediately recognized the melody as “Silent Night, Holy Night” and began singing in English. 

That night, enemy soldiers sat around a campfire. They exchanged small gifts—chocolate bars, buttons, badges, and small tins of processed beef. Men, who only hours earlier had been shooting to kill, were now sharing Christmas festivities and showing each other family snapshots.

As quickly as the truce came, it went. But for a precious moment, Christmas magic interrupted the madness. How I wish it could interrupt it again. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Mockery of God

The other day I came across this sentiment (said to no one in particular): “We are to expose false teachers, not mock and scoff at them. . . . You may get away with putting them down with your little Christian friends but in the end you will give an account for how you treated every person.” 

I'm sure there are times when lines have been crossed. However, mocking false teachers and/or doctrines can be seen in several places in scripture. 

And so it was, at noon, that Elijah MOCKED them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy [“busy” means “relieving himself”], or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened” (emphasis mine, 1Kings 18:27). 

Isaiah is extremely caustic and mocking when he speaks of idolaters (e.g. 44:12-17).  

The Apostle Paul (1Cor. 11:5; 12:11) mocks false teachers in the Corinthian church and refers to them as “super apostles.” (Eminent or super “apostles” is dripping with sarcasm!) 

Even Jesus mocks false teachers with incredible irony and wit: 

Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch. . . . Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt 15:14; 23:24). 

Thus, mocking false teachers and/or doctrines is not ungodly per se. Perhaps we should ask: What is the purpose, intention, motive or merit of the specific mockery in question. Does it instruct or does it merely wound? 

Even so, one should follow one’s conscience in such things. If one feels personally convicted, one should not engage in mocking false teachers and/or doctrines. At the same time, such a one need not issue a blanket condemnation of all others who think differently. 

We should not elevate our scruples above the standards of scripture.