Distinction in Titles

The Son of God and the Son of Man

The two titles have two different meanings for the same person and have to do with the office of the person before entering time and after entering time.

The Son of God is a title given to us for the One and only Son proceeding from the Father who in eternity past existed in complete unity with the Father as part of the Trinitarian God head as revealed in scripture.

The Son of man is a title given to Jesus of Nazareth who claimed the name for himself while displaying that He was also the Son of God and the Christ; and that not without signs and wonders. This title should produce a close look at the scriptures because it has some serious logical conclusions built into it. The Son of man implies that one is born of man. Man here could be looked at in a universal form, as in ‘human race’ or ‘mankind’. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is relevant to this discussion;

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.” (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15‬:‭20-21‬ NASB)

The Son of God entered into time and took on full humanity in order to fulfill what fallen man alone cannot; fulfill the Holy commands of God in perfection and worship and enjoy Him above all else. His perfect obedience and worship solidifies Him as who He claimed to be, the Son of God, the Christ, and the spotless lamb of God slain for His chosen people.

The son of man is the firstborn from the dead; Christ is the firstborn from among us and we too will rise! What is sown perishable will be raised imperishable. A seed doesn’t burst forth until it is planted and dies, God gives it a new body by His power. Kiss the Son, for He has brought us a true and living hope!

Calvinist Crowd Campaign

UPDATE

Les Lanphere, a fellow brother in Christ I know through the Facebook group the Reformed Pub, is seeking crowd funding support on Kickstarter to produce a professional documentary on Calvinism. So far the support pledged toward his 35k goal has been incredible as he has already surpassed his goal with 20+ days left in his campaign. He is now seeking to hit “stretch” goals which will further enhance the reach and quality of this film. It’s been an exciting ride in the pub as we’ve all watched this campaign soar; this project is going to happen!


Anyone who enjoys the reformed teaching available from the likes of Michael  Horton, Voddie Baucham, or James R. White will be pleased to know these men among others have agreed to participate in this documentary. The list of notable participating reformed elders, teachers and Doctors is growing as the campaign continues to gain steam. The current list of notable guests that will be a part of the film are as follows:

  • Kevin Deyoung
  • Ligon Duncan
  • Michael Horton
  • Tim Challies
  • Carl Trueman
  • Voddie Baucham
  • James R. White
  • R. Scott Clark
  • Joe Thorn

As you can see, this documentary will be an awesome opportunity to ask key questions of those most able to shed light upon what Calvinists actually believe. As Les puts it on his Kickstarter page, the film will be “seeking to explain Calvinism, celebrate its recent resurgence, and answer the question ‘what’s next'”.

No doubt there is an organic resurgence of Calvinism among the youth in today’s church. I’ve experienced the unexpected call to doctrinal purity and I surprisingly found myself finding the same passion in the pen of Calvin and other great theologians upon whose shoulders we stand.

The comfort learning the doctrines of grace brought to me was not controversial, it was a blessing from the Holy Spirit.

Among the Christian community I’ve learned that the title Calvinist can be perceived as either a compliment or an insult depending upon the nature and tradition of the church where that title is being thrown around. Being both informed and gracious should keep most of us out of that latter group. This film comes at a timely state where clarity on the subject of Calvinism is welcomed – I pray we in the reformed camp and our brothers and sisters outside of it can see how important it is for us all to remain teachable while we also all can show our combined support to this project.

Click the link below and join in the effort to support this film.
 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1832273783/calvinist-documentary-film

 

 

An Appointment from Before Time

“[1] Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, [2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭1:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬ 

The first verse here presses to the mind the awesome reality that God has spoken! It does so however with a very important qualification, that God speaks through His own appointed mediators. The varying accounts recorded in Old Testiment times were interpreted through the lense of such prophets. So history for God’s chosen people has always had theology as its primary emphasis. For sure, to the 1st century Jew, the events of the Old Testement were ancient history but they had the written word of these accounts passed down to them and they considered the texts revelation from God; Jesus himself held men accountable to those very texts as those who have heard from God through them. 

Verse 2 then draws finality and closure to what is to be revealed from God when it tells us that a greater mediator has been given, The Son. Jesus is understood by the author here to have spoken to God’s chosen people again, in great display, after a long period of silence, in what is framed in the context of “these last days.” God’s revelation gets closure when Christ is done teaching us about His Father who sent Him. 

God appointed Christ “heir of all things.” Instantly, the scripture commands that the relationship between the persons of the trinity come to the mind. The Godhead has determined that all things are for Christ, the Son has been appointed such a global and universal inheritance of glory that is hard to fathom. This assertion that all things have their purpose in this appointment is addressed in the very same sentence that states the Son also created the world. If anyone would credit this inheritance appointment due to the actions of Christ in time as we creatures know it, they miss that the appointment to inherit all things written of comes before His incarnation, it was planned from before the foundation of the world. The context here is that the Son was with the Father when the Father made the world through the Son. For certain, the actions Christ performed on earth revealed the glory due His name but that glory He kept vailed in the form of a suffering servant who would go to a cross and suffer wrath on behalf of His elect. The greatest truly became the least and will forever be praised as the greatest by those He saved in the process. 

Christ is the ultimate purpose for creation and verse 2 here teaches that before time began for the creatures in God’s creation, this purpose was settled among the three persons of the trinity – creation is to be the theater where the Father unfolds the reality of this inheritance appointment to the Son. 

Experiential Testimony Serves Sound Theology 

Our spiritual experiences are important as is our grasp of Christian Theology. Both matter but the Word is preeminent. If our experiences are leading us away from a desire to extol the written word then those experiences cannot be of God. How blessed we are when our experience causes us to treasure the written word of Christ more and more. This truly is an existential move of the Spirit in the Christian life and such testimony ought warm every true believer’s heart. How sad it is to hear the off rhythm drum beat among so many who cry that it is a bad thing that doctrine divides. They are right in saying that it divides; even so much so that it can separate ones own soul from flesh and bone…but they error when they portray this division as some form of evil. No, Christ calls His own out from the world. The church is not to be like the world and her only guide is that bound and sealed inspired book which is full of nothing less than eternal life giving heavenly doctrine. 

Ecclesiastes: An Apology of Wisdom

A term paper I recently submitted in my OT Survey Class. I hope you enjoy:

As with any question of interpretation or of origin to any biblical text, many variants are sure to present themselves. There is no shortage of variables when it comes to the discussion of the book of Ecclesiastes. This paper seeks to find balance by accurately portraying some of the prominent differing views while offering a position that postulates the purpose of the book to be the ancient equivalent of a  modern day apologetic work created for a specific group of people. That specific group would consist of ancient Jewish sage-like self-professed disciples of Solomon. The overall purpose of the book is meant to invite the reader into the knowledge of the peace of God by knowing the fear of God which transcends the vanities incumbent of mortal beings by producing hope and meaning of eternal significance.

Much can be learned about the nature of the book of Ecclesiastes by asking questions of its authorship. No final consensus exists as to who wrote the book. For most of church history, many have placed Solomon as its author because of the clear appeal to royalty found in the opening chapters. There is also a strong desire on the part of the ancient church and Jewish rabbis to tie all the wisdom literature directly to that which comes from Solomon’s pen, and rightfully so. Seemingly direct references to Solomon’s authorship appear in verses 1:1, 1:12, 1:16, and 2:9. In these verses are found phrases like “the son of David, king in Jerusalem,”1:1;  “king over Israel in Jerusalem,”  v.12; “surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me,” v. 16; cf. 2:9. It would be hard for any reader to read these passages and not come to the conclusion that Solomon is the author as these titles would fit nicely with his office in Israel’s history. Although, conflicts arise in later portions of the text where the speech used doesn’t seem to fit well with the historical setting in which the king would have wrote. For those who seek to keep Solomon as the author, there are reasonable explanations for the style differences that are found between the unique form utilized in Ecclesiastes in contrast with other of Solomon’s wisdom literature. Some propose possible explanations theorizing that Solomon was in his elder years when he wrote Ecclesiastes; this supposedly speaks either to the skeptic tone that can be traced through the text as well as to the profound insight in the author’s capability to cast the complexities of life compatibly with the fear God while still promoting the enjoyment of life. Another proposal for giving reason to the different styles while maintaining Solomon authorship comes by analyzing the purpose and occasion for taking up the writing of Ecclesiastes itself. This paper takes the stance that the work is apologetic and not so much written in the same way a proverbial/poetic book serves the believing community. It is no wonder that each work one writes carries certain presuppositions which directly affect the tone and approach of his work; each varying purpose of writing demands a unique writing style and the tone the Preacher takes is one of argumentation.

Solomon’s authorship comes into question by skeptics mainly in their historical dating approach of the book and in their rigid analyzing of its lyrical form. Many argue that the content used strays further than most other forms of pre-exilic text and this conclusion forces such form critics to normally place the date somewhere around the 300BC period, thereby throwing away the idea that Solomon could be the author. Lasor puts it this way: “Protestant scholars since Luther’s time have tended to date Qoheleth [Preacher] much later than Solomon. The rabbis’ view of Solomon’s authorship was based on their literal interpretation of 1:1 and their tendency to tie Solomon’s name to all wisdom literature: he was viewed as master sage” (Lasor, 498). Lasor sides with the textual critics for a most interesting reason. He asserts that Qoheleth clothed himself in “Solomon’s garb” to grab the attention of those who would claim to be followers of Solomon; then he digs in and challenges these followers through his  most unique form of argumentation (Lasor, 500). Such a motive resounds with the likeness of much of the New Testament’s call to professing believers to test themselves, to make their calling and election sure…such is the motive of any good and weighty apologetic work. There is much to be said in terms of form criticism and what can be learned from that process when it comes to engaging the text of scripture. Indeed, much effort has been spent toward these ends and “While these redactional observations advance our understanding of the literature, the larger theological implications for interpreting Qoheleth remain relatively unexplored” (Shepherd, 182).

Putting questions of authorship aside and looking closely at the way the author speaks, one can begin to better determine its purpose. Douglass Miller, in his paper The Rhetoric of Ecclesiastes provides a useful summery that speaks to five different views on the purpose of the book of which I analyze and breakdown below, I also add the apologetic method of understanding not found in his list:

  1. A Repentant King. A very early understanding of the book’s purpose. In line with Solomon’s own story, this approach of understanding assumes Solomon writes the book with a repentant heart and warns of the folly and consequence of the mistakes he himself had made.
  2. The Ascetic. Also a very early understanding. This view is one that seeks to correct perspectives onto the right view of humanity in its own mortality and how eternity is right around the corner. Using that weight of mortality then to call its readers to deny themselves in preparation for the afterlife. The challenge for some with this view is in seeing the emphatic call of Qoheleth to enjoy life on the earth. The rejection mentioned here seems to be a rigid form of complete self-denial of pleasures in this life; a theme the Preacher heavily contradicts.
  3. The Bitter Skeptic. A new understanding developed within the past two centuries. This view sees Qoheleth as a cynic rambling his frustrations with a world not as it should be. This method forces the placing of any positive affirmations of Qoheleth’s views on life, which directly contradicts this thesis, to be of later editing. Though appealing to post-modern scholars, this understanding is not at all viable for God-fearing scholars.
  4. The Preacher of Joy. This view is also a new understanding which attempts to be compatible with the problems that arise from the purely skeptic approach. While the author is still a cynic, his purpose is to encourage others to see the joy in life by realizing the absurdities (vanities) that come with life. The problem remains though that life itself is said to be vain in the book and this approach doesn’t seem to capture that complexity.
  5. The Realist. A more modern nuance to the earliest two forms of understanding. This approach seeks to allow for the complexities of life to enter into the whole of human experience not subjected to cynicism. It also gives the repentant king and the ascetic voice their own valid rhetorical framework (Miller 216-221). This view also fails to bring into balance the sovereignty of God over time and over mankind who operate under the sun as His creatures.
  6. The Apologist. Many scholars believe that the book itself is apologetic in nature, as Dr. Sproul’s commentary on the book suggests:

“Ecclesiastes has been understood as an apologetic work, an attempt to recommend faith in God to unbelievers by               way of answering negative arguments. While the book’s teaching may be used in evangelism, most Jewish and                     Christian interpreters have understood Ecclesiastes to be addressed to God’s people, rather than to those who are               ignorant of God or in rebellion against Him. The book is God’s wise counsel to those who know His ways but have                 found them at times to be frustrating and perplexing” (Sproul,1074).

Lasor further draws such an apologetic parallel when he writes:

“His strategies [the Preacher’s] are to capture his reader’s attention and to use the circumstances of Solomon to                   probe ironically the weaknesses in his fellow sages’ teachings. (Lasor, 500).

As is much of the tradition of the inspired writers of God’s Word, the force by which the books come down to us is meant to shatter man-centered views of the position of God in the universe. God’s Word consistently places God at the center of His creation and commands men everywhere to get off the throne of their own hearts. In his own commentary, Dr. Constable comments that this is the very purpose of the book, that the reader would “develop a God-centered worldview and recognize the dangers of a self-centered worldview” (Constables, 3). Truly, most misunderstandings of the Word of God fall into this dilemma: man’s underestimation of God and man’s overestimation of man. I thought it interesting how much the proposed Ascetic purpose resonated with me in light of how the whole testimony of scripture speaks to man’s frailty in the scope of eternity, and how we are but a breadth, a vapor. I agree with Miller’s observation that this construct, in its rigid form of abstaining from pleasure to prepare for the next life misses the book’s call to also enjoy this present life; but at the same time I hear the consistent scriptural emphasis to repent, for the time draws near. Death and pleasure are both unapologetically on the lips of the Preacher in order to bring a much needed sense of urgency to the reader’s heart. As Ringe rightly points out in his journal article entitled Enjoyment and Mortality: The Interplay of Death and Possessions in Qoheleth, “Qoheleth displays an intense interest in the interplay of death and possessions. No other book in the Hebrew Bible gives as much attention to the intersection of these two motifs” (Ringe, 265).

To reflect on the word vanity in the context of my own life in general is a complex process. As one who is redeemed in Christ, who knows the weight of Paul’s arguments that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Plil 1:21), there is a temporary lens one can look through and observe that indeed, much of life’s ordinary experience could be construed as prospects of vanity. One who is not delighting in the Lord, who is not refreshed by His infinite Word, can easily look upon the functions on earth and tire of its repetition. I look at my book shelf and think, “what good will attaining an abundant wealth of knowledge be to me 3,000 years from now.” Yet a calm fear sets in knowing that God has the answer to that question, and that there is purpose in it. Everyone, to one degree or another has at one point had a mother. Mothers are so common that one can tire of seeing mothers do the things that mothers do. Yet, a mother who trusts in the Lord and not in her understanding, though she may observer her labor is near exactly mirroring 4,000 other mothers in the same way, and in the same time all throughout the world, she will see the purpose and meaning in what she does even if it is extremely frustrating at times. Why? Because the Lord who determined that there be motherhood in the human experience opens her eyes to see its value and the dignity that is intrinsic to that office. This same Lord opens my eyes to see the value in growing in knowledge and understanding though at times I grow weary and struggle with an extremely frustrating proneness to laziness.

It is interesting that much time is spent by the preacher on the subject of time, and of the position “under the sun.” Us creatures who live under the sun are bound by time, we are governed by it and we measure time by the sun. The sun itself provides guidance and light to the human family completely apart from man’s own control. It is no coincidence that “The Preacher teaches that man’s activities are ordered by God’s timing” (Sermon 1). Who is under the sun if not all who walk upon the entire earth? Does one who walks in the righteousness of Christ walk under the sun in the same way that an unbeliever does? Yes & no. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Yet the just have knowledge that the unjust do not. Coming to grips with the brevity of God’s sovereignty over creation, even over the salvation of men’s souls is most beneficial when trials come the Christian’s way. Shane’s online article draws from a classic commentary on Ecclesiastes which speaks to this awesome sovereign trait of God working through life’s complexities: “This awareness coexists with a firm belief in God – whose power, justice, and unpredictability are sovereign” (Lems citing Fox’s commentary).

Faith in the God of the Bible is not always best kept to a simple and surface level understanding; Qoheleth’s seemingly realist slant is meant to guide teachers of the believing community to acknowledge and allow for the inevitable complexities and frustrations bound to challenge one’s faith. One could be sure that this preacher would agree with the Apostle Paul, whose theology drove him to use a phrase like “rejoice in our sufferings,” a joy that believers must tap into if they hope to weather the storms that are sure to come (Romans 5:4 ESV). The fear of the Lord is of the greatest value, for it puts into perspective the greatness of God and the futility of man. The sage wisdom that permeates from the Preacher is not that man is purposeless in all his thriving and suffering, but that he ought find all his purposes ultimately in his Maker.

Works Cited

ESV: Study Bible : English Standard Version. ESV Text ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Bibles, 2007. Print.

Lasor, William Sanford. Old Testament Survey. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1996. Print.

Lems, Shane. “The Reformed Reader.” The Reformed Reader. 9 May 2015. Web. 15 June 2015.

Miller, Douglas B. “What The Preacher Forgot: The Rhetoric Of Ecclesiastes.” Catholic Biblical   Quarterly 62.2 (2000): 215. Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 June 2015.

Rindge, Matthew S. “Mortality And Enjoyment: The Interplay Of Death And Possessions In Qoheleth.” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 73.2 (2011): 265-280. ATLA Religion   Database with ATLASerials. Web. 14 June 2015.

Sermon 1 by unknown author. “God Made Everything Beautiful in Its Time.” Pasig Covenant Reformed Church. 13 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 June 2015.

Sheppard, Gerald T. “Epilogue To Qoheleth As Theological Commentary.” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 39.2 (1977): 182-189. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 14 June 2015.

Sproul, R. C. The Reformation Study Bible; ESV. Orlando: Ligonier Ministries ; Reformation Trust, 2015. Print.

An Old Testament Survey Post

Sharing my most recent post from my online class where I get to learn more about my God’s awesome Word, enjoy: 

In response to the question of how to categorize the literary genre of the Genesis account, in light of some similarities with Mesopotamian accounts, our text offers a blazing insight. In essence, it rightly asserts that the biblical text is apologetic; could it be anything other?! The arguments weighed by the skeptics, always directly aimed at the foundations of God’s Word, like to point out that the Genesis accounts sometimes find similarities with other Ancient Near East literature. I like how our text reminds the reader that these similarities are far and few between, only detectable by trained eyes (which most skeptics oftentimes probably do not have); and that these similarities are literary only and by no means are they theological. The ANE accounts have no correlation with the monotheistic, extremely unique claims of the Biblical Creator and His said purpose for mankind.

I think it is very helpful to think of the author of Genesis as one who would engage the ANE in a language they would understand, for the purpose of evangelizing and sharing the truth with his common ancestors and people of his time. Such is the path for all inspired biblical literature; it’s purpose is to spread and instruct, to teach and rebuke, to remind and remember, to reform and remake sinners into saints…it always has been and always will be good news from start to finish. I’ll quote from the portion of the text that inspired this post: “One may suppose that the author, inspired by God’s revelation, employed current literary traditions to teach the true theological import of humanity’s primeval history” (Lasor, 22).