“Baptism reminds us that all of us have been adopted. We call it grace. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people (1 Peter 2:10). Therefore it is never quite right to say things like, “Since I took Jesus into my heart,” or “Since I gave my life to Christ.” Our relationship to Jesus is his idea before it is ours. We don’t take Jesus anywhere. He takes us places” (William H. Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas, Lord, Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer and the Christian Life, 27).
And speaking of war and fighting . . . I’ve always enjoyed this Vonnegut quote from Hocus Pocus:
If there really had been a Mercutio, and if there really were a Paradise, Mercutio might be hanging out with teenage Vietnam draftee casualties now, talking about what it felt like to die for other people’s vanity and foolishness.
Petty squabbles ought to be avoided. The collateral damage, for both petty political wars and petty theological wars, is absolutely brutal.
In a chapter titled The Fight, J. C. Ryle says, “He that would understand the true nature of true holiness must know that the Christian is ‘a man of war.’ If we would be holy we must fight.”
J. C. Ryle is elaborating on Paul’s words to Timothy, ‘Fight the good fight of faith,’ and methinks Ryle provides the proper balance to cultivating a fighter-mentality when he says:
With whom is the Christian soldier meant to fight? Not with other Christians. Wretched indeed is that man’s idea of religion who fancies that it consists in perpetual controversy! He who is never satisfied unless he is engaged in some strife between church and church, chapel and chapel, sect and sect, faction and faction, party and party, knows nothing yet as he ought to know. No doubt it may be absolutely needful sometime to appeal to law courts, in order to ascertain the right interpretation of a Church’s Articles, and rubrics, and formularies. But, as a general rule, the cause of sin is never so much helped as when Christians waste their strength in quarreling with one another, and spend their time in petty squabbles (J. C. Ryle, Holiness, 52).
There is a danger in calling someone a soldier, i.e., like the young boy who is given his first hammer and sees a world-of-nails, so a Christian when called to be a soldier must remember they are a peacemaker-soldier.
Warfare is real; doctrinal battles need to be fought. We must remember, however, petty squabbles do not constituted legitimate war.
Regarding the imprecatory Psalms: “Yes, these kinds of [imprecatory] prayers are uncomfortable (they are supposed to be!), but they are there, given by God and led by Christ, for us to sing. Curses in the Psalms are not provided for us to sing with relish, but even these hard lines are there for our faith and worship” (Michael LeFebvre, Singing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms, 115).
Blogging through and answering the questions from G. I. Williamson’s The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes for personal review and comprehension.
WCF. III. Of God’s Eternal Decree – 6.
1. Read Acts 27:14-44. What divine end was promised by God (v. 24)? What means did the inspired apostle require for attaining this end (v. 31)? Was the end reached? Were the means used as required? Which then was ordained (decreed, or predetermined) by God, the end or the means?
God says in verse 24 that Paul’s life will be preserved, because he must be brought to Caesar, and that the lives of “all them that sail with thee” will also be preserved. The means required for preservation were obeying the inspired Apostles command, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved” (their lives will be preserved if they remain in the ship and obey Paul’s instructions). Yes, the end was reached: verse 44 says, “And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.” Both the end and the means were decreed by God. God predetermined that all would be preserved through the storm and shipwreck, and God predetermined the means would be by listening and obeying Paul’s instructions.
2. What is wrong with this popular statement: “If I’m elect then I will be saved no matter what I do?”
This popular statement is wrong and foolish because it denies that God predetermines the end as well as the means, i.e., “Paul links divine predestination (the end) with calling, justification and glorification (means to this end) (Rom. 8:30)” (35). The popular statement above is wrong because it is not a fully Biblical view, since God ordains both the end and the means. In light of Romans 8:30, you cannot say you will be saved (the end) no matter what you do (the means).
3. By what is the plan of God never contradicted?
“The plan of God is never contradicted by the works of God by which the plan is executed” (35). The Godhead is in perfect harmony, therefore, the Godhead’s decree (end) and executed plan (means) are in perfect harmony. Their is no contradiction within the Godhead, therefore, there is no contradiction within the Godhead’s decrees.
4. Why may we not say that Christ’s death was intended for the salvation of all?
Scripture says that not all men will be saved, therefore, Christ’s death (the means) cannot be intended for the salvation of all.
“It is a mental exercise, when rightly performed, in which all the faculties of the spiritual man are called into devotional action. Reverent hearing the word [listening to sermons] exercises our humility, instructs our faith, irradiates us with joy, inflames us with love, inspires us with zeal, and lifts us up towards heaven” (C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students, 53).
“But we must come to grips with the fact that to be like Jesus we must pray” (Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, 66).
“There is not a brick nor a stone laid in the work of our sanctification till we go to Christ. Holiness is His special gift to His believing people. Holiness is the work He carries on in their hearts, by the Spirit whom He puts within them” (J. C. Ryle, Holiness, 50).
An anecdote I came across today. I laughed-out-loud, naturally.
In one of our Southwestern proverbially dry states a couple of strangers in town asked a man on the street where they could get a drink. “Well,” said the man, “in this town they only use whiskey for snake bite. There’s only one snake in town, and it’s getting kind of late. You’d better hurry down and git in line before it gits exhausted.”