Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Faith Of The Son Of God

In Gal. 2:20 Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

I recently had a thought on this that I’d thought I’d share.

What is the faith of the Son of God? How does it show itself?

I am sure we could all look at the mighty miracles that Christ did and all the faith He manifested in those. But that is not the epitome of His faith. Yes, His faith worked miracles, but His faith was an implicit trust in the Father, that the Father is good and that He will always do what is best. It’s the faith that Adam and Eve lost in the garden when they began to believe that God was holding out on them something that was good for them. And every one of us has suffered from a lack since then.

When Jesus came He had that faith and it was manifested in crystal clear form in His life. He knew that His God and Father would take care of Him. He never doubted that, even though the devil tempted Him three times with, “If you are the Son of God.” They all questioned His faith, “If Your Father really loves you…prove it.” He overcame those temptations and prepared for the cross.

As He was on the cross His faith was again tested as the enemy used those around Him to say, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” “If He will have Him.” In other words the enemy was trying to sow doubt, “If you lay down your life, will God really take you, will He really raise you up.”

Jesus not only endured all the physical agony of the cross, but He also had to fight through all the doubt that the enemy was striving to create in Him. No one was with Him, even His mother and the disciple John who were there to witness probably did not know what was happening, they may even have had doubts. Jesus, however, fought the good fight of faith.

He laid His life down with the words, “It is finished.” As He did that He staked His all on the fact that God would deliver Him and raise Him from the dead. He had no backup plan, once He was dead, He was dead. That is the faith of the Son of God. That is the faith that we fall far short of, but that God wants to bring us into.

Let us also aim for this faith, to allow God to work it in our lives.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Friend of the Bridegroom

John 3:29-30, "He who has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom who stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Then my joy is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."

I thought I'd just write a few thoughts on these two verses...

When John the Baptist spoke these words, "friend of the bridegroom" was actually a title. It was similar to our "best man" in some respects. I think it's important to understand this because all minister's are in essence called to act as "friends of the bridegroom."

The friend of the bridegroom was someone who was appointed by the bridegroom. He was usually someone that the bridegroom knew well, a close acquaitance. When a man wanted to get married, he would send this person on his behalf to negotiate with the bride's family. He also would act as the go-between during the time of courtship, as open communication between the two parties was rarely, if ever, allowed. He also was the guardian of the brides virtue. As you can see this was a very important and trusted position. The Apostle Paul used an analogy to this position in 2 Corinthians 11:2, when he said that he was jealous over his converts with a godly jealousy.

The simularities between a "friend of the bridegroom" and a minister are several. Both are chosen by the Bridegroom for this role, not self-appointed. Both speak on behalf of the Bridegroom who is not physically present. Their aim is to guard the bride and help her to be true to the Bridegroom until He comes to take her away. Their success or failure lies in if they are able to stay out of the picture and promote the happiness of another.

Conversely, I think we can all imagine how angry a bridegroom would be if he found that his friedn had abused his position and had used it to steal the affections of the bride for himself. That is a picture of how Jesus feels when His ministers take His glory and woo people after themselves.

If God has given you a ministry and you read this, just consider it a little while then say with John, "I must decrease, that He might increase."

God bless.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Humility of Being Human

Alright, now I know pondering your own humanity can be depressing and maybe I've just had too much time on my hands... Maybe writing this blog will help keep me busy.

Have you ever thought about this though? We all like to consider ourselves as master of our own destiny, "I am the captain of the ship..." and all that... And yet, we cannot even keep ourselves from getting the flu. I mean, come on, who ever wished, "Man, I feel great today, I need a good dose of the flu to give time off work and knock me on the couch for a few days." (Please let me know in the comments if you have, I would consider you a unique specimen in my study of the human condition). Also we tend to think we have complete control of our lives, where we will live, what we will do, but history shows us that is not the case.

If we are the masters of our destiny then why can all of the sudden people who were friends be split apart and even kill each other when their respective nations declare war. The American Civil War is full of these this, people who were friends, who circumstances and allegiences made enemies. Were they really masters of their fate or were they merely humans trapped in their own world and unable to escape it, able only to choose which side they were on, but not to choose whether there should be a conflict or not.

Another prime example is the Cherokee nation. The Cherokee basically moved to Oklahoma in 4 ways. The Chickamauga had fought the settlers in Kentucky before being forced out into Oklahoma, part of them later moved into Texas. The majority of the tribe stayed in Georgia until 1835 & 1837 when they moved to Oklahoma. In 1839 Texas forced the Cherokee there into Oklahoma, which means that it didn't matter what group you were part of that was where you ended up in 1839, all that changed was the way you got there. The 1835 group was a group of around 2,000 who had surrendered their lands for a settlement payment. In some ways they should have faired better but they were so hated for having sold out that of their 4 main leaders 3 were assassinated. The 1837 group numbered 11,000 after their forced eviction and losing around 3,000 to disease, cold and hunger on the "Trail of Tears." Each of these factions chose what they thought was the best course of action for them and their people, and yet in the end it didn't matter at all.

I could write more, but if you look at human history, it is like a wave of humanity crashing against the rocks of destruction, and just when one wave has finished the next generation comes and insists they will do better. They will not be dashed on those rocks. They know more, they are better prepared than others. Friend, of all of humanity who has gone before you, are you so much smarter, so much more talented, so strong that you will succeed by your own will and cunning where so many have failed.

"O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).

I once heard a story of a mighty battleship that was sailing the seas in heavy fog, it caught sight of a signal light in the fog bearing down upon it, so the captain signaled, "Change your course." The signal light replied, "Change your course." The captain was upset and huffily signaled, "I am a battleship, change your course." The other light replied, "I am a lighthouse. It's your call."

Friend, you don't need to fumble about in this life on your own. Jesus Christ came into this world and died to bring you into a relationship with God so that you can have peace with God and be lead by Him. He will lead you away from the rocks of destruction. Will you obey His light... It's your call.

Puritan Of The Month - John Bunyan

This section I will try to get out every month, it will feature one who was in the reformed tradition that impacted their world for good. There are a lot of puritans that I know by name, but do not know as much about as I would like. So I am launching this with John Bunyan. That gives me until next month to read up on another figure. Part of my goal in these blogs is to improve my own knowledge of church history, so if I have to read to write it does me some good. These posts are by no means definitive and should you find a character interesting, their should be a lot of other material on them that you can read. These are just to maybe whet your appetite and give you a specific attribute of character from this individual that I find worth emulating.

John Bunyan was born in Elstow, Befordshire, England in the year 1628. He had little formal education, and became a tinker which was a very menial occupation and yet he became one of the best known English authors of any age. His Pilgrim's Progress has been translated into more than 37 languages and at one time was even widely read in the muslim world. What made this man what he was?

From 1644-1647 he served in the parlamentary army during the English Civil War. His experiences there form his backdrop to The Holy War.

He was converted through reading Puritan literature and began to preach as a lay preacher in 1653. His account of his struggles with divine truth and his conversion are written in Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, which he wrote during his first imprisonment for preaching. This imprisonment began in 1660 and lasted 12 years and at any point he could have been released merely by signing an agreement that he would no longer preach. He was released in 1672 and then briefly reimprisoned. It was during the second imprisonment that he began writing Pilgrim's Progress.

He also wrote many other works including a vision he had of both heaven and hell. He apparently had a strong prophetic anointing and much of his Pilgrim's Progress apparently came to him in the form of a dream or vision.

One encouraging thing I love about his life is his strong courage and love for God and the calling upon his life. He knew God had called him to preach and he was going to do it even if he if it cost him his freedom.

The other thing I love about him is his determination to find God. I would recommend reading Grace Abounding if you want to know more about his life. As related there he suffered deep bouts with depression and despair, wondering if he was saved or if Christ would even want to save him. This time lasted for a few years, and apparently during some of it he was preaching. He once said that even as he would proclaim that Christ could save and he knew it to be true he had all these doubts that Christ would save him. Yet he continued to preach, why? Because he was firmly persuaded that if Christ wouldn't save him, no one else could so he had no other options. As you can see Bunyan clearly had faith, though he couldn't see it at the time. He had no other hope only Christ and he was fully commited to Him, but he had a great inward struggle.

It was as a result of this struggle that he was able to so clearly mark the way for his fellow pilgrims in his books. He fought his personal giant Despair and had been locked in the dungeon, but like his character Christian, he had been freed.

In the second part of his Pilgrim's Progress he writes of the final destruction of Doubting Castle and the giant Despair. That was really what God had done in his life, not only had he personally escaped despair, but he became an instrument for destroying it in others.

Dear reader, if you have ever doubted your own salvation or been troubled by thoughts of blasphemy and wonder how you could ever think thoughts against your Saviour, you are not alone. Others have fought these battles, they conquered and you will too. Trust in Christ, let Him correct you, lead you, defend you, succour you. Let Him and Him alone be your trust. He will fail none who place their confidence in Him, He promises that and stakes His honour upon it. He delights in taking the weak and making them strong.

Trust in Him today.

God bless.

Friday, October 20, 2006


For those interested this post is going to deal with 2 words used in the NT. These two words are "teleioo" and "adokimos".

Teleioo is derived from "teleios" which is usually translated perfect in the KJV with one instance of it being translated as "man" and once "of full age". It carries the thought of both perfection and maturity. I want to look at this word from one specific facet found in two verses, Hebrews 5:8,9.

"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."

These two verses refer to Christ being made perfect through the things He suffered... Now we know that Christ was born without sin so in that sense He was already perfect so what does this expression mean here?

Here's my take on it. I believe that the word "perfect" can be related to use, for example, I am not extremely handy with tools, sometimes I struggle trying to use the wrong tool on a given object. ie... pliers instead of a wrench on a nut, sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn't. So one day as I was battling on something of that kind one of my friends saw my struggle and loaned me one of his tools (in this case it was a phillips screwdriver instead of the flat one I was using) and I said, "Thanks, that's perfect!"

In one sense that is what perfection is - being perfectly formed to handle the task that God has for you at that time. Jesus had to suffer to be tempted in every point and to fulfill all the prophecies that had been spoken of Him. In that sense suffering perfected Him by preparing Him to be our great High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 4:15).

In the same way God has tasks and stages in our lives, His dealings with us are two fold, He has something that He wants us to do then and He also is dealing in our lives bringing us to the state of readiness to complete that task and also to be able to go on to the next stage. To use another analogy there is some behaviour which is cute in a four-year-old, that loses it's cuteness in a ten-year-old. In the same way as we grow in the Lord there needs to be a maturing so that we can effectively minister at the new level.

I don't know how many of you have had a screwdriver which had a head that was worn away. The sort that can sometimes work, but other times it just can't turn the screw or it even strips the screw head. That's what happens if we don't let God mature us through suffering, we can become a screwdriver that is sometimes more of a hindrance than a help. We become limited in our use to God. Paul speaks about this in 2 Tim. 2:19-21, where he mentions vessels of honour and dishonour. We can disqualify ourselves from our full destiny in Christ by not being found ready for a task when it comes. Even worse we can become a vessel of dishonour, God still loves us and uses us, but it is for a much lower purpose than was originally intended.

Eventually if a tool is very badly damaged, it can't be used any more, it is thrown away. That is what the word "adokimos" refers too. It is usually rendered "reprobate", concisely it means "not fit for the intended use." This is a solemn warning to all of us.

When the Bible speaks of a reprobate mind what does it mean? Well, our minds were intended to contemplate heavenly realities, meditate on God's Word, and think of God. When someone is given over to a reprobate mind, their mind has so degenerated that they can no longer do any of these things, they may be brilliant by worldly standards, even be considered geniuses, or mental giants, but yet their mind can not do the one thing that a human mind should... contemplate the true nature of God.

May God grant that we stay on the path of progressive maturity and increasing usefulness, and away from the path of increasing disfunctionality and ultimate uselessness.


A friend of mine read this post and had a couple of questions so here are a few clarifications on those questions:

1. Are vessels of dishonour saved?

I would say, "yes", because my text says in a great house... I read that as saying that these vessels of Dishonour are in the house. Ie... they are in the household of faith. There are some Christians that God loves to bring out and parade to the world, kind of like His good china porcelain. Others are like dishes that He can still use but not in front of visitors.

2. Are reprobates saved?

I don't know, I didn't think my article could be read this way, but maybe I wasn't clear. No. Paul states clearly in 2 Cor. 13:5 that they aren't..."Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" Okay, so let me make that clear there are various levels of honour and dishonour, in our text their are 4 levels: Gold, Silver, Wood, and Earth, but a reprobate person would be in my understanding a cracked earthen pot. One that has gone beyond any use to God in His kingdom.

I have no desire to state where that line is for any given person, I just want to be personally sure that I am allowing God to purify me and prepare me to bring honour to Him, and I am encouraging others to do the same.

Blogito Ergo Sum

Okay, so I fudged the Latin... but what better way to introduce a post on existential reality.

As we look at the history of humanity there are 3 questions that human beings have always struggled with... 1. What does it mean to exist? 2. If I exist then what is the purpose of existance? 3. How do I ensure my continued existance?

Let's answer the first question shall we... Okay, first take a hammer and hold out your thumb. Then take the hammer and gently apply the metal end to the the tip of your thumb. Do you feel pain? Eureka... you exist. I know that sounds simple, but if you didn't exist, then how could you manipulate the hammer in the first place? Never let pseudo-intelectualism confuse you. Suffering, joy, pathos, etc... all prove your existance. How can you suffer existential angst if you don't exist? So you exist, at least in the corporal and psychological sense. Though actually true existance is to be seen and known of God... we exist as we are in Him and as He sees and knows us... In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

Second question, what is the purpose of existance... That one is even easier, because I don't have to think that one through. A much greater mind than me (God) has already told me that in His Word... In Revelation 4:11 It tells us that we were created for His pleasure. We exist to show forth God's wisdom, His goodness, and His love, to enjoy fellowship and communion with Him. Okay let's go on to the last one...

Throughout history man has striven for immortality, to continue to exist or at least to be remembered when they are gone. For centuries man has tried in various ways to ensure this through many methods, some erected monuments to themselves, some named cities after themselves, some men have through their superior might and intelect pushed themselves to the forefront of world history and established empires, some focus on leaving a family behind that will remember them and perpetuate their ideals and values. But all of these methods can fail...

Cities have fallen to ruin, empires collapsed, whole nations let alone families have sunk into oblivion with no remembrance of what they were even called let alone who they really were. How can we guarantee that we will continue to exist? There is one way. It is the one thing that makes sense in this world. There is only One Being that truly deserves to be remembered, God. He created man and loves man. He sent His only Son, who became a man and lived on the earth, and died on the cross to reconcile man to Him. Rather than oppressing or abusing others in an effort to gain immortality, Jesus laid aside His immortality to become a man and die on the cross. That is why He deserves remembrance... and eventually this old earth will pass away and the new heavens and the new earth will be created. When that happens the former earth will no longer be remembered, and those who fought and strove to be remembered will be forgotten with it (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).

Only those who have accepted Christ as their Saviour will enter into this new earth. Not only that but God will remember them, and the good works they have done while on this earth will follow them (Revelation 14:13).

All others will be cast into hell. There they will be forgotten and forsaken by God, and though they will have all the self-existence of physical torment and guilt of knowing their own sins, they will no longer be seen of God or known of Him. In that sense they will no longer exist, they will have failed in their existence, their life was truly in the final analysis worthless...

To which group will you belong dear reader on that day, will you be one who acknowledges Christ and His purchase of you on Calvary, who will be rewarded for your good deeds, or will you be one who denies His right to your life, and who seeks your own honour and glory rather than His.

May God grant you make the right choice.

God bless you,

Daniel Kropf

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Brief Synopsis Of My Church History Criteria

Ok, after my first church history post I realize that I probably had a couple of people asking, "Sava..who". That's part of the point to this whole thing. Most of us have a certain circle of figures in church history that we know or at least their names ring a bell. Usually these are figures that have either founded or helped found our particular strain of theology or the antagonists of these founders.

I am trying to just bring various Christians to the knowledge of my readership and some of the character qualities I think we can learn from them. Just because I post something on someone doesn't mean I endorse everything about that person or every view they espoused. The ones I write on will be those that I feel were true Christians in an evangelical sense of the word, whether they actually belonged to an evangelical church or not (a few examples of people I would consider in this light would be Roman Catholics like Fenelon, Mdme Guyon, Thomas A Kempis, etc...) My main criteria for these postings is does what these people have said and written bear the imprint of Christ upon their lives. Was their fruit good? Was the Spirit of God visibly at work in them producing the fruit of the Spirit in their lives?

In Heb. 1:3, Christ is said to be the express image of God. The Greek word for express image is the basis of our English word, "character", and had a two fold meaning, 1. it was a likeness of something. 2. It was the tool used to form this likeness.

This is the essence of character. 1. Did these people bear the image of Christ as He was formed in them by the Holy Spirit? 2. Did they further become instruments for impressing others with that same image? 3. Did their life and doctrine promote holiness and seeking after Christ?

These are all things I consider as I write these posts.

May God grant us all that we might have His character.

Iconoclast Of The Month - Gladius Domini super terram cito et velociter

Alright having established what I am going to do with this blog I now proceed to present these figures from church history in a way that is interesting. So first off I have the Iconoclast Of The Month, this is someone who was a unique non-conformist who served God in their generation, often in intense persecution. Some of these people had serious flaws yet most of them had a strong element of good, I am going to endeavour in this blog to bring out the good and while acknowledging the bad not focus on it to a high degree.

Now... the title for the first Iconoclast Of The Month goes to Girolamo Savanarola.

Why Him? Well I've liked Savanarola ever since I read a translation of one of his sermons that was in a sermon collection book my dad had. I personally think he gets a bad wrap in history too, the Catholics call him a heretic, and most Protestants (especially Baptists) won't touch him with a ten foot pole with a feather on the end. However Martin Luther credited his own conversion to Savanarola's ministry and it undoubtedly influenced Florence for the good.

Savanarola was born in Ferrara, Italy in 1452, he was executed in 1498. He became a Dominican priest and was well respected for his learning and preaching. Following a vision he saw of the sword of the Lord descending on the earth (Note the Latin quote in the title), he began to preach a message of repentance.

He definitely had a ministry of evangelism. People flocked to hear him as he denounced the sins that were so prevalent in Renaissance Italy. In the sermon of his that I read, he likens himself to the donkey in the story of Balaam and the donkey. He sees the Angel of the Lord ready in judgment and is striving to go to the field, which is the Word of God, but Balaam, the Catholic hierarchy is trying to drive him forward. He speaks in his own defence and says that like the donkey, they had known him and how he formerly acted and if was acting differently it was because he had truly seen something. He also stated in this sermon that no outward work could save a man, not even prophesy or working miracles, but only true faith coupled with the love of God in the heart.

He incured the wrath of Pope Alexander VI, when he wrote him a letter urging him to repent of hos wicked ways. The Pope forbade him to preach again, when he disobeyed that injunction he was excommunicated. For a while, the city of Florence stood with him, but eventually they turned on him. A trial by ordeal was ordered in which one of his underlings was to walk through a fire to prove that he was of God. There were delays over the details of this and in the meantime a rain storm put out the fire. This enraged the crowd who wanted the whole thing settled, Savanarola was arrested and tortured. During his torture he signed a confession to heresy, which he later recanted asking God to forgive his weak flesh. When he was ceremonially stripped of his priestly rank, the officiator said, "I separate you from the church militant and triumphant." To which he replied, "Militant not triumphant, you have no power to separate me from the church triumphant to which I go." He was suffocated and burned to death, with 2 of his followers and their ashes were then thrown in the Arno river.

Savanarola is a controversial figure and some of things he did such as his burning of the vanities and other measures were doubtless unwise and wrong. However he greatly resisted the spirit of immorality in his age, and fought for the true gospel as it had been committed to him. At his death a by-stander was heard to remark at how glad they were that now they could again live in their homosexual lifestyle now that he was dead. He is often criticized for his prophecies, but the majority, if not all were fulfilled thirty years later when French and German troops fought throughout Italy creating desolation everywhere.

Perhaps he was not the strongest light, but he found his hope in the One who promised that a bruised reed He would not break, nor quench a smoking flax. He was a mere comma, a brief pause in the moral decline of Renaissance Italy - the salt that retarded it's corruption.

You and I may not be periods, perhaps we are only commas, perhaps we cannot permanently effect those around us, but let us stand up for right. Let us be a comma, let us say, "You can do what you like when I'm gone, but while I'm here..."

God bless you and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Now That I have a blog...

Blogging is incredible, it enables the publishing of information to a wide audience for virtually no cost, like the printing press to the power of ten. But with great power comes great responsibility, since I feel that the web already has plenty of arcane dribble I am going to do my level best not to add to it.

I promise to give my readership (right now me & 2 others) interesting reading on various figures from church history and virtues I feel they personified and should be emulated. I also will probably throw in some figures from secular history and wing in a Bible verse study/devotional now and then.

If you find any of these things interesting, swing by again when you have the time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My First Blog

Well here it is... My first blog (possibly will also be my last).

It is my general opinion that the web needs another blog like I need a hole in the head. And yet here I publish, this makes for an interesting study of human nature in quandries and contradictions.

The blog name reflects this... wie ein kropf is German basically meaning like a goitre, and used the way we would say "like a hole in the head." Since Kropf is also my last name I thought it a fitting title for my blog.

We really need this like a hole in the head and yet... here it is.