Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.



Saturday's Old Photo

I was going to use another photo, thinking there’d been enough of them featuring me, me, me. But hey! Tomorrow’s my birthday, and , so if ever there was an appropriate time for one more photo of me as a child, this was it.
I’m guessing I’m four in this photo and that would make the year 1959. The house in the background is the ranch hand’s home on my uncle’s ranch, the P Lazy P, in Gannet, Idaho. We lived there while my dad helped my uncle with the ranch work and my mother cooked for the crew in the big kitchen of the beautiful log ranch house my uncle built by himself.
I amused myself outdoors while my mother worked indoors. There were always animals around—dogs, kittens, chickens—and people working. Sometimes I helped collect eggs, and sometimes I hung on the outside of the corral and watched the horse training or the calf branding. Another thing that fascinated me was the artesian well right outside the fenced-in yard, which gushed water from a 4 inch pipe and made a little stream that ran out into the field.
My family continued to go to the ranch in the summer whenever we could. My dad had been a cowboy, so he loved being there during round up, and my mother loved visiting all her relatives who lived nearby. The ranch was only twenty miles from the Sun Valley ski area, and eventually the area became a place for the rich and famous to have a vacation home. It became more and more difficult to keep cattle on the open range, so my uncle sold the ranch to someone with Hollywood connections and he moved further west to the Wallowa area of Oregon.

Everything's Coming Up Irish: Irish Articles of Religion

The Irish Articles of Religion are an important piece in the history of Protestantism in Ireland, and, as we will see, in the history of Protestantism as a whole. These 104 articles were put together by James Ussher, and adopted, as it’s introduction says,
by the Archbishops and Bishops
and the rest of the clergy of Ireland.
In the Convocation held at Dublin in the year of our Lord God 1615,
for the avoiding of Diversities of Opinions,
and the establishing of consent touching true Religion.
This document was a rule of public doctrine, and all Irish Protestent ministers were expected to teach in conformity to it. It served this purpose for twenty years, until public opinion turned against its strict Calvinism during the rein of Charles I. In 1635, the Irish Convocation adopted The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, and although it was agreed at the time that both The Thirty-Nine Articles and The Irish Articles would be used, that was the beginning of the end of the use of The Irish Articles as a rule of doctrine.
But that wasn’t the end of this historic document’s influence. It’s generally agreed that The Irish Articles served as the framework for The Westminster Confession of Faith, with the WCF using the general order of The Irish Articles, and retaining some of its language while expanding upon its ideas.
See for yourself. Here’s Article 11 of The Irish Articles of Religion:
11. God from all eternity did by his unchangeable counsel ordain whatsoever in time should come to pass: yet so, as thereby no violence is offered to the wills of the reasonable creatures, and neither the liberty nor the contingency of the second causes is taken away, but established rather.
If you’ve spent much time reading The Westminster Confession of Faith, that paragraph probably sounds familiar to you. Chapter 3, Article 1 of the WCF says this:
1. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
Let’s move on to the next section in The Irish Articles and compare that with Chapter 3, articles 3 and 4 of the WCF.
  • From The Irish Articles:
    12. By the same eternal counsel God hath predestinated some unto life, and reprobated some unto death: of both which there is a certain number, known only to God, which can neither be increased nor diminished.
  • From The Westminster Confession of Faith:
    3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death.

    4. These angels and men, thus predestinated and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it can not be either increased or diminished.

And you thought those Westminster Divines drew up the WCF all on their own, didn’t you?
Unfortunately for James Ussher, he might be remembered more for being the man who dated the creation of the world to 4004 BC than for his role in creating The Irish Articles, or for contributing, through them, to The Westminster Confession of Faith.
Would you like to this month’s Everything’s Coming Up Irish theme? Post anything related to Ireland or Irish things and send me the link (You can email me, or leave your link in the comments to this post.), then look for a link to your post in one of the upcoming ECUI posts. No blog? No problem. Email me your contribution or leave it in the comments and I’ll post what you’ve contributed in one of the Irish posts.

Purposes of Christ's Death: Romans 3:24-25

I’ve been thinking about reposting a series of posts I did way back in 2004 when I first started blogging. It’s a series that looks at the scriptural purpose statements given for Christ’s death—you know, any statements about Christ’s atoning work that include the words “so that” or “for this reason” or “to this end” or something similar. Since I’m sick today, I thought this might be a good day to start recycling. I’ll edit each one up a bit as I repost it.
First up—Romans 3:24 and 25:
….whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (ESV)
You’ll find the purpose statement in this text stated twice, but a little differently:
This was to show God’s righteousness …
It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
One of the purposes of Christ’s death, according to these verses, was to demonstrate God’s righteousness. The word translated just in the second statement could be translated righteous, as well; so the last half of this statement is explaining in more detail the way it is that Christ’s propitiatory death shows God to be righteous: It is a way for him remain righteous and, at the same time, count sinners as righteous.
The problem, as the verse lays it out, is that God’s passing over previously committed sins could raise doubts about his righteousness. The former sins referred to are the sins that God left unjudged in the time before Christ’s death, and it would be unrighteous (or unjust) for God, in his role as judge, to simply shove these wrongdoings under the rug. We usually think of injustice in terms of finding someone guilty for crimes not committed, but it is also unjust to ignore crimes someone has committed. Therefore, there needs to be a right or just way for these sins to be overlooked.
And that’s what Christ’s death accomplishes; that’s one of its purposes. It is the historical event that makes God’s forbearance in previous times right. That Christ died means that sin was never simply ignored, but there was a righteous way for it to be passed over, and this righteous way was the means of propitiation that would come through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. It is because of Christ’s propitiatory death that God can withhold his righteous wrath against sinners and count them righteous instead; yet still be completely just in everything he does. Christ’s death absorbs the retributive wrath of God that is made necessary by human sin, and in this way his death demonstrates to all people that God is righteous even when he mercifully forgives sin and justifies sinners.
Demonstrating that God passed over sin in a way that is righteous or just is one of the purposes of Christ’s death.