The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There's not a whole lot! I mean, on the one hand we could say the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. That's certainly a joyous occasion (as well as Good Friday, where He paid the penalty for our sins).
But neither of those could have happened unless he did the truly remarkable thing of becoming one of us; or, as John records it: "the Word became flesh" (Jn. 1:14).
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
The book of Acts then goes on to show how God used these men and others to do just that - be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. That is how the work of the Great Commission began.
But I think it's important to understand that this was just the beginning of the Great Commission and the work of discipling all nations. This whole thing of 11 guys going out into the world as ambassadors for Christ was a unique phenomenon. Certainly God is still calling missionaries (yes, God calls missionaries - Acts 13:2-3) to be His ambassadors in actively going into the remote parts of the world in order to make entire cultures and nations His disciples. Yet it seems to me that from Scripture, overt active evangelizing, while important, is not the main avenue of discipling the nations. It seems rather that the normal course in which God will continue to expand His Great Commission work is first and foremost in the home.
What I'm saying is that discipleship starts in the home, continues in the church, expands into the community, and from there goes out into all nations. Here is why I say that.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that Christ's resurrection is so powerful that He not only was Himself raised from the dead, but that He uses this same power to bring forth from the dead all whom He chooses, and that this same power is constantly at work within us who call upon Him as Lord.
Book Review: How Firm a Foundation?: An Exegetical and Historical Critique of the "Ethical Perspective of [Christian] Reconstructionism" Presented in Theonomy in Christian Ethics
If anyone has studied just a little on the subject of theonomy (the school of thought whose most controversial tenant is to follow consistently the Westminster Confession of faith and actually apply the teaching that the general equity of the judicial laws of Moses ought to be our standard and guide for civil government today - see Westminster Confession of Faith XIX.IV), then he or she would know that the the exegetical grounds of theonomy can be established from a various number of passages in Scripture - many in the New Testament (Rom. 3:31, 7:12; Gal. 5:14; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 2:2; Jas. 1:25, 2:8-12).
However, I have a many concerns regarding this book's true value in unifying the church with fresh and faithful insights into the Word of God.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers...
However, I do not believe that the judgment for teaching false doctrines is what James is himself concerned about in this passage.
Written in the mid nineteenth century, the style was noticeably different from modern expositors. It was engaging; but you really have to be paying attention the entire time (i.e. this book is not one of those you can read with a toddler running around being all cute and cuddly and handing you things - you'll need to be in your study, alone).
Now there's nothing scientific about this next statement (that is, I haven't conducted official research), but it seems to me that many Christians are under the impression that the mission of the church is merely the conversion of souls (to evangelize). But that is cutting short drastic responsibilities given to the church.
True the church, as a body, is called to evangelize. But the task Christ gave His apostles is far more encompassing:
"He is not here, for he has risen..."
He was given a charge from His Father; and as the perfect Son He obeyed it completely both to lay down His life and also take it back up again (Jn. 10:17-18). This He did, so that He would lose nothing that the Father has given Him (Jn. 6:39) and that all those who look on the Son and believe in Him should have eternal life (Jn. 6:40).
Praise God that "He is not here [in the tomb], for he has risen..." (Mt. 28:6)! He has risen indeed!
And I assure you, it's not my intent to go around nitpicking at the errors (or perceived errors from my perspective) of other Christians - especially of Christian men who are such wonderful leaders, deserving of our utmost respect (1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:7, 17)!
At the same time though, when they so blatantly - all in one accord - give such a dogmatic answer that is built on such shaky ground, I don't know what else to do than to address it.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
The problem is compounded in that there are so many things in which men can and do fail. For a preliminary list, here are a few (just a few) things in which men can and do fail - all the time - but for which we have clear direction from God.
Among those four views, with the exception of one (which will be explained later), they are all saying the same thing - the law of God is to be the very foundation from which all our modern laws are to be derived.
Of the two titles below, which do you think would be more likely to lead your children away from the Christian faith? Which would be more likely lead you away from the Christian faith?(1)
Obviously the answer might be very different depending on where you (or your children) are in the Christian walk already. And it would also depend on each individual's own areas of particular temptations.
But one thing I do think we ought to be cognizant of is that neither one of these is done with the specific purpose of building us up in the faith. And both of them need to be evaluated with scrutiny through a Biblical lens - for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14-15).
Of all the wicked heresies and threatening movements facing the church in our day, when Westminster Seminary finally organized their faculty to write something in unison, they gave their determined political efforts: not to fight socialism, not to fight homosexuality, not abortion, not crime and mayhem in our society, not subjectivism in theology, not dispensationalism, not cultural relativism, not licentiousness, not defection from the New Testament, not defection from the Westminster Confession of Faith, all of which are out there, and they could give their legitimate efforts to. Boy the thing they had to write about - was Theonomy!
The Emperor Has No Clothes...still!
In 1973, Greg Bahnsen graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia, PA) with two Master’s degrees (M. Div, Th.M.). His thesis, approved by the overseeing faculty, was “The Theonomic Responsibility of the Civil Magistrate,” in which he set out to establish the theological premise that unless otherwise indicated by further revelation from God Himself, God’s law, including the civil penal sanctions, has moral abiding validity. From the encouragement of his professor John Frame, he reworked this thesis so that it could be published as a book. In 1977 it was published as Theonomy in Christian Ethics. You can see my review for that work here.
In 1990 a book titled Theonomy: A Reformed Critique was published as a joint venture from the faculties at both Westminster Theological Seminaries (Philadelphia, PA and Escondido, CA) to establish a “Reformed answer” to Greg Bahnsen’s work (it took 17 years - from the date of his thesis - to formulate a “response”). In 1991, Bahnsen himself responded to their “critique” with this book, No Other Standard.
If you’ve ever wondered if there were any gaping holes in the Theonomic perspective of theology, this book will settle the matter. In his normal fashion, Bahnsen applies the doctrines of Scripture with rigorous logical skill to show that God’s Word must be our standard in all matters of life - including politics and socio-political ethics.
While I was not greatly impressed with a previous "Counterpoint Series" book I read (Five Views on Apologetics), this book was a great surprise and a welcomed read.
While there are "five" views, there are basically only two main viewpoints:
The presentations were laid out as follows:
Non-Theonomic Reformed View - William A. VanGemeren
Theonomic Reformed View - Greg L. Bahnsen
Evangelical View - Walter C. Kaiser Jr.
Dispensationalist View - Wayne G. Strickland
Modified Lutheran View - Douglas J. Moo
Overall, every writer was very considerate and kind to the other writers, yet appropriately critical in an academic context while evaluating their differing views. With that being the case, the reader will learn a lot about how different perspectives of the Law and Gospel are understood within the large umbrella of orthodox Protestant Christianity.