A Dove, 3, 7, and Creation

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Genesis 8:8-11

Noah is waiting for the flood waters to recede and he sends out two birds. I have not contemplated or researched enough yet to comment on the raven but when reading about the dove being sent out, some striking things stand out (note: there is no mention of a seven day waiting period between the raven and the dove…significant? I do not yet know).

The dove is sent out and comes back with nothing. Noah waits seven days and then sends it out again. The dove hovers over the face of the water because it is formless and void and returns again with nothing.

Noah once more waits seven days and sends out the dove, and on this third time it returns with an olive branch of new creation.

In this four verse narrative we see all of the trinitarian creation story being told again.

Later on we also see the Edenic exhortation beings reiterated, this time to Noah: “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.”

This is a command-blessing that echoes that given to Adam during the first creation.

Now, there is another waiting of seven days and on this fourth time being sent out the dove does not return, and maybe this means everything I said above means nothing-or it ties in some how that I have not yet seen. I welcome comments and will update this post as I contemplate more on this passage; however, I think there is way to much coincidence to be ignored.

God loves to tell His story, many different times, in many different ways. Eschatologically we and the earth, which is under another curse, are waiting for the next new creation, and the final seventh day sabbath rest, that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit to inherit at the second advent of our Messiah.

Christmas is not about Family

 

WHHHHAAAATTTTT!!!! Heresy in its highest form.

Christmas is NOT about family- however, this does not mean that family cannot, and should not, be an integral part in the celebration and true focus of Christmas.

Christmas is about the incarnation of God.

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It has been said rather recently by a well known apologist that the Resurrection is the primary thing that matters. It does not exactly matter if the gospel accounts are entirely accurate, whether He was truly born of a virgin, truly born to Jospeh and Mary, truly born in bethlehem etc.

I beg to differ.

The Incarnation is just as important as the Resurrection. The Gospel accounts must also be true, not only for the fact that we must have confidence in God’s word, but also the doctrinal truth of the Virgin Birth is essential to truly understanding the hypostatic union, the resurrection, and the entirety of the work of Christ

Christ is the New Adam, therefore He could not be born of the sin imputed to us from the first Adam (see Romans 5). Christ was fully God and fully man but He did not have a sin nature.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:1-4, 14.

It matters that Christ was 100% God and 100% man. It matters that He was born of a Virgin. It matters that He was born! This is the ultimate act of love and glory. Jesus came to glorify the Father (and be glorified) by the loving act of redeeming such insignificant creatures as us, wholly underserving and not worthy of this gift; it is graciously given.

You cannot have the Crucifixion and Resurrection without the Incarnation-this is what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

As to family, use this time to focus on something that should be focused on much more than once a year with those closest to you; use this time to share with your friends and family who do not believe as to why the incarnation is so important; celebrate this time together so that you may grow in love for your Savior and each other!

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

 

 

 

 

An Imprint of Substance

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“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power…” Hebrews 1:3

When you think of an image or reflection of something, perhaps you envision a reflection in the water. The picture is there but blurred like an Impressionist’s painting. Or maybe you think of a mirror- a clear, sharp reflection. But no matter the perfection of the reflection, neither of those are actually you. They are you of a short, but hollow-completely devoid of substance.

What about a coin? It bears the image of the person or government it belongs to, giving it some sort of substance and it is given some value because of the image-but it is not the value of the image, but the image giving it value.

So when Hebrews says Jesus is the exact imprint of the nature of God what is being communicated? Is it that of a reflection in the water? A mirror? Or an imprint on a coin?

Calvin says this:

“When, therefore, thou hear that the Son is the brightness of the Father’s glory, think this with thyself, that the glory of the Father is invisible until is shines forth in Christ, and that he is called the impress of his substance…Even the Substance of the Father is in a manner engraved on the Son” (Commentary on Hebrews)

John 1:1, Colossians 1:16-17, and the passage above tell us that is was God who created the universe through the person of the Son. I think Genesis also gives us a trinitarian creation but the person of the Son-Jesus “upholds the universe by the word of His power”. 

Aside from this passage implicitly claiming the eternality of Christ, it is expressing that the Son is the exact imprint of the substance of God. Without conflating the persons, Christ has all the attributes of deity that the Father does-as does the Spirit; but different from the Spirit, Christ actually is an image for He became flesh.

Just a few years before Jerry Bridges died, I was at a conference he was speaking at, and the only thing I really remember from his message was this:

“Preach the gospel to yourself-everyday.”

The creator of the universe condescending to our level, to die for the sins of those who believe and enable them to believe to adopt them as children of the Father and co-heirs with the Son.

Amazing.

 

 

The Trinity is not Polytheistic

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Westminster Longer Catechism:

Q.8 Are there more Gods than one?

A. There is but one only, the living and true God

A misunderstanding that some religions have toward Christianity is that we teach a polytheistic structure. Unfortunately, some groups under the broad spectrum of the Christian label do teach polytheism..namely the Mormons. As mentioned in a previous post, I reject Mormonism’s claim to be a Christian religion. That aside, the Trinity is a complex doctrine but thankfully we have the creeds and confessions to help us articulate what is taught in the Bible.

Q.9 How many persons are there in the Godhead?

A. There be three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory; although distinguished by the personal properties.

One substance, one God, with “different personal properties”. We have chosen the word “persons” to describe these “different personal properties” (and there was no shortage of debate over that) but it is essential to understand that these different persons are the same substance to which equal worship, eternality, and power are ascribed.

 

Some Trinitarian Thoughts

There is a controversy coming around again in regards to the Trinity.  This is good for the reason that I think many Christians do not have a good understanding of the Trinity-who does? But just because it is a complex doctrine does not mean that it is not important to define and know why it is important, and the truth of the matter is that many “orthodox” Christians would struggle to define and defend the doctrine of the Trinity.

For example: If asked to give an example of the Trinity and you use the example of a three-leafed clover, you are guilty of the heresy known as partialism. If you use the example of water being liquid, solid, and gas, guess what…you are again guilty of heresy; this time one known as modalism. Be not in despair, most of us have been there. The honest truth is, there is not a good analogy of the Trinity.

Here is quote from John Frame that helps at least start to give us an understanding of the Trinity:

“(In regards to the person of the Trinity) Each exhausts the divine being; each bears all the divine attributes, and indeed, each is in the other two (circumincessio). So when we encounter one person, we are encountering the triune God. But when we learn that the divine being contains everything described by the divine attributes, and everything in the three persons as well, we are impressed with the wonderfully rich complexity that is God. There is areal difference between the Son, praying in the garden to His Father, and the Father hearing him in heaven. But both Son and Father belong to the rich complexity that is the divine essence, and both exhaust that essence. ~John Frame, Systematic Theology, (pg 486)

For a humors explanation of these bad analogies I give you..

 

 

Christians, Muslims, Jews and God

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(Photo credit: muslims4peace.org )

In recent days, thanks to a controversy involving a professor at Wheaton College, there has been no shortage of debate in the blogospheres as to who worships what God. The question is commonly phrased: “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” After all, can’t Christians utter the first part of the Shahada along with Mulsims? I do not believe I will be adding any new material here, but I wanted to expand the question, as others have, to include adherents of Judiasm. Dr James White, in a video here, covers the Mulsim/Christian dynamic of this inquiry fully, so I will focus mainly on the question: “Do Jews worship the same God as Christians?”

I think instinctively, if you’re a Christian, you want to say “Yes, of course we do. We are Judeo-Christians after all.” If you are not a Christian, you may also think this for the very same reason. You may also think that all gods are the same, we just approach them differently. “All roads lead to Rome” right? (I know for a fact though that I80, I40, and I10 do not…although I40 gets close in Georgia) Back to the Christian: As you think about it a bit longer, you may then be tempted to change your answer thinking: “Well, I would not say modern adherents of Judaism are saved, so maybe not?” Brifely, I am going to argue that the question is not as cut and dry as it first appears, then I am going to argue that it actually is.

It isn’t as cut and dry as it may first appear because we claim to believe in the same God Abraham worshipped, namely, Yahweh. Modern Jews claim this as well (incidentally, Muslims also claim to worship the same God as Abraham).  Jesus says in Luke 16, when telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus, that the rich man, speaking from Hades, asked Abraham to send someone back from the dead to warn his brothers so that they may avoid the place of torment that he was currently in. Note Abraham’s response : “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them“, and again “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:29,31).

What is Jesus saying here? He is saying that what was revealed in the Law and the Prophets was enough for salvation (As a side note, this is one of the reasons I hold to a reformed perspective concerning the salvation of Old Testamnet saints. I believe the Bible teaches that Old Testament saints are saved in the same way as New Testament saints, and that is by looking to the cross. The Old Testament believers looked forward in faith and hope to the coming Messiah’s work, though they did not fully understand what it would be; and New Testament believers look back on the finished work of the Messiah, Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. However, this is is topic for another time.).

So, if a Jew could be saved by what was revealed in the Law and the Prophets, do they not indeed worship the same God as Christians? This is where the answer does become as cut and dry as it appears.

No doubt that “Abraham believed God, and is it was counted unto him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3) , but what does Jesus say in John 5, 6, and 8? Let’s start with 5:46: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.”, and then in 6:40 “…everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life…”, and finally 8:39-42 “They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me…”. So what is the point? Simply: A denial of Jesus is a denial of the Father.

I have been specific in my wording above as I have repeatedly referenced “modern Jews”, for I believe that the Jews of the Old Testament did believe in the same God as Christians, that is to say Yahweh. But this was only in so far as He had revealed Himself at that time. In the New Testament, Christ claims to be Yahweh (see my early post). (Another side note, this is another reason I am reformed. I do not believe God changes or that the New Testament changes the Old Testament, rather, it is a continuing revelation. Jesus Himself says He did not come to abolish the Law and Prophets but fufill it (see Matt 5:17). Again, another topic for another time).

To deny Christ is to deny Yahweh. Simply put, this means that modern Jews and Muslims do not worship the same God as Chritsians because they deny the deity of Christ. Incidentally, so do Momorns and Jehovahs Witnesses and I reject these groups  being identified as branches of Christianity. The Bible is clear:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phillipians 2:9-11)