Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pushing on in life

When I was young, my granddad had an old horse drawn plow. Just an old farming tool, bent and twisted from a lifetime of honest service. It was rusted and broken to the point of being unrecognizable. Yet It fascinated me.

Sometimes I feel like that plow - as if life has bent and twisted me, making me almost a mystery to myself. But that is not as bad, as bad things go. I learned that from the plow. A plow is broken down by plowing. Doing what it was made to do results in it being unrecognizable.

But that is not how we begin. Such change dose not happen in a moment but over a lifetime. When we start out our heads are filled with possibility and dreams often only the fruit of a delinquent heart. Yet such misguided wishes never die easy. In time what one knows of hopes and dreams; what was thought of as life and future; the pleasant dreams of youth, are slowly sanded away till all that remains is a smooth simple hope, uncluttered and fixed.

Plows - like people - have scars.  Life is hard like fallow ground. It can be cruel and unforgiving. The process will warp and change you, scrap and scar you, but that is just part of living.  All the scars, the unrecognizable brokenness, when traced out tell a story. A story not defined by how it ends but by the whole of a life. You don't measure a plow by its weathered and haggard exterior but by the story its scars have to tell. Every ding, every scratch taken as a whole tells of a graced perseverance. A story of fallow ground broken in a long obedience in the same direction. A journey marked by many little deaths and littered with the tomb stones of abandoned dreams.

In the end, the plow was twisted and used up but maybe that's what fulfillment feels like sometimes. When you feel spent and poured out. Is that the splendor of being used? I think so. What gets us to the end is not wishful thinking of youth but the fix hope perfected over the long journey. When dreams die, and youthful hopes fade what remains is the assurance of the plow.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Can Religious Experience Be a Reasonable Ground for Theism?

Earth's crammed with heaven, 

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.

- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"Does religious experience provide a rational ground for belief in God?"[1]

The bible gives account after account of people having direct experiences of God. In it's pages, God reveals himself to kings and prophets.  God is shown relating to his creation and revealing himself. The scripture teaches that God endows human beings with the ability to perceive – although imperfectly – religious, and spiritual realities through God given religious experience. It also recognizes that man's ability to know is far from perfect: his initial epistemic perceptions are fallible but functional. Christians in every generation have attested to the immediate presence of God. This raises the question: Can religious experience be an good ground for believing that God exists?

Many would say it is reasonable to think so. Consider our perception of experience in general. We all have a default trust in our perception that things are as they seem.[2] In this way, we understand the perception of our experience as good grounds for believing they are what they seem. Thus, It is rational to treat all our experiences as innocent until proven guilty. So we ought to believe that things are as they seem unless and until we have evidence that they are mistaken. For example If I seem to see a mulberry bush in my backyard. I have good grounds for believing there is a mulberry bush there. So generally stated, how things appear in my experience gives good grounds for believing that the mulberry bush exists. I can rationally assume my experience is innocent until proven guilt. But What if, I had good reason to think that how things appear to me may actually be mistaken. It is reasonable if not necessary for me to pause and critically reflect and look for any counter evidence. What if I remembered that for the past 15 years, I’ve never seen one in my backyard. What if, I did not plan for a mulberry bush to be planted there. What if, even after explaining its location my wife looks and says she does not see a mulberry bush in the backyard. What if my friends agrees with her. What if, I have recently been taken medication and one of its side effects is hallucinations.  After these considerations it is unlikely that I am seeing what I seem to be seeing. The counter evidence calls my perception into question. I have no good grounds for believing an a mulberry bush is in my backyard.

Now Alleged religious experience correspond to perceptual experience in that they both are a type of experience. Thus, it is rational to treat all our experiences including our religious experience as innocent until proven guilty like we do perceptual experience. Thus, religious experience should be approached as prima facie evidence. If I seem to be directly aware of God’s presence, and if there are no overriding reasons why things are not as they seem, then I have good grounds for believing that God is present and hence for believing that God exists (since God would not be present if God did not exist).  In general it seems rational that, for those who have had the experience, belief in God may be grounded in an experience of God.

This begs the question, Would my experience be evidence for others if I tell my experience to them? Is testimony about an experience of God good grounds for believing in God?  Following the above argument, We should assume the experiences of others are likely to be as they report them to be unless good reason to the contrary. Thus the principle is that the testimony of an experience should be trusted unless there is at least as good a reason to think that it is mistaken. For example, If I report to others that I saw a particular mulberry bush, then, in general, recipients of my testimony have good grounds for believing that I saw it and hence that that particular mulberry bush exists. But what if, I have a reputation as a joker or known for telling lies. What if recipients of my testimony have strong independent reasons for denying that there is an mulberry bush (or that mulberry bushes don't do that anymore).

In conclusion, direct religious experience and testimony about such an experience may provide for believing in God (Theism). It should at least provide motivation for exploring more evidence. A credible Christian testimony is more than a testimony, for the unbeliever it is potentially a grounds for belief in God, for the believer it is encountering God as present in the story of another.

[1] I am indebted to Richard Swinburne's defense of religious experience. He draws on the methodological assumptions used by scientist in their research. The principles of credulity, and testimony underlying the modern scientific method are used to great effect. He has argued that when applied to religious experience they reveal such experiences should not be dismissed. In a cumulative way they help form a epistemological ground for belief in God. See Richard Swinburne, The Existence of God, (New York: Clarendon Press. 2004). 

[2] This is called the principle of credulity in the philosophy of science, and is a basic assumption for doing research in the sciences. Credulity means the tendency to be too ready to believe something is true. Human perception naturally assumes a measure of credulity. When used in reference to human perception it properly describes the poster we take towards the perception of our experience. See KAI-MAN KWAN, "The Argument from Religious Experience", in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Craig, William Lane and J. P. Moreland (eds). (Blackwell Publishing, 2009)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Encouragement: Four Points of Clarity. 

Encouragement what is it really? Well, encouragement is a verb. We do it and have it done to us. One writer describes encouragement this way.

"To encourage means to inspire with courage, spirit, and hope; to hearten; to urge forward."

I like to think of it as put courage in people. Understanding what it means to be an encouragement is important. We can't do something with excellence without first have a good working knowledge of it. In short, We need to understand encouragement so we can be encouraging.

Four Points of clarity.

1. Encouragement is needed because life is difficult.
Everyone occasionally gets discouraged. We face times when life seems difficult, progress slow, or challenges insurmountable. In light of this, we can see why we need to be encouraging and to encourage others.

2. Encouragement is needed to keep us from spiritual laziness.

At other times, when we let our priorities get out of line, our zest for pressing ahead begins to slip away. We give in to the temptation to settle down and take it easy, and our pursuit of God shifts into neutral. At such times, we need someone to come alongside and exhort us onward. The writer of Hebrews refers to this when he writes, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb:10:24).

3. Encouragement does not sound like a motivational speaker.

Pep-talks based not on positive thinking or blind optimism are not helpful.

Encouragement that is worth anything is rooted in truth. God's word is truth.

When our words rise from on the manifold promises and hope held out to us in the Scriptures our encouragement has power beyond us.

Also, unlike most motivational speaker's we must speak from the heart not just ;know how to say it meaningfully. Appreciation must be authentic if it is not we run the risk of becoming the kind of person who uses words to flatter and win approval. Giving thanks can become habit and lack the reality of being truly heartfelt.

4. Encouragement is marked by affirmation, appreciation and thanks
Encouragement can come from expressions of appreciation and thanks.

A few examples:

“You've done a good job,"
“I've noticed the way you have persevered in faith and joy through your trial,” “Thanks for the way you served,”

Such words are all deeply encouraging to hear. If we truly mean them the Holy Spirit can use them in powerful ways.


Job was described by his friends as being a skilled encourage (Job 4:3-4).

How would you rate his wife's gift in this area? (Job 2:7-10).

Adapted from Mickey Connolly's chapter in "Why Small Groups?" ed. C.J. Mahanney . p. 63

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Christain Education: Learning the new language of Christianity

"Discipleship is a kind of immigration, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God's beloved Son (Col. 1:13). In Christ we are given a heavenly passport; in his body we learn how to live like "locals" of his kingdom. Such an immigration to a new kingdom isn't just a matter of being teleported to a different realm; we need to be acclimated to a new way of life, learn a new language, acquire new habits--and unlearn the habits of that rival dominion." - James K.A Smith

We all are immigrats. As immigrates learning is a necessary task, if we are to be a part of God's kingdom. This is why education is one way of the church disciples it's members. In Smith's quote he speaks of learning a new language. Such a phrase could be helpful in describing the process of Christain education. But first let us look at how we should understand what is meant by "language".

Language is more than words
Language is more than how human's communicate. It includes conveying information about the weather and other subjects. Yet language also has a social function. It is a means of establishing and maintaning relationships with other people. We share information about a person like what sort of job someone does or what social status they have. Without this information social interaction brakes down.

Beneath the social, language has a much deeper, more primal function. From a subjective stance, language is how we understand the world. The way we speak, the words we use, the syntax and grammar, metaphors and symbols, all coalesce to form how we describe and define the world. In short, language names reality (Gen 2:19-20a).

At this primal level is where language and Christianity intersect. Christain language is the way christain's label the world. It is the outworking of a Christain worldview in everyday descriptions and definitions. Thus learning the language of Christianity, particularly it's theological definitions is a very important enterprise. Such theological definitions form the way we see life by giving context, shape and definition to our lives. Life still has it's ineffable mysteries and perplexing enigmas yet even such darkness is set within a context of God's reign.

Learn a new language is Christian education.
Christain education is like learning a new language. A person's goal is to learn a language so that it becomes second nature. If we are to be really proficient at, say, German, we need to learn to think in German, maybe even dream in German. We reach the point where we can slip easily from one language to another without effort. We learn the idioms of speech of that language; its rules are embedded in our minds so that we do not need to pause to reach for the right mode of expression. It becomes part of us. Christain education is unlearning the world's system (a way of seeing and acting), by learning to define life by God's terms.

Not Christianese
Learning the language of Christianity is not like learning christianese. Christianese is form of Christians jargon. In which one learns to speak as a Christain without understanding much of what is meant. Christianese is a simple way of speaking that lacks substance, clearity, nuances and is generally akin to a first year language student. One uses (and misuses) certain words, theological terms, and catchphrases in everyday conversation often only comprehensible by those in the same group. It is the "pig Latin" of christainity, a novelty, or better a parody of the soul grammar imbedded in Christain truth. The language of Christianity is not how christain's talk but the core content of the faith that frames how we describe and define the world. It is less a way of speaking to the world and more a way of seeing and acting in the world.

Theology as Grammar
As a 'grammar,' theology provides structure to our thinking. It describes how the Christian faith is a special way of speaking and acting which makes sense of human life by giving it meaning, practical definitions, a particular style of life and hope. Learning how to see life by the new language of the kingdom is crucial to learning how to be a Christian.

Our context is community and aim is fluency.
Being fluent in Christianity means that, for the most part, we define life by God's terms. It must be noted at this point, such learning does not happen in a vacuum. The church is the language school and the Scriptures its textbook. Pastors and elders even Sunday school teachers perhaps should be regarded as language instructors and terminology tutors. They all in varying degrees, train us all in the "lingua franca" of Christain thought. More than any the common tongue of the community shapes our vision through the immersion of daily integration.

Example of prayer:
For example; in the context of the church community helping inform our reading. We learn the language of praise by reading and rereading the Psalms, we gain a God given grammar and vocabulary that our praise can inhabit. Worship is set within the daily drama of human life and we learn to see worship as an honest expression of our heart's current GPS. When we learn the language of praise our posture and relationship with God changes. We embody the psalms not in "phrasing" but in a heart unburdened and uncensored before God.

J. Dawson Jarrell

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Good Common Sense in scholarship and its goofy Emo brother

After reading a good deal of Commentaries this week this quote was a breath of fresh air. It reminds me how good scholars must have simple common sense. Scholars no matter the pedigree, or number of letters behind their names, can get goofy if they don't get out of their ivory towers and breathe in the fresh air of common sense.

"'There is a world – I do not say a world in which all scholars live, but one at any rate into which all of them sometimes stray, and which some of them seem permanently to inhabit – which is not the world in which I live. In my world, if The Times and The Telegraph both tell one story in somewhat different terms, nobody concludes that one of them must have copied the other, nor that the variations in the story have some esoteric significance. But in the world of which I am speaking this would be taken for granted. Ther no story is ever derived from facts but always from somebody else’s version of the same story. … In my world, almost every book, except some of those produced by Government departments, is written by one author. In that world almost every book is produced by a committee, and some of them by a whole series of committees. In my world, if I read that Mr. Churchill, in 1935, said that Europe was heading for a disastrous war, I applaud his foresight. In that world, no prophecy, however vaguely worded, is ever made except after the event. In my world we say, ‘The first world-war took place in 1914-1918.’ In that world they say, ‘The world-war narrative took shape in the third decade of the twentieth century.’ In my world men and women live for considerable time – seventy, eighty, even a hundred years – and they are equipped with a thing called memory. In that world (it would appear) they come into being, write a book, and forthwith perish, all in a flash, and it is noted of them with astonishment that they ‘preserve traces of primitive tradition’ about things which happened well within their own adult lifetime.'"

From D.A. Carson, Gospel of John, Pillar Commentary pg. 50

Carson is quoting H. N. Green-Armytage, John Who Saw: a Layman’s Essay on the Authorship of the Fourth Gospel, (Faber and Faber, 1952) pg.12-13.

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

Monday, April 20, 2015

Vos on the Sinai covenant is understood in covenant theology

One of the sticky points of covenant theology is understanding the continuity of the Mosaic Covenant with the New Testament ethos. Mortal continuity is found in the restatements of the 10 commandment throughout the New Testament. But It is about as easy to explain the sound of one hand clapping as it is to explain the role and function of the Mosaic Covenant in the Covenant of Grace in redemptive history.

The more I read the more confusion ensues. Until I read Geerhardus Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics, in it I found a great answer to what is one of the most nagging in consistencies of Reformed Theology. Here Vos, is working through more theologically difficult aspects of Covenant Theology, he addresses a few questions about the relationship of the Mosaic Covenant to the Abrahamic Covenant, questions about the Mosaic Covenant and the Covenant of Works. Here is Questions 43-47:

43. How is the covenant at Sinai to be assessed?

On this question, the most diverse opinions are prevalent. We first give the correct view. The Sinaitic covenant is not a new covenant as concerns the essence of the matter, but the old covenant of grace established with Abraham in somewhat changed form. The thesis that it must be a new covenant is usually derived from the fact that Paul so strongly accents the law over against the promises as different from them (e.g., Gal 3:17ff.). But thereby one thing is forgotten. Paul nowhere sets the Sinaitic covenant in its entirety over against the Abrahamic covenant, but always the law insofar as it came to function in the Sinaitic covenant. There is only one place that appears to be an exception to this: Gal 4:21ff. Here, in fact, two covenants are set over against each other. But they are not the Abrahamic and the Sinaitic covenants. Rather, they are the earthly and the heavenly covenants—the covenant that originates from Mount Sinai and has its center in the earthly Jerusalem, and the covenant that originates from heaven and is concentrated in the Jerusalem that is above. This is very significant. Paul has not said: two covenants, the one originating from Mamre and the other from Sinai. He knew well that already with Abraham something of the Sinaitic side of the covenant was also present and that, conversely, after Sinai there was a continuation of the heavenly, spiritual side of the covenant of grace with the people of God. So with this passage, one gains nothing.

The children of Israel were in the covenant when they set out from Egypt. Precisely because they were in it, they were delivered from Egypt (Gen 15:13–14). There is not one word mentioned of a new relationship. The old was altered. And at the same time, there was something new. It consisted in the following considerations:

a) Now, for the first time, the covenant with Israel rightly became a national covenant. The social life of Israel, its civil organization, its existence as a people, were brought directly into contact with the covenant of grace. These two were inextricably linked. One cannot say, “I want to leave the Jewish church but remain in the Jewish state.” Whoever left the church left the state. And one could leave the state only by being exterminated from the people. Properly speaking, there is discipline through censure in a certain sense, but not, properly speaking, discipline only through excommunication or cutting off from the church. The sanction was the death penalty. All this first came about at Sinai. Earlier, God Himself had cut off Ishmael and Esau from the covenant administration. Judicially, this is later no longer permitted.

b) The covenant with Israel served in an emphatic manner to recall the strict demands of the covenant of works. To that end, the law of the Ten Commandments was presented so emphatically and engraved deeply in stone. This law was not, as Cocceius meant, simply a form for the covenant of grace. It truly contained the content of the covenant of works. But—and one should certainly note this—it contains this content as made serviceable for a particular period of the covenant of grace. It therefore says, for example, “I am the Lord your God.” Therefore, it also contains expressions that had reference specifically to Israel, and thus are not totally applicable to us (e.g., “that it may be well with you in the land that the Lord your God gives you”). But also, beyond the Decalogue, there is reference to the law as a demand of the covenant of works (e.g., Lev 18:5; Deut 27:26; 2 Cor 3:7, 9). It is for this reason that in the last cited passage, Paul calls the ministry of Moses a ministry of condemnation. This simply shows how the demand of the law comes more to the fore in this dispensation of the covenant of grace. This ministry of the law had a twofold purpose: 1) It is a disciplinarian until Christ. 2) It serves to multiply sin, that is, both to lure sin out from its hidden inner recesses as well as to bring it to consciousness (cf. Gal 3:19; Rom 4:15; 5:13). Paul teaches expressly that the law did not appear here as an independent covenant of works in Gal 3:19ff. That the law is also not a summary of the covenant of grace appears from the absence of the demand of faith and of the doctrine of the atonement.

c) The covenant with Israel had a ceremonial and a typical ministry, fixed in its details. That was also already so in part for the earlier administration of the covenant of grace. But to the degree that it now came about, that ceremonial ministry was something new. A formal gospel preaching was offered continually by symbols and types. A priestly class came into existence. Earlier, every father of a family was a priest. Now, particular persons are separated and consecrated for this function. One must consider all these types and symbols from two points of view: 1) as demands of God on the people; 2) as a proclamation of God to the people. God had appointed them to serve in both respects. But the Jews overlooked the latter aspect more and more, and made the types and symbols exclusively serve the former purpose. That is to say, they used them only as additions to a self-willed covenant of works, and misunderstood the ministering significance they had for the covenant of grace. So the opinion arose that righteousness had to be obtained by keeping that law in the broadest sense of the word, including the ceremonial law. And by this misuse, the covenant of grace of Sinai was in fact made into a Hagarite covenant, a covenant giving birth to servitude, as Paul describes it in Gal 4:24. There he has in view not the covenant as it should be, but as it could easily become through misuse.

d) The law given by God also served as a rule of life for Israel. So, we obtain a threefold law: the moral, the ceremonial, the civil law. This civil law was a particular application of the principles of the moral law. For example, in the moral law God says in general, “You shall not steal.” The civil law further elaborates what constitutes stealing, what penalties apply, etc., etc. At the same time, this law as a rule of life for civil concerns was elaborated in such a way that it provided a model for the spiritual relationship to God of the members of the covenant. Israel must bring its tithes, firstfruits, drink- and vow-offerings; and in doing that the dedication of the covenant member to God was also foreshadowed in the covenant of grace. No one from Israel may be a slave, for every Israelite is as such already totally God’s possession. Even the land of the children of Israel is God’s property; they are merely sojourners and aliens toward God, who live from what is His. So, too, in civil relationships in Israel, in the civil side of the covenant, the essence of the covenant of grace is mirrored.

44. Is this covenant that God established with Israel capable of being broken or not?

It is not only capable of being broken, but also has been broken repeatedly. Then a covenant renewal is necessary, as comes out in Exod 34:10ff. and 2 Kgs 23:3. Actually, all sin is covenant breaking, but still this covenant is such that God Himself has ordained a means to preserve the covenant in spite of those sins. This means are the sacrifices. They are applicable to sins that are not committed with uplifted hands; that is, sins through error, unintentional sins. But, also, even when an intentional sin is committed, God still does not forsake His covenant. Where the appointed means of propitiation is lacking, God comes with extraordinary seeking grace, remembers His covenant, maintains it in spite of Israel’s unfaithfulness (Exod 32; Psa 106:23; Num 16:45–50). Finally, it is expressed clearly that the covenant with Israel is eternal (1 Chr 16:17; Isa 54:10; Psa 89:1–5), a covenant to which God has pledged the honor of His name (Isa 48:8–11; Num 14:16). In this pledge, therefore, it is essentially settled that God guarantees the continuation of the covenant of grace, that it is eternal in a different sense than the covenant of works, that however much individuals may fall away and be lost, the core of the covenant remains and must remain—so, entirely the same thing we established earlier about the covenant of grace in general.

45. How can it be said in Deut 5:2 and 3 that God did not make the covenant at Horeb with the fathers, if it is still one covenant?

This must be understood not of the substance, but of the form of the covenant closure. With Abraham and the patriarchs, God had not established the covenant of grace in its Sinaitic design—that is what Moses means here. Thus by “the fathers” is meant the patriarchs, not the forefathers in Egypt (Calvin), or those who perished in the wilderness (Augustine). It is clear from subsequent places how Scripture regards the Sinaitic covenant as a continuation of the covenant with Abraham: Exod 2:24, “And God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”; Lev 26:42, “Then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, with Isaac, with Abraham” (Deut 4:31; 2 Kgs 13:23). Again and again, there is a continual pointing back to the covenant with Abraham to show that the children of Israel were in that covenant.

46. What are the deviating positions regarding that Sinaitic covenant of grace?

a) The view of Cocceius and his followers. Cocceius was a proponent of a trichotomy, that is, a three part division of administering the covenant of grace. There was:

An administration from Adam to Moses.
An administration from Moses to Christ.
An administration after Christ.

Or, expressed otherwise: ante legem—sub lege—post legem, that is: before the law, under the law, after the law.

The last period unfolds in seven stages that correspond to the seven letters, seven trumpets, seven seals of Revelation.

Regarding the establishing of the covenant at Sinai, Cocceius taught that the Decalogue was a summary of the covenant of grace, made especially applicable to Israel. However, after the establishment of this gracious covenant upon the ten words, when Israel became unfaithful and fell into worship of the golden calf and broke the covenant, then as punishment the legal covenant of ceremonial institutions was established, that is, the covenant of grace as a much more rigorous and harsher administration. The servitude of the law first appears after the worship of the golden calf. And the element of servitude is found in the ceremonial law; that of grace, on the other hand, in the law of the Ten Commandments. The fathers who lived before Sinai were under freedom, under promise. According to the Cocceian understanding, the Old Testament first begins at Sinai. God did not give a law to the patriarchs. Cocceius taught of the pre-Mosaic sacrifices that they were not commanded by God but were free ceremonies that could be neglected without guilt. The Cocceian view of the Sabbath was also related to this judgment about the pre-Mosaic freedom, and the Decalogue as a temporary formulation before the covenant of grace. It was thought that the Sabbath was not mandatory.

b) A second conception does better justice to the legal nature of the Ten Commandments. They are regarded as a form of a new covenant of works that God established with Israel. God did not establish it with the intent that by it Israel could earn life, for through sin that had become completely impossible. The aim was to allow them to attempt it in their own strength. In Egypt, they had lost the awareness of their impotence. This awareness had to be revived, and the new covenant of works served that end. “They were puffed up as it were with an absurd confidence in themselves and said, ‘All that the Lord has said we will do.’ ” God then gives them the law. But when they saw the terrifying display of the smoking and burning mountain, of the dark cloud and the lightning, they soon perceived that they could not live by this covenant of works and therefore asked for Moses to be their mediator. In connection with the consciousness of guilt awakened in this way, God renewed with Israel the Abrahamic covenant of grace, as recorded in Exod 24, to which the Levitical laws also belonged. “The Book of the Covenant” was thus the summary of the covenant of grace, not the Decalogue engraved on stone tablets. In the ceremonial laws that were added later, the gospel element was resident. This is thus an opposite view from Cocceius and his school.

c) According to a third conception, at Sinai God established not two but even three covenants with Israel:

A national covenant.
A covenant of nature or of works.
A covenant of grace.

The first of these was made with all the Israelites, without exception, and was a continuation of the setting apart of one nation, the extension of the particular line that begins with Abraham. In this covenant, God promised Israel temporal blessings, and required in turn civic, external obedience. The prophets lament the violation of this national covenant through idolatry.

The second covenant was a repetition of the covenant of works and was established by the proclamation of the Decalogue. The promise of life and the threatening of death were solemnly uttered anew.

The third covenant was the renewing of the covenant of grace established with Abraham and was sealed through the announcement of the ceremonial law (thus Maestricht, VIII, Chapter II).

47. What objections must be made against all these proposals?

a) That they are against the presentation of Scripture in multiplying the covenants. Never and nowhere is it presented as if more than one covenant was established at Sinai.

b) That they are in part wrong where they wish to limit the moral law or the ceremonial law entirely to one of these covenants. This cannot be achieved. We have already seen how, for example, the ceremonial law had a double aspect. These were demands that had to be fulfilled and that, through the impossibility of complete fulfillment, should drive people to Christ. At the same time, they were types and symbols that pointed to Christ and pictured Christ. Thus the ceremonial law of itself already appeared under the two covenants that one wishes to separate. It is likewise so with the moral law. In it occur features that recall the covenant of grace. It is not simply a law of the covenant of works. The promise of eternal life is not clearly expressed in it. And explanations that do present this promise occur in the midst of the ceremonial law.[1]

[1] Vos, G. (2013). Vol. 2: Reformed Dogmatics (R. B. Gaffin & R. de Witt, Ed.) (A. Godbehere, R. van Ijken, K. Batteau, D. van der Kraan & H. Boonstra, Trans.) (76–80). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

Friday, March 13, 2015

Marks of “light” and “dark” sytles of life from 1 John.

Marks of “light” walker and “dark” walker lifestyles. 
Gleaned from a reading of 1 John. [1]

 Marks of Walking in the light

1.) A willingness to be open to God. God is the final authority not the self. 

2.) Seeking not to hide personal sin, weaknesses, and failures from others or from yourself. 
3.) An honest and ongoing acknowledgement and confession of personal sins. 
4.) Engaging in seeking to doing the truth (putting the truth into practice and avoiding sin.) 
5.) A real concern and love for other Christians leading to real open interaction (I Jn 2:8-11)

Marks of "Walking in darkness"

1.) Fake self - pretentiousness and a seeking to hide their sin from others or even from themselves.
2.) Secret rebellion - Unwilling to let God character and His word be their final authority.
3.) Complete self-deception - Claims to be without sin in spite of clear evidence to the contrary.
4.) Careless interaction – an indifference and lack of concern for other Christians. (I Jn 2:8-11) 

[1] Gleaned from authors personal reading of the text and from following journals & commentaries:  Colin G. Kruse, The Letters of John, Pillar New Testament Commentary; (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000)  pgs. 62-66; Robert W. Yarbrough, 1-3 John. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008)  pgs. 62-65. Randall K. J. Tan, “A Linguistic Overview of 1 John,” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Vol. 10 No.3 (Fall 2006) , pgs. 70-74