googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: August 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Five Solas Part 3: Sola Gratia

Sola Gratia means “grace alone.” In my last post on this series, we talked about Sola Fide (faith alone) and how we receive salvation simply by believing and not by works. In that post, I mentioned how faith is sometimes viewed as a work – that is, we believe God must save us because we believe. More simply put, it is the mistaken belief that we “earn” our salvation by believing.

Sola Gratia is the simple understanding that salvation is only available by the grace of God. “Grace,” by definition, means “unmerited favor.” God is not obligated to save us. In fact, God, who is perfectly just, would be justified to condemn us for our sins. He makes salvation available only because of His love for us. Furthermore, He only loves us because of who He is – not because of who we are or because of anything we’ve done.

To understand this fully, we need to consider the Biblical description of the condition of man before Christ’s sacrifice for us.

Consider these verses:

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” Romans 3:10

Because of our hard heartedness, we have become like potsherds that strive against our Maker (Isaiah 45). The Potter who shaped the clay surely has the right to undo it. Likewise, how can we fault God, who made us, if He should decide to destroy us for our rebellion? But here is where the grace of God is shown:

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

The holy God, who would be just to pour His wrath on us because of our continuous rebellion against Him, instead sent His Son to suffer the wrath in our place. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him (Isaiah 53:5). Now that’s grace!

Another interesting verse to consider is Romans 6:23:

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Ask yourself this: what are “wages”? Normally, wages are something you earn. They are what you deserve after you’ve worked for someone. But Romans says the “wages” of sin is death. The thing we “earn”, the thing we “deserve” for our work, is death. And what is a “gift”? A gift is given only by the grace of the giver. You don’t work for it. You don’t deserve. You only receive it.

That’s God grace for us. He doesn’t give us what we deserve. Our works have only earned us death. But instead, He gives us the gift of eternal life.

Sola Gratia – grace alone!

Further reading:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Obvious Answer

I was online the other day and someone said the oddest thing: He asked why people thought the joke, “Why did the chicken cross the road?,” was funny. He said it wasn’t funny to him when he heard it at the age of four and he still doesn’t think it’s funny now. He just didn’t get it.

To me it seems obvious. What makes it funny is that people search for some deep meaning and overlook the obvious one. It’s like the similar joke: Q. Why do firemen wear red suspenders? A. To keep their pants up. My daughter asked me a modern version but with the same theme: Q. What did the farmer say when he lost his tractor? A. Where’s my tractor? It's just funny when people can't answer such an obvious question.

It occurred to me that this is often the case for evolutionists. They overlook an obvious answer in search for a natural (yet far more unlikely) explanation. Darwin, for example, said in his book:
“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”
Question: how was something as complex as the eye created? One obvious theory is that God created it. Ah, but Darwin didn’t get it. He went on to say:
“Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.”
Wow. That’s the long way around a simple question. I wonder how he might have answered the chicken crossing the road question.

Consider also these quotes:

Aldous Huxley said, “Organisms are built as if purposefully designed, and work as if in purposeful pursuit of a conscious aim. But the truth lies in those two words 'as if.' As the genius of Darwin showed, the purpose is only an apparent one.”

Might I paraphrase? “Things really look like they’ve been designed but I know they aren’t!”

But perhaps the most brazen denier is Francis Crick (the co-discoverer of the DNA molecule). In his book, What Mad Pursuit, Crick wrote, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see is not designed, but rather evolved.”

That’s a hoot. Biologists see design everywhere. The evidence for design is so overwhelming that Crick advises they should constantly remind themselves that things are evolved – not designed!

Question: Why does everything appear to be designed?
Answer: Because it was designed!

Watching these evolutionists groping around for answers while overlooking the most obvious one always makes me chuckle. It’s the funniest thing since, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”!

Friday, August 21, 2009

John 20:17: Touch Me Not

λέγει αὐτῇ Ἰησοῦς· μή μου ἅπτου, οὔπω γὰρ ἀναβέβηκα πρὸς τὸν πατέρα·

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: (John 20:17 KJV)

My blog today isn’t really so much of a revelation as it is an explanation since many translations have this verse correct. But because the King James Version (and a few others) renders this verse as “touch me not,” this passage has led to a lot of speculation about what Jesus meant.

According to Scofield, one possible interpretation of this is, “That Jesus speaks to Mary as the High Priest fulfilling the day of atonement (Leviticus 16). Having accomplished the sacrifice, He was on His way to present the sacred blood in heaven…” In other words, Jesus was going to the Father to present His own blood as the payment for our sins. He did not want Mary to touch Him lest some of His blood would cling to her. That’s an awful lot of speculation crammed into three words. It’s also counterintuitive when you consider the amount of blood that was surely spilled during the act of the Crucifixion (as in John 19:34).

Another explanation I’ve heard goes thusly: “… He appeared to Mary Magdalene the next morning, the day after the weekly Sabbath during Unleavened Bread, when the priests presented the wavesheaf offering. He did not permit her to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father. Just as the High Priest had to wave the sheaf of grain before the spring harvest began, so our Savior had to ascend to the Father that day to be accepted before Him. Once this happened, He allowed His disciples to touch Him.”

These speculations, and many others, all hinge on the misunderstanding that Jesus did not allow Mary to touch Him. A reading of the verse in Greek, however, might dispel such speculation about Jesus’ true meaning. ἅπτου is in the imperative mood and is modified by the negative particle μή. When μή is used to modify a verb in the imperative mood it generally means to stop an action that is already in process. In this case, Mary was already touching Him! So Jesus did not forbid Mary to touch Him; rather, He was telling her STOP touching Him because He was to ascend to the Father.

We see this conclusively in Matthew 28:9:

"And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him."

This passage makes clear that the women held Him by His feet.

Consider these other, popular translations:

“Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father.” (NIV)
“Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father;” (NASB)
“Jesus saith to her, `Be not touching me, for I have not yet ascended unto my Father;” (Young’s Literal)
Don’t waste too much time pondering why Jesus wouldn't let Mary touch Him. A casual reading in the Greek shows prohibition was not necessarily even implied.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Oh the Irony

So now we’re a mob, eh? We who disagree with Obama-Care and voice our disagreement at town hall meetings. And those of us who blog about this administration are merely “manufacturing” dissent. Bah! May I remind you of these infamous words screeched by Hillary Clinton:

“I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you're not patriotic. And we should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.”

OK, Hillary. OK, Pelosi. OK, Obama. We’re disagreeing. We’re being very vocal about our disagreement. We’re raising our voices in answer to the lies being spread in Democrat talking points. So why is it when Hillary screams her disagreement with the Bush administration, she’s an “American” exercising her rights yet when average folks disagree with Obama-care, we’re a mob?

It’s typical liberal hypocrisy – rather, it’s elitism on display. When liberals speak out against a policy they’re being patriotic and engaging in debate. When conservatives speak out we’re being a disruptive, partisan mob. When Obama raised awareness about certain issues he was being a community organizer. When conservatives raise awareness about liberal policies, we’re “manufacturing dissent.” Pot, meet kettle.

They’re hypocrites all. Fortunately, I have the satisfaction of knowing they will pay a political price for their two-facedness. These same people who seem bent on foisting an enormously unpopular government intrusion upon us will find out in 2010 that the dissent was very real!