Theology

Fide

fide

Where does our faith come from?

From God! is the cry of any good Christian. And God alone!

After all, you’re not like those disbelieving Gentiles in the Old Testament. Some trust in chariots, but not you!

…right?

Well, if you’re reading this, more likely than not you drive to and from school or work each day. Clearly, that requires a bit of trust. So are you breaking the rules of the five solae?

Of course not. But then what, exactly, does sola fide mean?

In the nineteenth century, when the five solae (sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria) were first solidified, the term faith meant something rather different than what it does today. And fide, in its original Latin, meant something even more removed from the modern interpretation. Specifically, it referred to a complete and total trust in something – the placing of your life in its hands.

Oh, thank goodness. The only things I trust in that sense are God and the Bible.

Really? Well, that’s quite fascinating. In fact, the Bible goes beyond even your earthly life – it refers to the entrustment of your heavenly life. The eternal one. Into the hands of God.

Isn’t that a bit of a big commitment?

What did you expect? It’s only your eternal salvation – or your eternal punishment, whichever route you choose. There are quite a few people who would deny they even have an eternal life to give.

At least it’s nice and abstract – I don’t actually have to do anything.

Well, that’s not the whole story. If you are prepared to hand your eternal fate, your earthly life, and the whole of your existence over to the One who can bring you joy, you’ve got to be prepared for a bit of payment – not a necessary payment, but an expected one. It is not an unparalleled exchange – and yet it is. Recall, on the one hand, the sinner on the cross, who needed only to believe and repent to be saved; recall, on the other hand, the life of Paul, who did all he could after his conversion to glorify the work of God.

So what’s the point of all this hullaballoo? Do I need works to be saved or not?

Need works? Of course not. This is the folly of Catholicism, and it leads down the road that has left them as a ‘many-ways-to-heaven’ religion. But to not share God’s word, to hide your light on a hill – that is wrong. Not only scripturally but morally. For if you hide your light for the sake of keeping up appearances on earth, you will have no one to keep up appearances with in heaven.

But by no means consider this a deal-breaker. The short mist of life, that rises for a short time and passes away, may be thrown away, spent away from those who disbelieve – or better yet, spent witnessing to those who disbelieve, but if you have faith – if you have fide, the faith for which the reformers died – you will exchange it for an eternity of rejoicing in heaven.

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Scriptura

For the month of October, The Remnant is advancing its daily posts to Tuesdays, in order that our fifth and final post in this series will be released on 31 October, the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation’s beginning.

day1

Why these sixty-six?

It’s an oft-asked question. Why, for example, is the gospel of John included where the gospel of Thomas is not? Where do we draw the line between divinely inspired scripture and too-late heretical writings? And why do we listen to these 66 books anyway? What’s so special about them? Just who says they’re divine work?

 

The Old Testament

Well, the answer starts over four and a half millennia ago in the midst of Arabia, wherein the events of the book of Job occurred. Chronologically, however, both the writing and the events of the Torah precede the events described in Job, despite what you may have heard. Most likely, the book of Job was written in the last millennium BC, leaving Genesis as the most likely candidate for the first chronologically written book. And thus Genesis and all other books of Moses’ work must necessarily be considered Biblical canon, as they form the very basis, heart, and soul of the Bible.

Most other books in the Old Testament are beyond dispute. Many claim divine inspiration, others contain clearly interpreted prophecies, and the remainder lends credence to the Bible’s historicity (for an example, the books of Chronicles contain both accurate prophecy and historical credence).

However, the Jewish Bible numbers fifteen books fewer than the typical Protestant one, and this is for good reason: Protestant Bibles typically split several books which Jews do not. In the Jewish Bible, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles are each one book, as in the original manuscripts; the twelve minor prophets are one book (a decision which sits somewhat uncomfortably even in the most traditional of Jewish circles, since many of these books were written hundreds of years apart); and Ezra and Nehemiah are considered one book, as they detail two parts of the same story. (This is a similar situation to the two-part writings of Luke, namely Luke and Acts.)

Additionally, Catholic Bibles include a swath of additional books, such as Tobit, Judith, I and II Maccabees, additions to Daniel and Esther, and several other noncanonical books. The decision by the Protestant Church during the Reformation to reject these books is founded on their lack of historical credence, the scant evidence for divine inspiration, and their failure to include accurate prophecy.

 

The New Testament

But it is on the New Testament which articles such as this typically focus, since their development is less of an even progression of writings with occasional dissension and more of a haphazard piling of books written in the sixty years or so after the resurrection of Christ. Deciding which of these hundreds of mostly heretical books to include in the final Bible is an unenviable task, and one which caused large amounts of trouble in the early church. This also gave rise to the Gnostic dissenters, who have rebounded in modern colours due to Bart Ehrman’s popular 2007 historical study Misquoting Jesus. An excellent rebuttal, Timothy Paul Jones’ Misquoting Truth, points out Ehrman’s errors, but nevertheless, Misquoting Jesus has led to difficulties for many who don’t investigate further.

Many have argued that the modern New Testament is a Romanisation of the original books, and Constantine bastardised the real, accurate Bible. Such accusations are inaccurate, however. The Council of Nicea, in 325 AD was the founding point for our modern, complete Bible. The absolute latest that any respectable church disagreed with our modern New Testament was in the early fourth century.

Such a sixty-six book Bible, divinely inspired, was reaffirmed in the 1546 post-Reformation Council of Trent, which was followed by the 1563 Thirty-Nine Articles and other Christian affirmations. Our sixty-six books, concurrent and non-contradictory, are no accident. They are the complete and inspired word of God.

 

Conclusion

I can’t accurately express how useful of a book Misquoting Truth is. If you wish to go further in depth with the study of the development of the Biblical canon, it’s an impeccable and unrivalled source to do so.

Overall, however, such things are ultimately unimportant. The issues of whether or not certain small doctrines are true or false pale in comparison to the key teaching of the Bible: justification by salvation by repentance and belief in Christ. And that is the core of the Protestant Reformation.

 


Sources

How did we get the Bible?

Misquoting Jesus

Misquoting Truth

Apologetics

High Time

YES

Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

Proverbs 6:4

 

Procrastination is perhaps the greatest weapon that the Devil has. He may allow us to convince ourselves of great future deeds of evangelism, so long as we forever keep them in the future. This theme is emphasised not only in the Bible but also in the Christian writings of such great evangelists as Spurgeon in his essay Perilous Procrastination and C. S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters.

Why is procrastination so powerful? And what does it tell us about human nature?

 

Procrastination in the Bible

The very first command given to man in the Bible is to tend to the Garden of Eden. More prevalent, however, than vignettes of man’s success, are those of man’s failure, and the Bible is no exception. Even Paul was subject to procrastination (Acts 15:36-41) in his failure to reconcile with Barnabas.

Lest you be tempted to think that procrastination is thus fine, think again. As GotQuestions shows in their article on the subject, the Bible, again and again, warns of the dangers of procrastination. ‘Consider the ant, oh sluggard’ and ‘do not let the sun go down on your anger’ have even worked their way into popular culture and have to some extent lost their significance.

 

Procrastination in Our Lives

Why is procrastination dangerous? After all, the Bible commands us not to work on Sunday, and not all Christians are called to service.

This may be your response to the message this article sends. But procrastination applies to every area of our lives, be we the greatest of missionaries or the lowliest of servants. Here are just a few examples from the Bible:

 

Lack of Procrastination in Ministry

This is likely the most obvious application of the Bible’s words on procrastination. Of course missionaries should not procrastinate. Why would they? They are bringing the word of God to every corner of the earth, and they must not fail in pursuing their mission. The salvation of many depends on it.

Notice that pursuing is the operative word in the previous sentence. Criticising missionaries for their lack of results is not righteous anger.

 

Lack of Procrastination in the Church

But even we who are not called to service in the mission field must not procrastinate. We have duties in the church as well: we are called to help our pastors, our deacons, and our Christian brothers. We should follow God’s commands, attend church, and commit to fellowship with other Christians.

 

Lack of Procrastination in Evangelism

All of us – missionary, pastor, deacon, or member of the congregation – Jew or Gentile – rich or poor – are called to evangelism. This is the Great Commission given in Matthew 28:16-20, and we are all commanded to obey it.

Hell is a reality.

 

Conclusion

Procrastination is no small enemy. It has conquered many great Christians and it can easily conquer us. But, in both our heavenly and earthly attributes, it is an enemy that we can defeat with the help of God. Our worldly pursuits and our human procrastination should never supersede our higher calling. So go out into the world – and share the word of God.

Theology

You Will Be With Me

‘And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”’

Luke 23:43

 

AMERICAN FLAG FLIES AS WORLD TRADE CENTER SMOKE AND DUST LINGERS IN
AIR.

 

Two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-six.

That’s the number of people who died in the terrorist attacks on this day in 2001. It’s a painful number to imagine, especially for someone (like myself) who never saw it happen.

But there is a bright side, even if it doesn’t come from our world.

Luke 24 is about the death of Christ on the cross. It carries suitably dark themes, and by the forty-third verse, it feels like hope has vanished. We know, of course, that Jesus rose again, and that hope would return with the day, but Luke 23:43 is a strange verse, in light of the chapter’s immediate context.

One of the two thieves who is being crucified alongside Jesus mocks Him and laughs at Him, considering Him delusional. The other thief worships Him, to which Jesus replies ‘today you will be with Me in paradise.’

Isn’t that strange? The sky is darkened, the sun is blackened, and the Creator of the universe is at death’s door, and yet He is still declaring this man forgiven of his sins.

What does this verse have to do with 9/11? Well, of 2996 people, there may have – and probably was – one, at least, who accepted Christ that day. And Luke 23:43 gives us the assurance of their salvation – and should give us hope, too. If a thief dying on a cross can be saved, if a victim of terrorism can be saved, there is no power that may stop us from salvation, should we repent and place our trust in God. Death is a topic that churches and pastors tend to shy away from, which is a pity. It’s the most powerful tool at our disposal – the reality that either we will perish and suffer forever, or repent and be forever joyful. And the death of thousands should be no enemy of the gospel – on the contrary, it should be a tragedy that makes people cry out why?

And we can give an answer.


Sources

Terrorism in History

9/11 Death Statistics

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Climate Change Is Not Global Warming

This is a big problem.

‘Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.’

The White House tweeted this a few years ago, carrying on a myth that really ought to be gone by now: that global warming is real.

I touched on this in my first article, but it deserves its own article.

 

The Study: Data Manipulation and Misinformation

A study by Kendall Zimmerman and Peter Doran in 2008 appears to be the original source of the ‘97%’ myth. The University of Illinois students took an online survey of scientists and concluded that the consensus among them lead to a 97.4% agreement about global warming.

The first misstep in these calculations is that the survey was overwhelmingly biased toward American and Canadian scientists, with 96% of respondents from these countries. This isn’t an irredeemable problem, but the American mindset about pollution and climate change would obviously be different than, say, the Chinese mindset, where for many decades in the twentieth century pollution coated Chinese megacities in smog and smoke.

The second problem lies in the line of questioning: ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ were used interchangeably in the survey, but any expert on the topic, or even one who has done any amount of research into it, will be able to tell the difference. Global warming is a specific subset of climate change which states that climate change is a) causing the earth to grow warmer at an unprecedented rate, b) dangerous to the environment, c) potentially able to cause large amounts of flooding and rising water levels in coastal cities such as Los Angeles, New York, or New Orleans, and d) caused by humans. Each of these points is crucial, but the last is of primary importance because people often confuse it with being part of climate change. One can believe in climate change but profess that it is caused by the natural environment more than human causes.

The Cause: Chlorofluorocarbons and the Industrial Revolution

From a creationist standpoint, this warming makes a certain amount of sense. We’re entering an unprecedented period in human history after the Ice Age, and it’s been warming all the while. It’s accelerating now, but will it continue?

In the early twentieth century,  materials known as ‘chlorofluorocarbons’ began to be produced. They were vastly useful for firefighting and production increased at fast rates.

After about fifty years, the ozone layer began to break down over Antarctica, letting in more sunlight and heat, causing more melting, causing global temperatures and sea levels to rise. And because chlorofluorocarbon production increased in parallel with better industrial technology, it was easy to see the apparent link between, say, car ownership (increasing because of the increase in mass production) and climate change.

In the 1970s, a scientist by the name of James Lovelock realised the CFCs were practically omnipresent on earth. Even over Iceland, one of the cleanest and least industrialised countries in the world had notable amounts of CFCs in the air. By 1987, countries began to heavily regulate the production of CFCs. By 2010, CFC production was banned practically everywhere.

But since CFCs have such a long lifetime – anywhere from fifty to one hundred years – we haven’t yet seen the effects of banning them. Climate scientists who have studied them are almost certain that the ozone layer will began to reform around 2030 and be fully healed by around 2080, but we can’t be sure because we haven’t been able to see the effects, in the same way that they were undetectable from the 1920s to the 1970s.

The thing is, lots of things have been increasing quickly over the past century. World population and industrialisation are just a few of them. And that makes it easy to attribute climate change to an incorrect cause that sounds quite reasonable.

So what do we do? Spread the word.

Let people know that climate change may soon be ending. The harsh conditions of the industrial revolution are gone, and in their place will come a new – and better – world. Perhaps the earth will still be warming, but it will be slowed. Maybe it will end entirely. Maybe – and perhaps soon – Jesus will return (Revelation 22:20-21). There’s no way to know – but as Christians, we can place our trust in God, and know that all that happens is to His glory.

So what is climate change?

Well, it’s not global warming, for what it’s worth.

 


Sources

Climate Change Study

National Review on Climate Change

Chlorofluorocarbons – Wikipedia

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SAB Contradictions #2

As previously, I’m addressing a contradiction from the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, which comes up with supposed Biblical discontinuities. This week, I’m refuting this page, which argues about the creator of heaven and earth.

Essentially, the page argues that some passages claim the God did it, while others claim the Jesus did it, and yet more passages claim that both of them did it together.

So which one is right? How to resolve the contradiction?

Well, as Christians we know that Jesus is God. This is the doctrine of the Trinity, which states that God is three persons in one. Don’t try to understand this; you can’t. It’s an eternal concept which we will understand only when we are made like God (see 1 Corinthians 13:12).

The atheist, however, must necessarily have this proven beyond a doubt, and so we must prove Jesus’ deity.

Here are a few examples of proofs of Jesus’ deity: first, He proclaimed multiple times in various language that ‘I and the Father are one’ or that He had been alive before Abraham, both clear claims to deity (John 8:58, 10:30). Secondly, Revelation 19:10 is a direct command to John to worship only God. To take an example, John himself worships God in Matthew 14:33, but is not rebuked, which Jesus would do if He were not God. Finally, Jesus was capable of paying for our sins. An infinite debt can be resolved only by an infinite saviour, and a Jesus who is not God cannot be that.

So if Jesus is God (and He definitely is) then the contradiction is resolved, right?

Not quite yet. Isaiah 44:24 is brought up as stating that God created alonenot with another being. The triune God is the only explanation for this.

Next time, I’ll address the creation of the plants.