Eternal State: Resurrection

Paul tells us in 2 Tim. 3:16, that all scripture is good for doctrine or teaching, revealing fault, correcting errors, and training in godliness. Of course he was speaking of the Old Testament where, as we mentioned about the Proverbs, there is clear, concise sections of scripture where we can glean good information to live by. The New Testament, which is actually a commentary of the Old, takes a little more work to find doctrine.  Packed within a few verses of John 5,  Jesus reminds the Jewish leadership of several facts of the gospel that they seemed to miss, even though they were experts in the scriptures.  In just 30 verses, Jesus teaches the doctrines of the trinity, limited atonement, Sabbath practices, final judgement, and today’s topic, the resurrection of the body at his second coming.

I have mentioned before the T.V. show “The Walking Dead.”  This show has become a national phenomena.  I have only seen part of one episode but I understand that it portrays a form of resurrection of the dead.  However, I doubt that many viewers actually believe this could happen.  They enjoy the entertainment of the plot, but do they ever consider the day that dead will actually rise?  Neither did some of Christ’s audience.

Among the crowd would have been Sadducees, a sect of Jews who did not believe in resurrection.  These men were higher critics of scripture.  They did not believe in anything spiritual and considered much of scripture to be fairy tales for the uneducated.  Also there were Pharisees, religious leaders who majored in the minors.  They were so concerned with Christ’s Sabbath practices that they missed the point of his miracle. Christ struck a nerve with both groups, but used it as a teaching moment.  Speaking about all he had just done and said, Christ warns them saying, “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming, in which all who are in their graves shall hear his voice, and come forth.  Those who have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28,29)

We have the same types of characters in the visible church today.  We have those who preach a new gospel that suggests a more modern people need a more enlightened and inclusive interpretation.  Also there are those who teach a legalistic works righteousness who pick particular do’s and don’ts as there banner flag. Neither of which spend much time focusing on the mysterious doctrines like the resurrection.

Living in a time of technological and scientific advancement poses some challenges for the Church.  Hypotheses like cryogenics, where the dead persons body is frozen until some future time when the cause of death can be cured, suggests man can manipulate a resurrection.  The “scientifically proven” concept that a body, being reduced to its most elementally atomic form, cannot be regenerated and then reunited with a soul is taught to our children in basic science classes.  God is so aware of man’s problem with these mysteries that he reiterates in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and John,  “With men it is impossible, but not with God.”  The absolute certainty and necessity of a bodily resurrection makes this doctrine a common element of the gospel.

Part of the delusion that men have been infected with because of sin is a need to have proof of scripture.  God points out how much truth there is in the gospel being easier for the simple mind than the educated mind to accept.  Not that education is within itself evil, but it produces a barrier for the unregenerate to accept the “foolishness” of scripture and for the regenerate to recover from.  Creation is another stumbling block for the educated.  During his speech on Mar’s Hill, Paul uses creation to prove God.  This was an advanced audience for the time.  Today even the common man has problems with the concept of “God’s making all things from nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.”(Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 9)

Compared to God’s infinite knowledge we are mere brutes.  An inferior nature has a very imperfect conception of the power of a superior nature.  Consider the native American when the Europeans displayed to them the power of gun powder.  They would have been amazed by how with a flash and a bang, man could kill.  However, they had no problem with the concept of bodily resurrection.  Though they never saw it happen, they believed it could happen.  The natives were not stupid, but rather they were simple, and not infected by technology.

The nature of this universal resurrection has many elements that we only can imagine.  Scripture does give some absolutes.  All shall be raised who were previously dead.  Those who are found alive at the second coming of Christ shall not die, but will receive bodily likeness to those who are raised.  This will occur for the saved and the unsaved, but with different qualities.  These qualities will be distinctly human.  I find that often we believe the notion that the dead become angels or demons.  Both angels and demons are created beings that are accounted for in scripture, but are not human in nature.  When we tell our children that grandma is flying around in heaven with wings and a halo, this picture stays with them for life. They begin life with a distorted view of heaven.  The new body of a believer will be powerful and glorious, but not angelic.  The lost will receive a body that is the antithesis of the saved.  The state of nature in which one dies predetermines the condition of the resurrected body.  Grace will beget grace and corruption will beget corruption.  Beyond these principles we must wait for that day.

The doctrine of the resurrection serves two practical purposes to benefit man.  For the comfort of the people of God, Paul tells the church in Thessalonica, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”(1 Thess. 4:13)  Greek culture had no belief in resurrection.  Paul advised the church not to act like those around them, who, when a loved one died, became emotionally overcome with a sense of loss.  If we believe God we must use his word to console ourselves.  The spiritual relationship between believers creates a union that even death cannot sever.  The hope of the resurrection promises a future reunion in bodily form.

This doctrine also serves as a terror for the lost. God is actually being merciful if he allows the unbeliever to believe in a resurrection. The delusion that death is a release from pain, want or unhappiness to a state of nonexistence is worse for a man than to believe that when he dies he will go to hell. The realization of future torment could be the result of their awakening and their knowledge of their sinful state.

Next, we approach another phase of the Eternal State, final judgement. As with resurrection, the believer will benefit from the comfort of knowing the judge personally and the lost must wade into the dark unknown.  Boston will touch on what is known about another mysterious event.

Eternal State: Different Deaths

Many of us love the Proverbs.  Abounding throughout are sayings of wisdom in concise and logical format.  Within each stanza are easily digestible portions of practical godliness.  Often, however, there are deeper meanings that can only be spiritually discerned.

Proverbs 14:32 says, “When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death, the righteous have refuge.”  From the perspective of someone who has experienced the oppression of wicked men, this proverb is one of hope and consolation, but in the eyes of God this contrast of characters is much more black and white.  Who is meant by the wicked and the righteous is not always apparent in life, but it will be apparent in death.  The inevitability of death, as discussed in the last segment on the “Eternal State of Human Nature,” should make us consider the terms of death for both of these characters.  A sense of urgency should overtake us when we contemplate the fact that our friends, loved ones, and we will die in one of these conditions, wicked or righteous.

The prospect of how one’s death unfolds should shape the perspective of how it is looked to.  Those who are outside of the state of grace are literally thrust out of their place in this world.  There is an utter hopelessness and despair when the hour comes.  Death will come suddenly and unexpectedly even for those who know the end is coming.  A lack of understanding of what the future holds will find them unprepared.  Whether due to a long illness or a sudden outside cause, death will be irresistible.  They are literally driven away from this life. The proverb referenced paints a picture of a great disaster.  Imagine a powerful tornado coming toward a gathering of souls.  Some will be led away to shelter but many will be barred from the door and scattered by the wind.

Death to the awakened mind and soul of the regenerate will be hopeful, for there will be refuge from the storm.  Safe passage to the regions of bliss awaits.  A dying day is a good day to a godly man.  The wisdom of Solomon speaks to two better things.  “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth”(Eccl. 7:1)  We, who are the called, live as though we do not hear, when we give such joyous occasion to a birthday,  but are broken down by the death of a saint. (We might even learn something from people of New Orleans with their funeral parades. Maybe a little much?)

A humbling, yet inspiring, read is “Fox’s Book of Martyrs.”  First published in 1563, this work records the accounts of those who willingly gave their lives for the sake of their faith.  From Christ to the early protestant reformers, Fox tells the stories of how the Holy Spirit empowered men and women to go happily and confidently to their death.  Crucified, stoned, burned, and blown up with gunpowder(if they were lucky) these saints sometimes sang praises in the face of their peril.

You may correctly say that all the wicked nor the righteous die by these terms.  There are mitigating factors that affect how a man faces death.  Unbelievers sometime seem to go willingly to their death.  The suicide bomber appears to freely give up their lives, but do so without the knowledge of the true God.  Remember that God has allowed men to be deceived by the lies of Satan as a punishment for sin. 2 Thessalonians 2 speaks of a “powerful delusion” that men who believe the lies are under.  This is not, as some believe, an  end times or futuristic phenomenon.  This powerful delusion prevents men from seeing their true condition and commissions their plunge into death.  The prospects of happiness after death or relief of suffering, akin to the truth of the gospel, is only a lie that they believe.  Some view death as a ceasing to exist, but when the time is near they always cling to their lives with insincerity.

Of course not all believers go to their death with courage.  Though they go  with difficulty, there is a seed of gladness in their greatest sorrows.  Death is a frightful object and Satan will do his utmost to mar the peace and increase the fears of the saints.  We create conditions for ourselves that make death dreadful.  If death comes during a period of backsliding or guilt over sin, the weight of your transgressions may hold you down.  Your conscience may make rising to the occasion impossible.  A love for a life of ease will cause you to lose sight of your interest in Christ.  Living a life with little acquaintance with spiritual things can make one not practiced in exercising the gift of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  An inordinate anxiety over leaving friends and loved ones behind puts death in the category with loss.  The only reason Paul gives for desiring to continue in this life is for the benefit of the Church. “For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.”(Phil. 1:21)  Often there is a lack of understanding of sin, the misery it produces in this life, its affects on the soul, and the toil it demands.  The death of a loved one or a child often shows how little we believe God.  God  shows mercy on the dead by taking them away from their sin, relieving them from all future pain, guilt and fear.  He has seen fit to take away future opportunity for them to offend his law and heap up more of His wrath.  Would we rather that they should live a long life struggling with sin and sorrow, pain and grief, or should we rejoice in their now being in the eternal presence of the Lord, safe in his loving embrace.  In a sense clinging to life is covetousness. We desire to have more than what God is giving us.  A most sorrowful condition to die in is when physical pain distorts the ability of the mind to inform the soul of Gods comforts.   In this case it is only the wisdom of Gods providence that may be relied upon for solace.  There is always the hope that the spirit may be comforted as the body is not.

By knowing some of the conditions we may find ourselves in at the time of our death, we must consider how to prepare for that day.  Foremost in our minds, we must acknowledge death’s inevitability and relative nearness.  Every available opportunity should be taken to clear the conscience.  Past sins against our brothers must be amended and accounts settled, to produce “a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men.”(Acts 24:16)  Unlike the foolish virgins who slumbered while the bridegroom tarried, we must be daily watching for His coming.  Our hearts must be employed with weaning ourselves from the world. Like an addiction, we must gradually face our desires and direct them toward a more heavenly elixir.  Our diligence would be best applied in the gathering of evidence of our own title to Heaven.

I must admit that my writing to you is a bit of a selfish endeavor.  I hope that my efforts are a help, but it is also an exercise of my own examining of the soul.  As agonists, our struggle is often against our own limitations, but true joy comes in its wake.  Wrestling with our own fears of death will produce a soul more fit for the journey.

The Eternal State: Death

Boston has introduced us to three of the four states of human nature; innocence, corruption, and grace.  Each state is a stage independent in their characteristics, but yet interrelated to one another in the grand scheme, which is the story if mankind.  There appears to be a beginning and an end, if the plan is viewed from a distance, but when unpacked there is an infinity that cannot be understood from a mortal perspective.  Limited by the ability to digest information and a hunger for more, we can only touch on a few of the aspects of Boston’s fourth state, the “Eternal State.”

Of all the biblical characters, Job had the greatest cause for looking forward to his death.  Though he complains to God, he is confident in the fact that he will die.  In an hysterical rant he states one truism, “For I know that you will bring me to death, the house appointed for all the living.” (Job 30:23)

A theme that runs throughout scripture is one of man traveling through a foreign land.  The tabernacle was the temporary dwelling place of God and from Abram to Moses, God’s people had no permanent home. Even the temple and the promised land were shadows of God’s true kingdom.  Life is at best a Motel 6.

I once spent two weeks living at a motel in south Georgia.  Thin walls, musty carpet, and bad coffee made for a miserable junket.  Time seemed to stand still as I longed for the day I could come home.  Though that was a work assignment, even vacations never measured up to home sweet home. (One exception being my honeymoon in Hawaii, but those were extenuating circumstances.)  However home is not truly home.  Job had intimate knowledge into the concept that earthly life is not to be treasured.  True pleasure awaited him in death.  “My soul chooses strangling and death rather than life.” (Job 7:15)  Few of us can appreciate Job’s thought process, but we must, at some point, consider our eternal state.  The most basic fact of life is that all must die.  From the moment of conception, though we are growing, we are also dying.  The problem with God’s original covenant with man was that it had to be enforced with the threatening of death.  Sin and death were instantly connected.  When God made a better covenant, the Covenant of Grace, life became tied to death with positive implications.  Only by death could life be obtained.

Understand, when we speak of life, there is both earthly physical and eternal spiritual life.  This applies both to the regenerated and nonregenerated. Spiritual life is endless.  The cessation of physical life is merely a stage of life.  For the believer, regeneration gives new life to the spiritual man and ushers in a new and different eternal life.  It is this earthly physical life that we are warned to correctly prioritize.  God tells us to view this life as vane.  Job says, “My days are vanity.”  This idea of vanity is the same as God forbids when he commands not to take His name in vane.  We are not to use His name, titles, nor attributes (ie holy, awesome etc.) in a flippant, careless nor meaningless manner.  Compared to eternal life, this earthly life is to be considered meaningless.  Solomon, in a totally different situation from Job, even had the correct take on life in Eccl. 1 where he confirmed it to be vanity.

Life is only a few degrees from death.  Literally, our body can only stand to be a few degrees above or below 98.6 degrees.  How nearly we live each day to death.  A moment could separate our spirit from our body or in the twinkling of an eye the King of Glory could appear and deliver us into His eternal kingdom.

Death is the key which opens the door to eternity.  One key unlocks the gate to two kingdoms, but only two.  Some derive comfort from the popish fairy tale of Purgatory.  As the story goes,  there exists an intermediate realm where souls await there admittance to heaven.  Here the dear departed soul stands suspended waiting on the righteousness or pleas of another to win their acceptance.  Sadly, or perhaps happily, this is only in the imagination.  Death will admit only those who, in eternity past, have had their names placed on the will call list.

Considering these things should make us compare how nearly we resemble those who reside in these two kingdoms.  Who are our fellow travelers now?  Do they resemble those who we will spend eternity with when we reach our destination?  Does our apprenticeship in our current profession prepare us to ply our trade in the guild of the world to come? Is our work and toil made sweeter by the knowledge that the workday is nearly done? Do the evening shadows make the remaining labor cheerful?

Like strangers, do we wait by the road for the master to come out of the house and give us our wages?  Jesus calls us in as his family to receive our blessing.  Matthew 7, often misused for the “judge not lest you be judged” passage, also contains the misused “ask, seek, knock.”  Christ is speaking to the church, the saved, when he says to “ask,” “seek” and “knock.”  Our admittance to our own home is guaranteed.  Do we look forward to our coming home?

Boston reminds us to look a death as God does.  We are to differentiate between how death is portrayed by the world and scripture,for there is a distinct difference.  We will consider that difference next.

 

State of Grace: Part 3

Boston, in his description of the state of grace, has already tested the limits of our imagination by asking us to consider how we are born again.  We have seen how this regenerative process mysteriously grants new life to a static festering soul and mind.  Now he pushes the envelope of our practical understanding and asks us to plumb the depths of our “Mystical Union” with Christ.

Living in a farming community, I only have to be still and listen to be reminded of the agrarian roots of mankind.  Cattle lowing, roosters crowing and the din of farm machinery cause me to think how truly few in our society can appreciate Christ’s analogies to agriculture.  The word pictures created by these references are integral to understanding His meanings.  In the previous topic of regeneration, He used the good and bad seed concept.  Now, in John 15:5 He appeals to the disciples understanding of vine growing to give a picture of their engrafting into Him. “I am the vine, you are the branches.”

Today in order to produce a crop with a more sustainable yield, a defense against disease and tolerable to herbicide, seed companies genetically modify plant DNA.  Those nasty little GMO’s are potentially unavoidable, though we may try.  Most of us really don’t know where our food comes from or how it is made.  We are at the mercy of technology.  The disciples lived in a time when everyone, even city dwellers, were somewhat familiar with what it took to produce a good crop.  The idea of taking a branch off of one plant and grafting it into the xylem and phloem of another was a common practice of vine growers. A good vine is required to supply the branches with nutrients. This state of nature, one of grace, is our being beneficially grafted into Christ.

There was neither then nor is there now any intention by the Author that we fully understand this union.  Though we may be less able to envision  agricultural references as in bygone days, we are no less able to grasp the importance of the concept.  Boston calls it mystical because of its spiritual nature,  but there is also a very real sense in which we are made a part of God.  Remember when dealing with regeneration we referenced the supernatural aspect of this remade creature we are becoming.  Our belief, not our understanding, is necessary.

Intimacy, both imminent and transcendent, is implied as one individual soul is connected with Christ and thereby unified with the entire body of all believers throughout all generations.  It is then made indissolvable by the legal nature of the unification. No drought nor scourge nor blight can separate nor destroy what God has vowed to continue.  Covenant Theology uses the legal adoption of children as an example to help us consider the permanency of the arrangement.  As we are adopted by God, we are sealed to this new family by a covenant made by God with himself and us.  This legal proceeding is binding upon the adoptive father.  God is not a foster parent who can give the child back if things don’t work out.  He is bound by his own word to keep us.  We are thus made heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ and all our illegitimate brothers and sisters.  In the same vein, the prospective adoptee does not have input into the arrangement, but is plucked from the orphanage nursery into the waiting arms of the father and the nurturing mother, the church.

The bible is a doctrine of mysteries.  Another teaching related to mystical union is the Trinity.  Known as the hypostatic union, men have debated this relationship between the three persons of the Godhead for centuries.  The scriptures only contain inferences to the nature of this union, but it is essential to the gospel message.  If no union then no Christ. To understand the union is not required and probably not recommended. If God wanted us to understand fully, he would have told us.  In Duet.29:29 the church is warned to be careful going beyond what God has revealed to us.  For the post apostolic church that comes only by the cannon of scripture.  We are to believe that we are just as secure in our union to Christ as Christ is united to the Father and the Spirit.  No scientific proof is required.

In the history of the vineyard of mankind, there have been only two vines, that is Adam’s and Christ’s.  Only two races of men have ever existed Though there are many sizes, shapes, and colors, men have only two fathers.  John 8 finds Jesus telling the Jews who their father is and the sad truth is that we too, without the adoption of God, would have been the children of “the devil.”  Adam’s descendants bore bad fruit so their branches had to be spliced into the True Vine. Thank God for being a merciful vintner concerned with creating an heirloom vintage.

State of Grace: Part 2

By God’s grace the process of regeneration renews that which became corrupted when Adam changed from his state of innocence.  If we look specifically at some of the terms Boston uses to describe this state of man’s nature, it helps us to put it into perspective.  He has used regeneration, recovery, and now renewal.  All these words have the prefix “re-” which indicates movement to something previous.  Understanding that within the process of regeneration, some force is acting on our minds and souls, and returning them to a previous condition.  Yet not perfected, our natures are becoming original, that is, innocent.

Regeneration renews our minds by illuminating them to the knowledge of God.  Man has an innate awareness of “a” god.  If you look throughout all cultures and all times,  you will find some form of god worship.  All man calls upon some god at some point.  What about atheists? Well, they are liars.  At some instance in their lives they have or will pray to some conceived benefactor.  The pagan ritual of making a wish when blowing out the birthday cake candles is a subtle reminder of how even self prescribed non-believers have a desire to have a god.  These higher critics have been enlightened so much in their own wisdom that their knowledge of a god has become darker than the aboriginal man in the deepest jungles of the world, yet not extinguished.

With the knowledge of God comes the knowledge of sin.  The awareness of how offensive sin is to this newly discovered God causes the man to loath himself.  Becoming aware of his condition drives him to the mercy-seat of his creator.

The knowledge of the vanity of this world and the vast immensity of the eternal kingdom of God makes him long for the great divide to be bridged.  The vision of this promised land, though distorted by the heat of this desert he now treads, causes the traveler to feel his weariness.  He pants for cooling streams, when before he wasn’t aware of his thirst.  The veteran showman sees the smallness of the stage where he has acted out tearful scripts and hears the applause of all the saints in heaven for his soon appearing on the grand marquis.

The soul, as if dead, is renewed to life.  It is cured of its inability to do anything good.  Like a slave set free from its wicked master, the will now seeks to please its new master.  Freewill now exists because the new master grants the slave freedom to choose good at his behest.  Before the will was only free to choose evil for its evil master.

This recovering soul regulates the affections.  It desires to love God more than itself.  The scorn of man is accepted if it comes because of the love of God.  This love for God translates into a love for God’s children.  Sometimes one of the most difficult traits to see in the soul is the love of the brethren.  However, god says it is the mark of the recovering soul to the world,  “This is how they will know you, that you love one another.” (John 13:35)  The renewing soul wills to overlook the blemishes and stains that still exist in the church, though with degrees of success.

As the mind and soul is enlightened the conscience is energized.  The deepest corners of the soul are illuminated where the conscience discovers sin hiding.  The result of the discovery is bitter remorse for past transgressions and a magnified scope of present sin.  Like a tender wound bleeds afresh when disturbed, regret sends the patient fleeing for the Great Physician who only possesses the skill to heal.

Memory is renewed to recall the expectations of God.  It is able to contrast past with present.  The memory is allowed to forget past injuries in order for the will to forgive. Resentment is pushed to the back so that comfort can be quickly retrieved.  Useless information is discarded or rearranged so that which is useful for the kingdom of God may be stored up.

Remembering that the recovery has only begun the patient must rehabilitate in measured regimen.  The physician has prescribed before time what the therapy will include.  The extent of the injury may predetermine the pain of recovery and the length of treatment. Radical recovery is rare, though not unknown.  Paul was turned on a roadway,  but if you read on he will tell you that his complete healing would not come in his earthy life.  The lingering pain and discomfort may be as a thorn while you persevere as a saint.

State of Grace: Part 1

After dealing with the dismal topic of what Boston refers to as man’s natural state of corruption, he now takes to the supernatural.  We all love a good mystery.  Some are particularly fond of supernatural mystery.  Then there are those who are deeply disturbed by and have no interest at all in the supernatural.  I don’t refer here to being frightened by the subject, but rather the denial or lack of consideration of mystical beings.  Within the Christian community there is often outrage at the promotion of certain works of supernatural fiction.  For example, when the “Harry Potter” series came out, I had young children and was young in the faith myself.  Christian publications, pastors, and fellow Christians spoke out about the evils of J.K Rowling’s portrayal of witchcraft and evil forces.  We were told to prevent our children from reading the books because of the influence they may have upon their minds.  Jumping on the band wagon, I fell into this camp.

Today I must admit, I am a bit of a fan of Harry Potter movies. My daughter and I have seen all of them. I never read the books, but that would take more time than I allow for entertainment.  ( You know, TV and football come first.)  However, I will not be an antagonist and condemn those who take a dim view of exposing themselves and their children to works such as “Lord of the Rings,” or even apparent Christian allegories like the works of C.S. Lewis.  (This “Walking Dead” thing is out of my wheelhouse.)  There is definitely scriptural warning about associating with witches and evil forces. I applaud those who try to protect their children from the searing of their consciences.  However as modern, educated, and enlightened citizens of western civilization, our tendency is to deny the supernatural altogether.  There is merit in some exploration and promotion of supernatural occurrences, because if you are a Christian, you are a supernatural being.

The term “born again Christian” is somewhat of a tautology.  It’s kind of like saying “free gift”. If a gift is not free, by definition, it is not a gift.  If a Christian is not born again, they are not a Christian.  Boston deals with this mysterious supernatural rebirth under the title “State of Grace.”

While exhorting the early Church to love one another, he tells these brethren that they are “Being born again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever.” (1 Peter 1:23)  Probably the most referenced discussion of rebirth in scripture is that of Jesus and Nicodemus.  Jesus advises him of the need for this spiritual transformation.  The word picture that Nicodemus forms is one of physical birth.

The term Boston chooses for this state of grace is regeneration. He calls it a “begun recovery.”  Regeneration is not a complete work, but is carried out by degrees.  Now I can hear some of your minds churning, as you would contend that you were born again at some particular place and time, perhaps at an evangelical meeting.  I will not argue that point.  However,  you probably would also contend that the abortion of a fetus before “birth” is murder.  Well, when did the life begin?  If you use this analogy, you can only come to the conclusion that the spiritual life that formed inside your soul may have been microscopic and undetectable but nevertheless, life just the same.  Your adoption and justification by God is instantaneous but your realization and coming to terms with having been regenerated may be hard to pinpoint.

As scientists claim to know how conception occurs, they could not honestly believe that there is not a mystical unexplainable element to the process.  Regeneration is unexplainable.  We are made into something that we were not before, as a fetus is made of something without form.

Regeneration is passive.  As the child has no control over its conception, we play no role in our new birth.  I realize that this particular point can be a dividing factor among believers.  I am willing to debate the topic but once again this is not the forum for that.  However here’s some unsolicited advice.  In order to explain to someone what you are, you should probably not say that you are a “born again” Christian.  Like Nicodemus, the average person may get the wrong idea, seeing as how the baby does not play much of a role in its birthing process.  Possibly you might tell someone you converted to Christianity. (Just saying)

Regeneration is permanent.  Though you may go through seasons of growth and decline, you will never spiritually die.  Reformed Theology uses the phrase “Perseverance of the Saints.”  In simple terms, once you are regenerated, no act on your nor God’s part will take you out of the state of grace.  Once you are saved, you are always saved.  The corruptible and incorruptible seed analogy that Peter uses applies here.  The incorruptible seed grows a plant that, though its branches be cut off and leaves fall in season, its roots never die.  Like the sprouting of spring, the signs of life will appear and bear fruit.

Turning from profanity to civility with a show of religion and an education in doctrine is not regeneration, but rather the benefits of it.  Remember that no man can know the condition of the soul of another, but we can make judgments based upon the evidence.  However, before we are qualified to make those judgments we should judge our own condition. Next time, Boston will help us see how regeneration of the mind and soul are evidenced.

State of Corruption: Part 2

It’s another rainy day on the farm. As I worked before the dawn at my current vocation in manure management or corruption collection, I thought I might brighten your day with some more corruption.  I hope you are beginning to get my drift. It’s darkest before the dawn , and all that stuff.

If you read the last couple of posts, we established the fact that man was created innocent with a perfectly functioning body, mind and soul, but his nature being  changeable became corrupt or rotten.  When Adam mutated all of these properly functioning mechanisms were distorted like an alien life form.  Do you remember the “Wonder Twins”?  As a child, I lived for Saturday morning cartoons, French toast, and chocolate milk.  For those of  you who have been deprived of the privilege of spending one morning in seven being mesmerized by analog animation, the “Wonder Twins” was a portrayal of a brother and sister who possessed magical rings.  When touched together, the rings gave them the ability to morph into whatever creature they wanted to become.  They did so in order to overcome some villain and rescue the helpless.  They would touch the rings together and chant “wonder twin powers activate, form of a ….”  They would then with a flash and a roar turn into the form of whatever creature or force was required to accomplish the mission.

Well, Adam and Eve were kind of like the wonder twins in reverse.  Once their superpowers were united they and all their descendants transformed into villains and were suspended in that form until the ultimate superhero came to save them.  I don’t suppose Thomas Boston had TV, but he had a vivid imagination.  He could paint a picture with words for us to see our own images played out in this story.

When man fell,  our ability to reason and understand the ways of God became distorted.  Adam was created without the need of a set of codified laws or instruction on how to glorify and obey God.  He could reason what was required of him by his pure knowledge of God.  Paul, when writing to Titus about making has flock aware of the false teachers’ errors in Jewish myths and traditions, said “… their minds and consciences have become corrupt.” (Titus 1:15)  Just think about how difficult it seems to understand scripture and how confused we become with something that really is simple to understand.  Merely observing creation should cause us to reason that God should deserve our attention.  To keep our thoughts focused on God takes enormous concentration.  Pleasing God and seeking the benefit of his grace is an extracurricular activity.  How hard it is to learn and keep pure the very basic tenants of our faith.  We will devote our lives to anything that advances our own health, wealth and the gratification of our desires but cannot devote one day in seven to our master.  Employing our minds to do any spiritual good is out of our element, as if we are satisfied with the state we are in.  We are never content with the lot we have been dealt but are content in the lot we have created.

Our affections are corrupted as we love that which we should hate.  I love to watch football on TV.(Regular readers might notice that I seem to reference TV often. Hmm?)  Watching football is not inherently evil.  The fact that I would rather watch football than worship or pray is evidence of where my affections are directed.  Even though I “love” to write these blogs, and my intention is to benefit my own and your spiritual good, pure affection is weakened by desires lurking in the background that can easily lead me astray.

Our wills are not motivated by good.  There is a natural contrariety in direct opposition to God.  The carnal will seeks for itself what might be received from God. If you ever honestly check your true motivation for any act of godliness, you will find that behind the outward appearance lies some desire of reward.  If an appearance of good should emerge, it will soon disappear. As the prophet said to the old church, “Your goodness is as the morning cloud and as the early morning dew goes away.”

The proof of your defective conscience is that you could in anyway see yourself as better than anyone else.  Your conscience is darkened.  There is little light for it to work by.  We cannot discern the issues of our own soul.

I doubt I am driving anyone to despair.  Most of you probably know these things about yourself.  How you respond to this knowledge will determine whether or not you benefit from having it revealed.  Boston and I intend that you be blessed.  To paraphrase the beatitudes, (Matthew 5:3-6), you should be happy that you are upset about your corrupt natures and are humbled by it. The fact that you have been made aware of your condition and long for heaven, where all will be made new, is proof of God’s love for you.  There is no other way to be happy than to know of His love and faithfulness to provide that which we cannot achieve.

Happy is the agonist who knows that God is giving you the desire to struggle with your corruption.  Dawn will come with the next of Boston’s state of human nature, the “State of Grace”.