Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Purity in the Mind of Christ

How did Jesus Christ respond to lust and temptations against His purity? Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He was tempted like we are, yet without sin. Did this include lust? Probably in some way, yet He never entered into sin. Think about it this way: He endured lust so that our lust could be crucified with Him on the Cross.

Is this too bold a statement? I think not. The thing that must be remembered is that His abject, sheer, unbridled object, love, and joy was His Father's glory. The glory that was also His before the world began (John 17:5). We behold this glory in Christ's face, and are changed into the same image (2 Corinthians 3). How does this connect? Jesus Christ's mind, affection, and will was set on His Father's glory. This is how He was pure: His mind was focused on God. He didn't choose to just resist temptation, He resisted temptation because He though more of His Father. Our mind, affection, and will must be likewise. But why list it in that order?

Dr. Lamansky has been giving lectures on Hamartiology (study of sin) in Systematic Theology 3 for the last several weeks. This last lecture on Monday was really great: our mind is the guardian of our affections. If you're like me, you've heard it for years at the mostly erroneous Basic Seminar. Where the mind goes, the affections will follow. And what your affections are pointed at, that is what you will choose. Thus, the secret to fighting lust, or any other sin, is not to simply "do it." It requires your mind being set on Christ, knowing that your affections will follow (Colossians 3:1-4). Now, this imperative that Paul gives demands a question: what are you thinking about? And then... why aren't you thinking about Christ?

Every man struggles, at varying levels, with lust. It's why Paul said that every man was to have his own wife in 1 Corinthians 7... so that lust wouldn't break out into sin. This may be shocking to women, but it's true. But even more troubling is what Kuiper pointed out: instead of empathizing with others who lust and trying to understand how the deceitfulness of sin works, we self-righteously judge. Years ago I had an epiphany about my relationships with others: every action that a person makes is a reaction to their experiences in life, which often include areas they have been or are deceived in. If someone is consistently angry, it is likely because someone has been angry at them. If someone struggles with lust, it's likely because no one took the time to talk to them or be accountable with them. If someone seems unable to make decisions, it's likely that they've been burned before, or have never been trusted to make decisions. Realizations like these bring compassion.

So what's to be done? First, We must look at ourselves! Allow God to show us who we really are. The hidden sin that is there, under the surface, waiting for the opportunity to strike. After discerning this in ourselves, and realizing that we too are capable of sinning, then we can compassionately help others. An objection might be raised: can we not help others until we have mastered that area in ourselves? No, that's not the point. In recognizing that we have sin, we not only help ourselves by allowing the Spirit to begin His purging work, but we also help others in showing them that 1) we too are imperfect, and 2) we are being changed into His same image, so that 3) they can have an example to change into His image too. This can't be just about telling others how to do right. We must show others how to do right.

It's nothing short of a call to open our hearts, as men, to each other.


Sunday, October 21, 2007


For the first time in my life I am realizing why this was the theme of so many of the summer camps I went to. Why I heard so many messages preached from Proverbs 7. Why Dr. Jaspers preached his heart out to us at Leadership Camp on this passage. Why Joshua Harris wrote so many dating books. Why my Pastor Mcqueen screamed at us in Victory Baptist School's chapel "WAIT!"
Never really listened to him, but it was still nice of him to scream at us. It all fits together. I think the older generation misunderstood us though. I seriously think if they would have got down with us and gotten their hands dirty in the explanation instead of dealing with purity in a high philosophical manner so many of us wouldn't have fallen.
I think it would have helped me. Maybe my affections would have been in a better place earlier on in my life. Don't get me wrong I was never a womanizer I am still pure in a physical sense but when I see what sewer my mind has crawled out of its a wonder. We escape out of our little sin taverns and we fall on our faces and ask why didn't you tell us it would hurt so bad?
Our own sin and our own lusts flagellate our spiritual bodies with malice and discontent. Telling us that we should have been more impure or more pure leaving us never satisfied. It wrecks our mind, it ruins our testimony, and leaves us unsatisfied for the pure life. A life of lusts has no taste for a life of resilience and self control. When we are so used to giving in to every temptation that comes upon us it is hard to get used to saying no once let alone for the rest of our lives. A longing for impurity. A mouth thirsty for the unsavory. An unsatisfied boyfriend. A dirty mind. A severe ungratefulness for standards and guidelines that are so good for us. Even when the standards are self imposed we loathe them.
Now we go into another world. The world of someone else's lust problem. Its almost like we have never expected anyone else to go through the same issues we have went through. Like screaming "Wait!" only to realize that we ourselves have done the very action we condone. We sneer and criticize those who are in our own minds corrupt and unfaithful when our minds have trailed there so often. Only by His grace have we not slid further into Sheol. We slander and abuse those who are already hurt being our own imagination. Instead of lifting up we cut string by string at their emotions declaring them wicked.

FAITH: So soon as the man overtook me, he was but a word and a blow, for down he knocked me, and laid me for dead. But when I was a little come to myself again, I asked him wherefore he served me so. He said, because ofmy secret inclining to Adam the First; and with that he struck me
another deadly blow on the breast, and beat me down backward; so I lay at his foot as dead as before. So, when I came to myself again, I cried him mercy; but he said, I know not how to show mercy; and with that he knocked me down again. He had doubtless madean end of me, but that one came by, and bid him forbear.

CHR. Who was that that bid him forbear?

FAITH. I did not know him at first, but as he went by, I perceived the holes in his hands and in his side; then I concluded that he was our Lord. So I went up the hill. {178}

CHR. That man that overtook you was Moses. He spareth none, neither knoweth he how to show mercy to those that transgress his law.

We have these same same tendencies. To crucify others on our own morality. To punish them
under our own moral law. Not even properly based moral law but upon our own ideals of right and wrong.
We have come upon them as Moses to the unsaved and pummeled them with our words and downcast
glances.As we pummel them they look up in sorrow and ask why and we tell them because they are dirty
sinners and our mouths drop open as the words exit our mouths: "Just like I am."

Pondering More Cessation

Sitting in Kuip's room, he's cramming Greek and I'm sitting easy. More exegesis to finish up for tomorrow. Looking into finishing more of my paper today and tonight. As promised, here's some of the rationale behind the purpose of tongues ceasing after 70 AD. Most of this will be very basic for some, and brand new for others (for all six of you that are reading this at the moment).

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11, indicating that one of the many purposes of tongues was to show unbelieving Israel that they were being judges by God. How is this the case? They rejected the Messiah, choosing instead to look for a political leader who would overthrow the Romans. This culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Thus Paul uses the quote from Isaiah to prove that the gift of tongues is for the unbeliever, to show them God's judgment. In context from Isaiah, this is clearly talking about Israel. And while God has not totally cast off His chosen people (Romans 11:1-2), there is a definite replacement going on in the early Church age.

So what were the other purposes for tongues? Two are immediately discerned: 1) to proclaim the new message of the Gospel, and 2) also to verify the new Way that Christ had established. It could be argued either way that those purposes have passed as well, and I won't take time here to dig. It can be safely inferred that the most obvious purpose for tongues is no longer needed.

I probably won't be posting again on tongues until after my paper is done. At that point likely all I'll be doing is summarizing the conclusions from my paper. Kuiper and I will eventually be tag-teaming a series of blogs on Soulforce and a contrast of their interactions with Bob Jones and Cedarville. But first he's got some thoughts on purity that he's going to publish later on today.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pondering Cessation

I've been working incessantly on a cessationist paper (ha) for a class on 1 Corinthians. Today it's been Grudem's non-cessationist thoughts against Robert Thomas' pro-cessationist thoughts.

Let me briefly outline the argument. Those who believe that tongues have ceased (called cessationists) point to 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 as a prooftext for tongues no longer being in effect. Some state that tongues pass away when "the perfect" comes, and then define "the perfect" as the whole canon of Scripture. Others state that the Greek verb for "cease" is such that tongues were shortly going to "burn out" of use. They back this up with Paul's allusion in 1 Corinthians 14:22 to Isaiah 28:11 (more on this below and later).

A few observations:

1) My historic understanding of the passage in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 has been that it is inconclusive when it comes to determining what "the perfect" is. As I study it out more, it seems that "the perfect" cannot mean anything less then the return of Christ or our assumption into heaven. Looking at the context, "being known as also I am known" cannot be misconstrued to mean anything less then being in His presence. A big part of Paul's point is setting up a "now" versus "then" dynamic. Included in this is when prophecy will pass away... if tongues is connected with prophecy as being contemporaneous (at the same time), then neither prophecy nor tongues will pass away until Christ returns.

However, the argument goes that the verb usage of "cease" is different from "fail" for prophecy, and indeed the verbs are different. There may be something in παυσονται ("shall cease") being offset from the other two (καταργηθησονται is the word translated both "fail" and "vanish"). However, as is noted by many, the use of the middle voice for "cease" here is inconclusive. The idea that many cessationists propound (that this verb cannot be connected with "the perfect" coming) really plays against the natural reading of the passage, and seems to delve into such technical realms as to make their argument dependent upon guesswork.

To speak in layman's terms, cessationists say that tongues "ceasing" is not tied into the perfect coming, as prophecy is in verse 10 and 11. As such, they believe that tongues will "burn out" on their own, due to their interpretation of "cease".

2) The historic basis against tongues still being in effect is very strong. Multiple authorities throughout history, including Augustine, Calvin, and Spurgeon, indicate that tongues have ceased. It is only in the previous hundred years that this has been challenged. For instance, John Chrysostom speaks about tongues and "their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place." In other words, since there was no evidence for them continuing, it's only natural to assume that they stopped.

3) It should be noted that the modern charismatic movement is so far from the Biblical model of tongues that there should be no doubt as to its invalidity. Tongues were a literal language, not just gibberish or ecstatic speech.

4) Finally, it should be noted that at least one of the purposes for tongues has ceased. Tongues were, at least in part, a sign to unbelieving Israel that God's covenant was no longer exclusively with them (I will follow up on this in another post). As per Paul's loose quote of Isaiah 28, the miraculous gift of tongues was designed to show Israel that God was speaking through another people now. The need for tongues ceased in 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed and God's hand of blessing was explicitly removed from the system of religion known as Judaism.

A final question for pondering: is the Scriptural argument from 1 Corinthians 13 against the tongues movement valid? Can we not simply state that the modern charismatic movement is in error, and appeal to the both the usage of tongues in its day and the subsequent historic record? Must we parse verbs into line with our theological system? I'm inclined to leave the 1 Corinthians 13 passage alone and leave open the possibility that God might still use tongues, while clearly arguing that modern charismatics are in error.