Two Natures of Jesus & His presence in the Lord’s Supper

This is a great article by Andrew Wilson taking Gavin Ortlund’s excellent new book, Theology Retrieval for Evangelicals, on the subject of Jesus’ dual natures (divine & humanity) especially in view of how he can physically be present in the Lord’s Supper in the so called “Extra Calvinisticum”. I prescribe to the Spiritual Presence Reformed View on the Lord’s Supper, the Spirit of Jesus present with us in taking Communion.

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https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/one_of_the_best_illustrations_ive_heard_in_years

Is the second person of the Trinity omnipresent and incarnate at the same time? Is the Son of God both asleep in a manger, or a boat, or even dead, while he is also filling all things and sustaining the universe? The so-called extra Calvinisticum gives a confident yes—and the Reformed view of the Lord’s Supper depends on it, among other things—but it feels counterintuitive and obscure to us nevertheless. So, here’s a wonderfully helpful illustration from Gavin Ortlund’s excellent new book, Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals. It’s one of the best illustrations I’ve heard in years, and it pretty much sums up what theological teaching ought to be.

Suppose, just as Christ comes into his own creation at the incarnation, Tolkien had written himself into Middle-earth as a character of the story alongside Frodo and Merry and Pippin and the rest. Had Tolkien done so, he would not for that reason cease to exist in Oxford (in fact, his whole existence in Middle-earth depends on his continued writing). Nor has the unity of Tolkien’s person been impaired, for one person can simultaneously be in Middle-earth and Oxford, because they are not two different “places” within one realm but two different realms altogether. In other words, it is one thing to be in Oxford and Cambridge at the same time, but another thing to be in the Shire and Oxford at the same time; and the relation of “heaven” and “earth,” and with it the relation of Christ’s divine and human natures, is more like the relationship between the Shire and Oxford. This is the value of the metaphor of story—the distinction between “author” and “story” is robust enough to retain two natures while fluid enough to retain one person. Middle-earth and Oxford may be two while Tolkien remains one

It is not merely that Tolkien is not confined to the body of his incarnate character in Middle-earth; that is true, but that is just about the least significant thing one can say about him. Supposing the incarnated Tolkien is sitting in Frodo’s home in the Shire for a meal; this does not in the least hinder the Tolkien in Oxford from going to sleep, or traveling to India, or putting the book down for twenty years. His incarnate existence in Middle-earth does not diminish him in the least or even distract him. He is not merely extra but completely and fully extra. In other words, it is not that he reduces himself to an incarnate life but leaves a tiny bit left over that is not exhausted by his incarnation; rather, that which is extra continues without the slightest downgrade or even interruption during the incarnation.

How much does God trust us? Grace of God

We all talk about how much do you trust God? Do you trust God in all circumstances etc? But now how about we flip the question around?

The Great Exodus

I was in my Christianity in the Secular Age by Tim Keller RTS class this year and he was talking about God giving the law to the nation of Israel. It is really interesting on the timing of the giving of the laws by God to Israel in relation to the Exodus, the greatest miracle of all times in humanity when Moses brought 3 million Jews walking through the dry Red Sea by a mighty East wind. The thing is when did God give them the law for them to obey?

Usually, we expect you want to give the laws to your people before the mighty deliverance or exodus. You want to make sure that they all line up. But apparently it is not the case!

When God took Israel out of Egypt, religious thinking will be that God will require them to obey the 10 commandments to be qualified in the exodus out of the slavery of Egypt. But what happened was, the laws was given to them AFTER they walked out to freedom! How?

Exodus14  21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

Exodus 14—God told Moses to stretch forth his hand with his staff towards the Red Sea and a strong east wind blasted the sea and turned it dry!

Exodus 19 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 

God carried them on eagles’ wings. A metaphoric language, God literally carried them , 3 million Jews, on dry ground of Red Sea, to their freedom! WHile all those Egytian army of Pharoah all went drowned as the Red Sea closed upon them. One of the most dramatic real life saga ever recorded in human history. That’s what God did. That’s what God would be doing for us as we believe in him. He would carry out through our difficulties, hardship.

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

In order words, God sets the condition to be God’s treasured possession (which means protection, love, holiness etc), after He took them out from slavery to be a treasured people of God. There was no preliminary selection process. No qualifying match to get in. He brought you in first and then He deals with you. How unlike the world’s way of doing things! WHo does that, selecting you on a blank check with no conditions, and then lay the conditions after the fact?

What a mighty God! You have to love that kind of God. Full of grace.

Is Infant Baptism Biblical & Good?

I have never believed it before coming to RTS, and also now been following Reformed teaching, it has opened my eyes to see the significance and blessing of infant baptism.

Our infant children are also covenant children and should receive the sign of the covenant. Baptism is one of the two sacraments in the protestant faith, Catholic has seven. Sacrament by definition is a sign and seal of the covenant promises of God towards us. Baptism is a dynamic equivalent of circumcision in the Abrahamic covenant with God. The Jewish believers in Jesus do not get circumcision but baptism as a sign of being part of the covenant with God in Christ. Same applied to Gentile believers.

Circumcision was not only given to children of promise of Abraham, Isaac, but also to non-promised child, Ismail.  It was administered to Abraham and his children. Circumcision pointed to belonging, discipleship, covenant obligations, and eventually to the future faith of the child. [1] Water baptism has the same spiritual meaning. Children are to be marked to be part of the covenant of God, just like Abraham’s children, didn’t necessarily believe in Yahweh yet, but they were circumcised. 

Col 2 : 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Baptism and circumcision carry the same spiritual meaning.

Not only that, God deals with households as a unit and welcomes whole families into the church. Acts 16:13-15, 32-34, 1 Cor 1:16. Household concept is precious and beautiful. Would you like to consider your children outside of the covenant of God growing up in a Christian family and believing parents, you? So, don’t exclude your kids. The whole idea of repentance and believing first before baptism is only found in Peter’s preaching in Acts…repent and be baptized, you & your family shall be saved. Repent and baptism can be independent, nothing here binds one to the other. Its just a sequence.

History of early church been baptizing infants. They have been doing that through big names Augustine, Iraneous, etc. Not until the 16th century, the whole thing is called into question. [2]

Finally-baptism is a sign of inclusion in the covenant community just like circumcision was. Children are holy by believing parents.

1 Cor 7 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

[1] Kevin DeYoung https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/a-brief-defense-of-infant-baptism/

[2] Ibid

Proclaim the Lord as the Most High over all the earth in our prayers of needs

Psalm 83[a]

O God, do not remain silent;
    do not turn a deaf ear,
    do not stand aloof, O God.
See how your enemies growl,
    how your foes rear their heads.

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
    and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
    so that they will seek your name.

17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

 

Many times, David writes psalms in a way facing the attacks of the enemies while we in our modern day and age, do not relate that much to spiritual warfare, but focuses more on the sinfulness of our own lives. Vulnerability of oneself seems to trump the day for some strange reason, I believe it is cultural. The western culture is much more self focused, self ego centric too, but the East and Global south, is much more community based, and supernatural sensitive and connected culturally. Having said that, I would call it a combination of internal sinful life, with the external spiritual warfare against us, God’s people.

This is a powerful psalm. In that when we face enemies in life, they are not only fighting against us, but they actually touching the anointed one of the most high, the Lord our God. Therefore when we pray for solutions and God’s help against all these enemies attacks of darkness in this spiritual warfare, we should take note that this is dealing with our God directly as well, not just us. So they are actually challenging the Lord our God, not just wrecking our lives.

Our prayer about the forces of darkness that attack our families, or opposing the righteousness, holiness of God in our lives, families, and churches, cities, nation should be as follow: For example, we face rebellion, self centered lifestyle, sicknesses, or searching for what’s wrong among our children being influenced by the winds of doctrines that are liberal in campus and the city, instead of us pleading God to protect our children only, which we should, but also embark on Psalm 83 mighty prayer, taking out the hammer, and crush the enemy.

The point to note is that it’s not about just crushing our enemies who invade our vineyard, our folks, our loved ones and even ourselves too,  but really so they will know our God alone is the most high above all the earth. This is just not for them to know, and therefore bow, but in all respect, it is transforming us as we make that kind of prayers, as we see how an attack on God’s people, is really a challenge towards the mighty sovereign God who alone is the highest.

Unless we have it clear in our mind, the Lord our God inhabits the highest in this world, in our lives, we will have missed the point of facing and responding to the attacks of the enemies, forces of darkness. It’s a warfare beyond us human level, ultimately, its God to be glorified alone when the devil wants to take his glory.

See how your enemies growl,
    how your foes rear their heads.

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,

18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

Let them know, or make them know the Lord Jesus alone is the Most High over all the earth.

 

God has implanted in all men the knowledge of God

It is fascinating to read about whether deep down the hearts of every man & woman, there is an awareness of the divine God. No matter how much a person denies the divinity, somehow, there is always a crack when he or she will show the fear of God existentially when he or she falls into trouble or danger.

In New York or most city folks, men and women are chasing after careers, money, pleasures, sex and forgetting God. God is a marginal issue. But Calvin argued prolifically that deep down every person heart, there is an awareness of God. Lets see his argument applied to our situation. To prevent anyone from taking refuge in the pretense of ignorance, God himself has implanted in all men a certain understanding of his divine majesty.[1] He went on to say that there is no eminent pagan, no people or nation so barbarous, savage, and remote that they have not a deep-seated conviction that there is a God. Interestingly how do you compare that with the urban city folks? They are not remote, not savage, but educated, but extremely worldly. Essentially they love for themselves, and their families or loved ones. That probably rings true for all countries in the world today. Actually, the world that we see today in the big cities especially like New York, the trend is definitely towards what’s written in :

2 Tim But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, abusive, disobedient, slanderous, no self-control, etc.…all the virtues are lost. Why? That’s the prophecy for the end time. So if you balance these two together, there got to be an intentional denial, of the deep conviction that there is a God. That sense is usually ignored or intentionally marginalized. Unless the Spirit of God moves in their hearts, they are essentially gone! The direction of life will be marching towards the bottomless abyss. It is a sense of helplessness and fear as we witness the civilization falling in front of our eyes. Yet, Calvin argues fervently that sense of the knowledge of the divine has not been gone altogether. My article today is what do people do with that tension in their hearts? That’s a really good tension, and I believe the stronger the tension towards the divine God, the stronger the pull by the Holy Spirit, the better chance does a person have in coming into the family of God. Calvin argues that there is no city, no household, since the beginning of the world, which could do without religion; there lies in this a tacit confession of a sense of deity inscribed in the hearts of all.[2] So well written by Calvin! In other words, no civilization through human history throughout the whole world has been able to survive without a religion. That’s true, because I have never seen an atheist civilization that grown massive in history. Look at Rome, the Roman empire calls Caesar god even! In China, the emperor is called king from heaven, same as Japan too. Indeed every idolatry is ample proof of this conception. Talking about idolatry, you can see that everyday in the world we live in today, no matter which year, which country. We all have idols in our hearts. A lot of times, we idolize money, career, sex, women, power, greed or even children. This just shows these idols actually take the place of God in our lives.

History tells us of a Roman emperor after Caesar, Gaius Caligula, who showed unbridled contempt of deity (God) ; yet he trembled miserably when any sign of Gods wrath manifested itself-albeit unwillingly, he shuddered at the God whom he professedly sought to despise. He who is the boldest despiser of God is of all men the most startled at the rustle of a falling leaf. [3](Lev 26:36) 36 And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues.

So question is where does this arise but from the vengeance of divine majesty, which strikes their conscience all the more violently the more they try to flee form it. [4] He is saying that even though men try to run away and hide themselves from the Lord’s presence in some disguise, love of boy or girlfriend, or money, and to efface it again from their minds. But deep down, they are always entrapped. Although sometimes it may seem to vanish for a moment, it returns at once and rushes in with new force. There is no respite.[5] In other words, there is always a sense of emptiness in their hearts, even though in the surface, they seem to be happy and fulfilled, but their hearts are far from being in rest. This is the attitude and result of an impious mind, non-reverence to the mighty God, and this exemplifies the seed of God is alive in all men’s minds.

 

[1] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol 1, Westminster John Knox Press 2011, p 43

[2] Ibid p44

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

The Meaning of Losing & Gaining your life

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matt 10: 37-29)

Jesus said if you love your mum or dad more than him, you are not worthy of him! That’s a strong statement, and who can say that? Only the Savior of the world, the Son of God himself and also who loved you enough to die for you, is qualified to say that. Seriously your parents didn’t die for you, for the eternal salvation of your soul. Therefore he is worthy is having such allegiance from us, because He is talking about eternity. Recently I heard about the struggles of folks holding onto something he or she loves in life, to such an extent that, he/she lost the life that Jesus promised. That’s exactly what Jesus says here in v39—whoever finds his life will lose it. Some cases of real life examples: Some have pursued financial prosperity so much that he gives up on his walk with the Lord. Some have been so influenced by the world’s liberal views that, it’s questioning even his own faith in the salvation of Christ. Some have been so swept away by girlfriend or boyfriend that, it overshadows the relationship with God, and plunged forward to what’s ‘gained’ in this life.  Now if you want something or somebody so strongly that is against God’s will, you just gained your life in your worldly desire, so to speak, but you just lost the real life, the eternal life in Christ! (v39). In other words, those who go all out to get what they really want in life, but against your own deep conscience as a Christian and hence God’s will, will lose it altogether. That’s like you build your identity on something or someone you love so much that, it’s becomes yours eventually but you will go down. The only way out of this, is to continually look to the Lord for his deliverance, for his captivation of your heart of his love, beauty and what he can do for you instead. Only the Holy Spirit can convict you to come back. Think of the all the patriarchs and folks that held on to Christ in their persecuted life, some were extremely persecuted to death even, and especially in the early church era during emperor Nero in Roman empire for instance. Christians suffered persecution in China, Iran etc now in this 21st century, and they persevered to the end. But we are nowhere near that now. The point is the Lord is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Cor 10)

Then it talks about this: 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

This is a realistic and practical question but deadly serious that we will really need to answer from the bottom of our hearts. Just exactly what’s important to us really? People who rush into foolish decisions in life may wreck their eternity forever. This is the darkest thing one ever will encounter in your entire life! How would anyone trade that heritage in Christ? For what? This is certainly not a decision to be taken lightly.

But those who lose what they love much in life for the sake of Christ, will gain the real life like a zillion times better. This is big. What a victory in sight. What a joy set before him. That’s how Jesus endured all the pain and shame & sufferings on the cross. (Heb 12) And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Lastly consider these verses: Heb 12: 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

Don’t sell your birthright, no matter what you do!

Gospel authenticity Vs Liberal Scholars

Introduction                   Oct 4, 2019        

We need to understand better the argument for the authenticity of the transmission of scriptures into the canon, and the dynamics of how the canon was formed together. This is a subject I have not really grappled with before the class, but coming to New York City, in the very liberal worldview world, it’s not difficult to be challenged about the authenticity of the Bible. Some have argued about the transmission of scriptures, and what happened to it, and the whole questions of man writing God’s word. It has produced a lot of angst among some Christians who are questioned and in turn cast a shadow in their minds of the authority of scriptures. The inerrancy of scriptures is also challenged by the liberal scholars, and have therefore influenced the faith of Christians. The worst is that the so called orthodox Christians are being shifted in their view towards liberal stand, and hence shipwrecked their faith. That is a real sad case, and I intend to learn and pray that what I have learnt from this class can be applied to help them and to argue for Christ. Of course, this will be further developed as this canon issue grows over the years.

Gospels Mark, Matthew, Luke and John were written between AD 50-90

Let’s get this right. All of the gospels were written by the apostolic circle in the 1st century. Any manuscripts written in the 2nd century were not included in canon. The apocryphal gospels, for instance were all written in the 2nd-5th century.

Jesus died at AD 33. The gospels were written barely like 30 years after his death. Therefore when the first manuscripts were published, it was exposed to readers who knew Jesus personally, walked with him, and witnessed some of the miracles Jesus did, and what Jesus taught, if any contradicted their memory of the record, they would have called it out and faced rebuttal.

The Rabbinic Way of learning

The Rabbinic way of learning in the old Jewish ancient tradition, is pretty much memorization word by word. Richard Balkan wrote extensively in his book and argued for the accurate word for word recording of the gospels and the teaching of Jesus in the Bible. Between AD 33- AD60, the messages with Jesus’ teachings, records of his miracles etc were all memorized and transmitted verbally, while, they were also, simultaneously, written down by the apostles and disciples.

The quantity and quality of Gospel Manuscripts, 2500 copies manuscripts

Talking about accuracy of the gospel and NT manuscript, there are 5,800 manuscripts of New Testament in view, 2500 copies of gospel , Latin 9000. And they all agree with one another with very minor differences, due to copying etc in the ancient world of 1st & 2 centuries. With this kind of quantity and copied manuscripts, and very little or hardly anything variance, this argues well for the confidence of the authenticity of the gospels. These overwhelming amount of manuscripts copied and copied in the 1st century shows forth the strength of the accuracy of the transmission of the scripture.

Liberals Removed all Supernatural from the Bible

Be warned that liberal thinkers theologians in Germany in the enlightenment period, literally stripped off all supernatural deeds of Christ, and retained only the virtuous sayings and teachings of Jesus. Liberal theologians like Richtsl, Boltzmann etc have all done a great disservice to the Kingdom of God by following the god of rationalizing in rationalizing away all the supernatural that they couldn’t reason out. They essentially humanized a divine Christ and made it, so called palatable to human reasoning’s of the enlightenment period. This is dark, by denying the divinity of Christ, its is actually anti-Christ. Its demonic at the highest intellectual attack of Christ and Christianity overall.

All Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit

That’s in 2 Tim 3: 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. This is the final stamp of approval from the divine transcendent God himself. All scripture is God breathed, caused into existence by the breadth of God himself. John 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. That’s how authoritative the Word of God is. In John, Jesus is the Word, and God created the world through His Son Jesus Christ, also the Word. You can see the scriptures brings life, eternal life. Its no ordinary book.