Three ways to live

Which is your way?

The Gospel according to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – Part II

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 9:14 am on Saturday, October 13, 2007

Here is the second part of the gospel presentation taken from the book “Spiritual Depression” by famous British preacher Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. While the first part dealt with the necessity of being convicted of sin, the second part talks about how to become right with God (after you become convicted of your wrong).

God has said that He will punish sin, and that the punishment of sin is death and banishment from the face of God. Before man can be reconciled to God, before man can know God, this sin of his must be removed. God, because He is righteous and holy and eternal, could not forgive the sin of man without punishing it. He said He would punish it, so He must punish it, and, blessed be His name, He has punished it. God has punished our sins in Christ, in His body on the cross, so he can now forgive us.

This works like this: If we have seen our need and go to God and confess it, God will give us his own Son’s righteousness. He imputes Christ’s righteousness to us who believe in Him, and regards us as righteous. This is the justification by faith. We look to Christ and to Christ alone, we rest exclusively upon the Lord Jesus and His perfect work.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones had a very simple way of testing others to see if they understood this. He would explain the whole concept to them and then ask “Well, then, are you now ready to say that you are a Christian?”. And often they would hesitate, saying “I do not feel that I am good enough”. At once he knew that in a sense he has been wasting his breath. They are still thinking in terms of themselves; their idea is still that they have to make themselves good enough to be Christian. It sounds very modest, but it is the lie of the devil. You will never be good enough; nobody has ever been good enough. The essence of Christian salvation is that He is good enough and that I am in Him.

Until you understand this, you will never be happy. You will think you are better at times and then again you will find you are not as good as you thought you were. Forget yourself, forget all about yourself. It doesn’t matter if you have almost entered the depths of hell, if you are guilty of murder as well as any other vile sin. Look at nothing and nobody but look entirely to Christ and say:

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand

GodTube

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 10:22 am on Thursday, October 11, 2007

One of our readers have just referred us to GodTube, a Christian answer to YouTube. There are not that many videos available yet, but what I have seen looks good. There is some dodgy stuff also, like conversation between religion follower and Christ follower, modeled after Mac vs. PC ads, but well, what can you do with freely shared user generated content.

Here is one of the top-ranked videos, very well done.

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 – summary of study

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 10:25 am on Monday, October 8, 2007

1) What is the tradition described in the passage and is it applicable to us?
This is a difficult and controversial passage that deal with propriety in worship. On the deeper level it also teaches us a lot about gender roles.

The passage implies that in public worship/church gathering men should wear short hair, no head covering and women should wear long hair, also covered by something. By cover it is most like to mean some kind of veil or shawl.

It seems that tradition is cultural and hence is not necessary to follow now. For example, Jews had a very different tradition. Samuel never cut his hair. Jewish priest were wearing a special head covering when serving in the temple. On the other had, in Egypt the tradition was to shave hair, as Joseph had to comply in Gn. 41:14. Paul, however, speak to Greeks in this passage, and they seem to prefer shorter hair for men and longer for women.

Also, women in Israel were shaving hair as a sign of morning, as in Deut 21:12 and Micah 1:16. But in Roman empire it was also a sign of adultery – that’s probably why Paul speaks of it as disgrace.

2) What does this tradition symbolize?
Man’s lack of hair or covering symbolizes Christ as his head. Women’s long hair and covering symbolizes the man as her head. Paul produces several arguments to support the headship of man over woman:

Woman was made from man, not the opposite
Woman was made for man, not the opposite

Both facts come from Genesis 2. The argument resembles that of 1 Timothy 2:12-14, where Paul says the women are not permitted to teach men because woman was created second and was deceived by Satan.

For many, including myself, these arguments would not sound very persuasive. But one thing should be clear to us: The headship of man over women is there by God’s design and not a result of the fall, which happened later in Genesis 3. Period.

3) Does the headship of man implies woman’s inferiority?
Of course not! It is important to see that being on the submissive side does not imply inferiority. As Paul himself says, man now comes from woman, so man and woman depend on each other (v.11-12). Yet man is still the head.

The best way to understand this is to consider the whole hierarchy established in the passage: God->Christ->man->woman. We can learn about man’s headship/woman’s submission by looking at the fact that Christ submits to God. Is God higher than Jesus? Of course not! God, Christ and Holy Spirit are of equal value. Then how can Christ submit to God?

Christ has willingly lowered himself to the men’s level and submitted to God’s authority in order that he can save men. The difference between God and Christ is not based on their value but on their function. Men and women are of equal value to God, but of different function.

Application:

1) What is you greatest problem with this teaching, if any?

I, personally, don’t have much problem with submission in general. Families with two heads are bound for conflicts. Society where everybody have the right to tell others what to do cannot exist. I have no problem submitting to people who are smarter or more experienced than I am. But I do have problem submitting to people who are less capable. And I foresee many women will have problems submitting to less capable men. Somehow, I think it’s fairer when headship is determined by abilities, not by gender.

Yet all I can say is that since its God’s design it must be good. God is not a type that does arbitrary things, he’s got a good reason for everything. Some day we all will be given a chance to ask him “Why?”, face to face. Did it makes sense for God to choose one of the weakest nation to reveal himself to? Did it make sense for Him to constantly prefer younger brother over older, weaker over stronger, outsider over insider? Did it make sense for Christ to die for our sins?

We should never presume to think that we can completely understand God, but learn to trust Him whether we do or we don’t.

2) If man’s leadership is there by God’s design, he should have made men more capable of leading. Is there any biological reason for submission?

These are some biological differences. Most of them have to do with men being food provider and women doing child rearing.

a. Men have more muscles than women
b. Women’s biology is more adapted to long enduring tasks, while males are better at short bursts of energy. This is clearly evidenced by sports.
c. Women can better endure cold weather, but men are better at dissipating heat.
d. Males feel less pain and heal bruises faster. Women are better resisted to infections.
e. Women posses many advantages for child rearing (better hearing, smell, taste, touch senses)
f. Reaction to prolonged stress. In the beginning, the reaction to stress is similar between the sexes – both can stay awake longer, be more concentrated, etc. But as time goes by, women lose adrenaline and become depressed while in men the adrenaline production is not being reduced, which allows them to maintain higher energy for much longer duration. This, however, comes at at the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, early death.

The Gospel according to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – Part I

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 9:14 am on Sunday, October 7, 2007

I am current reading an excellent book “Spiritual Depression” by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. In the book the doctor (that is what he is commonly called) examines various causes of depression among Christians. One of such causes is a lack of understanding of the gospel. To suggest a cure for this problem, he provides a very clear gospel presentation in Chapter II, one of the clearest I have ever seen. Here is a shortened excerpt of the first part of the gospel presentation – conviction of sin. I tried to keep original wording wherever is possible.

The doctor says that lack of understanding of the gospel occurs most often in those who have been brought up in Christian households and hence have taken Christianity for granted. These people go to church, are interested in Christian things, but then you compare them with the New Testament description of the new man in Christ, you immediately see the difference. Indeed, they themselves see that. They read books which are meant to give instruction about the Christian way of life, they attend meetings and conferences, always seeking this something they do not find.

The doctor calls them the miserable Christians, who did not understand the way of salvation. They assumed they were on the right road and all they have to do is to continue along it. But they were on the wrong road! Focusing on sanctification, they did not understand justification. This is the same problem the Jews of New Testament had. They said that all one have to do is to keep the Law, and on this basis God will accept you and be pleased with you.

Yet the correct teaching is that we are saved by faith and not by works. Why so many miserable Christians do not see it? Because they don’t see a need for it. Many people do not see themselves as sinners. That kind of person thinks of sin in terms of action, or what he/she does. Sometimes they put it quite plainly: “I have never really thought about myself as a sinner: but of course this is not surprising as my life has been sheltered from the beginning.” Such people have heard it preached that Christ has died for our sins and they say that they believe that; but they have never really known its absolute necessity for themselves.

Such people need to be convicted of sin. “There is no one righteous, no not one, all have sinned and fell short of the glory of God”. The way to know yourself as a sinner is not to compare yourself with other people (you can always find those worse than you), but come face to face with the Law of God. The Law of God is not just “Do not steal, do not murder”. It is also to love God with all of your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Here is a test for you and me: “Are you loving God with all your being?”. If not, you are a sinner. You can be innocent of all gross sins and yet be guilty of being satisfied with your life, having pride in your achievements and feeling that you are better than others. If you have never realized your guilt before God you will never have a joy in Christ. “Not the righteous, sinners Jesus came to save”. “They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick”.

I will continue with the second principle in my next post.

Under two laws

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 7:43 pm on Thursday, October 4, 2007

In one of my earlier posts, “When Church and State conflict“, I raised an issue of potential conflict between state and church laws. In most cases church institutes additional requirements that do not contradict state laws, save for a few rare cases. My original point was that when the church’s requirements are stricter than those of the state, Christians should makes sure they obey them in their private/church life but do not impose them on those who do not believe. But our last bible study made me realize I missed something important. Should Christians impose stricter requirements on themselves when dealing with non-believers in a secular world?

The context for this question came from a study on 1 Cor 11:2-16 about women’s head coverings and man’s headship over woman. While tradition of wearing headscarves is purely cultural and does not need to be practice today, the headship of man over woman (or submission of woman to man) is there by God’s design and applies to us just as much as it did to Christians Paul is writing to. Our church, for example, imposes this requirement on women by not allowing them to be preachers and elders. It also encourages the practice of women’s submission in our families.

But what about Christian woman’s behavior in a secular world? Should she, for example, volunteer to do jobs that put her in authority over men? Or put it in a more general way, where is the boundary of Bible’s authority for Christians? Is it limited to their private/church life or should it spill out to their secular life also? Note I am not talking about imposing the Christian rules on unbelievers, but imposing it on believers in their dealings with unbelievers.

I don’t have the answer. Yet. If you think you know it, or can think of some cons/pros, please comment!

The council on biblical manhood & womanhood

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 12:21 am on Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The council on biblical manhood & womanhood is probably the most important voice on gender issues in the Christian community. It was started 20 years ago by a group of pastors and scholars to address their concerns over the influence of feminism in evangelical churches.

Their website contains a lot of free resources addressing such issues as “What it means to be a man/woman?”, “What is God’s vision for a Christian family?”, “How can men and women serve in the church?” and many others. Do check it out!

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