Because Others Refused

The reason we confess our sins as part of our church’s worship on Sunday mornings is because of unconfessed sin. I don’t mean that we are trying to provide an opportunity for those who failed to make things right with the Lord in the previous six days, though it does do that. I mean that we wouldn’t even be in this position as a church had not sin been defended and its ugliness demonstrated.

Many years ago I was personally, and then pastorally, struck by the fact that confession of sin by believers was mostly talked about as something Martin Luther did when he was trying to be a good monk, wearing out his priest in confession for hours at a time. Most of the churches I had been a part of only encouraged confession of sin for Christians during A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) in corporate prayer meetings, and even then for a short period of silent prayer. I started to wonder why confession of sin, to God and to others, had become so little practiced. Around that time I read Augustine’s Confessions and made resolutions to repent, more specifically and more quickly, and urge others to do the same.

The existence of our church, not just our liturgy, came about because others refused to acknowledge their sin, blamed people around them, and used their authority to punish those who were confronting the sin. It wasn’t difference of opinion or preference. Failure to take responsibility for our sin causes pain and it can cause, and has caused, division in relationships, in families, and in churches. In our case, forming a new church allowed for additional study about church services, and a time for confessing sin seemed relevant for our liturgy and circumstances.

By God’s grace we benefit from the weekly reminder to confess our sins because others refused to. Only God can bring blessing out of sin, and He also blesses those who confess and forsake their sin.

The Nature of Bread and Wine

We know from Psalm 19 that the heavens declare the glory of God so that all men should see His handiwork. We know from Romans 1 that creation reveals the existence and power of God so that all men should honor God and thank Him. And in 1 Corinthians 11 we read that nature makes it so that all men know how long to cut their hair.

What does nature teach about the Lord’s Table? Well, that is probably asking too much. Nature doesn’t tell us about the cross or about the resurrection or about the need to believe in Christ for our sin, and nature doesn’t tell us about either ordinance of the church. We need special revelation, which we have.

But does this mean that nature does us no good whatsoever when it comes to the communion meal? I don’t just mean the physical elements, or the embodied persons who partake, though those do argue against any kind of gnostic or dualistic priority. While recognizing that Christ instituted the Supper with words and that His apostles delivered the instruction, and while recognizing that Christ’s pattern was the Passover meal provided by God’s Word to the Israelites, there is a created nature of the meal that belongs with the revealed intent of the meal.

What does nature teach about bread? Eat! It’s good! What does nature teach about wine? It’s a gift! Drink! Let your heart be glad! And what does even nature teach about a table of bread and wine? It is meant to be shared, and shared in joy.

There are occasions for corporate quiet and contemplation, but even nature recommends fasting for such sobriety. Nature commends feasting in fellowship for stirring up thanks and gladness.

To be sure, Paul could not commend the Corinthians for their communion practice. But that is because they were divided and because they were selfishly indulging themselves. I would argue that not only goes against the gospel, that goes against nature.

Bolognology

Men lie. Christians of all people should know this, or at least stop believing what everyone says. Men lie. They’re lying if they say they aren’t.

By “men” I mean human beings, male and female, young and old, from every tribe and language and people and nation. This nationality piece is especially significant, because it extends to all peoples. By “lie” I mean to present an untrue statement as true with the intent to deceive.

There are all kinds of specific lies in the world, but one of the most obvious, yet accepted, lies today is that men don’t know what is right and wrong. This is Bolognology, the study of bologna.

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. (Romans 2:14)

The Gentiles didn’t have the Mosaic Law, God’s revealed law, even if they had societal laws. Paul isn’t saying that they always did what is right, but “by nature” they know that there is right and wrong. This “nature” is something God gave.

They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…. (Romans 2:15)

They know that there is right and they judge how they behave according to that standard.

Of course they could wrongly apply the standard. Having your feet on the ground doesn’t mean you’re standing in the right place. Natural law and the consciences of men are not without error, but it’s enough to call them on. Christians should both not believe the worldly when they say that law is something socially relative nor should we receive the accusations of the world that say we are the ones who make them feel guilty. The know that they’re guilty by nature.

Every Single Thing is Now Different

This is a challenging article by David Bahnsen, Every Single Thing is Now Different: The Kavanaugh moment is not done. It is just beginning.

I’m not actually as pessimistic as Bahnsen sounds (Kavanaugh was confirmed), and also Jesus talked about when others “utter all kinds of evil against you falsely,” which, whether that applies to Kavanaugh or not, at least shouldn’t surprise Christians. Regardless, the article is good, and near the end he makes a brutal (and sadly accurate) comment about how evangelical churches, and their pastors, are providing no support for those conservative Christians endeavoring to live courageously in the culture.

“The cultural pacifists that fill today’s pulpits lack the courage to even self-identify for the humanism-soaked sponges that they are.”

Ouch.

Head Covering: A Forgotten Christian Practice for Modern Times

5 of 5 stars to Head Covering: A Forgotten Christian Practice for Modern Times by Jeremy Gardiner

I’m preaching through 1 Corinthians 11 and saw a positive review of this book on FB. The author’s conclusion is obvious from the title of the book, and the fact that he started the Head Covering Movement is also a give-away.

Surprising to me, I really enjoyed the book. I appreciated the exegesis he presented, the tone he took, and the resources he cited. He made a very compelling case, and, if I were to change my position, it would be in his direction. I could see his point from the passage about it being right for women in every age and culture to wear a cloth covering on their heads when involved in praying and prophesying.

If you are interested, I highly recommend the book, especially to read a current, Bible-based, passionate but not the wrong sort of pushy take on why head coverings are right. You may read it and be convinced.

All that said, I still think there is a difference between the principle (which does not depend on any particular culture and obligates the conscience) and the symbol (which may take a variety of forms depending on the culture), a difference I am working to explain in my preaching. The author addresses this as a possible interpretation, but he did not convince me about the necessity of the particular symbol (cloth head covering).

Though I disagree on the bottom line, it is still a 5 of 5 stars book on the subject.

Worldview Guide for The Iliad

4 of 5 stars to Worldview Guide for The Iliad by Louis Markos

I attended a couple talks by Louis Markos at the 2017 ACCS National Convention and really appreciated his energy and his knowledge. When I saw that he had written Worldview Guides for Canon Press for The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid, and since we’re reading all three of those in Omnibus Tenebras, I ordered them immediately. After reading his guide on The Iliad I’m glad I did. It wasn’t like CliffsNotes, but it was very brief with info about key characters, plot points, and a Christian perspective on the story.

The Iliad

4 of 5 stars to The Iliad by Homer

Impressive. Tedious.
Creative. Exhausting.
Poetic. Painful.
Polytheistic. Godless.

Read again with the Omnibus Tenebras class in 2018. I’m increasing my rating from 3 stars to 4 because, even though it is looooooong, I can appreciate its status as a classic.


2015: This is an impressive piece of work, whichever Homer wrote it.

Likeness Sharers

In creational terms, man is the glory of God and woman is the glory of man (1 Corinthians 11:7). That is God’s sovereign Word, we receive it, regardless of the culture’s hatred of gender distinctions, a misplaced hatred because they really want to do away with the distinction between themselves and God.

In redemptive terms, all believers are being remade in the image of God to share the glory of God; we are brothers and sisters in Christ. This is also God’s sovereign Word, we receive it, regardless of the Arminian’s (or Pelagian’s) argument.

For those whom he [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29)

This is just an amazing thing. God decided beforehand that we would be summorphos, that is, sharing the likeness of God’s Son. We are predestined to this adjective: we are the “likeness sharers.”

Verse 30 follows not with a hierarchy, but with a chain.

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

This glorified state is not separate from Christ’s image in us. We are being transformed into the same glory by beholding the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). By His “very great promises” we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3).

So man was created for God, and woman was created for man, and you, beloved, are created and called and saved for glory.

Sin into a Proper Noun

Sometimes things stick out that make you see from a different angle. It might be a typo. For example, when I type the name Chris, I often need to delete a “t” from the end because my muscle memory first types “Christ.” But, for a Christian named Chris, wouldn’t he appreciate being so easily mistaken for his Christlikeness?

It wasn’t a typo, but I had a different angle on hate this past week. Some of us are reading The Iliad and hate is used with a capital H. It’s because in the story Hate is a god (lowercase g).

Hate, whose wrath is relentless, she is the sister and companion of murderous Ares, she who is only a little thing at first, but thereafter grows until she strides on earth with her head striking heaven. (142)

Later Hate comes to watch the war between the Greeks and the Trojans, and she is also called “the Lady of Sorrow.” But unlike the Man of Sorrows who carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:3-6), Hate is the Lady of Sorrow because she gives sorrow to others. She delighted to see men attack each other like wolves.

Hate is not actually a god, but sin does enslave. Hate can work even in believers. “Whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness” (1 John 2:11). “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).

We are monotheists by confession, but how many gods are in our sinful hearts? If we turned the sin into a proper noun, would you be seen as worshipping another? Bitterness? Anger? Drunkenness? Rivalry?

Him Who Is Weary

I read a mass of complaints about social media, <irony>many of which come on social media</irony>. I have been on Facebook for over a year now, and it is worse than I imagined it to be. At least on Twitter, the most that anyone can irritate me is with 280 characters (though I would be happy to return to the 140 limit). I have curated my list of subscribed RSS feeds to a smaller number than it used to be. All of the information/bellyaching is enough to make a man tired.

And also, this technology is an amazing gift. The Lord could give us whatever He wants, and, while these modern communication outlets are not necessary, they certainly transmit a multiplicity of blessings and not merely bile.

I am very thankful for the Lord’s grace to me through some of these means. I really enjoy reading the updates from some of my friends, wherever they are and whatever they may be posting about.

The prophet Isaiah wrote,

The Lord GOD has given me
   the tongue of those who are taught,
that I might know how to sustain with a word
   him who is weary.
(Isaiah 50:4)

I am not identifying my Friends or Follows as prophets, nor do I take their word as inspired. But God often uses them to encourage my heart.

If you have been “taught” by the Word and want to share a verse, a quote, a link, a short story, then go for it. Use your tongue, or your thumbs. And thanks for being used as His instrument.