The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A People For His Own Possession





A People For His Own Possession

By: Andrew M. Gilhooley

Throughout the Old Testament, the sons of Israel were known as the Lord’s special people. With His strong right hand, God redeemed the nation from slavery in Egypt and made them a people for His own possession. By means of the tabernacle and temple cultus, He dwelled in their very midst, thus bringing the divine into intimate relationship with humanity for the first time since the Fall. The nation is even pictured as a second Adam, dwelling with God upon a cultic mountain (i.e. the tabernacle and temple) by mediation of the priesthood. There were not a people like Israel among all the nations.


The vocabulary used describing Israel as being a people for God’s own possession, or treasured possession, is used several times in the Scriptures:

Exod. 19:5 “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples.
Deut 7:6 “The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possessionout of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Deut. 14:2 For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Deut 26:18 “The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments.”

Israel being a special people does not mean they were a wise people. They continuously broke covenant with the Lord and whored after foreign gods. As time waned on in their history, the need for a Messiah to restore the nation became more prevalent. They needed priest who could lead them in proper worship and make atonement for their sins, a king to lead them and subdue their enemies before them, and a prophet to give them God’s unadulterated word. Essentially, they needed a second Adam who would not fail.

Isaiah prophesized that in the latter days when the Messiah would come, Hwould be the summation of true Israel within Himself and, like Adam, would function as a federal head (Is 49:3-6) (Beale: 2011, 656). The notion therefore was that if a man was to be part of latter-dayIsrael (also called ‘eschatological Israel’) then he must identify himself with the Messiah. Being a son of Abraham, being circumcised, and keeping sundry ceremonial regulations would one day no longer constitute a man as an Israelite. Days were coming when the Lord’s special people would be transferred from physical descendants of Abraham to spiritual descendants of the Messiah.

Upon the coming of the Messiah, namely Jesus of Nazareth, God’s special people are no longer ethnic Jews living in Palestine; instead, they are those who identify themselves with Jesus Christ. Concerning this, the Apostle Paul writes to Titus regarding the assembly of believers in Crete, saying, “[Christ Jesus] gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). The churchtherefore is latter-day Israel and a people for the Lord’s own possession, for she is the body of Christ and identifies herself with her head, namely Jesus. People do not become part of this eschatological Israel by making a pilgrimage to a plot of land in Palestine and taking on the unique signs of theocratic Israel, but rather by making a pilgrimage to Jesus, the true Israel (Is 49:3-6), and identifying with Him as the ultimate mark of being a true Israelite (Beale: 2011, 655).

Beloved, if you believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, then by faith you are a true Israelite.


--Andrew M. Gilhooley is a sophomore at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida. He is chiefly interested in biblical theology and Old Testament studies. Among his hobbies are fishing, archery, boating, writing, and reading classical literature. Upon graduation, Andrew plans to attend graduate school and possibly enter into bible translation ministry.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Celebrities and Friedrich Nietzsche


Celebrity-honoring extravaganzas like the Oscars and the Grammy Awards might be over for now, but that doesn't mean actors and musicians are out of the spotlight just yet. We love them. We want more of them. And because we love them, the most popular newspapers in the world are those which contort themselves and strain to deliver our demands for more: The Sun is the second most widely circulated English newspaper on the planet, and it is little more than a British celebrity gossip magazine. But have you ever stopped to wonder why it is that we follow the lives of the rich and famous? After all, Brad Pitt and Justin Bieber do seem like interesting people, but not enough for me to want to pay tens of thousands for a lock of Bieber's hair! There is something more going on. As far as I can tell, the reason we follow the lives of these famous people is because they represent the heights of human potential for us: we pay them to be our idols, to be ridiculously rich and extravagant with their money and endlessly creative and frighteningly super-athletic, and we do this so that we can hold them up and live out our dreams through them. That's our social contract; we make them extremely wealthy, and they become our Supermen.
Getting Burned By Nietzsche's Superman
I am also part of the cult of the celebrity-watchers. Except, the people whom I take inspiration from are not named Lady Gaga or Matt Damon (though, it's a safe bet that if Damon's in it, it's a good film); I am instead partial to superstar athletes such as Georges St-Pierre, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the Canadian wrestler Christ Benoit. I tend to respect athleticism. Actually, maybe you'll recognize the name of Chris Benoit, even if you are not a fan of professional wrestling: in 2007 Chris Benoit made international headlines all over the world for his role in a shocking double-murder suicide in which he murdered his wife, strangled his infant son, and then finally hung himself to death on his own weight equipment. I remember this, because Chris Benoit was my hero. I was nineteen years old. Whenever I am tempted to laugh at people for following Justin Bieber (who has, let's face it, the mental capacity of a valley girl) or the once-mentally ill Britney Spears, I have to remember that my supposed superior choice is best known for killing off his entire family.
But that's the catch, isn't it? Our celebrities fail. No matter how fast, strong, wealthy, or creative people get, the real story comes when our Supermen fall from orbit and burn up in the atmosphere - sometimes with devastating results. We know that a good Christian girl like Miley Cyrus is just going to go downhill once fame has run its course. We expect it. These people that we worship might represent to us what the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called 'the superman' when he wrote 'Man is a rope, tied between beast and super-man... what is great in man is that he is a bridge [to the Superman] and not an end', but we know that the impossible prosperity and prowess of the famous will not hold them aloft in the air forever. They will come down. All that they represent of our human potential does not seem to help them very much. And if we bind up our future with theirs, we know that when they fall and burn up in the atmosphere we will be burned along with them, as I, through Chris Benoit, also got burned by Nietzsche's Superman.
The Better, More Eternal Standard
There's nothing wrong with the celebrity gifts of money, athleticism, and creative genius. A lot of those things take hard work to get. I'm not going to sit here and write that I don't want the athleticism of Georges St-Pierre, the handyman capabilities of Mike Holmes, the voice of Dustin Kensrue, or the money of Bill Gates. If God came down from heaven and said "I'm going to bless you with all of the abilities of Bruce Wayne," I wouldn't say no. But we've seen that these gifts aren't really what help people make it in the end. You can have all the musical talent in the world and still go off the rails, ending up without any dignity. So I'm going to offer a better standard for us to follow: the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The usual superhuman qualities which we admire in celebrities are okay things I guess, but humankind gets its dignity and purpose from being made in God's image(Genesis 1.26), and Jesus is God become a man (Matthew 1.23). If you want to be like Arnold Schwarzenneger (who has also been having some problems lately), go ahead: hit the weights. If you want something a little more lasting then follow Jesus instead (1 Timothy 4.8). Everything we work for fades in the end, but following Jesus has eternal value.

Why A Fiction Hero Is No Hero At All
If you read X-Men, Cyclops is a really great character because he shows us what it's like to be a hero and how to blast the bad guys with optic beams. Wait - back up, did I just say that? Well that's just completely wrong. Cyclops isn't a good role model, because he's got unrealistic abilities. We couldn't possibly do what he does. Even as a model for heroism, at best he only inspires the idea of heroism. He can't show us how it's done because the fictional Cyclops doesn't have to get around our limitations. So a better example for us would be real-life heroes that have our limitations, like our firemen, the police officers who keep our streets safe, soldiers who protect our countries, and your local super-serum enhanced S.H.I.E.L.D. operative. Maybe not the last one. But that's what makes Jesus of Nazareth someone to pattern our lives after. Even though He is God, He took on our weaknesses and limitations. He's not like some superhero who breaks out a new power to cope with every situation. Jesus experienced temptation to sin (Hebrews 4.15); acknowledged a 'will' in Himself that might be opposed to the Father's (Luke 22.42), learned obedience (Hebrews 5.8), experienced impatience (Mark 9.19), got angry (Mark 3.4-5), hid in a house to get time alone (Mark 7.24-25) and had the normal limitations of exhaustion (Mark 4.38), and hunger (Matthew 4.2), and was overwhelmed by grief (Matthew 14.12-13). Jesus had the whole range of human limitations, but did not sin (1 Peter 2.22), which means we can actually follow His lead. Only Jesus can show us what it looks like to live in the image of God when you haven't slept, eaten, or had any time to yourself, and everybody seems to need something from you. Jesus is the only one who models that for us.

Jesus Is the Image of God
We've already shown that (1) we tend to worship celebrities because they model something super-human; (2) those celebrities are flawed and broken; (3) even if they weren't broken, Jesus models an even better standard to live up to; (4) Jesus' limitations make Him more worthy of our imitation; and now, (5) Jesus shows us how to be human. Like I've said before, Christian doctrine says that we were made in the image of God (Genesis 1.26). This has to do with representing what God is like (Ephesians 4.24). Because Jesus was God in human flesh, complete with a human nature and all its limitations, Jesus shows us most clearly what it looks like to be a human being who carries out their purpose in life, living in God's image - Jesus shows us how to be human. We have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, but thank God, He sent Jesus not only to die for us and save us from our sins, but to show us what a new life as one of His people looks like. In Jesus, we don't just have salvation (as if salvation was such a small thing that it should have the word 'just' in front of it!) but the perfect model for what life looks like when one has put away a life of sin. Jesus is the image.



--Sean is a volunteer youth worker, a student at Briercrest College in Canada, and an amazing Super Smash Bros gamer. He was first exposed to Reformed theology mid-way through high school and subsequently adopted it in the weeks leading up to his first year of college. In his spare time he likes to ride bike trails, create poetry, read stuff by early Church Fathers, do tricks on diving boards, and read theology texts. November 20th, 2011 will mark his 8th year as a follower of Christ. He is a devoted husband to Kendra; son of Murray and Judy; brother to Caitlin and Amber; and member of First Baptist Church.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Acts 15 and Salvation by Grace Through Faith


This is Nathan Fox's first post for the TDL. I would like to first post his bio, so you can see where the Lord has brought him thus far. His actual post will follow. 


Early Life

The Lord blessed me to grow up in a Christian home. Both parents are heavily involved in our church, but beyond that, have taken the time grow our family through Christian principles and values. I grew up and professed faith in Christ at the age of 9, and attempted to grow in both my knowledge and application of the Bible. I loved going to church, loved reading and learning God's Word, and even more so, loved to talk about Jesus. However, as time went on, some very troubling sins creeped into my life, and ultimately took a hold on me in high school.

High School Years

I came to high school a quiet, calm, and kind young man (if I do say so myself). I never attempted to get into trouble, never sought out problems, and typically associated with the right people. By the time I was in high school for 3 years I was miserable, lost, and in need of something deeper than this world could provide. I had tried pornography pretty regularly, sought out relationships that were not motivated by proper desires, and perhaps most depressing, developed an eating disorder. This eating disorder consumed my life for 4 years where I lost considerable weight, fought often with my parents, and worst of all, blamed God for my problems. I turned from God, wanted nothing to do with Him, and had no interest in Him in the slightest. It was during these years that I saw just how wicked humanity can be as I went from a person who professed God as my Savior to someone who wanted nothing to do with God. 

God's Saving Grace

I can still remember the night in which God took a hold of my life and made my faith something deeper than just words. I can remember being on the edge of total depression, wondering how in the world my life could get so miserable. That night, for whatever reason, I decided to open up the Bible. I couldn't tell you why I did, but something compelled me to "try" out God (I believe this was the Holy Spirit moving in that moment). Reading several verses of Scripture led me to this realization: I did not have to live this life of pain, because there was a Savior who brought victory. That night God took my life as His, and has led me on a journey of redemption for His glory.


Today

Today I attend Liberty University and have aspirations to be a youth pastor one day. I am engaged to a beautiful, God-fearing girl who has helped me in my own spiritual walk. I love God's Word, but more than just loving what it says, I love to see how it transforms my life and the lives of others. I truly believe it is the standard of truth, and His Word alone will save people. Why God uses a wretch like me I will never know. His Grace is sufficient in my weakness, and I hold to this promise. I don't hold to a certain theological foundation (but I lean Calvinist for sure), but I seek to analyze all theological stances against Scripture. What you will get from me in this blog is a sincere approach to God's Word, practical advice on how we as Christians ought to live, and a lot of love through what God has allowed me to type. 

Thank you for the opportunity to proclaim God's Word to you and to all who read this.



By: Nathan Fox 



Background

The chapter of Acts that I am currently finishing up is Chapter 15, which happens to be one of the most important chapters not only in this book, but also throughout the course of church history. Why is this chapter so imperative? What makes this one chapter so important in comparison to chapters around it? In a nutshell it answers this question: can keeping the law of God save a man? 

We see in the beginning of this chapter the assumption being raised by "men from Judea" (I would daresay that they were Jews) claiming that unless one keeps God's commands, then that person cannot be saved. This was a big issue at the time, and in some ways is still a big issue today. Can a person keep God's Law and expect those obedient acts to get him to heaven? Though these Jewish men said that one must keep the law, we see in the very next verse just how hard Paul and Barnabas (two strong men of the faith) fought to squash this idea. The Bible says that they had no "small dissension and dispute with them," meaning that they vehemently disagreed with the notion that works can save a man.

This dispute ended up being carried into the presence of the apostles and elders of the church (of whom we know included Paul, Barnabas, Peter, and James). With the question lobbied about whether works does or does not play a contributing role to salvation, Peter stands up and makes this proclamation: "Why do you test God by putting the yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved..." (Acts 15:10-11) Look at this contrast that Peter lays out for the entire audience. Perfect works are too unbearable for anyone, but the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation! The yoke, the heavy burden, of works is unattainable for any human being according to Peter, but simple faith in Jesus' person and work meets God's standard for salvation. 

Implications Today

So many times through Facebook, Twitter, and even face to face conversations I have been asked the question of what role works play in our salvation. People just want to know what can they do to gain God's favor. They want to know what they must do in the future to keep God's favor. And you know what is saddening to me? You know who is not stepping in and saying what Peter said? The Church! The church has so watered down the Gospel, so compromised the message, and so deified man's efforts that it has become sickening to my heart. I know of pastors (both big and small) who claim that "you can obtain heaven on your own efforts, and who are we as conservative Christians to claim that salvation is through faith alone?" I have heard this message from pulpits, though luckily never at a church I have stayed at. 

Folks who read this need to understand this simple truth: you can't do it. You cannot make it to heaven on your terms. It is illogical, man-driven, and selfishly attempts to rob God of the glory due to Him. Think about this for a second: If you can earn your way into heaven like the Jews claimed in this passage in Acts, then is your salvation really secure? If you can get into heaven through works, then what happens when your good works stop? Do you lose your salvation? You can see the conundrum that faces so many people who are so desperate for some satisfaction in knowing that they are saved. 

It is through Christ alone that you are saved. It is through His grace and His alone that we can know what eternal life really is. John 14:6 does not mix words when it says that Jesus is the ONLY way to Heaven and to the Father. Perhaps someone reading this has put faith into works, and perhaps they have realized through this post that their efforts just are not sufficient enough. They might be valiant in your mind, but it breaks the heart of myself to say that your valiant efforts will still condemn you to eternal judgment. In Christ alone our hope is found. In Him and nothing else. If this blog or any posts we have written entice you to wonder, this would be a great time to ask any of us what salvation really consists of. Trust me, we would love to help you. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Creation and The Counsel of The Wicked


By: Thomas C. Booher




Psalms 1:1, 2 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

The Christian lives in a world of sin. Paul describes this age as the ‘present evil age,’ Gal 1:5. This age is inherently, intrinsically evil. It was not that way from the beginning as we know from Genesis, for God made everything good (Gen 1), and that man himself, the pinnacle of creation (Ps 8:4, 5), evoked the pronouncement of very good (Gen 1:31).

There are two ways in which Edenic man was good. In the first place, Adam was good because he bore the image (Gen 1:26, 27) of One in whom goodness pervades every facet and attribute of his being. Secondly, Adam was good because of his role as subduer of the earth. He was good by virtue of his calling to discover and cultivate the potential of creation, to develop science, culture, and technology for good purposes and for the glory of God.

Man was good in nature and vocation.

As the man who mirrored God’s image, Adam was to think and act in ways that conformed to the pleasures of God; such thinking and acting were a measure of Adam’s goodness for God’s pleasures are always in accord with his good nature. God never delights in anything that is contrary to who or what he is. For example, God never delights in a false witness, but delights in a true witness (Deut 5:20; Prov 6:16-19), and he does so because he is a God of truth and faithfulness – God cannot lie (Rom 3:4; 2 Cor 1:18; Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18). Having been made in God’s image, Adam reflected God’s pleasures in all of his thinking and behavior. He was obedient and God-fearing, conforming to those divine pleasures. He did not have to work at it; by virtue of his image-bearing nature, he obeyed and worshipped gladly and easily.

As the vicegerent who administered under God’s authority (Gen 1:28), Adam was placed by God in Eden, an environment that pleased the eye and sustained the body (Gen 2:9). Man was to tend and keep it. This assumes that part of man’s goodness was his intelligence and ability to investigate, analyze, experiment, and over time to become a skilled laborer. Eden was a microcosm of the world and the first advances in technology and science were to begin there as evidenced in Adam’s naming the animals, Gen 2:19.

This two-fold goodness of man offers some perspective on the counsel of ungodly men which Psalm 1:1 refers to. In his original state, man was wise in that he feared the Lord and obeyed him naturally. He was also wise as to how to utilize the creation for his own good and, more importantly, for God’s glory. This wisdom came in the form of know-how as well as the skills that equipped him for his labor.

Then Adam ate the forbidden fruit, and he changed as well as the cosmos with him (Gen 3:17-19; Rom 8:22). We know that since the Fall, men are born into this world no longer good but evil. The change is so drastic that the Psalmist writes (Ps 14:1, 3; 53:1, 3) and Paul quotes (Rom 3:12), They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. No man born since Adam’s ejection from the garden (Gen 3:22-24) discerns the things of God, let alone cares for them, But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, 1 Cor 2:14. Sinful man’s wisdom is not from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic, James 3:15. Their heart is foolish and dark (Rom 1:21; Eph 4:18) exchanging the truth of God for a lie and worshipping and serving the creation rather than the Creator. Professing to be wise, they become fools, Rom 1:22, 23.

Evil man pursues a bankrupt and empty wisdom that suppresses the knowledge of God. That wisdom interprets all of reality atheistically, analyzing the problem of the human condition and proposing solutions apart from God. It is true that many of these solutions benefit mankind as a whole, yet the pursuit of them solely for the purpose of alleviating misery or simply to make life a little more pleasant amounts to idolatry and the aggrandizement of humanity. It is devoid of any true ethic because it is devoid of God’s law.

The ungodly counsel of the sinner and the scoffer inevitably will lead one away from truly wise counsel, which comes from the law of the Lord. This does not refer merely to those whose lives are wayward even by societal and cultural standards. Obviously, no one who loves their children knowingly takes advice for their care by a child molester.

For the godly, the counsel of the ungodly is always suspect, Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked. The counsel that the blessed man avoids is tainted with wisdom that is wicked and contrary to whatever the law of the Lord offers. It is counsel that advises the sinful way rather than the godly way.

It would be wrong, however, to suggest that Psalm 1 never permits a time in which the godly man may listen to the counsel of the ungodly. It is permissible so long as the advice given does not pertain to ethics. As we saw, man’s goodness extended to his vocational purposes. Though man is a sinner, he still plays the role of subduer of the earth, and his pursuit of science and technology, his analysis of history and politics, his penchant for building and creating, and his skill in the arts make any man with the appropriate expertise a plausible counselor. That is why Christians can without guilt take their place side by side with the ungodly in this world in a vast variety of professions; not only can they learn with them, but they can also learn from them. In a certain manner, seeking the non-Christian’s expert advice and instruction is a fulfilling of the Christian’s divine call to subdue and have dominion over the earth.

-- Thomas Clayton Booher and his wife, Kaye, live in Sanford, NC. He is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (1979, M.Div, ) and is a ruling elder at Countryside Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Cameron, NC. He served in the US Air Force (1972-1976) and the US Army (1983-1990). He taught at Sandhills Community College, Pinehurst, NC for nearly three years, and is currently a computer programmer. He enjoys writing and is working on the rewrite of his Christian fantasy for young teens to adults, The Oerken Leaves (2007), book one of the trilogy, The Whole Creation Groans.

You can visit his blog at oerkenleaves.blogspot.com
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