Saturday, March 03, 2007

On Spelling out the Ramifications of a Defeater Belief

Ephesians 1:22-2-5

The Great Transition

Even those most convinced of their alienation from God are not able to present their condition in the way Paul does at the beginning of Ephesians 2. We ought to work on reflecting back people's defeater beliefs with a clarity that they can seldom if ever match. The truth in any argument or mode of argument cannot ultimately lead to a denial of the truth. It is not against truth that man in sin should be convinced that he is dead to God and it is helpful to those who know that they are alive to God to remember that once they were dead.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Presenting What 'Can't Possibly be True'

Ephesians 1:22-2:5

The Great Transition


I understand Tim Keller on 'defeater beliefs' much better, I think, after looking at how Paul makes his presentation of 'But God …' in Ephesians 1:22-2:5. He spends much more time presenting man's natural state as being totally alienated from Christ's supremacy than he does presenting the supremacy of Christ itself but the presentation of supremacy is the first thing he does. Paul's initial presentation of Jesus Christ as one totally united with us who is both the utterly victorious conqueror and the ultimate perfect provider [Ephesians 1:22-23] is designed to appeal both to the one who feels his bondage and those who are tempted to fear that they are still alienated from God. If only it were possible that these things were true!

This is how we ought to live as well as how we ought to preach to postmodern humanity. We are presenting what man by nature will think to be too good to be true so we should do so succinctly, seductively and initially. There is more to come.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Great Transition

Ephesians 1:22-2:5

By Nature Children of Wrath
— By Grace you have been Saved —
Life Abundant in Jesus Christ

Despite the way the presently regnant world system seems to deny the supremacy of Jesus Christ, God is always affirming that supremacy directly by graciously taking those who are bound by 'the vicious cycle of sin and death' and setting them free from it.

Exiled Preacher: Blogging in the name of the Lord: The Box Set

Exiled Preacher: Blogging in the name of the Lord: The Box Set


Guy did a series of interviews and he thought that both of you would like see a link to it because I'm penultimately in it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Life Abundant in Jesus Christ

Ephesians 1:22-23

22 • And he put all things under his feet

• and gave him as head over all things

• to the church,
23 which is his body,
the fullness of him who fills all in all.

These are three superlative statements of the superiority which God the Father has given to Jesus Christ. Separate them and there is the possibility of defect but put them together and there is no room for imperfection. We can imagine a conqueror who is unable to supply what is needed after his victory. We can imagine a remote provider who is not one of us and we can imagine a community that is united in defeat and disorder, and a world where we are, in effect, no more than dead men walking.
Put these three together though, as three aspects of the same supremacy and we can hardly separate the one from the other. Here is a conqueror who conquers by making perfect provision, a provider who is universally and most emphatically with those provided for and a whole race contained in one man dying the death deserved by everyone else so that all else, believing in him might live.

— By Grace you have been Saved —

Ephesians 2:4-5

4 • But God,
being rich in mercy,

• because of the great love
with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses,

• made us alive together with Christ
— by grace you have been saved —

There is no hope within the system, but God — extraordinary intervention — from whom this world system, our individual selfish lives within it and the devilish hierarchy that claims sovereignty over it, can claim nothing but wrath — God intervenes with the only antidote to death, which is life! So, the greatness of salvation and of the grace of God that saves us is seen in its true colours when held up against that so-great-a-death in which we by nature 'lived' and to which we were condemned to suffer for our sins.
Here is not just mercy, but mercy of the richest quality, unstinted. Here is not just love, but love with which we were loved even when we were dead in our sins. Here is not just life, but life which is shared with Christ. There is no more appropriate summary of such great salvation than to say, 'By grace you have been saved.'

… and no 'buts'.

By Nature Children of Wrath

Ephesians 2:1-3

2:1 • And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
2 in which you once walked,

• following the course of this world,
following the prince of the power of the air,
the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience —

3 • among whom we all once lived
in the passions of our flesh,
carrying out the desires of the body and the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath,
like the rest of mankind.

Here is a world of dead men walking, as the vivid expression from the condemned cell block has it. Where there is life there is hope, but these are
without hope and without God in the world because unlike their death row analogues, these are really dead. Not dead in the flesh as is anticipated in the sentence of death which has been passed but spiritually dead to God and thus condemned to walk in the trespasses and sins which mark such a death until the sentence is carried out.
In the condemned cell block of the prison there is a sharp difference between the uniforms worn by the warders and the uniforms worn by the prisoners. Not only so, every attempt is made to make sure that the prisoners never think themselves to be free rather than condemned men but in the world of dead men walking who is to warn the condemned and who is to help? The authority in this world is himself condemned to stir up disobedience among his charges and there are by nature none at all who are not caught up in the same condemnation.
There is no hope within this cycle of sin and death; none whatsoever

… But God.