Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year, New Man

 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Since we are on the verge of the new year 2016, and 2015 is about to pass away, this seemed like an appropriate passage for New Year's Eve. This verse also happens to be a favorite of mine. One reason is because it is one of those verses that has shown itself to be so helpful. In a world plagued by false conversions and false professions of faith, it is one of those foundational verses which help us discern not only the truth of other people's faith, but even more importantly, our own.

Of course you might ask, what exactly does it mean for a person to be "in Christ" as the verse phrases it. Perhaps the best answer is found in John chapter 15. Jesus, speaking to his disciples, said this.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:1-5) 

This metaphor compares us to branches on a vine that is Jesus Christ. The branches depend upon the vine for sustenance, just as a Christian depends on God's word. The branches of a vine are the means by which the vine bears its fruit, just as the Christian is Jesus' chosen way of building his kingdom. In other words, the person who is abiding in the vine, or in Christ, is the genuine believer.

Of course 2 Corinthians 5:17 is not the only place we find that speaks of one who is "in Christ" as being a new creature.

In Ephesians 4 we read this:

But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning your former manner of life the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24)

Now, since the Christian is commanded to put off the old man and put on the new, it may lead one to believe that this becoming a new creature, is an act of your own will. That is true at least on one level, for from our point of view it is a matter of deciding to do, and then to do it. However, the other side of that coin can be found in Paul's letter to the Philippians where he says this: For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

In other words, it is God who works in you to change your will so that you want to do what pleases him. God doesn't force you, the Christian, to do things you don't want to, but in his grace and mercy he gently and imperceptibly changes your will, so that it conforms to his will. The results of this change in your will, which we might call the new creature, is found in numerous places in scripture, among them Ephesians 4 where we just left off a moment ago.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
(Ephesians 4:25-32)

The bottom line is that for the true Christian, at some point in their life there will have been a change. They will have become a new creature. Their old way of life will have passed away. Everything will have become new including their desires. They will desire to please God rather than fulfill the lusts of the flesh. If you have never experienced such a change and the concept is foreign to you, it should be a matter of grave concern. In Paul's letter to the church of Corinth he urges them: Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Corinthians 13:5)

We began with this text: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Have you examined yourself in light of this scripture?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Doug Wilson's Night Before Christmas

Couldn't help but share this poem by Doug Wilson.  If you choose to pass it along, please be sure to give proper credit to the author.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land,

We still mark the birth of the One who is banned

From public discussion or public display.

"Get rid of the Christ child–but still keep the day!"

So public school children must practice with stealth

Those carols which threaten our strange commonwealth,

And now and again someone’e runaway creche

Will abruptly appear in some government place,

Right out in the open where children can view

This threat to the folks at the ACLU.

So drink to the health of our once happy nation,

And deck all the halls with strange litigation.

Then eat all you want to, drink rum by the quart

But don’t say that name, or you’ll wind up in court.

Pretend that this holiday just always was.

Don’t ask whence it came like a smart child does.

Just talk about Rudolph or Santa’s small elves,

Or sing little ditties of days bunched in twelves.

Now this is all right because (please get this straight)

There’s no separation of North Pole and state.

So sing all you want of this sort of stuff

In the public arena, folks can’t get enough.

If you do sing the carols, then please, just be careful.

Look over your shoulder, keep watch and be prayerful.

Edit those carols, avoid our law’s curses,

(You’ll have to leave out quite a few of the verses.)

So you won’t get the secular humanists riled

With songs about sinners and God reconciled.

"Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay,"

Angers the People for the Humanist Way.

But if you believe the time is now ripe

To stand up for Christmas, don’t sit there and gripe.

The secular Scrooges and Grinches will hear

If you say, "Merry Christmas," with all the right cheer.

It’s time to be counted for what’s good and right,

To all, Merry Christmas! To all, a good night!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

Apparently this is a question that is gaining some attention recently by way of a multitude of articles posted on the Internet.  I must admit that I was not aware of such articles, until I watched (listened to, actually) this video by James White, who I always find to be edifying.  Dr. White, as usual, seems to have hit the nail right on the head, where so many of us often hit it a glancing blow resulting in a bent nail.

For the whole story, I recommend watching the 24 minute video, but here is my condensed and paraphrased version of White's points:

Historically Muslims and Christians are talking about the same God, but that is not the same as worshiping the same God. Mohamed and the Muslims say that Allah is the God of Abraham. Christians also claim to follow the God of Abraham.

The New Testament says that "the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth

However the author of the Koran seemed to believe that the Trinity worshiped by the Christians consisted of God the Father, Mary the wife and Jesus the son.  That is an excusable mistake considering that by Mohamed's day there were already local sects that had gone off the rails and were bowing down to statues of Mary (just as the church of Rome still does to this day). 

This is where the rubber meets the road.  Islam denies that God has a son.  Christianity confirms what is revealed about the deity of Christ in the Bible.  The Koran would seem to equate worshiping Jesus as God with an unforgivable sin.   If God is who the New Testament reveals him to be, then those who deny the Trinity cannot be true worshippers.  Likewise, if the New Testament is wrong and the Koran correct, then Christians cannot be worshipping in truth.  I must add though, it does seem a little strange that if "Allah" was going to correct the record about a Trinity that the Christians were mistakenly worshipping, he wouldn't have "clued in" his prophet as to the actual identity of the members of the Trinity.


Monday, December 7, 2015


I had every intention of posting a short explanation of why I took the liberty of putting the name "YaHWeh" in place of "the LORD" when quoting Psalm 100 in my post for Thanksgiving.  However while researching it I realized that , as so often happens, it was not just a simple, cut and dried topic.  ...and yes, since you ask, I do make a habit of researching most of what I write rather than just "shooting from the hip" (despite how it might appear).  In any case, the explanation will have to wait for me to find a little more free time to formulate an intelligible post, but in the meantime I do have this:

This picture, snapped by an unknown photographer, is from the second pass I made on the Knuckledragger at the Meltdown Drags this summer.  The amount of air between the front wheel and the pavement was not really in the script, but it makes for an great action shot.

BTW, in the past couple weeks this photo seems to have made the rounds on the Internet.  When I first became aware of it, I made some inquiries as to its origin, hoping to thank the photographer and formally ask permission to reproduce it, but came up empty handed.  If anyone can point me in the right direction I would still like to do that.