Abraham, a Christian? I’ll be stoned!

As many who read Christian blogs know “Christ” is English for the Greek “Christos, which is Greek for the Hebrew “Mashiach” (Messiah).

Muslims say Abraham was a Muslim. If you mean he submitted (Arabic “Islam”) to God, yes, he was. Jews say he is the father of God’s chosen people – the Jews. Yes, he IS. Abraham, of course, wasn’t Jewish, but a “wandering” (Deuteronomy 26:5).

So, how can Abraham be Christian, a follower of the Messiah – who, two thousand years after Abraham, took on flesh in Jesus? Because Jesus said so, and called those who disbelieved him – members of God’s chosen people – children of the devil.

John 8:46-59
Which of convicts me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God hears God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeks and judges. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom make thou thyself? 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honourme; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Where did Abraham “rejoice to see my day, and saw it.” One place was:

11 And the ANGEL OF YAHWEH called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 And he said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the boy; do not do anything to him. For now I know that you are one who fears God, since you have not withheld your son, your only child, from ME.”

John 8:51
Truly, truly, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

Psalms 95:8-11
8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation,

and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

9 When your fathers tempted me,

proved me, and saw my work.

10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation,

and said, It is a people that do err in their heart,

and they have not known my ways:

11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath

that they should not enter into my rest.

Are you for the most part in some misery?

The bruised reed is a person who for the most part is in some misery, just as those were who came to Christ for help, and by misery he is brought to see sin as its cause, for, whatever pretences sin makes, they come to an end when we are bruised and broken. He is sensible of his sin and misery, even to his bruising; and, seeing no help in himself, he is carried with restless desire to have supplies from another, with some hope, which raises him a little out of himself toward Christ, though he dare not claim to have gained any present interest of mercy. This spark of hope being opposed by doubts and fears rising from his corruption makes him like smoking flax; so that both these together, a bruised reed and smoking flax, make up the state of a poor distressed man. This is such a person as our Savior Christ terms “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), who sees his wants, and also sees himself indebted to divine justice. He has no means of supply from himself or the creature, and thereupon he mourns, and, upon some hope of mercy from the promise, and examples of those that have obtained mercy, he is stirred to hunger and thirst after it.

(Richard Sibbes, “The bruised reed”). Free PDF here http://www.onthewing.org/user/Sibbes%20-%20Bruised%20Reed%20-%20Updated.pdf

Joel Beeke: “What the Puritans Would Say to Theological Teachers and Pastors Today.”

Here is one of many wonderful messages by Joel Beeke: “What the Puritans Would Say to Theological Teachers and Pastors Today.” Date: 1/13/2014

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=3171558328

How different the “asperity” (asp – snake) pastors/theologians – prosperity ones are one kind – infesting the world.

The text of the lecture appears in the Puritan Reformed Journal, p. 183 ff.
https://prts.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/PR-Journal-6.1-final1.pdf

Headings

1. Invest Precious Time in Prayer.
2. Depend Radically on the Holy Spirit.
3. Embrace the Thorns of affliction.
4. Cultivate Personal Holiness (Professionalism is resumé-driven).
5. Digest the Bible one verse at a Time.
6. Feel the momentous dignity of ministry.
7. Love the Triune God and His People.

The last two are not in the PDF.

8. Focus on Jesus Christ.
9. Love and romance your spouse.

This advice is also for all Christians.

Brit Lesbian to American anti-LGBT, “I’ll pray for you.”

I’ve heard (North) Americans lamenting that Richard Dawkins can talk drivel but, with his posh Brit accent, melt any audience.

American monergist (Calvinist) James White and a British synergist (Arminian) church-planting “couple” (man and wife, for you moderns) were on either the “Unbelievable” show or the JanetMefford show, where the wife laced the conversation with mellifluous interjections “but James… (in a “my dear American boy, tone), which seemed, if not to deflate James, to unsettle him a tad. You know; it’s that colonial thing.

Then there was the encounter between American, Robert Gagnon and Brit, Jayne Ozanne, on a recent “Unbelievable” show (24 April, 2015). Blurb – “Prof Robert Gagnon has become a well-known voice advocating the traditional biblical view on sexuality. In a highly charged show he debates the scriptural issues on sexuality with Jayne Ozanne, the director of Accepting Evangelicals who came out as gay earlier this year.”

Indeed, a highly charged show. Ozanne said she would pray for Gagnon to see the light. The unbiblicality and effrontery of it all! But what made it worse – no, not a lesbian dressing down a man – was that stabbing colonial thing: “I’ll prrrray for you.”

Zorba the Greek goes to church: I have a right to be clean

When Zorba the Greek said: “Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble” I don’t think he meant the best way to deal with a preacher who says wrong things is to whack him. I am sure that after a church service, many a preacher, when accosted by the roaming critic who ticks him off about something he said in his sermon, also wants to take off his belt and whack him one; but immediately thinks “that is not the way for a Christian to manifest the fruits of the spirit.” Guides have been written for preachers on how to deal with the post-sermon pain in the kneck.

Let me tell of one of these nuisances who attended a Methodist Church in a city he was visiting, Johannesburg.

After the sermon he introduced himself to the preacher/pastor, and after the exchange of a few sweet nothings, asked him about the line in “Bind us together,” the final song of the service, namely,

Verse 2 third line

Made for the glory of God
Purchased by His precious Son
Born with the right to be clean
For Jesus the victory has won

Pain – Surely everybody born into this world has not been born with the right to be clean.
Preacher – Perhaps it should say those who have been born again have the right to be clean. Let me see. (The song appears on the printed sheet he is holding). No, it does mean everybody without exception is born with the right to be clean. Look at the context. (He reads):

“Made for the glory of God
Purchased by his precious son
Born with the right to be clean.”

Pain(ful) – But surely not every one born into the world has been/will be “purchased by his precious son” (thinking to himself – all those God knows from eternity whom he has condemned to hell), because if Christ purchases, that is, pays with his blood to release everyone from bondage to sin, this means that everyone born into this world certainly is washed clean of sin, and will, logically, end up in heaven, whether they are born again (through grace by faith), that is, born of God or whether they are born of a husband’s will.

Preacher – I disagree with you (pointing to other people who wanted to speak to him).

Pained, I said goodbye and retreated.

Accosting a preacher-pastor straight after a church service – who is usually exhausted and sometimes, hopefully, wondering whether his sermon failed – is not exactly the most tactful or considerate thing to do. But what was I to do? Calvinists can’t help getting into a scrap, especially when so much scrap is flying around.

Remember another nugget (that could’ve come from) Zorba: no pain, no gain.

My faith, works and perseverance will get me to heaven. Amazing (grace?)

The Calvinist says that man plays no cooperative or contributive role in coming to faith, while the Arminian says that man cooperates with God in that man turns his heart to God, that is, exercises his will to come to faith. In Calvinism, God first regenerates the sinner and then gives the sinner the gift of faith, while in Arminianism, regeneration follows the sinner’s acceptance of God’s offer of salvation. Faith, for the Arminian is something the believer does, not something God gives, as Calvinism understands it.

Arminians maintain that the “elect” are sinners that God selected on the basis of God foreseeing from eternity that they would decide to choose to permit God to raise them from (spiritual) death. They love singing the song “Amazing grace (that saved a wretch like me).”

Would it make sense to tell the Arminian that the ultimate reason why people are not saved is because there is something bad in them (in their wills) that causes them to reject the Gospel, and so deserve damnation? Of course it would make sense; it’s clear as day. What about people who are saved? What is the final clincher in God’s decision to save them. For the Arminian – there is no escaping the logic: the clincher is their decision – something in them, something good in them.

(See WHY DO MOST CHRISTIANS CALL GRACE (THAT SAVES) AMAZING? THEY CAN’T SEE THAT IT IS THEY WHO ARE).

John Girardeau (Arminianism and Evangelical Calvinism) explains Arminianism in a manner I wish I could:

“It is out of accord with Scripture in regard to the ultimate end of election. It admits that the proximate end is salvation; but it is logically bound to deny that the ultimate end is solely the praise of God’s grace. For, the praise is due to grace for the provision of the means of salvation, and it is due to the elect themselves for the free determination of their own wills to employ those means. God does not determine the sinner to use the means; the sinner determines himself. He may be grateful for the provision of the means, but gratitude for electing grace would have no ground. His faith, good works and perseverance bring him to heaven, but they are not grounded in or due to election: it is conditioned upon them. He could not sincerely praise the grace of God for bringing him to heaven: he could only praise it for affording him the means of getting there.”

Born foolish: A Hebraic view

I distinguish between the biblical (Hebraic) view and the rabbinical (Judaism) view. The rabbis do not accept that born foolish leads to the inability to please God, and to destruction. Now, to it.

We are born, we are fools, we are born fools.

Proverbs 22:15 – Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Genesis 8:21 – … the inclination (yetser) of man’s heart is evil (ra) from his youth.

And if course, the famous Jeremiah 17:19 verse: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick: who can know it?

Sick = foolish, despising instruction, despising authority.

So, how can we then blame the child! I’m stumped; but if the perfect and just God said it, then it is so, and remains, at least while we’re in this world, his secret:

Deuteronomy 29:29 (29:28 Hebrew Bible) – The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 32:4-5 – The deeds of the [Mighty] Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just; a faithful God, without injustice He is righteous and upright. 5 Destruction (corruption) is not His; it is His children’s defect you crooked and twisted generation.

Rashi’s commentary of the above:

Destruction is not His: Heb. שִׁחֵת לוֹ לֹא, [to be understood] as the Targum renders it: חַבִּילוּ לְהוֹן לָא לֵהּ,“Destruction is theirs, not His!”

“Corruption” is perhaps more accurate than “destruction.” There is a sense in which destruction is rooted in man and thus is his responsibility; and a sense in which destruction is ordained by God:

Deut 6:14-15 – Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

Deut 7:2-4 – And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy THEE suddenly.

Deut 32:21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation…Deut 32:25 The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.

Sometimes God gives up the disobedient to their own lusts:

Psalms 81 – 10 I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. 11 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. 12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

And sometimes God turns them away from their lusts towards Him, but only when they realize they are unable to turn to God because they are dead in their sins:

Psalms 80 – Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. 18 So will not we go back from thee: quicken us (bring us life CHAYA), and we will call upon thy name. 19 Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.