Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Imputation & Adoption

I am beginning to study the connection between the imputation of Christ's righteousness (His "active" obedience), and our own adoption as sons and daughters of God. Last Lord's Day I preached on this theme from Luke 23:46-48 saying:

There is a theme that runs through the NT, and it is particularly seen in a careful study of the Gospels, and that is the theme of righteousness and sonship. We see it as Jesus cries out, “Father” implying that He is the Son, but, it might be that that connection is in no other place made more clearly than right here at the place of the declaration of this centurion. For you see, both Matthew and Mark tells us that when the centurion saw these things he declared, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matt. 27:54; Mk. 15:39).

That is, to declare that Jesus is innocent or righteous—which again, we need to remember, is justification language...this is the word dikaos—is to declare Him to be the Son of God. Another place that we can see this connection is at Jesus' baptism when the Father declared from heaven: “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.” (Lk. 3:22)—that again, is the pairing of righteousness and sonship.

This connection between righteousness and sonship is further tied to that theme found throughout the Scriptures that to obey is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22; cf. Heb. 10:5-10). You see, God delights in obedience to His will. When He created Adam as His Son (Lk. 3:38), He delighted in him as long as he was obedient to Him. Thus, sometimes we refer to the Covenant of Works as the Covenant of Sonship. But Sonship and the demand for obedience are not mutually exclusive...rather they are necessitated by each other.

And now that mankind has fallen into sin, God is still looking for positive, active obedience, as well as the sin-necessitated, passive obedience of sacrifice. And therefore, He sent His Son—the righteous One—to live and die in the place of His people, so that they too might take part in this sonship again—that is, that they too might now receive that adopted status of “children of God”. Because, that status is entirely tied to innocence and righteousness.

Now, why this is important to us is because our salvation—in the full scope and picture of it— depends upon the obedience of Jesus Christ as well as His sin-bearing. You see Adam was to inherit eternal life by His filial or sonship obedience. That is, he would confirm himself and his posterity in the glorious state of unlosable sonship if he would image his Father—simply be who he was. Because, in God's economy, inheritance is based upon sonship, and sonship is based upon resemblance. Therefore, it is the righteousness of Jesus Christ—His innocence—that gives us the right to our heavenly reward—eternal life—and the title of sonship.

I was asked by some folks after the service about where they could go to find more on this connection. I turned one young man to John L. Girardeau's Discussions on Theological Topics and the final chapter entitled "The Doctrine of Adoption". But then, look what I found in Calvin's Of The Necessity of Reforming The Church Book II:

First, we maintain, that of what description soever any man's works may be, he is regarded as righteous before God, simply on the footing of gratuitous mercy; because God, without any respect to works, freely adopts him in Christ, by imputing the righteousness of Christ to him, as if it were his own. This we call the righteousness of faith, viz., when a man, made void and empty of all confidence in works, feels convinced that the only ground of his acceptance with God is a righteousness which is wanting to himself, and is borrowed from Christ. The point on which the world always goes astray, (for this error has prevailed in almost every age,) is in imagining that man, however partially defective he may be, still in some degree merits the favour of God by works. But Scripture declares, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them." Under this curse must necessarily lie all who are judged by works—none being exempted save those who entirely renounce all confidence in works, and put on Christ, that they may be justified in Him, by the gratuitous acceptance of God. The ground of our justification, therefore, is, that God reconciles us to himself, from regard not to our works, but to Christ alone, and, by gratuitous adoption, makes us, instead of children of wrath, to be his own children. So long as God looks to our works, he perceives no reason why he ought to love us. Wherefore, it is necessary to bury our sins, and impute to us the obedience of Christ, (because the only obedience which can stand his scrutiny,) and adopt us as righteous through His merits. This is the clear and uniform doctrine of Scripture, "witnessed," as Paul says, "by the law and the prophets," (Rom. iii. 21;) and so explained by the gospel, that a clearer law cannot be desired. Paul contrasts the righteousness of the law with the righteousness of the gospel, placing the former in works, and the latter in the grace of Christ, (Rom. x. 5, &c.) he does not divide it into two halves, giving works the one, and Christ the other; but he ascribes it to Christ entirely, that we are judged righteous in the sight of God.

Well...I will be writing more on this in future posts, but I think that this is an underdeveloped aspect of the work of Christ, and an underdeveloped connection between righteousness and sonship...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Funny Commercial...

Posting this will probably make some of you think less of me (if that is possible), but my boys (ages 8 & 11) thought this was very funny. And, if truth be told, so did I...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

My Aunt on the David Letterman Show

My late cousin is the infamous, irreverent comedian, Bill Hicks. He died about 15 years ago at the age of 32 from pancreatic cancer, and a few months before he died, he had been censored on the David Letterman show, meaning that they did not air his final comedy routine.

Well, here now, 15 years later, and maybe because there is a major movie being made about his life coming out in the near future starring Russell Crowe, Letterman had my Aunt Mary (my late father's sister) on to apologize to her for censoring Bill right before he died.

I had never seen Letterman this apologetic and uncomfortable...it was really kind of strange. I don't really know how to read the whole thing...nor do I care that much to. I was/am no fan of my cousin Bill Hicks. One of my critiques of his work is that it showed a lack of reflection. In other words, sometimes things come into our minds...that sort of knee-jerk reaction that we all experience to one degree or another over this issue or that issue...but then, thankfully, we stop (or are stopped) from expressing that "first reaction". We think about it, read more on the issue, reflect intellectually on it, and very often we cool down and usually, on second thought, would not say what we initially thought we "should" say.

Well, it seems to me that that process was severely lacking in my cousin. And, just like the teenage, psuedo-intellectual, who has a few 'friends' around him that will affirm him in his 'insight', by a just-as-unthoughtful, "Totally man!", Bill spread his wares before a largely anti-intellectual audience that gets titillated by unvarnished vulgarity.

I am not saying that there were not funny instances and keen insights from him. He was clearly a passionate and articulate man. He was good at his craft. What I am saying though is, that to think that every thought 'you' think is worthy of public exhibition, is arrogant and ignorant. I wish certain thoughts would never cross my mind. I wish I could excise them from my brain. I am ashamed by things that I think...

...anyway, here is one of the segments from the show...

C. C. Tempo Run 2-5-2009

Much better run today. It was about double the degrees temperature-wise than it was last week (actually above freezing), and I knocked over 2 minutes off my time. There were 12 people out this morning and most everyone set PRs for the year...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Calvin Book 1, Chapter 9

Recently, while on Oprah, Ted Haggard revealed,

"I was dying. I had settled in my mind exactly how I was going to commit suicide. I was preparing, and in my life, Jesus came to me and he said, 'Now, now I can save you.' "

This is a sad admission. I do not rejoice in the revelation that Mr. Haggard was on the brink of suicide, but I also do not rejoice that he still thinks that he has a special line to Jesus. Haggard needs to read Calvin's 9th Chapter of Book 1 of the Institutes entitled "Fanatics, Abandoning Scripture and Flying Over To Revelation, Cast Down All the Principles of Godliness".

Calvin begins this section by saying, "...those who, having forsaken Scripture, imagine some way or other of reaching God...". You see, Haggard, with all his pretended "humility" here is really asserting something very arrogant. He is saying that the Word of God is not sufficient on the one hand, and that God specially speaks to him on the other. The man is not a Christian, but rather, as historically labeled, he is a "Libertine". He believes that he gets special messages from God and in that belief he continues to promote the idea that the Scriptures are not enough for people.

I hope that folks will look at this false teacher's life and see that his heresy is destructive to godliness, as Calvin asserts here. This section of the Institutes could have been a helpful corrective for Haggard, noting so clearly that the Spirit and the Word will never be divorced from one another, and that the way to hear the voice of God is to hear His Word. What an insult to Christ, His salvation, and His Word...

Calvin Book 1, Chapters 6-8

Throughout these chapters, Calvin is giving brilliant arguments for the divine inspiration of Scripture. He notes things such as the fact that Moses' contemporaries could have revolted against him for making up lies when he wrote that he did this or that, or that this supernatural event happened or that one. He also notes that the inclusion of self-incriminating facts lends great support to the idea that Moses was not merely writing lies. In other words, why include stories about your own blunders and weaknesses if you are trying to scare people into submission to you by writing lies? He answers those that think that too much time had elapsed between the supposed origin of the writings and today, by reminded us that Scripture itself records times in Israel's history of its own disuse. That is, it laid unused for decades and at different times God had to urge His people to pick it up again and guard it. Indeed Calvin notes that by the end of the Exile, hardly anyone knew Hebrew and therefore the extant copies of the ancient writings in Hebrew at that time gave witness to their antiquity...

...these and many more 'proofs' are catalogued by Calvin, and should be a source of comfort to believers that their God has miraculously preserved His Word for them and their edification, but Calvin also goes on here to argue that it is not these 'proofs' and arguments that prove the truthfulness of Scripture, but rather this is a persuasion that the Holy Spirit alone can give a person. God must open the heart-and He does so with His children-to 'hear Him'. A great quote in this regard is,

"...those who wish to prove to unbelievers that Scripture is the Word of God are acting foolishly, for only by faith can this be known." (1.8.13)

Happenings South of the Border, and Now, North of It...

I have a friend and former seminary classmate who is involved in training Special Forces and law enforcement agencies in hand-to-hand combat (while in seminary he foiled a would-be robber in a local store in Pittsburgh by breaking the perp's thumbs). He recently sent me an email explaining some of the reality behind the growing violence along the U.S./Mexico border. As most are aware, there are daily reports of grotesque mass murders to the tune of over 6,000 deaths in the Mexican border towns just last year. We continue to hear that these are "drug gangs" and that the local law enforcement and Mexican military is doing their best to fight them and get this under control. Well, has it ever concerned you that for all this "fire-power" the problem continues to escalate? Have you ever found yourself wonder just what kind of "gangs" these are that are able to walk all over the Mexican military? My friend's recent email explained a lot of this and I think it is important to get the word out.

We trained-that is, the U.S. by way of tax-payer's money trained-Mexican Special Forces at Ft. Benning here in the U.S. I believe the intention was good and noble, being that we would have an elite, U.S.-trained force on the Mexican side of the border, able to greatly hinder the drug smuggling into the U.S. But what has happen is that the drug cartels have bought these U.S.-trained, Mexican Special Forces and they are now aiding the smuggling of people and drugs into the United States. That is why they are basically operating unchecked in Northern Mexico and the Mexican military seems impotent to stop them. Here is a Wikipedia article that will basically back up everything I have said here, but with much more detail and documentation.

Also, and related, here is a report from MSNBC on the problem of Mexican Military incursions over the border onto U.S. soil. Two things about this are, 1) It is not from an overly biased source (e.g. FOX News), so keep in mind that this was reported through a "mainstream" outlet, and 2) Note that the female reporter that they are interviewing mentions the fact that there have been defections from the U.S.-trained, Mexican Special Forces to the drug cartels.

Many security analysts are contending that this growing problem along our southern border is a greater threat to the security of America than Al Qaeda.