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Kyrie, Eleison! – Dr Scott Murray

April 30, 2014 Leave a comment

Excerpts:

Our enemy will never give up. If old-fashioned subversion to perversion will not suffice, our enemy will attempt to convert the church and these days he appears to be succeeding. The church is being sucked into the culture’s ever deepening depravity and into the swirling decline of the West. Our enemy is piping us into the open sewer of self-centeredness, so that I think I am free to do whatever is right in my own eyes (Deut 12:8). Now, however, the church is offering to cover up this deterioration by calling such wickedness good. In the ultimate Nietzschian transvaluation of values, the church has called, in a monstrous perversion of language, “loving” and “monogamous” what God has forbidden and called “shameless acts” (Rm 1:24-27). But there is no possibility of a love that runs counter to the love that God has established in the faithful and holy unity of husband and wife in marriage, the Bible’s monogamy. Our enemy has gotten us to commit suicide, as Malcolm Muggeridge warned the people of the West in the previous century. Simply stated, we are calling evil good and good evil.

The so-called church is turning the theology of the cross on its head. The church should be calling evil evil, so that God Himself can turn evil on its head in Christ, who takes evil into Himself and dies for it. But there can be no forgiveness through the blood of the crucified unless there are still sinful acts. Why should we seek forgiveness when we can theorize away our sin? Every human heart has the tendency to define down deviancy. Our wickedness would prefer to be called good, rather than precipitate that dreaded repentance. However, what good is the power to forgive, power given to the church, if the church’s children see no need for it? What if the earthly good and our knowledge of it become our own knowledge God; our entire knowledge of God? What if our own interpretation of the natural revelation begins to trump the divine self-revelation in Scripture? The very warning sounded by Karl Barth against Nazi-dominated Germany in the 1930s ought to be sounded again over against the imposition of the politically correct sexual lunacy in the first decade of the 21st century. The transcendent must not be reduced to immanence. The creation is not god. A decisive “no” to human self-indulgence is worth expressing in every generation. We must be wrong, so that God might be our only righteousness. Lord, do not treat us as our sins deserve, but according to Your mercy.

Martin Luther said that the theologian of the cross only sees God’s back, that is, the incarnation of God in Christ born of Mary. When we see by our own power, no matter how reasonable things seem, we are in jeopardy of not seeing. When we are telling God, rather than letting him tell us what His creation means, and us in it, then we are telling the potter how to shape the clay (Is 29:11-19). The worst possible transvaluation of values results; God becomes us and we become God. Woe unto us, for we are a poor, even perverse god. The report of the death of church bodies, upon which the tower of homosexuality fell, should lead us to deep repentance, for we are not better. Without repentance, we too will all perish. God takes the hole that that grief-filled repentance creates in our hearts and stakes the life of Christ the crucified within it. Only in that suffering of true repentance will the theology of the cross become real. There can be no accommodation of sin, only repentance. Kyrie, Eleison!

Isaiah 29:11-19

And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.” And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.(ESV)

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Categories: Catechesis, Right Worship

Depravity and Christology – Dr Scott Murray

April 11, 2014 Leave a comment

Excerpt from the article:

A Roman Catholic friend of mine has been at pains to understand Martin Luther’s position on the bondage of the will. He has struggled because he thinks that Luther’s doctrine of justification through the merits of Christ alone turns humans into automatons; robots who can gain no merit with God through the turning of their well disposed will to God. We have discussed this problem over many years, returning to it again and again. I had nearly despaired of making any kind of breakthrough in understanding with my friend, until I changed my tack. I explained to him that Luther never argued purely from a human-centered set of presuppositions about the weakness and depravity of humans, although about that depravity he was quite certain. He also saw human incapacity through the lens of the cost of salvation from God. In other words, we might have some idea how bad man’s problem might be only if we see how enormous the cost of salvation was. Look, God offers the spotless life of His own Son into the clutches of death that He might redeem sinners to Himself. How big is the problem that requires that price? Um, pretty big!

(O)nly when we see the enormous cost of our healing do we truly have any inkling about how sick we have been. It cost God the life of His own dear Son. What could be incomplete or inadequate about that price, what lack could we have offered to make up by our effort, good will, or right disposition? What could you contribute to make that work of God’s Son complete? Our “own contribution” to salvation is a bit like suggesting that we should help the surgeon by handing him the scalpels during our surgery. Our desperate need is made clear by the enormous price to be paid by Christ.

This view suddenly helped my friend, who, after gaining a flash of insight, said: “Oh, so you think that the Roman Catholic approach to salvation is too man-centered?” Uh, you said it, brother! While Christ saves humans, Christ is always the subject of the sentence. He is always the doer of the action. He is always the one laying down His life for the sheep. Faith is only receiving what the Shepherd has done. Christ has taken care of my desperate need. Only when I know Him rightly do I fully understand my desperate situation as a sinner. My depravity is made perfectly clear by Christology.

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Categories: Right Worship

Life and Salvation – Dr. Scott Murray – Memorial Moment

April 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Life and Salvation – Dr. Scott Murray – Memorial Moment

Excerpt:

How different we are from the believers of the ancient church. What they treasured, revered, and died to preserve among them, we think of a nuisance or a waste of time. Carthaginian Christians called baptism simply “salvation” and the Lord’s Supper simply “life.” Wow. What powerful simplicity. For the early Christians these sacramental gifts were substantial receptions of salvation itself and life itself. They trusted the clear Word of God that conferred these attributes on the sacred acts given by God to His church.

We think so little of these things in our day. Even people who are the church become impatient when the communion goes a little too long, or when a baptism lengthens the service by five minutes. Are we really so busy that we can’t patiently wait on the distribution of things that previous Christians called salvation and life. What? Do we want less of salvation or less of the divine life? Which of these is too much of a good thing for us? Which could we do without? This attitude reminds me of the reaction Martin Luther experienced when, while saying mass in Rome, he was badgered by the local clergy, “Passa, Passa!” Hurry it up! Luther was appalled that masses were said as swiftly as possible, with no concern for the content of the service or due reverence for the gifts of salvation or life. Can’t you preachers hurry it up?! How disillusioning this is.

Some years ago, I was involved in a meeting with a group of church leaders that was discussing the Bible’s teaching on the sacraments, at which a participant pointed out that the Lord’s Supper was the gift of holy things given by God to the church. On hearing this one of the other people at the meeting burst out saying, “I am so sick of hearing about holy things! We aren’t going to talk about that again, are we?” Well, what should we talk about instead? What is better than talking about the things that are in themselves salvation and life? If this kind of impatience with divine gifts is exhibited by “church leaders” it shouldn’t surprise us to see this kind of impatience among God’s people in the pews. The problem for all of us, church leaders included, is that in our perverted hearts we doubt that God gives holy things at all. This is because holy things are not “us.” Every sinner desires to take God’s place (Gn 3:5). If holy things must be given to us by a gracious God it tells us that holiness is not our possession or accomplishment but rather the gift that God gives. Old Adam rebels against this fact.

Holy things make all the difference in heaven and on earth. Holy things bring and confer the holiness of Christ Himself. The situation is changed decisively by holy things and it is changed outside of us; in the things and by the things which He confers through the Word. It has to be this way because those who are under sin must receive a liberation that comes from outside themselves. This is the whole message of the church to the world, that there is a God who generously and graciously confers His holiness and the forgiveness of sins through the blood shed by Christ the Savior. This blood which grants forgiveness is given by the things which ancient believers called “life” and “salvation.”

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Categories: Right Worship