A hymn on 1 Peter 1:3-9

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2011 by sunthank

I’ve taken up the practice and joy of writing hymns. I’ve compiled quite a few under my belt so I thought I might just share one with the world today. It’s based upon 1 Peter 1:3-9. Do read the text first to better grasp the hymn. Enjoy!

There is a day when fears are large and trials are all around.
When I am weak, can barely pray, and no strength can be found.
It is in that day that God doth shine and He makes his glory known
And he bids me seek that living hope of when He’ll bring me home.

I was in love with this surrounding dark but now in light I live.
Called to love the God of whom His son He sure did give.
T’is He whom made me born again as Christ risen from the dead.
And now in hope I look to heaven where Christ is in my stead.

On this journey, a pilgrim bound, each day made more alive.
He is my seal, the Spirit that dwells, comfort and my guide.
I am an alien in this world, my citizenship divine
And though this world will bring me pain, eternal hope is mine.

Blessed be our God and Father of our Lord the Christ
Jesus is the man our God in whom alone is life.
Undefiled and unfading is our inheritance
Though we do not see you Lord, to you we give our thanks.

Father Son and Spirit one Triune God eternal
The savior of the world He is forever my referral.
Indebted, yes, but not in debt so love is what I give
And he is glorified by my rest for he has made me live

New Tesrtament Canonicity in Less than 500 Words

Posted in Bible, Book Reviews, God, Gospel, History, Theology with tags , , , , , , on December 24, 2010 by sunthank

There seem to have been multiple criteria that the early church used in distinguishing what was the word of God and what wasn’t.  The fact that there was a need to distinguish speaks volumes to their understanding of what God’s word was and meant for them and stands in contrast to later generations that perhaps don’t put such a premium on the uniqueness of and wonder of the one true living God revealing himself to mankind.  The criteria seemed to have flowed out of an understanding that God does speak to mankind in language and that there is such a thing as a canon which they garnered from reading the Old Testament.  Finding the criteria is difficult because there is “no single NT text [which] teaches the authority of the NT as one complete document,” (John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God, pg 129) which means that the New Testament doesn’t speak about itself as a unified whole –in the way that perhaps 2 Timothy 3 or 2 Peter 1 speak about the OT, or for that matter how Joshua 1:7 or Psalm 1:2 speaks of the Torah.  But it is apparent that the 1st century church believed that God had added revelation onto the OT canon and there is also minor evidence within certain writings that the writers themselves knew that they were writing inspired revelation from the God who speaks; i.e. Col 4:16, 2 Thess 3:14-15, or 1 Cor 14:37-38.

So the question is how did the early church know?  The answer needs to first fall underneath the rubric of understanding that there is a Spiritual discernment within believers (at least the first century Christians) in which God’s word is clearly recognized as authoritative.  That is to say, any discussion of criteria only makes sense  within the context of the supernatural firstly, that the Spirit must be given to understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:11-16). (See also, Frame, pg 136)

What were the objective criteria?  The first and most important was that of Apostolic authority.  The writings had to be by or closely connected to (Mark, Luke, James, Jude) the Apostles.  These Apostles knew Christ, were taught by Christ (the Word himself), were gifted by the Spirit of Christ to teach what he had commanded them, and were guided by the Spirit of God to write inspired texts which God used to reveal Himself.  This was the first and primary criteria that needed to be met and gives much weight to the argument that with the passing of the Apostles the continuation of inspired canonical writings also ceased. (See B.B. Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles)  Another criteria were the antiquity of the writings, that is there closeness to Christ and the Apostles, as well as its wide distribution and usefulness in public teaching within Churches which favored its overall acceptance by the larger catholic church.  This brings up the historical point that the writings which we know today as the NT were texts which traveled the Roman world to be used in teaching the church and were known to be popular as such.  Theses texts were never argued against nor were they the cause of debate and controversy because of their known use, which strongly suggests its already present recognition within the church as inspired revelation.  This brings up another criteria, which is the testimony of the church.  This criteria does not prove any text to be inspired nor are we to assume (as does the Roman Catholic Church) that the testimony of the church gives canonicity to a text, but rather that the testimony of the church is a testimony to us of a texts inherent canonicity because of its wide acceptance and recognition.

As to knowing whether the canon is closed, I believe John Frame does well when he alludes to Hebrews 1:1-2 which says that “in the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”  This carries with it the idea that at earlier times God spoke to his people, though perfectly, in a way that pointed to a time when a more perfect revelation would arrive and then that when Christ arrived, the revelation of God found its fulfillment in the perfect Word embodied.  This suggests that the writings we have today in the NT as the teachings and testimonies of the Apostles, who taught what Christ taught and testified to them, is a complete and perfect testimony which need not be added onto.  I would then suggest that the end of the Apostolic era, which was an end of the Apostolic gift, was also an end to furthering of God’s added special revelation to be canonized.   Does God still speak to us today? Yes, by the Spirit through His word which we have completed from Genesis to Revelation.

*Much of this is gleaned from John Frame’s book The Doctrine of the Word of God and can be referenced for a much fuller discussion on the Canon.

By Acting Like a Man in Love…

Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Family, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2010 by sunthank

This has always been my most cherished scene in the movie Paris, Je T’aime and it finds its climax and fullest meaning at the words spoken by the narrator, “By acting like a man in love, he became a man in love again.”  This is a profound thought to me and finds application in many different areas of life, not least of course in relationships and marriage.  I’m reminded of John Piper’s book, When The Darkness Will Not Lift in which he ascribes as a remedy to a lack of spiritual joy the duty of, or the doing of, spiritually joyful things and thanking God for such a blessing – even if the person does not feel the joy or does not feel truly thankful.  In doing those things, the disheartened person is still working at the same desired conclusion, satisfaction in God – despite the fleeting, transient, and often times misleading, world of feelings.   It is the same with love, is it not?  Being married is certainly not about feeling what is felt on your marriage day or the short time after that great day, but about committing one’s self to the service of and continual loving of one other person – no matter how it feels.  And that’s why I enjoy this scene so much. It is, it seems to me, a good prescription to much of what we see today that passes for love (i.e. the NY Times “Vows” column about Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla here).

Setting Aside the Fear of God to Indulge in Sin

Posted in Christian Living, Church History, Devotional, God, Gospel, Practical Theology, Puritans, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2010 by sunthank

“When we proceed to satisfy this lust, doing so not only when our conscience points out its evil and counsels us not to begin; and upon having begun, counseled us to desist from and subdue the lust, to be silent in the midst of an evil discourse, and to refrain from the sin which we are currently committing; but also when our conscience causes us to reflect upon God and His majesty.  Indeed, this is especially true (which is most abominable) when God manifests Himself to the soul, sensibly discourages the soul, and so to speak, shakes the finger and says, “I am here, and I certainly see what you are doing.  Cease, or else I shall cause you to feel my displeasure.”  It is a setting aside of the fear of God, a grieving of the Holy Spirit, and the inflicting of a deadly wound upon the soul when, due to the agitation of sin, we are driven onward and seek to hide ourselves from the presence of God in order to be able to proceed, and then actually prevail in carrying out the sin which is at hand.  If God were not infinitely long-suffering and immutable, He would cast away such impertinent souls.”

-  Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christians Reasonable Service vol 3, pg 298-299

You can purchase this newly translated classic work here

Incongruity

Posted in Culture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2010 by sunthank

VS.

 

Or we can try this one.

American Democracy and Freedom of Uniqueness

vs.

Third World Flavela Uniqueness

Bobby McFerrin with Richard Bona

Posted in Culture, Music, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2010 by sunthank

This is certainly one of my favorite things to listen to – a lot! I hope you enjoy it as much I do.

A Study with John Murray as Youth Pastor?

Posted in Book Reviews, Christian Living, Church, Practical Theology with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by sunthank

A church group that I meet with every Tuesday morning, Theology Readers Breakfast, has decided to read through John Murray’s classic work Redemption Accomplished and Applied.  This morning, to start out the study, we looked at Romans 3:21-31 to bring our hearts and minds into clearer focus on what was happening on the cross.  And then from there, in order to get the group a little more acquainted with John Murray, read a section from Ian Murry’s biography on his life.  We spent some time in prayer and thus began our fourteen week study through this great work on the atonement.  I will hopefully be adding updates each week to what we’ve read and what was discussed at each gathering.

What was interesting from this mornings readings was the care and interest John Murray always took in training and guiding young children. This was a man who by all means was probably the leading theologian for orthodox Christianity in the 20th century and was renowned for the intense lectures and class notes he would give to his students at Westminster Theological Seminary and yet, behind the scenes he was a man very committed to and very excited about the biblical training and spiritual guidance of young people and children.  He was very aware of the importance the bible gives to raising up the young in an intentional and biblical way, not wanting to make the mistake of neglecting them because their was a lack of maturity or separation in age but instead mindful that a generation that is slack in leading its young ones to biblical maturity is a generation that will not be followed by strong leaders ready to carry the torch light of the gospel, a generation that will loose its young to the world.  This is very interesting for those committed to youth work, especially today.  Does it not put the philosophy of today’s youth group in sharp distinction?  Sound biblical training up verses a pragmatic approach intent on giving kids a place to have fun?

In any case, church youth directors and youth pastors may do well to uphold John Murray as a model for healthy youth ministry rather than looking into the culture to see where kids “need to be met.”  God is a saving God who is not content in finding and leaving people where they are at – no, instead He is a God who is excited to free and redeem a vile people by calling them to a “foolish gospel” and growing them into an impossible image, that of the son of God, Christ himself.

If you’d like to read Ian Murry’s biography of John Murray, you can find it here.

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