To make up for my lack of updates I have taken the liberty of posting a recent sermon I delivered at Life Church. It happened to be a service in which we were baptizing a group of new believers. What better time could there be to talk about our identity in Christ than right before a bunch of baptisms? The scriptures used in the sermon were Col 3:1-3 and Gal 2:20. Enjoy.
It is about time we got back to our series on the Attributes of God. So without delay we will delve into God’s next attribute – his freedom. Freedom is an attribute God shares (i.e. it is communicable) with his creation. Therefore, we should have some sort of understanding, although limited, in what it is like to be free. A good place to start the conversation is to set about the task of defining freedom.
By definition someone is said to be free when they have the liberty to act, speak, or think as they desire. From this definition you can see that freedom, in an absolute sense, is pretty much impossible to achieve. No matter what, there will always be some degree of limitations on our freedom. So the concept of freedom, on a human level, tends to be understood and accepted as relative. Let me see if I can help clarify this with two examples.
I live in what many would classify as a ‘free country’. However, even those who are blessed to live in a country that enshrines the freedom of its citizens, they must acknowledge that it is a restricted/conditional freedom they enjoy. For example I have the freedom to say whatever I want, but I do not have the freedom to randomly shout, “FIRE” in public buildings. Although our freedom of speech is restricted we maintain we live in a free country simply because we exercise more freedom than those who live in countries that censor everything their citizens say. This is an example of limitations on our freedom due to being under authority.
Having established that I live in a free country, I can go jogging, if I was so inclined, whenever I want. However, my friend, who also lives in the same country as I do, does not share in this same freedom. How is this possible? The reason I have this freedom and he does not is because he is confined to a wheelchair. The governing powers have not limited his freedom to go for a jog, rather his ability has restricted his freedom. We are both free, but I have the ability to exercise more freedoms than he does.
Having demonstrated that on a human level freedom is relative and absolute freedom is pretty much impossible, let us talk about God’s freedom. When we speak of God’s freedom we are talking about the attribute whereby God does whatever he wills (Psalm 115:3). Unlike the human experience, God is not limited in his freedom. Since there is no authority higher than God (Heb 6:13) and he is not limited in ability (Luke 1:37), God experiences freedom in the highest sense of the word. Let me be clear here when I say God is free I am saying there are absolutely no external restrictions to his freedom (Dan 4:35).
Now the thinkers out there are likely jumping up and down crying foul at my last statement. Obviously tension arises from the fact that the Bible clearly tells us there are things God can’t and will not do. For example God can’t lie (Heb 6:18) ergo he is not free to lie. At first glance that may appear to put a restriction on God’s freedom. However, this tension is resolved when you take a closer look at our original definition. Freedom, by definition, is based on your will or desire. Essentially freedom is the liberty to do what you want. Given all of the aspects of God’s divine character and nature exist and work together in perfect harmony, his divine will must also be consistent with his nature and character. In other words God would not desire something that ran contrary to who he is (2 Tim 2:13). It isn’t that he does not have the freedom to lie, he simply would never have the desire to lie in the first place. Since God is not restricted in authority nor limited in ability, and his will is eternally consistent with his character, he alone enjoys absolute freedom. God alone has the liberty to do whatever he wills.
More In The Series
Below you will find the guest post I just did for www.bloggingtheologically.com. Be sure to stop by and thank Aaron for allowing me to write a guest post for him while he is away on a well deserved vacation. I hope you enjoy.
I am about to disclose something that might out me as a closet nerd. A risky proposition to be sure, but I am willing to take this bullet for the common good. Having been adequately warned, allow me to share my dirty little secret with you. I secretly enjoy exploring the etymology of words, specifically the etymology of obscure and peculiar words. This little quirk of mine manifests itself in the strangest of ways, not the least of which is my tendency to ask, “Do you happen to know the second longest word in the English language?”
I know it’s an odd question. Convention would be to ask about the longest word. However, who really cares about a fabricated 45 letter monstrosity (see note below) describing an occupational lung disease? No one, that’s who. But when it comes to the second longest word, well that is an entirely different story. Not only does the 29 letter 18th century word have an amusing origin, but it holds relevance for our daily life.
Floccinaucinihilipilification (click HERE for pronunciation) was coined by the pupils at Eton College. As they poured over their Eton Latin Grammar text they came across a list of words which in order were: flocci, nauci, nihili, and pili. All of these Latin words had similar meanings in that they described something of little or no value. As academics with too much time on their hands tend to do they thought it would be fun to slap all four words together and stick –fication on the end to produce a new noun. Presto change-o four small words used to describe tiny insignificant things were recycled to form one mega word. By definition Floccinaucinihilipilification describes the act or habit of regarding something as unimportant, having no value, being totally and utterly worthless.
Now some might argue that floccinaucinihilipilification describes its own usefulness as a word – utterly worthless. However, I disagree with that assessment. Although you will not find it in the Bible, I believe floccinaucinihilipilification is very much a Biblical term. How, you might ask, could I say that? Well, the Pauline equivalent can be found in Phil 3:8.
Phil 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Here we have Paul comparing all of the advantages of his heritage, citizenship and education to rubbish – literally dung – when viewed in the light of the magnificence of knowing Christ. Paul does not claim the rewards of this world to be of second importance to the knowledge of Christ. On the contrary, he is practiced at regarding all things – the world’s goods, substance, riches, fame, pleasures and pomp – as valueless in light of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.
Lest we think Paul is alone in his floccinaucinihilipilification of worldly benefits, let us look to Solomon. Here was a man who knew the best the world had to offer, and his ultimate verdict was, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” With all of the world’s imagined worth, imagined pleasure and imagined gain, Solomon could, to quote the Rolling Stones, “get no satisfaction.” In all of his testing and indulging Solomon discovered something vitally important; the world without Christ is a very unsatisfying place. Fellow Christian, it would pay for us to remember this lesson well.
Although I have been ‘nerding out’ in this post, I do hope you look beyond that to see the ultimate point of my ramblings. The Christian life is one marked by judging many things as worthless, not inherently, but comparatively when weighed against all we have in Christ. Whether it’s the pleasures or the pains (Rom 8:18) of life, both are eclipsed by the glory to be found in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This truth should be both treasured and paraded through our hearts as often as possible, lest we forget, and allow the cares of this world to choke out the truths we once held dear (Matt 13:22). Imagine the freedom to be experienced when you place all things in their proper perspective in Christ. Armed with your newfound knowledge, you too should go out and ask someone if they know the second longest word in the English language. It is a powerful concept, and it just might lead to a wonderful witnessing opportunity.
Editors Note: The longest word in the English dictionary is Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. The president of the National Puzzlers’ League created it for the purpose of representing a very large word. It is another name for a lung disease normally called silicosis.
I just want to welcome everyone who read my guest post over at Blogging Theologically. I would like to thank Aaron for allowing me the opportunity to invade upon his cyberterritory for this brief moment. You are welcome to look around, visit often and hopefully find something that either helps or entertains you. Unfortunately, when it comes to updates I am not as studious as Mr. Armstrong (how someone can find the time to post daily is beyond me), but I do update enough to hopefully keep things interesting. Enough with the pleasantries, click on some pages and drive up my hit count. :p
Biblical Masculinity: The Church Needs Men
Today I am posting a message I gave a few years back about Biblical masculinity. I hate to say it, but one of the most endangered animals on the planet is the Godly Man. One of the reasons for this is the confusion surrounding what it means to be a man, in particular what it means to be a Godly man. This is a topical message, so those of you that lean toward exegetical preaching (I am totally with you on this) be warned. My main scripture is 1Cor 16:13-14. I hope you enjoy.
Yesterday was quite the surprise. Tim Challies was kind enough to link to a post I wrote about sin and the Tim Bosma tragedy. I sure wasn’t expecting it, nor was I expecting the thousands of people who came to visit the blog because of his link. All I can say is WOW! God sure has given Tim a great deal of influence. I am glad he uses this influence for the betterment of the Church instead of for controversy and self-promotion. If you happen to be one of those individuals that popped by because of his link, and you are still hanging around, I officially welcome you. Feel free to stick around and enjoy yourself. I don’t mind at all. For your enjoyment I have taken the liberty of assembling some posts that might be of interest to you.
I use my blog to answer the many questions that I receive. Here are some Q & A posts that might interest you:
I have an ongoing series about the attributes of God. Here is the first article in the series: Attributes of God
If you are a Canadian, or you are interested in reading about issues in Canada these articles are for you:
Here are a few posts which I am including for fun:
If you live in my neck of the woods – Ontario Canada – you are likely familiar with the disappearance and murder of Tim Bosma. In the two weeks since the tragedy suspects have been arrested, details have been released and the grieving process has begun. In tragedies like this I have discovered part of the grieving process involves attempting to answer the question of “why”. In the midst of grief there is never a satisfying answer to the “why” question, but we try to answer it all the same.
The added difficulty in dealing with the “why” of the Bosma case is the complete absurdity of the crime. Tim was murdered so that they could steal the truck he had listed for sale. One might conclude it was a crime of need or greed had the main individual accused not been a multimillionaire. A life was taken, freedom was forfeit and families were devastated over an object the accused could have easily purchased for himself many times over.
Although the people God has called me to serve do not know Tim personally, many of them are compelled to try and make sense of this senseless act. The confusing nature of the crime has not been lost on them as they attempt to reason out the why. When they have come to me with their questions, rhetorical or otherwise, I have explained that sin is the ultimate answer to their question. Sin is the reason this crime was committed and sin is the reason why it is so senseless and confusing. When it comes right down to it sin is the answer to the “why” of many of life’s problems. Here, then, are three truths from the Bible one can discover about sin. To some they were costly to learn, but to you and I the lessons, if we choose, are free. I hope you profit by them.
1) Sin does NOT make sense. This is probably the most difficult truth for people to wrap their minds around. Deep down we would all like to think some form of discernable logic fine-tunes the mechanics of our choices. However, with sin logic does not enter into it. It is at best illogical, irrational, deceptive and crazy. That is not to say we are incapable of rationalizing our sin. Far from it. There is not one person – dead or alive – who wasn’t able to defend or justify their sin. However, their rationalizations ultimately only makes sense to the sinner themselves and those who are likewise deceived by sin. Therefore, you should not be surprised when sinful actions run counter to common sense. Rom 1:19-31 Eph 4:17-19
2) Sin is false advertising at its worst. Its packaging is misleading, and the sales pitch is laced with lies. We buy the product simply because everything about it is designed to be enticing. However, when we get it home we discover the product to be both defective and dangerous. Sin ALWAYS destroys, ruins and kills. It can do nothing else. It may start out small and seemingly insignificant, but in short order it grows and evolves into something unmanageable. Do not be fooled, the pleasure of sin is eclipsed by its cost. No wonder we feel duped and cheated by sin. If only we hadn’t lost the receipt maybe we could return it. When we buy into sin we get what we paid for. Prov 5:22 Prov 14:12 Rom 6:23 James 1:13-15
3) With sin there are always casualties. Hear me well; there is no such thing as a victimless sin. Did you catch that? We tend to fool ourselves into believing that if the sin is small enough, and no one knows or is targeted by it, then nobody gets hurt. This is absolutely false. Forget for a moment the impact of sin upon the sinner. Ignore the fact sin will kill, ruin and destroy the sinner’s life. There are most assuredly casualties in this game. Casualties you do not consider nor recognize in the moment, but are eventually revealed in the fullness of time. The Bible is replete with examples of men and women ignorant of the domino effect their sin will have. We need not be ignorant of this fact. Family, friends and strangers are all casualties in the fallout of our sin. However, lest we forget, the one most offended by our sin is the one toward whom all our sin is directed. God himself. Never forget there is no such thing as a victimless sin. Psalm 51:4 1 Cor 8:12