Monday, December 6, 2010

Part V: Is it you should be or you are sanctified?


Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Believers are saved and justified through the instrument of faith that is a gift from God. Therefore, no one can boast about his participation in being saved and justified. In the passage above boasting is excluded from justification because man responds to the God’s grace ONLY after God’s gift of regeneration. It is a work of God, not man. Since progressive sanctification also flows from God’s work of regeneration, how can it be said that sanctification is a synergistic work of God and man? If this were so, then there would be reason to boast. A believer could think that he was saved [justified] by grace alone but that his sanctification was by grace plus works. These works would be reason to boast. I think Paul rejects such thinking in the following passage: 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

I think Paul is clearly excluding his own effort in his works. He credits it all to God’s grace and this closes the door on any boasting resulting from his works. Certainly believers are to be active and respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit [Rom. 8:14], and I am not asserting a let go and let God approach to sanctification. I am only saying the same thing that Paul says in the passage above and that is believers do not produce any deeds or works that are not caused by God. Therefore, in the same manner that justification is considered monergistic I think sanctification is as well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

PART 4: Is it you should be or you are sanctified?


Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

In comparing those who walk by the Spirit with those who walk by the flesh, Paul gives a long list of the characteristics of those who walk by the flesh and states they will not inherit the kingdom of God. However, those who are led by the Spirit are not under the law and are given new characteristics by the grace of God. These new God given characteristics are called the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is not attributes that Christians should have, but are attributes they do have. Paul does not say that Christians should crucify the flesh with its passions and desires, but they have done so. Praise God that Christians are given the fruit of the Spirit that enables them to crucify the works of the flesh that Paul lists in v. 19-21. While the sinful nature is still a problem in believers, they are no longer slaves to sin.

Anyone who professes faith in Christ but has not experienced any change in their desires and attributes does not belong to Christ and is not saved. They may consider themselves carnal Christians, but they are actually carnal unbelievers in bondage to sin.

Friday, October 29, 2010

PART 3: Is it you should be or you are sanctified?

                                                 Grace gives life to dead sinners

It is grace and grace alone that makes a sinner alive in Christ [Eph. 2:4-5]. This spiritual life that is wrought by God does not end with saving faith and justification. This new life leads to a new attitude and new desires [2 Cor. 5:17] which causes the fruit of sanctification. While the sinful nature is still present, believers are no longer slaves of sin [Rom 6:17] and, therefore, the wretched man of Romans 7:15-24 has been dealt with by the amazing grace of spiritual renewal [Titus 3:5]. Believers have not only been sanctified once for all [Heb. 10:10], they are also being progressively sanctified by the power of God’s grace [Heb. 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.].

Therefore, just as believers are justified by grace alone through faith alone, I believe they are also sanctified by grace alone. When believers think they are cooperating with God’s grace in their sanctification, they are asserting that human effort is a part of their salvation [Gal. 3:3]. When believers rely on the new covenant principles of grace, the Holy Spirit, and union with Christ for their sanctification they are on solid ground. However, when they look to the obsolete old covenant principles of law keeping and bondage to sin as a wretched man for their sanctification they are hindering and frustrating their walk with God. [Rom. 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.].

Look to the Spirit and grace rather than the flesh and ministry of death for sanctification.

Monday, October 25, 2010

PART 2: Is it you should be or you are sanctified?

Those who are redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ know the Lord and listen to his voice. Notice in the following passage that Jesus does not say they should listen to my voice, but says they will listen to my voice:

John 10:14-16 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Those who are redeemed by Christ follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Notice in the following passage that Paul does not say the sons of God should be led by the Spirit, but they are led by the Spirit:

Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Jesus reports on the characteristics of believers in the beatitudes. Notice he does not say blessed are those who should be poor in spirit or should mourn etc. No, he says blessed are those who are poor in spirit, mourn, etc.

It is the work of irresistible grace in believers that cause them to listen to his voice, be led by the Holy Spirit, and to have the characteristics that Jesus describes in the beatitudes. Believers are not perfect or even close, but irresistible grace causes these things to happen in varying degrees. If a person does not have these qualities, then they are not believers. The solution to this problem is not to become a legalist striving for sanctification, but to cling to the cross in faith and repentance.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

PART 1: Is it you should be or you are sanctified?

While the Bible is full of exhortations and encouragement on how Christians are to be sanctified, the character of believers has been supernaturally changed by the power of God in a way that causes them to pursue holiness and sanctification. It is not that they should BE SANCTIFIED it is THEY ARE SANCTIFIED! Irresistible grace does not end with justification. Christians are not saved by grace and sanctified by human effort. We are saved by irresistible grace and sanctified by irresistible grace. Since sanctification is assured [John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.], it is dangerously close to a faith plus works salvation to assert that human effort is needed for sanctification apart from grace. Paul explained this well in the following passage: “1 Cor. 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Here Paul gives 100% of the credit to the grace of God.

The Old Covenant has been made obsolete by the new and better New Covenant. New Covenant believers are given new hearts by divine power and sanctified by divine power. The following passage describes a God caused sanctification:

Hebrews 8:10-11 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

While believers freely come to Jesus Christ and freely respond in sanctification, it is caused by divine intervention [grace].   

Friday, October 8, 2010

The two spiritual categories of human beings

From New Covenant and New Testament revelation we see that God relates to two basic categories of human beings. All people are either “in Christ” by faith or they are not. All of redemptive history points to Jesus Christ and those who are in him by faith. In Romans 4 Paul explains how this “in Christ” relationship worked for those saved during Old Testament times and the New Testament is thorough in explaining how believers are “in Christ” by faith since the church began at Pentecost. This “in Christ” relationship is repeated again and again in the New Testament in different ways such as:

1 Cor. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
Galatians 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Therefore, faith is the key to being “in Christ”.  Most questions concerning how God deals with man can be answered if this basic “in Christ” test is used as a foundational presupposition about God’s relationship to man. For example, does God love all men equally and unconditionally? Keeping the categories distinct will show that Scripture describes a clear difference in how God loves these two categories. 

When Scripture speaks of judgment, love, righteousness, or anything else it is important to distinguish which category is being considered. For example, the judgment to determine eternal destiny will be different for each category. Those who are NOT in Christ will be judged by their deeds and works. In this judgment God does not grade on a curve, but grades on a scale that requires a perfect sinless record in order to be reconciled to God. This is the very bad news that Paul covers in Rom. 1:18 through 3:20. However, those who are “in Christ” will be judged on the perfect sinless record of Jesus Christ. They will be covered by His righteousness and atonement for their sins. His fulfillment of the Old Covenant [Mt. 5:17] and atonement is the very good news of the gospel that begins in Rom. 3:21.

Does this mean those who are “in Christ” can and possibly will proceed full steam ahead in pursuit of a sinful life? When we go back to the fundamentals of this “in Christ” relationship, we find that this relationship also changes the heart of those who are “in Christ”. From 2 Cor. 5:17 to Rom 8:9 to Rom. 6 to Eph. 2:5 to John 3:3 to Hebrews 8 we find the same message and that is those who are “in Christ” have been changed by the power of God. Therefore, those who are “in Christ” will not continue unchanged in a pursuit of sin. They have been changed by the power of God and while sin will remain a problem, they are no longer under its power.

In stark contrast to being in Christ, those who are NOT in Christ are still under the power of sin and are still under God’s wrath. They do not have peace with God and neither the law or their attempts to perform good works can bring them to an “in Christ” relationship with God. The only way is through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

If we will start with the “in Christ” relationship with God rather than get bogged down and confused by covenant relationships, Old Testament law, ethnicity, parental status, or different dispensations, then much of the confusion about the characteristics and identity of believers becomes clear. Paul did this very thing in the following passage:

Galatians 3:25-29 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

God did not make a saving covenant with any nation or family and he made no promise of salvation to any nation or family. The New Covenant was made with God’s elect on an individual one on one basis and each individual is “in Christ” by his own personal faith alone.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Hypothetical Salvation Only

On judgment day all people that are not in Christ by faith will be judged by their works to determine their eternal destination. Not a single unbeliever will be found to have the perfect works required to receive eternal life. Therefore, in the passage below, Paul is explaining a hypothetical salvation of unbelievers based on works alone.

Romans 2:6-11 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

In thoroughly laying out the gospel in Romans, Paul began by giving the spiritual condition of human beings with the Holy God who created the universe and everything in it. Beginning in Rom. 1:18 and going through Rom. 3:20 Paul explained that this condition was totally hopeless for both Gentiles who did not have the law and Jews who had the law. In giving this bad news Paul had not yet even mentioned the good news of justification by faith alone in Christ. This is the immediate context of this section. His conclusion in Rom. 3:9-10 is that all, Jews and Gentiles, are under sin and that none are righteous. He ends this section of Romans by stating in Rom. 3:20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. He begins the next verse by introducing the good news with the words, “BUT NOW”.

Therefore, how can Paul be asserting in Chapter 2 verse 7 that some human beings will actually receive eternal life based on their works when his conclusion refutes the possibility? I think the answer is human beings can’t and Paul is simply saying that IF any human being could meet the righteous requirements of God on their own, they would receive eternal life. Most commentaries and theologians say this passage means that God is going to judge the works of those who have been justified by faith alone to determine if their faith is sincere or something to that effect. However, I see some glaring problems with this view.

First: Since justification and eternal life is a certainty at the moment of saving faith, how can good works that come after the moment of justification be a consideration in receiving eternal life? At the moment of faith and justification the sins of believers are wiped clean by the blood of Christ and their sins are forgiven. Unlike unbelievers their lawless deeds will not be counted against them [Rom. 4:7]. If good works are found insufficient, then believers would have to be unjustified and Scripture certainly does not support that position. If good works are found sufficient for some to receive eternal life that have not been previously justified, then you have either works salvation or faith plus works salvation. This passage leaves no wiggle room to be reconciled with accepted doctrines if one asserts that anyone will receive eternal life based on v. 7 and v. 10.

Second: Jesus has stated that he knows his sheep and the Holy Spirit certainly knows those whom have been regenerated. So, God certainly does not need to judge works to determine the identity of his elect. It is God who causes good works after a person is justified [Phil 2:13]. How can Paul be talking about already justified regenerated saints in Christ when he states that God will render eternal life based on works? He can’t and the point is that no one will be saved based on his works. If they could then Christ died for no purpose [Gal. 2:21].

Third: The passage makes no claim than anyone can or does receive eternal life based on fulfilling the requirements of v. 7 and to assume it does is to read something into the passage that is not there. Verse 7 and 10 gives the standard and it is a standard that no one can meet. In v. 7 Paul gives seeking immortality as a reason for well-doing and yet in his conclusion of this section in Rom. 3:11 he states that no one understands and no one seeks God. It makes no sense to assert Paul is talking about sinners actually seeking immortality by their works and then concluding that no one understands or seeks for God. Again, thus far in the immediate context faith in Christ has not been introduced.

Fourth: Immediately after this passage in verse 11 and 12 Paul clearly stated that all who have sinned without the law and under the law would perish. Therefore, Paul is making it clear to the Jews that the law is of no value for eternal life unless it is perfectly obeyed without sin. This he clearly states in verse 13: For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. In Romans 2 Paul is simply explaining to the Jews that the law is of no value in salvation if they sin and in Rom. 3:9 he states that all are under sin. This means that no one will receive eternal life based on successfully meeting the requirements of Rom. 2:7, & 10.

Fifth: How can anyone affirm justification by faith alone and also believe salvation is based on his own works, which v. 6 clearly sets as the basis for justification. While unbelievers will be condemned based on their works, believers will be saved through the atoning sacrifice of Christ and his righteous works. If verse 6 and 7 is assumed to be referring to the works of believers who have faith, then the only conclusion is that justification is based on faith plus works because the text clearly states that works are the factor in God’s decision.

Sixth: In verse 10 and 11 Paul explains that God does not show partiality to Jews just because they have the Law. The point is Jews have no spiritual advantage in having the law. The point and problem for both Jew and Gentile is sin and in the next verse [12] Paul closes the door on anyone achieving salvation by successfully fulfilling the requirements of verses 7 and 10 by stating, “For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.” Paul is giving Jews the bad news that the Law has no power to save. They are under sin just like Gentiles.

Seventh: How can a person assert that imperfect works of unbelievers are not sufficient for eternal life and then turn right around and say that imperfect works will be the basis for the salvation of believers?

Eighth: Paul clearly sums up the fact that unbelievers will be judged on their works, while believers will not in Romans 6:23 where he said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God [Rom. 3:23], there is no possibility of God rendering eternal life based on human works. Salvation will only go to those who have received the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. At the moment of justification believers are covered by the righteousness of Christ and his good works as their substitute.

Ninth: In chapter 2 of Romans Paul is basically explaining to the Jews that the Law is a ministry of death. This theme is repeated again and again in Romans chapters 6-8 and in 2 Cor. 3, Galatians and elsewhere. Why? Perfection is required for human works to be pleasing to God. The most perfect saint alive would not want to offer up to God his imperfect works as the proof of his faith. Paul explained in Eph. 2:8 that grace is the reason saints have faith and are saved.

Conclusion: It is true that Scripture in many places asserts that born again believers are new creatures in Christ that produce good works, however, in this section of Romans [1:18 thru 3:20] Paul is giving the bad news of the spiritual ramifications of human sin and the impossibility being able to do anything about it. He has not yet mentioned Jesus Christ, grace, faith, atonement, propitiation, or redemption, and is not suggesting that believers will be judged according to works to determine if they will receive eternal life. All of this is explained beginning in Rom. 3:21 where Paul begins his exposition of the good news. This explanation of the good news covers eight plus chapters and nowhere does Paul mention God rendering eternal life based on works. Why? I think the reason is that absolutely no one will receive eternal life based on his works. Unbelievers will be judged on their works and 100% will perish as a result. Believers are found in Christ on judgment day and will be judged based on the works and propitiation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, no one will successfully meet the requirements of Romans 2:7 & 2:10 and no one will be saved by their works.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Israel the Picture

As God’s people the Old Covenant nation of Israel was physically redeemed, but they were only a picture of the true spiritually redeemed people of God because they were mostly an unbelieving and spiritually unredeemed people. It is incorrect to speak of them as God’s people in the same way that the Church is called God’s people. This is clear from the Old Testament:
Deut. 31:16 And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them.

It is also clear from the New Testament:

Romans 9:27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved

As children of God they were a type of his children that are adopted in Jesus Christ, but in reality they were never a spiritual people because they were rejected by God.

Matthew 8:12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

From a spiritual and salvation perspective, Israel’s bloodline and national heritage meant nothing.

Rom. 9:8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

Being a covenant child by flesh meant nothing spiritually. God said the following about the twin grandsons of Abraham:

Rom. 9:13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Israel was a picture of God’s holy and redeemed spiritual people, but they were not loved in the same manner that God loves his church that he showers his mercy and love upon.

1Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Therefore the holy nation spoken in Exodus 19:6 was not national Israel. No, the holy nation is the church of Jesus Christ that Peter described in this passage. The love that God has for his church is described by Paul in Romans 8:31-39 where he concludes by saying,

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This is quite a contrast to the physical nation of Israel that was formed at Mt. Sinai. They were rejected by God for unbelief as the following passage shows:

Hebrews 3:16-19 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

God’s word did not fail and he did not reject his Old Covenant people that he foreknew. However, these people God did not reject were not the entire nation of Israel. They were a small remnant only.

Romans 11:4 But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

This does not mean the nation of Israel was not a special people. While they were not a spiritually redeemed people as a whole, they had a special role in redemptive history including the physical line from which Jesus came according to the flesh. Many great men and women of the faith were Jews, but as a whole they were mostly an unbelieving nation. The Old Testament nation of Israel was a picture foreshadowing the New Covenant church, but they were not the church or even the church under age.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Jesus and Divorce Law

Jesus raised the standard on granting divorce from the standard that was given under Old Covenant Law. Under the Old Covenant that applied to national Israel a man could divorce his wife by giving her a certificate of divorce and sending her away.
Deut. 24:1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,
Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount gave a new and higher standard.
Mt. 5:31-32 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
This is one of several statements by Jesus where he changes Old Covenant law with the phrase, “But I say to you”. Some doctrinal interpretations hold that Jesus was simply correcting the misapplication of the law by the religious leaders. However, in this case and also with adultery and murder Jesus quotes exactly what the law and the Ten Commandments stated in the Old Testament. Therefore, Jesus is not just correcting a wrong interpretation; he is raising the requirements for divorce to a higher standard with the “But I say to you” statements. He is giving the Christian standard for true believers, whereas the Old Covenant was given to an entire nation most of whom were unredeemed. Jesus explained this more fully when he said:
Mt. 19:3-9 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Jesus says what both the Old Testament and the New Testament says in many places and that is Israel was not a spiritually redeemed people. When Jesus told the Pharisees that the law allowed divorce because of their hardness of heart, he was verifying they were NOT spiritually redeemed. Contrast this statement with the beatitudes where Jesus describes the characteristics of spiritually redeemed Christians. The Old Covenant even allowed polygamy [Deut. 21:15]. If Jesus had not raised these standards, Christian marriage and the details concerning adultery in the New Covenant would be very different. The Old Testament pointed to the new standards that Jesus would implement and told us to listen to him, just as God the Father said at the Mt. of Transfiguration.
Deut. 18:15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Cremation of Sam McGee

by Robert W. Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.

He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that he’d “sooner live in hell.”

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! Through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan,
“It’s the cursed cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ’taint being dead - it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! He looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate these last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows - O God! How I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the Alice May.
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum!”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared - such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near:
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”... then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm -
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Law of Christ

Jesus fulfilled and made the Old Covenant obsolete.
Hebrews 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete.
2 Cor. 3:7-8 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?
The ministry of death carved in letters on stone is a reference to the Ten Commandments. The Old Covenant was brought to an end and replaced by the ministry of the Spirit. This ministry of the Spirit is revealed in the New Covenant that was promised by Jeremiah [Jer. 31:31-34] and fulfilled as Hebrews 8 describes. The Old Covenant was a ministry of death given to the physical nation of Israel and most of them died in unbelief [Rom. 9:27]. The New Covenant is a ministry of life given to regenerated believers and one hundred percent of them are saved. New Covenant believers are NOT under the Old Covenant or its contract the Ten Commandments [Rom. 6:14, Rom. 7:6, Rom. 8:2, Eph. 2:15 Gal. 5:18]. While believers are not under the Ten Commandments as a unit, we are under the precepts and ethical standards of these commandments as they are expressed in the New Covenant revelation of the New Testament. Jesus raised several of these commandments to a higher standard such as the ones on murder and adultery [Mt. 5:27-28, 31-32]. In pointing to his freedom from Old Covenant law, Paul said the following:
1 Cor. 9:20-21 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.
Therefore, Paul stated plainly that he was not under the Old Covenant law, but was under the Law of Christ, which is expressed through New Covenant revelation contained in the New Testament. In explaining that Old Covenant law was not permanent but merely a guardian until the coming of faith Paul said:
Galatians 3:25-26 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
What does this mean to be in Christ Jesus rather than be under the Law as a guardian? I believe Paul said it best in Romans 8:2:
Rom. 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
If you are looking to the Ten Commandments to be sanctified, you are looking to the ministry of death and are not free. This is the wrong place to look. Look to Jesus Christ, grace, and the Holy Spirit for your sanctification and the Spirit will lead you in the ways of righteousness that are expressed through Christ and his New Covenant teachings [Mt. 17:5, 28:20, Heb. 1:2].

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Greatest Poem Ever

Casey at the Bat

By Ernest Thayer

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at that–
We'd put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey's getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Johnnie safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile on Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped–
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted some one on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the sphereoid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two."

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville –mighty Casey has struck out.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Totally Different: Old Covenant and New Covenant

A covenant consists of an agreement between two or more parties. The terms of the covenant are the requirements the parties are obligated to perform. There are many distinct historical covenants described in the Holy Bible that are between God and men. A historic covenant is one that the Bible describes during the historic flow of redemptive history. Most of them, such as the covenant with Noah, do not require anything from man. The two major Biblical covenants are the Old Covenant made at Mount Sinai when God gave Moses the terms required of the Israelites, and The New Covenant that was established by the person, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A close look at these two historical covenants reveals they are distinct and different in the people groups covered, required obligations and time duration. How can these two covenants be considered one covenant when they have different terms and cover different people groups? They are both part of God’s plan of redemption and both are part of the gospel of God that Paul mentions in Romans 1:1, but they had distinctly different purposes. I will focus on the differences in the Old and New Covenant in this discussion.

The Old Covenant:

1) Parties of the Old Covenant

The Old Covenant was made with the Hebrew people that God brought out of Egypt and formed into the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai.

Exodus 34:27-28 And the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

The Old Covenant was NOT made with the forefathers of the people that God delivered from Egypt. This means it was NOT made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Joseph.

Deuteronomy 5:2-3 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 Not with our fathers did the LORD make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.

Therefore, the Old Covenant was a covenant between God and the physical nation of Israel that was formed at Mt. Sinai after being delivered from Egypt. Paul confirms this in Galatians 3:17.

2) Terms of the Old Covenant

The Old Covenant required that the Israelites keep the covenant as expressed in God’s LAW. The Ten Commandments were the contract for the Old Covenant. Therefore, the Ten Commandments were the terms of the covenant that Israel were obligated to keep.

Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

God gave Moses and the people the terms of the covenant and the Israelites agreed to these terms.

Exodus 19:7-8 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD.

Exodus 34:28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.


The reality that the Israelites did not have the ability to fulfill this covenant does not change the fact that it was legal conditional covenant requiring their obedience. It also served the purpose of leading some to Christ and a remnant was saved by grace through looking forward to the promised redeemer, Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets [Matthew 5:17] and provided atonement for sin [Hebrews 9:11-28] for this very reason.

The New Covenant:

The nation of Israel failed to keep the conditions of the Old Covenant so God made another better covenant with them and expanded the blessings to gentiles as well [Ephesians 2:11-22 through 3:12].

Hebrews 8:8-9 For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant,

1) Parties of the New Covenant

The New Covenant was made with the elect. It was and is made with people whom God regenerates through the gift of a new heart. Therefore, regenerated believers are the only people in a New Covenant relationship with God. Neither church membership nor parental status places a person in this New Covenant relationship with God. Without God’s regenerating work of the Holy Spirit a person is not in the New Covenant no matter what they may profess.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Since God’s work of sovereign regeneration is required and there are no regenerated unbelievers, there are no unbelievers in the New Covenant.

Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

God says, “I WILL” instead of “IF YOU WILL” as was stated in the Old Covenant. This is grace.

2) Terms of the New Covenant

All of the requirements of the New Covenant are given by God and the reality of what was promised in the Old Covenant [Exodus 19:5-6] through obedience to the LAW have been freely fulfilled in the New Covenant as Hebrews 8:10 and 1 Peter 2:9 shows.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The language in the Exodus 19:5-6 passage is almost identical to the 1 Peter 2:9 passage in that both speak of being people for God’s possession, a holy nation, and kingdom of priests/royal priesthood. THE DIFFERENCE: In the Old Covenant it was “IF” and in the New Covenant it is “YOU ARE”. Therefore the holy nation is the body of Christ made possible by our surety Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Old Covenant and suffered the penalty for our disobedience [sin].


God made the Old Covenant with the physical nation of Israel that came into existence at Mount Sinai. They were physically redeemed from Egypt, but they were not all spiritually redeemed. In fact, most of them were NOT saved [Rom. 9:27, Heb. 3:16-19]. God made a New Covenant through Jesus Christ that fulfilled and replaced the Old Covenant. The New Covenant is with the spiritually redeemed body of Christ [the elect]. All who are in the New Covenant are spiritually saved [1 Peter 2:9, Hebrews 8:10-12]. So you have a covenant made with a physical ethnic nation that was mostly unredeemed spiritually, and it was replaced by a covenant made with spiritually redeemed people from every tribe and nation on earth. The Old Covenant had requirements that had to be met in order to receive God’s blessing; whereas, the New Covenant freely gives all that is required to receive the blessing of eternal life. The Old Covenant was time limited and has ended, but the New Covenant will not end. The Old Covenant was a covenant of works even though it had a gracious purpose of pointing to Christ and offering mercy through faith in the redemption that Jesus would provide. The New Covenant is a covenant of grace that provides the Holy Spirit to bring the elect to faith and to lead them in their sanctification. Under the Old Covenant everyone, including the remnant, was under LAW. In the New Covenant believers are under GRACE and not under law. This grace transforms Christians into being more and more conformed to the image of Christ through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The old covenant is of the letter and the new covenant is of the Spirit. The old is from Mt. Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves [Gal. 4:24] and the new is the “Jerusalem above” who is free.

It is reasonable to consider both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant as being part of one gospel of grace. However, how can they both be considered to be different administrations of the same covenant of grace when they have the crucial differences of people groups covered and terms? How can one covenant that includes believers and one that doesn’t be considered different administrations of the same covenant? They can’t and the Bible nowhere mentions a covenant of grace or labels historic covenants as being but administrations of a single covenant of grace.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Who are the true people of God?

The true people of God are defined by the following Biblical passage. Physical national Israel was never the holy nation referred to in Exodus 19:5-6. The true people of God and holy nation is described in this passage and they were never national ethnic Israel. Israel was a physical picture of the people of God, but they were not the real thing. The true people of God and holy nation and how they became the true people of God is clearly defined by Peter:

1 Peter 2:4-10 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

High Flight by Gillespie Magee

There is zone of awareness and simply being alive in a state of joy that comes from being solo in a high performance aircraft that I think the following sonnet captures. To do aileron rolls, loops, split S's and other maneuvers in complete sync with the aircraft is an experience that takes a human being to a state that is probably as close to being with God that a mortal can achieve. The LORD knows I miss that feeling and look forward to the day when that feeling will be dwarfed by being in the presence of GOD.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Social Justice Defined

Many today, including some in conservative churches, have bought into the social justice movement that claims to support “social justice” but actually favors things that violate social justice. They are really in favor of statist and Marxist solutions to poverty and other perceived ills in the world. They have hijacked the word justice to make Marxism and big government seem to be the just and right thing to do. But is what they advocate actually just? Many of them support the following list of things that violate justice and oppose the list of things that uphold justice. Don’t be fooled by their deception and remember that social mercy and social compassion are totally different concepts that all conservatives and Christians can support. Justice and mercy have totally different meanings.

Social justice is violated by:

1) Killing unborn babies through abortion. 
2) Spreading the wealth around by taking from some through taxes to give to others.
3) Discriminating against people based on their race or sex.
4) Discriminating in favor of people based on their race or sex.
5) Discriminating and persecuting people who do not conform to the current politically correct liberal world-view.
6) Intolerance of politically incorrect opinions.

Social justice is upheld by:
1) Liberty and freedom.
2) Tolerance for all including conservative and Christian opinions and values.
3) Minimal government interference with people’s lives and activities.
4) Strong law enforcement and national defense.
5) Fair and impartial judicial system.
6) Economic freedom through free enterprise system.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My purpose

(1) Affirm and proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ as summarized by the five sola’s of the reformation. While I agree with much doctrine that is contained in confessions and creeds, my only authority for doctrine is my understanding of the Holy Bible [sola Scriptura].  I have also benefited and learned much from great theologians and preachers and I am grateful to all of them, but Scripture alone is my final authority. 

(2) To unashamedly stand up for the liberty, freedom, and traditional values associated with America that are under assault by the liberal folly of our day. I peacefully but aggressively defend conservative principles.

(3) Display photographs and computer art.

(4) Attempt to always use as much humor as possible in everything other than the serious discussion of religion.

(5) Invite anyone to debate and discuss anything on this blog as neither my religious or political beliefs are set in stone.  However, they do rest on the solid foundation of the WORD.