Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No More ICEEs

My beautiful doctor-wife, Julia, sent me to get a blood test last week. And I found out that I am high in Triglycerides, which means:

1. Eat less of foods high in sugar ('sweets' like candy, cookies, cake, pie; non-diet sodas; fruit juices).
2. Eat less of the foods high in rapidly-digested starches (white bread, rice, potatoes, noodles or pasta). The 'Sugar Busters' diet book, available in most bookstores, suggests alternatives like whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, and sweet potatoes (without marshmallows or brown sugar topping).
3. Limit your intake of alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day.
4. If your triglyceride level is very high, avoid alcohol altogether.
5. Eat more broiled or baked fish (twice a week). The best sources of healthy 'omega-3 fatty acids' are fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines, trout, and tuna. If you don't eat fish often enough, you could take 3 fish oil capsules a day (or the number needed to supply the recommended total of 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids EPA & DHA).
6. Minimize your intake of saturated fat by following the guidelines above.
7. Exercise as close to daily as possible, for at least 30 minutes each time (walking, jogging, biking, etc.)
8. Lose weight if you are overweight or obese, and keep your weight as close to ideal as possible

I also found out that I am "pre-diabetic" which means:

1. Limit sweets in diet.
2. Increase exercise
3. No more ICEEs

It's time for a new lifestyle. Which should be easy since I got friends to encourage me like Pat, who said: "haha. you don't need any more cookies, fatso."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ezekiel 18 and Individual Sins

Ezekiel 18 addresses how God not only takes into account Israel's corporate sin but also the sins of the individual (v.1-4) for "the soul who sins shall die" (v.4). Even though God punish the wicked for their sins (v.10-13), he also gives life to the righteous, who is described as obeying God's commandments (v.5-9):

"5"If a man is righteous and does what is just and right-- 6if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor's wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, 7does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 8does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, 9walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully--he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 18:5-9)

And if the wicked (v.10-13) repents and turns to God, his or her sins will be forgiven (v.21-23).

"21"But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. 23Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" (Ezekiel 18-21-23)

But if the righteous (v.5-9) departs from faith, he will be punished (v.24)

24But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die. (Ezekiel 18:24)

Ezekiel 18 ends with a call to repent and turn to God with "a new heart and new spirit", which seems to echo the New Covenant (Ezekiel 37:14 and Jeremiah 31:33)

30"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.[c] 31Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live." (Ezekiel 18:20-32)

It's interesting that Ezekiel's audience considered God's way of life and punishment as unjust (v.25-27) in the OT, which appears to be solved by Christ's propitiatory death in the NT (Romans 3:21-26).

21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-16)

Friday, June 15, 2007

The New Covenant in Jeremiah 30-33

New Covenant= Regeneration and Justification?

When I first heard of the New Covenant I thought it just consisted of 1) Regeneration (law written on the “heart” (Jer. 31: 33)) and 2) Justification (forgiveness of sins (Jer. 31.34)) as expounded in Jeremiah 31:31-34:

31"Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts (REGENERATION). And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more(JUSTIFICATION)".

The Return from Exile and The Restoration of Israel and Judah

But as I examine the surrounding context of Jer. 31:31-34, it seems that the “regeneration” and “justification” elements are situated in the “Return from Exile” (Jer. 30:3, 10,18, 31:6,8-9.10,16-17,21, and 32:37) and the “Restoration of Israel and Judah” (Jer. 30:3.7,10,11,17-20,22,31:1,4,38,40 and 33:6-9,11, 14) motifs.

An example of the“regeneration” element being found in the context of the “Return from Exile” and the “Restoration of Israel and Judah” motifs can be found in Jeremiah 32:37-41:

“37Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place (RETURN FROM EXILE), and I will make them dwell in safety. 38And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever (REGENERATION) , for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul (RESTORATION).”

Also an example of the "justification" element being situated in the “Restoration of Israel and Judah” motif can be found in Jeremiah 33:6-9:

6Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. 7I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first (RESTORATION). 8I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. (JUSTIFICATION) 9And this city[c] shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it (RESTORATION).


So maybe when the Jews of Jesus’ and Paul’s day heard the term “new covenant” (Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25), they thought of “regeneration” and “justification” in the context of Return from Exile” and “Restoration of Israel and Judah” motifs

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Check-out John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, and Thabiti Anyabwile ballin. (HERE)

And check-out The Office fellas below:

Friday, June 08, 2007

Piper, Wright, and Justification Part 1

I love both of John Piper's and N.T. Wright's writings and I also believe both of these guys are precious gifts to the church. Beyond this, I know Piper's upcoming book will do justice to Wright's view of justification even though they will probably and ultimately disagree because of their different views on "imputation of Christ's active righteousness".

I believe Piper's biggest problem with Wright's view of justification is his belief that works will some how "merit", "earn", or "be credited for" our final justification. In some sense, Piper is right to note this, for Wright clearly states that Christian good works will some how be "credited" for our final justification. Wright states

"What we are not encouraged to do is to draw up a checklist of things done and not done, to weigh them against one another and thereby to arrive at the final verdict. This suggests that Paul is being careful not to endorse the merit-measuring schemes that, despite not being at the covenantal heart of Judaism, nevertheless played some role in discussions of final judgment" [1]

"What is our hope and joy and crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus Christ at his royal appearing? Is it not you? For you are our glory and our joy.’ (1 Thess. 3.19f.; cp. Phil. 2.16f.) I suspect that if you or I were to say such a thing, we could expect a swift rebuke of ‘nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling’. The fact that Paul does not feel obliged at every point to say this shows, I think, that he is not as concerned as we are about the danger of speaking of the things he himself has done – though sometimes, to be sure, he adds a rider, which proves my point, that it is not his own energy but that which God gives and inspires within him (1 Cor. 15.10; Col. 1.29). But he is still clear that the things he does in the present, by moral and physical effort, will count to his credit on the last day, precisely because they are the effective signs that the Spirit of the living Christ has been at work in him." [2]

Add to this, Wright's open denial of Christ crediting his perfect obedience to Christians (imputation) and it seems we got a problem. Wright states:

What I do object to is calling this truth by a name which, within the world of thought where it is common coin, is bound to be heard to say that Jesus has himself earned something called ‘righteousness’, and that he then reckons this to be true of his people (as in the phrase ‘the merits of Christ’ [3]

In Piper's theological system, he also believes in the necessity of Christian good works at the final judgment, but he can describe these good works as "evidences" or "fruits" of truth faith and not something that "earns" justification because in his system, Christ's has already perfectly obeyed the law and thus "earned" and is the "basis" of the Christians' justification. Piper commenting on Romans 2:6-10:

(I)n general, there are two possible answers to this question. One says that eternal life would be based on perfect obedience if anybody had it. But nobody does, and so the only way to eternal life is by faith in Christ. The other way says that God never promised eternal life on the basis of good deeds, but always makes good deeds the evidence of faith that unites us to God in Christ, who is the basis of eternal life.

The other answer would say, it means that God does indeed give eternal life to those who persevere in obedience not because this obedience is perfect or because it is the basis or the merit of eternal life, but because saving faith always changes our lives in the power of the Holy Spirit so that true believers persevere in doing good. In other words, a changed life of obedience to God's truth (verse 8) is not the basis of eternal life, but the evidence of authentic faith which unites us to Christ who is the basis of eternal life. [4]

So within Piper's theological system, Wright will always be a "semi-Pelagian", no matter how many times he states that Christians are saved by grace. But it's important to note that in order for Piper to make Wright fit into his theological system, he needs to first prove that God requires perfect obedience from all men for salvation, which I believe is a very hard thing to do [5].

[1] Wright's Romans commentary pg 440

[2] Wright's essay “New Perspective on Paul"

[3] Wright's essay "Paul in Different Perspective"

[4] John Piper's sermon, "The Final Divide: Eternal Life or Eternal Wrath, Part 2"

[5] See "A Defense of the “Active Obedience” of Jesus Christ In The Justification of Sinners: A Biblical Refutation of Norman Shepherd on the Perceptive Obedience of the Savior" by Brian Schwertley

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile

Brant Pitre's book, " Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile" is one of the most interesting and stimulating books I have ever read. In the book, Dr. Pitre carefully works through OT, NT, and 2nd Temple Jewish sources and concludes:

"Jesus, speaking of himself as both Son of Man and Messiah, deliberately took the suffering of the tribulation upon himself in order to atone for the sins of Israel, sins which had led them into exile. Because he saw this tribulation as nothing less than an eschatological Passover, he sought to inaugurate it in both word and deed and thereby, to bring about the End of the Exile and the restoration of the twelve tribes in a New Exodus." - pg 506