I learned something last night about how the faith teaches us how evolution is impossible. Someone said in a book I was reading that the flesh never evolves into Spirit. Of course, I am thinking of in John’s gospel where Nicodemus is told plainly that that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that Jesus says to us that we must be born again!
Also, the apostle Paul says somewhere that there is a flesh of animals ad a flesh of humans, these are different. The one has not evolved into another nor can it.
Our starting points are different from the world’s system and view. The believer must accept the Word’s authority concerning these things and then interpret the evidenced from there. The unbeliever in God’s Word is one who begins with false teaching about humanity and animals, mixing the two, in order to suppress the truth about God in them.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the spirit is spirit. There are different kinds of flesh even. Truth sets people free. We are not made from animals, but by the Lord uniquely and separately from them. We are in the words of the Psalmist: Fearfully and Wonderfully made!
Today we had two encounters. First, at speech therapy a lady; we were coming out, and the lady came out and said I come here for my speech and my legs too. Lauren was drawn to her and they sat down together. She was real sweet, gentle and kind. She just sat and talked with us for a couple of minutes. It was tremendously encouraging. She was like a little angel. Who knows. (see Hebrews 13:2) This was out of the ordinary.
Then, another encounter at Bitty & Beaus. We let Lauren walk up and give Richard the card (At Bitty and Beau’s they give you a playing card to match when your coffee is ready). So, she looks at him and points to him and points to herself. He said, “I know and understand what she is saying.” To which Sherry said, “You do.” And it was just another pleasant connection. These connections make a difference. These are blessings that change our daughter’s demeanor. Lauren was agitated, but when the lady above sat with her, she wasn’t. And the other incident was also encouraging. It’s kind of like an unspoken connection. Connecting. That’s it! That makes a difference in disability, but also beyond, I am sure. It’s something we want for everyone, with different abilities.
Saturday is for media use. This morning I was reading in Daniel 3 where the three Hebrews were challenged to bow down and worship the image that Nebuchadnezzar set up. They of course refused to do so, and Nebuchadnezzar got a whole new vision of who was truly powerful, and it wasn’t him.
The statue itself is of some interest. One commentator says it couldn’t have been of Nebuchadnezzar. Others must have implied it was of him for this comment to be made. Nonetheless, it was false worship.
The great hymn comes to mind, Be Thou My Vision, the first stanza reads:
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art— Thou my best thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
One of the great revivals of our day has been a revival toward a vision for the worship of the Lord. John Piper speaking to his church on the subject stated as the first purpose of the church at Bethlehem to have a vision of God and to savor that vision in worship.
”A banquet may strengthen the knights and ladies of the court, but if it is not savored, relished, enjoyed, neither the cuisine nor the cook is honored. We exist to savor the God we have seen. And that precedes all work and labor and toil and service. If wonder doesn’t precede work, work will become wearisome. But God does not mean to weary his people: the joy of the Lord is your strength. Savoring comes before serving.”
Curiously in the great text of Daniel 3, the three Hebrews respond to the king saying in Daniel 3:17 “If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue from the power of you, the king.” I checked the Hebrew and that is how it reads. At first sight we might say they are unsure, but the next verse makes it clear, v.18 “But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” Thus it is doubtful they were doubtful about God’s existence, for faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen (Hebrews 11:1). And indeed they were faithful.
So, I share this because it’s what I read this morning in my regular reading and it is Media Saturday. Moreover, it is fitting to consider those things we are willing to bow down to in life. The whole scene in Daniel 3 is that of media including music and visuals. There is a real challenge here, and the three Hebrews met the challenge by God’s grace, and God rescued them. We should never feel that the media whether social media, music, or images on the screen are more powerful than God. Choosing what we listen to, view, read, etc. are indeed acts of faith toward the God who exists. Moreover, based on what we choose to savor influences the power or strength of our service. What we listen to, view, think of on Saturday, often impacts our corporate worship on Sunday. You can be sure there was a vision for the worship of God in the hearts of the three Hebrews before they were ever challenged to worship a false god. May God be our vision day by day, week by week, and year by year.
I’m presently reading through his second volume part 1 of John Flavel’s Works, The Method of Grace, Sermon 28. He is in this sermon speaking about the mortification of sin. His aim is application at this point. And here is a powerful paragraph I found this morning:
“The doctrine of Christ every where teacheth mortification : the whole stream of the gospel runs against sin ; the doctrine it teacheth is holy, pure, and heavenly ; it hath no tendency to extol corrupt nature, and feed its pride, by magnifying its freedom and power, or by stamping the merit and dignity of the blood of Christ upon its works and performances ; it never makes the death of Christ a cloke to cover sin, but an instrument to destroy it. And whatsoever doctrine it is which nourishes the pride of nature, to the disparagement of grace, or encourages licentiousness and fleshly lust, is not the doctrine of Christ, but a spurious offspring begotten by Satan upon the corrupt nature of man.“
That last phrase really gets at the point I am struck by. I might put it this way: The cross cannot be preached except that it deal with sin. And it is intolerable to teach of a cross without a cause.
Be careful that we do not accept a doctrine of Jesus that merely motivates people by positive thinking, but does not deal with the root of our problems. The same would be removing the foundation from our Bibles that tells us of sin and Satan and death. It introduces a house on a piece of property that can be blown away in an instant; it has no foundation to hold it. But because the Cross deals with sin, and Christ suffered and died for our sins, then we know that wherever a Christian is made there is a destruction of sin.
At a recent conference someone asked about the “hyper-grace movement” in which he described people teaching that the law is rescinded and that you can approach life without any moral obligation to God because you are under grace. Nevertheless, the speaker explained although we are not under the law in our justification, the law remains for us in regards to our sanctification. God does not justify those whom He does not sanctify. We should allow none to teach in our churches that hold to such a different doctrine than that of a cross that goes on dealing with sin in the lives of those who receive its teaching. The Cross always has a cause—The cross always deals with sin and does not cease to do so.
One example of how this takes place in preaching ministry is that of John Flavel’s preaching. Beeke writes,
“Flavel’s preaching was blessed by the Spirit. Robert Murray M‘Cheyne tells about an American immigrant, Luke Short, who remembered listening to Flavel preach in England when he was fifteen years old. The text was, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha.” Eighty-five years after hearing Flavel preach on the horror of dying under God’s curse, the Spirit of God effectually converted him at the age of one hundred as he meditated on that sermon!”
Thus a sermon that has a Cross with a cause as its center goes on with the effects for many many years. The preaching of the gospel is so powerful that a man cannot get away from it; and if he knew of its delightful results, he would never want to get away, but run sooner to its cause to deal fully with sin.
I’m late in getting this out today, but Thursday’s are for pastors.
One of the most historic battles in Christendom that wore the life of perhaps the greatest preacher post apostolic named C.H. Spurgeon was called the Downgrade Conflict. The issue was the authority of Scripture. It was a time that Spurgeon was willing to unite with Arminians who believed the Bible rather than professed Calvinists who did not. He said:
“we care far more for the central evangelical truths than we do for Calvinism as a system.”
Moreover, he describes the conflict as:
“Our warfare is with men who are giving up the atoning sacrifice, denying the inspiration of Holy Scripture, and casting slurs upon justification by faith. The present struggle is not a debate upon the question of Calvinism or Arminianism, but of the truth of God versus the inventions of men.”
There is much more to learn about the Downward Conflict than is here; and we may revisit it later. But for now, I share simply there was such a thing and it was not over the doctrines of grace, but over the foundation, the authority of the Bible.
My observation in just a brief perusal of the matter thus far is that it is difficult to pin down what the Downgrade was about. Often in stressful controversies this is the case. Moreover, these types of controversies can be of great stress on the minister to even bring him to his death. Such was the case here with Spurgeon whose body was likely impacted at the time.
What can we learn just from an introduction to the Downgrade? I think we can learn that controversy has a high cost. To enter it we must be sure not only we can handle it emotionally, but that in the event that it may wear us thin–we must be sure it is worth it.
It appears at this point in study of it that Spurgeon believed it was. Brothers, we have to chart our own course in this matter. Study the cost, and be willing to risk all for the right things. But let us make sure they are the right things.
At conference this week I found myself in a conversation with an experienced pastor who spoke about being careful that we don’t do our ministries with a capital C or a capital A, meaning calvinism or arminianism. We certainly have our systems, but our systems aren’t worth dying for. I can say I can work with those of different systems who believe in the authority of Scripture in both their confession and practice. Moreover, I would probably say I am more concerned about someone who will not hold to the six days of creation more than I am concerned with the five points of calvinism, though I hold to both. Biblical authority is chief, and when people start messing with the foundations, what will the righteous do?
The big problem is the problem itself of looking at education as what it may contribute to society instead of what it might foremost contribute to the praise and honor of our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. Inextricably the way we treat others is tied to the way we are treating God. Nonetheless, putting the advantage to society first has gotten us all wrong. And homeschooling is not immune to this thinking.
At the heart of all good education is creating a love for learning. The teacher should want their students always to become better than them or we risk a generation that will never truly progress in their maturity in the faith. I am speaking of course to Christian educators and homeschoolers in particular. Nevertheless, application can be made elsewhere.
If creating a love for learning is important, the question comes to “Are we are doing that?” “How do we do that?” I think it is more than simply giving the —it is creating a thirst. One of my best professors was one who didn’t answer all my questions, but simply pointed me in the direction to get my questions answered, sympathized at times with what had to be wrestled with, and acted as a friend in my life for the time given.
Perhaps we can learn from that. I will leave that up to you to research and find on your own 😉 Let’s think about how we can create a God-centered thirst for learning in those we teach not merely by answering all the questions, but by sometimes giving them the books to read and the tests to take; giving them questions in answer to their questions, and praying for them.