Saturday, March 24, 2012

A quick thought on Jesus bearing our griefs and how that relates to His bearing our sins

While I was working on my previous post I had another thought concerning Isaiah 53. If when Christ bore our griefs He did not bear Mr. X saying so and so about us, but rather slander in general and worse than we have or could have received in the same way did He bear each individual sinful deed, or in His being numbered as a transgressor did He not bear sin in general, in the sense that James gives of one who breaks any of the laws is a transgressor (James 2:9-11). Anyway this is more of a question I would like to throw out for people than a statement of what I believe. I just am trying to consider if this is true and a viable way of understanding the atonement or if I am missing something here. God bless!

Truly He bore our griefs – Thoughts from Isaiah 53

“He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:2b-6 - ESV. Recently a friend of mine shared something that they were facing, which while I could see why it would be very hard, I could not truly say that I understood, because I had never faced a challenge similar enough. Sometimes even when we want to be there for people, we find that we don’t have the real answer. Fortunately that cannot be said of Christ. He bore our griefs. He knew what it meant to be born under the shame of (supposed) illegitimacy. He knew the sting of rejection and betrayal. At the cross not only was He betrayed by Judas, but most of his closest friends made themselves scarce, one denied even knowing Him, and the one who held the most steadfast was at the trial and crucifixion, but apparently did not voice one word in His favour during any of the proceedings. He bore our griefs. He knew the shame of poverty, and the appearance of failure. There is nothing that touches us which He did not experience in a greater measure and to a deeper degree. So when we have a grief, a burden, a care go to Him, He will understand!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Biblical Inerrancy, human language and usage

A few weeks ago as I was reading my Bible I came to the list of clean and unclean animals in Leviticus 11. In this passage are a few things that people sometimes use to attack Biblical inerrancy: 1. The Hyrax said to chew the cud (v.5); 2. Insects mentioned as creeping on all fours (v.20-23); 3. Bats listed among the birds (v.19). These things really have little to do with inerrancy and far more to do with human language as it is used. God in teaching the Israelites what animals were clean and unclean would use language to describe them fitted to the Israelites usage, whether technically accurate or not. No one would claim that a zoologist is in error who uses the word cuttlefish (even though that is a mollusk and not a fish) or the words millipede and centipede (neither of which have the right number of legs) to refer to specific creatures bearing those names. Likewise no one would laugh at a doctor who diagnoses a patient with malaria because he called it malaria even though we know it is carried by mosquitos and not by the swamp air that they infest. He is merely using a familiar word to convey information. In the same way it is quite possible, and with the paucity of premosaic Hebrew hard to disprove, that four–legged-creepers was roughly the equivalent of our English words insect and bug at the time. Certainly the Israelites understood what was meant and consequently ate locusts, crickets, etc, but not any other bugs. That people would try to make these things into a big deal shows more of their desire to have an excuse to ignore God’s clear cut standards of morality, than anything amiss in the Word of God.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Cyprian’s views contrasted with the Apostle John – Schism, Heresy

Those of you who know me well are probably aware that I enjoy history and especially Church history. Much of my spare time is spent in studying Church History and the writings and biographies of various churchmen. A few weeks ago I was reminded of Cyprian’s famous doctrine that outside of the Church there is no salvation. Cyprian applied this not only to heresy but also to schism and later Augustine in his writings against the Donatist schism would quote 1 Corinthians 13 and say that since the Donatists were not in fellowship with the Catholic church they lacked love and thus whatever their good works they did not profit. Of course this is a very superficial definition of love, and two of Augustine’s contemporaries Jerome and Rufinus who were both in fellowship with the Church as they blasted each other publicly hardly bring to mind the words of Paul, “love is patient, love is kind.” Still these doctrines and attitudes would not be a cause for concern if they had not outlived their authors, and even in Protestant circles still exist but not so flagrantly. There are many attributes to Cyprian’s doctrine, but rather than dealing with apostolic succession and several of the minor points, I would just like to deal with the main point. There are 4 tenets that he held, some of which are fairly shaky in themselves, but even if they held true the premise can be shown to be false as I will show. His 4 main tenets could be summed up as: 1. Receiving the Apostles is to receive Christ 2. Bishops are the successors of the Apostles 3. To Receive the Bishop is to receive Christ 4. No one can be separated from the Bishop and be joined to Christ Point number one is clearly Scriptural (Matt. 10:4), point number two is far less provable and point number three is dependent upon two, but even allowing all of these for the time, point four is untenable. The book of Third John throws light on this whole subject. It is addressed to Gaius who had apparently received some of John’s fellow-workers with hospitality(v.1-6). John goes on to complain of Diotrophes who had in effect introduced a schism into the church by not receiving John or his messengers and by putting out those in the church who did (v.9-10). It is interesting that John while speaking of Diotrophes personal evil-doing never mentions a danger incurred by those who stayed in the church with him. He merely exhorts Gaius to imitate good and not evil (v.11), which strongly implies that John was not concerned for the salvation of those in Diotrophes church provided they did not personally partake of his evil ways. Cyprian cannot be contrasted more unfavorably than this since he refused to even acknowledge the baptism practiced by the Novatians, which was schism and not a doctrinal breach, and believed all who broke fellowship with himself were damned. Clearly the true Apostle was far more forbearing than his supposed successor. John’s attitude, however, was very different towards heresy – specifically heresies which deny Christ’s incarnation and His messiahship (1 John 2:18-23, 2 John 1:7). He refers to these heretics as antichrists and says they were never part of us – that is of the Church, even though they went out of us. We thus see a marked difference here, when John’s own authority is disregarded and he is slighted, he will take steps to reprove the offender but still calls the assembly a church, but when the doctrine is a direct denial of Christ and His work, then whatever these assemblies and teachers are is of no consequence, because they are not of us. This is the true attitude we should have towards those in schism with us and those in heresy. Schism we blame on the leaders of it and hope that their flocks do not pick up the contagion, heresy we abhor and deny to bear the name of Christianity in any real sense. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. Amen.