"Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son, Jesus Christ." - George Washington

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Whose Line?

It's harder than I thought to find something non-offensive episodes, but I love this show anyway! I love cracking up! Once again, don't forget to pause the background music first.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Techno Jeep- The Way I Wanted It! =)

I finally found out how to edit the html code and get it exactly how I wanted it, so here is that video I wanted to show you. (html codes are so much fun!)

It's called Techno Jeep, made by Julian Smith and I found it on a Best of YouTube podcast. It made me laugh, and now I'm almost addicted. I hope y'all like it at least half as much as I do. =)

note- be sure to pause the music on the side first, it could get really annoying

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Biblical Evidence- The Unpleasant Side of God's Nature

I'm back, like I said, to share what I've found about God's unpleasant side. Most people like to picture God the way they would like Him to be, a big gracious teddy bear, a gentle giant who wouldn't harm a flea and loves everyone. God is anything but. He is gracious, but when and how He chooses. He is wrathful, and powerful- a potent combo. God is perfect, but not in a way that our human minds can grasp. He is consistently proving that our idea of perfection is opposite His. Our perceptions of leadership, humility, grace and love are opposite what He would demand: we think leadership is being in charge, but leadership is being a servant. We think love is a feeling, and we receive it in the same way we give it, but love is an action - unconditional and often not understood or reciprocated.
Isaiah 55:8
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
I never understood what "the fear of the Lord" meant until I realize how fearsome He can be. He certainly deserves every ounce of fear and respect we can give.

I will present all my evidence purely by scripture. I will not comment because I want you to read it the way it's presented, not just how I view it. I also encourage you to look these things up yourself, to see them in their context. All scripture is taken from the New King James Version.

God hardened Pharaoh's heart.
Exodus 7:3-5
And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Romans 9:17-18
"For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

God prevented Balaam from cursing Israel. We don't control our actions, God does.
Numbers 24:10-13
Then Balak’s anger was aroused against Balaam, and he struck his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have bountifully blessed them these three times! Now therefore, flee to your place. I said I would greatly honor you, but in fact, the LORD has kept you back from honor.” So Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not also speak to your messengers whom you sent to me, saying, ‘If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the LORD, to do good or bad of my own will. What the LORD says, that I must speak’?

Proverbs 16:1, 9
The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD... A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

Jeremiah 10:23
O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

God hardened the hearts of opposing kings, so that the Israelites would conquer the promised land.
Joshua 11:18-20
Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. All the others they took in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

God would not forgive the Israelites.
Joshua 24:19
But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
(Here, I would quote verses from Romans 9, 10 and 11, but they only make sense within the context. If you have the time, peruse those chapters. They speak of Israel's rejection of God, and His rejection of Israel. He will not save all the Jews, but those whom He elected. It goes back to the covenant God made with Abraham, that all nations through him would be blessed. God promised to save Gentiles and Jews alike. There is an illustration of dead branches being cut off of a tree--Israel--and new branches being grafted on. This becomes a lecture in itself so I will leave it to you to look it up if you so desire.)

A distressing spirit from the Lord troubled Saul.
1 Samuel 16:14-15
But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul’s servants said to him, “Surely, a distressing spirit from God is troubling you..."

Shimei was commanded by the Lord to curse King David.
2 Samuel 16:5-13
Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. Also Shimei said thus when he cursed: “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! The LORD has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!” Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!” But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust.

God put a lying spirit into the mouths of the prophets.
1 Kings 22:19-23
Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’ Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.'

God creates certain men for the day of judgment.
Proverbs 15:11
Hell and Destruction are before the LORD; So how much more the hearts of the sons of men.

Proverbs 16:4
The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.

Romans 9:22
What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,...

God creates calamity.
Isaiah 45:7
I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.'

Lamentations 3:37-38
Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, When the Lord has not commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed?

God refined Israel for His glory.

Isaiah 48:9-11
For My name’s sake I will defer My anger, And for My praise I will restrain it from you, So that I do not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another.

God does not love everyone- God hated Esau.
Malachi 1:2-3
"I have loved you," says the LORD. "Yet you say, 'In what way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?" Says the LORD. "Yet Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness."

Romans 9:10-13
And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.”As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

God prevented people from understanding, He would not save not save them.
John 12:37-41
But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them." These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

Romans 11:7
What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Almighty In Authority, part five

Well, here we are at the final part of this chapter. I hope I haven't lost too many readers, I certainly would be disappointed but God always has a plan. Like I said last night, I have been doing lots of my own research on the more unpleasant side of God and I plan on posting the Scripture I've found. I want to make sure that I'm not just taking this author's word for it, I want Biblical proof from God Himself. It actually wasn't hard to find, but more about that a little later. Right now, I want to give you the rest of this chapter for you to chew on. God bless!
The Culprit, continued

If, then, the judge of all the earth finds it in His best interests--finds it to be that which glorifies Him the most--to harden Pharaoh's heart, to ensure that Pharaoh will act stubbornly so God might work wonders before and for His people, He can do that. He does not merely wait for it to happen. He does not merely hope it will happen. He does not merely see ahead of time that it will happen. He makes sure it happens. He planned for it to happen, and He set things up to ensure it would happen.

He can, if He wants, hire someone to make it happen. If it is His desire, He can hire a character assassin. God could have, and might have, summoned His servant Satan. He might have said, "Satan, go on down there and get to work on Pharaoh. Make him mean, plenty mean. I've got a plan I'm working on."

But even if God works through secondary causes--hire someone else to do the work for Him--He cannot cease to be the primary cause. In a human trial, we recognize that hiring a hit man does not shift the blame from the hirer to the hiree. Both the trigger man and whoever ordered the hit stand trial fro the crime. And both can hang for it.

The same could apply to Adam and Eve and the fall. God might not have operated on Eve personally. He might not have flipped the switch, changing her inclinations from good to evil. He must, however, have been the ultimate cause. He could have set things up advance, arranged the possibilities such that it would happen. But as the sole creator and controller of those possibilities, the trail ultimately leads back to God.

It was His desire to make His wrath known. He needed, then, something on which to be wrathful. He needed to have sinful creatures. He wanted to make His mercy known. He needed, then, something that deserved wrath on which He could show mercy instead. All of this serves His eternal and ultimate desire, to glorify Himself.

Somehow, though, this doesn't seem quite so glorifying, does it? Somehow we think that this smears His character more than reveals His glory. Did He make a mistake? Did He, in trying to manifest His glory, instead somehow diminish it? Of course not.

Often when we think of God's glory we think of those things which impress us. We look out at a range of mountains, or a giant redwood tree, and think, "Wow, God, you sure are great to be able to make such beautiful things." When a new baby is born, we are reminded of God's glory. These are all legitimate responses to God's glorious works. The problem is that we praise Him more because we like what He has done, because it benefits us, than because He is pleased with it. His glorification of Himself is not ultimately dependent on our reaction of awe. It is His own reaction that matters. If He is pleased, then He is glorified, even if we think it's not so great. We don't oft think, for instance, of the glory God receives from the torment of souls in hell. We are willing to jump up and down praising God when He redeems a sinner, but when He damns one, we look away. Our problem is that we identify more with, or rather root more for, our fellow humans than for God. We are not as offended at sin as God is. We don't recognize the beauty of His wrath and so miss the glory in the execution of His wrath.

Naturally, then, we're going to have a terribly difficult time trying to see the glory in His bringing to pass the fall. Nevertheless, we ought to see the glory. We ought to jump up and down praising God for His strength, that He alone has the power and authority to change the inclinations of moral agents. More important, perhaps, we ought to be jumping up and down for the sublime wisdom of His plan. It is an incredible plan. He creates a world. He stamps His image upon two of His creatures. He declares them to be good. He then changes their inclination, either directly or indirectly, such that they fall into sin. That discordant note, however, resolves in an even greater harmony. For out of that very fall, He will will exercise His wrath and show His mercy. And how will He show His mercy and yet remain just? That is the glorious story of the incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension.

All these events in Eden were so that the Son might glorify the Father and the Spirit, that the Spirit might glorify the Son and the Father, and that the Father might glorify the Spirit and the Son. It all hinges on the fall, on the changing of Eve's (and Adam's) inclination from good to bad, an event which was, on the one hand, a terrible tragedy but, on the other, the means by which God might be glorified.

All the rest of history, not just Biblical or church history, but all of history, is the unfolding of this plan, of His plan. It is the story of His acting for His glory. He acts not to impress us, not to make us happy and comfortable, but to manifest His awesome strength and authority... He is sovereign; there's no great mystery in that.
The above quote was copied from the book
Almighty Over All, Understanding the Sovereignty of God
by R. C. Sproul Jr
Published by Baker Books

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Almighty In Authority, part four

Auty speaking- Okay folks, here's where the going gets tough, but please stick it out with me. I've been doing some research of my own and once this chapter is through, I'm going to post some of the Biblical evidence I've found. Yeah, I could be wrong, we all are to some extent. If you have some suggestions or advice, I'd absolutely love to hear it! To me, nothing is better when I'm in fellowship with other Christians- iron sharpening iron. God bless!!
The Culprit

Who are we left with? The case against God, the argument that He must be the one who introduced evil into his world, does not rest merely on the process of elimination. Let us, with great care and respect, apply to God the same method in our search for the source of evil as we have applied to our other suspects.

We know that God was present. We know this at least because there is no place where He was not. God can never use as an alibi that He was somewhere else, because while He is somewhere else, He is also present everywhere. So God at least had the opportunity.

Did God have the means? Of course He did. He is God; He can do whatever He wishes. There is no power great than Him which could somehow stop Him from changing Eve's inclination. We know also that it is not only possible for God to change a person's inclination, we know that in fact it is His habit to do so. He does it all the time. In fact, He has done it to me. And if you are a servant of His, we know He has done it to you. After the fall, the Bible teaches, our strongest inclination at any given moment is always to sin. The only way this process can be arrested, such that anyone could come to faith, is if God sovereignly changes our inclination first.

The next question, then, is to ask if God had a motive for changing Eve's inclination. What reason would God have for wanting Eve to fall into sin? Imagine God before the creation of the world. The members of the Trinity are enjoying [each others] fellowship... They are noting their excellencies, praising each other, if you will. God considers His strength and finds it wonderful. He considers His mercy and finds it delightful. And then He considers His wrath. Many of us have difficulty imagining God finding any glory in His wrath, but He does. He is pleased with His wrath. If His wrath exists, and we know from His Word that it does, then we know He is pleased with it. We cannot imagine God looking at His wrath like unwanted pounds He wants to lose, if only He had the power. No, God is as delighted with Hid wrath as He is with all of His attributes, Suppose He says, "What I'll do is create something worthy of my wrath, something on which I can exhibit the glory of my wrath. And on top of that I'll manifest my mercy by showering grace on some of these creatures deserving my wrath." Can you imagine God thinking such a thought? I can, and I'm not alone in this. The apostle Paul not only speculates that such a line of reasoning is possible with God but that in fact God did reason this way. "What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" (Rom. 9:22-24).

These are perhaps some of the hardest words to swallow in all of Scripture. We could be sure, however, even without this passage that God would have a motive for Eve's fall into sin. We know that, because it came to pass. Every Bible-believing Christian must conclude at least that God in some sense desired that man would fall into sin. The only other option is to say that this event became reality against God's wishes, that God sat upon His throne ringing His hands in frustration as Eve took a bite. Such a notion is repugnant, for it means that someone or something is more powerful than God Himself.

God wills all things which come to pass. It is in His power to stop whatever might come to pass. It is within His omniscience to imagine every possible turn of events and to chose that chain of events which most pleases Him. What option most pleases Him? It is always that option which gives Him the most glory. Like man, God's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. And like man, God always acts according to His strongest inclination. What is different is that with God all things are equal in the sense that His choices are never limited. I must say, "Given that I must either eat these vegetables or receive a spanking..." But God, being all powerful, never finds Himself in the unenviable position of having to choose between the lesser of two evils.

It is because of this similarity (God always acting according to His strongest inclination) and this difference (God always getting exactly what He wants) that we can know that whatever comes to pass must be what God most wishes to come to pass, His strongest inclination.

But wait a minute. Isn't there an obvious argument against this line of reasoning? Isn't it impossible for God to do evil? Of course it's impossible for God to do evil. He can't sin. This objection, however, is off the mark. I am not accusing God of sinning; I am suggesting that He created sin. There is a difference.

We must define our terms. The Westminster Confession of Faith [Auty speaking- which I don't rely on like Scripture, nor do I rely on this book. They are man-written, not God-inspired. It seems that the Westminster Confession is often quoted without speculation, and though I don't disagree with it, I also don't lean on it. Just clearing the air] defines sin as "any lack of conformity to or transgression of the law of God." Where, I must ask, does the law of God forbid the creation of evil? I would suggest that it just isn't there. Someone might object that of course it isn't there, because man hasn't the power to create sin. And I would rest my case.

Somehow, though, it just doesn't seem fair of God to bring evil in to the world and then turn around and express His wrath against it. One could just hear this complaint from people who want to defend God against the charge that He created evil. Were there a trial, they would have character witnesses come forth and explain that God is a fair God, a just God. [Auty speaking- And I would be quick to say- no, He is not a fair God. Just, yes. Fair, no. There is a difference between the two and you know it. When Christ died for your sins, was that fair? We should not be here if God was fair. Fairness seeks out the happiness of most everyone involved. But He called it just. Christ justly took our punishment. God does what He wants and it doesn't have to be fair. There is a difference people, don't get the two mixed up.] And the underlying assumption would be that fairness and justice would keep God from changing Eve's inclination and then turning around and punishing her for acting on that inclination. Such an action would be an evil action by God, and therefore could not have happened. Treating Eve this way would be inconsistent with His character.

The prosecution, however, those trying to prove that it was God who changed Eve's inclination, if it were permitted to introduce similar activities of God performed elsewhere, would have an answer. The Bible clearly affirms that it was God who hardened the heart of Pharaoh: "For this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name might be declared in all the earth" (Exod. 9:16). Here we have Go doing two troublesome acts. First He raised up Pharaoh. It was God Himself that put this tyrant in power, to rule over Abraham's children with an iron fist. And second He hardened Pharaoh's heart. Have you ever wondered how a man could be as stubborn as Pharaoh? Destruction rained down on his kingdom like cats and dogs, or like gnats and frogs. But he did not relent. Why? Because God had hardened his heart. Should Pharaoh be judged for these things? When he stands before the judgment throne of God, will he be able to say, " Hey, it's not my fault. For who can resist your will?" (And Eve, if she's still awaiting trial, might shout from the gallery a loud amen!)

He can certainly try that. But if Paul were in the courtroom (and he at least presented a "friend of the court" brief in his letter to the Romans), we can expect him to stand quickly and shout "Objection!" He would surely go on to say, "But indeed, O man, who are you to replay against God? Wilt the thing formed say to Him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?" (Rom. 9:20-21).

Notice Paul's argument assumes it was God who worked in the heart of Pharaoh. Paul does not say, "Hey Pharaoh, leave God out of this. He had nothing to do with you hardening your heart." Neither, ultimately, does Paul give a comfortable defense of God. The objection assumes God acts to ensure, through His work, that evil will be done. If you aren't inclined to shout, "That's not fair," then you are not understanding what Paul is saying. Paul's defense is essentially, "Shut up! He is God and He can do what He wants."

It's as if Paul is saying this sham trial has gone on long enough. He is reminding us that the ultimate problem with putting God on trial is that God is the ultimate judge. All the while He was sitting in the seat of the accused, He had every right to stand up, bump the judge from his spot, and resume His rightful place. He alone is judge over all the earth.
To be continued...

The above quote was copied from the book
Almighty Over All, Understanding the Sovereignty of God
by R. C. Sproul Jr
Published by Baker Books

Monday, January 18, 2010

Almighty In Authority, part three

The Suspects, continued

How about Adam? Could he have been the one to change Eve's inclination? He certainly had the opportunity. He too was in the garden. He too had authority over Eve. The problem, of course, is that Adam also fell under God's blessing. He too was part of the creation that God declared to be good. He too, then, must have had the inclination only to do good. Is it a good inclination to desire to change Eve's inclination from good to bad? Adam, being good, could have had no desire to change Eve. And when we add that Adam doesn't have the power to change Eve, he slips quickly off the suspect list. Humans haven't the power to change the inclination of other humans. This lack of power is not the result of the fall but is inherent in man's nature.

That same lack of power applies to our strange suspect, the birds and the bees and the rocks and the trees. Though these things were present at the commission of the crime, they too have neither a motive nor the power. These things are impersonal. They do not influence the desires of humans. They have no consciousness, so they couldn't have chosen to change Eve. And if they had consciousness, just how would they have effected their desire? Wish I may wish that it is the candy bar which woos me, calls me to break my diet, candy bars don't talk. And neither do rocks.

This leads us to the crowd favorite. All of us, I'm sure, are hoping we can pin this dastardly deed on the serpent in the black hat. We don't much care for him, and we know he is destined to a rather lengthy jail term anyway. It sure would be nice if we could pin this crime on him and solve one more mystery.

There are, however, several problems with this suspect. While it is true that he was at the scene of the crime and had opportunity and a motive, he cannot be the culprit.

Though the devil, unlike the rocks and the trees, is personal, he hasn't the power to change the inclination of humans. Though incredibly powerful, he is yet a creature. Though he can and does tempt and seduce, he always does so by appealing to our already twisted inclinations. We have one example in which Satan tried to work his devilry with someone who had no inclination to do evil. Three times Satan sought to twist Jesus' legitimate desires into sinful desires. There is nothing inherently wrong with desiring to eat, especially after fasting forty days, so Satan said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread" (Matt. 4:3). Jesus' strongest inclination, however, was to obey His Father, and so He refused. SO Satan said, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down" (v. 6). Again, Jesus' strongest desire was to obey God. Finally Satan said, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me" (v. 9). Jesus knew that all things rightfully would be His; yet again His strongest inclination was to obey God.

In the garden, Satan tried to get Eve to see things differently. He tried to appeal to her natural and legitimate desire to know more. He could not, however, make that desire surpass the fundamental desire of those who are good, the desire to bey God's commands. Satan, then, could not be the culprit.

Even if Satan could have been the culprit, it still wouldn't really solve the problem of where evil came from. Even if Eve could rightly say, "The devil made me do it," we must then push the question further back. How could the devil come to be evil? Like Adam and Eve, the devil was created good. There was a time when his desires were only to obey God. Blaming the devil does not ultimately help us in solving the mystery. The devil, as the angel of light, before his fall, could not have had the inclination to do evil either.

Some pin this on the devil by suggesting that he allowed a legitimate desire grow into and illegitimate desire. Still, there must have been a time when that desire approached that line. The devil had a choice; would he allow this desire to grow into sin or not? To desire to allow it to so grow would again require an inclination toward evil, an inclination the devil could not yet have had.
To be continued...

The above quote was copied from the book
Almighty Over All, Understanding the Sovereignty of God
by R. C. Sproul Jr
Published by Baker Books

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Almighty In Authority, part two

The Suspects

In the garden of Eden we have an ideal case for investigation. Like the guests on the island manor, we are dealing with a limited geographic area and, of course, a limited number of suspects.

Who are the suspects? On whom can we pin the blame for the introduction of evil into the world? There are five possibilities: Adam, Eve, Satan, God, and the birds and the bees and the rocks and the trees. This last group might seem a little puzzling. After listing all the personal moral agents--beings capable of moral behavior--we should include the possibility that the blame could be pinned on the impersonal matter present at the scene.

What was the situation before the crime? Adam and Eve had been created by God, who had declared His creation "good." They lived in a garden paradise, vice-regents over the created order under God. They walked with God and talked with Him. They enjoyed fellowship with God and with each other. They had nothing to fear. They were at peace and were comfortable in their surroundings. They had everything they needed.

And suddenly, there was sin.

As we enter the crime scene, like all good investigators we will question first those who were present when the crime was committed. So let's look at Eve. She certainly was present, and so had opportunity. The next question is whether she had the means. Did Eve have it in her power to create sin? To answer that question we need to learn a lesson from the greatest analytical mind ever to grace the American scene--Jonathan Edwards. This gentleman's intellect makes Holmes look like a dolt. Another Holmes, Supreme Court jurist Oliver Wendell Homes, not one to carry a brief for orthodox Christianity, said of Edwards that his was the greatest mind of the last two hundred years.

Edward's most enduring and influential work was his lengthy essay, "The Freedom of the Will." The argument is he makes in this essay can be used to prove conclusively that Eve could not be the culprit, for she had not the means. The argument is surprisingly simple. Edwards wrote that all men everywhere always act according to their strongest inclination at any given time.

Stop to consider whether there was ever a time when you acted against your strongest inclination. If you were like most kids, when you were told to eat your vegetables, you certainly weren't inclined to eat them. But if you in fact ate the vegetables, that must have been your strongest inclination at the time. It's true that fear of a whack on the seat of your pants might have been part of the equation, but given your choices, eating vegetables was the strongest of the two inclinations at the time. Even when choices are unpleasant, we choose. Jack Benny illustrated this in a routine in which he was approached by a thug who said, "your money or your life." A pregnant pause followed until Benny explained, "I'm thinking, I'm thinking." Of course, there are times when we are the victims of violence and don't really make choices. Most muggers, when they say, "your money or your life," actually mean, "Your money, or your money and your life." As with taxes, there is no option which lets you keep your money.

I've asked hundreds of people who have difficulty with this concept to give an example in which they chose to do something other than their strongest inclinations. Each and every time the choice may not have been what was desired, all things being equal, but things are never equal. Edwards was right; we always choose according to our strongest inclination given our choices.

Consider, then, Eve. She was in the garden when the serpent approached her. He began the dialogue with a question, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" (Gen. 3:1). Eve corrected the serpent, explaining that she is free to eat of any tree save one. She then erred, adding to God's restriction by saying she must not even touch the fruit, lest she die. So far she has erred but is without sin. [Auty speaking- has she really erred and yet not sinned? Is an error a sin, or is it not? Was the act of eating forbidden fruit what brought sin into the world, or was the seed of sin already in her and beginning to grow? Things my mom and I have pondered in our own perusal of this chapter] The serpent then directly contradicted God by declaring, "You will not surely die" (Gen. 3:4).

So Eve considered the fruit. She weighed her options. The text tells us she recognized that the fruit was good for food, that it was pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable to be wise. And so she ate. But she couldn't have eaten on her own. Remember God had earlier made a declaration concerning Eve: "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). If Eve was good, this must mean that her inclination was only good. Remember Jesus, who alone was good, said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34). Goodness, at least with respect to personal moral agents, means the desire to obey God. Certainly God couldn't call good that which has anything other than the desire to obey and please Him. To be good is to have only good inclinations, to have a good nature. And can someone who is good do bad? Someone far more astute than Edwards said no in the most famous sermon of all time, "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit" (Matt. 7:16-18).

So we have a problem. According to what Jesus said, if Eve was good, she couldn't have done bad. God said that Eve was good, and yet she did bad. The only conclusion we can reach is that at some time between God's pronouncement of Eve's goodness and the eating of the fruit, she had to stop being good. So what or who changed Eve's inclination?

This is the real crime. The eating of the fruit, if you will, is the fruit of a crime which had already taken place. Did Eve change her inclination from good to bad? Fortunately for Eve, she cannot be guilty. She cannot be tho one who changed her inclination, because she didn't have the means. She didn't have the means because she didn't have a motive.

Eve was by the tree, contemplating whether she would change her inclination from good to bad. Her inclination at the time was good. Is it a good thing or a bad thing to change one's inclination from good to bad? For Eve to have ad her strongest inclination the inclination to change from good to bad, she would have to had to be bad. She couldn't have changed her own inclination any more than a leopard can change its spots or a good tree and bear bad fruit. We must excuse Eve from our investigation. Something outside of her must have been the agent of change, that which changed her inclination from good to bad. Though she was the one who first ate of the tree, she cannot be the one who introduced evil into the world.
To be continued...

The above quote was copied from the book
Almighty Over All, Understanding the Sovereignty of God
by R. C. Sproul Jr
Published by Baker Books

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Almighty In Authority, part one

I have been excited over the past few weeks to share this chapter with you on my blog, because it changed the way I look at God, and why He decides to do certain things in my life. I am completely positive that if I have any readers now, I probably won't after this chapter has been entirely posted. It's very surprising, and even quite unpleasant- it was for me the first time I read it, and I was looking at it from a Reformed viewpoint. Most of you are probably coming from a Baptist, or Pentecostal or what-have-you viewpoint so I'll understand if you get mad at me. But please, read it anyway. Even if you don't believe it, God may show you something else you didn't know before. You can never hear a bad sermon (or read a book in this case) because even the bad sermons cause you to do some research on your own. Make the best of it, and ask God to give you eyes and ears of understanding. That is my prayer for you, dear reader.

Now, the book is called "Almighty Over All" by R. C. Sproul Jr and the chapter I've been referring to is Chapter 3, Almighty in Authority, "Who Dunit?". Sproul Jr. is a little more "Hyper-Calvinist" than his father, R. C. Sproul, but both are highly recommendable authors and preachers. This chapter in particular focuses on the motivation and cause behind the Fall. Intrigued yet? I hope enough so to read along the next few days. And we begin...
Everybody loves a good mystery story. At least everybody should love a good mystery story. okay, I love a good mystery story. My wife, as a gift for our first Saint Valentine's Day after we were married, gave me, in one volume, the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I didn't devour the book; I savored it. Each night before going to sleep I would read one story, and one story only. As is common in most mystery tales, each story had a few simple elements. A crime is committed. A list of suspects is introduced, and then slowly that list is narrowed until the culprit is found. With careful logic Holmes investigates who had a motive, who had opportunity, and who had the means.

Though Holmes rarely worked this way, it is not uncommon in a mystery story for all the suspects to be confined to a small area. the same storm which apparently knocked out the lights before the murder forces the guests at the manor on the island to stay put. We find that young Master Conrad, the playboy nephew, is about to be cut from the old man's will. We learn that Jeeves the butler is about to be fired because the master learned of his secret wife and family living in the slums of London.

In theology, mysteries are not so different. We must work with facts we know and seek to reason out the best possible answer. In the previous chapter, we tried to understand creation by affirming both that God is eternal and that the material world is not. Some people are too comfortable with mysteries. Any time there is a little puzzle, these folks throw up their hands and gladly declare "Mystery," thereby avoiding the labor of unraveling it. Such false humility has the added advantage of seeming pious. The problem is that when we give up our search for understanding too early, we miss out on opportunities to know better who God is and what He has done. If, because I don't understand how a light bulb works, I merely declare its operation a mystery too grand for me, then when the bulb burns out, I won't know that by replacing the bulb I can have light again. I'm afraid I'd be more silly than pious sitting in a dark room.

Perhaps no mystery had puzzled theologians more than the problem of evil.

The two theologians whose thought I know and admire the most--men who are loathe to cry mystery--when asked where evil comes from (and they are asked often), give the same unsatisfactory answer: they shrug their shoulders.

They're not alone in being puzzled. The problem of evil has vexed the greatest minds of history, inside and out of the Christian church. By the problem of evil I do not mean how we explain why bad things happen to people. That's not such a big problem once you come to recognize that all men are sinners and deserve only death. The difficult question is how men came to be sinners in the first place. Remember that there once was God and nothing else. Now there is not only God and the universe but also evil. Where did it come from?

To chip away at this problem, we will approach it like detectives solving a mystery.
To be continued...

The above quote was copied from the book
Almighty Over All, Understanding the Sovereignty of God
by R. C. Sproul Jr
Published by Baker Books

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lessons From Stupid Israelites

God has amazed me. =) I thought I wouldn't learn anything from reading the Pentateuch, but I was wrong.
Numbers 33:50-56
Now the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places; you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess. And you shall divide the land by lot as an inheritance among your families; to the larger you shall give a larger inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give a smaller inheritance; there everyone’s inheritance shall be whatever falls to him by lot. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.’”
Lesson #1: Give it all to God, no reservations.
The Isrealites were told to remove everything from this area of their lives, and if they left any piece behind, it would come back to haunt them and trouble them. On a smaller scale, is there anything in my life God has told me to clear out, but I left something behind in my selfishness?

Lets put cause and effect on this, if I decide to keep a corner of my life to myself, I'm not going to enjoy it in the least. In fact, it will make me miserable and damage my relationship with God. In the long run, my selfishness hurts me greatly.

On the other hand, if I surrender every sin to God, then I will be clean and new. I will have a great burden lifted, I will have joy and have a complete communion with God! How wonderful! momentary pain for eternal joy is very much worth it.
Deuteronomy 1:29-33
“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ Yet, for all that, you did not believe the LORD your God, who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day.
Lesson #2: Give to God the glory He deserves.
How amazing would it have been to see God perform so many wonders!! This verse made me meditate for several days, and caused me to put myself in the shoes of the Israelites. Can you believe that they rebelled even after they saw the sea parted, and God carried them through, and did all the hardest parts for them?! Well, that's considering if 21st-century-me was put in their place. It would seem pretty radical, but they weren't from the 21st century. What they saw was to them almost every-day occurrences.

We think that God doesn't perform radical miracles anymore, but He does! They just look like every-day occurrences! And we are the same as those "stupid Israelites" who didn't seem to care. We give the credit to ourselves, to nature, to government, whatever. The credit goes anywhere but to God. I think we ought to examine ourselves and take notice of not only the blessings we miss, but what we fail to give God glory for. And while you're at it, say thank you.

Jane Eyre Quotes

"Thank you Mr. Rochester for your great kindness. I am strangely glad to get back again to you, and wherever you are is my home, my only home."

"Now he has his back towards me," thought I, "and he is occupied too; perhaps, if I walk softly, I can slip away unnoticed."
I trod on the edging of the turf that the crackle of the pebbly gravel might not betray me: he was standing among the beds at a yard or two distant from where I had to pass; the moth apparently engaged him. "I shall get by very well." I meditated. As I crossed his shadow, thrown long over the garden by the moon, not yet risen high, he said quietly, without turning --
"Jane, come look at this fellow."

"You are going, Jane?"
"I am going, sir."
"You are leaving me?"
"You will not come? You will not be my comforter, my rescuer? My deep love, my wild woe, my frantic prayer, are all nothing to you?"
What unutterable pathos was in his voice! How hard it was to reiterate firmly. "I am going."
"Mr. Rochester!"
"Withdraw then - I consent; but remember, you leave me here in anguish. Go up to your own room; think over all I have said, and Jane, cast a glance on my sufferings - think of me."
He turned away; he threw himself on his face on the sofa. "Oh, Jane! My hope -- my love -- my life!" broke in anguish from his lips. Then came a deep strong sob.
I had already gained the door; but, reader, I walked back - walked back as determinedly as I had retreated. I knelt down by him; I turned his face from the cushion to me; I kissed his cheek; I smoothed his hair with my hand. "God bless you, my dear master!" I said. "God keep you from all harm and wrong -- direct you, solace you -- reward you well for your past kindness to me."
"Little Jane's love would have been my reward," he answered; "without it, my heart is broken. But Jane will give me her love: yes -- nobly, generously." Up the blood rushed to his face; forth flashed the fire from his eyes; erect he sprang; he held his arms out; but I evaded the embrace, and at once quitted the room.
"Farewell!" was the cry of my heart as I left. Despair added,
"Farewell for ever!"
"We are one, you and I... We are like those twins, so intertwined in their senses and feelings that they call out to one another across continents, so close are their thoughts."
(From the BBC movie)

"It is a crime against God to deny yourself love. It should be the eleventh commandment!"
(From the BBC movie)

"St. John! You used to call Jane your third sister, but you don't treat her as such: you should kiss her too."
She pushed me towards him. I thought Diana very provoking, and felt uncomfortably confused; and while I was thus thinking and feeling, St. John bent his head; his Greek face was brought to a level with mine, his eyes questioned my eyes peircingly - he kissed me. There are no such things as marble kisses or ice kisses, or should I say my ecclesiastical cousin's salute belonged to one of these classes; but there may be experiment kisses, and his was an experiment kiss. When given, he viewed me to learn the result; it was not striking: I am sure I did not blush; perhaps I might have turned a little pale, for I felt as if this kiss were a seal affixed to my fetters. He never omitted the ceremony afterward, and the gravity and quiescence with which I underwent it seemed to invest in it for him with a certain charm.
"We shall have to teach fat little boys lessons they don't want to learn."
(From the BBC movie)

"Do I look quite hideous, Jane?"
"Yes sir. You always did, you know."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Viva La Vida

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
Once you go there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn't believe what I'd become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world


This is a bit of reading I found some time back, from the Cardiphonia letters by John Newton. He was in the habit of writing to his parishioners under a pen name and many helpful books have been the result. This quote is wonderful, though not at all encouraging. I'm completely guilty of every one of these sins, since - as Douglas Gresham, C. S. Lewis' step-son put it - Satan cannot create anything, and there are no new temptations. We suffer exactly the same temptations as everyone has through all history. I think we all need to see ourselves as we really are, helpless addicted sinners who have nothing outside of what God gives us in His mercy and love!
"... But if I was to describe [a believer] from experience, especially at some times, how different would the picture be. Though he knows that communion with God is his highest privilege, he too seldom finds it so. On the contrary, if duty, conscience, and necessity did not compel, he would leave the throne of grace unvisited from day to day. He takes up the Bible, conscious that it is the fountain of life and true comfort, yet perhaps while he is making the reflection, he feels a secret distaste which prompts him to lay it down and pick up a newspaper. He needs not to be told of the vanity and uncertainty of all beneath the sun, and yet, is almost as much elated or cast down by a trifle of those who have their portion in this world. He believes that all things shall work together for his good and that the most high God appoints, adjusts, and overrules all his concerns, yet he feels the rising of fear, anxiety and displeasure as though the contrary was true. He owns himself ignorant and liable to be deceived by a thousand fallacies, yet is easily betrayed into positiveness and self-conceit. He feels himself an unprofitable, unfaithful, unthankful servant and therefore blushes to harbor a thought of desiring the esteem and commendation of men, yet cannot suppress it. Finally, for I must observe to some bounds, on account of these and many other inconsistencies, he is struck dumb before the Lord, stripped of every hope and plea, but what is provided in the free grace of God, and yet his heart is continually leaving and returning to a covenant of works."