Mother of All the Living

Genesis 3:15 is known as the protoevangelium, the first good news. One evidence that Adam believed this good news comes in his response to God’s curse and promise. “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20). Eve has not yet borne children, and she has just been implicitly included in the curse justly delivered upon the human race–dust would return to dust. Spiritual death happened the day Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and physical death would follow. But in the meantime the seed of the woman would live under God’s blessing, bringing life to the world. “Eve” is taken from the word for life or living, and Adam calls her this “because she was the mother of all the living.” Even though life hadn’t come through her yet, the perfect tense is used, a prophetic perfect used by faith to indicate what would surely come to pass. In a chapter when Adam got a lot of things wrong, here he gets something right: naming, believing and praising his wife because of the sure promise of God.

Pimps & Planned Parenthood

This video has been making its way around for the last few weeks contributing to the momentum that led the House of Representatives last Friday, in a bipartisan vote of 240-185, to pass the Pence Amendment eliminating taxpayer-funding for Planned Parenthood. This is good, but still small, progress.

wolf ready

Paul assures the elders in Ephesus that soon they will have to deal with wolves. “I know that after my departure, fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). The question was not if, but when. And building a wall around the church would be no help; the trouble would come from among them. Paul pulls no punches, and one can imagine the look on the Ephesians’ faces as he told them about this pending internal conflict, not unlike the reaction the disciples had in the upper room when Jesus said one of them would betray him. Every church needs an immune system for dealing with the sort of people who have a desire to make disciples in their own name, not Jesus’, and are willing to attack the vulnerable in the flock to do it. “Be alert”, Paul says (20:31). But what does this look like? Some leaders anticipate this by cultivating a climate of suspicion. “Which one of you will betray me?” Much preaching today is consistently delivered this way, causing genuine and peaceable Christians to experience undue doubt about their motives and even their salvation. Being alert doesn’t mean being suspicious or thinking evil of another. Any body that would withstanding sickness needs first to be healthy. The best way to spot a counterfeit is to know the genuine article. “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (20:32). Every church will deal with division, coming from within, at some point, and being alert to this fact, the best preparation is an exuberant love for and knowledge of God and his gracious gospel. This is how you get ready for a wolf fight.

Song in the Early Church

“The song, a form of prayer, in the festive dress of poetry and the elevated language of inspiration, raising the congregation to the highest pitch of devotion, and giving it a part in the heavenly harmonies of the saints. This passed immediately, with the psalms of the Old Testament, those inexhaustible treasures of spiritual experience, edification, and comfort, from the temple and the synagogue into the Christian church. The Lord himself inaugurated psalmody into the new covenant at the institution of the holy Supper, and Paul expressly enjoined the singing of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” as  means of social edification. But to this precious inheritance from the past, whose full value was now for the first time understood in light of the New Testament revelation, the church, in the enthusiasm of her first love, added original, specifically Christian psalms, hymns, doxologies, and benedictions, which afforded the richest material for sacred poetry and music in succeeding centuries; the song of the heavenly hosts, for example, at the birth of the Saviour; the “Nunc dimittis” of Simeon; the “Magnificat” of the Virgin Mary; the “Benedictus” of Zacharias; the thanksgiving of Peter at his miraculous deliverance; the speaking with tongues in the apostolic churches, which, whether song or prayer, was always in the elevated language of enthusiasm; the fragments of hymns scattered through the Epistles; and the lyrical and liturgical passages, the doxologies and antiphonies of the Apocalypse.”  Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 1, p. 463-4.

Signs of Revival

Douglas Wilson’s Easy Chairs, Hard Words: Conversations on the Liberty of God consists of a series of fictitious conversations that are all too real between a pastor Martin Spenser and an inquiring Christian. Here is a ripe bit on real vs. faux revival.

“In a true revival, doctrine is the emphasis, and the doctrine is God-centered. In revivalism, because man is the center, feelings are emphasized. In revival, truth overwhelms the mind, resulting in an emtoinal response–inexpressible joy. In revivalism, the emotions are excited directly, and any number of teachings, true or false, can do that.

“What about morality?”

“In a true revival, the change in the moral behavior of those blessed is significant and lasting. With revivalism, very little is done to teach the people to restrain their passions. In fact, because the ‘revival’ encourages a lack of restraint in the church, it is not long before  a lack of restraint is evident elsewhere, usually in the area of sexual morality.”

“Are you saying that in order to have a true revival, a belief in God’s exhaustive sovereignty is necessary”?

“Yes.”

People Don’t Stop Crimes, Guns do

“People’s reaction to the horrific events displayed on TV such as the Minnesota attack are understandable, but the more than two million times each year that Americans use guns defensively are never discussed — even though this is five times as often as the 450,000 times that guns are used to commit crimes over the last couple of years. Seldom do cases make the news where public shootings are stopped or mothers use guns to prevent their children from being kidnapped. Few would know that a quarter of the public-school shootings were stopped by citizens with guns before uniformed police could arrive.” John R. Lott Jr. has made the case that responsible people use guns to prevent crimes that otherwise increase when guns are banned.

Paul’s Twofold Task

“His task was twofold: practical and theoretical. He preached the gospel of free and universal grace from Damascus to Rome, and secured its triumph in the Roman empire, which means the civilized world of that age. At the same time he built up the church from within by the exposition and defence of the gospel in his Epistles. He descended to the humblest details of ecclesiastical administration and discipline, and mounted to the sublimest heights of theological speculation.” Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 1, p. 318