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Thursday
May052011

Round the Sphere Again: Learning from Others

Those Who Don’t Look Like Us
Amy Scott encourages us to learn from people who are not exactly in our group.

[T]he more we invest our lives into learning and growing from those that don’t “look like us”, the more we’ll learn. 

(Amy’s Humble Musings)

Those on Whose Shoulders We Stand
There are so many reasons to learn about (and from) the Church fathers (The Upward Call).

Wednesday
May042011

A Short Explanation of Total Depravity

The word total in the term total depravity means that the depravity that came to all of us as a result of the fall affects every part of our being. If I’d been naming the doctrine, I’d have called it “comprehensive” depravity, but no one asked me, so  we’re stuck with a name that many find confusing.

It all boils down to this: Post-fall, nothing in us works the way it was created to work. Our bodies have their faults. We get sick; our teeth decay; we have genetic imperfections; and we all eventually die. Our minds are imperfect, leaving our thinking powers warped. Our emotions run amuck, too. And this depravity extends to our wills, leaving us with desires that have also been corrupted. 

The corruption of our desires—of our will—puts us in a pickle when it comes to the demands God makes on us as his creatures. He commands that we obey him, but in our natural state, we don’t really want to, and even when we make an attempt to obey, we don’t do it for the right reasons. Ephesians 2:1-3 tells us that people in their natural post fall state—those who remain dead in trespasses and sins—are living out their lives in the cravings of their flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind. They don’t care about pleasing God; but rather, they care about pleasing their own flesh. This problem of persistent warped desires is universal. Those who are not yet believers remain in that state and those who are believers were once in that state.

You see the predicament, right? God’s commandments are nothing more than what people ought to be doing, yet the corruption that came to every one of us through the fall warps our desires so that we just keep on indulging our twisted cravings instead of doing what God asks us to do. Fallen human beings are so intransigent in this disobedience that scripture tells us that the natural person—a person who remains as they are born post fall without any supernatural intervention—is unable to submit to God’s commands (Romans 8:7-8). 

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Wednesday
May042011

Round the Sphere Again: Lessons from Death

Of Lazarus
Jon Bloom
(Desiring God Blog) discusses a few of the possible reasons Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. 

Of Hezekiah
Jeremy Pierce
on why it might have been better for Hezekiah to die earlier rather than later.

Perhaps Hezekiah should have accepted God’s prophetic message that it was his time. Perhaps there’s even a reason why it was for Hezekiah’s own good that he die then rather than later. Perhaps it was to spare him the moral corruption that would have come had he continued on, and his refusal to accept it then led to God to give him over to that moral corruption that God would have graciously spared him from. If your life is going to end in a way that seems cut short, it might well be because of what you would do if you were to live longer. It might be a mercy.

D. A. Carson agrees (Triablogue).

But I remembered the fate of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20; 2 Chron. 32:24-31; Isa. 38-39). When he was under sentence of death, he begged the Lord for fifteen more years, and received the extra span. And in the course of those fifteen years he blew his entire reputation for integrity in one incident prompted by foolish pride. Nor was his reputation alone at stake: the bearing his action had on the future of his nation was disastrous.

That is why I decided there are worse things than dying. I do not know how many times I have sung the words, “O let me never, never / Outlive my love for Thee,” but I mean them. I would rather die than end up unfaithful to my wife; I would rather die than deny by a profligate life what I have taught in my books; I would rather die than deny or disown the gospel. God knows there are many things in my past of which I am deeply ashamed; I would not want such shame to multiply and bring dishonor to Christ in years to come. There are worse things than dying.

Of a Sparrow
Potent Prooftexts: He Watcheth Me (The Calvinist Gadfly)

…[A]s the sparrow flies or falls only by the will and providence of its creator, so we also live, suffer, and die in his hand.

Tuesday
May032011

Theological Term of the Week

Holy Spirit
The third person in the Trinity, who is God, but also distinct from the Father and Son.

  • From scripture: 

    The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV).

    [T]hese things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:10-13 ESV).
  • From the Belgic Confession:

    Article 11: The Deity of the Holy Spirit

    We believe and confess also that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son— neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but only proceeding from the two of them. In regard to order, he is the third person of the Trinity— of one and the same essence, and majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son. 
    He is true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.
  • From Salvation Belongs to the Lord by John Frame: 

    [L]et’s focus in on ourselves more narrowly and ask what the Spirit does in the lives of believers. There are a great many things the Spirit does for us and in us. … To make a long story short, the Spirit does everything for us that we need in our life with God The atoning work of Jesus occurred in the past, objectively, definitively. The work of the Spirit is present, on-going, often subjective. This is not to separate the work of the Spirit from the work of Christ. The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. Christ is in him and he in Christ. … But the main emphasis of the Bible in the Spirit’s work is that he gives us what we need for our present, continuing walk with God. 
    Indeed, he did the same for Jesus during Jesus’ earthly ministry. Remember how the Spirit descended on him like a dove at his baptism (Matt. 3:16). The Spirit filled him with power for preaching and for working miracles (cf. Isa. 11:2-3; 42:1; 61:1; Luke 4:1, 14, 18; John 1:32; 3:34). Well, if Jesus needed the Spirit’s ministry to him, we certainly need the Spirit as well. He is the one who equips us to serve God (Num. 27:18; Deut. 34:9; Judg. 3:10), to preach (Acts 1:8; Rom. 15:19; 1 Cor. 2:4), to pray effectively (Rom. 8:26; Eph. 2:18). He regenerates us (John 3:5), gives us new birth. He sanctifies us (Rom. 8:4, 15-16; 1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Thess. 2:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2), makes us holy in thought and deed, putting to death the sins of the body (Rom. 8:13; 7:6; Phil. 1:9). He is grieved when we sin (Eph. 4:30).
    The Bible seems to put a special emphasis on the work of the Spirit to create unity and peace in the body (2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 5:18-20; Eph. 2:18, 4:3; Phil. 2:1-2; Col. 3:14). He is the one, after all, who enables us to cry “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6) and thereby establishes the church as God’s sons and daughters together in a family.
    Of course, the Spirit is the great teacher of the church. The writers of Scripture, both testaments, were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write God’s truth (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). The prophets and apostles spoke God’s truth because the Spirit came upon them and enabled them to do it (Matt. 22:43; Acts 1:16; John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). And the Spirit comes not only upon speakers and authors but also upon hearers and readers. The Spirit illumines us, enabling us to understand the Scriptures (Ps. 119:18; 1 Cor. 2:12-15; Eph. 1:17-19) and persuading us that the Word is true (1 Thess. 1:5).

Learn more:

  1. GotQuestions.org: Who Is the Holy Spirit?
  2. GotQuestions.org: What Are the Names and Titles of the Holy Spirit?
  3. Blue Letter Bible: Who Is the Holy Spirit?
  4. Blue Letter Bible: Is the Holy Spirit a Person?
  5. Edwin Palmer: The Holy Spirit
  6. Greg Herrick: Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit
  7. Charles Hodge: The Holy Spirit
  8. Gary E. Gilley: A Study of the Holy Spirit (pdf)
  9. George Smeaton: The Deity of the Holy Spirit
  10. Arthur Pink: The Holy Spirit
  11. Joel Beeke: Study of the Holy Spirit by Dr. Joel Beeke (15 mp3s)

Related terms:

Do you have 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.

Monday
May022011

A Catechism for Girls and Boys

Part I: Questions about God, Man, and Sin

32. Q. What does every sin deserve?
      A. The anger and judgment of God.
(Click through to read scriptural proofs.)

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