Theological Tuesday

Our term for today is glorification.

Our appreciation of God’s grace will be increased if we understand glorification in relationship to the other aspects of our salvation. The salvation Christ won for us is applied to us in stages, rather than all at once. The first stage is effectual calling, when God, through the preaching of the gospel, inwardly and successfully summons the elect to faith. Effectual calling is given together with regeneration, the act of the Holy Spirit whereby He changes our sinful hearts into hearts that love and cherish Christ. Regeneration thus enables and causes the elect to respond to the Father’s call, and they do so in faith and repentance. God then, at the moment the elect believe, justifies them. Justification is a legal act of God in which He forgives our sins, gives to us the righteousness of Christ, and declares us righteous in His sight.

It is important to understand that in justification we are declared righteous, but not made righteous. He declares us righteous on the basis of what Christ did, not on the basis of any good thing that is in us. The aspect of our salvation in which we are continually made more and more righteous is called sanctification. Whereas justification is an instantaneous act of God in which we are declared righteous (rather than made righteous), sanctification is a process–a process in which we are actually made righteous.

At death God completes our sanctification, and so removes all of our sins from our hearts and makes us perfectly holy. But even though our sanctification is complete at death, our salvation is not yet complete because we are still without our glorified resurrection bodies. These are given in the final stage of the application of our salvation, which is glorification. Then our salvation will be fully applied to us, and we will live forever in the new heavens and new earth as glorified saints, enjoying all of the benefits of salvation that Christ won for us.
Our bodies will one day be raised! Christianity does not teach the immortality of the soul only–the belief that our bodies are like prisons, and thus death is a great blessing to liberate us from these prisons so that we can continue living forever as disembodied spirits. Rather, Christianity teaches the resurrection of the body. As the apostle’s creed says, “We believe in the resurrection of the body.” Our bodies are not prisons, but are part of who we are. Of course our souls will live forever. But they will live forever in our bodies, not apart from them.
This resurrection of our body will occur when Christ returns. We know this from the way Paul explains to us the marvelous event of glorification in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

What a great promise we have. What a great eternity is before those who are Christ.

The Infinite and the Finite

Here is a wonderful prayer from The Valley of Vision:

Thou Great I Am,
Fill my mind with elevation and granduer at the thought of a Being
with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,
A mighty God, who, amidst the lapse of worlds,
And the revolutions of empires,
feels no variableness,
But is glorious in immortality,
May I rejoice that, while men die, the Lord lives; that while all creatures are
broken reeds, empty cisterns, fading flowers, withering grass, he is the Rock
of Ages, the Fountain of living waters.
Turn my heart from vanity, from dissatisfactions, from uncertainties of the
present state, to an eternal interest in Christ.
Let me remember that life is short and unforeseen, and is only an opportunity
for usefulness;
Give me a holy avarice to redeem the time, to awake at every call to charity and
piety, so that I may feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant,
reclaim the vicious, forgive the offender, diffuse the gospel, show neighbourly
love to all.
Let me live a life of self-distrust, dependence on thyself, mortification, crucifixion,
prayer.

Philosophy Friday

The term for today is Pantheism. Pantheism is the view that God is identical with the cosmos, the view that there exists nothing which is outside of God, or else negatively as the rejection of any view that considers God as distinct from the universe.
Hinduism, Celtic spirituality, and Native American beliefs are three of many religions that hold pantheistic beliefs. In the last thirty years “New Age” beliefs have also held pantheistic beliefs.
The belief itself is rather fragmented in what is believed, and how it is practiced. Traditional theism believes and teaches the omnipresence of God. A view that states that God, as Creator, is everywhere, and oversees all things. Antithetically, pantheism states that God is everywhere in everything. As the Creator, there is no necessity for God to be in His creation.
Pantheists view the universe as infinite, but do not allow for an infinite deity as its creator. Well known figures who have espoused pantheism are Spinoza, Walt Whitman, D.H. Lawrence, and Einstein.

Theological Tuesday

Our term today is redemption. The word is derived from a Latin root meaning “to buy back,” thus meaning the liberation of any possession, object, or person, usually by payment of a ransom. In Greek the root word means “to loose” and so to free. The term is used of freeing from chains, slavery, or prison. In the theological context, the term “redemption” indicates a freeing from the slavery of sin, the ransom or price paid for freedom.
In the OT the object of God’s redemption is generally the people as a whole, or nation, rather than individuals. We see examples of this in Deuteronomy 15, and Exodus 6.
Christians believe that in Jesus we see the fulfillment of the OT redemptive concept. He was the substitutionary sacrifice for us on the cross. He was the sin offering(Romans 3). Redemption is by the giving of his life (Acts 20:28) for a purchased people (1 Pt 2:9; also 1 Cor 7:22–24; 2 Cor 5:14–17).
In other words, He was given as an atonement for our sin. He accomplished this by being born and living perfectly under the law, so that He would be the perfect sacrifice for us. His death, and our redemption, could not have happened unless He had first lived perfectly under the whole law. In this way, He was able to redeem His people.

Philosophical Friday

Our philosophical term for the day is naturalism. There are a variety of ways of defining naturalism. We will use the philosophical definition of “methodological naturalism”.
“Methodological Naturalism” asserts that religious commitments have no relevance within science-natural science itself requires no specific attitude to religion, and can be practiced just as well by adherents of religious faiths as by atheists or agnostics. Alvin Plantinga, a leading christian philosopher, disagrees with this definition. He believes that religious doctrines do make a difference to scientific practice, yet are defensible for all that.
The majority of contemporary philosophers would happily accept naturalism as just characterized—that is, they would both reject “supernatural” entities, and allow that science is a possible route (if not necessarily the only one) to important truths about the “human spirit”.
Proponents of naturalism in the early nineteenth century included John Dewey, Sidney Hook, and Ernest Nagel.

A Reminder: Read Old Books

Derek Brown is surveying some old classics that I have enjoyed over the years and I believe you will enjoy.  The book he focuses on is The Bruised Reed, by Richard Sibbes. Here is a small quote from Sibbes,

We will only prolong our depression and deepen our hesitancy to obey if we give up on doing good whenever we wrestle with our motives—or when godly affections appear to dissipate as we set about some service for Christ.

Read Old Books!

Theological Tuesday

Our theological word for the day is “imputation”. I will let the Westminster Confession of Faith define the term of the day.

Those whom God calls, He freely justifies “by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith” (WCF 11.1)

In other words, our righteousness is an alien righteousness. It comes from outside of us through Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. Paul wrote well on imputation in Romans 5, where he compares Adam and Jesus:

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.(v.19)

Our salvation and our righteousness come from the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We have nothing that we contribute to either in any way. However, there is an additional part to this salvation and this righteousness. Our sins our imputed to Christ when we are called to Him. Here is what Peter says in 2 Peter 2:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.(v.24)

Our sins our His, and His righteousness is ours. This is the gift of the cross. We receive eternal salvation, and our given Christ’s own righteousness. We have much to be thankful for through our savior’s life, death, and resurrection.

 

Nihilism

Nihilism is the belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc., have no worth or value. It also believes that a society’s political and social institutions are so bad that they should be destroyed. In the 20th century, nihilism encompassed a variety of philosophical and aesthetic stances that, in one sense or another, denied the existence of genuine moral truths or values, rejected the possibility of knowledge or communication, and asserted the ultimate meaninglessness or purposelessness of life or of the universe.

Friedrich Nietzsche argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history. “Nihilism is . . . not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one’s shoulder to the plough; one destroys” (Will to Power). In the twentieth century, it’s the atheistic existentialist movement, popularized in France in the 1940s and 50s, that is responsible for the currency of existential nihilism in the popular consciousness. Sartre, Camus, and Jean-Francois Lyotard combined their existentialism and post-modernism with nihilism to bring meaninglessness as a philosophy into our day.

Theology Tuesday

Our word for today is “sanctification“. Sanctification can mean two things:
1. To consecrate, or set apart for a sacred use or purpose
2.To purify, or make holy

The Shorter Catechism (Q. 35) gives a lucid definition: “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness” (see Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. 13).  Sanctification is a work of grace that is gradual and progressive. It relates to the conflict with and the victory over indwelling sin. There is a dying more and more unto sin and a living more and more unto righteousness.
Sanctification and justification differ in the following:
1. Their nature. Justification is a relative change in state; sanctification is a real change of the whole man.
2. Their order. Justification precedes sanctification, for imputed righteousness precedes implanted and inherent holiness.
3. Their matter. The matter of justification is the righteousness of Christ imputed. The matter of sanctification is an inherent righteousness communicated.
4. Their form. Justification is a judicial act by which the sinner is pronounced righteous. Sanctification is a moral act, or rather a series of acts, by which a change is effected in the qualities of the soul.
5. Their properties. Justification is perfect at first and is equal in all believers. Sanctification is imperfect at first and exists in different degrees of advancement in different individuals.
6. In justification we receive a title to heaven. Sanctification gives us a capacity of enjoying it.

Hebrews 12:23 speaks of the spirits of just men made perfect. As just men they went to heaven. There they were made perfect. So we see sanctification is completed at death. Christ is at the heart of sanctification. In Galatians 2:20 we see this clearly:

“…the life which I now live I live I live by faith in the Son of God.”

And Paul says the same thing in Romans 6 when he says we are to present our bodies as instruments of righteousness, according to our position in Christ. It is when we are able to understand this, and live in Christ, that true holy and sanctified living is possible.