Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Man: Fallen in Nature


Man: Fallen in Nature

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned … as through one man’s offence judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many were made righteous.” Romans 5:12 & 18-19.

Introduction

            As the above verses attest the Bible teaches that the first man, Adam, federally represented mankind before God. After God had created Adam (and the rest of His creation) Scripture says, “Then God saw everything He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Genesis 1:31a. Therefore, Man and the creation in which he lived, was morally “very good” in the eyes of God its the Creator. However, Adam, as humanity’s covenant head, rebelled against God. As God was to say later on to His people, “Like Adam, they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt treacherously with Me.” Hosea 6:7 (margin, cf. Hosea 8:1b).

Good News

Scripture teaches that “Adam … is a type of Him who was to come.” Romans 5:14b. Thus Jesus Christ is the replacement “Adam” God sent into the world (see e.g., 1 Corinthians 15:45). Jesus is the new federal representative or covenant head. Through Adam’s disobedience all humanity were made sinners (i.e., covenant breakers which is another way of saying that we are transgressors of God’s Moral Law), but through Christ’s obedience (i.e., His perfect keeping of the covenant’s conditions and also paying the penalty owed for the breaking of it) those whom Christ represents are now righteous in God’s eyes. The Gospel is the Good News that God has reconciled fallen man to Himself through the perfect works of Jesus Christ. This reconciliation is attained by the individual by grace through faith in the completed works of Christ (see e.g., Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus the Gospel.

Fallen World

The context for the aforementioned Good News (i.e., the Gospel) is that Man no longer lives in a morally “good” universe but a fallen world. This is not to say that creation itself became evil when Satan and subsequently Adam rebelled against God. For only moral agents (i.e., angels and human beings) can become evil.[1] God’s Moral Law is spiritual (Romans 7:14). Thus morals are spiritual.

What happened when Adam sinned against God by consciously disobeying Him? Scripture says,

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Romans 8:20-22.

We see then that on account of Adam’s sin everyone thereafter and we today live in a fallen world. Therefore, we ought to expect that at times things will go wrong for us. However, as human beings (i.e., as “moral agents”), we shall know both good and evil in the fallen world around us (Genesis 3:22a). (The “good” serves to remind us that God has not abandoned us. The “evil” or “bad” reminds us of our need for God’s refuge and daily protection, as the Scripture reminds us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a.)

Life’s a Struggle

God had created Man as the pinnacle of His creation (see, e.g., Genesis 1:28), but when Adam sinned as Mankind’s representative before God we became distanced from our Maker. This (moral and therefore spiritual) separation caused it to become hard for Man to eke a living on and from the earth. It is worth quoting in full what the LORD God said to humanity’s federal head,

Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it”: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”’ Genesis 3:17-19.

Thus life on earth is a struggle for all on earth; plants, animals and humans!

Fallen Man

Human nature has undergone a great transformation. We (collectively) have gone from being morally pure (pre-Fall) to morally corrupt (post-Fall). Another way of saying the same thing is that when Adam sinned we became spiritually dead. As the Scripture says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Romans 8:7.

The character of God is expressed in His Ten Commandments. Like a coin with the sovereign’s head embossed on it so God minted us as His own image and likeness. However, we are like old worn-out and tarnished pennies. It is hard to see the Moral Law stamped on us. It is difficult for us to see it in ourselves. Thus we make morally wrong choices.

Adam and Eve made a morally wrong choice and all mankind thereafter suffered and still suffers Moral Injury unless and until God remedies it by grace through faith.

Moral Injury & Post Traumatic Stress

The Bible records the actions of Adam and Eve after they had, as moral agents, sinned against God. Their guilty consciences started accusing and excusing them as they tried to deal with their guilt and shift blame for what had happened away from themselves. Adam said to God, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” Genesis 3:12. Eve said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:13b.

With Adam and Eve and their demise in mind let us remind ourselves of our definition of Moral Injury,
 
Moral Injury is an inner conflict based on moral self assessment of having inflicted or failed to prevent significant harm. Its symptoms are excessive guilt, loss of meaning, anger and shame.
 
Some may wonder why God was so upset with Adam and Eve and why they were so upset with themselves simply for eating a piece of fruit. However, it was not that simple. God had given to Adam and Eve (including us in them), as His moral agents, the Great Commission or Cultural Mandate - a portion of which is recorded in the following Scripture,

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. Genesis 1:27-28.

The command not to eat of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were merely an outward test to see if Adam as our representative would keep the Covenant, i.e., to see if Adam would remain obedient to God. Adam broke his probation and thereby forfeited the life that was promised him (and his descendants in him) for his obedience. Thus Adam by his action caused the deaths of every human being!

How did Adam and Eve set about dealing with their present demise? Did they immediately seek to draw near to God so that He would draw near to them? We need to remember that God had threatened Adam with death for disobeying Him (which conversely was the promise of life for obedience). As Scripture says,

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17.

What happened? Scripture says,

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6.

Upon eating the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve went from loving God and their neighbour as themselves to becoming totally self-conscious and self-absorbed with their own problems. Thus they began to suffer Moral Injury – i.e., “excessive guilt, loss of meaning, anger and shame.” Quite possibly they also began to suffer some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD), which we have defined as, “A fear – victim reaction to a perceived life threat. It has clinical symptoms of flashbacks, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, dissociation.”   

Anyway Adam was afraid of God and what God was going to do to him! But what did God do to Adam and Eve? First, God came “looking” for them.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:9-10.

Second, God spoke to the serpent, to Eve, and to Adam, in that order. When speaking to the serpent God said,

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. Genesis 3:15.

Theologians refer to this as the protevangelium, i.e., the promise of the Gospel. Therefore, Adam and Eve heard the Good News (albeit in embryonic form). Third, God also showed Adam and Eve the Good News,

Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21.

Conclusion

On account of the Fall all of Mankind suffers Moral Injury. Moral Injury is spiritual. Those who have been diagnosed with Moral Injury, if they were not before, are now aware of their spiritual problem. God is able to heal Moral Injury – for good! Thus the Gospel.



[1] Stars, planets, rocks, trees, dinosaurs, snakes, sharks, crocodiles, lions, tigers etc., are not inherently evil because they, (unlike fallen humans and fallen angels), are never disobedient to God’s Covenant or Moral Law, i.e., the Ten Commandments. Only fallen humans and fallen angels are “moral agents.” However, animals dangerous to humans are to be controlled which may include putting the creature down should it maim or kill someone (Genesis 9:5; Exodus 21:28-32).  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

THE RATS OF TOBRUK 2014

I was “surfing the net” the other day and my eyes were drawn to a little article that mentioned the Rats of Tobruk. It was on the Australian War Memorial website. There were a few introductory lines then it went on to say,

“The second year of the war had begun with a series of impressive British and Commonwealth successes against the Italians in Libya. Australian troops led the advance. But a rapid German offensive quickly reversed these early victories. All that stopped the Germans’ march on Egypt was the defiant garrison at Tobruk.”

Did you get that line? “All that stopped the Germans’ march on Egypt was the defiant garrison at Tobruk.” I like that word “defiant”, especially when the defiance is against an unlawful aggressor. That little garrison, that defiant garrison at Tobruk, was the line in the sand, the desert sand. It was as if they had sent the Germans a letter, saying, “Dear German offensive. If you wish to march on Egypt, first you will have to go through us. Signed, ‘The Rats of Tobruk.’” Defiance!

So, how did the German offensive and their Italian cohorts reply to this khaki line in the sand, this letter of defiance as it were? The article went on to say,

“For eight long months, surrounded by German and Italian forces, the men of the Tobruk garrison, mostly Australians, withstood tank attacks, artillery barrages, and daily bombings. They endured the desert’s searing heat, the bitterly cold nights, and hellish dust storms. They lived in dug-outs, caves, and crevasses.”

The “Rats” were called “rats” by the Germans because, “They lived in dug-outs, caves, and crevasses.” That is bad. The living conditions were deplorable. And then there was the weather, “the desert’s searing heat, the bitterly cold nights, and hellish dust storms.” No central heating. No air-conditioning. No fridge to fetch a cold beer from. Just searing heat, bitter cold and eye-stinging winds! Wouldn’t this be bad enough? Wouldn’t enduring this sort of hardship for eight months even without being surrounded by the enemy be a real test of endurance, a real test of determination?

I’ve seen tanks up close on exercise. I have seen them fire rounds that blow giant craters in hillsides. Such terrifying firepower! I would hate to have to face a tank while I was in a dug-out, a cave or some crevasse. Imagine undergoing artillery barrages and daily bombings! The German offensive really wanted to cross that line in the desert sand! “Too bad,” said the Rats of Tobruk. Such defiance!

The article went on to say,

“The defenders of Tobruk did not surrender, they did not retreat. Their determination, bravery, and humour, combined with the aggressive tactics of their commanders, became a source of inspiration during some of the war’s darkest days. In so doing, they achieved lasting fame as the ‘Rats of Tobruk’.”[1]

So the defiance of the Rats of Tobruk “became a source of inspiration during some of the war’s darkest days.” There is something about defiance that inspires! It is the story of David and Goliath. It is the story of Jesus and the Devil! Defiance in the face of what would seem to be certain defeat takes a certain amount of bravery. I would suggest a great deal a bravery!

We say a humble and grateful “thank you” to those who fought at Tobruk. And, to those who lost their lives at Tobruk Scripture says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus Christ said those words, and He should know!

No, we do not wish to glorify war. We hate war because we love peace. We all wish it did not, but peace comes at a price. Yes, thank you “The Rats of Tobruk” for the important part you played in winning peace for us!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

WHY I AM NOT AN ATHEIST

My father and mother were Marxists like their parents before them. The area where I grew up (Alexandria, Dunbartonshire) even had streets named after Marxists (such as Engels Street, named after Frederick Engels who with Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto). I started my working life in the early 70s in a shipyard on the “Red Clydeside” (i.e., “red” as in a Socialist/Communist area of) Glasgow.

 It was during my study of the teachings of Marx that I discovered that he had no answer for the question regarding the origin of humanity. It seemed to me that if he was successfully to influence (manipulate?) the minds of men to his way of thinking (i.e., to think his thoughts after him) he needed to base his model of social engineering on something more solid than the vague musings of Charles Darwin. Marxist Socialism is Social Darwinism. You cannot have one without the other. The World Socialist Website writes,

The two great historical theories of the 19th century, of Darwin and Marx … have fundamentally changed our understanding of the world. They were part of the development of science in its broadest form – the desire to comprehend the natural and social worlds in order to change them for the benefit of mankind.[1]

If Darwin got it wrong then that which is based upon Darwinism must be wrong. From the tearing down of the Berlin Wall to the collapse of the Soviet Union Socialism has been proven to be wrong. Examples of this truth could be multiplied. Cuba, North Korea, and China garner no envy from those who love the freedoms we (used to) enjoy in the various Western democracies. Hitler’s form of government, like today’s China, was National Socialism. However, we are now not permitted by the Political Correct Movement to connect Hitler to Socialism!!! (nor the Ku Klux Klan for that matter!) These are portrayed as right-wingers by the Social-Engineers of the “Department of Revisionist History”! Join in the fun and do a scientific experiment: Ask your friends if Hitler (and the Ku Klux Klan) were Socialist.

It matters not to me whether Hitler or Ku Klux Klan members or any other Socialists are called “far right” (Wikipedia) or even “far left”. What worries me is that these were violent Progressives. Socialism gave birth to Progressivism in which the umbilical is still very much attached! 

In the West we have reached a point in history where our freedoms as law-abiding individuals are shrinking at an alarming rate as governments apply the Socialist theory of Political Correctness to attain their utopian classless society. Freedom of Speech is curtailed. Sodomy and buggery are accommodated, endorsed and even promoted by the State redefining marriage. This is Socialism socially engineering man in its own image and likeness. Progressives, whether Left or Right, remain Socialists regardless of their political parties by virtue of their desire to have government redistribute the wealth of the individual in order to attain their vision of society. Adolph Hitler was as much a Socialist as Stalin. In Socialism all must agree with the collective vision or be ostracised, demonised, imprisoned and… (take, for example, the carnage of the French Revolution). This is not God’s way, which is, in my humble opinion, a far better way.

It became clear to me through my studies of Marx and Marxism that he did not believe in God. Otherwise he would not have come up with his social theories. Marx was a Materialist like Hegel before him.  Thus I put down my copy of “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” (Robert Tressell) and picked up a copy of the Bible, the true inspiration for any philanthropic endeavour. Therein I discovered a better way – a better way to love my neighbour as myself.

What Socialism pretends to be, Biblical Christianity really is! Biblical Christianity is the reality of a caring society – a society in which justice is blind. First off, Christianity answers the question of origins, i.e., the: Who we are as individuals and What we are supposed to be as a society. And secondly, unlike Socialism which has been proven to fail over and over, Biblical Christianity really works when put into practice: democratic government, the rule of law, justice for all, individual rights (in line with the rule of law), Capitalism, schools, hospitals, public sanitation, the abolition of slavery, etc., etc., etc. One only has to study what John Calvin did for Geneva with Biblical Christianity.

In the (Biblical) Westminster system of government and public meetings there are those who speak for a motion (i.e., an issue) and those who speak against it. A moderator (or referee) ensures that the issue is sufficiently discussed before it is put to a vote. This is democracy! However, Socialism seeks to silence all dissenters from its collective Socialist thought. Thus today’s Political Correctness Movement. In this the very foundations of the West presently are being destroyed by Socialism in its various forms. Socialism is Atheistic. Because it is rooted in the Atheism of Marx et al Socialism is a blight on the fruit of Western freedom.

That “The pen is mightier than the sword” may be true but some use that mighty instrument to write vitriolic ad-hominem arguments instead of speaking directly to the issue at hand! I have no personal axe-to-grind with anyone. I desire only to state my own personal hang-ups with Atheism as a contemporary movement. Readers are free to agree/disagree with my take on it! However, please allow me freedom of thought and also the freedom to express that thought in written form.    

There is life after Marx. I am not an Atheist because of the grace of God. My father and mother also became Christians after Marx. Yes, it is hard to be a consistently Biblical Christian especially for those having been previously heavily influenced by Socialism, and with so much of it permeating the society in which we currently live. Therefore, as Christians we need to keep on “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” Hebrews 12:2a.

It is with the following gracious teaching of Jesus in mind that I have written my little book called, “Why I am Not an Atheist”. Note the profound depth of grace contained in what Jesus says,

When His disciples James and John saw [that people were not receiving and believing in Jesus] they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.And they went to another village.[2]

May my manner herein and hereafter be of the Spirit of Christ!


[2] Luke 9:54-56, New King James Version.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

BALANCE


From tightrope walking to finances it is always good to have a proper balance. When kids my heavier big brother would leave me teetering on high on the teeter totter. Seesaws work better when equal weights are on opposite ends. Then there is Jesus. Some deny that He is human. Says the Apostle John, ‘By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.’ 1 John 4:2-3a. And others deny that He is God. Writes John, ‘The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.’ However, true Christianity is well-balanced in that it confesses that Jesus is both God and Man. This is where we need to be careful. Jesus is not two persons. Jesus is one divine Person with two natures forever. His God-nature does not sit on one end of the seesaw leaving His human-nature teetering in the air. Rather, each of His two natures is distinct from the other. A couple of examples? As a human being He cannot be in two places at once, but as God He can. As a human He cannot know all things, but as God He can. If you are struggling to understand how the same Person cannot be everywhere and know everything at once, then it might help you to understand some of the differences between God and man.

God made man in His own image. We did not make God in our own image. We cannot imagine a being who is omniscient and omnipresent. It did not please God to share these two of His attributes with His image. Thus a human being cannot know everything or be everywhere at once. As God’s likeness man is creative. But God alone is the Creator. He is the Creator because He alone is omnipotent. The Almighty spoke creation into being from nothing at its beginning.

Jesus is God because, before He became Man, He was the Word through which He and the Father made all things by Their Spirit: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.’ John 1:1-3 (cf. Genesis 1:1-3). It was this eternal being, (i.e., the Middle Person in the Trinity), who became also a Man. John says, ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ John 1:14a.

The following is a lengthy but accurate description of what the Bible has to say about the Word becoming flesh. ‘The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin; being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God, and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.’ Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 8 paragraph 2.

If you keep the two natures of Christ in balance you will develop a well-balanced view of God and what human beings are supposed to be like. In turn this will result in you developing a well-balanced theology, cosmology, and anthropology.