Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thought for the day: on arbitrary laws

Just a little thought I came up with while studying to teach this week's Sabbath school lesson on sin.

Often, people look at the test of the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden as an example of the arbitrary laws of God. Laws, they say, ought to be for our protection, and make sense with the laws of nature, and so on, whereas, just simply eating a fruit (not even one that was particularly poisonous) is completely random. Why should they have been forbidden to eat the fruit of one particular random tree? Therefore, God is arbitrary and harsh, and only wants to display tyrannical qualities, etc. 

This leads to the question: Is it fair for a parent to test their child's obedience? We can safely assume that most parents would agree that complete obedience to their word is best for their child, so that they will know that if they yell, "Get out of the street!" their child will immediately respond and obey, not a second too late. Therefore, parents spend most of their children's young lives training them to be obedient to them. But a random test, as random as the seemingly useless tree-test, just to see if they will obey?

Perhaps one answer lies in the context of Adam and Eve's test, compared to the surroundings of every child since. Quite simply, Adam and Eve did not have traffic, and there were no cars to get out of the way of. They had no hot stoves, no swimming pools to drown in, no poison on their shelves, or sharp glass objects to break. In fact, they had no other dangers that God had to train them to stay away from, because it was a perfect sinless paradise. However, parents today have all of those dangers and many more at every corner to use as practical training in obedience. There's no need to think up any arbitrary test of faith or obedience when our children are constantly exposed to dangers all around, whereas God had to think up something to see if His new people would take Him at His word.

Now, after 6,000 years of evil in the world, we know something very clearly that Adam and Eve did not know at the time: if we run too fast in the yard, we could trip on a rock and scrape our knees up real good. But there might just be other dangers beyond our comprehension, dangers only God really knows about, dangers beyond our street and our medicine cabinets and our hot stoves. Those are the dangers we just have to trust God to know about--and again, just take Him at His word.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Musings on faith and prepositions

I realized that one of the reasons why I haven't been blogging lately is because it's so much easier to come up with a one-sentence status update on Facebook than an entire essay for a blog. Right now I'm going through a brief "fast" from Facebook because I have other things I need to get done, namely practicing violin (what a thought! A professional violinist needing to practice violin?). Also, I heard a great sermon this past weekend based on Hebrews 12:1, and realized that I needed to go on a diet. So, now I have more time (So much for practicing. Well, I got 2 hours in this morning!)

However...what will the philosopher write about today? I've had a lot of things on my mind recently, some from personal experiences, and some ideas from sermons I've heard. (In case you're wondering about all the links, yes, I'm promoting Audioverse. No, they don't pay-per-click.) We've been studying the first half of Romans at prayer meeting lately (there I go again), and I've been blessed by the light that Dr. McNulty has shed on justification by faith. The study on Romans 4 especially struck me. The summary is that Abraham was justified before God through his belief (Rom. 4:3)--which was evidenced in his works (James 2:21-24). What was that faith? He believed that what God had promised, He could fulfill. In Abraham's case, God had promised him that a child would be born to him, even in his very old age, and that child would become a great nation. Twice Abraham was tested in that, first, just being able to have the child at all at his and Sarah's age, and secondly, after this miraculous child was actually born and raised, God told him to sacrifice him. But Abraham trusted God at His word--that whatever He said would happen, would happen. 

So that's the first important lesson of justification by faith: our actions testify to whether we believe God's word is good or not. The second involves where that faith comes from. Dr. McNulty brought out an interesting point regarding Galations 2:20 and Revelation 14:12. The King James Version is the only version that has this in common with those texts: the little phrase "faith of Jesus." Most of the other versions say "faith in Jesus" or something to that effect--remaining faithful to Jesus, etc. In the original language, there is no preposition at all, so I'm not sure what the translations are based on. But it's an interesting thought that a world of difference exists in those prepositions. Having "faith in Jesus" is certainly important, and I believe our faith in Jesus is what I've described above. But having "faith of Jesus"--what does that mean? It means that we take hold of the faith that Jesus had when He was on earth--and certainly, there was never a person who has ever lived who had as much faith as He! His connection with His Father was unbreakable, unimaginably deep. If we have the faith "of" Jesus, we can share in that connection through Christ Himself, whose life on earth made it possible that we can be saved through His merits and His faith, instead of relying solely on whatever faith that our own feeble minds can come up with.

"I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

Monday, April 20, 2009

How I Went To Sleep Last Night

Memory verse #1:

2 Cor. 10:4-5 "The weapons we fight with are not weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ."

Weapons. Demolishing strongholds. Captivity. 

Fighting words.

Who can fight that?

Memory verse #2:

Exodus 14:14 "The Lord shall fight for you, you need only to be still."

Good night.