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Living in Light of Two Ages



Just When I Think I've Heard It All . .

Bush%20Benedict.jpgFrom the Religious New Service (Click here: Religion News Service)

President Bush, when asked by EWTN anchor Raymond Arroyo: “When you look into Benedict XVI's eyes, what do you see?”


Funny, when I see Benedict XVI, I see a brilliant and formidable theologian (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), who now presides over a church which officially denies the gospel of justification sola fide

I also see a man who has rather odd taste in shoes.  Click here: Riddleblog - The Latest Post - A Fashion Statement


Some Interesting Links . . .

Links.jpgHere's the scoop on the ESV Study Bible (coming this fall).  It looks great and worth the wait.  There are some outstanding features and many solid contributors--including a number of Westminster Seminary California professors.   (h.t. Justin Taylor)  Click here: Home | ESV Study Bible | Crossway

An Islamic cleric (Yunis al-Astal), who is allied with Hamas, looks forward to the day when Rome (the "Crusader Capital") falls to Islamic conquest.  He says it is just as much Allah's will as the fall of Constantinople.  He thinks it won't be long.  Oh . . . and Jews are apes and pigs.  Yada, Yada.  We may think these rants are kooky (and they are), but this one has been broadcast throughout the Arabic-speaking world.  Click here: - Hamas Cleric Predicts 'Rome Will Be Conquered by Islam' - International News | News of the World | M

Some things should not be made into gigantic walk-through exhibits.  There are a million things I could say at this point, but I will demonstrate my current progress in sanctification and not say another word.  Just check it out.  Click here: Giant 'Walk-In' Colon Teaches About Cancer - Orlando News Story - WKMG Orlando

If Jesus comes to visit you when you are in the hospital, by appearing on the wall, is that law or gospel?  I guess it depends upon whether the drugs you took were legal (prescribed) or consumed before you got there.  Click here: Mestew » Jesus Visits Florida Hospital 


"We Greatly Feared for Our Lives" -- Joshua 9:1-27

Joshua%20Conquest.jpgThe Twelfth in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Joshua

Joshua was afraid that this would happen.  After Israel’s stunning defeat at Ai, Joshua warned the people of Israel, “for the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it [Israel’s defeat] and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth.  And what will you do for your great name (Joshua 7:9)?”  Now that Israel has entered the heart of Canaan, the military situation will begin to change dramatically.  Some of the Canaanite tribes (the Gibeonites) are terrified of Israel and simply lose the will to fight.  But a number of Canaanite tribes begin to stiffen in their opposition to Israel’s conquest of the land.  Before the debacle at Ai, Israel and Joshua called the shots and advanced upon objectives of their choosing.  Now that the Canaanites had learned of Israel’s defeat by a vastly inferior foe at Ai, a number of tribes decide to band together in an attempt to organize a counteroffensive against the Israelite advance into Canaan.  YHWH promised to create fear in the hearts of the Canaanites, but now the Canaanites seem to be strengthening in their resolve to fight back.  What happened?

We are continuing our study of the Book of Joshua, which is part of a larger series, “I Will Be Your God and You Will Be My People.”  Throughout this series, we have been tracing the story of God’s redemption of his people as its unfolds in biblical history.  We’ve also been concentrating on the covenant of works and the covenant of grace and how God’s people relate to these two covenants. 

Recall that when we left off last time at the end of Joshua chapter 8, the people of God were camped near the city of Shechem in the valley between Mount Gerazim and Mount Ebal.  Upon reaching Abraham’s and Jacob’s ancient home as instructed by Moses, the entire nation participated in a covenant renewal ceremony.  As we read in Joshua 8:30-35, the people of God surrounded the ark of the covenant and the priests.  As the people streamed up the slopes of Mount Gerazim and Mount Ebal in what amounts to a natural amphitheater, higher up on the Mount Ebal, Israel’s priests offered burnt offerings for the people’s sins, as well as fellowship offerings to commemorate their covenant with YHWH. 

The high point of the covenant renewal ceremony was when Joshua read to the assembled people (men women and children, plus all the sojourners in the land) all that was written in the law–including the covenant blessings and curses.  We also read of how the priests conducted sacrifices on altar of uncut stones engraved with the words of the law.  This was a declaration to the Canaanites that Israel was in covenant relationship with YHWH and therefore entitled to all the covenant blessings–including possession of the land–upon the condition of their obedience.  But should Israel disobey the  Lord’s commandments, those covenant curses spelled out in the law would come upon the entire nation.  This entire ceremony was a testimony to the Canaanites that YHWH is the true and living God, and that this is his land to give to his people.  The sacrifices offered on this altar also served to remind both the Israelites and the Canaanites that YHWH is a merciful God and that there was still time to repent before YHWH directs the armies of Israel to bring down his judgment upon all those in Canaan. 

To read the rest of this sermon,  click here


Some Interesting Links . . .


Think how much saner American political discourse would be, if only Americans understood the two-kingdoms.  But they don't, and so political discourse is often insane.  Here's yet another egregious example of what happens when the distinction between the two-kingdoms is not even a category.  Rev. Jeremiah Wright preaches a funeral sermon for a friend and member of his congregation.  What a golden opportunity for Rev. Wright to bash Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and Fox News!  I guess if you are a theological liberal (like Wright) and can't offer the hope of salvation and a bodily resurrection through Jesus Christ's  triumph over sin,  death, and the grave, you might as well bash Fox.   Click here: Rev. Wright fires back :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State

Thanks to Richard Davis for submitting this very helpful chart setting out the two-age model.

Mike Horton has been lecturing on Romans at Christ United Reformed Church, Santee.  Great stuff!  Click here: Welcome to Christ United Reformed Church Santee

Here are ten more reasons why I hate to fly.  How come Lindberg Field in San Diego didn't make the list?  I 've only landed there once, but I rather like landing in the middle of a densely-populated area, and looking into hotel windows next to the runway while the plane lands, and then the pilot slams on the brakes.  Click here: The World's Scariest Runways | Travel + Leisure


Academy Lecture Posted

World%20of%20Difference%20samples%20cover.jpgKen Samples' second lecture in his current Academy series has been posted.  The lecture is entitled, "The Imago Dei:  The Fall, Redemption and Ethics."

The MP3 version can be found here:

The streaming version, here:



Who Said That?

question%20mark.jpg[Universal] bishop is “a word of proud address that I have forbidden….None of my predecessors ever wished to use this profane word [‘universal’]….But I say it confidently, because whoever calls himself ‘universal bishop’ or wishes to be so called, is in his self-exaltation Antichrist’s precursor, for in his swaggering he sets himself before the rest.”

Leave your guess in the comments section below.  Please, no google searches or cheating! 


Kalifornia--The Nanny State

Mary%20Poppins%20the%20Nanny%20State.jpgThe bureaucrats of the nanny state of Kalifonia have been busy.   That means tax-increases on everything-- including gas, smokes, and beer.

With gas prices already sky-rocketing, motorists in Los Angeles County might be stuck with an additional ten-cent per gallon tax to "help fight global warming."  Actually, the money will go to pay for highway improvements for which the state can't pry money loose from the federal government.  But if the tax increase is offered as a means to "improve the environment," then (the bureaucrats argue) it might be easier to get it through the legislature.  Click here: Gas Tax to Fight Global Warming? | Southland and California News | KTLA The CW | Where Los Angeles Lives  

As if that wasn't enough, a  fall ballot measure will call for a 300% tax increase on cigarettes, designed to make smoking so expensive, that people stop.  Of course, this won't create a black market, or  put  small  businesses  (which depend upon revenues from cigarette sales) out of business.  The law of unintended consequences never occurs to these guys.   I hate cigarette smoke as much as the next guy,  but just make them illegal, or leave smokers alone.  It is a matter of personal responsibility.   Click here: - California cigarette tax could skyrocket

Now this one really chaps my hide . . .   State assemblyman Jim Beall has proposed a 1500% increase in the tax on beer!  How dare he!  This would raise the tax on a bottle of beer from 2 cents to 30 cents ,or $1.80 per six-pack.   Click here: Higher state tax on beer? - San Jose Mercury News

Nevada and Montana look better to me every day.  I wish we could throw tea in the harbor, or do something!  I'm all for rendering unto Caesar, but enough is enough!


Some Interesting Links . . .

links%203.bmpJustin Taylor drops a few hints about the forthcoming ESV Study BibleClick here: Between Two Worlds: The ESV Study Bible.

Meanwhile, there is a war in Iraq, an energy crisis, an impending global food shortage, and our beloved Congress is debating whether or not hybrid cars--which run too quietly--might pose a danger to blind people.  Can we fire all these guys?  Click here: - Congress to Introduce Bill to Protect Blind People From Hybrid Cars - Politics | Republican Party |

Here's an interesting piece on Abraham Lincoln's commitment to Christianity.  To put it plainly, Lincoln rejected it.  Click here: Change of Subject - Observations, reports, tips, referrals and tirades | Chicago Tribune | Blog

Here's a website devoted to recipes using ramen noodles.  This must be very helpful to college students everywhere.   How about some kind of a ramen/spam dish?  Click here:

Finally, for the pleasingly plump, this falls in the "I knew it" department.  According to insurance tables, given my height (5'10'') and age (53), I'm supposed to weight 169 lbs (what?).  I haven't weighed 169 since I was seventeen!  I work out several times a week, I watch what I eat (carefully), and after dropping nearly 30 lbs a while back, my weight has stabilized at about 182-185 lbs.  Come to find out, this is much healthier than if I weighed what the stupid insurance chart says I'm supposed to weigh!   Click here: Death Risk Lower for Overweight People - Weight Loss and Weight Management Information Including Popular Diet Plan


Tonight's Academy Class--Samples Is Back!

World%20of%20Difference%20samples%20cover.jpgKen Samples continues his Academy series, "A Little Lower than the Angels:  The Christian View of Man."   Ken's second lecture is entitled, "The Imago Dei:  The Fall, Redemption and Ethics."

This series is focusing in detail on the Imago Dei (image of God), with special exploration of its spiritual, moral, and apologetic implications.  Ken is using his recent book as his text,  A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test,  chapter 10.

For more information,  Click here: Christ Reformed Info - Schedule of Academy Classes and Author's Forums - April 11 -- "A Little Lower than the Ange


The Canons of Dort, First Head of Doctrine, Article Eighteen

Synod%20of%20Dort.jpgArticle 18: The Proper Attitude Toward Election and Reprobation

To those who complain about this grace of an undeserved election and about the severity of a just reprobation, we reply with the words of the apostle, Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? (Rom. 9:20), and with the words of our Savior, Have I no right to do what I want with my own? (Matt. 20:15). We, however, with reverent adoration of these secret things, cry out with the apostle: Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways beyond tracing out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11:33-36).


We come to the final article of the First Head of Doctrine (the first point of the so-called five points of Calvinism), which is the article dealing with how we as the people of God are to think about election.  There are at least four possible responses to this doctrine, though the canons take note only of two.  Let us begin by dealing with the two responses identified by the Canons.

The first possible response one might have comes from those who when faced with this doctrine, react by calling God’s fairness into question.  As the Canons note, “to those who complain about this grace of an undeserved election and about the severity of a just reprobation, we reply with the words of the apostle, Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? (Rom. 9:20), and with the words of our Savior, Have I no right to do what I want with my own? (Matt. 20:15).”  Like it or not, we must deal with the fact that were it not for the electing grace of God, all of us would remain unbelievers, and under the just judgment of God.   

Most of our contemporaries refuse to start with the premise that the entire human race is sinful and fallen in Adam, and will not come to Christ unless God first changes our hearts, and inclines us to believe.  Starting with the egalitarian presupposition of American democracy–in this case that all of us are equally entitled to heaven until we do something to disqualify ourselves–of course, the doctrine of election sounds harsh and cruel.  To someone who comes to the discussion of sin and grace with the assumption that all of us are equally entitled to God's mercy, the teaching of election sounds as though God were depriving us of something to which we were rightly entitled.  

And so when such people complain about the “unfair” nature of election and reprobation, we ought to respond by reminding them that their starting point is incorrect—they have assumed something from the culture, which is not supported by biblical teaching (that all people are dead in sin and unable to come to faith on their own).  In election, God acts in grace and mercy, saving a multitude who would otherwise leap headlong into eternal punishment.  We must understand election as the act of gracious God, rescuing a countless multitude of people from eternal punishment, who, otherwise would not believe.

Another thing that must be considered is the question to which no one wants as answer-- “does not God have the right to do with his creatures as he sees fit?”  It is simply amazing to me that so many of  those who champion  human “free-will” ( the teaching that sin does not effect the way in which we make choices), at the same time argue that while we have free will to do what we want, that God does not have free will to do what he wants!  Thus, we do well when we kindly and charitably remind such people, “who are you--a sinful creature bound to time and space--to talk back to God?”

The second reaction that people may have to this teaching is identified by the Canons as that of humility before the sovereign God.  This is the response of someone who knows the depths of their own sin, and who realizes how much they owe to God as a result.  “We, however, with reverent adoration of these secret things, cry out with the apostle: Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways beyond tracing out!  For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (Rom. 11:33-36).  

Those who see that God's grace and mercy is wonderfully magnified by this doctrine, willingly bow the knee before God, and confess, “to him be glory forever!”  If we believe that we are dead in sin and can do nothing to save ourselves, how else can we react when we look back at this from the perspective of faith?  We realize that if this doctrine was not true, we too would be dead in sins and transgressions, and that we would have absolutely no interest in Jesus Christ.  If this doctrine were not true, we would have no hope of heaven, and no possibility of eternal life.  As Christians, we are to humbly bow the knee, and confess to our merciful God and savior, “not my will be done, but thine!”

A third reaction, which is not mentioned by the Canons, is one that we commonly find today, and that is apathy about the doctrine, or the denial of its importance.  Many people simply find this subject so difficult, and the division among Christians over this doctrine so troubling, that they will go to the greatest of lengths to avoid the subject all together.  Many are under the assumption that these are matters for debate among theologians, and that the doctrine of election has absolutely no bearing on the Christian life, one way or the other.  

But as Luther correctly pointed out, if we attribute any part of our salvation to an act of our will, we will to that degree, be plagued by doubts and fears, since are weak, sinful, and prone to doubt.  We will always wonder whether what we did was enough, or whether we have done it in the right way.  Thus the doctrine of election is necessary to for us to believe, not only because it is clearly taught in the Scriptures, but because it is also the very foundation of sola gratia.  Without being clear about who does what in the matter of our salvation, we will never be able to live in the comfort of God's grace, nor will we have the proper humility before God.  

How can we bow before our God and worship him as we ought, if we think we are worshiping him because of something good in us, namely our free will, which in this scheme somehow remains untainted by the fall and sin?  Only the justified sinner, who knows that he or she owes everything to God, can even begin to live a life of gratitude before him.  It was Shakespeare who said, “that word `grace’ on the lips of an ungrateful person, is profanity.”

A fourth possible reaction that people might have is one of confusion and intellectual torment.  This applies to those who are in the process of wrestling with these difficult issues and have not yet resolved them.  They still see truth in both sides, or they see the issues as somehow irresolvable at a fundamental level.  This is perhaps the worst condition of all, since it leaves a person in this position feeling as though the Scriptures are not clear, or as though they must live forever in the tension of not being able to solve the problem at hand. 

As Reformed Christians we must be very careful with people caught in this position.  We must take special care with them, answering their questions from the Scriptures as patiently, and as best we can.  We must also remind people in such a position that they should cling to what they do know to be true—namely that Christ died for sinners and that the Bible is true because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead—while they work through issues where they do not see as much clarity.  This is a very difficult position in which to find yourself.  The reason that we get ourselves into these situations is because sin effects our ability to interpret God's word, and not because God's word is not clear.  

We should always do as Calvin so wisely counseled, pray for illumination from the Holy Spirit so that we may read, understand, and handle the word of God correctly.  But nevertheless, those caught in this situation need to resolve it to the best of their ability and satisfaction, and then move on quickly, not dwelling upon the matter any more than is necessary.  Christians are most vulnerable to the whiles of Satan when they are in this very delicate position of doubt, and unresolved conviction about the deep matters of the Christian faith.