Monthly Archives: March 2009

Forthcoming Calvin 500 Titles

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In the year the John Calvin’s 500th anniversary of his birth is being celebrated all over the world, I am looking forward to some titles due to come out in conjunction with the anniversary celebration:

 

Ford Lewis Battles, The Piety of John Calvin: A Collection of His Spiritual Prose, Poems and Hymns (P&R [reprint])

 

Frans Breukelman, The Structure of Sacred Doctrine in Calvin’s Theology (Eerdmans)

 

 Sung Wook Chung, editor, John Calvin and Evangelical Theology: Legacy and Prospect (Westminster/John Knox)

 

Machiel Van Den Berg, Calvin and His Friends (Eerdmans)

 

Martin Hirzel and Martin Smallman, editors, John Calvin’s Impact on Church and Society, 1509-2009 (Eerdmans)

 

Anthony N. S. Lane,  A Reader’s Guide to Calvin’s Institutes (Baker Academic)

 

W. Robert Godfrey, John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor (Crossway)

 

You might also enjoy the recently released, John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life, by Herman Selderhuis (IVP Academic)

 

 

Calvin Catechism: Fri March 27 Q 86: Comfort in the Coming of Christ

Fri March 27 Q 86: Comfort in the Coming of Christ

 


86. Does the fact that Christ is to come gain to judge the world bring us any consolation?
Yes, indeed. For we are certain that He will appear only for our salvation.


A very consistent idea in Scripture is that God will not sweep away the righteous as he does the wicked. Instead the Lord will distinguish his elect from the sons of the Evil One:

 

Gen 18:23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?   25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

Ps 1:5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

 

I Cor 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 

Phil 3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Without this distinction between the Lord’s own and the wicked, all persons ever born would perish, for we all come into this world in the likeness of the original transgressor, Adam. But we are sure that we will not perish, but be distinguished from the wicked, because of the work of Christ for us.

 

The return of Christ our King will bring about a terrible end for his enemies. But it means that we will be swept away into his presence, among the assembly of the righteous, into the kingdom of God, receiving the fullness of our citizenship from our Savior, which will include vindication. In this we find comfort in the coming of the Judge. May you come quickly, Lord Jesus!

 

 

 

 

 On Facebook.

 

 

NYT Science Page: Jurassic Sea Preditor: The Wonder of God’s Creation

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“Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

The New York Times Science page reported of the findings of “Preditor X,” mentioning also a special to appear on the History Channel. Reading the report and seeing the HC video clip reminded me of how small I am before the Creator. For, if this “Preditor X” is not Levianthan – and I am not saying it is – than woe to him who questions the sovereign goodness of the one who can stick a hook in the nose of Leviathan–that unknown creature even greater than Preditor X. Job is right: we all should bow in dust and ashes.

I also am reminded of the great chapter in, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, on “The Pleasure of God in His Creation.”  About 18 years ago the illustration on the revelation of God in the creation from an article in Ranger Rick started to open my eyes to new wonders about our God. I have clipped a portion of the sermon-printed version from desiringgod.org and pasted in below. May we all read and marvel at the works of the Almighty!

It seems to me that creation praises God by simply being what it was created to be in all its incredible variety. And since most of the creation is beyond the awareness of mankind (in the reaches of space, and in the heights of mountains and at the bottom of the sea), it wasn’t created merely to serve purposes that have to do with us. It was created for the enjoyment of God.

Ranger Rick arrives in our house. I open it and read about the European water spider that lives at the bottom of a lake, but breathes air. It does a somersault on the surface of the water and catches a bubble of air, and holds it over the breathing holes in the middle of its body while it swims to the bottom of the lake and spins a silk web among the seaweed. Then it goes up and brings down bubble after bubble until a little balloon of air is formed where it can live and eat and mate.

I sit there with my mouth open and I think God smiles and says, “Yes, John, and I have been enjoying that little piece of art for 10,000 years before anybody on earth knew it existed. And if you only knew how many millions of other wonders there are beyond your sight that I behold with gladness everyday!”

Right here in our text, Psalm 104:25-26 it says,

Yonder is the sea, great and wide, which teems with things innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan which thou didst form to sport in it.

Why did God create great sea monsters? Just to play, to frolic, in the ocean where no man can see but only God. The teeming ocean declares the glory of God, and praises him a hundred miles from any human eye. That’s the second statement about why God rejoices in his works.

See also this National Geographic post.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Stem Cells, Washing Machines, Feminism, Obama

kathryn-lopezNRO Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez as written a good piece on contemporary feminism entitled, “Stem Cells, Washing Machines, and Women’s Lib.” Here is an excerpt:

But back from the eggs to the washing machines — a story in which the hot-button hyperbole has almost totally obscured the facts. The mass media have accused the Vatican of asserting that washing machines have done more for women’s lib than affordable birth control. In truth, the ruckus arose from an opinion piece (written by a woman) in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. The title, in the most commonly cited English translation, was: “The Washing Machine and the Liberation of Women — Put in the Detergent, Close the Lid and Relax.” Addressing the question of what 20th-century phenomenon did the most for women, the author wrote, “The debate is heated. Some say the pill, some say abortion rights and some the right to work outside the home. Some, however, dare to go further: the washing machine.”

If you think she is crazy, you should know there are a lot of us who buy into that line of thinking. I wrote a piece years ago titled “How Birth Control Changed America for the Worst.” And with every Yaz birth-control-pill commercial in primetime, I become more convinced. Women weren’t liberated when they were told they could act like men sexually, because anyone who lives in the real world knows that biologically and practically, such a thing is impossible. And if you doubt that, watch Jennifer Aniston’s character in He’s Just Not That into You. It was the sexual revolution that made her misery possible — living into her 40s with a guy who didn’t have to think about real commitment thanks to the Pill. If you think that’s just a movie, talk to the girls coming out of the theater after any showing. They’ll tell you it just about perfectly depicts the social scene they live with in 2009 America.

Calvin Catecism: Sat Mar 14 Q 72

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Sat Mar 14 Q 72: The End of Evil Within


72. Do we not have any other benefit from it?
Yes, we do. If we are true members of Christ, our old man is crucified, our flesh is mortified, so that evil desires no longer reign in us.  

 

The Biblical imagery of the end of sin in us is of a man who has been crucified. Our Adamic ways have been nailed to a cross, left to asphyxiate and die in shame. Yet the Biblical command requires of us (by grace) to crucify the “flesh:”

 

Rom 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 

 

Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

 

Wisely, the catechism recognizes “true members of Christ,” who, as Paul says, “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24). Evil may be with us, following as one crucified hoping to be revived by a failure on our part to appropriate the Cross/the Gospel to all of life – that is, to live by grace in the power of the Spirit. But believers no longer allow evil or sin to stand in the ruling position (Rom 6:12). Only Christ rules in the lives of believers for only Christ is their King. When temptation to evil comes, we must go back to the Cross and leave the “old man” there with Christ.

 

 

Recommended Reading: The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin by Kris Lundgaard, and The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges.

 

Equipped For Life Broadcast and Engagements

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Thank you to Pastor Christopher Brooks, apologist, Senior Pastor of Evangel Ministries and host of Equipped For Life Radio Broadcast, for inviting me to join his show today. Soon the broadcast will be archived here. For today’s listeners, information on the book can be found at the Where Are All The Brothers? page tab above. The book can be purchased here.

In addition to today’s broadcast, I will be speaking at the following events:

March 28, Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference, Fredericksburg, VA

April 2-4, Southwest Christian Fellowship Men’s Retreat, Atlanta, GA

April 24-26, Los Angeles Bible School Men’s Conference, Los Angeles, CA

May 20, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Fourth Night–Wednesday Adult Bible Study, Bethesda, MD (make up from January 28 snow date)

June 22, Paterson Sovereignty of God Conference, Paterson, NJ

Stem Cells and the Case for Life (From the Crossway Blog)

case-for-lifeWith President Obama’s executive order repealing the policy that limited federal tax dollars for stem cell research, this month’s publication of Scott Klusendorf’s The Case for Life couldn’t be more timely.

Klusendorf is the president of Life Training Institute, where he trains pro-life advocates to persuasively defend their views. Join us as he discusses the controversy of stem cell research as it relates to the pro-life position:

1. What are stem cells and why are  scientists eager to use them in treating disease?
Stem cells are fast growing, unspecialized cells that can reproduce themselves and grow new organs for the body. All 210 different types of human tissue originate from these primitive  cells. Because they have the potential to grow into almost any kind of tissue—including nerves, bones, and muscle, scientists believe that the introduction of healthy stem cells into a patient may restore lost function to damaged  organs, especially the brain.

2. Why is stem cell research focused, at  least in part, on embryos?
Human embryos have an abundant supply of stem cells which scientists are eager to harvest in hopes of treating Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other illnesses. The practice of  securing these early cells is known as embryonic stem cell research (ESCR).  The problem is that you must destroy the embryo to secure its stem cells.

3. Does that mean Christians should oppose all stem cell research?
Absolutely not. Pro-life advocates agree that we should save lives. We also support funding stem-cell research. But, we’re opposed to one kind of stem-cell research that requires destroying  defenseless human embryos so that other humans may (allegedly) benefit. That’s immoral.

4. The President and others have stated that embryonic stem cell research is morally complex. Do you agree?
Despite claims to the contrary, ESCR is not morally complicated. It comes down to just one question: Is the embryo a member of the human family? If so, killing it to benefit others is a serious  moral wrong. It treats the embryonic human being as a commodity we trade to  enhance our own well being. If, however, the embryos in question are not  human, why not put them in the crosshairs of scientists? Unfortunately, that is precisely the question President Obama ignored when he signed an executive order designating federal funds for destructive embryo research.

5. What about the claim that embryos leftover in fertility clinics are going to die anyway, so why not put them to  good use saving lives?
True, they will die—because people want to kill them for research! Nevertheless, a 2004 study shows that most of these embryos are still wanted by their parents (who pay high fees to store them). And unless Congress wants to override parental rights, few are truly available for research.

Moreover, there are moral considerations that call into question “they’re going to die anyway” argument. Suppose you oversee a Cambodian orphanage with 200 toddlers that are abandoned. The  facility cannot care for them any longer. Water levels are critically low and food supplies are exhausted. It’s only a matter of time before starvation and disease set in. A scientist has offered to take the toddlers off your hands and use them for grisly medical research designed to cure cancer. He confronts you with the hard facts: Many of these children will die soon and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it, so why let all those organs go to waste? Nonetheless, you refuse. You could never, even for a moment, consider turning  the kids over to the scientist on grounds that “these kids are going to die anyway so let’s put them to good use.” True, given your impoverished  circumstances, you are powerless to save them, but you would never be complicit in actively killing vulnerable human beings, which is what ESCR  does.

Of course, there are many other examples to consider. In short, unless one begins with the assumption that the embryos in question are not human beings, the “they’re  gonna die anyway” claim doesn’t work. All of us are going to die sometime. Do those of us who will die later have the right to kill and exploit those who will die sooner? So once again, we’re back to the question we started with:  What are these “excess” embryos? If they are human beings, I see only one morally acceptable option: Wait for adoptive parents.

6. President Obama said that ideology should  not interfere with science. What do you make of that claim?

Well, the claim that ideology should not get in the way of science is itself an ideological claim, and a highly controversial one at that. I found this the most troubling part of his speech. If he is correct that scientific progress trumps morality, one can hardly condemn Hitler for grisly medical experiments on Jews. Nor can one criticize the Tuskegee experiments of the 1940s in which black men suffering from syphilis were promised treatment, only to have it denied so scientists could study the disease. Pro-life advocates are not anti-science. We are not anti-cures. We just insist that scientific progress must be tied to moral truth.

7. You claimed in a previous interview that the President presented the nation with a false choice: medical progress versus moral considerations.

That’s exactly what he did. Not only is embryonic stem cell research immoral, but it may be unnecessary. First, numerous  peer-reviewed studies indicate that adult stem cells are more effective at treating disease than previously thought. Unlike embryo stem cell research, we can extract these adult cells without harming the donor. Critics of the pro-life view, like the late actor Christopher Reeve, insist that these adult cells won’t work. However, the evidence suggests just the opposite. So far, adult stem cells are outperforming their embryonic counterparts.

Second, new research suggests we can pursue embryo cell treatments in morally acceptable ways. Altered Nuclear Transfer (or ANT) is one new technology which seeks a morally acceptable means of producing pluripotent stem cells (the functional equivalent of embryonic stem cells) without the creation and destruction of human embryos. Instead, researchers will use biological entities that have some of the properties of  embryos, but are not living organisms. In 2007, researchers in Japan and the United States, using slightly different methods, successfully coaxed ordinary adult skin cells to function just like pluripotent embryonic ones. This remarkable breakthrough demonstrated that pluripotent cells can be obtained without destroying human embryos. This should come as thrilling news for everyone in the cloning debate intent on using embryo cells.

8. President Obama said he would strictly forbid using federal funds for reproductive cloning. The headlines even said, “Obama Says No to Cloning!” Did the President ban cloning?

Here’s what’s going on. Advocates of ESCR, including the President, want us to distinguish “therapeutic cloning” from “reproductive” cloning. But the distinction is misleading because all cloning is reproductive. So-called “reproductive” cloning means allowing the cloned human to live. “Therapeutic” cloning means creating him for research, but killing him before  birth. In either case, the act of cloning is exactly the same and results in a  living human embryo.

To learn more and be equipped to engage our culture in this area, check out Scott Klusendorf’s new book, The Case for Life. Or, it may be of interest to listen to Scott as he makes a compelling pro-life case without appeal to a particular religious position.

From the Crossway Blog. Pick up an ESV Study Bible while you are at the blog.