July 25, 2009

A Good Video

James White, of Alpha and Omega Ministries, although I appreciate his ministry as an apologist, is someone that I can only take small doses of because of his, typically, combative nature.  However, today I watched a video from him, today, that I thought was very good.

The text that he discusses is taken from 1 Timothy 3:14-16, which in the ESV reads:

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

   He was manifested in the flesh,
      vindicated by the Spirit,
         seen by angels,
   proclaimed among the nations,
      believed on in the world,
         taken up in glory.

If you cannot see the embedded video above, take the following link to the video: By Common Confession.

July 4, 2009

House Cleaning [July 4th, 2009]

July 2, 2009

Baptist Catechism – Question 1

Yesterday, I intended to start another new weekly series, here on my blog, going through the Baptist Catechism.

First, I should probably begin by explaining what a Catechism is.  Catechism comes from the ancient Greek word καταχέω (katacheō), which means ‘instruct or teach.’ So, a catechism is a method of teaching or instructing, in the case of Christianity, it is a means of instructing in the doctrines of the faith. Most catechisms were designed for small children, to be used by parents in their role as the primary disciplers of their children.

The particular catechism that I am using was taken from Desiring God ministries, and is a modified form of Benjamin Keach’s Catechism. That original catechism was written in 1689 to correspond to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, produced in the same year.

---------------------

Question 1: Who is the first and best of beings?

Answer: God is the first [i] and best [ii] of beings

One could go into this statement much deeper than was intended, discussing the fact and nature of God’s existence, the fact and nature of God’s being, etc, but I am not going to go into that today. There are two major things that this statement proposes about God, namely that He is ‘the first… of beings’ and ‘the… best of beings.’

God is the First of Beings

This is a fact that is proclaimed from the very first words of the Bible, where in Genesis 1:1, it says ‘In the beginning, God…’ In order for this statement to make sense, God would have to all ready be in existence at the beginning of all of creation, which means that He existed before creation in eternity past. So, before anything else existed, God was. Not only is this truth present here at the beginning, it present throughout the entire Bible:

  • Isaiah 44:6

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.

  • John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

  • Revelation 1:8

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” [iii]

 

God is the Best of Beings

The essence of this proposition is that God is over and above all creation, in majesty and glory.  God is the best of all beings, because He is perfect.  Wayne Grudem, in his “Systematic Theology,” describes God’s perfection in this way: “God’s perfection means that God completely possesses all excellent qualities and lacks no part of any qualities that would be desirable for him.” [iv]  That is why the Bible can describe God in the following ways:

  • Psalm 8:1

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.

  • Psalm 96:4

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.

  • Psalm 97:9

For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.

  • 1 Samuel 2:2

“There is none holy like the Lord;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.

--------------------

[i] Isaiah 44:6

[ii] Psalm 8:1; Psalm 96:4; Psalm 97:9, 1 Samuel 2:2

[iii] In the Greek alphabet, α (alpha) and ω (omega) are, respectively, the first and last letters of the alphabet. So, what is being said is that God is ‘the first and the last’.

[iv] Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.

July 1, 2009

The Importance of Doctrine

Last week, I received in the mail Sinclair Ferguson’s “The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction,” via PaperBackSwap.com.  I started reading it earlier this week, and have really enjoyed it so far.  In the first chapter, Ferguson begins by briefly showing why doctrine is so important to the Christian life.  Towards the end of the first chapter, he gives an excellent quote:

We have the following bit of personal experience from a general officer of the United States army.  He was in a great western city at a time of intense excitement and violent rioting.  The streets were over-run daily by a dangerous crowd.  One day he observed approaching him a man of singularly combined calmness and firmness of mien, whose very demeanor inspired confidence.  So impressed was he with his bearing amid the surrounding uproar that when he had passed he turned to look back at him, only to find that the stranger had done the same.  On observing his turning the stranger at once came back to him, and touching his chest with his forefinger, demanded without preface: “What is the chief end of man?”  On receiving the countersign, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever” -- “Ah!” said he, “I knew you were a Shorter Catechism boy by you looks!”  “Why, that was just what I was thinking of you,” was the rejoinder.”[i]

The question, “What is the chief end of man?” is the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a system of questions and answers designed to teach and ground young children in the doctrines, or teachings, of the faith.  The point of this quote is, that with the use of this catechism, these two men were so ground in the doctrines of the faith, that they were islands of calm amidst the turmoil of the environment.  It is my prayer that, like these men, that my knowledge of the faith would go beyond knowing in a merely intellectual sense, but would go beyond the point of affecting the the way I live amidst the turmoil of this fallen world.


[i] Warfield, B. B. Selected Shorter Writings. Edited by J. E. Meeter. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Press, 1970. – Cited in Ferguson, The Christian Life