January 3, 2013 § 1 Comment
The Gospel of Mark presents us with a very instructive record of an exchange that took place between our Lord Jesus and His enemies. These men questioned the authority of Christ to “do these things,”1 which is not here defined clearly but Matthew’s account tells us that He was “teaching” in the Temple2 and Luke states that He was also “preaching the Gospel,”3 Thus, the enemies of our Lord were demanding that He reveal to them the source of His authority to teach and preach. More specifically, they were demanding that He reveal to them the source of His authority to teach and to teach what He was teaching. Christ refuted the errors of His enemies in numerous places, asserting in their place the Truth of His Divine Word. In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord declares “You have heard it said…,” introducing thereby the opinions of the false teachers of His day, and goes on to say “…But I say unto you…” indicating His superior authority to correct all of the teachers who were in His presence, as well as those whom they taught and those who taught them! From where does this Man derive His authority?
In short, Christ did not, properly speaking, derive His authority from anyone but Himself. Christ is God; therefore, He, as the Perfect Author of His own Word, knows what His own Word means. “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”4 Christ teaches authoritatively because He possesses all authority in heaven and in earth; and the substance of His teaching is true because He is True. It is a simple response, but it is nonetheless the case. Note that our Lord’s response answers their question and exposes their hypocrisy. In response to their question He replies:
“I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.”5
In addition to the fact that their answers will produce rather undesirable effects for Christ’s enemies, what is implicit to this question is a questioning of their very ability to demand that Christ tell them the source of His authority. For if the Pharisees & Co. were unable to judge whether or not the baptism of John was from heaven or from men, then on what basis do they assume that they have the capacity to judge whether or not Jesus’ testimony about Himself is true or false. John the Baptist clearly identified himself as one who had been sent by God;6 therefore, if they did not accept his testimony, then they believed his baptism was from men. On the other hand, if they did not contradict his own testimony about himself, then why would they not accept his testimony regarding Christ, for whose purpose God had sent John to baptize in the wilderness? In other words, if the Pharisees reject John’s baptism as being merely from man, then their rejection of Christ is a natural consequence of that. However, if they accepted John’s baptism, then should they not also accept John’s message about Jesus?
Thus, their refusal to answer, couched in the form of theological agnosticism, is nothing more than an attempt to slip out of the iron grip of the logical consequences of their admission to either of the options that Christ places before them. But now note the irrationality that they exhibit: They reject Christ’s attestation to His own authority and then ask Him to explain the source of the authority He wields. How can they reject His own claims about Himself and yet claim to be without knowledge? Their question already assumes that Christ’s Words are not true; therefore, their question assumes knowledge that shows that Christ is not whom He claims to be. This means that they are not theologically agnostic about who Christ is: They know what He claims about Himself and, well, they reject it. Likewise, although the Spirit of God was speaking through the prophet John the Baptist, the Pharisees rejected the Word of God and questioned the authority of John.7
2cf. Matt 21:23
3cf. Luke 20:
41st Cor 2:11
6cf. John 1:33-34
7cf. John 1:19
June 28, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The guys over at Christ the Center have a great podcast roundtable discussion on the role of logical inference – whether or not it is a proper means of studying Scripture, to what extent inferences are binding upon the Christian, etc – available for download here.
From the site:
The Westminster Confession of Faith 1.6 says, “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.” In this episode, Ryan McGraw joins us to speak about his book By Good and Necessary Consequence, which addresses the subject of making right deductions from Scripture. This book is published by Reformation Heritage Books as part of their series Explorations in Reformed Confessional Theology.
This topic is an important one, and the men of Christ the Center handle it with care. I appreciate the balance that they try to emphasize between systematic theology & biblical theology. Also, as a Reformed Baptist what is of great interest is a short discussion on the reason why the London Baptist 1689 Confession contains a slightly modified statement concerning deduction & necessary inferences drawn from Scripture (see here for tabular comparison of the differences between the two confessions).
If this is a new topic for you, this is a good place to start.
On a side note, I will begin posting on logic next week and the week after that.
Soli Deo Gloria
May 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I. May the Lord…/I Know the Lord…Will… [vv.1-5, 9]/[vv.6-8]
David begins his psalm by petitioning the Lord, but he ends it by declaring that God will do what he has asked for! Not only this, but David says that he knows that God will do what he is asking Him to do! This is encouraging and convicting for us who know that God is Sovereign and faithful to His promises. It is encouraging because it shows us that praying fervently for the Lord to act on behalf of His people is not an implicit denial of His Sovereignty. On the other hand, it is convicting because it shows us that knowing that God has Sovereignly ordained all things for His glory and that He cannot deny Himself is no excuse for His people to not live in prayer. The balance here is perfect, but we rarely see it in our lives. We swing like a pendulum between two extremes: We pray fervently not from a heart of faith, but from a heart of unbelief; we worry that God will not remain faithful to His Word. We, then, swing to the other extreme and do not pray because we know that God is Sovereign. What is ironic is that prayers of the frantic worrier are offered in unbelief, and the absence of prayer from the stoic Christian is an indication of his unbelief.
II. We Trust in the Name of the Lord our God… [v.7]
This trust is exemplified, as we have already noted, not in the frantic and superstitious prayers of the professing Christian, nor in the stoical absence of prayer in the professing believer’s life. Instead, trust is exemplified by (a.)prayer and (b.)a secure knowledge of the fact that God is faithful to His promises.
III. Ends/Means/God’s Sovereignty
Some trust in chariots, others trust in horses, but the righteous trust in the Lord. Note the significance of this: Trust is put in God, and not in the means that one utilizes. This is a clear refutation of those who believe that man’s freewill is that which determines his eternity. Why? Because David rejects all means as that which is to be trusted in – this includes even his own efforts at trying to save Israel from her foes! Only the Lord can be trusted, for He alone is the One who has complete Sovereignty over all of His creation. There is not one fragment of an atom that does not do exactly what God has, from all eternity, ordained it to do. How then can we say that it is our skill or wisdom that brings anyone to faith in Christ? We cannot. We know that God will do all that He has promised to do; and if this is so, which it is, then God has ordained all which He will do. And this implies that God has ordained all that occurs. This is explicitly stated elsewhere in Scripture, so this text is not alone. It is the weight of these words, however, that I wish to focus on: Some trust in horses, others trust in chariots, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Even so, Father, Your will be done.
April 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
[Read Psalm 2]
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed…
In this verse, there is an opposition of united forces: The wicked are united to one another in their common hatred of God and His Son Christ, and Christ and His Father are united. Throughout this psalm, there is a unity between the Father and the Son that makes up the very substance of the Holy Spirit’s revelation. Consider the ways in which Father and Son are united: (a.)in being the object of the natural man’s hatred (v.2), (b.)in their ruling authority over all men (v.3), and (c.)in being the proper object of worship (v.11). There are differences, however, between the Father and the Son that we must also take into consideration. For instance, the Father and Son are distinct from one another in that: (a.)the Father exalts Christ to King of kings and Lord of lords (v.6), and (b.)the Son, therefore, executes judgment on all men (vv.8-9), and (c.)the Son is specifically identified as the object of saving faith (v.12c).
So to add something more to what we have already stated, we would be remiss in not underscoring that because the Father and the Son are essentially united, it is not possible for one to bow to the Father except through the mediation of the Son. The Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit tells us, have “bonds” on the wicked; the two Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity, in this text, are shown to exercise Sovereign authority over all mankind. Therefore, it is impossible to disobey One Divine Person and claim to obey the Other. Those who do not worship the Son are rebelling against the Father’s clear command given to all men.