Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quote of the Day #196 - C. S. Lewis

A quote from C. S. Lewis:
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."
~C.S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain, Chapter 3)

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Summary of Genesis 9

The era of the pre-flood world, which spanned over 1500 years, had come to an end. A worldwide flood had engulfed the planet, destroying everything and bringing in the era of the post-flood world, an era that began with eight people: Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, and their wives.

Genesis 9 gives us the first glimpse of life in the post-flood world. Some things remained the same; in the opening verses of Genesis 9, God repeats the command in Genesis 1:28 that he gave to Adam and Eve at creation:
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. (Genesis 9:1)
Although some things in the post-flood era remained the same as before, there were also several changes. The relationship between man and animal would no longer be as harmonious as it once was (Genesis 9:2). Animals would now be filled with the fear of man, with good reason too— for the first time in history, God permitted man to kill animals for meat. Man was no longer required to abstain from eating meat (Genesis 9:3) so long as it was cooked (Genesis 9:4).

The beginning of the post-flood era also marked the first time that God directly told man how murderers should be treated:
Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
(Genesis 9:6)
Perhaps the biggest change that the post-flood era brought was the covenant God made with man. In His Sovereignty, the Creator of all things, God Himself, promised to man that He would never again flood the entire earth (Genesis 9:8-11). This promise, known as the Noahic Covenant, has been represented ever since by the rainbow (Genesis 9:12-17).

The world, in a sense, was cleansed by the flood. The utterly corrupt human societies that had filled the globe had been eliminated. The violence which had once filled the earth was no more. Noah and his family, however, had not been fully cleansed by the flood. Though it may have seemed as if, for a moment, the flood had brought Heaven to Earth, sin was still present in the hearts of Noah and his family. This becomes clear in the remainder of Genesis 9, which describes Noah's fall.

One day, Noah began farming. He planted a vineyard, then he made wine. And then, Noah— the man who had done so much, worked so hard, and been so mightily used by God— indulged himself in wine. Noah fell (Genesis 9:20-21).

To made a bad situation worse, when Noah was lying in his tent drunk and naked, his son Ham wronged him (Genesis 9:22-24). Scripture does not state exactly what Ham did wrong, but when Noah awoke, he cursed Ham's son (Genesis 9:24-25) and then proceeded to bless Shem and Japheth (Genesis 9:26-27). This saddening event marks the close of Scripture's account of the life of Noah.

After the flood, Noah lived 350 years, dying at the age of 950 (Genesis 9:28-29). He had been a man of obedience, and although he sinned, he was a man who by the grace of God ultimately walked by faith.
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Quote of the Day #195 - William Gurnall

A quote from William Gurnall:
Nothing should have a more powerful effect upon a saint's spirit than to consider his blissful estate in heaven as being the reward of all his conflicts here on earth. This sword should cut the very sinews of temptation and behead those lusts which defy whole troops of other arguments. How can sin co-exist with the hope of such glory? It is when the thoughts of heaven are long out of the Christian's sight, and he forgets his hope of that glorious place, that he begins to set up some idol as Israel set up the calf and worshiped it in the absence of Moses. Only let heaven come into view, and the Christian's heart will be well warmed with thoughts of it. You may as soon persuade a king to throw down his royal diadem and wallow in the mud with his robes on, as convince a saint to sin when his heart is filled with the expectation of heaven's glory.
~William Gurnall (The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One, Chapter 4, Part 2)

This quote was taken from the book The Christian In Complete Armor Volume One - A modernized abridgement of the Puritan Classic by William Gurnall, published by Banner Of Truth.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Christianity IS A Religion, Not Just A Relationship

Time and time again I hear Christians say something like, "I don't have a religion, I have a relationship" or, "Jesus hated religion".

I understand what Christians mean when they say this. They are trying to express the idea that Christianity is different from all other religions— that Christianity isn't about doing a certain list of things or accomplishing so many goals. Christians often look at the Pharisees and call them "religious". Make no mistake about it, the Pharisees were definitely religious people. Christians, however, are also religious people (but in a different kind of way).

Take a look at this passage from James:
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:26-27)
Clearly, in this passage, religion is not a bad thing. James is basically saying that there is a lot of false religion in the world, but true religion is this: caring for orphans and widows and keeping oneself unstained from the world.

The word "religion," therefore, can be used in a negative way and in a positive way. There are many false religions, but there is one true religion. There are many man-made religions, but only one God-made religion.

It doesn't make sense for Christians to say that they don't have a religion, but a relationship. Why? Because anyone who isn't a Christian clearly recognizes the fact that Christianity is a religion— and they're right!

Some Christians seem to want to avoid using the word "religion" because of the bad connotation it has in today's culture. This argument, however, has some problems.

The word "Bible" also has a bad connotation in today's culture, should we avoid using it as well?

If you think about it, there are many Christian terms that have terrible connotations in today's culture, such as "holy" and "righteous".

It would be far better for Christians to abandon the phrase, "Christianity is not a religion," and instead explain what makes their religion unique. It would be better for Christians to say that they're the only ones who live out true religion. While it may be true that man-made religion is a cold, dead system of works, God-made religion is completely different.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Noah's Life And Death - Genesis 9:28-29 Bible Commentary

Noah lived for an almost record-breaking 950 years.1 Yet for a man who lived for so long, we know so little. All that we have are a few short snapshots of his life.

The first snapshot we get is of Noah's birth. Noah was born into a world that was teeming with sin and aching from the pains of the curse. When Noah was born, his father Lamech said: Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands (Genesis 5:29). It is clear, then, that from the very beginning Noah's life was marked out for a set purpose.

Then we have nothing but silence.

Scripture tells us nothing about the next 480 years of Noah's life. We know nothing about his childhood or his young (relatively speaking) adulthood. We know so little that the most that can be said is that Noah turned to God sometime in the first 480 years of his life. This simple fact can be assumed because in the next snapshot Scripture gives us of Noah, he is 480 years of age and walking with God (Genesis 6:9).

In the 480th year of Noah's life, Scripture makes clear that the world around Noah was a complete mess. Lust controled the globe, with the sons of God at the center of it all.2 The earth was completely filled with violence (Genesis 6:11). In fact, the world was in such a sinful condition that God decided to wipe out humanity. In the midst of this horrifying scene, the only relief came from one man: Noah.

When Noah was 480 years old, God, by his grace, looked upon him with favor (Genesis 6:8). Demonstrating His mercy, God commanded Noah to build an ark so that he would be spared from the coming global flood.

Scripture gives us only a fuzzy snapshot of what happened over the next 120 years. We know that Noah was building the ark and that he was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). We also know that the wickedness of the world did not change, and perhaps grew worse. Apart from that, we know nothing.

After those 120 years came to an end, God sent the Flood. Scripture gives us one of the most detailed snapshots of Noah's life during the year of the flood. In fact, Scripture records the exact chronology of the flood (Genesis 8:3-19).

It is after the Flood that we see the last snapshot of Noah's faithfulness. After leaving the ark, Noah built an altar to offer sacrifices to the God who had saved him. Shortly afterwards, God made the ever-famous rainbow covenant (Genesis 9:12-17).

If only that had been the last snapshot that Scripture gave us of Noah— if only the last image we had was of Noah and his three sons standing in the presence of God with a vibrant rainbow shining in the background.

Sadly, the last snapshot Scripture gives us is of Noah drunk, naked, and cursing one of his sons (Genesis 9:21). It is hardly the image we would expect from a man who did so much and lived for so long. Yet we must remember all of Noah's life, not just parts. Noah, in the bigger picture, was a man who remained faithful to God.

As the author of Hebrews puts it:
By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
We do not know how Noah died, but we do know when he died. Genesis 9:28-29 provides us with a short, closing snapshot that sums up Noah's life:
Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood. So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and he died. (Genesis 9:28-29)

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  1. ^ Methuselah is the oldest recorded man at 969 years of age, see Genesis 5:27.
  2. ^ The "sons of God" were likely fallen angels, for a fuller discussion of this see Genesis 6:1-4

Monday, January 09, 2012

Quote of the Day #193 - J. C. Ryle

A quote from J. C. Ryle:
Believe me, believe me, true repentance is that one step that no man ever repented of. Thousands have said at their latter end, they had "served God too little". But no person ever said, as he left this world, that he had cared for his soul too much.
~J. C. Ryle (Alive Or Dead?)

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Top 10 Funniest Search Entries Of 2011

One of the more entertaining parts of blogging is looking through the various ways people arrive at this site.

When people find this blog using Google (or some other search engine), it's usually through searching something like: "How big was Noah's ark?" or "How many wise men were there?" But occasionally, people reach this blog with some rather funny searches. I've compiled a list below of the funniest search entries of 2011 that led people to this blog.

10. 874 years

9. lamechs 2 wifes is the secret to noahs genealolgy

8. how big is 6"

7. does noah's flood show eternity

6. summarize genesis 6

5. how do raven's find dead animals

4. martin luther, dragon, flood to destroy

3. joseph dont be afraid i'm in the pegenesis

2. don't be afraid of your wife

1. are a dove and a raven the same thing

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Jonathan Edwards' Resolutions

At the beginning of every year, the word "resolution" becomes a popular topic of conversation. This year, of course, is no exception. Perhaps you have made resolutions in the past, or perhaps you are thinking of making one right now, regardless, I think you will benefit from reading a few of Jonathan Edwards' resolutions (Edwards was a Puritan who lived in 1700's Colonial America; he tends to be remembered most for his awe-inducing sermon Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God).

Edwards wrote his resolutions for his own private use, not to be published or visible to the public.1 He begins his list of resolutions with a short explanation:
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.
In this short sentence Edwards explains that he is making and keeping these resolutions for Christ's sake. Furthermore, he recognizes that he is powerless, unable to do anything without God's help.

What if whenever you made a resolution (regardless the time of year), you stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, and first made sure that you were making the resolution for the sake of Christ?

Always keep eternity and the glory to come in mind whenever you make a resolution. There's nothing wrong with resolving to follow a better diet or be more disciplined, but if none of your motivations are eternal in value, you are doing something wrong. Make sure your heart is right.

In the same way a treasure chest full of fool's gold is not very valuable, a resolution that aims only at earthly things may at first appear to have value, but will be found worthless in the end. Make sure to always aim for the true, golden resolutions that shine with the glimmer of eternity.

After Edwards' short explanation, he lists seventy resolutions. I've picked out a few of these resolutions that caught my attention and listed them below (if you want, you can read all of them here).

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yes violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year.

48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
  1. ^ The Works Of Jonathan Edwards (1834) by Rogers, Dwight, and Hickman (page lxii).