Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stand, therefore.

Apologetics have always given me the hives. "...sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Peter 3:15). Read the rest of 1 Peter, and you quickly understand that this "defense" (apologia) is not a debate in the arena of ideas and worldviews, but in the context of criminal trial! Jesus spoke of the same situation, and of the source of "defense" (apologia) for the believer on trial:
  • "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given to you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father Who speaks in you" (Matthew 10:16-20).
  • "But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13:9-11).
  • "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute" (Luke 21:12-15).

Father, Holy Spirit, Jesus. Our true "defense" (apologia) finds its source not in clever arguments, scientific/archaelogical/logical proof, appeals to "felt needs," or bullying polemics. The source of our "defense" (apologia) has nothing to do with us - it is entirely Trinitarian. What is our role? Making up our minds not to prepare a defense!

I fear most believers study apologetics to steel themselves against the onslaught of the hurricane that is opposition to the absolutely authoritative, divinely inspired, infallible Word of God. Apologetics is a security blanket as they huddle in the dark clutching a Bible they weakly hope is what the preacher said it was. This is not our sure foundation or the position of a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ!

"...our conviction of the truth of Scripture must be derived from a higher source than human conjectures, judgments, or reasons; namely, the secret testimony of the Spirit...those who are inwardly taught by the Holy Spirit acquiese implicitly in Scripture; that Scripture carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit. Enlightened by him, we no longer believe, either on our own judgment or that of others, that the Scriptures are from God; but, in a way superior to human judgment, feel perfectly assured - as much so as if we beheld the divine image visably impressed on it - that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.7.4,5).

We (the Church of the living God) exist for this sole purpose, to be the "pillar and support of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). This is not a human-centered or human-empowered endeavor, since "it is the Spirit Who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth" (1 John 5:6). We are but vessels! "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth" (John 4:23,24). This is who we are. It is not a method, program, or system. It is not man-made. It is not one of many options available to the inhabitants of this hurtling rock. It is absolute reality. We testify to it in the power of the Holy Spirit, and trust that He will open the minds and hearts of those who hear. Where is the glory in a person convinced by our pseudo-philosophical, weakly logical, satirically scientific, humanistic apologies?

To the outside of the gates of the world's way of debating, saints (you're speaking the language of Babylon)! Come out of the city of man with its equality of viewpoints, people! Be nailed to the cross and determine to know nothing but its reality splayed over the pages of the Bible and standing unmovingly over the days of human history.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Why can’t we delight in Him? Because we don’t desire His Rest.

“If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the LORD” (Isaiah 58:13,14).

When have we turned ourselves from doing and seeking our own pleasure? When have we done anything but our own ways? When have we paused from speaking our own word? When have we done all these things, forsaking our cravings and expression in exchange for His Rest? How can we delight in Him when His Rest is not a priority?

“…with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His Rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:17-19).

Obedience is preceded by trust, and trust by a vision-as-yet-unseen that becomes more desirous to us than all the fancies of the vision-seen. As Jonathan Edwards said of the will, “it is that motive which, as it stands in the view of the mind, is the strongest, that determines the will.” Which, in the view of the mind, is strongest: the surrounding dust or the exalted Rest?

For the sake of His rest, trade your pleasure for His holy day (the “Today” of Hebrews 3:13). Trade your ways for His honor. Trade His Word from speaking your own word.

The fruit of embracing His Rest is a life that delights in Him.

Proverbs of the Court.

Numerous proverbs speak about the character, actions, and effects of the lives of kings. Rather than applying these as a means of judging our current civil leaders, can I suggest that we apply them to our own lives, since we are "a royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9), made by the Lamb to be "a kingdom" that will "reign upon the earth" (Revelation 1:6; 5:9,10)?

Proverbs 8:15; 14:28,35; 16:10,12-15; 19:12; 20:2,8,26,28; 21:1; 22:11,29; 24:21; 25:2,3,5,6; 29:4,14; 31:3,4.

After all, the kings of Israel were but a foreshadowing in their office of the King of kings, Jesus Christ. Our authority (Matthew 16:19; John 20:21-23) is not of us, but solely an extension of the Father's through the Son, exerted only in the power of the Holy Spirit through the Body. This is Kingdom authority and power, not of us.

We, as royalty, have an obligation to mirror the character, actions, and effects of the Absolute Sovereign. Perhaps the Proverbs of the Court can be guides for us as we steward the Kingdom.

Monday, July 27, 2009

worthless rambling rat far from the desert...

Time is short for all of us, so make "the most of your time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). Or, more hauntingly, a day comes when "all the daughters of song will sing softly" (Ecclesiastes 12:4). Bury the calendar, be filled with the Spirit. To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 1:25, "the chaos of God is more organized than the organization of men."

rambling of a worthless rat far from the desert from desert rat of Morgan on Vimeo.


Listen and read:

An epic, inspiring sermonic biography of a life utterly sold out to the Word of God. Would it be that God would bless our generation with such grace.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Angels, Colossians 2, and my Self-centered Reality

Colossians 2:18 condemns the “worship of the angels.”. That’s usually thought of as some New Age or perverted Christian doctrine. It’s not. Read the entirety of Colossians 2. The problem with the church in Colossae (and the problem of most of the churches of the N.T.) was elements in the church trying to impose rules (usually Old Testament rules) on the church that didn’t reflect the new covenant church. These were usually Jews who had been saved, were now part of the church, but couldn’t let yesterday’s religion go. At first, “worship of the angels” seems out of place in a discussion of the freedom from legalism we have in Christ. But let’s look closer.

1. Stephen addresses the Jewish mob listening to him as “you who received the law as ordained by angels(Acts 7:53).

2. Paul tells the Galatian churches (struggling with old covenant legalism in the new covenant church) that the Law was “ordained through angels (Galatians 3:19).

3. The writer of Hebrews (obviously dealing with the same problem as Stephen and the churches of Colossae and Galatia), describing the punishment of the old covenant law, says, “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:2,3).

So you see, Paul’s admonition that the Colossians not “worship…the angels” is not a Gentile (non-Jewish) sin thrown into the middle of a sin of first century A.D. Judaism. It is directly tied to their obsession with a Law now made obsolete for the new covenant church.

Any time you put non-scriptural mediators between God and man (Mary, priests, rituals, angels), it puts God at a distance and makes it easier to ignore His desire for a relationship with us. I can have warm fuzzies about the holy Mother, nostalgic rituals (which can even be favorite “old time” songs), or guardian angels, but that mean, demanding old grouch far away in heaven can’t trouble me. After all, I’m free to live however I want and still go to heaven (a place where my every desire is catered to) a long time from now, right?