Sunday, April 29, 2012

Personal Views on Smoking

Many godly people such as C.S. Lewis and C.H. Spurgeon have smoked tobacco. Some of the brothers and sisters in an effort to avoid adding extra moral codes to the Bible have wisely stated that smoking is not prohibited in Scripture. Smoking has a particular stigma to it that other unhealthy habits do not have. Re-enforcing this stigma is not wise for the church since such a practice focuses on an extra-biblical moral code. Such a focus can cause the would be hearers of the gospel to mistake moralism as the message of the Gospel. This has been a tragedy in the church in America. It is true that our freedom in Christ gives us freedom to do as we think best and according to godly decision making processes. God stated that in regard to keeping his Law we are not to add to it. "Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. (Deu 12:32 ESV) It is also true that the morality of smoking is not directly addressed in the Scripture. Smoking is an unwise practice due to its damage to one's health though historically the church has often condemned smoking for reasons not related to the scientific evidence that shows smoking to be damaging to one's health. The long term health effects of smoking breaks the Sixth Commandment regarding the prohibition against murder though arguably not as heinous as taking a life in an immediate sense. Ending one's own life is against the Sixth Commandment. Smoking one cigarette has a negligible impact on the health of the person; it is the habitual use of tobacco that destroys the health of the smoker. Habits of neglecting exercises or sound diet can also break the Sixth Commandment. Smokers often smoke to cope with the stresses of life. It can be a mild form of self treatment that has damaging effects. Smoking also is awfully difficult addiction to break. The church has a mandate to love and care for those who are the image bearers of God. Freedom from addiction is always desirable. Helping smokers to quit is a noble act of service and love. I do not smoke. I discourage everyone from smoking. I would not disqualify anyone from church office based on a habit of smoking. “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 1 Cor 10:23 (ESV)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Struggling with Assurance

This post is in response to my friend's post Wrestling with Edwards | Jollyblogger.

As I understand it, the modernist thinking that facts are good and value judgment are bad is not Scriptural. The commandment to love the Lord is that we should have a certain value judgment. Of course I could point out that facts stated as good is a value judgment. There is no salvation in finding an objective fact. It is the truth of the gospel that saves us, even if we have poor epistemology. No one was ever saved by knowing anything, they are only saved by the one who came and died for us. Salvation comes from Christ. He is our only hope, whether or not we can deny numb, press down, circumvent or otherwise work around our feelings. Feelings can cloud our vision so that we do not see the true circumstances, but so can facts. Many look at the simplicity of the gospel and underestimate the need to have true faith. I know my Grandfather expressed remorse in his later days that he did not take the gospel more seriously through out his life. He placed his faith in Christ, but his affections were on other things.

Affections are nothing but love. If we do not love God then we probably don't know him. It is the Christian's life long journey to study love and study what our heart is set on. If we love something else, it is idolatry.

I would resist making a false dichotomy of facts versus feeling, since mature healthy feelings are emotional responses to the facts. I want to make an analogy from my eye sight. My physical eyes do not see right all the time. If I am tired they blur. Normally I need glasses but fatigue even worsens my sight so that glasses to not help. For many their emotional capacities to respond to life have been hindered by overwhelming pain that drowns out all normal responses. Others may have physical ailments that contribute to or cause emotions to focus on sadness. But if we are overwhelmed by our state, it is true, we must look to Christ and him alone. Looking to our capacity to trust only can cause us to say, "Lord, help thou my unbelief." Though my eyes be faulty, I constantly use them and make my way through life with them. My feelings may have some sort of fault, but they are not to be disregarded.

"that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ," (Col 2:2 ESV)

This is one of the few times assurance is discussed in Scripture explicitly. As it does so, it points us to Christ.

My Hope is Built

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

2. When Darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.

3. His oath, his covenant, his blood
supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.

4. When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found!
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

For my friend David

This is a song that has meant a lot to me. I'm really glad he talks about people who seem to have overwhelming problems. Some days feel like that to me. I used to look for strength of a hero. I wanted to be strong like Samson who could defeat all my enemies. I have learned that I want a hero like Jesus who through his weakness defeated death, hell and the grave.