Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Saturday, July 22, 2006
The essence of the covenant that God made with Noah after the flood was that God would never again destroy man upon the earth. The sign and seal of this covenant was the rainbow, that would appear in the rain, guaranteeing that there would be no more great flood to destroy life from the earth. It was a sign of peace.
But God cannot deny Himself, and if HIs promise was not to destroy man, He must make provision that wickedness would never again rise to the level that existed before the flood. To this end, man was commissioned to restrain the bloody wickedness of those who live by murder and blood. Capital punishment is not only permitted, but required.
This precept is repeated in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul:
“3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore [ye] must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” (Romans 13:3-5 AV)
In God's providence, He further implemented this covenant by separating the nations at Babel, and nations became His instrument for disciplining other nations who turned to blood and lawlessness.
Therefore it is right and proper for coalitions of nations [Not necessarily a lawless organization like the U.N.] to ensure order in the world by bringing the sword against those nations or organizations who disrupt the order of the world by blood, murder, and lawlessness. This the the mandate of the Creator and Father of all men.
Read Genesis 1-11.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Well, why not? This is the way churches read their creeds nowadays.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Even as I write this the television is reporting that Israeli planes are attacking Beirut and that Hebollah has launched rocket attacks on Israel. We should support Israel in this conflict and supply them with whatever aid and munitions they need. Not because they are favored of God, because it is in our interest to do so.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
You cannot have it both ways. If Jesus is the Son of God and the one who was promised to send forth the Spirit, then His claim and the claim of Christianity are validated. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me." Unless you can believe that salvation may be obtained somewhere else but from the Father, then the argument is over.
Peter, speaking to Israelites put it this way, showing that he understood Christ's doctrine: ""Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:10-12 AV)
It is very bad to base foeign policy on bad theology. Such a policy is not only bad, but dangerous.
It is very clear in Scripture that Israel's possession of Canaan depended upon their faith and obedience. Rejecting Jesus Christ put them out of touch with Abraham, Moses, the prophets and all the promises of God concernig the land and concerning salvation. They must come to God the same way that anyone else comes to God.
Also the following words of Christ from Matthew 21 are significant:
"And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? 24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. 27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things."
But what think ye? A [certain] man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I [go], sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of [his] father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen [it], repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
"Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast [him] out of the vineyard, and slew [him]. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out [his] vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. (Matthew 21:23-45 AV)
The crucifixtion of Christ was the end of any special relationship that the nation of Israel had with God. Are they abandoned, then. Of course not, bcause the gospel is for all men, including Israel. Paul put it this way:
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. (Romans 11:22-23 AV)
The key words are these: "God is able to graft them in again." But they must abandon their unbelief in Jesus and embrace Him as the Son of God and come to God just the way that anyone else comes.
"For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him." (Romans 10:12 AV)
The day will come when Jew and non-Jew, Arabs who have learned to trust Christ [and many of them are nowadays], and people from every other tongue and nation will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and feast together at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Those days will only be postponed as people claim or extend an elitism based on race. All men have been created by one God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and out of every race, kindred and family under heaven, those who turst in Christ haave slavation and inheritance in Him. Tribal Christianity is an oxymoron. [See my article at Basket of Figs]
[Jesus], being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Hebrews 1:3 AV)
For a great theological paper on this subject see Dr. Reymond's paper: "Who Owns the Holy Land"?
Sunday, July 09, 2006
said, every thing in the Bible is not of equal importance. Law,
judgment, faith, and mercy are more important than the tithe
of mint and anise. It is contrary to human nature, and a false
perfectionism that can only be found in heaven, to insist that
everyone agree on everything. In love and forbearance, as
Paul commanded, the church has tried to identify those
necessary things to be believed. This is for the purpose of
living together, not in perfect unity, but in a useful, earthly
unity. Perfect unity will be found only in Heaven.
In order that we do not endlessly haggle over those things
which we believe to be settled and clearly taught in Scripture,
we have adopted the Three Forms of Unity. We had formerly
used only the Heidelberg Catechism. It was an error on the
RCUS in time past not to have clearly confessed all three,
and our adoption was a confession of that error. We made
a few very minor emendations to the BC--small things.
Nothing of substance was changed in the slightest. In this
we positioned ourselves with the Continental confessions of
Are the confession infallible and inerrant? Of course not, but
I do not know of any errors in them, and I would be trying to
change them if I did. The fact that we already made a few
minor changes shows that we do not believe in their inerrancy.
Such has not been done, nor could not be done, to the Holy
Scriptures. We made changes in the creeds because we
believed that certain statements did not reflect the true meaning
of Scripture. If we disagree on the meaning of the statements in
the creed, we must appeal to the Bible to settle the point at
The statement that one dollar plus two dollars equals three
dollars is a statement without error. I am not elevating such
statements over the Scriptures to insist that we follow such
statements in the financial records of the church. Truth is truth
and can be stated in words, or everything is lost. If the
treasurer of our church insisted on some other system of
arithmetical "truth" we would be justified in seeking another
for the office. Ontology is not up for grabs.
Christ Jesus died for sinners is a true statement that is not in
the Bible, because the Bible was not written in English. But
the truth of the statement transcends the language. Christ Jesus
is Jesus of Nazareth who was the Messiah promised to the
Jews and He was crucified in the place of sinners is meaning
that can be expressed in many different ways. If we did not
believe that we would not translate Bible nor preach the
Gospel in English.
We insist on verbal inspiration because the Bible is a book
of covenant, at least a legal document expressing God's
requirements for what we are to believe and what we are
to do. We insist on verbal inspiration because we don't want
people messing with the IDEAS, not because we have a
Jewish fixation with the language itself. 1Cor. 2 states that
the spiritual ideas are expressed in spiritual words.
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand
the scriptures, (Luke 24:45 AV) The words must be understood
in order to be believed. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and
understand: (Matthew 15:10 AV)
These ideas can be expressed in words of the common language,
and we can make canons [lists] of the doctrines that we insist that
our minister preach and promote. A man will not go to hell
because he believes that babies should not be baptized, but
he will not continue to be a minister of the RCUS is he teaches
this. He cannot admit adulterers, if known, to the Lord's Supper.
He cannot preach that Jesus will some day reign over a Jewish
kingdom in Jerusalem.
If he wants to teach such things, he can go somewhere else in
this glorious free nation and try to get someone to listen to him,
but he cannot use his pulpit in the RCUS to teach such things.
He may go to heaven when he dies, for the blood of Christ
covers all of our foolishness, but we are not going to continue
to have internal divisions and strife over things that we believe
to be settled a long time ago.
I do not know where the line is between error and damnation
is, but I fear error and don't want to be indifferent to it. I don't
want someone to take the house numbers off my house, even
though it would make no structural difference, nor do I want
him to paint a red KKK on my sidewalk, and then think he
did no harm to my house. Even a blue GGG would be
There is a difference between error and damnation because
John speaks of the sin unto death and sins not unto death,
but he didn't draw us a line, lest we think that we can be
I can render the "judgment of charity" to those who do not
agree with us on some things that may appear to be not
essential, because we are commanded to receive those who
are "weak in the faith," but not "unto doubtful disputations."
But if they want to argue about things in the creeds, then let
them go find their own forum and not seek to subvert our
people. They can go make their own church if they want to.
Years ago I had a young high school student ask me, "Dr.
Powell, is it necessary to believe in the doctrine of
"That's the wrong question," I replied. The right question is,
"Is the doctrine of predestination true." If it is true, we are
bound to believe it, whether it is in our confessions or not.
But if such a great doctrine is true, then shame on us if it is
not in our creeds, and we do not require our ministers to
If a doctrine or statement in our confessions is not true, then
it needs to be expunged, or what good is the confession? If
the confession is for the purpose of seeking the unity of the
church, then there is no place for error in the creeds.
We will not try a minister for heresy, I hope, for believing that
Paul wrote Hebrews, or for allowing his wife to be a little
mouthy at times. These things may very well be wrong, and
may foment a bit of gossip, but they do not rise to heresy.
I do not have to agree with every diverse interpretation of
the statements in the creeds, but the substance is counted
as settled among us.
Jesus said that if we confess Him before men, He will
confess us before our Father in Heaven. I, for one, desire
to make a full and faithful confession of my faith in Christ
and do not wish to do that apart from faithful church in all
ages. The faith of the church is very purely confessed in the
Three Forms of Unity, and I studied the major creeds and
compared them before I became a minister in the RCUS.
I compared the statements with Scripture and found them
to be faithful summaries of the doctrine of Scripture. The
older I get the more I am amazed at the truth contained in
these great creeds. I swore to be faithful to the church and
to the confessions and by God's grace I have preached
these truths as faithfully as I could for almost forty years.
They are biblical truth and can be denied only at the peril
of the soul.
Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but ontological
agnosticsm is all the rage nowadays. The first casuality of
such agnosticism is the creeds, for who knows what is the
truth? Don't people disagree? This is the major complaint
against Christian when they try to convince anybody that
anything is true. The faith of the modern world is ontological
agnosticism. The humanist refuses to think that nothing is
certain, nothing is real.
Saying that I am a sinner and wrong about many things is not
the same as saying that nobody knows anything and there is
no truth to confess. Neither is a person saying anything if he
says that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, but refuses to
stand for anything that it says. That's like saying you married
the most excellent woman in the world, but cannot say
anything that she is good for. As ministers of the RCUS, we
believe that there are certain things that are clearly taught in
Scripture and we are not loath to confess them in words easy
Whose fault is it if we disagree? It is ours, and comes from
our humanism and refusal to search the Scriptures. It is also
laziness on our part, for we are content to be partisans and
fideists rather than searching the Scriptures. We mine the
literature for arguments to support our position rather than to
find the truth. We search the Scripture from the same motives.
Joining a denomination is rather like getting married. You must
trust the Lord, make the best decision you can, and be faithful
and true to your vows. Don't make the decision hastily, but
having made it, whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with
your might," believing that this is the will of God for you.
A person who spends his whole life wishing he had married
someone else is a very sad and wicked person.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves.... [Isaiah 59:10, 11] Why did Israel do that?
The classical approach to the attributes of God, such as are explored with such exquisite skill in Turretin and Charnock are rejected as using categories and terms used by the Greeks, who after all were pagans. Did I say that before? For an article that explodes the idea that the Greek humanism [paganism] heavily influenced early Christian thought go to this link [which will take you to the basketoffigs website].
The result is that nothing can be said about the being [ontology] of God. A person who cannot love his neighbor is not able to love God, John said. If a person cannot discern something about the eternal God in the particular image of his fellow man is not capable of knowing anything about God, for he is blind as a bat and deaf as a post, or pretends to be. The particular reveals the infinite.
The most important things that can be said about God are what He is NOT. But what something is NOT, especially when it comes to God, is extremely important. A child needs to know what is not food, who are not friends, who are not wise. It is ontological agnosticism that has led to such nonsense as the Openness of God "movement" [They like the designation "movement" because that way they don't have to say anything definite. "We are part of a movement, and you can't catch us, ha, ha, ha. Run, Run, as fast as you can; you can't catch me, I'm a Movement Man." To say what something IS NOT is not ignorance; it might be very important knowledge.
Thus, the classical Reformed theologians spoke of the negative attributes of God, or His incommunicable attributes: Independence, Immutability; infinity; and unity. There are five denials in the last clause of the previous sentence and they are very important denials about the nature [ontology] of God, and the Reformed confess that the Bible is very clear on these denials. To this can be added another denial: God is a spirit, which means that He is not composed of anything material that can be accessed by our senses. But the attribute of "spirit" is communicable, because God is the Creator and Father of many spirits, including angels and men, which do not possess independence, immutability, infinity, or unity.
incommunicable: These first four denials belong to God alone and cannot pertain to any creature.
Independent: God has no support group: He does not need food, air, companionship; warmth. He is complete in Himself in all things
Immutable: God does not change; He is perfect in wisdom, power, and goodness.
Infinite: God has no limits in time or space, in wisdom, in power, in knowledge, in goodness. He is eternal and immense, completely filling all time and space that that he is everywhere present and all knowing.
One, or Unity: There is only One God, and He is a simple being, having no parts, but is infinitely One. His attributes are not parts, but His very essence.
Spirit: He does not have a body like a man and cannot be accessed by the physical senses. He is invisible [another negative], everywhere present in all space and time.
This means that we must not worship anything that does not have these attributes: no creature, nothing in this changing, finite, diverse, and physical world. There is one God, and He is invisible to our senses, known only by His Word and Spirit. Even Christ is not to be worshipped in the body, because He as ascended to heaven and must be sought there, for we know him no more after the flesh. His kingdom is not of this world.
When we speak of the Ontological Trinity, we are confessing that there is One God who eternally exists in Three Persons, but there is only one Being called God, so that the Persons are not divisions of god, for infinity and Unity cannot be divided.
For more information on the subject, consult the Attributes page at the Basket of Figs website. Click here.
See also any standard systematic theology: Berkhof; Hodge; Turretin; Murray; Van Til; Calvin [Institutes of the Christian Religion]etc.
Reformed Theology is not a movement; it is a systematic. If a minister is Reformed, it is possible to know it. If he doesn't want you to know what he is, then he isn't. Only God is perfect, but a three-legged cow is still a cow. A cow without a head is not a cow; it is a rotting corpse. A farmer doesn't need years of graduate school to know that. The OA is not real sure what anything IS, but this is just a pretense, in order to get you to think that somethings are different than they are.
"This is life eternal, that they might know thee, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.... I have given them the words that thou hast given me, and they have received them...." --Jesus [John 17]
The fact is, Israel was not blind and they did have eyes. But what good is the Bible if you don't read it? What good are eyes if you don't look at God's creation? What good is reason if you refuse to think, or if you get drunk on the whiskey of contradiction? "Is" can never be "is not," not in the world created by One who cannot deny Himself and Who cannot lie.
"Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." --Jesus.