House to House

This Lord’s Day is Pentecost Sunday, an annual reminder that the Christian church went international, or at least expanded exponentially to all nations when the Holy Spirit empowered it. It was only three centuries later that this group of roughly 3000 people would make-up, conservatively, half the inhabitants of the empire and so see the legalization of Christianity under Constantine. Continue reading

Faith For This Life

Yet Abraham believed, and believed for this life. Yea, if his faith had been only for a future life, he surely would have cast everything away in order to hasten out of this world to which he did not belong. But Abraham’s faith was not of this sort, if there be such a faith; for really this is not faith but the furthest possibility of faith which has a presentiment of its object at the extremest limit of the horizon, yet is separated from it by a yawning abyss within which despair carries on its game. But Abraham believed precisely for this life, that he was to grow old in the land, honored by the people, blessed in his generation, remembered forever in Isaac, his dearest thing in life, whom he embraced with a love for which it would be a poor expression to say that he loyally fulfilled the father’s duty of loving the son, as indeed is evinced in the words of the summons, “the son whom thou lovest.” Jacob had twelve sons, and one of them he loved; Abraham had only one, the son whom he loved.”  Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

How easy it is to hope for nothing concrete in life, to possess an ambiguous “faith” that determines little else than a destination after death. Abraham’s faith believed God’s promise, and that promise meant something about his descendants on the earth.

Already Adopted

Being in the happy time of having kids (the world must be peopled), many of my friends are working through the relationship of their unborn and recently born children to God. This quote by Calvin is helpful.

The offspring of believers are born holy, because their children, while yet in the womb, before they breathe the vital air, have been adopted into the covenant of eternal life. Nor are they brought into the church by baptism on any other ground than because they belonged to the body of the church before they were born. He who admits aliens to baptism profanes it. . . . For how can it be lawful to confer the badge of Christ on aliens from Christ? Baptism must, therefore, be preceded by the gift of adoption, which in not the cause of half salvation merely, but gives salvation entire; and this salvation is afterwards ratified by Baptism.

It’s helpful to remember that Calvin lived in a time of great covenant hypocrisy–the Roman Catholic Church of the sixteenth century. He was no stranger to clerical abuse nor of false profession. Still, where the covenant is embraced, covenant blessings follow. And to believing parents, the promises are for them and their children, as many as the Lord will call.

Discern the Body, Even the Small Parts

For those just tuning in, I’m reviewing Cornelis Venema’s book Children at the Lord’s Table? which is against serving communion to baptized, (pre-adolescent) children, and have now come to his penultimate and climactic chapter A Key Passage: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. Venema emphasizes this passage because in his view it is the only passage in the New Testament that has clear implications for determining who may be admitted to the Lord’s Table. Continue reading

Free Money

Commenting on Numbers 25:36-27, Gordon Wenham notes “Interest-free loans are well attested in ancient financial records, and laws against taking excessive interest are also known, but Israel is alone in totally prohibiting interest payments on loans to the poor. These loans were essentially charitable: they enabled a poor farmer to buy enough seed corn for the next season.”

Well, not exactly free (which is notoriously not helpful for the poor), but loans without interest between Israelites was mandated by law.

Not a Momentary Act

Norm Shepherd:

Further, justifying faith is not a momentary act. It is not the act of single moment. It is not a mathematical point without a time dimension. Justifying faith is an ongoing reality in the life of the believer. That is why the believer is called a believer. He believes and keeps on believing.

The suspicious are already hyperventilating because they only understand justification in the narrow sense (which is one helpful sense, just not to the exclusion of others that do not contradict it) that a man is justified once and for all in Jesus. He goes on: Continue reading

This is love

The apostle John says we know love in that Jesus laid down his life for us; so we ought to do it for our brothers (1 Jn. 3:16). John would know. This is exactly what his brother James did for him, the church and Jesus as he was murdered at the hands of Herod (Acts 12:1-2). I find it easy to forget that the writers of the New Testament knew such suffering themselves. John must have had his brother in mind as he wrote that.

ObamaCare Coming Your Way

Scott Gottlieb lays out the way Government Medicine will grow and some problems with it: How ObamaCare Will Affect Your Doctor.

The upshot: “While the public option is meant for the uninsured, employers will realize it’s easier — and cheaper — to move employees into the government plan than continue workplace coverage.” Prepare to wait months for surgeries and other services like they do in Canada.