Friday, June 22, 2012

Already, Not Yet

[T]he already-not-yet theme permeates Paul's writings. For instance, believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit now, but the Spirit is the guarantee of our future inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). Believers are adopted as God's children now, and yet they await their final adoption in the Resurrection (Eph. 1:5; Rom. 8:23). Speaking of the Resurrection, the new age has dawned with the resurrection of Christ (Rom. 1:4), and yet Christians will not enjoy the resurrection of the body until the last day (1 Cor. 15:20-28). The new creation has arrived in Christ, but we await the day when the created order is liberated from its slavery (Rom. 8:18-25).

~ Thomas Schreiner

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Welcome to the White Horse

I have been an admirer of Michael Horton's writing for some time. I've added the White Horse Inn blog to "The Places I Go." Horton is currently in the midst of an important discussion of authority in the church, distinguishing between broadly evangelical, strictly Reformational, and Roman Catholic forms. Here's an example:
Reformation Christians can agree with Augustine when he said that he would never have known the truth of God’s Word apart from the catholic church. As the minister of salvation, the church is the context and means through which we come to faith and are kept in the faith to the end. When Philip found an Ethiopian treasury secretary returning from Jerusalem reading Isaiah 53, he inquired, “Do you understand what you are reading?” “How can I,” the official replied, “unless someone guides me?” (Ac 8:30-31). Explaining the passage in the light of its fulfillment in Christ, Philip baptized the man who then “went on his way rejoicing” (v 39).
Philip did not have to be infallible; he only had to communicate with sufficient truth and clarity the infallible Word.
For many, this kind of certainty, based on a text, is not adequate. We have to know—really know—that what we believe is an infallible interpretation of an ultimate authority. The churches of the Reformation confess that even though some passages are more difficult to understand, the basic narratives, doctrines and commands of Scripture—especially the message of Christ as that unfolds from Genesis to Revelation—is so clearly evident that even the unlearned can grasp it.
For the Reformers, sola scriptura did not mean that the church and its official summaries of Scripture (creeds, confessions, catechisms, and decisions in wider assemblies) had no authority. Rather, it meant that their ministerial authority was dependent entirely on the magisterial authority of Scripture. Scripture is the master; the church is the minister...
As I have pointed out in previous posts, the frustration with the state of contemporary Protestantism is understandable. I feel it every day. Yet those who imagine that they will escape the struggle between the “already” and the “not yet,” the certainty of a promise and the certainty of possession, the infallibility of God’s Word and the fallibility of its appointed teachers, are bound to be disappointed wherever they land. As Calvin counseled on the matter, Scripture alone is sufficient; “better to limp along this path than to dash with all speed outside it.”
I encourage readers to take a look at the whole series of articles.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two Peas in a Pod

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the passing of my Granny, who had an immeasurable influence on bringing me to faith in Christ. Today we remember the passing of the uncompromising +J.C. Ryle. 

Granny was a simple country gal from (the now inundated) Proctor, NC in the Great Smokies. Ryle was an Oxford-trained bishop of Liverpool and a prolific writer and preacher. But they share much in common.

"Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, 'I believed, and so I spoke,' we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence."

~ 2 Cor. 4:13-14 (from today's lectionary)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Divine Favor

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
~ Romans 5:8-9
Those who know their sins to be atoned for, and themselves restored to divine favor, are labeled (to use Paul's Greek term) dikaioumenoi; that is, they are the beneficiaries of God's dikaiosyne (Greek) or tzedakah (Hebrew). The standard English rendering, "justified," is at best the least inadequate translation. The point, in any case, is not that such people are, by a divine legal fiction, "declared righteous" though in fact they remain sinners, nor that they have suddenly been transformed from sinners into right-behaving individuals, but simply that their sin with its bane has been atoned for and they are thus, by God's goodness, once again in good standing with their Creator and Judge.
~ Stephen Westerholm, Preface to the Study of Paul