Long Overdue

Posted: May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

Well, you may have realized that none of us have been blogging. I think between school and everything else we have all been quite busy! Right now, Grace Church is in conversation about starting a blog. For now, I am putting this blog on a bit of a hold and will update as soon as I can about what the future holds! Have a good one!

Collin

I Want Them Back

Posted: March 12, 2012 in Grace, Salvation

The God of the Bible is so astounding that sometimes I do not have words to thank Him for what He has done in Christ. I experience at least a little taste of what Paul must have felt when he said, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15). From this astounding picture of God in the Bible, I grieve over the picture of God I see so many paint of him today. Honestly, the modern picture of Jesus can be so unimpressive. It stirs no worship; it sustains no passion; it calls for no radical commitment.   

This evening, looking for something to watch on TV, I came across the movie Taken. This post isn’t a review of the movie, but rather a brief comment about the effectual work of Jesus, as I was reminded of it through an epic ending scene. In case you haven’t seen it, here is some plot info. If you are familiar with the plot, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. The plot of Taken, starring Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills consists of a young beautiful girl (Kim Mills) who travels overseas with a friend. Kim is young and naïve, unlike her father who is a retired CIA agent. He is the type of guy who eats excellence for breakfast and day dreams about how to enforce justice. He is in love with his daughter, but he and his wife are divorced. However, he has significantly reoriented his life to remain closer to his daughter. When his daughter brings up the desire to vacation overseas, he is against it, wanting to protect her. Eventually, she gets her way. In short, her and her friend arrive and are targeted by sex traffickers, kidnapped, and enslaved. The young girl is on the phone with her father when the kidnappers take her. He hears it all. He promises the kidnapper he is coming after him. As the viewer, you are sure he will win.

Fast forward. He finds his daughter at an auction where she is being sold. She is sold and he is able to follow her to a yacht where she is brought. He boards the yacht without permission. As he is moving through every obstacle between him and his precious girl, one of his obstacles is asked something like, “Who is this?” He answers with something to the effect, “It’s the girl’s father and he wants her back!

That line. Wow. What a picture of the gospel. I see pointers to the biblical gospel all over that. Yet at the same time, I grieve over the fact that so many Christians do not see God as the one who says, “He is mine, and I want him back!” Or, “She is mine, and I want her back!”

When God wants to do something, He does it. Nothing can stop Him from accomplishing that which He wants to do. Ps. 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Ps. 135:6 says, “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” By definition, God does what He wants to do. There is no power in heaven or on earth or in hell that can even begin to think about nudging Him.

This is good news, because the Bible paints our fallen state in a horrific light. Contrary to popular opinion, we are not good people. Most everyone will admit that no one is perfect, but most unbelievers will always admit that deep down, they are good. They would claim to know what is good and have the desire to choose what is good. But the Bible says nothing of the sort. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3 unpack the fallen, sinful state of everyone born:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Italics added).

Paul says that we are born dead (that is the paradox of all time). We are born spiritually dead, totally bent on evil all the time (Gen. 6:5; 8:21). Now notice how Paul describes this “dead” condition. He says dead sinners live according to their own passions and desires. The passions and desires are directly in accordance with Satan (the “prince of the power of the air”). Everyone is only free to do what they ultimately, most supremely want to do. And dead sinners, one of which I used to be, can only live out their passions for evil continually. Deep down, no one is born good. Deep down, in the fallen state, everyone loves evil. They delight in the bad.

This state of spiritual deadness has massive implications for what we need in order to be made God’s sons and daughters. It means we do not merely need help, but rather complete, total resurrection. Today, so many people paint a picture of God as a kind, nice, gentleman in heaven who is sitting back, sweating bullets hoping that people will “Choose Jesus!” It is a picture of God that says Jesus died to merely offer salvation to all people, rather than actually save anyone. The cross is only effective if you make it effective they say. But is that what the Bible says? Are we saved by grace alone, or by grace plus some willful decision, or work, of ours? The last time I checked, I am saved completely by what God has done for me, not what I can do with God’s help.  

We do not need Jesus to merely offer himself, what so many teach that he does. We need Jesus to actually rescue us. Jesus does not offer a rescue; He actually rescues. There is a massive difference between those two ideas. The first one says that Jesus swims over to drowning people and asks if they want to swim over to him for safety; it says he throws himself out there like a neutral, floating life preserver, asking people to swim over to him if they want. But this is not in line with Eph. 2, because that passage says that no one is “drowning” but rather everyone is dead, lying on the ocean floor; lifeless. The second statement is the one in accordance with the Scriptures. Jesus is the Rescuer who goes to the ocean floor, brings up the dead bodies, and breathes life into them.

But this means that when Jesus brings us to the faith, he overcomes our dead state. Our dead state is that we are very much alive in our evil wills. This means he must overcome our evil wills. This is exactly what came into my head with I was watching Neeson breaking through to his daughter. I literally thought of God, overcoming my will to rescue me from myself. In my dead state, I fought hard against God. But who wins? Do I sit in the heavens and do as I please, or does God? Did God listen to my will, the will that always chose evil and never chose Him? No He didn’t! He loved me too much to listen to me when I said, “Stay away!” He loved me too much to say, “He is mine, and I hope he comes back one day!” God loved me in such a way that he came to me and changed my will. He didn’t force me. He exerted more power than that. He opened my eyes to my sinful, guilty state. Then he showed me Christ, who sufficiently forgives me and satisfies me eternally (2 Cor. 4:4-6).

I am totally unimpressed by the modern, distorted view of God that says he merely offers salvation; that Jesus died, hoping someone would accept His cross. That means He died in vain for all those who do not accept the cross. The God of the Bible is far more captivating. He doesn’t merely offer, or invite, but rather he chooses and then accomplishes the salvation of the elect. He will stop at nothing to save those whom he chooses to have mercy upon. If you trust Christ, know that he stopped at nothing to get you! God is the good Father who said of me and all whom He has chosen, “They are mine, and I want them back!” And indeed, He has redeemed saved many and is still in the business! 

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—” (Eph. 2:4-5).

Courageous vs. Cowardly Community

Posted: March 11, 2012 in Community

I want a community centered on knowing and making Jesus known
vs.
I want a community centered on knowing me and making me known

I lay my life down for the good of my brothers and sisters
vs.
I lay my brother’s and sister’s lives down for my gain

I show up to give to others
vs.
I show up to take from others

When I see weaknesses in my community, I seek to help foster growth
vs.
When I see weaknesses in my community, I find a new, “better” one

I believe there is freedom to disagree on nonessential differences
vs.
I believe everyone should agree with my words as essential truth

I work hard for unity in the church
vs.
I find a new church in the face of disagreement 

I humbly recognize I contribute to the imperfections of my community
vs.
I don’t understand that I’m a part of the reason my church isn’t perfect

I look for ways to serve
vs.
I look for ways I’m not being served enough

I show up even when I don’t feel like it
vs.
I’m flaky at best

I want to encounter God on Sunday morning
vs.
I’d rather have a certain structure to Sunday, even if there isn’t room for God

Large Scale Russian Roulette

Posted: March 1, 2012 in Abortion

The “Journal of Medical Ethics” recently posted an article promoting after-birth abortion. The Gospel Coalition posted a summary of the article: “Since it is currently permissible to kill prenatal children because they are only potential persons and do not have full moral status, then we should be able to kill postnatal children for the same reason.”

While I was appalled through the entire article and had a lot to say, I want to focus on one main problem (if “problem” isn’t the understatement of the century). You should read the whole article and when you do, make sure you do not miss this quickly passed over point. The bottom line argument is that a newborn is a human, but not a person. Humans, by definition, do not have the right to life, but persons do. Therefore, newborns, not yet considered persons, do not have the right to life. First of all, the arrogance in saying you can define what it means to be a person is unbelievable. Evidently they have it in their power to determine who is a person and who is ‘OK’ to kill. I am not saying we can’t know what it means to be a person. We can and do in the Bible. What I am saying is that we do not make up the definition of personhood; God does. This is what Hitler did. He made up the definition of who should live and die in society.

However, following their line of arguing, the question immediately surfaces, when does a newborn become a person? Obviously, the importance of this question cannot be overstated. If I had a gun to your head right now, and said I would not be immoral in killing you if you were not a person, what would be the next thing I would necessarily have to know to make sure I didn’t act immorally? It is simple: I would need to know whether or not you were a person. If I was in limbo about that, I probably shouldn’t pull the trigger, for fear that I may be immoral in my killing. So, if killing a person is immoral according to the philosophers, they need to know when a baby becomes a person, so they don’t kill them immorally. Is it at conception? Right after birth? A week after birth? They need to know when.

Thus, the all important question that can’t go overstated is, “When do newborns become persons?” Let’s hear what the philosophers have to say…

“Our point here is that…it is hard to exactly determine when a subject starts or ceases to be a ‘person’…”

“First, we do not put forward any claim about the moment at which after-birth abortion would no longer be permissible…”

Yes, you read that correctly. They have a ballpark-type answer. It is hard to “exactly determine” it. First, they give their definition of personhood. Then, they say that neurologists and psychologists alone can figure out when “personhood” is happening. Even the neurologists and psychologists, can they know exactly when a baby has passed into the “person” realm, defined by the philosophers? Can they see brain activity that equals their definition of personhood? At best, their reasoning here is equal to Russian Roulette. Only this game deals not with one person pointing the gun at themselves, but millions of persons pointing the gun at millions of helpless babies.

Can you imagine if we reasoned like this in normal life?

You walk up to the demolition guy about to detonate explosives in a building being torn down. You ask, “Are there any persons in there?” He answers, “It is hard to exactly determine when the building is completely empty of all personhood. We do not put forward any claim about the moment at which the building is empty. We usually figure out when it is in our best interest to blow it up, and then we just do it. Anymore questions?”

In everyday life, we would be appalled by this kind of reasoning. If we lived by it, people would die left and right merely because we were too self-consumed to care about the lives of others.

The title of this article should be “Playing Russian Roulette on Other People, Rather than Yourself”.

I am truly thankful that the grace of God in Christ is sufficient for these philosophers, as it is for me.

To learn more about how people view abortion in society, and the reality of abortion, check out the hit documentary ‘180’. It currently has 2,472,839 views on YouTube. You can watch it here: www.180movie.com

Islam…a Religion of Peace?

Posted: February 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Skip to 9:20 to listen to Pastor Mark Driscoll address abortion. I couldn’t stop listening…

http://marshill.com/media/luke/mary-elizabeth

 

John Piper Endorses ‘180’

Posted: January 24, 2012 in Abortion