Friday, September 28, 2007

Good Blogging

When I started blogging, I did a series about why I wanted to blog. It took me at least a month to finally decided to start blogging. Recently I ran accross two posts commenting upon blogs and why blog. The first is from Timmy Brister here.

Four things he looks for in a good blog:

(1) someone whose life is not defined by their blog.

(2) humility

(3) their treatment of others

(4) gospel-centered in their blogging

"There a number of factors I consider when reading a blog."

1. Relevancy
2. Originality/uniqueness
3. Precision/argumentation

4. Depth/knowledge
5. Consistency/regularity

6. Style of writing/engaging and persuasive
7. Content-driven
8. Appreciation of History
9. Personal edification
10. Blog aesthetics


A few turn offs:

First, don’t be controversy-driven or try to build a readership by focusing on controversy.

Second, don’t prostitute your blog.

Third, don’t be a jerk.

Fourth, beware of self-promotion.

Fifth, allow comments.

Lastly, don’t get into the “inner circle” mode with your blog.


This was a very helpful post in thinking about why one should and should not blog. How does one conduct themselves.

Michael A. G. Haykin also recently commented on what blogs are for (here). After chastising Christian bloggers for (a) self-promotion and pushing personal agendas and (b) being full of "rude and full of vitriol," he writes:

So what are blogs for? They should be places of winsome proclamation, explicitly and implicity, that Christ is Lord

Twenty Years Ago Today...

As the commercial says at the end "The classic legend begins an all new adventure..."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Value of the Ascension- part 4

The reason I pulled out my old notes on the ascension is because last week I was studying on prayer. Here are excerpts from the sermon. As believers we need to realize that we can only pray because of the work of Christ.

While the Old Testament believers did not have Christ on the throne intercessing as mediator, their prayers, as with all of their worship, were in anticipation of Christ's great sacrifice and mediation.

IF I TRULY BELIEVE CHRIST IS ASCENDED TO THE THRONE OF GOD, MY PRAYER LIFE SHOULD BE EMBOLDENED. Christ is the one who brings my prayers into the presence of God. In Christ, God's throne is a throne of grace and not wrath against me. Prayer is a spiritual matter and thus it is grounded on Christ and rooted in the gospel. If the ascension of Christ really sinks deep into my heart and my affections, it will be evidenced by a deep seated confidence in my prayer life.

There is so much more we could say about prayer just from the perspective of considering the ascension. Here is the message:

MAIN POINT: PRAY BECAUSE OF CHRIST.

I. FIRST, PRAY BECAUSE CHRIST IS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST.

A. Christ is our high priest.

Hebrews 4:14 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

1. What is a high priest? In the Old Testament, there were priests. They served in the tabernacle and later the temple. Many of them had odd jobs some would teach the Bible to the people in Israel. The tribe of Levi was the tribe of priests and they had various responsibilities outlined in the Old Testament. The high priest, in the Old Testament came from the tribe of Aaron. In the temple there was the holy place where the lampstand and the table for the showbread was placed. The priests ministered in here regularly. Once a year, however, on the day of atonement, the high priest, who was appointed over the people would go into the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies). The priest would sacrifice a lamb for his sins, he would then sacrifice a lamb for the people’s sin. He would burn incense and spread it through the temple so that the ark of the covenant was veiled by smoke. He would enter before the presence of God’s earthly throne and sprinkle the altar with blood as a symbol of the people’s forgiveness.

2. Why is Jesus a great high priest? Let me highlight several reasons within the book of Hebrews:
a. Jesus goes into a greater tabernacle; He goes into one that is in heaven and not the earthly symbol. In other words, the Old Testament was just a shadow but this one Jesus enters is “the real deal.”

NAU Hebrews 8:5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, "SEE," He says, "THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN."

NAU Hebrews 9:24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;

b. Jesus Christ had no sin of his own like the Old Testament high priests.

NAU Hebrews 7:26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;

c. Jesus offers a superior sacrifice. This sacrifice cleanses since once and for all. It does not have to be repeated.

NAU Hebrews 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

d. Thus, Jesus’ ministry is better than in the Old Testament:

NAU Hebrews 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

B. Christ is our high priest who has passed through the heavens.

Hebrews 4:14 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

As we have noted, the high priests of the Old Testament only walked through the earthly tabernacle. Jesus walks into a tabernacle in heaven. If the ark of the covenant was a symbol of God’s throne, Jesus walks into the throne room of heaven itself.

C. God’s throne is a throne of grace because of Christ’s work. Verse 16 tells us to approach the throne of grace. God’s throne is no longer a throne of wrath. Christ’s blood is brought before the throne, just like blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Old Testament. For God’s people, God has no more wrath against us for our sins.

NAU Hebrews 10:17 "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." 18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

D. Do you understand the perfection of Christ’s work on the cross? It pays for sin. It exhausts the wrath of God. If you have received Jesus Christ by faith, you do not have to appease God. Christ has stopped God’s wrath against our sin. So long as we belong to Christ that wrath is gone. Thus, we have the privilege of prayer.

II. SECOND, PRAY BECAUSE CHRIST UNDERSTANDS.
A. Christ is able to sympathize with our weakness.

NAU Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

1. High priests have to be able to understand the weakness of their people. They have to represent the people as one of them:

Hebrews 5:1-2 NAU Hebrews 5:1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;

2. Christ understands what it is to suffer. Christ understands the peril and trouble of human life. Human life is frail and weak. It is subject to death and suffering. It can succumb to death. Christ’s humanity was exactly the same. Jesus understand what it is to cry out in agony through prayer:

Hebrews 5:7 7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.

The difference is that Christ does not have sin not that Christ did not have weakness. Christ suffered, Christ was tempted, Christ faced pain and agony.

3. Consider the humanity of Christ: He was just like us, yet without sin.

Hebrews 2:14-18 14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

4. When you pray to Christ, you are not praying to one who is distance but one who fully understands.

B. Christ was tempted in all things.

NAU Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

1. “All things” does not mean every exact sin, for example, Christ could not be tempted to speed in a car or look at dirty images on the internet. “All things” does refer to all types of temptation.
2. Consider the temptations that Satan brings to Christ:
a. Being told to turn stones into bread, He is tempted to meet his own needs rather than trusting God.
b. He is tempted to put God to the test by jumping off the temple.
c. He is tempted by false worship of Satan. He is tempted to give up the path of suffering and receive power and glory—it is exaltation without obedience to god.
d. In the garden, He is tempted to desire His own will more than God’s.
3. Christ was tempted but had no sin:
a. (1) He did not fall into sin.
b. (2) He did not have sinful flesh (i.e. a sin nature) that might lure him. There was no internal lust.
c. Christ understands the pressure to sin and that was a real pressure placed upon Him because of His circumstances.
C. Conclusion: Christ understands your prayers more than you can ever imagine.

III. THIRD, PRAY BECAUSE IN CHRIST WE FIND MERCY AND GRACE IN TIME OF NEED.
A. We must pray with confidence.

NAU Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1. Knowing the work of Christ emboldens our prayer life. We must be a people who draw near to God. IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST AND YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE CROSS OF CHRIST, YOU WILL NOT PRAY AS YOU SHOULD.
2. We should not sulk into the presence of God. We do come into God’s presence in prayer. We come before Christ who sits on the throne. A throne from which He gives grace.
3. The power for prayer comes not from the ‘pray-er’ but from the person to whom we pray.

B. The purpose of prayer is to find mercy and grace.

NAU Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1. The purpose of prayer is to fin mercy and grace. Only God can give us mercy and grace.
a. Mercy- is pity and compassion to those who are in misery.
b. Grace- is favor extended where wrath is deserved.
2. WE NEED BOTH. Our times of need our real. Let us not pretend we are better than we really are.

IV. Applications:

A. We must rediscover prayer. We will only rediscover prayer if rediscover the person and work of Christ. Consider Him who was made like us in everyway but without sin. Consider him who suffered for us.

B. We must pray because we are in desperate need of mercy and grace. So often in prayer we fail to contemplate our greatness need.

***Our greatest need as a church is not people, filled pews, busy programs, or fun times together. Our greatest need is not even unity, as crucial as that is. OUR GREATEST NEED IS GRACE FROM GOD. Christ alone dispenses that grace.

C. Our prayer life needs boldness and confidence. You and I cannot by ourselves enter God’s presence. BUT CHRIST HAS. When I was a child I did not fear asking my Father for things. I knew that I could go into His presence and say “Dad, help me.”

Matthew 7:7-11 7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 "Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 "Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
D. We should seek to put aside our selfish motives in prayer and ask according to God’s will. To often in prayer we ask for worldly things for worldly motives.
James 4:2-4 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
E. What does our church need to do in prayer for the future?
1. We need to attend prayer together. For example, prayer meetings, or the men’s breakfast or meet in homes to pray.
2. We need to pray more in private. Do we consider our private times with God to be times of worship.
3. We need to pray for spiritual things: we should be praying that God will give us grace. That God would transform us into the image of Christ. We need to pray this for others as well.
4. We need to pray for things only if they are God’s will: We should not pray for a large church without adding if it is God’s will. We should pray for a healthy church: that we would look and act more like Jesus, we know this is God's will.
5. We should pray for physically weak and ill: we do this. But let us be careful that we do not demand God heal but we request it.
6. OUR GREATEST DESIRE IN PRAYER SHOULD BE TO SEE GOD GLORIFY HIS OWN NAME IN THIS CHURCH AND IN OUR PEOPLE.
7. Our prayer should be humble, we should look for God to work but not according to our demands or our timetable.
8. Our prayer should be an act of worship. Pray brings us into the presence of God because we have been united with Christ, the one who is in God's presence.
9. Our prayers should be confident in Christ because of who He is and what He has done.

The Value of the Ascension- part 3

The fact that Jesus Christ has been designated our high priest at the ascension brings hope and confidence.

A. We need to recognize the superiority of Christ as our High Priest. He is far better than any other mediator. He is better than any priestly mediator in the Old Covenant and superior to any mediator offered in other religions because He has entered heaven itself for us!

1. Jesus is superior, so His ministry of grace to us is superior since His shed blood is able to cleanse us from sins.

Hebrews 8:1 (NASB95) Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,

Hebrews 8:2 (NASB95) a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.

Hebrews 8:6 (NASB95) But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

2. Jesus’ priesthood is permanent.
Hebrews 7:23 (NASB95) The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing,
Hebrews 7:24 (NASB95) but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.
3. Based on Christ’s permanent priesthood, He is able to cleanse those who draw near to God.

Hebrews 7:25 (NASB95) Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

a. He stands in heaven to make intercession for us.

b. This is grounded on His blood that unlike that of goats and bulls, it actually forgives and cleanses us.
Hebrews 9:11 (NASB95) But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;
Hebrews 9:12 (NASB95) and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Hebrews 9:13 (NASB95) For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,
Hebrews 9:14 (NASB95) how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
4. We cannot turn away from this high priest but must hold fast to our confession since it is through Jesus’ sacrifice and continuing intercessory work that we are saved.

B. The ground for our coming to God is based on Christ’s superior intercession for us.
1. Hebrews 6:19-20
Hebrews 6:19 (NASB95) This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
Hebrews 6:20 (NASB95) where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
2. Hebrews 7:24-25
Hebrews 7:24 (NASB95) but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.
Hebrews 7:25 (NASB95) Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
3. Hebrews 10:19-22
Hebrews 10:19 (NASB95) Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
Hebrews 10:20 (NASB95) by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,
Hebrews 10:21 (NASB95) and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
Hebrews 10:22 (NASB95) let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
C. Of what value is the Ascension?

1. A Mediator has entered into God’s presence in full human flesh. He has cleared the way that we might enter into God’s holy presence. He is our forerunner, having blazed a trail for us. His presence before God now is a guarantee of our future presence before God.
“Since he [Jesus] entered heaven in our flesh, as if in our name, it follows, as the apostle says, that in a sense we already “sit with God in the heavenly places in him” [Eph. 2:6], so that we do not await heaven with a bare hope, but in our Head already possess it.”
--John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.16.16
2. His one-time sacrifice perfects us but as we continue to sin in this life, so Christ fully understanding our weakness is able to make complete intercession for us as our high priest based upon the redemption He has accomplished. “He shows His wounded hands and names me as His own”.
“For, having entered a sanctuary not made with hands, he appears before the Father’s face as our constant advocate and intercessor [Heb. 7:25; 9:11-12; Rom. 8:34]. Thus he turns the Father’s eyes to his own righteousness to avert his gaze from our sins. He so reconciles the Father’s heart to us that by his intercession he prepares a way and access for us to the Father’s throne.”
--John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.16.16
3. Without Christ’s work in heaven before the throne of God—we would not be able to approach the throne of grace with boldness and confidence.
a. Scripture:

Hebrews 4:16 (NASB95) Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 John 2:1 (NASB95) My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

b. John Calvin

“Since no man is worthy to present himself to God and come into his sight, the Heavenly Father himself, to free us at once from shame and fear, which might well have thrown our hearts into despair, has given us His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord to be our advocate [1 John 2:1] and mediator with him [1 Tim. 2:5; cf. Heb. 8:6 and 9:15], by whose guidance we may confidently come to him, with such an intercessor, trusting nothing we ask in his name will be denied us, as nothing can be denied to him by the Father…
“For as soon as God’s dread majesty comes to mind, we cannot but tremble and be driven far away by the recognition of our own unworthiness, until Christ comes forward as intermediary, to change the throne of dreadful glory into the throne of grace.”
--Institutes of the Christian Religion. 3.20.17

“He [Christ] fills with grace and kindness the throne that for miserable sinners would other wise have been filled with dread.”
--Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.16.16


c. We live within a pop culture that seeks to find ‘god’ within and based solely upon personal experience without objective grounding it what God has done once-for-all in the cross-resurrection-ascension. This culture is radically opposed to Christ the mediator as it seeks to reach out and ‘touch’ ‘god’ under its own power, ingenuity and sensation of higher realities. Those who are truly godly seek grace from the one who is exalted over all false gods and spiritualities yet who stands in the presence of God as the head of His people offering intercession for them.

d. Heidelberg Catechism Q.49.

Q: How does Christ’s ascension into heaven benefit us?
A: First, he pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of his Father. Second, we have our flesh in heaven—a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, his members, to himself in heaven. Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth as a further guarantee. By the Spirit’s power we make the goal of our lives, not earthly things, but the things above where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Value of the Ascension- part 2

We want to continue with this question: Does the ascension of Jesus Christ matter? First, we must as the question with respect to truth, the gospel and historia salutis (history of redemption). Second, we must ask the question with respect to the personal experience of the believer and ordo salutis (order of redemption).

Part Two: The Ascension: Of What Value?
It is Christ’s session at the right hand of God fulfills His work as our High Priest, as He is fully designated and coronated as High Priest.

A. Jesus Christ can only enter the Holy Place after He has accomplished our redemption.

Hebrews 9:11 (NASB95) But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; Hebrews 9:12 (NASB95) and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

1. In the Old Testament “Day of Atonement” the sacrifice was made and then the High Priest would proceed into the Holy of Holies to make intercession.

2. So too with Christ, the blood of Christ was shed first so that Christ could go before the throne of God.

B. Like every High Priest, Jesus Christ is divinely appointed to His priesthood.

1. Every High priest must be from among men.

Hebrews 5:1 (NASB95) For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;

a. As one from among men, the high priest is able to identify with human weakness.
Hebrews 5:2 (NASB95) he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;
Hebrews 5:3 (NASB95) and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.
b. Yet under the Old Covenant the priest’s weakness was to the extent that he needed to offer a sacrifice for Himself.

Hebrews 5:3 (NASB95) and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.

2. Every High priest is appointed and does not exalt Himself.

Hebrews 5:4 (NASB95) And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

3. Jesus Christ does not exalt Himself and make Himself a high priest.

Hebrews 5:5 (NASB95) So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”;

Hebrews 5:6 (NASB95) just as He says also in another passage, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

4. Jesus Christ is able to identify with our weakness although He did not have personal sin.

a. Just like humans subject to suffering (which is a weakness), Jesus Himself suffered.
Hebrews 5:7 (NASB95) In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.
Hebrews 5:8 (NASB95) Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
b. Jesus himself suffered in His humanity, the weakness of temptation.
Hebrews 2:17 (NASB95) Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 2:18 (NASB95) For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

Hebrews 4:15 (NASB95) For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
c. Jesus Christ remained always without sin in this suffering.

Hebrews 4:15 (NASB95) For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 7:26 (NASB95) For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;

5. Jesus Christ is thus now appointed as High Priest.

Hebrews 5:9 (NASB95) And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

Hebrews 5:10 (NASB95) being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

a. Notice the grammar of 5:9-10
Hebrews 5:9 (NA27) καὶ τελειωθεὶς ἐγένετο πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ αἴτιος σωτηρίας αἰωνίου,
Hebrews 5:10 (NA27) προσαγορευθεὶς ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ἀρχιερεὺς κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισέδεκ.

(1) ‘τελειωθεὶς’ aorist passive participle brings into view that Christ did not ‘perfect himself’. In His humanity God raised Him up and brought Him into the eschatological inheritance. This verb as aorist is most likely an antecedent to the main verb [ἐγένετο]. Although it could be [along with προσαγορευθεὶς] could be means or casual.

(2) The main clause is ‘ἐγένετο πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ αἴτιος σωτηρίας αἰωνίου’. Jesus Christ is the one who has procured salvation for all who believe. Salvation flows from Him based on His work that is the climax of R-H (Redemptive History).

(3) ‘προσαγορευθεὶς’ is either antecedent to the main verb or it is a participle of means ‘by having been designated’. The former is probably the case it is slightly favored grammatically given the same tense and also theological slightly favored since perfection is the qualification for his priesthood as he now has indestructible life and now has honor and glory which he did not take upon Himself.

(4) “The verb prosagoreuvein contains the idea of a formal and solemn ascription of an honorific title. The use of the verb with the meaning ‘to address, hail, salute’ in the sense of an acclamation finds illustration in the papyri.” [Lane, Hebrews 1-8, 110]. BAGD- ‘Call, name, designate’.

(5) With respect to 5:10 Vos writes “the implication is that Christ became a high priest after the order of Melchizedek after He had been made perfect, and it would certainly be against the author’s intention to say that, while having been a high priest in general before, the Saviour [sic] became a high priest after the order of Melchizedek with His entrance into heaven.” (RHBI, 155).

b. Jesus elsewhere clearly becomes a high priest.

Hebrews 5:5 (NASB95) So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”;

Hebrews 6:20 (NASB95) where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

(1) We are to see there is a real becoming here in the priest. Hebrew’s focus on this becoming is not primarily on the incarnation.

Although we should offer this caveat that at the incarnation the Son had a truly human body prepared for Him in order to come and be obedient—to do God’s will [10:5-8]. This doing God’s will included offering Himself up, clearly a part of a priestly role (cf. below) Notice 5:8
Hebrews 5:8 (NA27) καίπερ ὢν υἱός, ἔμαθεν ἀφ ̓ ὧν ἔπαθεν τὴν ὑπακοήν,
Hebrews 5:8 (NASB95) Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.


Christ has to learn obedience through suffering (i.e. His sacrificial death). As Son he is put in the school of suffering. This brings Him through and into eschatological perfection (cf. above note of 5:9-10).

(2) 6:20
Hebrews 6:20 (NA27) ὅπου πρόδρομος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν εἰσῆλθεν Ἰησοῦς, κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισέδεκ ἀρχιερεὺς γενόμενος εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.

Forever is later used in chapter 7 as a reference to the continuing ministry based on the indestructible life of the resurrection. The participle ‘γενόμενος’—Jesus’ becoming, functions antecedently to his entering into heaven ‘εἰσῆλθεν’ as our forerunner.

c. Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:4 are quoted at this designation of His fulfillment of high priest.

Psalm 2:7 (NASB95) “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.

Psalm 110:4 (NASB95) The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

d. These are fulfilled in the context of resurrection-ascension of Jesus.

(1) Psalm 2:7 is used in Acts to refer to Christ’s resurrection.
Acts 13:33 (NASB95) that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today i have begotten You.’

(2) Furthermore, Psalm 2:7 in the context concerns the installment of God’s kingly Son on the Throne.
Psalm 2:6 (NASB95) “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

This installment has already occurred. This is clear from the NT use of Psalm 2:7—it is not something we await in a future millennium—albeit this reign will draw near at this point. Thus, in Hebrews as well the believer already comes to Mt. Zion—where we find Christ our priest and king.

Hebrews 12:22 (NASB95) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,
Hebrews 12:24 (NASB95) and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

(3) Psalm 110:4 is contextually connected both in Psalm 110 and in Hebrews to Psalm 110:1—the ascension.

Psalm 110:1 (NASB95) The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
Psalm 110:4 (NASB95) The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.” This then is a dual declaration to the one who is both a king ruling over all and a high priest for His people.

(4) Jesus Christ is made high priest on the basis of his having indestructible resurrection life.

(i) Hebrews 7:15,16
Hebrews 7:15 (NASB95) And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek,
Hebrews 7:16 (NASB95) who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.
Hebrews 7:17 (NASB95) For it is attested of Him, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
Law of physical requirement refers to the descent of the priest from Aaron. ‘power of indestructible life’ refers to the resurrection life that Christ receives whereby He is designated high priest forever. The language of ‘forever’ ‘εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα’ does not have in view the scope of eternity past but the unending (forever) future of the eschatological ‘age to come’. Forever and indestructible life does not refer to the indestructibility of His eternal person and divine essence. But the human Christ now enjoying the indestructible life of the eschatological eternal inheritance of glory (which He has also achieved for us ‘in bring many sons to glory’ [2:10] and having obtained eternal redemption bringing an eternal inheritance for those called [9:12,15]. Christ serves as priest by virtue of his resurrection. [Lane, Hebrews 1-8, 184; Bruce, Hebrews, 169;].

(ii) The new high priest is appointed as one who is no longer weak but enjoys the perfection of resurrection life.
Hebrews 7:28 (NASB95) For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

The absence of ‘appoint’ as second time is clearly intended to show that thought repeated since (1) ‘appointing’ is in view contextually; (2) this is the main very of the sentence. Thus, in focus is the Son being appointed as one no weak but made perfect forever. Perfection here is an eschatological category. This is clear because the Son has shared in human weakness and is able to sympathize. But He is able to sympathize as one who has triumphed and received the eschatological life that awaits believers who hold on to the faith. The Son is not appointed in this weakness but as one who triumphs over it. This triumph is of course vicariously for the believers as he brings many sons to glory through His effective atonement and continuing ministry as High Priest based on that atonement.

Christ as the eschatological man is what is in view (as the Second Adam). Perfection does not refer to moral category but resurrection as does the phrase ‘indestructible life’. In view is not the eternal person of the Son but the Son having obediently sacrificed Himself. Of course, behind this is the eternal personhood of the Son but in R-H in the fulfillment of His ministries there is a real becoming ultimately grounded upon the eternal person who is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Not “a Son made perfect forever.”
We should here echoes of Hebrews 1:2,3 where eternal person in view as God has spoken in the Son who shared His glory. Yet this Son becomes in incarnation and appointment as heir over all. So also in the priesthood.

C. Without the ascension, Jesus would not be a high priest.
Hebrews 8:4 (NASB95) Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law;
1. This does not refer to the priestly nature of His sacrifice which is offered here on earth.

2. Rather, this refers to His taking of the blood in the Holy Place. This cannot happen here on earth because the earthly reality is only a shadow not the true eschatological heavenly fulfillment. This would mean that Christ’s work was not final nor eschatological.

3. Thus, if Christ continued His ministry on earth—He would not be a priest at all, particularly since those earthly priests were from the Levitical order.

4. In Reformed theology:

a. Here Turretin’s thoughts are helpful.

“If Christ were now on earth, he could not be a high priest, since indeed in the Old Testament the high priest did not always remain in the outer court, but it behooved him sometimes to enter the holy place with blood. For if he had not done this, he would not have fulfilled all the parts of his office. But it does not follow that if the entrance of Christ into heaven was a requisite for the continuance and consummation of that priesthood, it was a requisite for its constitution. On the contrary, he would not have entered into heaven if he had not already be a Priest.” [Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol 2, 406.]

b. Vos:

With reference to 8:4, “This has been understood as implying that when Jesus was on earth He was not yet a priest. But the author in making the statement evidently had not in mind the question of locality of the performance of any single priestly act, but only the question of locality or sphere in which the Saviour’s priestly ministry is performed as a whole. What he means to say is that if Christ’s priesthood now and as a whole were exercised on earth, He could not legitimately be a priest since the Aaronites are appointed for that and He is not of the family of Aaron…The author, therefore, has not by any absolute denial of the possibility of a priestly act on earth precluded the adjustment of Jesus’ death on earth as a priestly act to the heavenly character of His ministry as a whole.” [RHBI, 159.][i]

D. This is not to suggest that Jesus’ offering Himself as a sacrifice is not part of His High Priestly ministry.

1. First, Christ’s ‘making purification for sins’ is a “priestly” activity.

Hebrews 1:3 (NASB95) And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

2. Second, Hebrews speaks of Jesus ‘offering up’ prayers and supplications.

Hebrews 5:7 (NA27) ὃς ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ δεήσεις τε καὶ ἱκετηρίας πρὸς τὸν δυνάμενον σῴζειν αὐτὸν ἐκ θανάτου μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς καὶ δακρύων προσενέγκας καὶ εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας,
Hebrews 5:7 (NASB95) In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.

3. Third, Jesus’ own sacrifice is part and parcel of His priestly ministry as He ‘offers’ himself.

Hebrews 9:14 (NA27) πόσῳ μᾶλλον τὸ αἷμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὃς διὰ πνεύματος αἰωνίου ἑαυτὸν προσήνεγκεν ἄμωμον τῷ θεῷ, καθαριεῖ τὴν συνείδησιν ἡμῶν ἀπὸ νεκρῶν ἔργων εἰς τὸ λατρεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι.
Hebrews 9:14 (NASB95) how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:25 (NA27) οὐδ ̓ ἵνα πολλάκις προσφέρῃ ἑαυτόν, ὥσπερ ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς εἰσέρχεται εἰς τὰ ἅγια κατ ̓ ἐνιαυτὸν ἐν αἵματι ἀλλοτρίῳ,
Hebrews 9:28 (NA27) οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἅπαξ προσενεχθεὶς εἰς τὸ πολλῶν ἀνενεγκεῖν ἁμαρτίας, ἐκ δευτέρου χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας ὀφθήσεται τοῖς αὐτὸν ἀπεκδεχομένοις εἰς σωτηρίαν.
Hebrews 9:25 (NASB95) nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own.
Hebrews 9:28 (NASB95) so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

a. Christ is a mediator of the New Covenant not simply because He ascends as High priest but also because a death (His own) has taken place.

Hebrews 9:15 (NASB95) For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

b. His offering cannot be abstracted from His priestly ministry even though there is a special coronation and designation that He clearly is the High Priest which occurs at the resurrection and ascension (the phase of exaltation).

4. Fourth, offering and priestly ministry is clearly tied together in 10:12. Here the difference is that Christ’s ministry as priest who offers sacrifices is finished and now as priest He sits down, as opposed to other high priest who stand to continually offer sacrifices. This is important because the contrast of priestly ministries is in view—with the contrast of the ministries and the sacrifices the argument falls flat, therefore we cannot say that His own offering was not a part of His priestly ministry.

Hebrews 10:11 (NA27) Καὶ πᾶς μὲν ἱερεὺς ἕστηκεν καθ ̓ ἡμέραν λειτουργῶν καὶ τὰς αὐτὰς πολλάκις προσφέρων θυσίας, αἵτινες οὐδέποτε δύνανται περιελεῖν ἁμαρτίας,

Hebrews 10:12 (NA27) οὗτος δὲ μίαν ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτιῶν προσενέγκας θυσίαν εἰς τὸ διηνεκὲς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ,Hebrews 10:13 (NA27) τὸ λοιπὸν ἐκδεχόμενος ἕως τεθῶσιν οἱ ἐχθροὶ αὐτοῦ ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ.

Hebrews 10:11 (NASB95) Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
Hebrews 10:12 (NASB95) but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
Hebrews 10:13 (NASB95) waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.

5. How then are we to understand His designation as High Priest in relationship to His sacrifice? Was His sacrifice a priestly sacrifice? If it was as we have argued—what is so important about His coronation/designation as our high priest?

a. First, we might take an example from his kingship. Was Christ the King from His incarnation onward? Yes. But is He through the Cross and especially in the resurrection/ascension installed particularly as King? Yes.

b. Second we can take an example from 5:9 where Jesus ‘becomes the source of eternal salvation’. Where not people in the OT taught to look to Christ for salvation? Did Jesus Himself not teach he was the way the truth and the life even before His sacrificial death? Yes. He was the source of salvation but there is a real and true R-H becoming as the once-for-all works are carried out in history. It is these works that are applied to the believer.

c. Thus, the priesthood is of similar character. Christ’s work as Son grounded in the eternal Sonship enables Him to fulfill His role as incarnate Son where He ministers as Prophet-Priest-King. While all His life in obedience lives out these offices—we see it climactically in the death-resurrection-ascension of Christ. Furthermore, these offices continue post-ascension just as the incarnation continues.

d. We are to recognize however in the ascension (& res) there is a special designation and appointment to exaltation for each of these offices. This is an exaltation that Christ does not take upon Himself but God lifts Him up and displays through appointment in power that the Son who sacrificed Himself is the one who fulfills these offices. [Further in Acts 2:36, Jesus is made LORD and Christ! Yet was He not Lord and Christ prior to this ministry?]

e. Part of the problem in terms of the history of theology is that the Socinians affirmed that Christ’s priesthood only began at the ascension. They thus sought to remove any real value to the atonement of Christ. Cf. Turretin’s argument Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 14th Topic; Question 8 (Vol 2, pp. 403-6].

(1) Through Christ’s offering He is clearly designated to enter the true sanctuary of heaven. The theology of Hebrews demands Christ’s eschatological perfection and grounds His continuing heavenly ministry as priest on the reality of accomplished redemption.

(2) Thus, Hebrews sees a clear coronation and designation of Christ’s priesthood in the ascension—perhaps the language of ‘appointment’ is not to strong.

(3) As Vos correctly maintains

“The principle to be strenuously maintained is that the priestly activity of Christ in heaven rests on the preceding sacrifice and therefore derives from the latter a strictly propitiatory character.” He immediately continues “Where this is once recognized it becomes a matter of secondary importance whether or not the death itself at the time it took place be considered in the light of a priestly act performed by the Saviour [sic] Himself, provided the atoning nature of the death not be denied.” (Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, 154). Vos goes on as we have to illustrate that ‘offering’ is priestly language applied to Christ’s sacrifice. He notes “Over and against these [passages where Christ’s priesthood begins at ascension] stand certain other passages, in which the priestly character of Jesus and His acting in a priestly capacity before His entrance into heaven are implied.” [RHBI]

(4) We can look elsewhere in the NT and see Christ’s priestly ministry through His life (John 17) and death (Rom. 3:25).

(5) Thus, although Christ does lay himself down in an obedient high priestly self-offering of humiliation, He does not take up the honor of high priest rather it is given to Him. It is announced and proclaimed as true High Priest in his resurrection.

E. Thus for Hebrews, whose Christology takes a pastoral bent, so too with the relationship of the ascension and the priesthood of Jesus Christ. We can do no better than Vos:

“But the practical purpose of the Epistle also there was something that led to this representation. We have found reason to assume that the doctrine of Christ’s priesthood was seized upon by the writer because it furnished a ready explanation of what the readers took offense at, the invisibleness and remoteness of the Saviour’s mode of existence and activity, and offered a corrective for the religious externalism in which this offense had its root. In other words, Christ is represented as priest to explain why He must of necessity be withdrawn into the heavenly world and conduct his saving work form that invisible sphere. Of course, it was only the doctrine of a heavenly priesthood, not of priesthood in general, that was adapted to render this practical service. If Christ had been priest on earth, then His remoteness and invisibleness remained as unexplained as before. Hence the author is intent not so much on showing that He is a priest, but rather that He must be, if a priest, a priest in heaven, because nothing else, nothing less, will suit the dignity of His person and absoluteness of His work.” [RHBI, 158-59]

F. Conclusion: In the ascension because Jesus enters into heaven itself, He begins the ministry as our high priest making intercession and ministry which is grounded on His act of self-offering as He obediently atones for since (part of His priestly ministry). It is fundamentally important that Jesus enter heaven itself as a true human being in order to be our High Priest. Jesus Christ enters the true holy of holies as our representative. Jesus Christ as a true human enters the very presence and glory of God so that our flesh (in resurrected bodies) will see God!

[i] It may be possible to make the argument that Jesus had to suffer outside of heaven since in the typological ‘earthly’ the lambs were slaughtered outside of the camp. Hebrews 13:12 refers to this but not as outside of the heavenly Jerusalem but the fact that Jesus was slaughtered outside of the earthly city of Jerusalem. What we are suggesting is that it is good Biblical theology to see that Jesus’ suffering had to take place outside of the heavenly city of Jerusalem, Zion and the true tabernacle. This enables Jesus to proceed back into the heavenlies and open it once for all. This procession is of course as our forerunner.

Happy Birthday




This week, Star Trek the Next Generation turns 20 years old. For dates, see here. So Happy Birthday.



Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Value of the Ascension- part 1

Here is part one of an old lesson that I have on file:

The Ascension: Of What Value?

Hebrews is arguably one of thee most Christological books of the New Testament. Its exposition of the person and work of Jesus as the Son of God takes us to consider from consideration of his eternal person, to his exaltation as King, to his full incarnation, to his ministry as our sacrifice and our priest—yet these high and noble doctrines are never discussed without the looming pastoral concern: that we would hold fast to our confession of faith in Jesus Christ. It is in the work of Christ that we see the climax of God’s plan to save His people as the Old Testament realities are brought to their true heavenly fulfillment.

From the very beginning the book of Hebrews is concerned with the reality of ascension of Jesus Christ and the implications that flow from this reality.

Hebrews 1:2 (NASB95) in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

Hebrews 1:3 (NASB95) And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,


Heidelberg Catechism Q.49. Q: How does Christ’s ascension into heaven benefit us?

Today, we want to ask this question within the context of Hebrews: Of what value is the ascension to us (believers)?

I will attempt to argue that (1) we fail to consider the benefit of the ascension for us, even though Scripture is clear; (2) the central benefits of the ascension in Hebrews for us is that it is Christ’s designation as our high priest; (3) this is the basis for the godly life of faith in this life.

I. The failure to consider the benefit of the ascension.

A. While there is always the looming danger that we existentialize the objective truths of Christianity, making them mere subjective realities, there is the opposite danger that we as believers fail to recognize that these objective realities that occurred to Christ in history have occurred for the benefit of those who are in union with Christ.

1. As believers, we cannot contemplate what God has done ‘in the fullness of time’ without our hearts being warmed as we recognize that He has brought the benefits of this once-for-all work unto us in order to nullify all human effort, boasting and self-glorification to bring the full glory and honor to Himself. Similarly, we cannot contemplate what has been done for us in the application of salvation, without immediately considering that God has accomplished the benefits in the once-for-all of the work of Christ at the center of history.

2. At the core of salvation history is the work of the Triune God in the death-resurrection-ascension[of Christ]-and Pentecost.

a. This event complex is divided into the two states of Christ: (1) His humiliation and (2) his exaltation.

b. While it is certainly true that Christ cried out on the cross “It is finished”, referring to His self-offering as the sacrifice to pay for sin. Christ’s role in redemption continues. The Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck has wisely stated, “Without application, redemption is not redemption” and “In his state of exaltation there still remains much for Christ to do.”[i]

B. The ascension does benefit us. The sum of this then may be seen in Hebrews 9:24

Hebrews 9:24 (NASB95) For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;

1. Jesus Christ ascends into heaven itself, the true temple/tabernacle of God. This stands in contrast to the Old Covenant tabernacle which was just an earthly shadow of the true and better one in heaven.

a. In this event, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.

b. This event of ascension occurs once-for-all unlike the repeated occurrence that took place under the Old Covenant.

(1) According to Hebrews 9:8 the repeated events of the Old Covenant signify that the way into the Holy Place is not finally nor fully open.

(2) Further, in Hebrews 9:9-10,13 we see that the sacrifices under the Old Covenant had no ability to truly cleanse us.

(3) Hebrews 10:4

Hebrews 10:4 (NASB95) For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

2. Christ goes into heaven itself and so His appearing in God’s presence is for our benefit.


a. Christ’s humanity does not cease in His ascension. Just as the resurrection is a real bodily resurrection (albeit a glorified body not subject to death or decay), so His ascension is in this glorified resurrected fully human body!

(1) Hebrews 2:6,7
Hebrews 2:6 (NASB95) But one has testified somewhere, saying, “What is man, that You remember him? Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him?

Hebrews 2:7 (NASB95) “You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And have appointed him over the works of Your hands;
Hebrews 2:8 (NASB95) You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.

(i) Notice the importance of Psalm 8 applied to Son of God as the incarnate one.

(ii) This one having been in a position lower than angels, of humility and humbling, has now been crowned and made to rule over all!

(iii) He fulfills the role that God intended for all humanity in the first Adam. The point is that in the exaltation (res. and ascension), Jesus Christ as a true man is crowned with glory and honor.

(iv) It is this Son, in the experience of true humanity that the Father says “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footsool for your feet”.


(2) Hebrews 2:17

Hebrews 2:17 (NASB95) Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.


(i) Christ humanity is like our humanity in every way. There is not an element of human nature (body and soul) that Jesus Christ lacks.

(ii) This true humanity results in his ability to be our high priest and minister before God in the true heavenly tabernacle.

(iii) Yet this all presupposes if He had to be made like us to be our priest, in his humanity he must continue if he is going to serve as our high priest. –Albeit again His humanity is resurrected and glorified but this too will be our experience (Christ our forerunner [6:20] and to brings sons to glory [2:10])


(3) Athanasius:

“Since then the Word, being the Image of the Father and immortal, took the form of the servant, and as man underwent for us death in His flesh, that thereby He might offer Himself for us through death to the Father; therefore also, as man, He is said because of us and for us to be highly exalted, that as by His death we all died in Christ, so again in the Christ Himself we might be highly exalted, being raised from the dead, and ascending into heaven…But if now for us the Christ is entered into heaven itself, though He was even before and always Lord and Framer of the heavens, for us therefore is that present exaltation written.”[ii]

b. Thus, Jesus Christ’s return to heaven is for our benefit.


(1) Jesus Christ will bring many sons into glory.

Hebrews 2:10 (NASB95) For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

(2) Jesus Christ returns to heaven as a ‘forerunner’.

Hebrews 6:20 (NASB95) where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

C. We so often miss the benefits of the ascension and the future hope that it holds out for those of us who have faith in Jesus Christ.


1. My goal today is simply to remind you that the ascension of Jesus is essential to our understanding of the gospel just as much as the death and resurrection is essential. Note for example that Peter’s preaching in Acts 2 upon the descent of the Spirit centers on the death-resurrection and ascension of the LORD who has been placed at the right hand of God on David’s throne.


2. “Yet this doctrine today languishes unnoticed…and its profound significance to a proper understanding of the gospel is lost to the church.”[iii]

[i] Gaffin, “Biblical Theology and the Wesminster Standards,” The Practical Calvinist, 430.
[ii] Athanasius, Four Discourses Against the Arians, 1.41.
[iii] Andrew Purves, Reconstructing Pastoral Theology, 107.

Friday, September 21, 2007

'God's Response'


It seems that Senator Chambers (shown left) is now getting a response from 'god' according to this CNN article. So the Senator filed suit against God and now people are rushing to God's defense. Note that Senator Chambers does think that this lawsuit is a sort of joke and he is only trying to make a point against frivolous lawsuits. According to the article "Chambers, a self-proclaimed agnostic who often criticizes Christians, said his filing was triggered by a federal lawsuit he considers frivolous. " I am sure that messing around with the Almighty, especially when your not sure he exists, is a very unwise thing to do. It is a bit like running into a tiger cage when you are sure there is no tiger (despite the evidence of tiger food, shed tiger hair, and tiger droppings). You may not have seen the tiger with your face but standing with your back to the tiger kennel and crying out "here kitty, kitty," and trumpeting "See there is no tiger, this is frivilous" is not the way to make a point.

According to CNN, here is the reponse from 'god':
Not so, says "God." His response argues that the defendant is immune from some earthly laws and the court lacks jurisdiction.It adds that blaming God for human oppression and suffering misses an important point.
"I created man and woman with free will and next to the promise of immortal life, free will is my greatest gift to you," according to the response, as read by Friend.
There was no contact information on the filing, although St. Michael the Archangel is listed as a witness, Friend said.
As my friend Scott Ott pointed out "It seems God is an Arminian." I've already commented on the Sovereignty of God in my first post on this. But more to the point, the majority of the charges against God are not because of man's free will (I made comments on the charges yesterday).

How does man's free will solve the problem of disasters in creation? Of course, both the Arminian and the Calvinist acknowledge man sinned in Adam and the whole of creation was plunged under the curse of sin. Yet, the question in the lawsuit is really (1) Does God have a right to rule creation and the natural events like earthquakes and (2) Is God just when He curses creation and threatens punishment? More so when He actually punishes? Chambers actions seem to scoff at this notion of God. They mock is omniscience and omnipresence by using them to bring charges against the Almight.

The question needs to be: is God in control over creation? Or is creation in chaos to such a point that God restrains His action so that He had nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina, Tsunamis or Earthquakes (leaving aside for the bridge collapse because one could include human negligence in the equation)? The Bible teaches that God is in control of creation. It is not a rival power or under the power of Satan but under the hand of our Mighty God. Man's free will is irrelevant to the charge of: "Defendant directly or proximately has caused, inter alia, fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricans, terrifying tornados, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating drouths [sic],...birth defects and the like ["genocidal wars" was omitted by me]." Even if we appeal to the fall of man: (1) God still curses creation in Genesis 3, which He had created as good and (2) God still retains control over creation:

Psalm 147:8 8 He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills.
Psalm 147:15-18 15 He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. 16 He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. 17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? 18 He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
Read through Deuteronomy and the Prophets, or the story of Elijah, God sends punishement upon His people and the nations, often in the forms of droughts, plagues, pestilence, floods, earthquakes, etc. These things are hardly the free will of man and though they come in response to actions for which man is responsible. Let us be clear: man is accountable but God is still the active agent in sending these things. It is God sending these things against which Chambers seeks an injunction. The question is: does God have to answer for these things? Chambers in his frivilous suit says "Yes." As an agnostic, he believes we don't even know if there is a God who can answer for these things but then He makes a mockery of this very God he believes doesn't exist.

Appealing to man's free will does not answer the question and pushes it back: how free is man? Obviously, whether you are a Calvinist or an Arminian, man is not free from the resprisal of God against sin. The lawsuit asks for an injunction against this very thing. Furthermore, the Arminian perspective while acknowledging man's responsibility really creates a god who has willed himself to refrain from action. He sets aside the activity of his lordship so man can be lord of his own little life and rebel. Man's libertarian free will trumps the freedom of God to do and act in a manner that brings the glory to Himself alone. Lest we miss the point of the Bible, man is responsible for His actions because He does them in rebellion to God but at the very moment he thinks he is rebelling and 'sticking-it to the man' he is in fact fulfilling the plan of the high king who reigns from heaven. Man remains accountable because he commits the action but try as he might he does not flee from God's plan. Consider the following as an introduction:

Acts 2:22-23 22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know- 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Luke 22:22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!"
1 Peter 2:7-8 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," 8 and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
Isaiah 14:24-27 24 The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, "Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand, 25 to break Assyria in My land, and I will trample him on My mountains. Then his yoke will be removed from them and his burden removed from their shoulder. 26 "This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. 27 "For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?"
See also Isaiah 10; Genesis 50:20
Jesus responds in Luke 13 to a natural disaster (a tower falling) and a criminal act by Pilate and pleas with humanity to repent. His response is that these are indications of a final judgment:

Luke 13:1-9 1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." 6 And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, 'Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?' 8 And he answered him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"
You can find a manuscript of a sermon I recently preached on this passage here. Here is an excerpt of what I said:
Jesus tells us twice that unless we repent, we will likewise perish:
These people who perished were no more guilty of sin than each and everyone of us. Each and everyone of us have sinned just as much before and high and holy God who cannot tolerate evil and sin. The question is not: why did God let this happen? The question should be: WHY DIDN’T GOD LET THIS HAPPEN SOONER TO ME

Why is God merciful to me to allow me to live? GOD IS GOOD BUT GOD IS NOT OBLIGATED TO SHOW MERCY TO THOSE WHO HAVE SINNED AGAINST HIM. God’s highest goal is to glorify his own name, to display His own righteousness and holiness. The chief end of man is to glorify God; the chief end of God is to glorify Himself. God is the highest, most perfect, most excellent of all beings: He has every right to say: LOOK AT ME, SEE MY WONDER. This is not pride because of who God is… HE is LORD. A king has every right to acknowledge His Kingship and authority before His subjects...

The parable [of the vineyard] is designed to teach us that Israel was unrepentant and judgment was coming. The vineyard owner looked for fruit. He found none. He pronounced the sentence: Cut it down. The vinedresser asked for mercy, ‘Give it time,’ I will tend to it. If it does not bear fruit then cut it down. Judgment loomed over this tree, like judgment loomed over Israel, like judgment looms over us. We are all guilty, we have all rebelled and not bore the fruit of repentance.

Judgment is restrained for each one of us, but God’s hand is not restrained forever. One way or another judgment will come. You may die tomorrow, you may die in 100 years, you may never die because the LORD might return. This much is certain: you will face judgment and you will perish unless you repent. Unless you believe that the LORD Jesus Christ died on the Cross for sins and you believe upon Him as Savior and therefore receive this forgiveness you will perish...

Nothing happens unless God ordains it. He either directly causes it to happen: in the case of the environment or towers falling by the laws of gravity. Or God allows it to happen by His decree: He permits men to get the evil in their heart but intends their evil to be for His purpose.
The beauty of the gospel is that because of the work of Christ we can repent. All are commanded to repent. Christ has made a perfect sacrifice and is able to free us from the debt of sin. We do not in the gospel escape judgment but rather Christ bears that judgment for us so that we pass through is on the basis of our representative. He bears our sins and we recieve the verdict of perfect righteousness which He won for us. But we need to repent and acknowledge we have sinned and God rightly judges sin:

Psalm 51:4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Facts of the Case

I mentioned yesterday a lawsuit to sue God and its sad blasphemy against God. Here are the facts of the case based upon excerpts of the court documents that one can find here.
The case states:
"1 This actions seeks a permanent injunction ordering Defendant to cease certain harmful activities and the making of terroristic threats."

"3 Defendant (also known by various aliases, titles, names, designations) is present in all places at the same time ("Omnipresent"); is the admitted perpetrator of the deleterious acts complained herein."

"4 This Honorable Court has jurisdiction by virtue of the fact that Defendant, being Omnipresent, is personally present in Douglas County."
--I, on the basis of Scripture, beg to differ with "has jurisdiction."

Interestingly the factual basis for the action is that people speak for God as His representatives in Douglas County and "7 Defendant never publicaly has disovewd explicitly any said agents." {Actually He has if they are preaching a false gospel}.

"14 Plaintiff, despite reasonable efforts to effectuate personal service upon Defendant ("Come out, come out whereever you are") has been unable to do so." --Yes, folks God is at our beck and call because we are so high and mighty.

I mentioned yesterday that God's omnipresence implies omniscience. The case states:
"15. Plaintiff respectfully requests this Honorable Court to take judicial notice that Defendant, in addition to being Omnipresent, also is all-knowing ("Omniscient")."

According to #16 the plaintiff waves personal service of the Defendant. However then follows with #17 that since the Defendant is Omniscient, he has knowledge of this action "sufficient to satisfy all requirements of law regarding notice."

God is charged with 9 counts (#18-26):
1) Making terrorist threats.

2) God has directly and proximately cause a whole list of disasters listed in general terms (e.g. floods, earthquakes, etc.).

3) God has spoken these threats through "handpicked, trusted chroniclers..."

4) God has disseminated these threats to inspire fear "in order to coerce obedience to Defendant's will." --If we change "coerce" to "require" it would be more Biblical. God is so mean in "commanding" repentance [Acts 17:30-31] even though He overlooks our ignorance giving sufficient time to come to repentance. He does finally bring judgment the resurrection and the Noahic flood are evidence [2 Peter 3:3-9]. The argument is basically "Who does God think He is?" Err, umm, God.

5) God doesn't have compassion because he says he will "laugh" when calamity comes. [Yes, God does laugh (Psalm 2:4) at rebellion.] --So God deriding willful rebellion and even doing something about it is bad? Hmm, our own legal system is based on the concept that those in authority have the right to judge rebellion to the Law.

6) God continues to make terroristic threats.

7) God's ongoing terroristic threats are "credible, based on Defendant's past conduct and history." --Again you acknowledge the plan, purpose and power of God to make such a charge but you deny His right to power. What is the basis for that denial? When have we ever done anything like mighty acts in and over creation by say speaking?

8) Agents of God say God has informed us by direct personal communication and God has caused these things. [That is true if we limit communication to the Bible]

9) This action of God results in "pecuniary loss, fear, anxiety, terror, stress, uncertainty, depression, suicide, and the like."

The Plaintiff wants either a summary judgment or a later hearing. The plaintiff wants "a permanent injunction" from God doing the stuff He is charged with. The plaintiff also requests any further relief the judge might offer. Good luck getting the injunction:
Plaintiff: Stop doing that!
Judge: Yes, stop doing that!
Defendant: And who are you that you should instruct me?

The following are sad ironies that are the begginnings of a presuppositional apologetic against this case:

1) Much of the doctrine of God is right but if we believed it was right we would submit to God, repent and seek God's mercy. It takes a Biblical picture of God to make a case against God. There is one part of the Biblical picture left out: Man cannot challenge God's Lordship.

2) It is a logical fallacy to say that "This Honorable Court has jurisdiction by virtue of the fact that Defendant, being Omnipresent, is personally present in Douglas County." Why? Because presence does not neccessitate jurisdiction over. For example: a legal representative of another government could be present in Douglas County and not be under its jurisdiction due to diplomatic immunity. One has to be within the bounds of the said legal system to by under its jurisdiction, God is clearly not otherwise He would not be God. The acknowledgement of His Godhood [omnipresent and omniscience] is precisely why He is not under local jurisdiction.

3) God opposes the proud (often with the very acts described in the lawsuit) but gives grace to the humble. The lawsuit while blaming God smacks of the very arrogance and pride that God brings these acts against.

1 Samuel 2:2-10 2 "There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6 The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's, and on them he has set the world. 9 "He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed."

At the end of the day this is Christological as God carries this out through the annointed. He raises up the Annointed One and those who are united to the Annointed one through their submission to Him, repentance before Him and faith in Him.

4) Count 9: these acts of God only result in terror, stress, fear, etc. if we fail to trust God. It is our response to God that leads to most of the said problems. The exception is "pecuniary loss" but Jesus instructs us about that in Matthew 6:25-33.

5) There are many false representations of God but the plaintiff does not distinguish between them. Certainly a defendant cannot be blamed for misrepresentations perpetrated by third parties. The plaintiff should really pick a religion and prosecute that God. It is not a difficult case to make to show the differ views of God in various religions are competing and not complimentary. For example, God is either Trinitarian or He is not. In others words to prosecute 'God' is too big a target (and not in the metaphysical sense). There are men conceptions of god, either they are all false or one is true they cannot all be true. Pick one. If He picks Christianity, then this God is clearly not under the legal authority of a human government. The bottom line we don't know which 'god' is being called to answer the charges.

6) If the court has a legal right to make an injunction against God then by corrolarly the court should have a legal right to prosecute rebellion against God as well. Why? Because these is at the very least defamation of character. If the court rules that God was doing these things: then if it acknowledges His power and lordship. It acknowledge His government over things at the very moment it rejects the right of this government. So Mr. Chambers cannot have his cake and eat it too.

7) While God is personal, court case in the legal system are predicated upon the two parties being equal. That is why we have a "jury of peers." Mr. Chambers proclaims that God is not his equal (omnipresnt and omniscience), unless Mr. Chambers wants to claim he has the same qualities which then is easily falsifiable. The irony here is the actions of Mr. Chambers affirm Romans 1:

Romans 1:19-20 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
And:

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

8) Count 5 complains that God is not compassionate because God derides rebellion. On his own presuppositions this charge does not stand. Again to be completely consistent with God's omniscience and power (which the plaintiff acknowledges) you have to acknowledge that God does not always bring said calamities immediately upon the rebellious even when He promises to do so. Thus, you have evidence of compassion and patience in withholding judgment for a time. You cannot maintain God's power and omniscience over creation while at the same time arguing that God does not show compassion. The simple facts of the case is judgment is not immediate at all times. Given what the plaintiff says about God's attributes, the basis for the case, he must also deal with the facts of creation and history: judgement is rarely immediate. God's treatment of the foreign nations and the sins of Israel in the Old Testament testifies to this patience [Acts 17:30; Romans 3:25; Exodus 32-33; Deut.. 9-10; et al].

Here is the rub: if [a] God can do all things, He is omnipresent and omniscient and [b] we cannot do all things nor do we have omnispresence and omniscience, how can we stand against God and have jurisdiction over Him? The case admits we are not God's equal and then prosecutes itself like we are. How can the finite prosecute the infinite. As the Reformed Scholastics well knew: the finite cannot contain the infinite.

If God is all-knowing, and we are not, could there not be a reason for these things that God knows about and we do not? The prosecute God say "No" and thus denies by way of practice the omniscience of God.
Two Biblical Thoughts:
Romans 9:22-24 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory- 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
Romans 11:33 -36 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" 35 "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
The case says "God's knowledge is unsearchable" by way of being omni when ours is clearly not and then is proceeds to search out and hold God accountable. Blasphemy. Pride. Rebellion. The actions of making this case prove that Mr. Chambers should be weeping before God: mea culpa.

My final thought:

Isaiah 45:9 "Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?' or 'Your work has no handles'? 10 Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?' or to a woman, 'With what are you in labor?'" 11 Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: "Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Let's Sue God

Our justice system is a fickle thing at times. Now it can be used to take a stand against God and in counsel together seek to thwart Him who rules from Zion [Psalm 2:1-2,4]. According to this article, we can apparently all sue God now, or at least we can try. Thank you justice system. Listen to these excerpts:

LINCOLN, Neb. - The defendant in a state senator’s lawsuit is accused of causing untold death and horror and threatening to cause more still. He can be sued in Douglas County, the legislator claims, because He’s everywhere.

State Sen. Ernie Chambers sued God last week. Angered by another lawsuit he considers frivolous, Chambers says he’s trying to make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody.

Chambers says in his lawsuit that God has made terrorist threats against the senator and his constituents, inspired fear and caused “widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants.”

The Omaha senator, who skips morning prayers during the legislative session and often criticizes Christians, also says God has caused “fearsome floods ... horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes.”

He’s seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty.

Here's an interesting question: if God can be sued does that mean He is real? Most people who would probably want to sue Him, would want to argue He doesn't exist anyways. Granted there are a few people who believe He is real but hate Him. I would venture a guess that most people who hate God with such a deep viceral hatred in the same breadth deny He is real. I don't hate Santa Claus because He didn't do what I wanted when I wanted. Why? Because He is not real. Here is the irony of unbelief which shows it to be self-defeating. If pressed home, most would probably clarify that they hate the idea of God that those silly Christians construct because they are weak and fearful. Yet, it is not the idea that they hate for very rarely do ideas garner such vehement anger directed at them in such a personal fashion.

In short, if you sue Him you are acknowledging He is real and that He is sovereign in human or natural events for which you are blaming Him. But then, if He is real and if He is sovereign, a reality your actions are predicated upon, then your actions are the actual actions of injustice. If He is real then you owe all worship to Him (or He is not really God). If you owe all worship to Him, you have no basis for standing before Him and saying "UNJUST." You also assume justice is some standard outside of both yourself and God which you can appeal to. Justice is something, however rooted in the character of God.

The deeper irony is that this suit is filed over a miscarriage of human justice:

Chambers said the lawsuit was triggered by a federal suit filed against a judge who recently barred words such as “rape” and “victim” from a sexual assault trial.

The accuser in the criminal case, Tory Bowen, sued Lancaster District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront, claiming that he violated her free speech rights.

Chambers said Bowen’s lawsuit is inappropriate because the Nebraska Supreme Court has already considered the case and federal courts follow the decisions of state supreme courts on state matters.

So let's review: God is guilty of causing death, horror and threatening evil. Why? Because a human judge barred the words such as rape and victim and a countersuit did not hold up in court. So now human injustice, which God will punish as the judge of the living and the dead, is God's fault but when He promises to rectify things it is "terroristic threats." So we damn God when He does do something and we damn God when He doesn't do something. And let's be frank: we are condemning, literally damning, God with our petty legal system. There is a miscarriage of justice. These are of course serious issues:
“This lawsuit having been filed and being of such questionable merit creates a circumstance where my lawsuit is appropriately filed,” Chambers said. “People might call it frivolous but if they read it they’ll see there are very serious issues I have raised.”
In fairness, Chambers is most likely seeking to make a political or legal statement and not a theological one. However, these actions have reverberating consequences that are far reaching. All our actions and activity are ulitmately theological because we conduct ourselves coram Deo, as the lawsuit states. Furthermore, filing this lawsuit evidences the sin in the human heart with such an attitude that our justice can call into question God's justice.

Justice is established by God and rooted in His character. He has established governments to inforce the Law (Rom. 13:1-7). Of course, humans sin but God will one day judge all things and set things right. The gospel with the death and resurection of Christ is proof positive. It shows us two things: [1] God does not sweep things under the rug and let justice be miscarried forever (Acts 17:31); and [2] God's justice is not a 'might makes right' but is rooted in His holiness, which He must maintain if He will forgive sin (Romans 3:25). In fact, our very longing for justice, particularly in the face of a miscarriage by the powers-that-be, is evidence that we are made in His image.

A Biblical worldview is the only position here that will not be self defeating. God is sovereign over all things. He has according to Isaiah ordained the ends from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). He ordains the rise and fall of nations. He uses sinners to prosecute justice (Isaiah 10:5-6). YET, while he uses these means, He does not excuse responsibility (Isaiah 10:7). Human beings desire to evil and rebell against God.

God is so sovereign that these things are part of His ordaining plan. Yet at the very moment man intends these things to rebel against God's sovereignty and Lordship, God intends them to be used in the end for good (Gen. 50:20). God does not excuse human actions of evil and even allows men to do exactly what they want in their wickedness but His plan is more than a mop up job after man messed it up.

We quickly think: "How unfair, I should sue God for a sovereign plan that permissively decrees evil." YET this is where we must turn to the cross of Christ. God has ordained the most horrendous evil to come against His own self, in the person of the Son. Why? This is far from divine child abuse, as the Father, Son and Spirit are willing partners in this plan. "But God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us," (1 John 3:16a). 1 John 4:10 "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." This plan brings the most glory to God when I realize He is in no way obligated to save any. Nevertheless God carries out His plan and fully intends from the beginning to use our wickedness without excusing our wickedness so that there is mercy and grace but never a miscarriage of justice:
Acts 2:22-24 22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know- 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Acts 4:27-28 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Acts 13:27-29 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb
God's determining plan does not excuse human responsibility:
Luke 22:22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!"
1 Peter 2:7-8 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," 8 and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
The height of rebellion is to point our finger to a most just and holy God and cry "INJUSTICE!"

All things happen according to the plan and purpose of God. Lest we think this is 'unfair' if it was not for this plan and purpose (1) we would not have been created and (2) even if He did create, He would not do anything but rightly and justly condemn us after our sin. There is no redemption whatsoever apart from God's good purpose to glorify Himself. For example, Ephesians 1 rings with the refrain "according to His purpose," lest we forget whose good and perfect plan accomplishes our salvation: God's will not man's [John 1:12-13].

Most importantly: a Biblical worldview rejects not only that God has done something wrong but also that we have a right to call this into question in a court of law. The Senator may be trying to "make the point that anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody," this is precisely what the Bible rejects with respect to our approaching the throne of God. We cannot take God to court as equals precisely because we are not equals.

Here is the question: even if we could legally 'sue God' would you want do it? Do you really want to stand before the judge of the living and dead who is infinetely majestic and holy and say: "You got it wrong"? Even Job who did not sin and rebuke God is still guilty of failing to justify God. God's harsh rebuke to Job is basically: if your so smart you explain this...
Job 38:1-5 1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. 4 "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements- surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? {this questioning continues for 4 chapters.}

Job 40:1-5 1 And the LORD said to Job: 2 "Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it." 3 Then Job answered the LORD and said: 4 "Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further."
Look at the outcome:

Job 42:1-5 1 Then Job answered the LORD and said: 2 "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 'Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.' 5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
We must come before God as the learner not as the judge, jury or even the plaintiff. In the story of Job, Elihu's analysis of the situation is spot on. Job's problem is that he justified Himself (Job 32:2).

Job 34:5 For Job has said, 'I am in the right, and God has taken away my right; 6 in spite of my right I am counted a liar; my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.'
Instead, we are to justify God and acknowledging that all the things God does are right. He is sovereign over all things in life and His purpose will stand. The plan which He had ordained for all things before the foundation of the world will be carried forth without fail. Human rebellion does not thwart God's plan, humans rebel out their own responsibility yet not outside of the plan and purpose of God. In the same way, creation moans and growns for its redemption (Romans 8:19-22) but not outside of God's Lordship over it (Psalm 104:10-30; 107:23-32; 135:6-7; 147:15-18; Jer. 10:12-13). Even Satan is kept on a tight leash, so that even what he does in rebellion is not outside of God's plan but brings it to fulfillment (Job 1-2). Thus, as we have stated, God does all things right, period. Those who would "sue" God ought to think very carefully about the following:
Job 34:10-30 10 "Therefore, hear me, you men of understanding: far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong. 11 For according to the work of a man he will repay him, and according to his ways he will make it befall him. 12 Of a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. 13 Who gave him charge over the earth, and who laid on him the whole world? 14 If he should set his heart to it and gather to himself his spirit and his breath, 15 all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust. 16 "If you have understanding, hear this; listen to what I say. 17 Shall one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty, 18 who says to a king, 'Worthless one,' and to nobles, 'Wicked man,' 19 who shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor, for they are all the work of his hands? 20 In a moment they die; at midnight the people are shaken and pass away, and the mighty are taken away by no human hand. 21 "For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps. 22 There is no gloom or deep darkness where evildoers may hide themselves. 23 For God has no need to consider a man further, that he should go before God in judgment. 24 He shatters the mighty without investigation and sets others in their place. 25 Thus, knowing their works, he overturns them in the night, and they are crushed. 26 He strikes them for their wickedness in a place for all to see, 27 because they turned aside from following him and had no regard for any of his ways, 28 so that they caused the cry of the poor to come to him, and he heard the cry of the afflicted- 29 When he is quiet, who can condemn? When he hides his face, who can behold him, whether it be a nation or a man?- 30 that a godless man should not reign, that he should not ensnare the people.
We have not charge to bring against God because even while we retain the image of God, we are sinful and our sense of justice is perverted. We are not God's equal both in being and in holiness. The criminal does not instruct the judge in the letter of the Law. It is interesting that God does not need to investigate things because He knows the works of man. After all, the grounds for the claim that one can sue God is that He is omnipresent (as the article pointed out: "He can be sued...because He’s everywhere"). Since this action seeks to hold God culpable, the unstated premise in the article is that since He is everywhere, He also knows all that is going on and is responsible. The very act of trying to sue God affirms God's sovereignty. The Bible defends such sovereignty, even that God ordains all things either actively or permissively. Furthermore, God does bring justice based because of His person and character. We have no grounds to charge God precisely because of His Lordship and His holiness. On this, the judge in the case, seems to get one thing right, although we do not know if he get it right for the right reasons:

U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf, in an order last week, expressed doubts about whether Bowen’s lawsuit “has any legal basis whatsoever” and said sanctions may be imposed against Bowen and her attorneys if they fail to show cause for the lawsuit.

Not just in the American court, but in the higher law court there is "no legal basis whatsoever." The point of Job is that lawsuits against God, what Job cries for: a chance to prove his case (Job 24:3-7), do not have a legal basis because of the holy character of God who exercises His soveriegnty based upon and without violation of His holiness. Sanctions are (or will be) impossed upon those who bring a lawsuit against God--sanctions not from a human authority. All lawsuits against God will fail to show cause as they come before a most holy most majesty Almighty One.

There is one big difference between the lawsuit in this article and Job: in contrast to Job 1:22, this attempt to sue God does blame God. This desire to sue God is nothing more than man's desire to be equal with God both in power and authority. Actually, it is the desire to be over God in our power and authority. We want to be God and we want God to not be. Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Evidently we think we can. We 'open our mouths emptily, and muliply words without knowledge' [Job 35:16]. May we be rebuked for our insolence. What's more, may we turn and repent before the one who is justified when He judges.

ADDENDUM: I found the legal documents of the lawsuit here.
I make comments of the case document here.
"The Voyages..." Forays into Biblical studies, Biblical exegesis, theology, exposition, life, and occasionally some Star Trek...