Thursday, September 30, 2010

What is the Purpose of Man? Part 3

2 Corinthians 3:9 & 17-18 “For if the ministry of condemnation (The Law of Moses) had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

In 2007, I met and had the privilege to get to know my cousin Laura; a true God-send. Though battling stage four breast cancer, we developed a loving Christian relationship, centered in family, though long-lost cousins before. I was blessed beyond measure by her conversation with me in the little amount of time we had. She loved the Lord till her last day and knew that her Father in heaven loved her. Laura wrote to me: “All my life, I had wondered. I felt there was a void in my life, something was missing. I think I always knew it was Jesus and when I went to church, I never felt better. But, I had felt like an maybe He was someone else’s Jesus...not mine, because I didn’t grow up in a church. I still felt that way when I started going to church, but God held me and pushed me through the fear so I could make HIM my own! I feel fortunate that that experience happened. I know God would have pursued me in other ways, but I really desired him...wanted that void filled. What a loving God, I realized that I was made to worship HIM and that is why the void was filled. The Bible started making sense, had new meaning. And, my desires to be the good girl were backed with a biblical perspective. My own philosophies and mind-set began to make sense to me. It was like I was waiting for HIM all along, but never knew how to ask...was afraid God wouldn’t want me. I was wrong, though. He has always been waiting, patiently! So cool!”

Romans 15:5-7 “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”

Christian teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan of the video series 'That the World may Know' writes: “If we are freed from the bondage of sin to forgiveness and salvation by the mercy & grace of God through the atoning blood of our redeeming Savior Jesus Christ, let our kids, our family, our friends and neighbors see our joy because God is the King of the Universe. God created this magnificent creation - order out of chaos. Sin put creation back into chaos and sin became a kingdom of bondage. But God has said that His kingdom will be restored. The people of God say “The Lord is my King forever and ever.” And if the Lord is King then we have a kingdom. But the kingdom of God truly starts not by what we do. We can do nothing by our power bring the kingdom. The kingdom starts when God acts. The finger of God comes first. We are delivered by grace; a grace with unbelievable power. God is blessed that we call Him King, but He wants to know if He is our king. Does He rule in our life? Is it His reign? Is He in charge of our life? Are we truly glorifying God with our life? God wants His kingdom to be active in our life. Our Lord Jesus told us to pray: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.” If we want to be part of the kingdom with which God is changing the world, we can not leave out the last piece. Once God delivered us, He expects us to join the story, which means doing His will. In our desire to bless God for His grace, we have to be very careful not to shut ourselves out of the action. The point is that God is saying, “I am at work in your world. I am defeating evil and bringing Shalom (order and peace) and I want you, my children, to reflect me to those who blindly follow other gods. Be like Christ.” When we say: “God, we’re in.” He replies: “Fantastic! Now let me train you.” God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called. May His kingdom come as we learn, from the grace of God, to do His will. Now let God shape us into the community He wants us to be.” And may the glory be to God.

Heavenly Father, O God, forgive us for our sins, for they are many. Cleanse us by the blood of Jesus Christ. Fill us with your Holy Spirit. Give us a heart that delights to please Thee, to do your will, to fulfill your purpose in us and for this world and to bring glory to your name. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Reflecting Christ, Brian

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What is the Purpose of Man? Part 2

Psalm 86:12 “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore.”
During our Wednesday night Men’s Bible Study last week, while in the first chapter of the book of Ephesians, the group came upon verses 11-12: “ In him we were also chosen,[a] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” The question was raised and discussed: “What is the purpose man?” By the Scriptures, we agreed that our central purpose was to glorify and worship God. The Westminster Confession of Faith states: “Man’s Chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” All our tributary purposes flow from this main fact, and all structural purposes of our life are built upon this foundational purpose … to glorify God; for He is our Maker, our Father, our Providence, our Fortress, our Savior, and our Lord God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 & 10:31 "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

American Christian pastor, preacher, and author, A.W. Tozer (1897 – 1963) writes: “Worship is man’s full reason for existence. Worship is why we are born and why we are born again. You will be worshiping God long after everything else has ceased to exist. Every Christian church in every country across the world in every generation exists to worship God first, not second; not tacking worship at the end of our service as an afterthought, but rather to worship God primarily, with everything else coming in second, at best.”(The Purpose of Man). Psalm 47:1-2 & 6-9 tells us, “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! For the LORD Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding. God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne. The princes of the people have gathered together, The people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.”

The late American Christian pastor, preacher, and author, D. James Kennedy (1930 – 2007) wrote: "What is the purpose of your life? Not how you are making your living, who you are living with or where you are living, but what you are living for. We are senescent and rational creatures. We live by purpose, whereas animals live by instinct. We have reason and purpose. We all have a main purpose in life towards which all the other purposes are merely tributary, ancillary purposes. No matter what other minor purposes we have, we have to have a central purpose. Purpose is something given to us by God, who is the God that is working out, in everything, His own purpose in the world. We have been sold the humanistic bill of goods that says that we are autonomous. Now the word “autonomous” comes from two Greek words: autos, which means self, and nomos, which means law. The autonomous man is a law unto himself. He would be “god”, and he will have whatever purpose he decides to have. And this concept has overspread this nation and many, many people have bought into it. But we are not gods; we are not autonomous, We are creatures made in the image of the almighty God and we have been created for His purposes! To God be the Glory! But, we look at what is taught in our American schools, what is found in our libraries, what is found on our computers, on the internet worldwide web, what is found in our theaters and on television, and it is the Devil that gets the glory for this world all too often, I am afraid. When we realize that we have failed to do what God puts us on this earth to do, we realize the results of that. I hope that I’ve been very clear that when a life is unexamined and the purposes that God had for making us in the first place are ignored, denied, refused, there can only be one outcome. Ah, but dear friend, if they are obeyed, the results can be glorious."

Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

Glory to God in the highest! Brian

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What is the Purpose of Man? Part 1

Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 9-11 “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

I received a comment on my “From the Inside Out” Blog post that recommended me to a new A.W. Tozer book titled “The purpose of Man”, referring to mankind – both men & women. Since then the subject has risen several times, so I thought that it would be beneficial to ask you to comment on what you personally feel is the purpose of man. This is a question that everybody comes to ask sometime in their life about themselves: “What is my purpose?”, and whole books are written on the subject. But what do you feel is our purpose here (not personally, but corporately for all)… what is the chief end of man's life? I’d like to hear your gut response because this issue is a major factor in the actions and behavior of our culture and society.

Ecclesiastes 6:10-12 “Whatever one is, he has been named already, For it is known that he is man; And he cannot contend with Him who is mightier than he. Since there are many things that increase vanity, How is man the better? For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow? Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?”

My next post shall discuss what I’ve been hearing and learned through this Christian walk. I believe that this foundation sets the entire structure of our house on either solid rock or shifting sand, and give direction to either Shalom (peace through purpose) or wandering in the desert. It’s vitally important to think and dwell upon this question and answer. Why on Earth are we here? What is the purpose of man? What do you think?

Psalm 20:4 “May He (the Lord) grant you according to your heart’s desire, And fulfill all your purpose.”

In Christ, Brian

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Test Your Wings

Proverbs 22:5-6 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

We know that the seasons of life bring with them new chapters in this story we all are writing. There is always a time when you've put all that you have into someone that you love and then need to let them test their wings ... to let them experience life on their own. The worldly, secular value system, the sinful desires of our flesh and Satan’s demonic lies & temptations is always out there and parents instill, to the best of their ability and the help of the Holy Spirit, godly moral values to equip their precious and priceless children. Then comes the day when all the time, effort and love have to be trusted in both the hands of your child and in the hands of God. We never stop by parents, but they need to leave the nest and fly. Many will try to undermine and destroy the Christian worldview and life when they get out there on their own (Jesus tells us that those days will come), but everyone needs to stand on their own and be accountable to self and their God. We truly may not know exactly where they are, what they are doing and who they are with, but we never, never stop loving them and praying for them, and we are always right here for them. It is our hope and prayer that God and Jesus are with them in an active and live relationship daily and continuously to guide their steps through life and that they follow their Lord with each and every step.

Deuteronomy 4:7-9 “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? 8 And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day? 9 Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.”

It's sad to see them go because they never really leave … from your heart. They have their own schedule and priorities (of school, jobs, friends, their own family responsibilities, entertainment, et cetera) that must be met. Now we must fit into their schedule and will not see each other as much as we did. Things of life are so busy for them, as they were for me at that age. But it is my hope that, no matter what, they are living a godly and moral life, standing up to and avoiding the sinful temptations that surround us all daily and lure everyone with the lies of false pleasure and desires, against the will of God. For when we go down wrong paths, we are going away from God and not good for us. There is the heart (the soul) and there is the flesh in each of us. With the help of God, may we have them both right with God. May we walk on paths of righteousness that honor our Lord and lead to the abundant life in Christ. God bless our kids and God bless you. Psalm 34:10-12 “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?”

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Where Did Cain Find a Wife?

Genesis 4:13-17 And Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” And the LORD said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch.

Last night at our Bible Study and Fellowship at church, a new member asked if God created Adam & Eve only or where there others also. He based this question on questions that someone had proposed to him: “Who were these people that upon finding Cain, would kill him?” & “Where did Cain find a wife?” Strangely, the question had the group scratching their heads for a minute. I’ve heard the question before, and it was answered that Cain married a relative for his wife. It was assumed that Cain & Abel were the only children of Adam & Eve, but that is not the fact. Genesis 5:4 After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. On top of that, Adam lived to be 930 years old. I think about the population of the United States of America when it was first birthed as a nation (2.5 million people) and what that population is just 234 years later (310 million people). People lived so long in the beginning due to pure blood lines, earth environmental factors, and God’s providence, that generations overlapped each other to the point that Adam’s great, great, great, great, great, great Grandson knew him. Just look at the chart below. Timeline of Year of Birth and Death of Pre-Flood Patriarchs in Genesis 5:

-------------0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500
Adam ------xxxxxxxxxx (930)
Seth ---------xxxxxxxxx (912)
Enosh ---------xxxxxxxxxx (905)
Kenan -----------xxxxxxxxxx (910)
Mahalalel ---------xxxxxxxxxx (895)
Jared ---------------xxxxxxxxxxx (962)
Enoch ----------------xxxx (365)
Methuselah ------------xxxxxxxxxx (969)
Lamech -----------------xxxxxxxx (777)
Noah ---------------------xxxxxxxxxxx (950)

Amazing, but its is not hard to see that by Adam and Eve having other sons and daughters, who each gave birth to many other sons and daughters, who also gave birth to many more sons & daughters, et cetera, and so on, that it is not hard to see that there were plenty of relatives around, both for Cain to be afraid of and to find a wife from. If our country can gain 307.5 million in population in 234 years, why couldn’t our first ancestor’s numbers exponentially grow also. The sad part to me is that in just nine generations, the world turned their backs on their Creator and God had to destroy the world and start again with Noah and his family. Genesis 6:5-6 “The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” By John 3:16, the Lord Jesus tells us of God’s love, mercy & grace and plan of Salvation from sin and death to eternal life,with a restored "right" relationship with God through the atoning sacrifice of His only Son Jesus. How far we have fallen from the Garden of Eden, but look at how far our loving, heavenly Father has come to redeem us and make us His children; children of God and Children of Heaven. May we give all the glory of God for the great gift of Christ, and forever praise His holy name. Amen.

Rejoicing in Christ, Brian

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Devoted to the Word of God

Joshua 1:7-9Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Be strong and courageous men of God, devoted to the Word of God, men of the Word. This is the theme of our Wednesday Christian men’s Bible study group, but truly is the theme of every Christian man, woman and child, for the Lord our God is with us wherever we go. We have His holy Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), to teach us, to guide us and help us mature in this walk as a child of God, a kingdom of heaven worker and Ambassador of Christ in this world today. Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

Our church’s senior Bible Study teacher stated the other night that the Lord will give us the desires of our heart, when we align our desires with God’s desires; when our desires are His desires. My close friend fervently prays, “Heavenly Father, Papa, may the desires of my heart be that my thoughts, words and deeds be pleasing in your sight.” And we know the holy will and ways of our Maker, Almighty God, by devotion to the Word of God in the Bible. Contemplate and meditate on them day and night, keeping the word of God in front of everything that we say and do in pure delight for they are fruitful and never wither, change or wear out with time.
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

We write the Word of God upon the tablets of our heart, because they are the fabric of our being by which we live and breathe. What is there to be terrified about and what can discourage us when we know God’s love, know God’s promises, know God’s providence and believe with our whole heart His plan of salvation in Christ; the gospel of Jesus? His holy Word is the light to truth and shines the way to paths of righteousness and abundant life. Shouldn’t we read and study the scriptures daily for they are alive with the Spirit of God and speaks to our hearts with love, joy and peace? Psalm 119:89-90 & 103-105 “Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

I’ve read that President George Washington spent an hour each morning and an hour each evening in pray and devotion with an open Bible in front of him. Former President John Adams told his son, President John Quincy Adams, to also start each of his days in office with devotional time in the Word of God. President Abraham Lincoln stated: “In this Great Book, I have but to say, I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man. All the good Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for this Book we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.” What’s good for our godly Founding Fathers of this nation is also good for us. We have every reason to be devoted to the Word of God. Jeremiah 15:16When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.”

James Houston. Professor of spiritual theology and former chancellor at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada writes: “If anyone asked you if your were a “devotionalist” today, you would be excused for not knowing what they meant. If someone talked about being devotionally-minded, you might raise an eyebrow. This century is possibly the first one in which action has been emphasized and valued more than contemplation. Today we do things. We think contemplation wastes time, produces nothing, and bumps awkwardly into our schedules. Devotional reading is a questionable priority for most successful people today. But are we successful Christians if we are so busy organizing and propagating the Christian faith that we do not know God personally or intimately? Christian devotional reading, with its motivation to love God with all our heart, mind, and will, helps us find intimate union with God.” John 17:17-18 Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world."

In Christ, Brian

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ignorance is No Excuse

Home sweet home. Arrived back yesterday from our “Pre-Fall Colors” Cruise up the east coast and Canada (cut short by hurricane Earl). The deciduous trees leaves had not started turning their beautiful Fall colors due to the time of year and the unusually warm summer in the eastern states of America and Canada, but that’s why we got such a good price. It was a great vacation. Check out that Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada sunrise!

1 Samuel 16:7b “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Finishing The book on Blaise Pascal’s Pensees did not finish the book, as The Provincial Letters of Pascal written in 1656 were included on the end. Having discussed with a gentleman on 7/30/2010 at this year’s Anaheim Harvest Crusade the question: “How could a good God sent anyone to Hell, who was ignorant?”, reading the 2/25/1656 letter four debate concerning actual grace and the sins of ignorance was truly an enlightening blessing to me. Many do not understand the will of man. So I give you now a summary of the highlights of this amazing discussion.

Pascal and his faithful friend (from an opposing viewpoint) visit a Jesuit faith leader and ask if he could explain to them the significance of the term “actual grace”. "With all my heart," the Jesuit replied; "for I dearly love inquisitive people. Actual grace, according to our definition, 'is an inspiration of God, whereby He makes us to know His will and excites within us a desire to perform it.'" "We hold that God bestows actual grace on all men in every case of temptation; for we maintain that unless a person have, whenever tempted, actual grace to keep him from sinning, his sin, whatever it may be, can never be imputed to him. We maintain it, then, as an undeniable principle, that an action cannot be imputed as a sin, unless God bestow on us, before committing it, the knowledge of the evil that is in the action, and an inspiration inciting us to avoid it. Do you understand me now?" The Summary of Sins, by Father Bauny: "In order to sin and become culpable in the sight of God, it is necessary to know that the thing we wish to do is not good, or at least to doubt that it is- to fear or to judge that God takes no pleasure in the action which we contemplate, but forbids it; and in spite of this, to commit the deed, leap the fence, and transgress."

Written in the book of Father Annat: "He that has no thought of God, nor of his sins, nor any apprehension (that is, as he explained it, any knowledge) of his obligation to exercise the acts of love to God or contrition, has no actual grace for exercising those acts; but it is equally true that he is guilty of no sin in omitting them, and that, if he is damned, it will not be as a punishment for that omission." And a few lines below, he adds: "The same thing may be said of a culpable commission." "You see," said the monk, "how he speaks of sins of omission and of commission. Nothing escapes him.” From the writings of M. le Moine, He shows that, in order to make out action to be a sin, all these things must have passed through the mind. "1. On the one hand, God sheds abroad on the soul some measure of love, which gives it a bias toward the thing commanded; and on the other, a rebellious concupiscence solicits it in the opposite direction. 2. God inspires the soul with a knowledge of its own weakness. 3. God reveals the knowledge of the physician who can heal it. 4. God inspires it with a desire to be healed. 5. God inspires a desire to pray and solicit his assistance." "And unless all these things occur and pass through the soul," added the monk, "the action is not properly a sin, and cannot be imputed.

I was astonished at such a declaration, according to which, no sins of surprise, nor any of those committed in entire forgetfulness of God, could be imputed. Why, I see more people, beyond all comparison, justified by this ignorance and forgetfulness of God, than by grace and the sacraments! But, my dear father, are you not inspiring me with a delusive joy? Are you quite in earnest?" For, in the first place, I know people who never think of God at all; their vices have got the better of their reason; they have never known either their weakness or the physician who can cure it; they have never thought of 'desiring the health of their soul,' and still less of 'praying to God to bestow it'; so that, according to M. le Moine, they are still in the state of baptismal innocence. They have never had a thought of loving God or of being contrite for their sins. Their life is spent in a perpetual round of all sorts of pleasures, in the course of which they have not been interrupted by the slightest remorse. These excesses had led me to imagine that their perdition was inevitable; but you, father, inform me that these same excesses secure their salvation. Blessings on you, my good father, for this way of justifying people! Others prescribe painful austerities for healing the soul; but you show that souls which may be thought desperately distempered are in quite good health. What an excellent device for being happy both in this world and in the next! Ephesians 4:17-19 “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

I had always supposed that the less a man thought of God, the more he sinned; but, from what I see now, if one could only succeed in bringing himself not to think upon God at all, everything would be pure with him in all time coming. Away with your half-and-half sinners, who retain some sneaking affection for virtue! They will be damned every one of them, these semi-sinners. But commend me to your arrant sinners- hardened, unalloyed, out-and-out, thorough-bred sinners. Hell is no place for them; they have cheated the devil, purely by virtue of their devotion to his service!" I can easily believe that a man may be damned for not having good thoughts; but it never would have entered my head to imagine that any man could be subjected to that doom for not believing that all mankind must have good thoughts! But, father, I hold myself bound in conscience to disabuse you and to inform you that there are thousands of people who have no such desires- who sin without regret- who sin with delight- who make a boast of sinning. But mark, father, the dangerous consequences of your maxim. Do you not perceive what effect it may have on those libertines who like nothing better than to find out matter of doubt in religion? Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I praise you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.”

Here my friend the Jansenist, following up my remarks, said to him: “For, how could you, without forfeiting all credit in the estimation of men, openly declare that nobody sins
without having previously the knowledge of his weakness, and of a physician, or the desire of a cure, and of asking it of God? Will it be believed, on your word, that those who are immersed in avarice, impurity, blasphemy, duelling, revenge, robbery and sacrilege, have really a desire to embrace chastity, humility, and the other Christian virtues? Can it be conceived that those philosophers who boasted so loudly of the powers of nature, knew its infirmity and its physician? Will you maintain that those who held it as a settled maxim that is not God that bestows virtue, and that no one ever asked it from him,' would think of asking it for themselves? Who can believe that the Epicureans, who denied a divine providence, ever felt any inclination to pray to God? men who said that 'it would be an insult to invoke the Deity in our necessities, as if he were capable of wasting a thought on beings like us?' In a word, how can it be imagined that idolaters and atheists, every time they are tempted to the commission of sin, in other words, infinitely often during their lives, have a desire to pray to the true God, of whom they are ignorant, that he would bestow on them virtues of which they have no conception?"
1 Peter 1:13-16 “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

By Aristotle’s book Ethics it is true that he teaches, that 'in order to make an action voluntary, we must know the particulars of that action'- singula in quibus est actio. But what else does he means by that, than the circumstances of the action? "Thus you see what is the kind of ignorance that renders actions involuntary; namely, that of the particular circumstances, which is termed by divines, as you must know, ignorance of the fact. But with respect to ignorance of right- ignorance of the good or evil in an action- which is the only point in question. Aristotle writes: “All wicked men are ignorant of what they ought to do, and what they ought to avoid; and it is this very ignorance which makes them wicked and vicious. Accordingly, a man cannot be said to act involuntarily merely because he is ignorant of what it is proper for him to do in order to fulfill his duty. This ignorance in the choice of good and evil does not make the action involuntary; it only makes it vicious. The same thing may be affirmed of the man who is ignorant generally of the rules of his duty; such ignorance is worthy of blame, not of excuse. And consequently, the ignorance which renders actions involuntary and excusable is simply that which relates to the fact and its particular circumstances. In this case the person is excused and forgiven, being considered as having acted contrary to his will.” Additionally, Augustine, the prince of theologians, who has thus decided the point in the first book of his Retractations, chapter xv writes: “Those who sin through ignorance, though they sin without meaning to sin, commit the deed only because they will to commit it. And, therefore, even this sin of ignorance cannot be committed except by the will of him who commits it, though by a will which incites him to the action merely, and not to the sin; and yet the action itself is nevertheless sinful, for it is enough to constitute it such that he has done what he was bound not to do.” James 1:14-17 “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own will’s desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

So, taking a hasty leave of us, he (the Jesuit leader) said: "I shall speak about it to our fathers. They will find an answer to it.” We understood him perfectly well; and, on our being left alone, I expressed to my friend my astonishment at the subversion which this doctrine threatened to the whole system of morals. And it still does 350+ years later. Follow the Lord, your God, not man.

In Christ, Brian

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rooted Along the River of Life.

1 John 2:1-2 “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

Well, our cruise of the New England states and Canada turned into a race to dodge hurricane Earl. As we cruise back to New York City, I’ve come to the end of this great book on Blasé Pascal’s Pensees. Though written in the mid-1600’s, the Christian principles are timelessly valuable for any generation to read and apply to their day, because they are always true. The great Christian writers of the past wrote to us, to help us in our understanding and walk with the Lord. So I close the book with these finals thoughts from the pen of Pascal. The God of the Christians is a God who makes the soul aware that he is its only good. In Him alone it can find peace. Only in loving Him can it find joy. He is a God who at the same time fills the soul with loathing for those things that hold it back and thus prevent it from loving God with all its might. Self-love and lust, which keep it back, are intolerable. So God makes the soul aware of this underlying self-love which destroys it. Seeing nobody on which it depends, believes it is dependent only on itself and so makes it the focus of its own existence. God alone can cure it. Without such a counterpoise, this dignity would make him horribly vain. How little pride that Christian feels in being at one in Union with God! The Incarnation reveals to man the enormity of his misery through the greatness of the remedy it requires.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."

“How I marvel at this original and inspiring faith, wholly divine in its authority, its continuance, its antiquity, its morality, its conduct, its doctrine, and in its effects. So I stretch out my hands to my Savior, who is having been foretold for some four thousand years, came to earth to die and suffer for me in the time and circumstances foretold. By his grace I await even death in tranquility, in the hope of being eternally united to him. Meanwhile I live full of joy, with the blessings he has pleased to bestow upon me or in the afflictions he will send for my own good and which he reaches me how to endure by faith’s example.”

Romans 1:16-17 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

“Happy are those who are beside those rivers, neither inundated nor swept away, but immovably rooted beside these streams, not standing but sitting in a humble and safe place. They will not arrogantly exalt themselves above the light, but resting in peace, stretch out their hands to Him who will exalt them to stand upright and resolute in the porches of the kingdom of Heaven.”

In Christ, Brian