Established, Anointed, Sealed

February 27, 2009 at 10:45 am | Posted in It's All About God, Security and Assurance, Theology | 2 Comments

2 Corinthians 1:21-22.  “It is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.” (NET)  This short statement is full of great theology; in fact, I see three major theological topics covered here.  First is the Reformed position on salvation.  It’s all about God; he is the one who does it all.  In this passage God does four things.  He establishes his people in Christ; he anointed them for service; he sealed them; and he gave them the Spirit as a down payment.  Being Christian is, from start to finish, all about what God does rather than about what we do.  The second major topic here is the Perseverance of the Saints.  Both the seal and the down payment are matters of permanence.  When something is sealed, it is made secure.  When God established us as his own and anointed us to his service, he sealed us in that position.  We are forever his.  When a down payment is made, it is a promise of something more to come.  Ephesians calls that something more to come after the down payment as our eternal inheritance (1:14).  God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is his promise to give us the rest of that inheritance.  Nothing is more secure than God’s unconditional promise.  The third major theological theme taught here is the Trinity.  Each person of the Trinity is mentioned as a part of our salvation.  We are established, anointed and sealed by God the Father; we are established in God the Son; we are sealed and assured by God the Holy Spirit.  Great verses to ponder!

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Swimming to Antarctica

February 20, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Books and Movies, Swimming | Leave a comment

The book we’ve been reading together as a family is called Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox.  It has been a fun journey so far, though we are only 1/3 the way through.  It’s the autobiography of a girl who was on swim teams all her early life, but never was very fast; however, she learned that she could go forever, and even seemed to get stronger the farther she swam.  So she began doing long open-water swims.  At fifteen, she swam the English Channel, not only to become the youngest to accomplish the feat, but she beat the old record (both men’s and women’s!) in the process.

There have been some good life lessons along the way.  One of the more memorable lessons had to do with Lynne’s first channel swimming experience.  She swam from Catalina Island to California with a group of teenagers who were training together.  They would be the youngest team to complete the swim, and they had agreed to finish together.  As the others got weaker, she just kept going.  Three times she got a half mile ahead of the others and had to wait for them.  Then:

We pulled a couple of miles ahead of the team and Stockwell shouted, “Lynne, you’re more than an hour ahead of the world-record pace.  Not just the women’s world record, but also the men’s.  I just spoke with Ron,” he added (Ron was the team coach).  “He said you don’t have to wait for the others.  You can go ahead.”

More than anything, I wanted to attempt it, and I was confident I could succeed.  We were only three miles from shore.  It was so possible.  But it didn’t feel right; I had agreed to stay with the team.  .  .  .  How would they feel if I left them to break the record?  Wouldn’t that diminish the attention they deserved for their success?  .  .  .

The lead boat pulled alongside us while, while the crew on board was urging me to go for it.  My father was standing quietly near the railing.  “You look very good,” he said, and smiled.  .  .  .

“Dad, do you think I should go for the record?”

“It’s your decision, sweet.”

“You’ll be the youngest person to hold the record for the Catalina Channel,” Stockwell urged.

Johnson added, “If you wait for the others, you could be in the water another three or four extra hours.”

As I treaded water, others shouted encouragement.  “Go for the record!”

“I want to so badly, but I can’t.  I agreed to stick with the team.”  I was disappointed, but I knew it was the right decision.  (page 53)

Later on shore, with the news reporting that this was the youngest group to ever swim the Catalina Channel, the boys of the team who sprinted that last few hundred yards, boasted that they swam ten minutes faster than the girls.  “That made me angry,” Lynne confesses, “but I didn’t say anything.  I decided I was going to swim the English Channel and I wasn’t going to wait for anyone.” (page 55)  Needless to say, that led us to a great discussion of integrity.

 

 

 

Capitalism

February 18, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Questions for Pastor Glenn, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I read Dr. Pegler’s musings the other day.  After talking about greed verses the desire for improvement in an economic system of capitalism, he asks the question, “From this, can we conclude that a form of capitalism is more in tune with our being made in the image of God than other economic systems?”  He makes a good point.  You can read his article here.

My first response and my comment to his article was along the lines that greed cannot drive capitalism, because to make a buck in capitalism one must meet the needs of others.  (You can read that comment in the link above also.)  After writing my comment, I was reminded of an e-mail someone sent me about the differences between a liberal and a conservative.  There I hinted that capitalism is the most biblical economic system because it puts a check on human depravity.  I did some digging and found the text of that exchange:

 

Dear Pastor Glenn,

You may have heard this before, but George Will was on TV last night and was asked the difference between conservatives and liberals. His response was:  “A conservative is most concerned with freedom, and is willing to accept inequities in outcome to preserve it.  A liberal is most concerned with equality of outcome, and is willing to accept limitations on freedoms to achieve it.”

I liked it because I thought it was concise, fair and relatively accurate.

 

Dear  .  .  . ,

It’s been months, and I haven’t yet responded to this e-mail, but I have thought about it often since you sent it.  I have two comments:

1.     I always thought a conservative, at least on an economic level, is concerned with equality of opportunity over equality in outcome.  I suppose one could say that true freedom would imply equality of opportunity – the idea behind a “free” market.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought George Will might be right.

2.     If Will’s definition of a liberal is right, it seems to me that the liberal view, again on an economic level, will always lead to communism.  There will be fewer and fewer freedoms as we strive to achieve greater and greater equality.  However, because of depravity, there never will be equality of outcome until there are no freedoms left.  The reason most Christians are fiscal conservatives is because a genuine free market actually puts a check on our depravity – it forces us to use our greed to meet the needs of others!

Anyway, just some thoughts.

Glenn

 

Any economic system that gets away from a free market, allows the greedy people in power to become wealthy a the expense of the common people.  A truly free market limits that abuse.

Does anyone else have some other thoughts?

 

Angel in the Whirlwind

February 12, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Posted in Books and Movies, English Bible Translations | Leave a comment

For the last few weeks I have been reading Benson Bobrick’s book, Angel in the Whirlwind:  The Triumph of the American Revolution.  Because of my interest in English Bible history and translation, I had previously read his Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired.  I was so fascinated by that work, that I had to read this one as well.  This one is no less fascinating, though it is not a quick read.  My reading time has been limited the past few weeks and I am only 110 pages into a 500 page book, but every page and detail has been intriguing.  Here is just one of many great quotes so far:

From time to time, the religious life of America was shaken by evangelicals, most notably in the mid-1730s and 1740s, when a fundamentalist revival – marked by prayer meetings, confessions, repentances, and hysterical conversions – swept through the colonies north and south.  .  .  . 

Perhaps the most charismatic of the “New Light” evangelicals was George Whitefield, a follower of John Wesley, who challenged his listeners to awake to the requirements of a spiritual life.  He emphasized personal accountability as well as a more passionate communion with God.  .  .  . 

Even the worldly wise Benjamin Franklin was so moved by Whitefield’s oratory on one occasion that, he tells us in his Autobiography, “I emptied my pocket wholly, gold and all, into the collector’s dish.”  .  .  .  The Great Awakening helped bind Americans together with a shared sense of their spirituality as a people and, perhaps, “prepared them,” in the words of one historian, “for the coming ordeal of sacrifice and war.”

Franklin and his compatriots were not so moved when, in the mid-1760s, the king and Parliament began to preach their own requirements and to pass the collection plate around for themselves.  (pages 59-61)

Love and Fathfulness — part 1

February 10, 2009 at 10:26 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love | Leave a comment

My family took an extra day off to spend some time in the mountains cross country skiing and had a great outing.  I pondered a few psalms over the mini vacation, including Psalm 89.  In recent months, I have been fascinated by the number of times God’s love and faithfulness appear together in the psalms (over eighty!) and hope to write more about that in the future.  But I saw that connection in seven different places in this chapter alone!  The first two were in the first two verses:  “I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.”  And “I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.”  Then in verse 14 the psalmist says to God, “love and faithfulness go before you.”  In verses 24, 28 and 33 God says of David (and presumably his heirs), “My faithful love will be with him;” “I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail;” and “I will not take my love from him, nor will I betray my faithfulness.”  Finally, in the psalmist’s closing prayer, he asks, “O LORD, where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David?”

When Ethan the Ezrahite, who wrote this poem, was feeling rejected by God (38) and the utter futility of life (47), the thing he fell back on was the character of God – especially God’s love and faithfulness.  The same was true of Jeremiah, whose whole world seemed to collapse when his home town and native country were destroyed.  He too remembered God’s love and faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21-24).  When we feel like God isn’t there, when we see life as utterly futile, when our personal worlds seem to fall apart, the thing we can fall back on is God’s love and faithfulness.  No matter how we feel, God is love and God is faithful.  Nothing can change those two truths!

Deadly Poison

February 3, 2009 at 10:25 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Wisdom | Leave a comment

I have to be reminded often of the powerful weapon that is my tongue.  God’s Word addresses the matter.  For instance, I read these words in my devotions this morning:  “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. .  .  .  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell  All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”  (Selections from James 3:1-12 – the entire section is good)

It seems this is especially difficult for teachers, and I am called a teaching pastor; that’s scary!.  When I get into trouble, it is usually because of my tongue.  I spout out things I wish I’d never said.  They come from the depravity within, and they can hurt others.  May God grant us the grace to speak words that are soft and gracious.  Next week’s sermon is on this text from Colossians 4:  “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  That is a lesson I haven’t yet learned well.

If the more gracious among you have any suggestions to help soften the rest of us, your comments are welcome!

I wrote on this topic once before.  You can read that post here.

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