Friday, July 30, 2010

Suckers and The Apostles Creed

I have been preparing for an upcoming series on Doctrine. I am going to call it "Doctrine for Dummies". So I referred again to the Apostles Creed. I have of course read this Creed many times and I was even reminiscing on the Rich Mullins song called "Creed" as I read. The text of the Creed reads as follows...

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and Earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only son, our Lord
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into Hell
on the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. AMEN

When I went home for lunch today my daughter greeted me at the door with her very first tootsie roll tootsie pop in her mouth! It was a pretty funny moment and I recorded it for infamy on my handy iPhone. Look at this cute picture and now get the image of her having her first sucker and you will get the feeling that I had as I read the Apostles Creed again for the very first time. It felt as though I was a kid with my first sucker. I was so excited to see something I had never seen before. I read the line in the past "He descended into Hell" as almost some kind of blasphemy. How could the God of the universe the creator of Hell descend into it and feel the punishment of Hell? I read John Calvin on the subject in "Institutes" He talks about the redemptive wok of Christ. He shows how it was paramount that Jesus descend into Hell and suffer the punishment of sins for us so that when he arose victorious our atonement would be that much more effectual. Could I have been a Christian for almost 30 years now, knowing Jesus as Savior and Lord, and my view of His atonement is changing? Could I have believed in a really weak atonement all this time? I am starting to think it is even bigger and better than I could have imagined. Could I be changing my theology? I think that God is up to something bigger that I could ever understand in this life. Is my need of freedom from sin so deep that my Savior and Lord had to suffer the punishment of Hell for me? If He did then I think that this atonement is that much more significant. Because He overcame not just the power of sin and death He also overcame the PUNISHMENT of sin and death! WOW! I am losing the ability for words I need to worship. Please take a moment and worship with me, comments also welcome! By the way if you would like a hefty read I will attach the link to Calvin's explanation of the line in the Creed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


My good friend Bob Nance posted a video from John Piper on the danger of the prosperity Gospel (Thanks Bob). Take a look at it below before you read this note...and then come back and read the rest...I think I feel John Piper's pain...When Ana was born (she was born with Down' Syndrome) I had someone from within our church ask me if I had faith that Ana would be healed? This guy came from a prosperity background. My answer to him was that Ana did not need to be healed. Why should something that God did need to be fixed? She was knitted together in Simone's womb (Psalm 139:13-18) and He does not knit anything incorrectly. Shortly thereafter I was asked by another person in our church who is selling medicine that has "proven" breakthroughs in making people with Down's syndrome to even change their appearance away from the features of Down's Syndrome. And again the prosperity Gospel says that Ana is something less than perfect something less than human, something less. I was stupefied...I was completely speechless...I had no answer for this guy because I could not believe what he was saying to me. He was trying to sell me a medicine that I would ask my daughter to take to make her less Down's syndrome like? What is the problem here? What has evangelical Christianity become? Do we really buy this bill of goods that cancer, and Diabetes, and illness and Down's syndrome are a curse from God? Then I got the most amazing Preaching CD ever. This person gave my wife the CD thinking that it would help her. Have you ever had someone hand you a Preaching CD saying "I think this will help you". What a condescending thing to do to someone especially in our situation. Ana developed "Infantile Spasms" a rare form of epilepsy. Simone was sharing at a women's Bible Study that she is not asking God to heal Ana anymore (we stayed up countless nights begging God to stop her seizures) but that we are now praying for Him to give her Grace ("My Grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in your weakness" -Paul the Apostle-). and someone in the Bible study gives her a CD that she thinks will help. The pastor that will remain nameless said...and I quote "God is good! Satan is bad! Health is good! Cancer is bad!" So what are we to surmise from that? Anyone who has any illness or who has ever had Cancer received it from Satan! or better yet is possessed by Satan! Please keep your CD and don't try to help with your wacked out theology that has no root in the goodness of God or his word! So I was confronted with my own pain and grief trying to mourn the loss of the child that I thought I was going to have, so that I could completely accept the child God had given me, and these prosperity people tried to rub in my nose again that she was something other, something less than what she was supposed to be. The fallacy of the prosperity Gospel is this that sickness and illness are abnormal, and that God does not want us to feel pain. The scripture is clear, in Romans 5:12 "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" So we get ill and die because sin has entered the world...It also says in Romans 5:18-19 "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous." Notice that Christ's Righteous act doesn't secure our health it secures our righteousness. So keep your prosperity pain, and CD's, and medicine to yourself. I have "Embraced my weakness" for as the Apostle Paul said in 2 Cor. 12:8-10 "So now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." I have never learned anything of value toward the deepening my faith during the "good times" only in the calamities and hard times have I ever learned anything about trusting my Savior. So I will embrace the pain and the weakness so that I can draw close to the cross of my savior! I hope this encourages you to draw close to the suffering of the cross also. Just another voice crying out in the wilderness. Please turn away from the lie of prosperity and turn to Christ and embrace weakness! Until later...-Richard-

John Piper and the Prosperity Gospel