Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Why is Outer Space So Big?

In the movie Contact (written by Carl Sagan) there's an idea that is repeated by different characters throughout the film. The film ends with Ellie, the main character, sharing this idea with a group of kids: "I'll tell you one thing about the universe, though," she says to them, "the universe is a pretty big place. It's bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it's just us... seems like an awful waste of space. Right?"

The idea is simple: since the universe is so mind-blowingly enormous, it would seem that there would likely be other life forms somewhere else in it, otherwise what's the point of such a large universe? If we humans on planet earth were the only life in the universe, wouldn't that be a massive waste of space?

The Bible has a very interpretation on the size of the universe. When Solomon was dedicating the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem, he wondered aloud how absurd it was that God would dwell in a man-made house:

"But will God indeed dwell with mankind on earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heavens cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built." (2 Chronicles 6:18)

When Solomon speaks of the "highest heavens" he is referring to outer space. Even Solomon didn't know just how big the universe really is (nor do we!), but still, in his mind, it was mind-blowingly enormous. Yet as enormous as the universe is, it cannot contain God any more than the puny house Solomon made for Him. When we consider the unfathomable size of the universe, we must realize that God--who made it--is unfathomably bigger.

The purpose of the size of the universe is to show us the sheer magnitude of God. Creation reveals God's eternal power and divinity (Romans 1:20). The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalms 19:1). The stars are but the work of His fingers and He knows them all by name (Psalms 8:3, 147:4, Isaiah 40:26). God made the universe so big so that we would be amazed at how incredibly big He is, in order to humble us, and enable us to trust in His power and wisdom.

The enormity of the universe shouldn't make us think that there must be life on other planets or else the universe is a huge waste of space. It should make us worship with awe Jehovah our Creator who is unspeakably glorious. That is not a waste of space.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Top 10 Posts

There are a lot of posts on this website... where should you begin? What are some of the most important posts that will help you get a feel for Timothy Ministry? What are some posts that I think would be the most challenging and encouraging to my readers?

Here are the top 10 posts that you should check out. If you appreciate them and are challenged by them, keep browsing around on the site; there are lots more things to explore and study!

May God bless you as you seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.


THE TOP 10 POSTS

1. True Christianity
An examination of the conversion of Paul and his revelation of the cross of Christ, and how that changed his views on religion and God's law.

2. Antinomianism
A reexamination of the concept of antinomianism, which I believe has been greatly misunderstood in the Christian church.

3. The True Nature of the Law
What exactly does the law of God say? A true understanding of the law is essential for understanding the Lord Jesus Christ.

4. The Great Meaning of Metanoia
A synopsis of the book "The Great Meaning of Metanoia" by Treadwell Walden, which explores the Biblical definition of the word "repentance."

5. Dennis or Jesus: How Do You Understand Your Relationship with the Father?
A study of what--as Christians--our relationship with the Father is like. What are the practical effects of justification upon our walk with God? What does it mean that we are disciplined by the Father?

6. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - The Unrighteous Will Not Inherit the Kingdom of God
A study of an important passage which confuses many readers. This article offers fresh light upon the text, and I also share my own personal experience with the passage.

7. No Longer a Slave to Sin
An explanation of Romans 6, 7 and 8 and the doctrine of sanctification.

8. Counterfeit Grace
A fresh look at Jude 1:4. What does it mean to turn the grace of God in lasciviousness?

9. The Power of the Son of Man
A study of Christ's teaching on forgiveness in the Gospels, which challenges us to reexamine how we think about the Lord's Prayer.

10. How Grace and Works Fit Together
A fresh look at how justification through faith relates to good works, and a warning about putting the cart before the horse.

"On the Freedom of a Christian" by Martin Luther

Although early in his career--and so there are lots of things that were not yet worked out properly--this little volume shows that Luther possessed the seeds of Biblical theology and truth.

Luther challenges those who think that believing is a little and easy thing to consider how great and miraculous faith actually is. Today we too need a revived understanding of the incomparable treasure of faith. It is common to hear people say that believing is not a big deal, but that how we act is really the important thing. This is false, and Luther raises his voice against it, pointing us back to the Bible where faith is spoken of as that which is crucial--for it glorifies God and justifies the ungodly.

Luther also underscores the high status of Christians, another Biblical truth that needs to be reevaluated by Christians today. Believers are in a better condition than they can even imagine. In Christ they are above the dominion of the law, sin and death. They are God's kings and priests. They share in the victory and life of their Savior. If we would only understand and acknowledge our amazing condition as Christians, depression would flee away and joy and peace would flood in.

One other outstanding observation made by Luther that I'd like to mention, though he doesn't develop it, is that he understands the New Covenant promise that God will write the law upon our hearts as meaning that God's people will be taught by God the truth about the law and gospel. This is a brilliant observation missed by many who think that the writing of the law on the heart has to do with a new mystical desire to obey the law. A careful comparison of Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16 will show that Luther was on the right track.

"On the Freedom of a Christian," while by no means a flawless work, is nevertheless a classic, drawing attention to some of the most crucially important truths for Christians of all times.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Word About Assurance

In most things I stand in agreement with my brothers in the Protestant Reformed tradition. On the issue of assurance of salvation I do not agree. I'd like to briefly share my point of disagreement with my brothers.

Luther and Calvin believed, and the Protestant tradition believes, that a person is completely righteous and blameless before God through nothing but faith alone in Christ alone and not by any good works that a person does. They also believed that the proof that one was righteous through faith was that his moral behavior was improved (I say improved, because no one is sinless). This improved moral behavior is not the persons righteousness before God. It just proves the person is a believer, but righteousness before God is fully obtained by faith alone apart from any good works whatsoever.

I also believe that righteousness before God is through faith alone in Christ alone apart from any good works that we do, but I disagree with the Reformers that we prove we are believers by improved moral behavior. I see the Scriptures teaching that we prove we are believers, not by improved moral behavior, but by the words of our mouth (since we speak spiritual things that non-Christians cannot speak: Matt. 12:33-37,1 Cor. 2:13, 12:3, etc.), and by our love of the brethren, which, according to John, is our non-Cainishness (1 John 3:12), meaning that we do not hate a person for being a disciple of Jesus (i.e. for believing and speaking the truth about God's righteousness: that all people are unrighteous and that righteousness is obtained only through faith alone in Christ alone. The world hates Christians for this). Through these clear manifestations of faith we can understand who is a Christian and who is not. Improved moral behavior is not a good indicator of who is and is not a Christian because moral improvement is not automatic for Christians, since they are exhorted in Scripture to pursue it diligently. I believe that improved moral behavior actually depends upon assurance of salvation, since love, joy, peace and thanksgiving make up the fertile ground in which true good works grow. The source of our good works should be love for God, whom we can only love when we are at rest in His salvation. Therefore I believe that it is more Biblical accurate to say that our assurance is not based upon our good works, but that our good works are based upon our assurance.

Just to put this into perspective: Mormonism, on the other hand, disagrees with both me and the Reformers, since it rejects the idea of righteousness through faith alone altogether. In Mormonism, a person is righteous before God only insofar as that person is righteous by his moral behavior. Thus Mormonism fails to understand the mystery of the Gospel of Christ found in the Bible, which both I and the Reformers embrace. This difference of views on assurance is an in-house debate among Protestants, who understand the mystery of the Gospel.

I write this to clarify my main point of disagreement with my brothers. There are other factors that play a part in this discussion, but the overarching issue has to do with the question of assurance. In my opinion there is a glaring lack of clarity in this area.