I Am In Love!

I like to put riddles in my statuses, and yesterday was no exception. I posted a short, 42 character message to twitter, buzz, and facebook, and sparked an explosion of responses like none other. The status was this:

“I have a girlfriend; I am in love; she is perfect.”

Some who knew me very well immediately concluded, rightly, that this could not be taken literally.

Others were not sure, thinking that I might possibly, somehow be serious.

Some guessed that the ‘she’ was a new technology, an animal, a boat, a car, the Church, and any number of random and incorrect ideas.

Most were frantic for me to reveal the answer, a couple were bright enough to actually figure it out.

It was very fun.

But now is the time for me to reveal the answer.

She is a ‘her.’ Not an ‘it.’

She is not human.

Nonetheless she is my girlfriend, nonetheless I do love her, and she is perfect.

Her name is:

Wisdom.

Go ahead and kick yourself. :)

Proverbs 4:6-9 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.

7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.

9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

Proverbs 8:1-11 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.

4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.

5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.

7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.

9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Wisdom is represented as a gracious woman throughout Proverbs. She is said to have been there with God before time began, and to have worked with him in the creation of the world. And we are commanded to love her, to embrace her, to dedicate ourselves to her.

And yes, we are commanded to consider her as our sister, our kinswoman, which is well within the limits of the definition of the word ‘girlfriend.’ ;)

Wisdom is valuable knowledge or skill (Prudence is knowing how to avoid evil), plain and simple. People try to give it other meanings, but they aren’t really supported from the Biblical use of the word. The Wisdom character in Proverbs, if you really study her out, is one of the attributes and aspects of God Himself.

God supplies our every relational need. He is our Father, our King, our Brother, our Betrothed, and… our Sister. Pretty cool.

So, what are your thoughts? How can we act out this very interesting relationship with Wisdom in real life?

Eternal Focus

Greetings, and welcome to another guest post! This time I got Tim Sleeper from The Young Heretics Club. We have been friends for a little while on the internet, and I always enjoy hearing his perspective on random, and not-so-random, issues. So without too much ado, here is his article on Eternal Focus!

——–

When Jay asked me what my thoughts were on focus, it seemed like a joke. I was thinking about suggesting something else to write about that was more interesting and “theological”. But, I decided to stick with the topic I was given. Even though I knew all there was to know about focus, I studied it out anyways. What I found blew my mind. Here are only a few facts to get started:

  • The word “focus” does not appear in the Bible
  • The words “focus” and “concentrate” have different meanings
  • Ironically, the application of “focus” (depending on the definition) is very broad

I thought for sure Paul mentioned focus at least once, I have used the words “focus” and “concentrate” interchangeably, and I thought the application of focus was very narrow. Turns out I was wrong (put that in your record book). This subject gets very deep, but I will try to present as much as I can. However, it isn’t very detailed, so, please take what I say here and study it out for yourself.

To start, I have to define the word “focus”. I also mentioned “concentrate” is different from “focus”, so I will define that as well. There are different definitions for focus, and I think all of them have some application in the Christian’s life, but for this post I will focus on one of the definitions. Put simply:

Focus means to “pay particular attention to”

Concentrate means to “focus all of one’s attention or mental effort on an object or activity”

By definition, “concentrate” indicates an intense form of focus.

We got definitions out of the way, the next question that needs to be asked is “how does focus relate to the believer?” Valid question to which the answer is both simple and complicated. It’s simple as to who we focus on (Christ), but it’s not so simple as to how that focus plays out in its application. To answer the question, I will start out by mentioning that our concentration is on God. God is the creator and author of all things. He owns us. Our concentration, therefore, goes to Him. As a result of that concentration, we focus on His will and His will is to make us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, I think it reasonable to say our focus is to be on Christ. Now, I don’t get this from only looking at it logically, there is also Biblical support for it.

This brings us to Philippians chapter 3. In Philippians 3 Paul is saying that he counts all his gain as loss that he may gain Christ. Paul doesn’t want his own righteousness, he wants the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ that he “may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” Philippians 3:10 (emphasis mine). We are to be conformed to the death of Christ. That is our primary focus.

To whiplash to the next question, “what do we focus on and what distracts us from our focus?” The answer to what we focus on is found in Philippians (again)! In chapter 3, verses 18-21 Paul is comparing two different kinds of people: followers of self and followers of Christ. For the followers of self, their end is destruction (Phil 3:19). For the followers of Christ, their end is life with Christ in heaven (Phil 3:20-21). We focus on the end, not the here and now. If we focused on the present, following self would be almost irresistible. Instant gratification, easy life, wants fulfilled, etc. However, if we focus on the end, following self may seem attractive at first, but we then see the end to that lifestyle and walk away. Following Christ certainly does not give you instant gratification, but an eternity with our Lord Jesus Christ has no comparison and is worth all sacrifice.

When I first started writing I was going to give the example of types of media when it comes to distractions from our focus. Instead, I am going to give an example that is a little more inclusive and is (in my opinion) the root of all sin…PRIDE. The unholy trinity of “me, myself, and I”. In everything we do we are faced with two options: follow what God wants, or follow what we want. Ask yourself “how many times have I backed down on doing the right thing because it was hard, uncomfortable, inconvenient, etc?” Man’s natural lean is to serve himself. Do we not eat when we are hungry or sleep when we are tired? Our natural bent is to see to it that we are comfortable. That greatly distracts us from our focus on Christ. Jesus said in order to follow Him we have to deny ourselves. Our focus matters…BIG TIME! We can take the easy road and focus on self and lose our lives in the process (what a great deal), or we can take the narrow way, lose our lives, seek Christ, and gain our lives. We cannot not focus on the perishable and the here-and-now. We must focus on Christ and the eternal.

Hopefully that all made sense. I had three pages of notes and wish I could share them all. For discussion, what are some other distractions you can think of? Why is it important that our minds (focus) are to be on the things above?

Yippeee!! Oh, Sorry. (Mature Look)

I'm Twenty!Our family loves parties. We really do. We have tons of traditions that make each holiday and event special. Our Christmas is spread out from St. Nicholas Day on December 6th to Epiphany on January 6th, with many fun events in between (not the least being our traditional daily hunt for Joseph and Mary on their way to the Nativity scene).

Birthdays are no exception. We have traditions for how and what we eat for each meal (including breakfasts and desserts). We have traditions for our decorations, from the banner on the cake, to the scene on the table (generally with moss, ivy, ribbons, and origami characters).

We love to give gifts too. 80+ were given just to each other one Christmas, but we toned down after that. :P

We love to go all out, but… it gets expensive, and it is tiring to have massive parties at every birthday. Seriously.

So we picked two birthdays that were our BIG birthdays. Those are the big party ones. The ones where we can have a bit of a bigger budget.

But which birthdays had valuable meaning that would justify it?

Traditionally, in a large number of nations, and historically, the 13th birthday had great significance, and rightfully so. That was when the child (supposedly) begins to put away childish things and become a man. That is when his body begins to kick in and mature, and his mind and spiritual development begin to develop more as well. So that was an easy choice for one.

But the other?

16 is when you get to drive (in the US at least). 18 you get to vote, sign contracts, (have legal adultery :P), join the military, etc. 21 you get to drink (in the old days you got to homestead too, but those golden ages are gone… * sniff *).

Bleah. Pretty poor reasons to have a big birthday if you ask me (even if you don’t ask me).

Does the Bible have anything to say on this point though?

Actually, it does. It names a specific age that is special to God in some way (it is rather obscure as to why it is special and exactly how it is special, but it is special).

Twenty.

The Bible has several different ways that it points twenty out as special.

Exodus 30:11-16 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when [thou] numberest them.
13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel [is] twenty gerahs:) an half shekel [shall be] the offering of the LORD.
14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.
15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when [they] give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.
16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

(Notice that this is not a tax of any sort: it is a ceremonial offering, just to be clear on that hehe.)

Numbers 1:45 So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel;

Over and over again twenty is the age from which men were expected to go forth to war (with exceptions for fear, betrothal, marriage, etc.).

Numbers 32:10-12 And the LORD’S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying,
11 Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me:
12 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.

This is perhaps the most important mention of the age of twenty. This time it was a matter of life and death. God was perfectly able to divide it based on plenty of other things, but He chose to divide the nation evenly by this age.

So twenty is an age of maturity, of manhood, of responsibility, and of achievement.

Thirteen is when we are to begin to put away childish things, and begin to become a man.

Twenty is when we are to finish putting them away, and become a man.

So we have seven whole years to learn, to grow, to cast off, and to build up. We don’t wait until we turn twenty to become a man: we finish a seven year process. And a very arduous and grueling process it can be.

But it is not only worthwhile. It is essential, it is crucial, it is vital.

So does becoming twenty make you more mature? No. It is merely a date to measure your maturity by.

And a handy birthday to have a really BIG party on. :D

Humility AND Self-Esteem??

I would like to welcome Carissa Mann to the writing end of my blog. She has been a good friend and a helpful editor in my many projects, not the least this blog. So I am honored to have her do a guest post here.

Carissa is the oldest of seven, homeschooled, rebelutionary, and can be feisty at times (says me). She blogs regularly and infrequently at Lily of the Valley and Rejoice Always (among other places).

———

Reading in E. M. Bounds works on prayer (again!) I read about prayer and humility. His definition of humility is “to have a low estimate of ones self…” He includes some great little poems about humility:

“Never let the world break in,
Fix a mighty gulf between;
Keep me humble and unknown,
Prized and loved by God alone.”

And:
“Let the world their virtue boast,
Their works of righteousness;
I, a wretch undone and lost,
Am freely saved by grace;
Other title I disclaim,
This, only this, is all my plea,
I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me.

Also:
“O that now I might decrease!
O that all I am might cease!
Let me into nothing fall!
Let my Lord be all in all.”

Wow! That is how I want to be! Sadly, I find I fall quite short.

Thinking about this subject of humility, I was sitting at the table doing… something, and I heard Zig Ziglar talking to Papa. (Okay, so it was a recording!) Anyway, he was talking about self-esteem. And I, being ever so intellectual, was thinking, How can you possibly be both humble and esteem yourself well?

And, being the wise and curious person that I am, (haha) I asked my dear and very wise Papa just that. (Well, I didn’t say those exact words…)

Well, being the wonderful Papa that he is, he shut off Mr. Ziglar (sorry Zig!), and explained to me that we should realize that God made us, and that he created us in His image. Therefore, to look down on ourselves would be to look down on one of His creations. So to a Christian, Self-esteem is really God-esteem. The only reason we are worth anything is because God created us and loved us and saved us. Without Him, we are utterly, completely worthless, helpless, and unsaved.

So I think you can figure out how that works out. We are humble because we realize that we are worthless and can’t save ourselves, and deserve the wrath of God. But we esteem the work that God has done in creating and saving and loving us.

Now that we hopefully have a clearer picture of how this all works out in theory, here is a practical example:

One case where you need both humility and “self (God) esteem” is when you are teaching someone. (This example is also from my Papa)   If you have an attitude of just “humility” you’ll be like, “I’m a sinner, I can do nothing, I’m terrible at this, we might as well all go home.” If you just have “great self esteem” you will be like, “Oh, I have this humility thing down just right. Y’all just watch me and you’ll see how to do it. I am always humble.” If you have both mindsets, you can tell them openly that you still struggle with this, but by the grace of God, you have been able to make progress in this area, and you’d like to share what you’ve been taught with them.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle more with pride than with having a low view of my self. :) So, how do we gain more humility?

There are many ways we can humble ourselves; For example, admitting that you were wrong about something and asking forgiveness, taking a younger sibling’s advice and correction (this one is particularly hard for me), not taking/seeking recognition for something you’ve done, and so on. Also, the more we learn about God and how BIG He really is, the more we will gain a proper view of ourselves.

Hopefully that made some sense! Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments!

Red and White Hearts

1 Timothy 5:1-2 Rebuke not an elder, but entreat [him] as a father; [and] the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

I was going to use the above verse to talk about how we ought, as young men, to treat our sisters in Christ. But when I began to examine it for my discussion, I noticed something that I had never before noticed, and which at first sight renders it unusable for my purpose (and for the purpose that most people quote it for).

Most of the time you hear the last bit quoted all by itself (not good practice). So we forget what we are supposed to be doing with the younger women in all purity. I always assumed it was everything, until I looked at the whole verse (Yes, I know, bad Jay for forgetting to read the whole verse until now).

The context is that of rebuke. We are not supposed to rebuke those we are not in authority over, but rather entreat them in various ways depending on who they are. Treat them all as family: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters…

But wait: there it is again. The other three types of people are just given a role to model your entreaty after, but the younger women get an extra instruction: “with all purity.”

Now, this is talking to Timothy, not to, say, some girl named Deborah or Ruth (or whatever), so I would assume that the reciprocal is also true: young women are to entreat young men as brothers in all purity. I see no reason to not assume that, so this would apply to both genders.

Now think about it: if we are to treat them with purity when we are entreating them to change their ways to conform more closely to the Bible, then how much more ought we to treat them with purity in every other form of interaction with them (or in our communications about them)? Truly, when you are entreating someone to change their ways, there are many pitfalls into which one can easily fall and hurt both you and the other person, and so this injunction is well placed. But I see it as also setting a standard which applies across the board in our interactions with our peers (age-wise) of the opposite sex.

So what does it mean to treat them as a sister (or brother) in all purity?

The word ‘purity’ there is hagneia, meaning the quality of cleanliness, especially chastity. It comes from hagnos, which means innocent, modest, perfect. So let us take the two key words here and turn to Webster’s 1828 (with unrelated definitions removed for the sake of brevity):

CHASTE, a.
1. Pure from all unlawful commerce of sexes. Applied to persons before marriage, it signifies pure from all sexual commerce, undefiled; applied to married persons, true to the marriage bed.
2. Free from obscenity.
While they behold your chaste conversation. 1 Pet 3.
3. In language, pure; genuine; uncorrupt; free from barbarous words and phrases, and from quaint, affected, extravagant expressions.

PU’RITY, n.

2. Cleanness; freedom from foulness or dirt; as the purity of a garment.
The purity of a linen vesture.
3. Freedom from guilt or the defilement of sin; innocence; as purity of heart or life.
4. Chastity; freedom from contamination by illicit sexual connection.
5. Freedom from any sinister or improper views; as the purity of motives or designs.

So we have here an absence of any sinful motive or action, and especially absence of any sexual connections.

These are pretty obvious, but in practice they can get pretty elusive. Both genders immediately start foaming at the mouth with questions about this situation and that situation, can I do this, or is that too far, etc. It makes your head spin.

But there are several things that are very simple that we can derive from this passage and these definitions, and then use those as principles to apply to our ‘sticky situations.’

One – We ought to treat people of the opposite gender differently.

That should be obvious to all of you. If it isn’t, and this comes as a shock, go read those verses again, as well as the first few chapters of Genesis, and if you still don’t get it, come talk to me.

How are we to treat them differently?

Therein lies the rub. The answer to this question used to be almost as obvious as the fact that girls and boys are different. But culture has blurred the lines so much, and the church has followed suit so ably, that everyone is very confused. It is very hard now to find a mentor who is able to tell you the right answers to your situations. But they are worth finding, and worth the effort. So my answer here is mainly: Go get a good mentor. Other than that, just hold on and be patient– I might drum up some advice for you before this article is over. :)

Two – We ought to be unselfish in our interactions with people of the opposite gender.

Again, this should come as no surprise (all these principles really ought not to surprise any of you actually). But again what this means in practical life becomes blurred because of our worldly culture. A lot of guys go and ‘unselfishly’ lay their heart at a girl’s feet (or vice versa) and then wonder later (after both their hearts get hurt or broken) why I say they were selfish (amendment: disgustingly selfish).

Three – We ought to be devoid of sexual… everything in our interactions with people of the opposite gender (or any gender :P ).

That includes our thoughts and our communications with others about people of the opposite gender (we already knew that too).

Now here is where I can start giving advice (I love giving advice… I wonder why?). :)

Nowadays, love is so mixed up that people cannot separate it from everything sexual. This is opposite to the Bible’s way of thinking. You are supposed to love your sisters and brothers very closely, without any tinge of the presence of any sort of sexual connotations. And everyone else too (one of these days I need to post a rant on homophobia…).

And here is where the title of this post comes in: White and Red Hearts.

This is how I separate these two kinds of love. Now, when you get married, you are commanded to have both hearts involved: red and white. Before you get married, you are commanded to have the white heart, the heart of purity, for everyone.

They are both hearts, but one is fired with sexual and possessive passion, the other only with unselfishness. When you can separate these two, life gets simpler… until things get confusing again. :)

What are your thoughts? Did that make sense? How do these two hearts look in real life?

Heretical Lexicology

Greetings,

“Thou believest a falsity! An heresy in truth!!”

“Thou art a heretic!”

Them thar are fightin’ words for most folks, but ought people to get so durned tied up aboot ‘em?

I want to talk about the two above phrases from a lexicological point of view. To do this, let me first present to you a scenario:

Jenny tells you that google changed its name to topeka.

You find out that google did not change its name to topeka.

Did Jenny lie to you?

There are a few possibilities.

  1. She was knew the truth but told the falsehood anyway.
  2. She was told the truth but misunderstood it.
  3. She was told the falsehood by someone who knew the truth but told the falsehood anyway.
  4. She was told the falsehood by someone who was told the truth but misunderstood it.

So she was either lying, or she was mistaken (in her information or her sources), pretty much.

A heresy is something that disagrees with what God says in His Holy, inspired Word. Simple.

Webster’s 1828:

HER’ESY, n. [Gr. to take, to hold; L. haeresis.]
1. A fundamental error in religion, or an error of opinion respecting some fundamental doctrine of religion. But in countries where there is an established church, an opinion is deemed heresy, when it differs from that of the church. The Scriptures being the standard of faith, any opinion that is repugnant to its doctrines, is heresy; but as men differ in the interpretation of Scripture, an opinion deemed heretical by one body of christians, may be deemed orthodox by another. In Scripture and primitive usage, heresy meant merely sect, party, or the doctrines of a sect, as we now use denomination or persuasion, implying no reproach.
2. Heresy, in law, is an offense against christianity, consisting in a denial of some of its essential doctrines, publicly avowed and obstinately maintained.

There is quite a wide range of definitions there, but you will see how I have gleaned my simple definition (for this context) from it.

Now, it should be obvious by now that the two original statements are by no means equivalent.

If I say that you believe in a heresy, that does not mean that you are a heretic: A heretic is someone who teaches heresy. Just like a liar is someone who propagates lies. The difference is that a heretic can be a heretic mistakenly, whereas a liar cannot.

A heresy is an error. A mistake. (Most of the time.)

A lie is not an error: it is a deliberate falsifying of truth.

A heresy can be a lie, but it is not always a lie.

Another key point to point out is that you cannot be outside a group, and be a heretic of that group.

In other words, you cannot be a pagan, and a heretic at the same time. This is the only way that the word makes lexicological sense. If you remove the word ‘heretic’ from its current definition, making it equivalent to ‘pagan,’ there is nothing to replace it.

Also, ‘heretic’ is not insulting in the least. And saying that you believe in a heresy is even less so. It is merely a statement of disagreement over doctrine.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

An Examination of the Lexicology of Theocracy

Me: “I believe that the Bible should be our foundation for discerning how we ought to influence government.”

Someone-else: “You are advocating a theocratic utopia!”

Me: “Ummmm… No.”

The above exchange is all too common, unfortunately, to be more than slightly humorous to me. I get that response all the time, and it is, to be honest, rather aggravating. :P

Many people have evinced a desire to understand what a theocracy really is, and as I am tired of trying to say the same thing over and over again, I thought it would be handy to answer the above response once and for all. (And put the debates all in one handy location. ;) )

But that is rather hard to do, because it really isn’t a response at all, but a knee-jerk reaction. However, the word Theocracy has a lot of varying connotations, and as they all have a profound lexicological bearing on Godly government, I believe it is worthwhile to discuss them.

As with any word that you want to find the best definition for, I will of course turn to Webster’s 1828 for a Biblical definition:

THEOC’RACY, n. [Gr. God, and power; to hold.] Government of a state by the immediate direction of God; or the state thus governed. Of this species the Israelites furnish an illustrious example. The theocracy lasted till the time of Saul.

This gives me a very good place to start my study. The modern dictionaries and common usage has watered and perverted this definition until it is practically unrecognizable, and lexicologically useless (except to throw at someone to annoy them). Getting back to the above definition would be a major improvement in the current state of our language, and also a major help in discerning God’s will for the formation and influence of government.

There are two rival definitions that are prevalent in usage today (other than the correct one).

One is used by a group of eminent (but with whom I passionately disagree with on several vital and foundational issues other than that of the definition of theocracy) scholars who call themselves theonomists for the most part.

The other is merely a ‘label.’ A word used for attack, rather than refutation. This form is so perverted and weakened that it carries just about as much weight as the ridiculous word ‘speciesist,’ which term is used to label someone who thinks that humans are (oh horror!) better than any other species of animal. In other words: pointless, useless, and meaningless. This is the term used in my opening exchange, and which really merits little more than what I am saying right here: ignore it. :)

There are, in fact, three groups of people who use the word Theocracy (other than the group that is right, of which I am a proud member, hehe).

The first are those people who use the word Theocracy correctly, and assume that I want to institute a nation in replica of OT Israel, complete with stonings for idolatry, adultery, and cursing your parents (with the possible exclusion of the ceremonial laws, whichever ones those might be).

The second is a group of people who believe that we shouldn’t use the Bible at all in government (on various grounds, all of which are wrong and heretical, and I will mainly point these people to 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The third are the theonomists, who at first with me that we should use the Bible to determine government, assuming that I intend to do what the first group fears I will (although they call it by a different name). In other words: these people want me to institute a nation in replica of OT Israel, complete with stonings for idolatry, adultery, and cursing your parents (with the possible exclusion of the ceremonial laws, whichever ones those might be).

I am now going to refute all of the above at once by explaining why I believe that we definitely should not try to replicate the OT government (whether or not you exclude the ceremonial laws). My reason is very simple:

Israel was not only a theocracy, it was the only true theocracy that ever has existed, and ever can or will exist (outside of heaven, but that is a different topic).

The theonomists (from what I can tell) claim that every nation is a theocracy, if any is, and deny that Israel was any exception to the rule. They point to such verses as Daniel 2:21 (“he removeth kings, and setteth up kings”) and other similar verses to show that God has sovereign rule over every nation equally, and that to assert that He has more rule over Israel than over any other nation is lessening His sovereign power. Needless to say, theonomists are for the most part Calvinist, which makes it hard to debate them on this issue.

They are in part right (every lie has a bit of truth). God does remove kings, He does set up kings, He does guide the course of the nations, He does punish nations that give themselves over to abominations (every major nation that has accepted homosexuality, abortion, and like sins have ceased to exist within a few generations from that point).

But God did not orchestrate and lead Hitler to slaughter his millions. He did not order terrorists to attack the World Trade Center. It was not His will for any of these things to happen, any more than it is His will for any person to go to hell (although they do), or for the deaths of hurricane Katrina (although they still died), or for the thousands of innocent orphans of Haiti to have the troubles they are having (although they are).

All these things are our fault, because of our rebellion, our sin. Our world is cursed by sin. (For more info on that, see Answers In Genesis.)

But.

God did rule directly over the OT nation of Israel before the Monarchy.

Look at Webster’s definition (that he got from the Bible): whatever Israel was before the monarchy, and was not afterwards, that is what a theocracy is.

Theocracy is a state of government like a democracy, a monarchy, a republic, or even socialism.

The word is from two Greek words: Theos and Cratos: God Rules. Democracy is where the people rule (also aptly called mobocracy by the American founding fathers and me). A monarchy is where a king rules (there are elected monarchies, hereditary monarchies, etc.). Theocracy is where God rules.

That was what Israel was. It was the first and last true theocracy.

Judges 8:22-23 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.

God instituted a unique system of government for Israel. There was a hierarchy of officers, captains, princes, and elders, and above all those was one man: the judge (there were of course other judges, but this was the judge). So far it looks like a monarchy (rule by one man). But that is not what God thought. And neither did the Israelites.

1 Samuel 8:4-5 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

They wanted a king so that they would be like the other nations (in direct defiance of God’s covenant with them for them to be unique and separate, which we will get to).

1 Samuel 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

They were not merely requesting a change of human leadership (“they have not rejected thee”) but a change from God’s theocratic system of government for a monarchy (“they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them”).

So how did the theocracy work?

Deuteronomy 17:8-10 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, [being] matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose;
9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment:
10 And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall show thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee:

If your local judges and Levites are unable to decide a controversy (not matters of doctrine, but matters of judicial law), the parties involved go to the temple, to Jerusalem, the seat of the government and of God. There they bring it before the judge and the priests. What do they do? They use the holy oracles of God to get the answer straight from Him who sees all, is the law, and who is perfectly just. That is why…

Deuteronomy 17:12-13 And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.
13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

Disobedience is punished by death (even if the original matter was small). That is because it is flagrant and direct defiance of God’s Word spoken to you directly. That is unique to Israel, and cannot be implemented with impunity in a NT government situation. True, we are commanded by God to obey the government (true government), but we are even more strongly commanded to obey our parents (in our youth). You aren’t committing a capital crime if you disobey your father just once (even under the OT law). This is just one of the many instances where Israel’s unique, theocratic situation deeply affects its criminal law.

Now, why was Israel a theocracy, and how did it become one?

Very important question, glad I asked it for you.

Deuteronomy 7:6 For thou [art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that [are] upon the face of the earth.
7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people:
8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

There is the ‘why,’ plain and simple.

Deuteronomy 7:12-13 And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only [ye heard] a voice.
13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, [even] ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

This is explained in several parts of the law, that the ten commandments were the core of the covenant between God and Israel. They bound themselves to obey them on pain of death. Several, were of course, already a part of the role of government (thou shalt not steal, etc.). Others were already sins (thou shalt not covet, etc.) Yet others were rather new (remember the Sabbath to keep it holy). But this law became assimilated into the government system of Israel (punishing covenants is part of the role of government), and therefrom sprang laws making actions that are abominations to God capital crimes.

This is why we cannot merely extract the ceremonial laws and implement the rest. We cannot replicate that covenant: it was initiated by God, and relied on the oracles that are now gone by.

We can do a few other things to learn about government from OT Israel though (you can learn tons of other things from it as well, of course). Such as, because we know that God kept the laws of Israel based off of the normal, unchanging, role of government (with some additions), we know that if a law wasn’t in OT Israel, we definitely shouldn’t implement it nowadays (a law in principle, not the exact application).

There are lots of verses that could be added, supporting my above conclusions, but I will spare you the necessary repetition. I will, however, conclude with a series of passages conclusively setting the OT Israel in its unique and unreproducible status.

Exodus 34:10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou [art] shall see the work of the LORD: for it [is] a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

Deuteronomy 4:5-8 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do [them;] for this [is] your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation [is] a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation [is there so] great, who [hath] God [so] nigh unto them, as the LORD our God [is] in all [things that] we call upon him [for?]
8 And what nation [is there so] great, that hath statutes and judgments [so] righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

(Notice that the other nations did not say “Why don’t we do that too?”!)

Deuteronomy 4:31-38 (For the LORD thy God [is] a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and [ask] from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been [any such thing] as this great thing [is,] or hath been heard like it?
33 Did [ever] people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or hath God assayed to go [and] take him a nation from the midst of [another] nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he [is] God; [there is] none else beside him.
36 Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he showed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.
37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;
38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou [art,] to bring thee in, to give thee their land [for] an inheritance, as [it is] this day.

(Notice that the purpose of Israel was not to convert other nations to its form of government, but to drive them out and destroy and decimate them.)

Deuteronomy 5:3-4 The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, [even] us, who [are] all of us here alive this day.
4 The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,

This theocratic covenant was even unique to a particular time period in Israel’s history. It started at Moses, and ended at Christ (isn’t that interesting?).

This is only one plank out of 8 foundational principles of theonomocracy.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

I Almost Hate to Post This

Greetings and Sincere Felicitations,

As many of you know, I am not a Calvinist. I harbor no ill-will towards those of you who are Calvinists, and I do not disassociate with those who believe in TULIP. I am still your friend, although I may differ greatly with you on several key points of doctrine.

I wanted to say that before I continued with this post so that y’all can’t come back at me later saying that I am attacking you. Nothing could be further from the truth. I sincerely love you, but I also sincerely hate the doctrines that you espouse.

Calvinism is a far reaching set of doctrines. It spreads and influences practically everything, and it creates a difficult atmosphere for those of us who aren’t Calvinists, as many of the fundamental aspects of various disciplines (politics, government, fantasy writing, etc.) are dramatically effected by whether one believes in TULIP or not.

As such, to perhaps explain some of my odd beliefs, I am posting this playlist of videos (a nine part series detailing why I and many others do not believe in TULIP).

Have Fun!

What Love is This?

Oh, just a side note, I am not Arminian either. :)

Gifts Differing: A Very Dangerous Topic

Greetings,

I am going to be studying two parallel passages with you. The goal is to explain how God gives gifts to people, and also about a specific calling that He gives to some people.

The two passages are Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12 (1 Corinthians 13 and 14 are considered as well). The calling is the one of evangelism.

1 Corinthians 12 begins by specifying a topic and a purpose: to help us to understand spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual [gifts,] brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

For the sake of time, I will start at verse 4 (although there is much that is fascinating in 2-3).

1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11-14 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.

Romans 12:4-5 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

God gives different places, roles, and skills to His different servants and people. He has different things that He needs them to do, and He has different ways for them to do them. One person might be doing the same thing as someone else, but he may need to do it a different way than that other person. This is good and right.

Notice that I am not saying that God puts arguments, strifes, differences of doctrines, and variant beliefs in His body. No, He is against these things (2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 1:27, Philippians 2:2, 1 Peter 3:8). I strongly believe in absolute truth, and I believe that people are wrong about a lot of things (including myself). We are to resolve these differences in love, without compromising God’s Word and Doctrine.

But we do have different tasks, different ways of going about those tasks, and different priorities. Different skills, different callings. This is ordained by God, and for His good pleasure.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

1 Corinthians 12:15-27 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?
20 But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

We ought to never seek to elevate our own position, calling, or task above those of others. Period. We need every one of us, each doing exactly what we are each supposed to do. There are a couple key words in the above passages: ‘particular’ and ‘severally.’ These both have a similar meaning, that is, “to each his own,” private, separate. We each have our own task, and our own goals, and if we each seek God, we can each find exactly what God wants us each to do.

Now, that seems all rather obvious, doesn’t it? Very plain, very forthright. I believe God did it that way on purpose, because He knew how much trouble we would have with it. :)

Why is it that we still tend to connect the concept of following God’s calling with going into full time supported ministry in the church or in a mission field or something like that? Pastors continually extol the virtues of ‘going into the ministry’ and how it is the best job anyone could ever have.

…not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think…

…the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee…

Why do we not rejoice as much over someone learning that God wants him to go into web design (or whatever), as when we find out that he has been called to become a full-time pastor?

Pastors and missionaries live off of the offerings of the rest of the people of God. As such, that class of people cannot possibly make up much more than about a tenth of the total Christian population. So are the other nine parts destitute, and unable to give full glory to God?

If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing?

Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.

Realize that I am not bashing ‘the’ ministry at all. I am merely pointing out that it is not the only way to serve God, and not everyone needs to be in it.

So now we come to the hard part of my article, the one that will make a lot of people very mad at me (I expect it to, but I hope it won’t).

Evangelism.

Yes, I am going to say that there is more than one way to evangelize. There are tons of ways to do it right. There are some ways that are definitely wrong, and it is very easy to do it wrong, and actually mess up people’s understanding of the gospel so much that they are desensitized to it. This is very possible, and it happens on a massive scale all over the place. But there are also lots of ways to do it right: you just need to learn how. (For the record, most tracts do it the wrong way, which is why we rarely use tracts in our family, because we can’t agree with or promote what is in them.)

But that isn’t really the main point I am getting at.

Not everyone is an evangelist.

Not everyone is called to give the gospel.

Now watch and listen and put that steam back inside your ears: you might get a concussion carrying on that way! :)

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

“But what about the great commission?” you say. Here it is:

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

So, Jesus sent His apostles into all the world to preach the gospel, teach, and baptize them. He also calls many other people to do this. Some people say that because Jesus obviously wasn’t talking to just those particular people, He therefore must have been talking to everyone, but this is a blatant logical fallacy. Just because a group is not one set in a larger group, does not mean that group must therefore be the whole group: it could very well be a different set.

And notice this: the great commission includes the order to baptize. And yet…

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

This is Paul, the same one who said:

1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

Even the great commission itself has different parts for different people! And it doesn’t apply to everyone in the first place, but merely to those who are called to those particular tasks.

The sad thing is that many people try to make others guilty if they do not hand out gospel tracts frequently, or if they do not share the gospel actively. They say that you must not care about people going to hell if you don’t share the gospel with them.

The answer is no. We do care. We care very much. But that doesn’t mean that we feel that it is incumbent upon us to step outside of God’s calling for us to do someone else’s job (although we do it sometimes, we don’t set aside our own calling to do so). Besides, the fact is that every Christian who lives a holy life is, in a very powerful way, sharing the gospel. He is showing forth and being a witness for the glory of God. And living that way can get God’s glory into many places that no other method will. It is very effective, and a very necessary part of the body of Christ, despite what some people try to say against lifestyle evangelism.

Romans 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

What Do I Think About Music? Ask Her.

Greetings,

Music is a very controversial, and difficult issue to deal with. I have meditated on possibly posting a series on what I believe on the subject, but I have decided to forgoe that idea…

…because I agree with someone who already wrote a series on it that is really well presented and very well studied. Read her series, and then ask me what I think about it. It is Biblical, logical, and out of the box.

It is in three parts, so I have included all three links, as well as a link to her blog. She has many other subjects that she tackles in the same Biblical, logical, and paradigm shattering manner as this.

A Topic of Discord: the Great Music Debate, Part 1, The Meekness of Wisdom

A Topic of Discord: the Great Music Debate, Part 2, The Insignia of Baal

A Topic of Discord: the Great Music Debate, Part 3, The Message and the Messenger

Enjoy yourself, and tell me what you think!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 423 other followers