Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I believe that in grade school, high school, and college are all times in our life where these inner rings are most abundant and desired. They are still there later in life, although harder to see. Most people want to get in with the popular group; to fit in with those whom everyone knows. There are those who strive for academic excellence, and want to get in with the smart kids at school. My point is that we always want to belong and be a part of something. It is never fun for the person on the outside.
These inner rings, I believe, can enslave us until we drop everything else only for that goal to fit in where we want to. When we let go of these inner rings, we become free. We must remember that God does not judge us based on what group we belong to. He judges us by where our hearts lie. Our duty here on earth is to praise Him. That is all that matters.
Another thought is that there are really only two important rings in the world, the elect and the unbelievers. To be a part of the elect believing ring is life. However, it is only by the grace of God that we may be a part of it.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The problem of pain is an article about a questionable issue. This article is based on the idea that God must not be all-good or all-powerful if He lets people be inflicted with pain. To further explain it, people say that God cannot be good if He lets evil and pain flourish in the earth, and if he was all-powerful, He would take the pain away.
One quote that I really liked from what we listened to in class was, “We regard God as a pilot regards his parachute. He knows its there, but he hopes that he’ll never have to use it.” I think this applies very well to the whole human race because so often we forget about God when everything is going well. We so often only go to Him for help when we are in pain.
I also liked how he talked about the story of Job. The devil had to ask permission of God in order to tempt and torture Job. This is a great reminder of how God is always there watching over us. He will always be there for us. When we are in pain, God knows, and Satan cannot do anything without the knowledge of God.
We must remember that sometimes God brings sorrow and pain upon us for our own good. Only our Creator knows what is best for His children. An example of this is Paul. He prayed three times for God to take the “thorn” out of his side. We don’t know what this “thorn” was, but we do know that God chose not to take it from him for Paul’s own good.
Romans 8:28, “ And we know that all things work together for good to them that love Him, to them that are called according to His purpose.” God uses pain for the good of His people. When everything is going right, we forget about him and we develop self-pride. Pain reminds us of our sin and the fact that we need Christ.
We need pain to remain low and humble. God is infinitely wise concerning what is best for us.
This Chapter in Engaging God’s world is about our salvation and redemption. God has made a Covenant with His people from the beginning of creation promising to save them from their sins. Genesis 17:7, “ I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations to be an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee.”
When man fell, God provided a means to be saved. One quote from the Plantinga Ch. 4 that I really liked is:“What we have lost… is a full sense of the power of God—to recruit people who have made terrible choices; to invade the most hopeless lives and fill them with light; to sneak up on people who are thinking about lunch, not God, and smack them up side the head with glory.”
I think that this is a very powerful statement concerning what happened to us after the fall, and how badly we need Christ to save us.
Another quote that I really liked from this chapter concerns the Ten Commandments. “…Ten Commandments, a set of requirements that people have to fulfill not in order to get rescued by God from slavery, but because they have been rescued.” This quote is telling us that we can’t do any good to participate in our own salvation. It is entirely of God’s grace that we may be saved. We obey God’s commandments because he has saved us, not in order that we may be saved.
As a final word, “How fair and lovely is the hope which the Lord gave to the dead when He lay down like them beside them. Rise up and come forth and sing praise to Him who has raised you from destruction.” As a result of our glorious salvation, we should be thanking and praising God’s holy name. We must also live our lives as witnesses to this wonderful truth.
This article is about the question ‘can we lead a good life without being a Christian?’ Lewis points out right away that the person who is asking this question is really saying that “ I don’t care whether Christianity is true or not. I am not interested in finding out. I just want to lead a good life while I am here on earth.” I believe that when a person says this, they are acknowledging that Christianity is something better that they don’t have right now.
We cannot lead a good life without Christianity. One quote that I really liked from this article is :
“ All right, Christianity will do you good - a great deal more
good than you ever wanted or expected. And the first bit of
good it will do you is to hammer into your head (you won't
enjoy that!) the fact that what you have hitherto called 'good'
- all that about 'leading a decent life' and 'being kind'-
isn't quite the magnificent and all-important affair you sup-
posed. It will teach you that in fact you can't be 'good' (not
for twenty-four hours) on your own moral efforts. And then
it will teach you that even if you were, you still wouldn't
have achieved the purpose for which you were created.”
This quote is telling us that we won’t know what is a good life until we find Christianity. We need the Holy Spirit in our hearts to do any good. Apart from Christ, there is no good.
A discussion came up in class concerning the salvation of those who have never heard of Christ. These people are left without excuse. God shows Himself in all of His creation. These people are able to see God in that, they are just ignorant of it.
Another point that I would like to make is that when God saves someone, He will provide a way of doing it. We don’t know how God does this because God has His ways of saving people. If that person is predestinated to be saved, then he or she will be saved.
Also, I think that we are asking the wrong question concerning this. Instead of asking, “Why doesn’t God save them?” This implies that they live “good” lives and are somehow deserving of salvation. Instead, we should be asking, “ Why did God save us?” This clarifies that no one deserves salvation; it is only by God’s good pleasure that He has chosen to save his elect.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
This essay was very complex and hard for me to understand. However, I will do my best to describe it as clearly as I can. This essay is about man in connection with natural law. It describes man’s conquest of nature and he is constantly trying to come up with new ideas and concepts to conquer it. Man is always trying to make himself what he pleases. However, there is this natural law, or a set of rules, that governs everyone. It is different from someone’s conscience. The conscience can be altered, but natural law hold’s everyone. Someone may not think that killing someone is wrong, but it actually is according to the natural law.
This essay also talks about how man’s power over nature is really the power of some people over other people. For example, the contraceptive is merely one generation’s power over the succeeding one. This made me think of our previous discussions concerning knowledge. In order to control and rule someone, you need to have more knowledge than that person. It also made me think of a story that I studied in 10th grade called The Pearl. In this story, a doctor made a man’s baby sick in order that the man would have to come back and pay more money to actually make him better. The man didn’t know any better though because he didn’t have as much medical knowledge as the doctor. This was one way that man had control over another man.
What we must remember is that God is in control over all of us. God governs nature, man, and everything that He has made. God did not merely create everything, and then take a break letting it go on it’s own. No, God is still working things out according to His plan. Man thinks that he is the one controlling everything because of the intelligence that God made us with, but really it is God who governs man. We cannot do anything outside of His control.
This essay compares Eros love with Venus love. Eros means “being in love.” It is romantic and selfless. It is characterized by the man wanting the woman as a person, not just as an object, and vice versa.
Venus is more of a sexual love that is based purely on lust. One quote that I really like about this Venus love that I think really explains it well is, “ One does not keep the carton after smoking the cigarettes.” It is a self-centered carnal love that is merely physical. The man wanting a woman as an object by which he is able to obtain pleasure characterizes it. It can also happen the other way around with the woman lusting after the man.
The question is, which love is longer lasting? I think that Eros lasts longer because it is more than just a physical love. Venus wouldn’t last very long. Once the person has received their pleasure, he or she is most likely to move onto the next person. With Eros, pleasure is just merely a byproduct of the love that is already there.
The media greatly elevates the Venus aspect of love. Our society is polluted with premarital sex, divorce, affairs, pornography, and every sexual sin imaginable. How are we as sinful people supposed to approach this situation and avoid these sins? First of all, we must remember that we influence the people around us. Not only our words and personalities influence people, but we show ourselves also by our actions. If we avoid and condemn these sins for what they are, we will be witnessing to the people around us by this. We should also be accountable to ourselves and with our friends. We must first have the willpower to not participate in these sexual sins, but we must also have good friends who will come to us when we have done something wrong. It is very helpful for people and their friends to be accountable for each other and to keep checking on each other. You are far less likely to participate in a certain sin when there are people watching.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This chapter is titled Vocation in the Kingdom of God. Matthew 6:33 says, “Strive first for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” People in the Bible times had such passion for the hope in their salvation. Contemporary Christians also have this hope for a clean heart and a right spirit with God. The question is, do contemporary Christians bring the same passion for hope in salvation as the people in the Bible times did? Praying “thy kingdom come” means something different for contemporary and biblical Christians. Biblical Christians did actually want God’s Kingdom to come. Contemporary Christians more than likely want it to come, just not today because of all the fun we’re having on earth. The fact is, God’s Kingdom is already here, and we all have a vocation in it.
We are all citizens of the Kingdom of God. We are the prophets, priests, and kings of the kingdom. This means that we have duties that we must follow. One of our callings is to be a witness to the people around us. God calls us to spread his word that he may gather more sheep to the flock.
We must also be active in the church for everyone else’s benefit as well as our own. We must attend church worship and bible study that we may learn from God’s word as well as each other. God calls us to have fellowship with one another in Christian brotherly love. We are to treat God’s children as Christ would treat us.
This leads us to our main vocation which is serving God. This is the very reason why God created us. We were made for God in order that we may praise Him. What better way is God to glorify Himself than sending His Son to die on the cross in order to save a sinful and apostate people? We as the elect of God must thank and praise Him for all of the work that He has done.