Showing posts with label The Fall. Show all posts

The Problem with Christ's Humility

09 November 2011 by Brad Williams

We are a cursed people. The stench of death hangs upon this world. It stalks us all. It lurks, like a specter, in the back of our minds from the time we become aware that we are persons to the time we breathe our last. It casts a shadow over all we do. Everything here rots. Everything here dies. Everything here turns to dust.

Nature itself feels the weight of death's oppression. The creation sighs, and it does not willingly suffer the sons of men to trample her underfoot. The earth longs for restoration, for the wicked to be put down, for death to crushed underfoot. If creation were not bidden by her Master to hold us up, she would gladly cast us off and be rid of our cursed ilk. The sons of men are cruel stewards.

Man is cursed to separation. He is separated from his God, and he is separated from the creation he was made to tend. He spends his life in fear of dying, wondering if there is something beyond this world of thorns and thistles. He sees the withering flower that dies and leaves no trace, he sees the oak tumble and burn, he watches his crops die for lack of rain, he hears his babies cry with hunger, he sees time etch her marks on his skin, and he knows he is headed for his doom. All of this, whether he knows it or not, is just recompense for his own wickedness.

It is a testament to the horror of sin and the depth of man's cursedness that the heinous thing we call death, the blight that permeates the world, is a mercy. Death is a mercy, though she is cloaked in terrible garments. For the Lord God said upon man's fall, "Behold, the man has become like on of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and live forever..." (Gen. 3:22). God drove the man out of paradise and into the clutches of death in order to save him from a fate worse than dying, a fate worse than a thousand generations of cancer, murder, rape, starvation, and war. A fate worse than a stillborn upon the lap of an inconsolable mother.

This brings us to the greatest shame of the sons of men and the source of our greatest misery. We are blinded to glory and goodness. We are utterly unable to see holiness. For if we could see glory, and if we knew holiness, we would never have to wonder if death were a mercy, whether our suffering is just, and how it could be that starving is preferable to God's displeasure.

Man is a cursed brute, and the world is full of his stench. No one knows this like a man who has been set free by that alien thing called grace, who has caught the scent of heaven, who has seen the glory of eternity, and who has been enveloped by the love of God that invades this wretched place. Only this kind of man, a man freed from the misery of sin, can see that God must kill us to save us, and that all our sufferings here, all of our miseries, are nothing in comparison to knowing the glory of God in the risen King, Jesus Christ. The cursed world thinks this man is insane, thus adding to the misery and the longing for the sons of God to be revealed.

Someone knows this for sure

20 July 2011 by Neil

Q. 29. What are the punishments of sin in the world to come?
A. The punishments of sin in the world to come, are everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torments in soul and body, without intermission, in hellfire forever.

This debate will come to order.

Regarding rules and style for this face-to-face encounter, we will be complying with the Canadian National Debate Format. The resolution before us today is “The punishments of sin in the world to come, are everlasting separation from the comfortable presence of God, and most grievous torments in soul and body, without intermission, in hellfire forever.

Representing the Proposition are its First Speaker, Jesus the Messiah and its Second
Speaker, the Holy Spirit of God.

Representing the Opposition are Annihilationist, Universalist, and Hell-on-Earthist.

The House sincerely welcomes all participants and spectators.

Each team will deliver a brief, constructive speech. After each speech, I will call upon the next team. Heckling is prohibited, and there will be no Points of Order or Privilege. Are there any questions regarding the rules? No? Okay, here we go.

I now call upon the First and Second Speakers to introduce the Proposition case.

And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell,to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. --- Mark 9:43-48

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”... And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. -- Matthew 25:41, 46

And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshippers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name. --- Revelation 14:11

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. --- John 3:36

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might --- 2 Thessalonians 1:9

I thank the members for their remarks. We shall now hear the first speaker for the Opposition. Who would like to be the first to constructively challenge the representatives of the Proposition?














Anyone?



Buehler?


Being like this

15 July 2011 by Frank Turk

Q. 28. What are the punishments of sin in this world?

A. The punishments of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections; or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes, and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments; together with death itself.


Can I admit something here? This is my favorite topic in the whole catechism.  Well, "favorite" is a weird word for this, I admit it.  Besides the Gospel and Jesus and the Church and so on, this is my favorite topic in the catechism to talk about with unbelievers because it's a place where they have no place to hide, and frankly neither do we.

Look: this is the topic that proves out a lot of things about the way things work in this world. The Gospel doesn't prove out how things work -- the Gospel is sort of in spite of how things work. You can't expect or explain the Gospel except with a real God who is personal and intentional and loving.

But this topic here -- this is the question which every non-Christian and every Christian comes back to almost daily: why does it have to be this way?

Yeah, us Calvinists: we have to frame it as a systematic question with all the categories squared up like a set of box-cut corners. But anyone you meet has this question practically on the tip of their tongue: why does it have to be this way?

That is: Why did Leiby Kletzky have to die on his first day walking home from day camp - the first time his mother let him walk on the streets of NYC by himself? I mean: he was 8. And he was cut to pieces by a man who didn't even know him, didn't even want anything from him, didn't even mean harm to him at first (or so it seems).

Why does a 15-year-old-girl get murdered on vacation with her family?

This is the foundational question of everyone who isn't a sociopath, who isn't living in an emotional or relational box: why does this stuff happen? Where is God, Gospel person: where is God in a world where every manner of evil, from the mocking of children to the murder of thousands, is allowed to happen?

Listen to me carefully, dear reader: it is not merely allowed to happen. It happens for two reasons, which is to say two intentional purposes.

The first is because people are under a punishment from God. I know it's not popular to say it. I know it makes Francis Chan uneasy to come to grips with the fearsomeness of God's justice. I know you personally probably didn't tune in today to get a dose of the old-time religion, but facts are facts: the only foundational explanation for the evil in this world is rooted deep in the fallenness of this world as human-kind's punishment for sin.

And it's right, by the way, to hang that on Adam in one sense, but you have read the book of Romans, I am sure: we have this punishment on us because we are just like him. Whether we have the law in a book or in our conscience, we are the ones who do evil things -- so the world we live in is full of the evil we do.

It is what comes out of a person which defiles that person, and the curse just wells up from inside us. So the first reason the world is like it is is because we are under God's punishment for being like this.

But the second reason is less theoretical and more practical: the world is this way because we like it this way. This is a terrifying thought -- and it may never have occurred to you. I can beat you up with another part of Romans to prove it out to you, but why go that far? This is something nobody needs to be tricked or educated into believing.

Just think about the last time you did something you know was wrong -- and don't give me that laughable platitude that you never really do anything wrong. Really? Never angry and rash, never jealous or envious, never disobedient or false in any way? I don't believe it, and you know you don't believe it -- so let's cut past that lie (see: not even out of the gate, and you're lying) to the point.

When you did that thing you know is wrong, did you want to? I mean: didn't it seem right and proper and maybe just and pleasing to you? You wanted to do what you did. That is: that's the kind of place you wanted to make the world right then.

So believe it: complaining about this world and its state when this is how you want it to be is more than a little despicable. It's a lot more than that.

Sizing one's self up

14 July 2011 by Frank Turk

There is an obvious comparison when we consider the relationship between sin and punishment. Those who choose not to continue knowing God -- which is the only way to get real wisdom -- Paul says that God gives them a perverted mind which therefore chooses nothing at all which is right.

So when Paul says "they chose not," it is the same as saying that not only did they not do what they ought to have done (seek to know God), but they have determined actually not to know God, to quit God if such a thing is possible. And it is this choice, says Paul, that begins all manner of vain choices -- "vain" in the sense of self-exalting, self-exaggerating, rather than sizing one's self up against God, who is much greater -- and therefore sinful or self-serving (rather than God-serving) choices.

And because they want to turn from God, they want to turn from what is right.

So Paul, rather than leave it to the imagination by saying "all kinds of abominable things," instead gives us a list of the things men do to this end. This is not a common practice -- to make sure the reader would know exactly what he was talking about. Because though every fault isn't found in every person, everyone is guilt of these kinds of things, and we should know it -- because each of us are guilty of some of it, we are all guilty of all of it.

And note: Paul says these things are not right, meaning not only are they against God's judgment, but they are also against our own good judgment, and a bad idea just from the perspective of our common obligations to each other. This is the evidence of how badly our minds are bent, he says, that we are not just attracted to these violations of God's law, but that we are addicted to them. If we had any common sense we'd renounce them, but we never think about that.

Paul's wasn't trying to puzzle these vices together, as if they were dependent on each other. He simply made a list of them. But what each of them points to is this: Because we have given up the God in God, we have also given up on the image of God in man, and are resigned to all manner of vices.

- John Calvin, Commentary on Romans, 1:27-30

What we Don't Know

13 July 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 28. What are the punishments of sin in this world?


A. The punishments of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections; or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes, and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments; together with death itself.

What punishments are there in this world? Of all the pain and sorrow that is our lot, perhaps our greatest misery is ignorance, or therein lies the source of all our sorrows and all our miseries.

When a father holds his lifeless son, the pain he feels comes from ignorance. He cannot know why his son has died, he may not know where his son has gone, and so he writhes in the agony of ignorance. There is tremendous agony in the why, the where, and the what for.

It is felt when the lover is abandoned by the beloved; it is felt in the fear of disease. We feel it in the hour of commitment. We worry our plans will fail, or our partner will betray us, or that the economy will crumble. The farmer feels it when he plants his crop, the policeman when he goes on patrol, and the soldier as he faces battle.

Is ignorance really the greatest punishment of all? It is indeed. Our folly is all rooted in one great ignorance, and it is truly the greatest rebuke and sorrow that God could give: He has with held from us Himself. This is our curse and the source of all of our troubles, that we are fallen from God, that he has withdrawn himself from us and left us to wallow in our ignorance of his glory.

And herein lies the greatest hope for the grieving father, the nervous soldier, and the hard-working farmer: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

Already and Not Yet: Part 1

12 July 2011 by Daniel

Q. 28. What are the punishments of sin in this world?

A. The punishments of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections; or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes, and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments; together with death itself.

The Westminster "Divines" asked the question this way because they wanted to identify (and explain) the persisting consequences of the fall in our everyday lives as contrasted against the consequences of sin that persist beyond this present life.

When God breathed life into that body he had just formed for Adam, Adam became a living soul who was dependant upon God for the sustaining of the life that had just been breathed into him.

When Adam sinned, God did not take this breath of life away from Adam, even though that was what God had promised He would do should Adam rebel against the command. Yet when Adam did usurp God's reign in his life, God did not immediately execute the promised condemnation that God had obligated Himself to perform. This has led some to imagine that God had relented of the original judgment, and instead merely banished Adam and Eve. But that isn't what happened. God did not set aside the condemantion He promised Adam, rather He postponed it, setting a day on which that judgment would fall - Judgment Day. The reason God postponed this judgment was because He, in His mercy, determined to save a remnant of Adam's race whom He had elected beforehand for this act of grace. Adam did not drop dead the moment he sinned because God was extending mercy to generations who had not yet been born; thus the judgment was postponed; nevertheless Adam became "dead" in his trespasses/sins the very moment he rebelled against God's rule.



Even though God's judgment against sin awaits the coming Day of Judgment, Adam's sin was not without consequence in the present world. Above all else, mankind lost the privilege of having direct access to God. Access to God, from the moment Adam fell has been (and presently is) mediated through Christ. No person has access to God through any other means. This was a veiled truth in the Old Testament, but now it has been revealed in Christ.

Given that Christ was (and is) the only gate through which a person has access to God, every person who is born into this fallen world is born blind, ignorant, and dead in their trespasses. This spiritual stillbirth is the primary consequence out from which flows almost every other sinful effect in the world; but there is more. God cursed all creation on account of sin, so that we are not only born spiritually bankrupt, but we are born into a world that cannot sustain us indefinitely, we grow old, we die, we get sick, we toil for limited resources, and having been left to ourselves, we define the purpose of our existence as nothing better than continuing to exist at all costs. Adam's rebellion left mankind dead in sin, and corrupt in body. We have inherited both the curse of Adam (separation from God), and the cursing of creation. The curse against us personally is removed when we come to Christ, but the world, and the things in it will remain cursed until Christ returns as our Judge on the Day of Judgment. Until then Sin has left us in sickness and poverty with death and with suffering, even after-and-if we have been reconciled to God through Christ.

No Mark on our Faces. Yet.

11 July 2011 by Matt Gumm

Q. 28. What are the punishments of sin in this world?

A. The punishments of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections; or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes, and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments; together with death itself.

There's a billboard here along the highway which has an anti-meth advertisement. It shows the meth addict's mouth in a before-and-after fashion, demonstrating the destruction that takes place over time from the drug. (Something similar can be found here.) I have to admit, it is an extremely effective illustration of the external effects of sin.

It's easy to focus solely on externals, however. In fact, as human beings, we are prone to do it by our very nature (1 Sam. 16:7). So I love the reminder here that not all of the effects of sin are external, or as easily perceived as the illustration above.

Some of the worst sins don't leave obvious outward evidence. Like the portrait of Dorian Gray, there's no mark on our faces, and our appearance seems unchanged. Meanwhile, our sins are having their effect, though hidden from plain sight.

But even the punishments and consequences of sin in this world can act as God's grace to us. Like nerve endings telling us the stove is hot, they point to the reality that something is broken. By them, we can know something is wrong, so that when the right comes, we might be ready to hear it.

Blinded to goodness

29 June 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

Q. 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
A. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.

Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
A. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.

We are a cursed people. The stench of death hangs upon this world. It stalks us all. It lurks, like a specter, in the back of our minds from the time we become aware that we are persons to the time we breathe our last. It casts a shadow over all we do. Everything here rots. Everything here dies. Everything here turns to dust.

Nature itself feels the weight of death's oppression. The creation sighs, and it does not willingly suffer the sons of men to trample her underfoot. The earth longs for restoration, for the wicked to be put down, for death to crushed underfoot. If creation were not bidden by her Master to hold us up, she would gladly cast us off and be rid of our cursed ilk. The sons of men are cruel stewards.

Man is cursed to separation. He is separated from his God, and he is separated from the creation he was made to tend. He spends his life in fear of dying, wondering if there is something beyond this world of thorns and thistles. He sees the withering flower that dies and leaves no trace, he sees the oak tumble and burn, he watches his crops die for lack of rain, he hears his babies cry with hunger, he sees time etch her marks on his skin, and he knows he is headed for his doom. All of this, whether he knows it or not, is just recompense for his own wickedness.

It is a testament to the horror of sin and the depth of man's cursedness that the heinous thing we call death, the blight that permeates the world, is a mercy. Death is a mercy, though she is cloaked in terrible garments. For the Lord God said upon man's fall, "Behold, the man has become like on of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and live forever..." (Gen. 3:22). God drove the man out of paradise and into the clutches of death in order to save him from a fate worse than dying, a fate worse than a thousand generations of cancer, murder, rape, starvation, and war. A fate worse than a stillborn upon the lap of an inconsolable mother.

This brings us to the greatest shame of the sons of men and the source of our greatest misery. We are blinded to glory and goodness. We are utterly unable to see holiness. For if we could see glory, and if we knew holiness, we would never have to wonder if death were a mercy, whether our suffering is just, and how it could be that starving is preferable to God's displeasure.

Man is a cursed brute, and the world is full of his stench. No one knows this like a man who has been set free by that alien thing called grace, who has caught the scent of heaven, who has seen the glory of eternity, and who has been enveloped by the love of God that invades this wretched place. Only this kind of man, a man freed from the misery of sin, can see that God must kill us to save us, and that all our sufferings here, all of our miseries, are nothing in comparison to knowing the glory of God in the risen King, Jesus Christ. The cursed world thinks this man is insane, thus adding to the misery and the longing for the sons of God to be revealed.

The Fountainhead

28 June 2011 by Daniel

Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

Q. 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
A. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.

Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
A. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.

Adam was created as a righteous being. By that I mean that Adam was created in a state that was fit to stand in the presence of God. He was in this state from the very beginning, that is, it wasn't as though Adam started off neutral, and then became fit to stand in God's presence through subsequent obedience. He was righteous from the get go and his obedience was the natural adornment of that righteousness.

The moment Adam rebelled against God's command, however, he lost this state of righteousness falling into a state of corruption. Corruption (in this sense) is used to describe the lack of that righteousness from which all obedience flows.

Did you catch that? Think it through till you get it.

Christ was born (impeccably) righteous. He did not become righteous through obedience. Christ's obedience flowed from His pre-existing righteousness. His obedience did not bring that righteousness into being, rather His righteousness brought His obedience into being.

Do you see then what we have inherited through Adam? Each one of us is born into the same state of corruption that Adam brought into this world; we are born lacking righteousness (corrupt) and therefore have nothing within us from which obedience can flow.

This is the inheritance of all mankind. It is not something handed down from parent to child so much as it is something Adam brought into being that immediately affected all of mankind.

the Fault Line

27 June 2011 by Neil


Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

Q. 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity?
A. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way are conceived and born in sin.

Q. 27. What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
A. The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan, and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  -- Ephesians 2:1-3

The enemy employs a battle-tested mind trick that contrasts the Original Sin of Adam (and it's corrupting consequences), with the specific sins that you and I have committed just since 2:30pm yesterday. The wobbly mind then spirals into quandaries, thinking that maybe it's all just the Serpent's fault, or perhaps wondering why God judges us at all, since he obviously is the one who made us this way.

The enemy wants us to conclude that Original Sin is a bunch of hooey and that today's sin is all that is on the table.  Or he's also content if we blame everything on our ancestor, or on the devil, or even on God. This foe isn't fussy, and he's equally pleased if we somehow come to both conclusions, or to neither, or if we give up in frustration.  By confusing us about sinfulness and culpability, his relentless goal is to wash away the Bible's crystal clear messages that no one is or ever could be good enough, and that our sinfulness results in unending conscious death in a place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Original sin is bunk? Everyone is responsible only for the sins they've actually committed?  No.  Adam's decision to choose rebellion instead of obedience cascades onto all humanity (Romans 5:12, Romans 5:19). We are all ruined from before the first moment of our existence (Psalm 51:5).  We are corrupt... rotten to the core (Romans 3:10-12); we are unholy, and given the choice between right and wrong, in our own power we will always choose poorly.  Apart from God, we are incapable of even knowing what righteousness fully entails, let alone attaining it or even desiring it for ourselves (Romans 8:7-8).  We simply prefer our own deficient and fouled up definition of what is right.

Sinfulness not really our fault? Try telling that to yourself the next time you lie for personal gain. Or lie to avoid facing the music. Or decline an unexpected opportunity to help out a stranger. Or make a tired checkout clerk's day even worse than it was before. Or check out the checkout clerk. Or check out strangers in high resolution video. Or betray your beloved with your body as well as your mind. Or lead your children astray. Or neglect to lead your children anywhere. Or download stuff without paying for it. Or flip off a bad driver.  Or care not about the answer when you ask how someone is doing.  Or bad-mouth a friend. Or bad-mouth an enemy. Or seethe with resentment. Or crave vindication. Or cultivate bitterness. Or seek recognition.  Or feel a little entitled.  Or procrastinate. Or choose not to protect the weak. Or choose licentiousness over holiness. Or gravitate towards another gospel of rules instead of grace.  Or starve yourself by letting that Bible go unread today.  Or tut-tut over a brother's or sister's stumble.  Or congratulate yourself on your piety.  Or choose silence over proclaiming the truth. Or choose foolish words over silence.  Or, as you walk or drive or click away, leave anyone, anyone at all, with a memory of you that smacks of anything that a herald of Christ is not.  Or love God with something just a wee bit shy of your entire heart, soul, mind and strength.

Better yet, try telling any of that to God. Tell him it's not your fault.  See how that works out for you, k? Like every other human, you're a putrid mess, cheerfully emanating sinfulness and guaranteed by your nature to belch out even more stink before 2:30pm tomorrow.

Death and anguish, here we come.  This is a nightmare. I wonder if it's going to get any better.

Something was Wrong

21 June 2011 by Neil

Q. 24. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

Back when we were young with two sons under the age of ten, we lived in a four level backsplit. One day my Princess wife had been puttering around on the highest floor where most of the bedrooms were (but not all of the bedrooms... the son that we love the least had to sleep in a very small room under the stairs). While doing something important and productive, she noticed that it was quiet. But the two boys were home. There should have been anti-quiet.

Something was wrong.

Her elf ears fully extended, she advanced to the edge of the stairway, and heard nothing. She went down a level to the living room and kitchen area. Still nothing. She went down another level to where the family room and Unloved Son's bedroom were and sensed the shimmering whisper of a spring breeze rustling the daisies, or perhaps it was a gently cooing dove. The Princess can be stealthy when the need arises, so she crept to the edge of the final stairway, opened the door a wee bit and peeked down into the rec room.

Youngest Son and Unloved Son were tangled on the floor. Somebody had somebody in a half-nelson, and somebody else was pounding on somebody else with all his might and soul and strength. Faces were contorted with rage, mouthing curses at the other, and each was thinking the same thing: “vengeance is mine, says me”. This was a full blown brother brawl. Unloved Son had the upper hand. Sure to get bloodied if it continued much longer, Youngest Son was on the verge of abandoning the rules of engagement by opting for the nuclear elbow jab to the groin.

Hatred held the day, but the brouhaha had to be a secret affair if they wanted to retain certain other privileges.  But that wasn't the only concern: after a panicked scan of the room, Princess was relieved to see that both sons' eyeglasses had been safely placed side by side upon a sewing table prior to the smackdown, because even though they each really wanted to kick the bejibbers out of the other guy, apparently neither wanted to face an angry Princess.

And really, who would? 

Certainly not mine

20 June 2011 by David Regier

Q. 24. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

Parenthood calls us to extraordinary sacrifice, and teaches us from the depths of that sacrifice.

One of my little angels (I won't say which) was coming along well in the potty-training process. But there's a stage where one hears "I need help!" from the commode, and one must rise to the call of, um, duty. As I entered the bathroom, the pungent fog of putridity caused me to reel. "Eck!" I choked.

At which point my blessed seated munchkin, dipping down into some heretofore unknown deep well of conviction, shouted "MY! POO! POO! DOES! NOT! SMELL! BAD!"

And so it is with us all.


The Heart of Misery

10 June 2011 by Daniel

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Because Adam set aside the command of God, taking to eat the fruit from the Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil, God drove him out of the Garden of Eden, and cursed him to boot.

One noteworthy effect of this fall is not defined so much by what we see but rather what we no longer are able to see. Consider this: in the garden Adam and Eve could sense the presence of God, not as some airy-fairy feeling, but through their natural senses - they knew where God was and could "see" Him in some sense (I say in some sense lest we forget that God is Spirit). They communicated with God directly and not merely through prayer. The moment Adam forsook the command of God he made forfeit his "right" to be experientially aware of God.

That isn't to say that there weren't moments throughout history where God spoke to men; He did speak to individuals occasionally throughout redemptive history, and in a variety of ways, but mankind as a whole was cut off from God by Adam's sin. By and large (second to such things as sin and death of course) the misery of God's absence (or more properly the fact that we are unable to see God experientially) is the most penetrating reality of our existence.

Do we have to work for our food? Yes. Do we get sick in this world? Yes. Is there corruption and violence? Yes. Fear? Hate? Suffering? Yes, yes, all of those things. Are these things the cause of our misery? The thoughtful answer is that these are all expressions of the misery of God's absence. Not that God is actually absent, but rather that God withholds (from our awareness) His presence from us. This is the very heart of our misery.

You see: hunger, thirst, sickness, and death all came upon us because of Adam's sin, but what defines the nature of our misery is not these things, it is the absence of an awareness of God. The most horrible thing about the curse was not what God added, but what God took away. Just as death is defined as the absence of life, and isn't a thing itself, but is the word we use to describe a lacking of life. Just as darkness is a non-thing: the absence of light; so also the misery that is in this world is defined by what we lack: the awareness of God.

The fall introduced many things: pain, suffering, death, sickness; but it's what the fall took away that brought misery.

What's wrong with the world

09 June 2011 by David Regier

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Okay, I'm speaking off the record here, deep background. We're friends, right? I've got an image to uphold, you see. Being a small "g" god carries responsibilities, and if word got out that the internet doesn't hold up his end of the deal, well, I've got other friends, too, and they may not play so nice. Just so you understand.

The things you look for when you come calling to me, what are they? You want a vicarious life, and you want connection with people. What's that you say? No, no, I didn't promise those things. You need to learn the difference between my promises and your expectations.

You spend your whole life sitting there, watching videos of bike stunts you were too afraid to try in junior high, all the FAILs, all the jokes you can’t wait to re-tweet. You fight in a war-game, then turn around and debate high theology like some mediaeval council. You “friend” a thousand people and fake your highs and lows. And I won’t even talk about the lurid stuff – today. But you live a life in front of a screen, and none of those people really know who you are.

For you, that's living vicariously. For you, that's connection. Fellowship, if you will. And you control it all; all the profiles, the playlists, the interactions, the comments and the posts. But you must remember, there's a big "G" God that all us little "g's" report to. Maybe "report" isn't the right word. It's more like "tremble and obey." And His ideas about vicariousness and fellowship go far deeper than your pea-brain has ever imagined.

The way He made things, there's a connection that you can't control, and it connects you with everybody who ever lived, because it's through a single man, from the beginning. His action was your action, and your action is found in his action. That's vicariousness. And it's locked up with everything that's wrong with the world.

So when you're looking for a way out of it that you can control, you're not going to find it with me. I'm just a tool. If you think I made you a promise, well, buddy, that's just projection. If you want fellowship and a life you have not lived, there's a different place to look, and it's not with me. Because a day will come when I give up my secrets, and you'll see that what you had wasn't really control.

Born This Way

08 June 2011 by David Kjos

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. —Romans 5:12–14

Lest any doubt the catechism’s answer, take note: everyone dies. The universal mortality we witness all around us tells us that something has gone horribly wrong, and none are untouched. Death is in the news daily. We watch our friends and family get old, get sick, and die. Indeed, we look in the mirror and witness the steady decay of our own bodies. We are going to die.

How did this dreadful state of affairs come to be? The Apostle explains:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, … It might seem odd that Paul says, “through one man.” After all, Eve was there too, and actually started it, right? Yet God held Adam fully responsible, and a little more than five thousand years later, inspired the words, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). The headship of the man is shown to be a creation ordinance. It is not a result of the Fall, and certainly not an invention of a chauvinist apostle.

Notice that Paul does not speak of plural sins, but of sin. It does not refer to specific unrighteous acts, but to an innate condition. Cattle “moo”; that is something they do. But cattle are ruminants. It is a characteristic of cattle to ruminate because that is what they are. Just so, sin is a part of the human condition. We do not become sinners when we sin. Rather, we are born that way.

and death through sin, … God warned Adam that if he disobeyed, he would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17), and so he did.

and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— … As emphasized in the first paragraph above, the human race has a 100% mortality rate. With the exception of two men whom God miraculously caught away, every single person who has ever lived has died or is dying. Death awaits everyone, because everyone is a sinner. If “in Adam all die,” and all die “because all sinned,” it is just simple math to conclude that all mankind did indeed fall in that first transgression.

Only one man has ever been without sin. He is the lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. And even he died, when he took our sin upon himself — which brings us to the good news. Our text begins with a “therefore,” connecting the following verses to the previous promise of reconciliation to God, and ends with a hopeful finger pointed toward “him who was to come,” “through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (v. 11). However, the Westminster Divines require us to wait for that. We’ll pick this up again around Question 30.

Kinds of Captivity

07 June 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Freedom is an ideal that has been exalted to the highest heaven in Western culture. We demand freedom for ourselves, and we demand freedom for others. We believe that every man, woman, and child is born with the right to liberty and the pursuit of their own happiness. We love it so much that we hardly pause to question the wisdom of freedom. The wise can see, however, that freedom can be a tyranny. I hope you will give me the chance to explain why this is so.

Our first parents were made good. There was no moral blemish in Adam and Eve. They had no inborn compulsion to sin, foolishness, and selfishness as we have. They were innocent in a way we are not, and thank God, never can be. They lived in a blissful naivete that had never known, seen, experienced, or even heard of sin. This can never be again. Never, ever again.

When Eve stretched out her hand to become like God, she had no idea that it would mean the spiritual death of her soul. When Adam tasted the sweet fruit of transgression, he had no idea that his beloved son Cain would rise up and murder his beloved son Abel. All Adam could see in that moment was himself; he cared not for the consequence. He was, in that moment, enthralled with his own self, in his own sin. Once, he had been captive to the love of God, now he was enslaved to the love of self. And there are those who call this self-love "freedom." God did not give man the "freedom" to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God gave Adam a command, not a choice. Adam excercised a kind of freedom that should never have been, and by God's grace, someday never will be again.


This morning, I came to work and I brewed some coffee. I sat at my desk and turned on my computer. There, in my inbox, was an unsolicited email from some pornographer who stole or bought my email from someone. I have a wife. I have two children. I am the pastor of a church. I am a Christian. I felt the ghostly pleasures of sins past stirred by sins from which my God has been weaning me, but I was free to click away and kill myself with ruinous pleasure.

Thank God, I was repulsed. I was restrained. My Master has enslaved me. He has bound my soul fast with the bonds of love. I have seen, unlike Adam, what sin does to sons. I have seen the horror of what sin does to marriages and mothers. I put that email in that little box marked "spam" and destroyed it as a man destroys a loathsome bug. When confronted with a sin, like adultery, I do not want freedom. I want love to close all options but one, and then I want love to compel down the road of righteousness.

May the love of God in Christ constrain us so that every option is removed except the one choice that brings the most glory to our wonderful God.

A Tale of Two Men

06 June 2011 by Neil

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

The Spirit touched him, and the breath of life caused the chest to heave. The man arose. There is no word in any language to express the wonder and exhilaration that grasped his being. Everything was new! He was new! It all seemed to be made for him. An innocent and perfect creation awaited his hand. In due time his Father God gently led him down the path and into the Garden. The man followed willingly.

But God saw that the man was alone, and that he needed a companion. God gave him a soulmate.

The man could not endure the innocence. He did not obey the one command.

He ate the fruit. He added to creation. He introduced something new. The man introduced leaven. The man brought sin into the world, and death through sin. By the sweat of his face, he now had to eat leavened bread.

The man died, and he is dead still.

All of his kinfolk die, died, and will die, even if they accomplish the unachievable, and do not sin. And they are dead forever, in every way that a person can be dead. Even while they live, they are dead.

When the man brought life to the leaven, he brought life to Death, and hope died.

Genesis 2:7 Genesis 2:15-17 Genesis 3:6 Genesis 3:8-10 Genesis 3:17-19 Romans 5:12 Romans 5:14
The Spirit touched her, and the breath of life caused the chest to heave. The girl arose. There is no word in any language to express the wonder and exhilaration that grasped her being. Everything was blessed! She was blessed! It all seemed to be made for Him. An innocent and perfect creation would be born in a manger. In due time His Father God gently led him down the path and into the Garden. The Man followed willingly.

God saw that the Man was alone, and that His companions were lacking. The Man had no soulmates.

The Man did not disobey a single command. He refused to endure the alternative.

He drank the cup. He remade creation. He made everything new. The Man introduced grace. The Man bore the sin of the world, and He became death and sin. By His sweat and His blood, he became broken bread.

The Man died, but He is not dead still.

All of his kinfolk die, died, but will live, because He accomplished the inconceivable, and did not sin. And they will live forever, in every way that a person can be alive. Even when they die, they live.

When the man gave salvation despite the leaven, he brought Life from death, and hope revived.


Luke 1:30-35 Mark 14:32-27 John 19:30 2 Corinthians 5:21 Luke 24:1-6 Romans 5:14-19

Catechism Buzz: Much Better

18 May 2011 by Matt Gumm

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

So God creates Adam in the state of innocence, puts him in paradise, gives him liberty to eat from the entire garden save the Tree of Life, and provides a helper, so that he won't be alone. And man repays God, not by "continuing in the estate wherein he was created," but rather by transgressing God's command and bring destruction upon himself and his posterity.

That's history. The now is the sinful state, where the earth is the domain of darkness, and the creation itself groans and waits for redemption. Yet we who believe are in an intermediate state. We are actively setting aside the old sin nature, though our work in this life will never be complete.


Our ultimate destination, however, is not back to the garden. Paradise that it was, something greater awaits those who love God and are called according to His purpose. At the end of this life, a paradise awaits us that John the Revelator describes as heaven and earth remade, where there is no sun needed, because light is from the glory of God, and where praise is heaped upon the Father and the Son day and night.

Yes, man was created in an estate of innocency, in paradise, and no, he did not remain in that estate, but fell from it. But the second paradise, like the second Adam, is much better, and so we wait with anticipation for the day that is to come.

Potent Prooftext: Certainly to Us

17 May 2011 by David Kjos

Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?
A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Q. 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression?
A. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

Q. 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. —2 Corinthians 11:2–3

The catechism question has a simple answer: No, they sinned. The end. Write it down in history, for the record, Genesis 3. Next question.

But we need to pause here to consider the implications for us. Does this have relevance for the New Testament Christian, or are we, in Christ, safe from the wiles of the serpent? Paul answers in the negative. Not only are we now sinners in the line of Adam, but potential dupes in the line of Eve. And by “we,” I am talking to us, all of us, including Christians, to whom Paul addresses his concern. Paul is worried that, like Eve, we — you and I — might be taken in by sophisticated rhetoric and deceived. Our trust in the pure gospel of Jesus Christ might be compromised.

This text brings a warning to our fallen minds: You are not immune to deceit; you can be fooled. If it could happen to Adam and Eve, who were created without sin and walked with God in the cool of the day, it can happen to us. If it could happen to the Galatians, “before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified,” it can certainly happen to us.

The text also displays the gracious disciplining hand of God. While we are susceptible to the seductive lies of the enemy, God is faithful to protect us from ourselves — in this case, through the loving words of the Apostle. Or we might require the harsher, after-the-fact rebuke: “You foolish Galatians!” One thing is certain: whether by warning, rebuke, or chastisement (Hebrews 12:6), God will save his saints. Otherwise, we would surely fall.

Understanding this will cause us to fall to our knees, bereft of all pride and self-sufficiency, before the Lord who is righteously jealous for our love and devotion, in daily repentance and faith, with the simple and pure devotion that Christ so zealously demands.

Catechism Buzz: Subject To Fall

26 April 2011 by Daniel

Q. 15. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is that wherein God did in the beginning, by the word of his power, make of nothing the world, and all things therein, for himself, within the space of six days, and all very good.

Q. 16. How did God create angels?
A. God created all the angels spirits, immortal, holy, excelling in knowledge, mighty in power, to execute his commandments, and to praise his name, yet subject to change.

Q. 17. How did God create man?
A. After God had made all other creatures, he created man male and female; formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man, endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal souls; made them after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it, and dominion over the creatures; yet subject to fall.

If you have Duplo™ at home, you probably have helped your kids build a tower with all the square pieces. You made a nice strong base to support the structure, and then started building up. Eventually the tower gets tall enough that it is quite fragile - the slightest nudge or tremor will send it careening over and tumbling to the ground under its own weight in a loud, blue, red, and yellow mess.

If all things were ideal, such towers could stand indefinitely, but because we live in a world wherein external forces exists that can act upon the tower, we would say that the tower, however perfect, is subject to fall.

God created us in the same way - subject to fall. We were created in God's image: free from blemish, and contented to love, trust, and obey God. But along comes an outside force (Satan) who acted upon us, and having been nudged by him in the direction of rebellion, we gave into the temptation to be like God, and fell into sin. We were made perfect, yet at the same time subject to a fall.

God knew we were going to fall before He ever created Adam. God could have held Adam back from sinning and prevented the fall entirely. In fact, God has, in the pages of scripture, personally intervened so as to stop a man from committing a sin. I am speaking of how God Himself held Abimelech back from sinning when Abimelech was inclined to consummate a marriage with Abraham's wife Sarah (cf Genesis 20). We know that if God intervened for Abimelech, He certainly had the ability to intervene for Adam - so why didn't He? Why didn't God stop the fall before it happened?

I think it is because God's glory demanded the fall. In order to reveal who He is to Adam and Adam's race, in order to reveal His justice, His lovingkindness, His faithfulness, His deity: man. had. to. fall. God made Adam perfect and therefore only Adam was culpable for Adam's sin. God was under no moral obligation to make Adam in such a way as to be impervious to sin, nor was God obligated to keep Adam from sinning.

... to be continued ...