Leading Music post-college

It is very different. Expectations in some ways are greater and in other ways are lower. Musically, people don’t care as much how skilled you are or how well the instruments come together, in that sense expectations are lower. However appearance and conduct are much more important than you could ever imagine. You may play the most epic song of praise ever, but if you dress shabby or are perceived to be conducting yourself too casually, then you’ll hear about it. It’s scary stuff!

So, still deciding if I want to be regular in leading music on Sundays.

In other news, I’m learning about using anonymous functions in javascript/jquery.

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Misconceptions of the Mosaic Law

People have two misconceptions about Mosaic Law
1. Salvation was by obedience/works under the Old Testament Mosaic Law
2. Righteousness does not arise from obedience to the Mosaic Law

Actually…

1. Salvation has never been attained through obedience.  It has always been by grace through faith even under the Mosaic Law.  The Mosaic Law was the same to the jews as the commands of the New Testament are for believers(Christians) today.  The Mosaic law consists of commands to be followed out of love for God so that Israel would be a beacon of light to the nations.  They are not commands to be followed for the sake of earning justifying righteousness before Him.

2. Doers of the Mosaic Law will be justified (declared righteous).  This is true “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” (Rom 2:13).  However no man can be a perfect doer of the Law.  This is because the Mosaic Law was meant to set forth the unreachable standard of righteousness.  As such, it existed to point us to the righteousness that was made manifest apart from the Law in the person of Christ (who fulfilled the works of the Law).

Possibilities

Couple of things I’d like to start doing here. Hard to say if I can be consistent.
1. Short stories or dialogues from young married life
2. Thoughts on trying to learn javascript (jquery to come)
3. Theological meditations

The Rest of God

“…but there, everything is immortal; the harp abides unrusted, the crown unwithered, the eye undimmed, the voice unfaltering, the heart unwavering, and the immortal being is wholly absorbed in infinite delight. Happy day! happy! when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, and the Eternal Sabbath shall begin.” – C.H. Spurgeon

James 2 – Justification by Works

In James 2, it is written, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works”

This is the cause of great confusion, especially in the light of Romans 3:28, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”  For this dilemma I offer 4 observations.

1. Salvific Justification and Commentating Justification

The word Justify is often haphazardly equated with the word “save”.  Though justification is a primary and crucial part of salvation it should be noted that the word itself does not equate to salvation exactly.  However Justification is a component in salvation.  The word Justify means literally “To declare to be righteous.”  And in order to be saved (or experience salvation) one must first be declared righteous (ie justified).  Note the difference.  So justification is not the same as salvation, if occuring for the first time it necessarily leads to it, but it is not it.  I mention this because I believe you can call or declare someone a righteous person many times, though you cannot save someone multiple times.  How can this be? I believe there is salvific justification that occurs right after faith hits the heart and then there is commentating justification that can occur after salvific justification whenever you want to comment on the existing righteousness of a person (as seen in the passage in question). Both mean to declare righteous.

2. Justification is by Faith alone

We are salvifically justified (ie declared righteous) by faith alone.  This is what Paul teaches in Romans 3.  That apart from works of the law, and solely by faith in the credited righteousness of Christ, we are declared righteous in Christ.  Or to illustrate it by example, we trust that Jesus’ righteousness is sufficient to make us righteous before God, and that very trust in and of itself brings Christ’s righteousness down upon us like a robe making us righteous before God.  No works attached or required. Just a sweet and savoring faith.

3. There is a living faith and there is a dead faith

In James 2, the apostle James questions the legitimacy of certain church member’s faith.  He questions their faith because though they confess that they trust in Christ’s righteousness (and so make themselves out to be saved individuals) they do nothing to show that Christ has impacted their hearts.  The poor in their congregation are ignored, the wealthy are preferred, and these so-called “Christians” live without mercy.  And James asks incredulously “how can this be?!” For true faith is alive! And as a living thing it must rise and work and act and do!  But the faith that does nothing is dead. Like a corpse, it lies there, useless and …stinky.

4. Justification is by living faith.

Now we come full circle.  The big point James is trying to make.  He pulls two examples of this living faith.  The primary example is Abraham.  Abraham was a man without an heir.  At 80 something years old he and his wife were still unable to produce a child even though God promised that from him he would create a nation.  In the face of his wife’s barrenness he believed God’s promise that Sarah would still bear a son by his very own loins.  This faith, alone, justified him. (Romans 4 is an entire chapter devoted to the “Faith alone” aspect of Abraham’s justification.) 30 years later God tested him and Abraham offered Isaac on the altar as an act of faith.  James looks at this act and says, Abraham was declared righteous (commentating justification) by this very act. How so? James writes:

“You see that faith was active along with his (Abraham’s) works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”

James is making three key observation here.

  1. Abraham’s existing faith actively worked 
  2. If Abraham’s faith didn’t work it would not be complete (the greek term implies imperfect/flawed) 
  3. The truth of  Abraham’s justification by faith was fulfilled (i.e. demonstrated, brought to reality, realized) by his later works. Just like when we say “wow that movie was awesome, it really fulfilled my expectations”, it means you expected the movie to be good, but it was already good before you watched it.  James is saying the same thing about Abraham. Abraham’s justifying faith really fulfilled expectations, because he ended up offering up his son!

So finally, what does James mean when he says “Abraham was declared righteous by this act”?  I would write it this way, Abraham was declared righteous again (commentating justification) because his actions proved he had the type of faith that allowed God to declare him righteous in the first place.

If you don’t get it yet, we can illustrate it this way.  Solomon once had to decide between two women who was the true mother of a child (One of the women had accidentally killed her own child during her sleep and now wanted to replace her child with the other woman’s).  Solomon finally decided to cut the child in half so that both women would have a piece of the child.  One of the women said “No, let the other woman have the child” and the other woman said “Hey, that’s fair, let’s do it.” Solomon then gave the child to the woman who wanted to spare the child.  Why? Because that woman’s actions proved she had the type of love that made her the real mother.

Abraham’s actions proved he had the type of faith that made him righteous, so James says that Abraham was declared righteous by his works. Likewise, the woman’s actions proved she had the type of love that made her to be the mother. so Solomon said the woman was declared to be the mother because of her works.  Yet in both cases, it was the observance of actions that rendered the verdict.  Both love and faith blossomed into action and were thus seen to be real and legitimate.

3 choices for college fellowship members

Today I read Matt 13 in my devotional. I’ve read this verse many times before but today it was a powerful and sobering lesson. In the past this verse has always been an abstract statement. Yes, there will be those who hear and show growth only to reveal in time that their hearts were hard and the word did not penetrate. Agreed, there will also be those who because of their love for the world find their desire for Christ choked out by it. And finally those who bloom, will bloom indeed, living lives full of fruit and faith.

But today I look at my life and the lives of so many of my old fellowship friends. The word of God is true. Painfully so. What was once abstract is now glaringly real. Those who once showed so much promise have now fallen away because their exuberance for Christ was never real. Those who struggled with having one foot in the world and one foot in the Lord have found that they never had stepped into the Lord at all. And finally those who believed and loved deeply, still believe and love deeply today.

Brothers and sisters there are only 3 choices. I can only ask myself the same question, will I turn out to be false, worldly, or truly in love with the Son of God?

 

Early observations in marriage

It’s been about nearly a month since I got married.  A few notes and observations about marriage for those who are considering it.

1. Gratitude overwhelms you.  To think that God has given you a unique human being as a gift and a stewardship is mind blowing.  Responding in worship is the right way to go.

2. Wives are blessings and those who have them are truly blessed.  This seems obvious and redundant.  But sometimes we don’t put it together.  In the past I always thought wives were blessings to their husbands.  But when YOU yourself have a wife, you will realize how personally true that statement is.  The blessing is real.  The moment you open your eyes in the morning and hear her soft steps in the office or the kitchen preparing for the day, words cannot describe your joy.

3. Sex is only a part of marriage not the whole.  Single men will freak out about this.  But ask any married man and he will tell you that your pre-marital fantasies and adolescent expectations will change quickly.  And what will surprise you the most is that it’s not because marital sex is no good or not satisfying.   It’s because the satisfaction you get in marriage effectively recovers your hormonal equilibrium.

4. God is only in the marriage if you actively seek Him together.  It’s not like when you’re single and you can effectively draw near to God by cultivating a good thought life.  Once there is another person, to involve that person in the fellowship you have with God requires deliberate actions and careful planning.

5. Desire for God can fade.  I used to think marriages amplify desire for God.  In some cases this is true, but in most cases, the responsibility of taking care of a spouse can drown out your desire for God.

6. Pray separately before your pray together.  Praying together does not replace your independent prayers.  This is key.

7. Your wife’s beauty becomes a treasure you must jealously protect. Guard your mind and capture your thoughts and do not let yourself wander.  Actively search for and cherish the beauty in your wife.  It is the beauty God has prepared for you.