The Five Solas

Five_Solas

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses (written in Latin) to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. This historical event was not the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, but was a means that started discussions and debates about the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church’s indulgences. After a series of events, Luther’s discussion intensified to a declaration of a defence of the gospel.

Continue reading The Five Solas

What is the point of life?

What is the point of life?

One thing that sets different worldviews apart from one another is their conception of what is good, or what is the primary goal (or end) of life. Each worldview answers this question differently, even if some answers seem similar.

Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, says that happiness is the “supreme good.” Indeed he says the following:

“Happiness, then, is found to be something perfect and self-sufficient, being the end to which our actions are directed.” (Ethics, 1097b, 20)

For Aristotle, happiness is the point of life. What about the Christian? What should we say is the point of life? The famous phrase from the Westminster Shorter Catechism sums the answer up well (and those of you familiar with the teaching of John Piper will be familiar with this): Continue reading What is the point of life?

God’s Providence: Our Comfort

God's Providence: Our Comfort

John Calvin writes about our “knowledge” of God’s providence in his Institutes of the Christian Religion:

‘Gratitude of mind for the favourable outcome of thing, patience in adversity, and also incredible freedom from worry about the future all necessarily follow upon this knowledge.’ (see 1.17.7)

By knowledge he means that we properly understand and see the ramifications of the doctrine. By “providence” he means that as described by many passages of scripture (e.g. ), and by the 1689 London Confession 5:1, which says that God “upholds, directs, organises and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least … ” I wrote about God’s providence recently here.

With that in mind, read the quote again. Calvin says that when we know and trust God in his providence, we should be 3 things.

1. Thankful for all of the good things that come about in our life,

2. Patient in difficult times in our life, and

3. Free from worry.

God is in control, says Calvin. So, be thankful! Be patient! Don’t worry!

Picture credit: John Calvin’s church in Geneva, by Mark Gstohl. Some rights reserved.

10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
11 calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

The Consequences of Christ’s Coming

He is coming with clouds

In my last post I discussed the certainty of Christ’s return and the importance of being ready. In this post I want to answer the question, what will happen when Christ returns? When He comes back, there will be consequences. After declaring the certainty of Christ’s coming, John goes on to say in ,

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen”

During our Lord’s earthly ministry His glory was veiled. Though many believed in Him and were genuine followers, no one saw His glory (apart from Peter, James, and John who saw a glimpse at the Mount of Transfiguration). The day is coming when our Lord returns that all will see Him in His glory and there will be no denying who He truly is! John states, “and every eye will see Him.” This reveals that every single individual will be an eyewitness to this climactic event. This is why we ought to always reject any claims that Christ has returned (cf. ).

As a result or consequence of our Lord’s return, John makes mention of two groups who are greatly affected at the time of the event. The first group are designated as “those who pierced Him” and the second as “all the tribes of the earth” ().

Who does this first group refer to? Continue reading The Consequences of Christ’s Coming

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

The Black Swan: Can a Christian believe in randomness?

blackswan

I have just finished Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, The Black Swan. It was, ironically, given the name of the publishing company, published by Random House back in 2007. The Black Swan is about improbable, unexpected events which have a high impact. Even more importantly, Taleb wants the reader to be aware of our inability to predict these events. Indeed, we all stomp around behaving as though we just know that our home won’t catch on fire tomorrow. We also behave like we know that a plane won’t crash into the building we work in while we’re working in it. And yet we don’t know. We cannot know.

This is not a book review, but more of a Christian reflection on the ideas in the book. The kind of events Taleb has in mind are massive stock market crashes (e.g. 1929, 1987, and 2008), terrorist attacks on Australian soil, or the rise of Christianity. High impact, unpredictable, and improbable. That’s the trio of features. Continue reading The Black Swan: Can a Christian believe in randomness?

Calvinistic and Charismatic – Do they Mix?

charismatic_and_reformed_thumb

There is a large and influential group who would be classed as Charismatic Calvinists (or reformed continuationists). There are many from this group who have been faithful in their proclamation of the gospel and have served as examples of Christian piety. For this I am thankful and grateful for what I continue to learn from them. However, the question I ask in this post is, can you be Calvinistic and Charismatic? I ask this question because there are those who preach that the reformed must be charismatic.

The Charismatic Calvinist is a novel combination that has come to most prominence in recent years. In fact, the majority of Calvinistic teachers in the history of the church have been cessationtionists (a cessationist believes that the miraculous gifts were limited to the early church).

What is Calvinism? Being a Calvinist goes beyond the embracing of the five points (TULIP – Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of Grace). The five points are important (and Scriptural), but they are not all there is to Calvinism. Burk Parsons argues that Continue reading Calvinistic and Charismatic – Do they Mix?

How Big is the Universe?

 Size-of-the-Universe-450x263

 

Evidence of God is scattered all throughout creation. The Bible () says that mankind is without excuse for the denial of God as his fingerprints are all around us. For me one of the things that always blows my mind about the size of God, then simultaneously humbles me when I realize what value He must place on my soul, is anything that illustrates the size of the universe. And not just the bigness of the universe, but the smallness of the universe in the microscopic. With every discovery they make about the distance and vastness of the measurable universe, they seem to match it with a discovery of something that is smaller than we have ever seen before. When the atom was initially discovered and labeled as the building block of everything, it was thought it did not get any smaller. The word “atom” itself comes from the Greek word atomos, meaning that which cannot be divided. But since then they have discovered that the atom is as big to some thing’s as the Sun is as big to a tennis ball. Amazing isn’t it. How big or small can things get? Does it just keep going?

So how big is the Universe?

I know that for many, this sort of information doesn’t bring any sort of spiritual revelation. Continue reading How Big is the Universe?

20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

The Prosperity Gospel?

Here is a wonderful excerpt from J. C. Ryle, written 130 years ago, about the story of Jesus calming the storm ().[1]

“Following Christ will not prevent our having earthly sorrows and troubles.

“Here are the chosen disciples of the Lord Jesus in great anxiety… The fear of death breaks in upon them like an armed man. The deep water seems likely to go over their souls.

“Perhaps they had not reckoned on all this.  Perhaps they had expected that Christ’s service would at any rate lift them above the reach of earthly trials.  Perhaps they thought that He , Continue reading The Prosperity Gospel?

37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Would the discovery of life on other worlds be earth-shattering?

© charles taylor – Fotolia.com

I’m a Sci-Fi fan.

Yes, I’m a ‘Trekky’.  I’ve always loved having an imagination, and particularly love reading books by people who imagine what the future might be like (whether I agree with them or not; for instance I strongly disagree with the rampant humanism of Star Trek).  My favourite author is the late great Isaac Asimov, an astounding polymath who wrote fiction and non-fiction, including works on Shakespeare and the Bible.

My favourite living author is Alastair Reynolds, and I have read almost all of his books. In his latest book Blue Remembered Earth (Gollancz, 2012) one of the characters speaks about finding life on another planet.  It is assumed that this is an earth-shattering find that changes everything.  It seems to me that many people Continue reading Would the discovery of life on other worlds be earth-shattering?