Archive for October, 2006

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Ethics and Genesis 2:18

October 30, 2006

I recently attended a Christian event where the presenter touched on Genesis 2:18, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'” He gave the option that “not good” could mean ethically or pragmatically. He suggested that the “not good” referenced something that was not good ethically.

The presenter’s point was that the man was a social creature. Being a social creature, it was not ethically good for him to be alone. Ultimately the presenter drew a parallel to the social nature of the Trinity. Since the man, Adam, did not share in a social relationship, as God does in Himself, then his [the man’s] condition was ethically “not good”.

Briefly, the difference between ethics and morality is the same difference as between “ought” and “do”, respectively. Ethics is what ought to be and morals is what things actually are relative to an ethic.

So the question is, can God do something that is not ethically right, something that is not as it ought to be?

Certainly the creation lasted six days. While the first five days did not complete creation, much of creation was still declared to be “good”. The last day completes all, even man and woman, and is “very good”. Days four and five each contain creation that was “good”. Twice on the third day God sees “good”. The first day is also seen as good. Now, where is the second day? The creation of the expanse does not gain a “good” glance from God. Why not? Was it “not good”?

We see in the creation week, save the second day, that “good” can be separate from God’s finished work but the “very good” relies on it. Where, then, does the “not good” come into play?

The fall has not yet occurred at this point in history. God has done everything and there is no will opposing God at this point. Anything that God does must be good. If this is not true then God would deny Himself by doing that which is contrary to Himself or deny Himself as God by having to submit to something outside Himself as an ethical standard.

So what does “not good” mean in Genesis 2:8? It means that man’s condition was not pragmatically good. God was not finished with His creation of mankind. God still had to create Adam’s perfect compliment to make mankind/humankind whole.

What is the verdict on the “‘not good’ ethically”? That term, “not good ethically”, is a meaningless term. Ethics, as defined above, by Wiktionary and by the Oxford English Dictionary means either a list of principles of right and wrong behavior or the morality of an action. Can we have a list of principles of right and wrong where the list is right or wrong? The list is what helps us determine good from not good. We would have to find another list to determine whether the first was good or not good. Or can we say that the morality of an action is good? The judgment of that action would be either moral or immoral. Could we then ask if the judgment to determine morality was itself moral? To determine good or not good we must choose a measuring stick, an ethic. If we have chosen the only True ethic, that is determined by the unchanging God of Jesus Christ, we cannot say that the measuring stick, the ethic, itself is not good (how can we determine good apart from God?).

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Still sinning?

October 18, 2006

I will not, at this time, confront the obnoxious idea that Christians do not sin. Instead I would like to look closely (though not exhaustively) at why God still allows us to sin.

One reason is so that we can identify with the mercy and grace that will be newly bestowed on those we evangelize and God brings to the faith through His word. We may lose all connection with the power and working of sin in the world if we were perfect in the instance of our conversion.

Another reason is to defeat the less obvious sins, like pride, idolatry, lust, deceit, coveting, etc. After combating the obvious sins, we realize that the same things work more subtly in us and originate from a corrupted heart (Jeremiah 17:9).

Moreover, we remember what we are capable of and what God has saved us from. The sweetness of heaven is all the more clearly imagined and hoped for after the putrid taste of sin. Our dependence on Jesus Christ is continually highlighted when we sin. Each sin causes us to realize the hatefulness of sin. In the same degree, we realize the glory and grace of Christ Jesus our Savior. The Lordship of Jesus is also reaffirmed because we more clearly see that only God has our best interests in mind. By denying God’s will, we injure ourselves when we sin. We must acknowledge His omniscience and goodness – He knows and has prescribed only what leads to our good and His glory.

Further, we gain insight into the nature of sin as treason against God. The way sin operates is better revealed to us. Its deceptiveness and lies work relentlessly to corrupt our dependence on the Holy Spirit. Sin in our lives also builds humility in us, realizing the holiness of God and His grace in saving us from eternal punishment for these sins.

We are driven to our knees in prayer when we sin. We have to come before the One whom we sin against in confession and repentance. We have sinned against Him only (Psalm 51:4) and only He can forgive us and restore us to fellowship with Him. Our prayer must not be held off until we “feel” ready to repent. To do so would further the series of sins already committed.

In closing, I remind you that Romans 6 says that we should not sin in the hope of heightening God’s glory. Nor are we permitted to sin because we are free from law but under grace. Instead, we must abstain from sin because we now belong to Christ and no sin has power over us. We now belong to Jesus Christ and must claim His promise that we were ransomed away from our old ways by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19) and that those old sins no longer have power over us (Romans 6:18).

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More Frequency

October 16, 2006

Hello again all!

I am especially aware of the infrequency of my posts lately. I hope to improve that in the coming days and weeks. As I took inventory of my current schedule, I realized that I had some time to update and reflect a bit more often. The increase will take place mostly in the “Topics” category but I hope to work through others as well.

I have no sermons scheduled at this point.

I hope to get a few more posts up on “The Basics”. I believe this will help me, especially when needing to point someone to a quick summary of some aspect of Christian faith. I pray it will aid you as well.

I am also aware of my place so early in Genesis. I hope to press on to the end of chapter one before the year is out.

To add some depth, here is a site I use frequently to review the Christian spectrum of thought from a Biblical stance – Theopedia.

God bless you,
Joshua

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Acts 2:42, Sermon

October 14, 2006

This is now the third sermon I have done. It is the first where I was translated into Spanish in a simultaneous translation. Such an honor comes rarely. I was fortunate enough to give this sermon at PIBLA of Woonsocket. I included my Bible text, a link to my sermon, and the audio file.

I am pleased, in general, with the content. Some had compliments of improvement since my first sermon. I think delivery may have improved somewhat over the first. The content is about on par with the first. The second, I believe, had the best delivery so far, but also the small voice inflection I missed caused my teaching to slip slightly. I am still in dire need of my style to come through when I speak. I seem to be without “flare” or some other such descriptor. Please post any comments, advice, suggestions, etc.

Bible Text:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42, ESV)

Link to paper sermon.

Link to audio file (smaller file).