A Very Happy & Blessed Christmas

Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord

Heb 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
Heb 10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Heb 10:7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'”
Heb 10:8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),
Heb 10:9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.
Heb 10:10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Rembrandt, 1632
Rembrandt, 1632 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brian Cox demonstrates non-neutral presuppositions

English: Professor Brian cox at Science Foo camp
English: Professor Brian cox at Science Foo camp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s quite a spread in this weeks (26th Jan – 1st Feb) Radio Times (Weekly TV & Radio Schedule magazine) on Professor Brian Cox AKA to celebrate his new BBC series ‘Wonders of Life’. A few paragraphs below from the article show how anyone can be blind to their own presuppositions. Brian Cox demonstrates non-neutral presuppositions, and he does it so well it was worth a Blog post all on it’s own.

‘Creationists will almost certainly say his new series is rubbish, but Cox sees little point in even trying to engage with them. “If you don’t accept evidence then there’s no real point in having a discussion. Because what am I going to say? I’m just going to say, ‘Well, first of all, you have to learn to accept evidence.’ I don’t see any issue with religious scientists; I don’t share their view myself, but it’s not logically inconsistent.” The notion that the world was created 6,000 years ago, on the other hand – “that’s just absolute drivel at every level”.

Which are more bonkers, does he think – creationists or astrologists? “In a way, astrology is less annoying, because I see it as part of the entertainment business and therefore it’s not particularly problematic. But the sensible answer is they’re both equally so. It’s the ability to dismiss evidence that I get irritated about, against my better judgment, because I’d rather not. I mean, obviously there are people who think crazy things. But it does annoy me.”

Any letters of complaint from viewers who don’t believe in evolution will “go straight in the bin”. If the rest of us love Wonders of Life, though, he will take almost no personal credit, instead putting his popularity down to the role of public service broadcasting. It’s a positively Reithian argument, of which I’m pretty sure Attenborough himself would approve.’

Once again an Atheist just assumes his own bias is the correct one. Creationists (belief in a Creator) I know that are scientists examine the evidence but come to a different interpretation of that evidence. He just throws out the phrase but it has so much poured into it – as he tries to take the evidential high ground. But the high ground is already occupied by the Creator.

There’s so much wrong with the above paragraphs that it almost impossible to engage with them in the limited time I have available. I mean, unless he can accept his own presuppositions on how he uses and interprets evidence there’s ‘little point in even trying to engage with’ him.

NGC_4414_(NASA-med)For the record I struggle with the age of the earth and do find it difficult to reconcile what is observable with a young earth. I find there are problems with both young and old earth (Creationists) creation accounts. But what I would expect to find is unanimity on the special creation of Adam & Eve and that God did in fact create the ‘Heavens and the Earth’ even though there are differences over the mechanism He used. I would also expect to find agreement with several other Christian doctrines such as The Trinity, The Fall, Jesus, The Resurrection of Jesus, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, the reality of Heaven and of Hell, of Final Judgement, of Original Sin and the doctrine of Total Depravity, Justification by Faith Alone and many others. Given this list what does Brian mean by ‘religious’. I’m sure he will not mean any of these. What I suspect he will mean is some fairly insipid wet version, if at all of Christianity that he can easily dismiss and control – which is not Christian at all!

One problem with the article is that we just don’t know how many revisions it has gone through and how much is left of what the good doctor actually said. I do grant this.

And why doesn’t Brian ever say where it all came from. He talks about the wonders of the stars, how we are all made of star-dust but never once have I heard him say where it all came from. How did it all start Brian. I suppose it must have come from nothing and we all know that’s impossible. Given his own materialistic worldview how exactly does he explain the origin of life. If there was a spark where did the spark come from? Where did the primordial soup come from and who is the cook? Atheists can’t answer these questions but instead try to dismiss the God of the bible with a dismissive ‘show me your evidence’.

The Bible has a thing to say about evidence. And it’s found in the New Testament, Chapter 1 of Romans:

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

In other words God has made it EVIDENT. But people choose in their rebellion against God to suppress that evidence. So we bring evidence on the basis of what God has said. And the only comeback from an atheist when boiled right down is ‘I disagree’ I prefer my own opinion. And that’s it. It’s not science in the end no matter how it’s presented. it’s a conflict of worldviews, a conflict of authority.

Presuppositional Apologetics – Begging the Question

English: Dr. Greg L. BahnsenIf I were to drive in a 6 inch nail it would take me a few blows to do it. Trying to get Presuppositional Apologetics into my brain is very similar and when a concept gets driven home – by many blows – it seems like a good idea to post on it to test my own understanding. This way I have to try to explain it simply to myself and you the reader.

I’ve been listening to Greg Bahnsen (many times) and have recently started reading his ‘Always Ready’ book (Kindle) on defending the faith. So here’s my initial attempt an explanation of how the method used is consistent with the conclusion to be reached. Suppose I seek to prove to you the Lordship of Jesus – because He is Lord. I presuppose His Lordship in order to reach my conclusion – Jesus is Lord. This is sometimes called ‘Begging the Question’ (or petitio principii, “assuming the initial point”). But suppose someone else comes along and seeks to prove there is no such thing as the Christian God. Are they not also ‘Begging the Question’? What is this person to assume at the start of his investigation – there is no such thing as the Christian God. The conclusion – no Christian God. But the Atheist might well then retreat into a ‘neutral’ position and assume Agnosticism. But this is just to try to slide into a place that in the end confesses no more than ignorance – though it would be ‘sold’ as being really smart.

English: Richard Dawkins giving a lecture base...The arch Atheist Richard Dawkins pours scorn on the Christian and yet says he does not know (6.9). Never mind begging the question this is called ‘trying to have your cake and eat it’. Is someone, anyone, going to tell me Richard Dawkins does not already assume what he’s trying to prove – that is, the Christian God is a figment of our imagination. And if it (the Bible) might just be true ( even 0.1 of 7.00) then why go to the trouble of name-calling Christians at almost every opportunity. (I have a theory about why but I’ll share it in another post.)

The Queen’s Christmas Speech 2011

Last evening at church our Pastor mentioned in his sermon the Queen’s speech (Elizabeth II) and how she had very strongly mentioned The Lord Jesus Christ. Wanting to check it out for myself I can confirm The Queen, contrary to many a spineless politician, spoke of Christ as a unique person. And in the context it’s not possible to interpret unique in the sense that we are all unique but clearly that Jesus is the Saviour and is Christ The Lord. There can only be one Lord – and It’s Jesus. You will find the full text of her speech HERE. But I’ve taken the liberty of posting the last few paragraphs below. To be honest I’m not really a Monarchist (I like the history though) but from the speech below we perhaps do have a Monarch whose faith truly is in Christ. Here’s a high-profile figure not afraid, or bound by ridiculous political correctness, diversity or intolerant tolerance to speak of faith in Christ and her own need of a Saviour and of forgiveness. God bless you.

Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

‘For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed.

God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,

Descend to us we pray.

Cast out our sin

And enter in.

Be born in us today.

It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

The Gospel Simply Stated

I’m going to assume my ‘audience’ is someone with very little knowledge of the Christian faith and what they do ‘know’ is probably wrong or hopelessly skewed in the wrong direction. Imagine you are in a lift or something or time is short and you only have a few moments to impart the Christian Gospel. What would you say. I’m not addressing the incredible fact that God the Holy Spirit can use anything – even our foolishness and errors to bring people to Himself. However, we do have a responsibility to impart His message as it is the ordinary means by which He saves. Here’s my first attempt. To be honest it isn’t easy. 100 words doesn’t go very far. Feel free to comment. Have I met the criteria. Can it be done? If you are not a Christian reading this – what do you think? I could do it in fewer words, ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’ (Acts 16.31). That’s not the challenge though.

The Gospel Message in 100 Words

The Bible is a message from the Creator of all things. God gave a command to Adam & Eve, the first humans, but they rebelled and evil entered the world destroying a perfect relationship. Their offspring through the ages, us, also have this sinful nature. God must judge us when we die because of our wicked nature. But God is so full of love that He sent a rescuer. This Saviour had to die a terrible death as a substitute. His name is Jesus, and everyone calling upon Him for help and forgiveness will be rescued and taken to heaven.

Bible Study Notes – God

I’ve not posted anything for quite some time. So, it might be profitable to post my notes from a few bible studies. Anyway, here’s the first one on ‘God’. The studies  were very discussion based.

The Shared and Unshared Attributes of God:

Unshared attributes = “Incommunicable” attributes:  Those characteristics of God that are unique to him, and are not also characteristics of His creatures.

These include:

Self-existence;     “Solitariness”;      Independence;     Unity;     Trinity;     Sovereignty;        Unchangeableness;     Infinity;    Omnipresence;        Omnipotence;    Omniscience;

Shared attributes = “Communicable” attributes:  The attributes that we share by being made in God’s image.

These include:

Spirituality; Knowledge; Wisdom;      Truthfulness;     Holiness;     Love;     Mercy;     Wrath;     Will;     Freedom;     Beauty;

‘We must understand, again, that insofar as we are created in God’s image, the separation between His incommunicable and communicable attributes is not razor-sharp or absolute:  there is a “flavor” of all of them in us.’

God is “eternal”…not in time….but we are immortal, extending infinitely through time in one direction.

God has three persons in his nature, but we have one person in ours.  We are both personal.

We have knowledge, but God has all knowledge.

Except for self-existence, no incommunicable attribute is completely unshared by us, and no communicable attribute is shared fully by us.

The subject this evening is GOD. But, not just any God – obvious I know, but we are speaking of the God of the Bible. The ideas we have of God are not to be our own thoughts. We may not like the idea of a Wrathful God but it’s not for us to make an image that’s more appealing.

‘The being of God is characterised by a depth, a fullness, a variety, and a glory far beyond our comprehension, and the Bible represents it as a glorious harmonious whole, without any inherent contradictions. And this fullness of life finds expression in no other way than in the perfections of God.’ (Berkhof, p42.)

Three phrases there that may help us: ‘The being of God’ ‘a glory far beyond our comprehension’ ‘the Bible represents it as a glorious harmonious whole’

The attributes of God are usually divided into ‘Communicable’ and ‘Incommunicable’. Can we say what the ‘Incommunicable’ attributes are?

His Immutability, Eternity & Infinity.

What about the ‘Communicable’ attributes? I’m not sure if this going to come up when we get to the study of man – illustrates how integrated all these doctrines are!

God is:

The Creator God – Creator / Creature distinction. He is other than us. He does not need us. We are, and always will be creatures. Only God is eternal needing nothing outside of His own being. We are entirely dependent. We’ll see more of this when we look at the Trinity in a few weeks time.

God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything,

  • Also called the “self-existence” of God.
  • Acts 17:24-28       Ps 50:10-12
  • Did God create us because He was lonely?  John 17:5     John 17:24
  • He alone is independent; all else depends upon Him:  Rev 4:11     John 1:3     Rom 11:35-36     1 Cor 8:6     Ps 90:2
  • The most fundamental, self-given name of God asserts his self-existence:  I AM THAT I AM.  Ex 3:14  He alone determines who he is; He alone really IS;  He is being.
  • God necessarily exists, and we do not.  Our existence depends on His; His existence depends on nothing.  There is one Creator; everything else is Creature.
  • This is the most fundamental difference between God and everything and everyone else. It sets Him apart utterly.
  • Gen 1:1     Eph 1:11
  • Do our praises add anything to God’s glory?  Neh 9:5    Job 35:7,8     Luke 17:10     Is 40:15-18, 22-23     I Tim 6:16

The Covenant God – It is He that has made a Covenant and bound Himself to its requirements. The Covenant is grounded in His character and attributes. The promises of God are Yes & Amen.

The God of Providence – follows on from being the Creator. Nothing is outside of His own Sovereignty. Q. Do we really understand and apply this character of God to our own lives and worship Him for who He is? (See The Heidelberg Catechism below)

He is the Self Disclosing God – Despite the fact that he does not need us, He has chosen to reveal Himself and to manifest His Glory, His Grace, His Love, His Mercy, His Peace, His Wrath, and many other characteristics. Were He to remain silent then we would be (un)blissfully unaware. Interestingly, Schaeffer makes the point that our failures actually point to God. This is consistent with His own Word – Romans 1

There’s an important Apologetic aspect to this: God has revealed Himself to everyone. Romans 1:19–20 (NAS)19) because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made,

Rom 1:19  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

Rom 1:20  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (ESV)

He is a personable God – He may be known. We do not just know about Him but may actually know Him.

All of these attributes and characteristics point us to the obvious truth that we are talking about the God of Scripture and not just ‘God’.

Having looked at these things very briefly it would be profitable to read out a couple of Q & A from the ‘The Heidelberg Catechism’

The Solitariness of God – Exodus 15:11

The Decrees of God – Acts 15:18

The Knowledge of God – Heb. 4:13

The Foreknowledge of God – Acts 2:23

The Supremacy of God – 1 Chron. 29:11, 12

The Sovereignty of God – Dan. 4:35

The Immutability of God – Mal. 3:6

The Holiness of God – Rev. 15:4

The Power of God – Ps. 62:11

The Faithfulness of God – Lam. 3:22, 23

The Goodness of God – Ps. 136:25

The Patience of God – 2 Pet. 3:9

The Grace of God – Eph. 2:8,9

The Mercy of God – Ps. 136:1

The Loving-kindness of God – 36:7

The Love of God – John 3:16

The Love of God to Us – Ephesians 2:4

The Wrath of God – Rom. 1:18

The Contemplation of God – Job 11:7-9

The Bounties of God – Matthew 22:4

The Gifts of God – Isaiah 9:6

The Guidance of God – Proverbs 3:5

The Blessings of God – Proverbs 10:22

The Cursings of God – Jer. 17:5

The Gospel of the Grace of God – Acts 20:24

‘Although the purpose of this page is to give an overview of the Attributes of God, I must apologize because this table is not even “the fringes of His ways and how faint a word we hear of Him!” (Job 26:14) As Horner has written “There can be no condensed learning of God; the very thought is an insult to His transcendent majesty. Rather we have to learn…what it is to slow down and meditate on the truth of His Being, to ruminate over, to ingest and digest the revelations concerning His holy character, to wonder overwhelmingly, to “be still [cease striving] and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10)’ (from CARM website)

Compare this with Allah (probably requires a more detailed post)

Question 26. What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?

Answer: That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; (a) who likewise upholds and governs the same by his eternal counsel and providence) (b) is for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father; (c) on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but he will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body (d) and further, that he will make whatever evils he sends upon me, in this valley of tears turn out to my advantage; (e) for he is able to do it, being Almighty God, (f) and willing, being a faithful Father. (g) (**The letters in the answers refer to the Bible verse but they take up too much space to put in here.)

Question 27. What dost thou mean by the providence of God?

Answer: The almighty and everywhere present power of God; (a) whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs (b) heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, (c) fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, (d) riches and poverty, (e) yea, and all things come, not by chance, but be his fatherly hand. (f)

Question 28. What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by his providence does still uphold all things?

Answer: That we may be patient in adversity; (a) thankful in prosperity; (b) and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, (c) that nothing shall separate us from his love; (d) since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot so much as move. (e)