Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Good Reading: Affirming the Apostles Creed

Affirming the Apostles' Creed by J. I. Packer (Crossway, 2008)

Though not an extended exposition of the Apostles' Creed, these reflections by J.I. Packer are very solid, and helpful The chapters are relatively short and are very devotional in writing style. But that devotional aspect does not detract from the solid basic foundational theological truths Packer reflects upon. This devotional design of the book makes it very suitable for personal devotions or as a study guide in a group setting. It would be very suitable to use as an introduction to basic foundational Christian beliefs.

I personally found Packer's discussion of what it means for Christ to be "eternally begotten" by the Father to be very helpful. God the Father and God the Son forever and eternally have had that Father/Son relationship.

Packer's discussion of the more controversial phrase "he descended into hell" was equally helpful. There is a difference in how the New Testament uses the words "hades" and "gehenna". Thus the use of the word "hades" in Acts 2:27 provides an understanding of "the descent into hell" as emphasizing the fullness and completeness of Jesus Christ's experience of death.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book as an introduction to the Apostles' Creed, and the foundational Biblical truths the Creed teaches.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, January 13, 2014

Have Ye Not Known - Ye Shall Have A Song

The link below will take you to the YouTube page of the video of the National Lutheran Choir performing Randall Thompson's "Have Ye Not Known/Ye Shall Have a Song" based on the texts of Isaiah 40:21 and 30:29. Unfortunately embedding of this video is not allowed, so I can only provide the link. Many years ago we were in the Evangelical Choral Society of Grand Rapids, Michigan and this was one of the pieces we performed. It is very beautiful and I think if you love music at all, you will enjoy this.

National Lutheran Choir: Have Ye Not Known

"Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?" (Isaiah 40:21)

"Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD..." (Isaiah 30:29)

Receiving Christ

"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name..." (John 1:12)

The above verse which has been used in some popular Gospel presentations, is that verse used to press upon the the unbeliever's conscience the need to receive Christ. It is phrased several different ways; "Receive Christ as your personal savior." or "Receive Christ as your Lord and savior." among others,

This of course begs several questions. Who is the "Him" we are to receive? also, what does it mean to "receive" Him?

In the context of the verse above, the "Him" is the one who is the Word that was with the Father in verses 1-4, and became flesh and dwelt among (vs 14). It is the "Him" who has been eternally with the Father and eternally begotten of the Father in the relationship of Father and Son.

In this context, the one who is the savior is the one who is Lord. Only He who is Lord can save us. How Savior and Lord became separated in the minds of some, I do not know. II Corinthians 2:17 speaks of those who ""corrupt the Gospel"... The imagery is that of a bartender watering down the wine. What the buyer gets is not the undiluted 100% pure wine they thought they were paying for. We need to be wary in our use of John 1:12 not to water down the meaning of the text as it comes to us in the broader context of John 1.

And what did John have in mind when he used the word "receive" in John 1:12 as quoted above? John 20:30-31 gives us the answer.

"Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

There is much more that could be said on this point, but I will leave that for another time.

~ The Billy Goat ~