NCH – New Covenant Hermeneutic   Leave a comment

“The NCH is also important because is strengthens the faith of God’s elect. Or, to use Paul’s exact wording, it establishes them in their most holy faith (Rom.16:25) What happens when a Christian – well schooled in the NCH – starts seeing the things of Christ in the persons, places, objects, events, and institutions of the OT? What happens when he begins to discern  hem in Adam, the Tree of Life, Noah, the Ark, Melchizedek, Isaac, Jacob’s ladder, the Exodus, the Passover lamb, the Manna from heaven, the Rock that Moses struck, the Water that burst forth from it, the Mercy Seat, the Scapegoat, and so on?

Every saint knows the answer. If he is a new Christian, he is simply bowled over – not only to discover the stunning sovereignty and ingenuity of God, but also to behold the beauty and power of the divine inspiration of his Word. And if he is an older Christian, he is still bowled over, in large part because he seems never to get tot he bottom of these things! Indeed, with every-expanding clarity he sees that the OT is an infinite, or at least a fathomless, treasury of ‘mystical’ witness to the Person and Work of Christ. The end result of this is that all Christians, whether new or old, grow deeper and deeper in their conviction that the Bible is indeed the Christ-centered Word of God. And as a result of this, they grow ever mroe fervent in their glad and grateful worship of the One who gave it to them.”

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Posted December 9, 2014 by FiveSolas in Uncategorized

Kyrie, eleison!   Leave a comment

“The Sermon on the Mount contains the teaching of Jesus on the life of a disciple. That sermon begins with an astonishing summary of His teaching: ‘Blessed’ are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt.5:3). Here Jesus congratulates those who are spiritually impoverished and commends spiritual poverty as the mark of discipleship. The Greek word for ‘poor’ is also the term for a beggar. Those who are poor in spirit have no spiritual assets or credentials.  They have nothing to offer o God the Father; they receive everything from Him. The poor in spirit are not spiritually rich and powerful; they receive the Holy Spirit as beggars who ask for what they do not have. The Father’s kingdom is theirs as a gift, something that is always received and yet never possessed. Unless they receive God’s kingdom, they can never enter it and reign in it as kings together with Christ. 

This countercultural beatitude sums up the whole of Christian spirituality. It contradicts popular religion and common piety. Popular piety presupposes our unrealized spiritual potential; it seeks spiritual enrichment and empowerment through the practice of appropriate spiritual exercises. In contrast to this desire for spiritual self-improvement and self-development, Jesus teaches that we begin, continue, and end our spiritual journey with Him as beggars before God the Father, the heavenly King. We do not, as we follow Jesus, become increasingly self-sufficient. Rather, we learn, but by bit, the art of begging from God the Father, until at our death we can do nothing but say, ‘Lord Jesus, have mercy on me!’ ” 

Grace Upon Grace by John Kleinig

Posted July 16, 2014 by FiveSolas in Uncategorized

Cyprian Share his Testimony of Being Born Again with Donatus   Leave a comment

“While i was still lying in darkness and gloomy night, wavering hither and thither, tossed about on the foam of this boastful age, and uncertain of my wandering steps, knowing nothing of my real life, and remote from truth and light, i used to regard it as a difficult matter, and especially as difficult in respect of my character at that time, that a man should be capable of being born again – a truth which the divine mercy had announced for my salvation – and that a man quickened to a new life in the laver of saving water should be able to put off what he had previously been; and, although retaining all his bodily structure, should be himself changed in heart and soul. ‘How,’ said I, ‘is such a  conversion possible, that there should be a sudden and rapid divestment of all which, either innate in us has hardened in the corruption of our material nature, or acquired by us has become inveterated by long accustomed use? These things have become deeply and radically engrained within us. When does he learn thrift who has been used to liberal banquets and sumptuous feasts? And he who has been glittering in gold and purple, and has been celebrated for his costly attire, when does he reduce himself to ordinary and simple clothing ? One who has felt the charm of the fasces and of civic honours shrinks from becoming a mere private and inglorious citizen. The man who is attended by crowds of clients, and dignified by the numerous association  of an officious train, regards it as a punishment when he is alone. It is inevitable, as it ever has been, that the love of wine should entice, pride inflate, anger inflame, covetousness disquiet, cruelty stimulate, ambition delight, lust hasten to ruin, with allurements that will not let go their hold.’

These were my frequent thoughts. For as i myself was held in bonds by the innumerable errors of my previous life, from which i did not believe that i could by possibility be delivered, so i was disposed to acquiesce in my clinging vices; and because i despaired of better things, i used to indulge my sins as if they were actually parts of me and indigenous to me. But after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of former years had been washed away, and a light from above, serene and pure, had been infused into my reconciled heart, – after that, by the agency of the Spirit breathed from heaven, a second birth had restored me to a new man; – then, in a wondrous manner, doubtful things at once began to assure themselves to me, hidden things to be revealed, dark things to be enlightened, what before had seemed difficult began to suggest a means of accomplishment, what had been thought impossible, to be capable of being achieved; so that i was enabled to acknowledge that what previously, being born of the flesh, had been living in the practice of sins, was of the earth earthly, but had now begun to be  of God, and was animated by the Spirit of holiness. You yourself assuredly know and recollect as well as i do what was taken away from us, and what was given to us by that death of evil, and that life of virtue. You yourself assuredly know and recollect as well as i do what was taken away from us, and what was given to us by that death of evil, and that life of virtue. You yourself know this without my information. Anything like boasting in one’s own praise is hateful although we cannot in reality boast  but only be grateful for whatever we do not ascribe to man’s virtue but declare to be the gift of God; so that now we sin not is the beginning of the work of faith, whereas that we sinned before was the result of human error. All our power is of God; I say, of God. From Him we have life, from Him we have strength, by power derived and conceived from Him we do, while yet in this world, foreknow that indications of things to come. Only let fear be the keeper of innocence, that the Lord, who of His mercy has flowed into our hearts in the access of celestial gaze, may be kept by righteous submissiveness in the hostelry of a grateful mind, that the assurance we have gained may not beget carelessness, and so the old enemy creep upon us again.”

Epistle 1, To Donatus

 

Posted March 31, 2014 by FiveSolas in Uncategorized

Cosmic Imagery in Apocalyptic Genre   Leave a comment

“…and if these natural phenomena affect the imagination more powerfully still, they are not inappropriate figures when the real importance of the events which they represent is apprehended. The earth convulsed with earthquakes, burning mountains cast into the sea, the stars falling like leaves, the heavens on fire, the  clothed in sackcloth, the moon turned into blood, are images of appalling grandeur, but they are not necessarily unsuitable representations of great civil commotions, – the overturning of thrones and dynasties, the desolations of war, the abolition of ancient systems, and great moral and spiritual revolutions. In prophecy, as in poetry, the material is regarded as the type of the spiritual, the passions and emotions of humanity find expression in corresponding signs and symptoms in the inanimate creation. Does the prophet come with glad tidings? He calls upon the mountains and the hills to break forth into song, and the trees of the forest to clap their hands. Is his message one of lamentation and woe? The heavens are draped in mourning, and the sun is darkened in his going down. No one, however anxious to keep by the bare letter of the word, would think of insisting that such metaphors should be literally interpreted, or must have a literal fulfillment. The utmost that we are entitled to require is, that there should be such historical evens specified as may worthily correspond with such phenomena; great moral and social movements capable of producing such emotions as these physical phenomena seem to imply.

It may be useful to select some of the most remarkable of these prophetic symbols as found in the Old Testament, that we may note the occasions on which they were employed, and discover the sense in which they are to be understood.

In Isaiah 13, we have a very remarkable prediction of the destruction of ancient Babylon. It is conceived in the highest style of poetry. The Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle; the tumultuous rush of the nations is heard; the day of the Lord is proclaimed to be at hand; the stars of heaven and the constellations withhold their light; the sun is darkened in his going forth; the moon ceases to shine; the heavens are shaken, and the earth removed out of its place. All this imagery, it will be observed, which if literally fulfilled would involve the wreck of the whole material creation, is employed to set forth the destruction of Babylon by the Medes.”

The Parousia by James Stuart Russell

Posted March 5, 2014 by FiveSolas in Uncategorized

The Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God – an awesome book   Leave a comment

This is an amazing story written by Michael Faezell. The story of the Harold W Armstrong Worldwide Church of God’s journey to Christian orthodoxy, and away from cultish legalism occasionally calls to mind “Crisis of Conscience” by Raymond Franz. Faezell is an excellent writer, and his book is not only factual, but inspirational and insightful. I just chose  some random quotes to post here, that particularly stood out to me.

On legalism:  “That is what legalism does to people. It can create the illusion of something wonderful. But something that can never become what itw as meant to be is not, in the end, wonderful. Maybe it is better than nothing, but it is still at best only a hollow shell. And until the liberator roar of Aslan shatters it into the worthless dust it is, legalism, ironically, imprisons its victims in a confounding dungeon of smug anxiety and self-satisfied frustration… Human beings, to be the true persons God made them to be, need at their center the heart of God expressing itself through love. Following the rules does not produce a relationship of love. Condemning others who do not keep the rules the way you think they ought to be kept does not produce a relationship of love. A relationship of love is based on knowing and loving a person, not on knowing and loving a set of rules.”  

Soon after Armstrong, the church’s apostle for the end times and unquestioned authority, died, the first “crack in the dam” occurred. The new leadership, with the help of a Hebrew professor at the denomination’s college, corrected something Armstrong had taught, a minor point concerning the Exodus. Although it would be considered minor by most, Armstrong had taught it very dogmatically.  “Now Tkach (his successor) holding the office of ‘God’s apostle,’ the only person on earth through whom God brings doctrine into his church, had neatly thrown out a dogmatic Armstrong teaching. How can one ‘God’s only true apostle’ change the teaching of the other ‘God’s only true apostle’? Small or ‘merely historical’ as this particular point may have been, later changes would raise the larger question: How can Tkach have the authority to change Armstrong’s teaching? And then the conundrum: If Armstrong was wrong about that, then could he have been wrong about appointing Tkach? And worse, but still unthinkable at this early stage: If Armstrong really WAS wrong about something he felt God had revealed to him, how could he have called himself ‘God’s only true apostle’? “

Armstrong believed that the WHOLE WORLD except for him, had been deceived:  Here’s a quote from his writings: “WHY cannot people understand? It’s hard to believe, but YOUR BIBLE says that this whole world is DECEIVED! Incredible thought it seems, that is true! Yes, even the clergy!”     Feazell comments:  “All the clergy except Armstrong, that is. This is what happens when a person, in his or her own mind, becomes ‘God’s special representative.’ I have to warn any CHristian – if the leader of your church or group begins to make noise about being God’s special mouthpiece or the ‘only one’ preaching some particular message or some particular way, then my advice to you is to move on down the road.”

Thinking every thought through the lens of Herbert W Armstrong:  “Another panel member seemed  only to be able to think in terms of what Herbert Armstrong had written or said. He began nearly every coment with, ‘ Mr. Herbert W Armstrong said…’ or ‘I have here Mr Herbert W Armstrong’s article…’ or ‘On page such and such of Mystery of the Ages, Mr Herbert W Armstrong wrote…’ To him and to thousands like him in the Worldwide Church of God, Armstrong was God’s man, and God had revealed through Armstrong everything the church needed to know. To call Armstrong’s revelatinos into question was tantamount to the spirit of antichrist.”

 

 

Posted November 18, 2013 by FiveSolas in Uncategorized

A Humorous Comment on Modalism   Leave a comment

“Throwing the Father, Son and Spirit into a blender like this is politely called modalism by theologians. I prefer to call it moodalism. Moodalists think that God is one person who has three different moods (or modes, if you must). One popular moodalist idea is that God used to feel Fatherly (in the Old Testament), tried adopting a more Sonny disposition for thirty-some years, and has since decided to become more Spiritual. You understand the attraction, of ourse; it keeps things from becoming too complicated.”

Delighting in the Trinity  by Michael Reeves

Posted October 3, 2013 by FiveSolas in Uncategorized

Christ as an Example Only Cannot Save Us   Leave a comment

“Be sure, moreover, that you do not make Christ into a Moses, as if Christ did nothing more than teach and provide examples as the other saints do, as if the gospel were simply a textbook of teachings or laws. Therefore you should grasp Christ, his words, works, and sufferings, in a twofold manner. First, as an example that is present to you, which you should follow and imitate. As Peter says in I Peter 4, ‘Christ suffered for us, thereby leaving us an example.’ Thus when you see how he prays , fasts, helps people, and shows them love, so also you should do, both for yourself and your neighbor. However this is the smallest part of the gospel, on the basis of which it cannot yet even be called gospel. For on this level Christ is of no more help to you than some other saint.. His life remains His own and does not as yet contribute anything to you. In short this mode (of understanding Christ simply as an example) does not make Christians but only hypocrites. You must grasp Christ at a much higher level. Even though this higher level has for a long time been the very best, the preaching of it has become rare. The chief article and foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept and recognize him as a gift, as a present that God has given you and that is your own. This means that when you see or hear of Christ doing or suffering something, you do not doubt that Christ himself, with his deeds and suffering, belongs to you.” (Luthers Works, v.35)

Christ as example still leaves under the Law. Luther quips that if salvation were dependent on following Jesus’ example, we would all be doomed from the start, for who of us has been born of a virgin or walks on water? There is no salvation in Christ as our example, for nonoe of us can live the perfect and sinless life that He lived.” (Handling the Word of Truth by John Pless)

Posted September 6, 2013 by FiveSolas in Uncategorized