Assorted Thoughts

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Ironically, those who reject justification of the ungodly by faith alone often end up relying on ordinances and sacraments as chief measures of their standing before God. The kind of evidential works genuine believers look for to authenticate their faith, which alone justifies, are much more intense and heart-revealing and radical than the kind of works those who deny sola fide lean on. The Protestant Puritans were far more interested in spiritual self-examination than the merit-centered Catholics and worthiness-centered Mormons are.

At final judgment, I will be both embarrassed and proud. My saved family and friends will be horrified and overjoyed. Embarrassed and overjoyed over things brought to light, and proud and overjoyed over things brought to light. Thank God for the superabounding joy that will swallow up embarrassment.

The swine not only trample pearls, but waste the time of the pearl-caster.

God condescends when he reveals himself to humanity. He accommodates humanity by working through assumptions that we have about reality, many of which are wrong. If we praise fellow humans for being able to communicate well in spite of the weakness of human language and worldview assumptions, then how much more should God be praised for being an effective communicator? That he effectively reveals divine truths through weak human language and weak human worldviews is a testimony not to his weakness, but to his power.

Religious academics and those who interact with them pride themselves in a pompous version of “civility”. They boast in how they are able to talk over deeply significant issues in a merely calm and dispassionate manner. They speak condescendingly of outsiders who still speak with vigor and passion, who exult over beauty and glory and grimace with moral outrage over evil and deception. To these academics I say: be wary of lying. If you speak true propositions, do not lie with your tone and attitude. Let your tone and attitude speak more to the truth you communicate than to the position you occupy in your elitist community of academia. When you speak of significant matters insignificantly, you lie. When you speak of insignificant minutiae with fervor, you lie. Tell the whole story, and tell it holistically. Help a man not only think appropriately, but also feel appropriately.

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Assorted Thoughts

Beautifu landscape

Sometimes when referring to categories of thought, we refer to them as linguistic terms, as though the term itself represented the category itself. Language and meaning are often inextricably tied together, and that is why the battle of ideas cannot be divorced from the battle of language. Defending an idea may unashamedly involve defending the definition of a word. Some words are disposable, others are like important bridges to defend when preventing an army from conquering your land.

I am a dark man, and I need to be saved everyday. In Jesus is life, and the life is the light of men (John 1:4).

If there is no ultimate, personal Creator behind absolutely everything, then it is simply impossible that there be any true meaning in life. Meaning depends on intelligent personality. Without the wisdom of a personal God, life is despair, and darkness, and a dead-end, and a horrific pity, and death is a thing to be dreaded. Any other way of thinking is delusional. Only an infinite personal God can save us from the infinitely deep dark pit of meaninglessness.

“You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” (Psalm 90:8) As a sinner, there is some comfort in being unknown. It is intimidating when someone knows and seems to be able to explain me. But even those people don’t know me. But there is one who knows my all secrets, even the ones I have hidden from myself, and someday we will meet face to face.

“If the Spirit of grace is absent, the law is present only to accuse and kill us.” – Augustine

“The law is to the flesh like a whip to an idle and balky ass, to arouse it to work.” – Calvin

Never promise a man that you will never talk about Christ and truth and ultimate reality with him ever again.

When non-Christians can’t meet their own, specific requirements for forgiveness from God, they often appeal to generalized notions of kindness and mercy to mentally disassociate themselves from the specific requirements they otherwise affirm.

Good things that dull my sensitivity to spiritual things. Lord, save me from them.

Christian grace and mercy is ultimately rooted in God’s turning the demands of justice on an undeserving party. It is not the absolute cancellation of justice, as opponents of penal substitution demand.

It seems like we can’t fully enjoy God without enjoying Him in the context of other human relationships. It seems we can’t fully enjoy other human beings without enjoying them in the context of enjoying other creation and God. That people need other people to enjoy God most fully speaks of human, not divine, deficiency and limitation. And yet it is the way we were made, so it is “good” in God’s eyes that we enjoy him most fully in the context of creation and Christian community. We can’t enjoy the community of God (the Three) fully without being in Christian community.

For a person to tell the truth, he must communicate with his listener in mind, reasonably optimizing his language so that it can be understood as clearly as possible.

For a person to tell the truth in the spirit of truth, he must have an interest in the truthfulness of what he is communicating. He must therefore seek to understand what he believes, and how it relates to other truths that may seem to contradict it. Irresponsible thinkers are almost always irresponsible communicators.

If a person is telling the truth, he or she probably should be able to reword what is being communicated two or three ways.

If something cannot be translated, it probably isn’t meaningful or truthful. If it only works in the English language, or in a certain type of slang, or catchphrase, or ditty, then it probably isn’t meaningful or true. This means that truth-tellers cannot be lazy, but must labor to write well, and to know their subject-matter, and know their audience.

It can be useful and, in the long run, edifying to attribute your work (instead of leaving it anonymous). It’s important for people to be able to draw from authors they trust, and avoid those they don’t. Authors gain trust when they consistently provide good material. Without attribution, you leave your readers with a smaller body of trustworthy sources to draw from. The identify of the mind(s) behind the text is important.

“Your best friend is the one who tells you the most truth.” – Paul Washer

Sometimes the best way to criticize a religion is merely explain and expose it. You don’t even have to do any appraising. It’s like popping a theological pimple. You don’t have to assess the puss. You just pop it and see it immediately for how gross it is. Crude, I know, but this is the case with the doctrines of secretive cults.

Conversely, sometimes the best way to promote the beauty and truth of Christ and his doctrines are to simply expose them and portray them. You need not always argue for them. They are self-authenticating and self-evidencing and make an inherent argument. This is the case with what is most truthful and beautiful. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Assorted Thoughts

Beautiful landscape

People who often play the victim love to emotionally exploit people who never play the victim.

The Christian life is simple, and no one should complicate it. The two fundamental elements of a relationship with God are prayer and the absorption His word. They are expressions of the saving faith you have, and they cultivate more of it. The fundamental outgrowths of this relationship are an intense love for God, a hatred of sin, and a broken love over people. That’s it.

“An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue” (Proverbs 17:4). What and who a person believes says a lot about their heart (cf. John 3:19-21).

Gauging newsworthiness corresponds to the moral value of one’s soul.

It is gracious not to believe the words of a man who is saying something untrustworthy.

I know that people are ashamed of their sin because they are wearing clothes.

A man should never be ashamed over being ashamed of his past sin, especially when there is super-abounding joy in Christ over the forgiveness of those very sins.

What are you doing on a regular basis to evangelize strangers with a clear gospel message?

A man who has no heroes thinks too highly of himself.

Every unrepentant sinner is on death row.

The claim that true love and true joy must originate in our will does not resonate with my own human experience. I am most happy when happiness bubbles over into my will, not when, having been unhappy, I will to be happy. I most love a person when love bubbles over into my will, not when, having been numb to another, I will to love. The best happiness and the best love flow like a mountain stream from my heart and burst forth like rushing water over into the waterfall of willingness. True joy and true love originate in something antecedent to my will.

Beauty scares me at times with the fear of never beholding it again. “Oh, make it never end!” To know a superior pleasure or beauty, and to want it, and to have it withheld from you is perhaps the worst kind of misery.

There is more awe in the patience of one who is of great strength and who is sensitive to justice than in one who is weak and only somewhat aware of the beauty of holiness and the horror of sin. God is infinitely sensitive to absolute purity and the demands of justice, and prepares an eternal hell of punishment and torment for those who would dare to commit high treason against the Creator of the universe. He is infinitely strong over all, creating blue whales, the Pacific Ocean, the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, the Sun, and the Milky Way. It is breathtaking that an infinitely holy, just, and powerful God is patient and kind, even for a moment. That God let the warm Sun rise over this side of the earth yet another morning is astounding.

“… lost anyway to their intellectual musings.”

I sometimes avoid spiritually intense people, because interacting with them bothers my conscience.

Laughing at what God hates?

Often we lightheartedly say, “Life is too short.” But there are days when the weight of this oppresses me, and I ache over it, and feel desperate for God to resurrect me when I die.

Various Thoughts #5

Don’t use relationships as an excuse not to open your mouth and say the hard things. Don’t open your mouth in a way that serves as an excuse not to work hard at building relationships.

To help cultivate a proper fear of hell and a concern for the lost, I highly recommend that everyone spend a couple of hours studying the supermax prisons.

After the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui it was said: “He got what he deserved.” “I totally and wholeheartedly agree with the decision of the jury today.” “Justice has been served today.” We will hear those words from the saints at the final judgment, when the wicked are sentenced to hell for high treason against God. And there will be a trembling joy at the grace of Christ given to us hell-deserving sinners.

If a man should come to my town, and stand on the street corners, telling everyone that God’s wrath is burning against unrepentant idolators, and that He is very soon going to end His patience, and unleash the floodgates of His fury; and if he should herald Revelation 14:10, warning, “he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of His anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” (cf. Psalm 75:8); if all these things, should I rebuke him for being a liar, or for being unjust, or for being unmerciful? Shall I be offended or embarrassed by his message? Surely I wish for him to complete his message with the cross of Christ and the grace extended to the humble, but is a man who is not merciful unjust? Is a man who tills the soil of men’s hearts with the justice and law of God unmerciful? God, help me to think of their message like you do: it is accurate, and right, and worth hearing, and it tills the soil of the hearts of wise men, open to reproof. It prepares a straight path to the gospel. Those who reject it, or are embarrassed by it, or scoff at it, or make friends with unbelievers by mutually criticizing it, do so because of sin.

“God does not always act with justice. Sometimes He acts with mercy. Mercy is not justice, but neither is it injustice. Injustice violates righteousness. Mercy manifests kindness and grace and does no violence to righteousness. We may see non-justice in God, which is mercy, but we never see injustice in God.” -R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, p. 145

Resolved: To exit the sphere of “conversation” from which flows the froth of “missional”, “emergent”, “postmodern” rhetoric. Why? Because it seems to be very little more than pompous, empty rhetoric. It is “essentially a kind of semantic gamesmanship, more sophistry than substance.” (>>) Give me the clarity of the Word, objective truth and beauty, genuine piety, the ugliness of sin, the glory of God, the gutsiness of world missions to unreached people groups, and the esteeming of Christ. The average human being lives 70 or so years. I don’t have time for the high-sounding phrases and flippant rejection of time-tested truths and never-ending ambiguity.

“Loving people in a way that they don’t want to be loved.”

“Fruitful evangelism that results from the dark nights of the soul.”

Propositions are not peculiar to any language; a given proposition may be asserted in many languages.” (Irving Copi & Carl Cohen) Those who care more about truth care more about using helpful, clear, propositional sentences. By being propositional, what a person says can stand the test of time through the change of language. It can be translated. Those who play with non-propositional, trite remarks—the kind that are almost sure to make an audience say, “ooh”, and “ahh”—are giving people what won’t last. Knowing this doesn’t require knowing the temporality or weakness of a concept. It can often simply be discerned by the fact that meaningful, propositional language is absent.

God. Truth. Grace. Love. Justice. Power. Glory. Pro-Life. Compassion. Peaceful. Respectful. I suspect that the battle over ideas between communicating, linguistic beings always involves a battle over the ownership of language. When a war over ideas is won, the victor will wave the banner of words, filling them with the meaning he supplies. You often can tell who is winning the battle of ideas by what content is being ascribed to language.

“Christ’s grace [Pelagius] treats with such brevity, barely menitoning grace by name so that his only aim of mentioning it seems to have been to avoid the scandal of having avoided the subject.” (Augustine) “[T]his people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me…” (Isaiah 29:13)

“[A]voiding criticism and… hard questions by the use of the ‘You just don’t understand what I’m saying’ ” -Anna Nymous (>>)

Those who want to reject justification by faith alone blind themselves to everything except the caricature that those who are supposedly justified by faith alone may continue in unrepentance, rebellion, and sin. Easy believism is the perfect strawman for cultists. Those who teach and preach easy believism are cause for slander against the glories of justification by faith alone. It is tragic and ironic, because the only foundation upon which a man may become holy is that of being freely justified—fully forgiven and counted righteous before God. Justification ensures the sanctification that ensues. A man who is not being sanctified is not justified, and never has been. All who are being sanctified are fully justified.

“[T]he Bible requires Christian leaders to know such issues, requiring in effect that Christian shepherds know what a wolf looks like. A man can be orthodox and yet be disqualified for ministry. A man can like the sheep without being qualified to fight the wolves” (Douglas Wilson, “Epilogue” in Bound Only Once, p. 220).

Assorted Thoughts

There aren’t many things more noble and worthwhile than tearing down false beliefs that dishonor Christ, and replacing them with real truth and beauty about Christ.

There is a special beauty and aura to my pregnant wife. I love to look at her!

Since truth about Christ is vital for the falling of the Spirit, obscurity is deadly and clarity is redemptive. When nuance obscures, love demands the condescension of summary. When naunce adds clarity, love demands clear, precisional categories. Love labors and sweats and aches to find helpful ways to communicate truth and beauty, folk and fine.

Missions are why rationally suicidal Christians stick around. (Philippians 1:20-25)

Some of the best premises in an argument appeal to indisputable parts of the human experience.

When sin is attributed to a man’s motive on the basis of external fruit, he objects that his motives are ultimately unknowable by others, since they are internal. When goodness is attributed to a man’s motive, he commends the other for his amiableness, politeness, and respect. We are deep sinners with double-standards, and we love ourselves with whatever standard suits us at the moment.

Repentance isn’t really what changes us. Repentance merely connects us to the Spirit who changes us. It is the resolve of the heart, sorrow over sin, and turning to trust God for all his promises. It always comes weak, empty-handed, and imperfect. The glory of the change of the heart and being right with God goes to God, not our willpower. Whenever you turn a salvific instrument like faith or repentance into a glorious, life-changing instrument of willpower, you miss the entire reason God chose faith and repentance as the instruments of salvation. God chose weak instruments to shame those who think they are strong. Real faith and repentance are such that no man will or can boast in them. They are like empty cups that homeless, humble, bankrupt beggars lift up. The beggars of grace know that not even their humility will make them right with God. Only the righteousness of another will due.

Repentance unto life, like faith, looks outside of itself to the beautiful, delivering rightousness of another, with a brokenness over the ugliness of one’s own sin.

It’s helpful to show people that you resonate honestly with human experience. It serves as a testimony to your reliable character, and that your testimony about other things is truthworthy.

It is very plain to me that truth and lie and belief and conviction unite and divide men more than affability or congeniality or tone of voice. A man has more genuine unity with another who is abrasive yet believes the same, than with a man who is amiable yet believes differently. Even when this hasn’t been immediately apparent, it has become apparent to me. Behind every friendship is a bridge of shared conviction.

When a man knows a thing, and I share that knowledge, and then I find out that he knows other things as well in relation to that first thing, and I share the knowledge of those things too (but not previously their relationship with the first), my eyes are often opened to the relationship, and I feel the excitement of seeing a bigger picture, and I feel confident that there is an order to things, and that reality always come in a package, and is interconnected. I love it that creation is a system. And I love learning from those who see it as such.

We trust God in our suffering, not by withholding our questions, but by asking them in an earnest way without accusation, and by willing to leave them unanswered. “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You yourself are the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” (C.S. Lewis)

Degree of clarity corresponds to degree of accountability. If God should hold men accountable for a thing, we may rightly infer a damning clarity. If God should reveal a thing clearly, we should rightly infer the weight of the condemnation of a man for not heeding it.

You can tell that a religious person is a secret atheist when he says doesn’t think God’s “eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20) are clear from nature. Even if he says he believes in God, you probably should set out to convince him that He exists.

Faith that honors its object is a subjective response to something objectively trustworthy — I believe that I exist, and I believe that my wife is faithful, but I do not believe that my wife is faithful with the same degree of certainty that I exist. If I did, my trust in her would dishonor her, for it would cease to be a response to how reliable she has demonstrated herself to be. My own existence is inescapable, and it is logically impossible for anyone to demonstrate the opposite. There is glory in my own existence (that is owing to God), but it is shown in a less glorious way than how my wife shows her fidelity. If I said, “Honey, I believe that you are faithful, apart from all objective content”, she should not blush, she should furrow her brow. For, if that is the case, I could hypothetically come home to find her patently, objectively adulterous, and then still believe in her faithfulness. But would such relentless belief honor her? Absolutely not. The faith that honors its object is a response to demonstrated reliability, and is vulnerable to damning objectivity. It is a leap into the dark responding to light seen without the eyes. It is the same with faith in God. Abraham’s faith honored God because it was a response to how reliable God had demonstrated himself; indeed, a subjective response to his very objective nature and character. This should be obvious, for blind faith that is stripped of all compelling objective content does not honor an object.

Testimony that bears witness of the objective, demonstrated trustworthiness of another appeals more to the self-evident trustworthiness of that person than the self.

Testimony that bears witness of the euphoria of one’s own emotional epiphany appeals more to the trustworthiness of the self than the object of the epiphany.

Assorted Thoughts

Thinking

I take pride in being honest about how prideful I am. My pride runs deep!

Some “science” is received on the basis of it immediately resonating with reality and observation and intelligible empirical data.

Other “science” is received on the basis of the authority of the majority opinion of scientific academia.

Some “history” is received on the basis of near testimony and evidence.

Other “history” is received on the basis of the testimony and authority of the majority opinion of historians.

You brought your sacred epiphany out of privacy and internalization and tried to use it as a defense or tool of persuasion. You thought that somehow you could bring me to think positively of something, or at least not think negatively of your belief in it. When I put the feeling—and its object—under scrutiny you claimed immunity and fell back on, “it is personal and private and subjective.” But you can’t. You made it something more: public. You tried to use it outside of yourself on someone else.

Truth is more important than saving face.

It is a helpful practice–it is a spiritual discipline–to visualize spiritual reality with physical analogies.

Sometimes you can detect sincerity by the frequency of a person not smiling.

Other times, the very thing that makes a person insincere is their unwillingness to expose their happiness.

God loves mankind so much, that he wants to save it from his hate. And God loves the elect so much, he wants to secure their appropriating of his general offer of grace to mankind which comes from his patient kindness and goodness, shown to all.

Faith that honors God is a response to the light of how trusthworthy and reliable and believable and beautiful God has shown hismelf to be. Blind faith honors the self and its feelings and its own authority and it rejects the Holy Spirit.

“The highest beauty in reality is the sacrificial love of someone who is perfect for undeserving creatures.” -Attributed to Jonathan Edwards

What you believe about your future determines how you feel and think and act in the present. Christian living is eschatology brought to the present. (Learned from Ron Julian)

Give me scholars who see scholarship as a “matter of spiritual warfare”, not an “ideological parlor game”.

Sometimes restating or fine-tuning another’s point distracts from the implications of that point that were chiefly meant to be considered.

Unrestrained singing reminds me of the happiness that I forget I desire, and of the greatness of that desire, and of the deepness of what it will take to satisfy it.

Assorted Thoughts

No effect of the Fall is penal for the saint.

A question I’ve been asking to locals: “Is Christmas about God becoming man, or about Christ becoming a man so that he could become a god?” One man replied, “Who cares? Why worry about technical doctrinal questions? We shouldn’t forget the spirit of Christmas.”

The less concerned a people become over the substance and content of their words and categories, the move superficial and hallow and slick and affectatious they become. Speech becomes facade.

Two things I want more than anything right now: personal integrity and work ethic.

My heart knows that the music on the radio lies. It covers up the real human experience of suffering and sin and joy. It isn’t happy or angry or sad about what is most worth being happy or angry or sad about.

When I hear jazz, my heart is reminded that the fallen world is lonely, and sinful, and suffering without the kingdom to come in their lives.

Some men pretend to be humble by claiming that they have no certainty as to whether they will persevere, but in doing so they betray their arrogance in rejecting the promises of Christ and by supposing that, if they were to persevere, it would be due to them. Humility boasts in the promises of God which make much of God and little of man.

How can one dream over a list of attributes of their future husband, but then sneer at a list of the unique attributes of God?

After having done a good act, we must think, “It is because of God that I willed to do that.” He works in us to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2). From him, and through him, and to him are all things (Romans 11).

Some men will be damned someday for amiably and deceitfully pretending to agree with my Christian beliefs.

For the modernist, it is irrational to not always submit to the majority opinion of the scientific community. And for him, most of the things we thought we ought to be most certain about, we ought to be least certain about.

A noble effort: When, having already concluded on a position for sufficent reasons, one seeks to interact with opposing viewpoints for the purpose of persuasion and developing a nuanced position. Already having an opinion on the matter, rather than hindering the subsequent research, is often more helpful since it gives motivation for inquiry. I know more about what others believe because I have sought to persuade them of what I believe.

Late in the night, when I am alone, I despair of myself, and I miss my wife, and I feel desperate for sleep, and for God.

A mental game inconsistent with authentic human experience. Persuading others to abandon the game because they do not play it elsewhere.

Persuading others to know a thing, not always by arguing for it, but by giving an accurate and beautiful picture of it. “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all.” -Acts 17:23-25

Some men refuse to debate lest the other’s position be given the appearance of plausibility. Some men accept the offer to debate lest their own position be seen as indefensible. Some men debate because they truly love a thing outside of themselves more than they love saving face.

A verbal way of lessening the blow of a contrast: “Well, they’re not exactly the same.”

An academic way of rejecting the objection of conscience: “Interesting. It’s all very fascinating.” As if it wasn’t horrific or of weighty concern?

There are at least six facets of an “ism” worth considering: What it was in its real or so-called original, pristine form. What it has been throughout its own history. Its popular, folk form. The self-understanding of an ism by its adherents. Popular culture’s understanding of it. Its developed and articulated version.

Jesus was so authenticly human that he could not have been of this world.