Friday, October 22, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI and the Resurrection

Through the generosity of the brethren from The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, I'm enjoying a free subscription to The Free Presbyterian Magazine.

While Typhoon Juan was striking through the province of Pangasinan, I picked the September 2010 issue and read Matthew Vogan's, "Does the Pope Believe in the Resurrection?" and learned about the following:

1. When Joseph Ratzinger was younger, he admired some liberal theologians, even worked with them.

2. Though he declared in his April 12, 2009 Easter Message that "The Resurrection Is Not a Theory, but a Historical Reality", his book that denies the same is still being sold in the market. In Introduction to Christianity, he wrote:

"The Resurrection cannot be an historical event in the same sense as the Crucifixion is."

3. In that book, he also denies the literal future resurrection of the believers. Commenting on the biblical pronouncements about the resurrection, he wrote:

"their essential content is not the conception of a restoration of bodies to souls after a long interval; their aim is to tell men that they, they themselves, live on... because they are known and loved by God in a way they can no longer perish... the essential part of man, the person, remains... it goes on existing because it lives in God's memory"

Let me also direct you to a couple of posts (here and here) from John Bugay on The Beggars All, a competent counter-Roman Catholic apologetics blog (headed by James Swan).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One Vs. Thousands

The Power and Mercy of God
Displayed in His Victory Over Darkness
Luke 8:26-39
Mark 5:1-20
Matthew 8:28-34
Photo Credit: Australian War Memorial
 
"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them."
  • C. S. Lewis

The first error C.S. Lewis mentions about the evil spirits could be labeled as the Naturalistic view. Naturalism is defined by the Encarta Dictionary as:

a system of thought that rejects all spiritual and supernatural explanations of the world
and holds that science is the sole basis of what can be known”

You are naturalistic if you think that all things must be explained by science. You have a hypothesis for every question and you are willing to test it in the laboratory. For you if it is not scientific, then it must be false. If you fall into this view, the danger is that you will not engage in spiritual warfare as the Lord has instructed (Eph.6:10-18). For how could you fight an opponent who is non-existent in your mind?

Anyone who has read the New Testament must conclude that there are non-material beings out there and their agenda is to harm us:


1 Thess. 2:8 - “For we wanted to come to you--certainly I, Paul, did, again and again--but Satan stopped us.”

2 Cor 2:11- “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes”

1 Peter 5:8- “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

The second error that Lewis mentions is to believe that demons do exist but this time you develop an “an excessive and unhealthy interest in them”.

Sa pananaw na ito, may demonyo sa bawat sulok. Lahat ng mga problema, sa demonyo isinisisi. Sira ang projector-- “Palayasin ang demonyo diyan!!!”

Kapag may trangkaso ang tao, sa halip na idalangin nila ang paggaling o bigyan ng gamot kung kinakailangan – “Pinapalayas kita Ispiritu ng Trangkaso sa ngalan ni Hesus!”

Sa sexual lust, sa halip na bigyan ng counsel o 'di kaya'y isailalim sa church discipline, ang solusyon: I rebuke You Spirit of Lust”. Pipilitin pang magsuka yung tao tanda raw ng “deliverance”

This brand of spiritual warfare is foreign to the New Testament pattern of dealing with spiritual problems.

Doon sa pinanggalingan kong iglesia, meron kaming madalas na bisita noon na pastora. Sa kuwento niya, merong isang miyembro na madalas inaantok kapag nagtuturo siya. Kung ako yun, kakausapin ko yung tao, papayuhan ko siya na iwasan ang pagpupuyat tuwing Sabado Nights. Uminom ng Kape o energy drink kung kinakailangan. Aba yung pastorang ito-- ang ginawa niya, tinawag niya yung taong antukin... at pinatungan ng kamay (lay hands) at sinabi-- “Ispiritu ng Antok, Lumayas ka !!!”
May ispiritu ng paglalasing; may ispiritu ng paninigarilyo, may espiritu ng drug addiction.

Outside the church, we can also see the world's preoccupation with supernatural things. They consult mediums, they use Ouija boards, Tarot cards. They call upon the Spirit of the glass.

Merong mga matatapang na spirit questors; bumibisita sila sa mga napapabalitang haunted houses para kausapin yung mga espiritu doon upang sila ay manahimik na. Kabaligtaran naman ng katapangan ng spirit questors itong si Mang Danny, tricycle driver doon sa aming lugar. Kaso nga lang maaga siyang pumanaw. Si Mang Danny ay magaling sa suntukan, hindi umaatras sa basag-ulo, pero nanginginig sa takot kapag ang pinag-uusapan ay mga multo.

The books our children are reading or movies they are watching may be indicators of the world's preoccupation with the supernatural. In the Harry Potter Series, witchcraft is cool. In The Twilight Saga, a Vampire is a heartthrob.

For us to have a true knowledge about the supernatural in general and the demonic in particular, we have to go to the the Bible.

Balikan natin yung pastorang nabanggit ko kanina. Napasyal siya sa bahay ng isa naming kaanib. May mga nakita siyang mga nilalang doon sa likod-bahay at doon sa puno. Alam ba ninyo kung ano ang nakita raw niya? isang Kapre at isang Tikbalang.

That tells me that her source of knowledge about supernatural beings is not Scripture but Philippine folklore (mga kuwentong bayan).

When we deal with the supernatural, our guide must not be the things shown on horror films or what “paranormal experts” say. We have to go back to the bible.

Yet what I can tackle here is not exhaustive demonology. Our scope is what's covered only in our text, Luke 8:26-39, and its parallel accounts Mark 5:1-20 and Matthew 8:28-34.

The title “One vs. Thousands” is taken from the fact that when Jesus asked the demon what his name was, their spokesperson replied Legion-- “for we are many” (Mark 5:9)

A study note from the NET Bible gives us these information:
  1. The name Legion means “thousands,” a word taken from a Latin term for a large group of soldiers.
  2. The term not only suggests a multiple possession, but also adds a military feel to the account. This is a true battle.”
The sub-title "The Power and Mercy of God Displayed in His Victory Over Darkness" is really about the points I want to nail down..
1St, Jesus' power is infinite that even powerful demons, and Satan himself cannot stand it.
2Nd, In Jesus' victory over dark forces, he simultaneously manifests his mercy.

--------------------------
Ito ay nangyari pagkatapos pakalmahin ni Hesus ang malalakas na hangin at alon. Alam ninyo ang kuwento, habang tinatawid ng kanilang bangka ang lawa, mahimbing namang natutulog si Hesus. Bigla silang pinaghahampas ng malalakas na ihip ng hangin at mga naglalakihang alon. Ang ilan sa mga kasama ng Panginoon ay mga dalubhasang mga mangingisda; mula sa pagkabata ay tubig na ang kanilang ikinabubuhay. Hindi sila basta-basta natatakot sa kung anong meron sa lawa pero sa pagkakataong ito, hindi na birong nanganganib na ang buhay nila. Kaya't ginising nila si Hesus. Ang Panginoon naman, ang ginawa niya ay inutusan ang mga hangin at alon. Sa pamamagitan noon ay kanyang naipakita na meron siyang awtoridad maging sa panahon. Sa pagkamangha ng mga alagad, ang kanilang tanong ay:“Sino ang taong ito na maging ang mga hangin at alon ay sumusunod sa kanya?”

Walang kamalay-malay ang mga alagad na pagdating nila sa dalampasigan ay meron nanamang kagila-gilalas na pangyayari silang masasaksihan. Sila ay dumaong sa isang lugar na hindi dinadaanan ng tao. Bakit walang tao sa pook na iyon? Sapagkat may isang tao ang sinasaniban ng masasamang espiritu ang tumatambay doon. Sa salaysay ni Mateo ay dalawa sila. Ang pagtutugma niyan ay pagkilala na may isang mas dominante sa kanila. Walang nangangahas dumaaan doon sapagkat ayon sa Matthew 8:28 "They were so violent that no one could pass that way"

Not only were they violent, they were so strong. May mga pagkakaton na nagtutulong-tulong ang mga Atapang-a-tao sa kanilang lugar upang igapos sa tanikala ang kanyang mga kamay at paa. Subalit sa lakas ng libu-libong mga demonyo, ang mga tanikala ay nalalagot lamang. Pagkalaya niya, siya ay tumatakbong pabalik sa libingan.

Remember that these demons were former angels who joined Lucifer in his rebellion. One angel can inflict much harm. In 2 Kings 19:35, one angel killed 185,000 Assyrian warriors in a single night. Just one angel. The number of fallen angels in this man's body is not one, but thousands.

Now, it is good for us to know how strong the opponents are because it will highlight the first point I want to make. And that is:

Jesus' power is infinite that even powerful demons, and Satan himself cannot stand it.

a. The demons bowed down out of a correct Christology

What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?“ (Luke 8:28)

They know who Jesus Christ is. They called him Son of God when most people doesn't know (Matt. 16:13-17). And when a man knows, it was only because of divine illumination. The demons trembled before Jesus Christ. They know who he was. They know he must be feared. This is James 2:19, demonstrated: "Even the demons believe that--and shudder."

b. The demons begged for favor out of a correct eschatology

Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?...
The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs." (Matt.8:29-31).

They know their ultimate end. They know that by the power of Jesus, something terrible will happen to them in the end. And they were afraid because they might suffer it before the appointed time. What is this end time event that they fear? Revelation 20:10 says “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”. Merong takdang araw kung kailan si Satanas at ang kanyang mga kampon ay itatapon sa lawa ng nagbabagang asupre at sila'y magdurusa araw-araw, gabi-gabi at magpakailan man. Ito ang kinatatakutan ng mga demonyo, na bago pa man dumating ang araw na iyon ay parusahan na sila.

So they know who Jesus is; and they also know that he has the power to torment them. The twist here is that we don't usually learn from demons because they are liars. In John 8:44, Satan is called the father of lies. So we don't usually learn truth from the mouth of demons. But here, out of fear for the power of Jesus, they were uttering true statements.

Ano yung tanong ng mga disipulo bago sila dumaong? “Sino ang taong ito na maging ang mga hangin at alon ay sumusunod sa kanya?” Well, they just heard from trembling demons the answer to their question. “Who is he that even the winds and waves obey him?” He is the Son of God, so powerful that even the forces of darkness tremble before his presence.

Psa. 24:8
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.

I would say that since demons tremble before God, the best strategy for spiritual warfare is to be intimate with God. To be with Jesus. The mere presence of God in your life makes the demons shrudder.

In Jesus' victory over dark forces,
he simultaneously manifests his mercy.

1st, Consider His mercy to the victim-
a. for a long time oppresed
b. naked
c. isolated, away from friends and family to care for him
d.minimal sleep (night & days cries out, Mark 5:5)
e. often cuts himself with stones- perhaps infected
f. no hygiene, smells bad
g. who knows what in the world is he eating

This man is without hope for the future

BUT NOW- “ they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind” (Luke 8:35)

He is mentally healthy now. He can now be a productive member of the community. And most of all, the precious moment of being near Jesus and be instructed personally by the Lord.

2nd, his mercy to the unbelieving community

The neighborhood saw something miraculous, but they rejected him anyway. Luke 8:37 says:

Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear.” (v.37)

Economic reasons could have been a factor here since the demons killed around 2000 pigs, but that is not the main reason. The main reason given in the accounts is that they were overcome with fear. They begged Jesus to leave the community. They don't want Jesus; they saw him as an intrusion into their peaceful life.

They are not demon-possessed; but certainly demonic influence is upon every person who rejects the God. 1 John 5:19 “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”

The reason why men cannot see the beauty of Christ is because“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.“ (2 Cor.4:4)

The community is so depraved that they rejected Jesus despite of him displaying his power over demons. That is an evidence of how depraved men are.

BUT Jesus showed his mercy by leaving a witness in that community

The boat is ready. Jesus is about to leave because the community rejected him. The man who was delivered from the power of demons approach him with a passionate request:

Luke 8:38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him...”

He wanted to follow Jesus full-time; just like Peter who left his boat and fishing nets; like Matthew who left his vocation as a tax-collector. But the request was denied. Why?

"Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you,
and how he has had mercy on you." (Mark 5:19)

His request to join Jesus' itinerary teaching ministry was rejected because there is a different mission for him to fulfill. Starting with his family, he must testify about the Lord's mercy. After his family, then friends and eventually, his witness has saturated the whole community. In Mark's account, it has been recorded that ten cities (that's what Decapolis means) were affected by his ministry. Though the community rejected him, he did not repay it with wrath but with favor. He left a man who shall tell them about the mercy and goodness of Jesus.

We should realize that wherever God has placed us, His purpose is that we might be a channel of his mercy to the people around us. We must tell the world how much the Lord has done for us, and how he has had mercy upon us. Keep that in mind whenever we are with our relatives, friends, classmates, co-workers and other contacts sovereignly given to us by God.

If you know the gospel you are a trained warrior. The proclamation of the gospel is a means of snatching souls away from the Kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. (Col. 1:12-13; Acts 26:18)

Our brother, Wayne Grudem says it this way:
"If we really believe the scriptural testimony to the existence and activity of demons, and if we really believe that “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8), then it would seem appropriate to expect that even today when the gospel is proclaimed to unbelievers, and when prayer is made for believers who have perhaps been unaware of this dimension of spiritual conflict, there will be a genuine and often immediately recognizable triumph over the power of the enemy." (Systematic Theology)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WISDOM WEDNESDAY: Piper on influences, White on friendship, and Machen on polemics

On Influences
"... God wills that we have heroes. Hebrews 13:7 says, "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith." It seems to me that the Christian leaders today who come closest to being heroes are the ones who had great heroes. I hope you have one or two, living or dead."
-John Piper
Contending for Our All
On Friendship
"Friendship that includes a common commitment to the gospel is something completely different than friendship without it. I may have cordial relationships with non Christians, but I cannot think of anyone I would call a true friend who is not a fellow believer in Christ."
-James White

On Polemics
"Men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end."
-J. Gresham Machen
Christian Scholarship and the Defense of the Faith