Friday, January 31, 2014

Purposed in His Heart

In Daniel, we hear that Daniel would not eat of the sinful meat because he had purposed in his heart not to sin. Many great sermons have been presented on this subject. What I would like to look at is something the Lord showed me just a few minutes ago about the practical application of this principle.

If we are to avoid temptation, we need to be aware and be prepared to stand against it. What I found today is that it is beneficial to add extra barriers of separation between us and the temptation we keep falling to.

To make myself more clear, when you keep succumbing to the same temptation, specifically working to add another step to get to that sin, and another opportunity for the Holy Spirit to convict you that it is wrong to do so is an excellent way to intentionally set out to avoid sin.

To illustrate with a rather personal example, I have struggled for years with the temptation of taking candy and other sugary goods that do not belong to me. My sister currently has all the goods left out in her room. Recently, I have started to apply this principle I am discussing here by closing her bedroom door after she leaves for work, thus, adding another step to reach that which is tempting me. I'll keep you posted on how well this works in the comment section below.

(I do certainly hope that now is not the time my sister decides to start reading my blog; that would be shabby.)

If you really want to purpose in your heart to do the right thing, wouldn't that mean putting precautions in place that would aid in so doing? Adding extra steps to a recurring temptation is a great way of practically putting in action the purpose within our hearts not to sin.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Doctrines of The Christian Faith 4: The Nature of Christ

From Adam, all men are born sinners. It has been passed down to all of Adam's offspring, except one (although since he existed prior to him, whether you could call him an offspring is debatable). I am referring of course to Jesus Christ.

The Lord was not born in this Earth with glory. He instead was born to a humble family in a simple manger in a humble human form. It is important to remember that this birth was not the beginning of Christ. No, he was an eternal being who has no beginning at all. As Philippians 2:6-7 explains about Jesus,
"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men."

It is rather important to remember that Jesus is not just a man. He is also fully God. As Jesus was born of the virgin Mary by the Holy Ghost, he is both man and God at the same time, the one and only God-Man.

Some would say that it is impossible for a man to be born of a virgin. But it is nonsensical to say a completely sovereign God could not use his power to alter the ways in which babies are conceived, and the Bible confirms that he did.

If there really is any doubt about whether Jesus is God, we should examine his life and his teachings. Some would like to say that Jesus is simply a teacher, but as C.S. Lewis explains in his famous trilemma, the only options available to us is that Jesus is Lord, a liar, or a lunatic.

No one wishes to discount everything that Jesus said. His teachings are truly quite phenomenal, but we are left with one choice, accept everything that Jesus said (including his deity) or reject everything. We cannot possibly pick and choose. Jesus' claim of deity doesn't give us the chance.

With this claim of deity, we are left with only 3 options:

  1. Jesus is simply attempting to seek glory for himself. Such a man would have no interest in the advance of society, nor would he be concerned with the validity of what he said. He would say anything that could help his agenda at any point in time. 
  2. Jesus truly thinks he is the Lord, and is a mad man. How could we ever trust any of the ideas of a mad man? 
  3. Jesus truly is the Son of God, prepared to take the sins of the world. 

I have no reason to count out every word that Jesus spoke, and have every reason to believe that he is the Lord. As such, we can know that every attribute of the Lord applies as much to Christ as it does to God the Father (remember cut crust, same pie). This includes most importantly the attribute of holiness.

Truly, Jesus was a man who was free from Adam's curse because he was also fully God. As Hebrews 4:15 says,
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

Monday, January 27, 2014

Who Exactly are the Founders?

What do you think of when you hear the term, "Founding fathers?" If you're like most of America, you think of the people who crafted and formed the Constitution of the United States. Obviously this is a true statement. The founding fathers as we know them today were individuals who founded this nation conceived in liberty.

It is nonsensical for us to think they all had the same ideas about what that type of a nation would look like. Nonetheless, all throughout America, we discuss and debate about what the founders thought, as if they somehow had all the same belief about every political topic.

While the founders were sure to agree on some areas, we truly know that they still disagreed from time to time. The Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, for instance, are articles and papers both written by founding fathers from opposing points of view about what our government should be. Weak central government vs. slightly stronger one. Articles of Confederation vs. The Constitution.

We have records of debates between our founding fathers on areas such as these. The founders are not some nebulous entity that mysteriously agrees on every area of topic. They are a group of people crafting our nation with their different views, compromising when need be to create a workable government. We should do well to remember that when we discuss the founders beliefs on government, we are talking about many, not a uniform belief.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Say "Yes" to Contentment

Alright, I know what you're saying, "Didn't he write a post not too long ago, entitled, 'Say No to Contentment?' Is he going hypocritical?"

I assure you that this blog post is discussing an entirely different definition of contentment than I discussed before, and there is not any bit of hypocrisy related to that. 

Today, I would like to discuss contentment as it relates to one's circumstances. One can remember how Paul and Silas would sing and praise the Lord when inside the Philippian prison. It is perhaps one of the greatest examples of contentment that we can find in the Bible. 

It also strikes at the heart of contentment. Regardless of what people tell us, contentment is based not on circumstances at all, but on the trust and joy we have in the Lord. I have oft made joy and contentment synonymous in my mind. Although that is slightly overly simplistic, there is still a lot of truth in that. 

Regardless, contentment is something we learn when we have an accurate relationship with the Lord. As Philippians 4:11-13 states, 
"Not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned that in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Do you want to be able to be content in whatsoever state you're in? Well, we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Doctrines of the Christian Faith 3: Nature of Man

People do some of the strangest things when it comes down to it. However, when I refer to the nature of mankind here today, I am not about to go into deep and weird psychology. No, rather I would like to take a simple history lesson and expound upon the ramifications of it.

After the Lord demonstrated his magnificent sovereignty by speaking the world into existence, He put man and woman, Adam and Eve, into a beautiful garden. The garden is known as the Garden of Eden. The Lord gave simply one rule: 
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."

This death that is referred to is not a typical death. Rather it referred to a more permanent type of death, one of eternal separation from God. Most are familiar with the events that would transpire.

The Serpent came along to tempt Eve. He assured her that should she eat of the fruit, she shall not surely die. Here the Serpent uses a bit of equivocation. When he discusses death here, he is referring to the more physical death we are used to, and referring to a more limited timeframe. The devil as we know him today, is here using half-truths to manipulate the facts and make it seem compelling for Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit. This information is peripheral to my blog post, but you can have it, no charge. One in our society today looks out for direct falsehoods, but how hard is it to catch when someone twists truths in small ways? There is a reason the devil decides to use this technique here.

But back to Adam and Eve. As we know, they falter and eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. They are then pushed from the garden, forced to work to gain food, and are faced with both physical and spiritual death. But that is just the beginning. Their sin is passed down to all generations of this earth, making us all born with a sinful nature. As Romans 5:12 states,
"Wherefore as by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." 

Now you may say that it's not fair for me to be punished for someone else's actions; after all, look at all the good I have done. In answer, I would like to provide a short analogy I heard from one of the youth workers at my church.

Imagine a water hose. When you turn on the water, water flows through that water hose. If you put clean water through a dirty water hose, the water is not going to come out clean. Rather all the impurities and filth of the hose are going to pass into the water.

Similarly, in our everyday life, the good works we do are contaminated because they have to pass through us, our dirty water hose. From Adam down, the seed of being a dirty water hose was passed down, and it contaminates all our good works. This is one reason why Isaiah 64:6 proclaims,
"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."

Our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Anything good we do could never be good enough for God. Whatever we may do, we have to admit that we have broken at least the Ten Commandments, and must need Christ to avoid the eternal death that was brought on by Adam's curse.

To conclude with a bit of hope this morning, I would like to show you Romans 6:23,
"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why Reading the Bible Makes Me More Libertarian

Last week, a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook entitled, "10 Reasons Why Reading the Bible Makes Us More Progressive." To be frank, I was infuriated upon reading this article at its misuse of scripture to provide a rationale for a political viewpoint. I thought it worthwhile to respond to this article here.

The author begins by explaining how he became a Christian progressive because he decided to accept the whole Bible. I personally believe that if you are reading the Bible to determine your political viewpoints, you're probably doing something wrong. Nevertheless, I would like to go point by point to show the logical inconsistencies and Bible verses taken out of context within this article.

1. "The more I read my Bible, the more I realize I don't have it all together."
Our friendly author goes on to explain here that when he realizes how little he knows, and how sinful he truly is, he is a lot less likely to pass judgment onto others. This interpretation of scripture he gives here is worthy. We shouldn't condemn people because they have sin in their lives. That's God's job and place. But this has nothing to do with government or the left-right spectrum. Apparently, he is assuming here that to live on the right of the spectrum is to pass judgment on anything and everything, but that is an absurd and offensive assumption. Judging other people has nothing to do with whether you are progressive, conservative, or libertarian.

2. "The more I read my Bible, the more I develop humility."
This point is really just a reiteration of his first point, so I will reiterate my earlier response. Yes, we as Christians need to be humble and not view others' sins as worse than our own. The great apostle Paul did himself say the he was the chief of sinners, showing us an excellent example in humility, but this has nothing to do with whether you are progressive, conservative, or libertarian.

3. "The more I read my Bible, the more I discover that justice for the poor and oppressed is at the heart of it."
Here our author again makes a spiritual point I can definitely agree with. He concludes this point by saying, "God wants us to care for, serve, and love these people." That's exactly it right there. God wants US to care for, serve, and love these people, but quite frankly our responsibility to care for the people has nothing to do with the government, and by extension, has nothing to do with whether you are progressive, conservative, or libertarian.

4. "The more I read my Bible, the more I realize “redistribution of wealth” wasn’t Obama’s idea– it was God’s."
Now we're getting into some more interesting material. The author insists that the Israelites had a system of redistribution of wealth through institutions such as the year of Jubilee, restrictions on gleaning your garden and other similar things. Although the Israelites were clearly told to care for the poor, it was a cultural decision not a governmental one. Each individual had a responsibility to help the poor, just as we each have a responsibility to help the poor today. No conservatives or libertarians have any problems with private redistribution of wealth as is being discussed here. No, we have a problem with government mandated redistribution, which is not discussed within these cultural norms. Indeed, these cultural norms and the responsibility to help the poor have nothing to do with whether you are progressive, conservative, or libertarian.

5. "The more I read my Bible, the more I realize that the early Christians actually practiced this re-distribution of wealth." 
Here our author opines,
"They rejected individual ownership, gave their wealth to leadership who in turn, redistributed it according to need... While this still seems too radical for me, it moves me in a right to left trajectory as I read it."

The fact that he refuses to accept this idea fully while accusing conservatives of ignoring parts of the Bible is interesting, to say the least.

I can only assume that he is getting this idea of rejecting property from Acts 4-5. Indeed it is stated in Acts 4 that several members of the church did sell their possessions and give the money to the Apostles to redistribute. However, there is no indication that this was common among all churches, or if this was just a custom at Antioch. It is also unclear whether the Apostles asked for the money from selling properties in the first place. In response, a Christian progressive loves to point out that Ananias and Sapphira were punished for keeping back some of the money they received from selling their property, but examining what the Apostles actually told them about their misdeeds, we see an entirely different story. In Acts 5:3-4, the Bible proclaims,
"But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God."

Not only does this passage show that the Lord was punishing them for their lying, not their refusal to fully participate in redistribution, but it also demonstrates that the Apostles in the early church did not "Reject individual ownership." It says that while it remained, and after is was sold, it was in "Thine own power."

Of course, I haven't even mentioned that even if this notion is true (as we have seen, it's not), we would be dealing with private redistribution of wealth, which no conservative or libertarian have any qualms with. Thus, his entire thesis on this point has nothing to do with whether you are progressive, conservative, or libertarian.

6. "The more I read my Bible the more I realize Jesus taught we need to pay our taxes."
Finally, something the Bible actually says about government! Our friendly author would like to point out that it was the government's job and our private job to administer charity. To prove this, he cites another example where Jesus tells someone to sells their goods and give it to the poor, and also that Jesus tells us to pay our taxes. The former I have no qualms with as it is private redistribution. The latter however is guilty of the non sequitur fallacy. Non sequitur is Latin for "It does not follow." In this case, just because we must pay taxes to the federal government, it does not follow that we must support use of that taxation as government charity. Indeed, I can't think of a way in which those two can be linked together meaningfully. Thus, the fact that the Bible tells us to pay taxes has nothing to do with whether you are progressive, conservative, or libertarian.

7. "The more I read my Bible, the more I realize that God wants us to be people who are quick to show mercy."
He here once again assumes with no basis that progressivism is the ONLY system centered on the belief of radical mercy. This is another offensive and baseless assumption. Essentially, how merciful you are, and whether you support radical mercy in political areas has nothing to do with whether you are progressive, conservative, or libertarian.

8. "The more I read my Bible, the more I realize that God cares how we treat immigrants."
I agree wholeheartedly with everything he said (and even implies) here. I personally believe that our immigration standards should be much less restrictive. Is this a progressive belief? I guess this author thinks so, but I always thought of it as a libertarian belief. Oh well, I suppose even a broken clock (progressives) can be right twice! Regardless, your beliefs about immigration are hardly the most important thing in determining whether you are progressive, conservative, or libertarian.

9. "The more I read my Bible, the more I realize that God will hold us accountable for how we care for the environment."
We are now back to the issue of what God expects from people, and not what God expects from the government. I agree that as Christians we are called to be good stewards of the earth, but as this has nothing to do with government, it has nothing to do with whether you are progressive, conservative, or libertarian.

10. "The more I read my Bible, the more I realize that God isn’t judging us by whether or not we get all of our doctrine right– he’s judging us by whether or not we get the “love one another” part right."
Our author would like to point out the following,
"The more I read the Bible the more I realize that God is less concerned with us all sharing the same doctrine but is heavily concerned with whether or not we love each other. In fact, Jesus said this would be the calling card of his followers, and how others would realize we’re actually following Jesus– that we love one another. The more I read my Bible, the more I want to defer my position or preference and instead side with what is in the best interest of others– because that’s the loving thing to do."

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. Christians should be concerned with loving one another, and should side in all things with what is in the best interest of others. However, I disagree with the once again offensive assumption here that those who do not subscribe to progressivism clearly don't have the best interest of others in mind. I am a libertarian because I believe that libertarianism best upholds the principle of "loving one another." That principle itself however has nothing to do with whether you are progressive, conservative, or libertarian.

I have spent a lot of time responding to this article without pointing out why reading the Bible makes me more Libertarian. Going off my "Less is more" philosophy of life, which in this case, details that having fewer, well-developed points is preferable to a laundry list of poorly developed points, I have summarized below three reasons why the Bible supports the beliefs of Libertarianism

1. The more I read my Bible, the more I realize the Lord respects private property. 
We have already seen from the passage in Acts 5 that the Lord allowed Ananias and the other members of the church at Antioch to decide whether to sell their possessions or not for use in the apostles' "redistribution" scheme.

I also believe that several Jewish customs in the Old Testament, such as interest-free loans, were established to better allow the Jewish people to buy and sell land. Contrary to some beliefs, the Jewish people definitely had an idea and custom of private property. How else could Judas' thirty pieces of silver be used to buy a field if there was no custom of private property in the first place? How could Boaz own a field of wheat if ownership was not respected? How could David be keeping his father's sheep if all possessions were in common? Indeed Exodus 22 establishes the punishment of retribution for those guilty of theft of private property.

But I believe the better source of proof for the Lord's respect for private property comes from the verse I use in the title of this blog, 2 Timothy 2:6
"The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits." 

This verse is using the capitalist principle of wages and private ownership of the means of production to prove a greater point about how if you wish to reap the benefits of God's work, you must be willing to partake in the labour of it. Although we should always remember the metaphorical meaning of these words (every Friday's post expresses some truth about them), the literal meaning of the verse is still true and supports private property and the basis of all libertarian thought.

If I need to prove my point further, look to the ten commandments. As Messianic Jew Pastor Ted R. Weiland writes,
"Property is inherent to both the Fourth and Eighth Commandments. The Fourth Commandment’s stipulation concerning six days of labor provides a means of acquiring property, and the Eighth Commandment is predicated upon the right of ownership... Property implies ownership, and ownership entitles the owner to do with his property whatever he wishes, provided it does not violate the rights of others (Mathew 20:15) ... The Fourth and particularly the Eighth Commandment stand in stark contrast to the First Plank of the Communist Manifesto: “Abolition of private property and the application of all rent to public purpose.” 

So the Lord clearly value private property, and in our dealings with others including government, we must do so as well. This is the primary reason I am a libertarian.
2. The more I read my Bible, the more I realize the Lord does not like to coerce people into certain actions or beliefs. 
Jesus had power at many different times to just force the people to his beliefs. Although he would rebuke them, and sometimes use force, he never used his supernatural powers or any type of governmental force to coerce someone into protecting him or believing what he said.

Throughout the entirety of the Bible, the Israelites are not once told to use force to convince someone of their views. Immigrants are given the choice of changing to the Israelites' religion, but they are never coerced into doing so.

Indeed the only time we see someone using force to coerce someone into a belief system is when the Jewish elders try to coerce people into not believing the words of Jesus and his apostles, or when they try to prevent the apostles from sharing the gospel.

Why is this? Why do we only have negative notions of people being coerced into actions and beliefs they may not desire? Quite frankly, I don't think a positive notion of such things could exist. If we are to love one another, shouldn't that start by letting each person live his own life without threat of government coercion? This means everything from being able to retain one's property and not forced to give it to whatever the government considers "charity" to any lifestyle choices that are being made. (Not to mention that the Bible clearly shows the fallibility and corruptibility of man. Why should we trust men to use their power over other men in a way that glorifies God?) We can disagree with the decisions of others, and we can  and should speak out against them, but it is not very loving for us to use the government to force people to act by our (or even the Lord's) standard of right and wrong. At its core, that is libertarianism - protecting individual rights from the coercion of government because that's how you love one another when discussing governmental rules.

3. The more I read my Bible, the more I realize the Lord holds each individual accountable for his own actions. 
The Bible proclaims in Romans 14:12, 
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."

When I read my Bible, I learn that the Lord is not concerned with keeping governments moral, nor is he concerned with keeping the church moral. No, what the Lord is concerned with, is whether each individual is moral and living a life of obedience to him. When he gives his commands, he is not normally (ever?) directing them at institutions like government, but is almost always directing them at the individual. This tells me that the Lord believes as libertarians do, in individual responsibility. Responsibility that is skirted when we consider it the government's job, not ours to care for the poor and other things. As we analyzed last week, Davy Crockett's summary of Horatio  Bunce's words in Not Yours to Give gives voice to how government can be used to skirt individual responsibility,
"There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington , no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give."

Government charity is praised because it allows those individuals to avoid the responsibility to engage and help out the poor themselves. This same principle is true for principles of environmental stewardship, education of children, and most other systems progressives believe to be an essential part of government.

It's not the government's job to do these things. History tells us that government makes the problem worse.  The Bible never tells us that the government needs to act and obey him. The Lord is not concerned with obedience from the government (I do believe he would rather the government just step out of the way), but with obedience from his people.

That is why when I read the Bible, I look for my own spiritual guidance, and not for support for my political views.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Story of Achan: Patience in the Lord

It is a time of great blessing for the Israelites. After simply walking around Jericho for seven days, the walls of the city have fallen. The Jewish people have taken the city with the hand of God, and nothing seems too big for them. But that would all change before they make it to Ai.

The spoils of the land, the Lord said, were not to be taken by the Israelites. Rather they were to be taken and consecrated to the Lord. Joshua 6:18-19 proclaims thus, 
"And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord."

Now this was very unusual. The Israelites had become accustomed to taking of the spoils of the land before, and this command may have seemed unjust to many. So when Achan saw some of the spoils, we can understand a little bit more why he would err. It was just so tempting and beautiful, and who would ever notice a few scraps missing from the Lord's goods?

So Achan took of the goods and hid them in his tent. He thought he could fool everyone into thinking he didn't have them. He would have been right too, except for one thing he had forgotten, God sees everything. The people of Ai were able to win the battle against the Children of Israel because Achan took of the accursed thing. It was the only loss in battle recorded during the conquest.

Achan would soon be stoned and burned for his misdeeds, and the Israelites were set to move on with their actions at Ai with the Lord's blessing. They planned an ambush, and Ai fell just as Jericho did. After the ambush, the spoils of Ai were taken by the Israelites, but this time with the Lord's blessing. Indeed before the victorious battle, the Lord said in Joshua 8:2,
"And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves."

They get to take the spoil of Ai. In the end, if Achan had just been willing to be patient and obey God through his actions, he would still have received goods. The Lord provides and blesses us when we obey him. Although it may seem that his plan for our life will lead to suffering (and it might), it will work out for a better end.

You can take this thought and look to expect blessings from God in your lifetime, but I think that would be the shallow lesson to learn here. I believe it is much preferable to realize that obeying the Lord provides for a much superior form of reward later in heaven. Your life here on earth may be less than desirable, but this earth means nothing in the long term. Are you willing to patiently obey the Lord, no matter the consequences, knowing that this "Light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory?" -2 Corinthians 4:17

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Doctrines of the Christian Faith 2: Nature of God

We shall begin our discussion of the Doctrines of the Christian Faith with the most important being in the universe, God. Much has been mentioned about the fact that God exists in our Apologetics Series; however, little has thus far been discussed about God's nature. All we really have is some mystical creature who is eternal, immutable, and entirely perfect. This post wishes to discuss three attributes of God. Obviously, there are several attributes of God and each is as important as the next, but we only have so much time to discuss the nature of the Lord, and some (several) omissions had to be made.


Math tells us that 1 and 1 and 1 is 3, not 1. Our ability to understand how a being can be three different persons at the same time is difficult to understand or even envision. 

We always like to view analogies to help us understand the Trinity. The most common analogies I hear is that of water and its three stages (gas, liquid, solid)  and the egg and its three parts (the shell, white, yoke). However, I find the former analogy insufficient to describe the fact that the Lord is three people in one at the same time, and the latter analogy fails to convey to me the unity of the Lord as I can differentiate the shell from the yoke quite easily in my mind. 

Thus, I prefer a third analogy given by Christian comedian Mike Warnke about a cherry pie. It could just as easy be apple or blueberry pie, but apparently Mr. Warnke liked cherry pie. When you cut a cherry pie into three pieces and leave it on a plate, the pie filling is going to go back together and remain united with the other two pieces. Similarly, the Lord's outward appearance (or his "Crust") is cut into three pieces, but He is still all united as one person underneath. That is the Trinity of God.

Now that we have our analogy to better understand how the Trinity could even work, let us examine the proof and persons of the trinity. Matthew 28:19 explains,
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Bible says of this phrase,
"This was intended as the summary of the first principles of the Christian religion, and of the new covenant, and according to it the ancient creeds were drawn up. By our being baptized, we solemnly profess, (1.) Our assent to the scripture-revelation concerning God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We confess our belief that there is a God, that there is but one God, that in the Godhead there is a Father that begets, a Son that is begotten, and a Holy Spirit of both. We are baptized, not into the names, but into the name, of Father, Son, and Spirit, which plainly intimates that these three are one, and their name one. The distinct mentioning of the three persons in the Trinity, both in the Christian baptism here, and in the Christian blessing (2 Cor. 13:14), as it is a full proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, so it has done much towards preserving it pure and entire through all ages of the church."

But we have not begun to discuss the attributes and purpose of each person within the Trinity. To keep it simple, the theologian Boardman writes,
"The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead invisible. The Son is then the fullness of the Godhead manifested, and the Holy Spirit is the fullness of the Godhead making manifest"

Although this summary is nice, it fails to provide us with an acknowledgement of what each person in the Trinity does. Thus, we will remind ourselves of each's purpose and function in God's plan of salvation. First, God the Father is the invisible standard of glory and perfection. God the Son was manifested into a man to take the punishment for our sins. Finally, God the Holy Spirit makes manifest to us the need we have for salvation through Christ by showing how we fail to live up to the standard of the Father.


What great power is shown through the Lord's every action! One cannot truly question his sovereignty (unlimited or infinite power) when examining his ability to control nature, man, and all spiritual beings, like angels. 

The sovereignty of God is best seen in relation to Creation. As Genesis 1: 3 exclaims, 
"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."

Wow! The world we see around us was created in many verses just like this one, where the Lord speaks, and what he requested immediately take form.

I Chronicles 29:11-12 explains the sovereignty of God in greater detail.
"Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all."

It would be amiss to discuss the sovereignty of God without discussing the concept of predestination. At the time of the Reformation, John Calvin came to the conclusion that the Lord chooses an "elect" few people to come to him and accept salvation.

Obviously, the Lord would have this ability within his sovereign power to dictate who will accept his words. But does he choose to exercise that ability? From what we know about the love of God from the Bible, however, we can conclude that if the Lord was to choose who was to be saved, he would choose everyone. II Peter 3:9 says,
"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."

Calvinists may ask why the Lord would grant free will and allow these people to die, but they must explain why Lord would willfully choose to let some individuals perish eternally in hell.

But they have their belief system. We know that they didn't just think this out of thin air. Thus, it would be beneficial to discuss the verse most commonly used to support predestination - Romans 8:29,
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

This verse does use the word "predestinate," but one must look at the context. After much debate, one of my Calvinist friends and I found we could agree on the following synthesis between the camps of predestination and free will. The Lord knows everything, and knows every decision that has been made, or ever will. He has known these things forever. Everything he foreknew will happen; thus, God's foreknowledge predestines us to be a member of the "Elect." In other words, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." God didn't pick and choose; his foreknowledge of our choices allowed him to predestinate and call the elect.


The sovereignty of the Lord would be a little troublesome if he weren't a good and perfect being as well. Thankfully for humanity, he is holy. The Bible proclaims over and over again that he is holy. Perfect and just and righteous. Completely without sin. But what we truly need to realize about the holiness of God is that God is so holy that He cannot look upon sin. Habakkuk 1:13 states, 
"Thou are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity." 

That is the nature of God, holy to the point where He can't look upon anything unholy. He had to separate all sin from his presence. It's hard to imagine anyone that holy, but the Lord is often beyond man's imagination.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Not Yours To Give: Unconstitutionality and Injustice of Redistribution

Think back to 2005. It was a year in which catastrophe hit one of America's cities. We all remember it. Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. In the weeks and months to come, President Bush was consistently blamed for his failure to act to help out the city of New Orleans.

It has become clear in recent years that when trouble occurs somewhere in the country (i.e. Katrina hits New Orleans, Detroit's economy sinks, etc.), America expects that its federal government should swoop in to save those in distress. But is this really the purpose of the federal government? 

Samuel Adams wrote, 
"The Utopian schemes of leveling, and a community of goods, are as visionary and impractical, as those which vest all property in the Crown, are arbitrary, despotic, and in our government unconstitutional."

What Samuel Adams was saying here is that trying to equalize wealth among all levels of society is not a proper function of government. It is not too much of a stretch to conclude that helping out certain cities at the expense of others is based on the same concept.

This may seem like a ridiculous notion, but when we examine some certain principles of government and taxation, it comes together as an obvious function of limited and beneficial governance.

The money that the government uses to perform any of its services will ultimately come through us. Obviously, inflation and debt are other sources of "revenue" for the federal government, but they too will ultimately influence the wallets of taxpayers.

Why is this important? In "Not Yours to Give," Davy Crockett explains how he came to a particular vote he made while serving in the US House of Representatives. When asked about this vote, he tells a story of a different bill he had previously voted for and how a simple farmer named Horatio Bunce showed his folly in that area.

The bill Colonel Crockett supported provided $20,000 of aid to those recovering from a fire in Georgetown. It was considered a success for the federal government to have helped the residents of Georgetown. But when Crockett went out electioneering for votes the next summer, he found himself in a conversation with a simple farmer named Horatio Bunce. Believing that Davy Crockett had unconstitutionally voted for this bill, Mr. Bunce refused to vote for him.

Crockett gives us our usual excuses and reasoning for voting for the bill: people were suffering, America has extra revenue, and $20,000 is such a small amount of money, considering the circumstances.

Bunce responds in brilliant form,
"The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be intrusted [sic] to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be... So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown , neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington , no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution."

We fund it for a specific purpose, and anything beyond that purpose is a misuse of the funds we provide for the government. When we hire a business to put in a home security system, we would be much annoyed to say the least if we heard the company had decided instead to use our money to redecorate our house, as they considered that a more wise use of our money. That is ultimately what the federal government is doing when it uses our money for catastrophe recovery.

Obviously, there still needs to be action taken when disaster strikes, but as Horatio Bunce indicates, there are plenty of private institutions and individuals who should be responsible for charity. It is amazing how many private institutions supported the Philippines when typhoon fever hit them last year. It seems that we could expect similar support for New Orleans and Detroit. However, I do not believe that is the only option for assistance in this area. County and state governments, with their more localized jurisdiction have the authority to assist failing communities should disaster strike.

So why is it that we always ask for federal interference when crises like Katrina hit? I have no answer, but it is a phenomenon that needs to stop.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Tale of Two Wells

All throughout our lives, we seem to have the goal of happiness. Everything we do, we do in an attempt to make ourselves feel good and to satisfy a desire for happiness. But alas, nothing we can find in the world seems to satisfy any of these desires.

We may try to fill our lives with pleasures of everyday life,  but they will just leave us empty. We may try to fill our lives with distractions and work, but there will be times in which we must think on our state. We may try to fill our lives with helping others, a noble cause, but even that or other good works will not satisfy our desires.

Isaiah 55:2-3 says,
"Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."

Indeed, why do we keep trying to buy waters at the well of the world that will never satisfy us? The Bible tells us that Jesus is the well of living water. This means, that when we "drink" from his words and teachings, we find a happiness that satisfies and satisfies forever. And the best part, it's free!

So why do we keep looking for satisfaction from the well of the world? Why don't we seek the Lord, and drink of the Living Well and truly be satisfied?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Doctrines of the Christian Faith 1: Nature of this Series

Now that we have demonstrated that it is reasonable to believe what the Bible tells us, we should have a reason to know more of what the Lord is telling us through the Bible. That is the purpose of this series - to learn about the nature of the Lord and his words. Just to let you know where we're going a bit, this series may as well be called, "Doctrines of Salvation" but that doesn't have as nice of a ring to it.

The Foundation of Doctrines

When we desire to know about the doctrines of the Lord, it only makes sense that we would read his words. Indeed, man's logic cannot necessarily fully understand the Lord's depths. After all, the Lord is a being outside the realm of time that men live and understand their lives in. Thus, we need the Bible as the foundation for all doctrines about him. 

Although we may enjoy men's musings on the Bible and use them to help us interpret the Bible ourselves, we must realize that the foundation for our doctrines can't be anything written by man, but must be only the Canon we discussed as the word of God before. 

Bible Version

I am not about to make a long post about which version of the Bible is best. That is not the purpose of this blog. I personally use the King James Version, as I find it to be the most reliable transcript and translation.

The only point I would like to make here is that of consistency. Especially when you are communicating your doctrine to someone else, if you use multiple versions of the Bible to prove different points, it becomes all too easy to conform the Bible to your will, rather than conform your thoughts to the Bible. For this reason, I will be (and have been) using the King James Version exclusively on this blog. 


I understand there is no consensus among Christians about Biblical doctrines. Indeed, there is not necessarily a consensus among certain denominations about what people should believe. I know that there are lots of sects and differing opinions. My goal here is to express what I believe and why.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Why the NFL Needs a Lesson in Economics

The past few days, we have been met with a slew of four NFL playoff games. The playoffs are always an exciting time of year for football fans (should their team qualify, that is). Yet this year, 3 teams, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Green Bay struggled to sell out their stadiums for this special occasion.

So why is this the case? It should be noted that Green Bay has sold out 319 consecutive games. So at least for Green Bay, this isn't a lack of commitment from their fans.

Of course, the fans are still being blamed for the lackluster sales, but this is ridiculous. The NFL is a business, like any other. Every other business is required to produce a great product at a reasonable price, and should they not, they will be unable to sell their products. If a business fails to sell their products, we assume that their services aren't worth the price, not that the customer isn't loyal enough. As Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star explains,
"Sports have got to be the only business where the consumer gets blamed for poor sales. Any other business, we'd look at the numbers and say, "Well, their price point is too high,'' or "The service stinks,'' or "They don't carry a good selection of inventory." And it's ridiculous. NFL fans are the most loyal fans we have in this country. If they're not purchasing playoff tickets, that tells me it's an NFL problem, not an Indy/Cincy/Green Bay problem."

This was the consensus as well from the fans down here in Cincinnati, some of whom said that if tickets were just ten dollars cheaper, they would have purchased them liberally. So you may ask why didn't the teams lower the prices of their tickets? They can't as the NFL sets playoff ticket prices "based on each market's ability to pay" and will not let teams discount the tickets. Of course, the NFL is not in these cities and does not know what prices fans of these cities are able to afford. Their estimates are unfortunately over the mark in these three cities.

The NFL should use to learn some economics from this week's poor sales of playoff tickets, and lower their prices to where they can be afforded and are worth the cost. Better yet, perhaps the NFL should let the individual teams set the prices, as they better understand how much the market in their city is able to pay.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Trust in the Lord

Whenever I see lack of faith in mine or someone else's life, my first reaction is to think, "Hey, we're Christians here. We trust the Lord with eternity, why can't we seem to trust him for our everyday life?"

There is no clear answer. Perhaps it is because we desire autonomy in our life. Perhaps it is because we can see our everyday life more easily than we can eternity. Perhaps it is because we know we can't do anything for eternity, but think that we do have something to add to our own life. 

Of course, none of these excuses hold any water. We must fight against the urge to handle everything ourselves. Our flesh cannot please the Lord. It requires us to go a step beyond. Hebrews 11:6 tells us simply, 
"But without faith, it is impossible to please him because he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." 

If we can see so much of our everyday life, we should see that the Lord has wrought great miracles throughout it. He just doesn't save us and leave us to our own devices. No, he spends time creating a relationship and providing our every need. It may not always be what we want, it may not always be pleasant, but the Lord promises to preserve us unto his heavenly kingdom. 2 Timothy 4:18 says,
"The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom. To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."

I think we all honestly know deep down that the Lord's plans for our life will always be better than our own. I Corinthians 1:25 states,
"The foolishness of God is wiser than man; and the weakness of God is stronger than men."

For instance, this last fall, my God made a move in my life I never would have considered good.  I had a very solid plan to attend Grove City College starting last year. Due to extraneous circumstances, I was unable to do that. At first, I was sad. And I was sad for a while. I grew over it soon enough and grew content to stay at home (for the most part). Then the Lord did things in my life here in Cincinnati that I doubt would ever have happened at Grove City. His plan regardless of how hopeless it initially looked to me was probably the best thing that's ever happened to me.

(Note: I would still recommend Grove City to anyone. The preceding paragraph should not be interpreted as bashing the college. It is a great school, but it wasn't the best option for me.)

So you see, this is why we should be so ready to live our life by Proverbs 3:5-6,
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Apologetics Series 7: The Day of Reflection

Happy 2014, Everyone! I hope your year turns out to be absolutely fantastic!

This post will conclude the Apologetics Series. For this and my future series, I will write 6 posts on the subject and a seventh post reviewing what was said. This is modelled after the days in which the Lord created the world. 6 days of work, and one day to reflect what he had made.

Framework: Assumptions Necessary

In order to form any sort of worldview, it is necessary to assume something. No matter how hard we try to prove our points without using assumptions, we will inevitably fail. There is a reason there are assumed postulates in geometry. The question we must ask ourselves is, which assumptions are more rational? 

Truth Exists

There is absolute truth in this world. How do I know this? Well, I don't. But it logical to assume that truth is absolute. For starters, as R.C. Sproul states
"Modern relativists...proclaim that there are no absolutes (except for the absolute that there are no absolutes!)."

Thus, no matter what anyone wants to tell you, there is a truth universally acknowledged. The question then becomes, how much? It would be easy to draw the line of absolute vs. relative on the issue of preference (i.e. vanilla vs. chocolate). All other lines seem arbitrary. For instance, do we keep morality as an absolute? Yes, we really should because the consequences of relative morality, as Nietzsche himself admits, are absurd!

A God Exists

Standard for Truth

But how is it possible for there to be absolute morals and truth exactly? There must be a standard for these concepts. As Francis Schaeffer writes
"If there is no absolute beyond man's ideas, then there is no final appeal to judge between individuals and groups whose moral judgments conflict.  We are merely left with conflicting opinions.  Yet to say that no judgements are universally true is absurd.  Every instinct within us tells us that at least some moral judgments are absolutely correct."

There needs to be a living being to provide a standard for truth. Furthermore, this being must be immutable and eternal. After all, if this living standard changed or died, then morals would cease to be absolute; they would change with time. Thus, we need a perfect, immutable, and eternal being to provide a standard. That being could be nothing other than the God. (Note: There can be only one because multiple gods would lead to multiple standards for morality).

Recognizing Evil

As Descartes reasons, if we had no perfect being in the world, we wouldn't be able to tell that this world is imperfect. Too often we hear atheists claim that a loving God wouldn't let evil into the world, but how do they know that what they are seeing in the world is evil exactly? Because they compare it to God. 

For instance, if you had never seen a chair before and then saw a three-legged chair, you wouldn't know anything was amiss because you wouldn't have a correct version of a chair to which to compare it. As Douglas Wilson says
"It is far better to believe in God and acknowledge the problem of evil than to be an atheist and to have no way of even *defining* the evil that you have mysteriously come to believe constitutes such a problem."

Cosmological Argument

The Law of Causality is a universal law that applies to all of a creation. It states simply that for every effect, there is a cause. For instance, if a frisbee hits you in the back, you assume and know that someone threw it in your direction. It is illogical to believe that this universe itself did not also have a cause. If it somehow created itself, it would have to be existent before it existed. In simpler terms, it's not possible.

Teleological Argument

There is order in this universe. When we look at intricate working of this world, we are amazed. The natural conclusion is that someone formed it. This is our reaction when we look at the order of a dictionary or the beauty of a work of art. Yet that which is both beautiful and orderly, namely the world, is often thought to have come about unplanned. The problem is that unplanned order has never been observed, nor does it make any rational sense. Furthermore, it is definitionally impossible.

The Bible is The Only Book of God's Words

To know who this God we have discussed is, I desire to simply look at the various books claiming to be God's holy words. 

Unique Position of Disciples

When examining all the religions and alleged holy books in the world, only the New Testament has writers who would know whether what they were saying was true when they record for instance that they saw Jesus resurrected from the dead. As Gamaliel stated at the time, if they were lying, they would not be willing to die for their beliefs. 
"Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."

The Canon 

From this view of the New Testament, we can know that the Disciples really did see Jesus after his death (unless all 11 hallucinated at the same time, which is not very likely). This is why the New Testament canon was established based on the writings of the Disciples.

Additionally, we should not doubt the works of the Jewish canon of the Old Testament (which protestants use today). It was good enough for Jesus and his disciples, it's good enough for us.


The Bible is a book written either by God, or by 40 different authors over a period of 1500 years. One would expect that the latter would be a book with a slew of contradictions. On the contrary, however, the Bible has prophecies written in one book that are later fulfilled in other books of the Bible. One may wish to nit-pick these prophecies, but as Matthew Mcgee writes
"Are we to believe that the Old Testament prophets each decided to write the beginning of a great story and then said, "Maybe in a thousand years or so, someone will come along and write a good ending to this?" That would be ridiculous. No man would decide to do such a thing on his own, much less a large group of men who did not know each other or even live at the same time. Therefore, the unity of scripture despite a diversity of writers is evidence of the Bible's divine authorship."