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Thursday
Feb172011

Thankful Thursday

I’m thankful that February’s sun has a little heat to it, so that even though the temperature said -36C this morning, I can count on things warming up substantially during the daylight hours. I’m thankful for the almost four more hours of daylight since the shortest day of the year, and for the bright blue skies that let the sunshine show. I’m thankful for the constantly changing seasons that add variety to my life. Can I mention that I’m thankful for an efficient furnace, too?

I’m thankful for this year’s crop of grapefruit. The sweet grapefruit available in recent weeks are a good gift.

I’m thankful for my daughter and her car, which I’ll be using while she’s gone to Costa Rica to be in a wedding. Hooray for having a car 24/7 again.

I’m thankful that the sovereign God cares for me so that I can cast all my anxieties on him.

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.

Wednesday
Feb162011

Round the Sphere Again: From the Women Again

Giving Online Grace
Facebook, says Nicole Starling, can draw us “into the audience of a thousand daily boasts that the modesty of face-to-face etiquette may well have prevented.”  And in that way it can steal our joy when we compare our imperfect lives with what seem to be the more perfect lives of others.

Nicole suggests—and her advice applies to other sorts of online relationships (and real life ones, too)—making

a genuine effort to avoid preening and posturing and a deliberate attempt to ask whether the pattern of my updates (the trivial and newsy, the political and spiritual, the quirky and observational…) adds up to something that ‘gives grace’ to those who read them.

We should also remind ourselves where true joy comes from.

[T]he real source of my joy in God and what He’s done for me, rather than drifting back into the bad addictive habit of chaining my happiness to comparisons with the (artificially constructed) cyber-lives of others.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb152011

Theological Term of the Week

hell
The place of eternal punishment for the wicked.

  • From scripture:
    I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:11-12 ESV) 

    Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ (Mark 9:42-48 ESV)

  • From A Baptist Catechism (Spurgeon’s Catechism):

    38. What shall be done to the wicked at their death?

    The souls of the wicked shall at their death be cast into the torments of hell (Lu 16:22-24), and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection and judgment of the great day (Ps 49:14).

    39. What shall be done to the wicked at the day of judgment?

    At the day of judgment the bodies of the wicked being raised out of their graves, shall be sentenced, together with their souls, to unspeakable torments with the devil and his angels for ever (Da 12:2 Joh 5:28,29 2Th 1:9 Mt 25:41).
  • From Concise Theology by J. I. Packer:

    The sentimental secularism of modern Western culture, with its exalted optimism about human nature, its shrunken idea of God, and its skepticism as to whether personal morality really matters — in other words, its decay of conscience — makes it hard for Christians to take the reality of hell seriously. The revelation of hell in Scripture assumes a depth of insight into divine holiness and human and demonic sinfulness that most of us do not have. However, the doctrine of hell appears in the New Testament as a Christian essential, and we are called to try to understand it as Jesus and his apostles did. …

    The purpose of Bible teaching about hell is to make us appreciate, thankfully embrace, and rationally prefer the grace of Christ that saves us from it (Matt. 5:29-30; 13:4850). It is really a mercy to mankind that God in Scripture is so explicit about hell. We cannot now say that we have not been warned.

  • From The Eternity of Hell Torments by Jonathan Edwards:

    …[Y]ou may effectually escape these dreadful and awful torments. Be entreated to flee and embrace him who came into the world for the very end of saving sinners from these torments, who has paid the whole debt due to the divine law, and exhausted eternal in temporal sufferings. What great encouragement is it to those of you who are sensible that you are exposed to eternal punishment, that there is a Savior provided, who is able and who freely offers to save you from that punishment, and that in a way which is perfectly consistent with the glory of God: yea, which is more to the glory of God than it would be if you should suffer the eternal punishment of hell. For if you should suffer that punishment you would never pay the whole of the debt. Those who are sent to hell never will have paid the whole of the debt which they owe to God, nor indeed a part which bears any proportion to the whole. They never will have paid a part which bears so great a proportion to the whole, as one mite to ten thousand talents. Justice therefore never can be actually satisfied in your damnation. But it is actually satisfied in Christ. Therefore he is accepted of the Father, and therefore all who believe are accepted and justified in him. Therefore believe in him, come to him, commit your souls to him to be saved by him. In him you shall be safe from the eternal torments of hell. Nor is that all: but through him you shall inherit inconceivable blessedness and glory, which will be of equal duration with the torments of hell. For, as at the last day the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, so shall the righteous, or those who trust in Christ, go into life eternal. 

Learn more:

  1. GotQuestions.org: Is Hell Real? Is Hell Eternal?
  2. Challies.com: The Essential: Hell
  3. Blue Letter Bible: Hell
  4. basictheology.com: Hell
  5. R. C. Sproul: Hell
  6. Todd Pruitt: A list of resources on hell
  7. Matt Perman: A Biblical Understanding of Hell
  8. Jonathan Edwards: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (mp3) (text)
  9. D. A. Carson: How Can God Be Loving and Yet Send People to Hell? (video)

Related terms:

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

Tuesday
Feb152011

Walking Off the Map

In Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning, Nancy Pearcey argues that one question we need to ask of any worldview is “Does it fit the real world? That is, can it be applied and lived out consistently without doing violence to human nature?”

Because human are created in God’s image and live in God’s world, at some point every nonbiblical worldview will fail the practical test. Adherents will not be able to apply it consistently in practice—because it does not fit who they really are.

Pearcey calls this inability to live according to one’s worldview “walking off the map.” People who do this go into “terrain that their map does not account for.”

Atheist and naturalistic philosopher Richard Dawkins is an example of someone who cannot live in a way consistent with his worldview. Dawkins

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb142011

Round the Sphere Again: Explaining the Text

…or how not to interpret it.

Owe No One Anything
I’ve known Christians who use Romans 13:8 to teach that it is wrong to borrow money, including some say, taking out a mortgage or a loan to purchase a car. D. A. Carson explains why this verse, read in context, doesn’t say that.

For all kinds of reasons it may be best to avoid fiscal debt of all kinds. But that is scarcely the point the apostle is making here.

(For the Love of God)

Might Not Perish
Back in the olden days, I knew someone who insisted that “that whosoever believes in him might not perish” meant that there was a real possibilty that a believer could wind up perishing after all. But the text isn’t saying that at all. Bill Mounce explains that the above quoted phrase from John 3:16 is a purpose clause telling us that

the purpose of giving his Son was so that believers will most certainly have eternal life.

(Koinonia)

You’ll notice that some versions choose to translate it as “shall not perish” or “will not perish” in order to reflect this certainty; or, to put it more correctly, in order to not introduce an uncertainty that isn’t there. (My general use translation, the ESV, goes with “should not,” which is a little “iffy.”)