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“Y acontecio en los días que gobernaban los jueces, que hubo hambre en la tierra. Y un varón de Beth-lehem de Judá, fué á peregrinar en los campos de Moab, él y su mujer, y dos hijos suyos” (Rut 1:1).

Se pregunto una vez, “Acaso puede salir cosa buena de Nazaret?” Asi de la misma manera, se puede preguntar, acaso puede salir bien de dias tan obscuros y malos los dias “cuando reinaban los jueces?” Despues de todo, aunque la edad de los Jueces fue marcada por victorias heroicas de la parte debil y actos de fuerza sobrehumana, aun eran espiritual y moralmente retrazados. Los dias de los jueces eran dias en que “no habia rey en Israel,” y cuando “cada hombre hizo lo correcto en sus ojos.” Eran dias de idolatria grosera, de guerra civil entre tribus, dias de invacion y ocupacion extranjera, y de abominaciones morales escandalosas. Pero en esos dias, hubo un gran cuento, el relato de Rut. Despues de el Libro de los Jueces sigue esta pequna, preciosa perla, el Libro de Rut. Como un diamante brillando entre lo aspero.

Realmente, es la respuesta al libro de Jueces! “Donde abundo el pecado, abundo mucho mas la gracia.” Aunque Israel habia descendido tan bajo, Dios intervino. Por medio de Rut la Moabita, conversa inesperada al Dios de Abraham, Dios restauro vida. El revivio una familia a la orilla de la extinccion. Y establecio la casa de la cual vino David—y el cimiente de David, el Senor Jesucristo!

Acaso puede salir bien de tiempos tan malos? “Ven y mira.”

untitled“Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons” (Ruth 1:1).

It was once asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” So in the same way, one might ask, can anything good come out of such dark, evil days, the days “when the judges ruled?” After all, though the era of the Judges was marked by heroic underdog-victories and feats of superhuman strength, yet they were spiritually and morally backwards. The days of the judges were days in which “there was no king in Israel,” and when “everyone did what was right in His own eyes.”  Those were days of gross idolatry, of tribal civil war, days of foreign invasion and occupation, and of shocking moral abominations. But in these days, there was a great story, the story of Ruth.  Following the Book of Judges is this small, precious pearl, the Book of Ruth. Like a diamond shining in the rough.

Really, it is the answer to the book of Judges! “Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.” Though Israel had sunk so low, yet God stepped in.  Through Ruth the Moabitess, the unlikely convert to the God of Abraham, God restored life. He revived a family on the brink of extinction. And he established the house from which David came – and David’s seed, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Can anything good come out of such evil times?  “Come and see.”

Close-up_of_Sirius“What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.”

-John Chrysostom (c. 349-407)

662a7aecb7“. . . the return of Christ unto judgment is not an arbitrary addition that can be isolated from his preceding work and viewed by itself.  It is a necessary and indispensable component of that work.  It brings that work to completion and crowns it.  It is the last and highest step in the state of his exaltation.

“Because Christ is the savior of the world, he will someday return as its judge.  The crisis,  or judgment (krisis),  that he precipitated by his first coming he consummates at the second coming.  The Father gave him authority to execute judgment (krisin poeiein) because he is the Son of Man (John 5:27).  Eschatology, therefore, is rooted in Christology and is itself Christology, the teaching of the final, complete triumph of Christ and his kingdom over all his enemies.  In accord with Scripture, we can go back even further.  The Son is not only the mediator of reconciliation (mediator reconciliatonis) on account of sin, but even apart from sin he is the mediator of union (mediator unionis) between God and his creation.  He is not only the exemplary cause (causa exemplaris) but also the final cause (causa finalis) of creation.  In the Son the world  has its foundation and example, and therefore it has in him its goal as well.  It is created through him and for hims as well (Col. 1:16).  Because the creation is his work, it cannot and may not remain the booty of Satan.  The Son is the head, Lord, and heir of all things.  United in the Son, gathered under him as their  head, all creatures return to the Father, the fountain of all good.  The second coming is therefore required by his first coming.  It is implied in the first; in time, by inner necessity, it will proceed from the first; the second coming brings the first coming to its full effect and completion and was therefore comprehended in a single image with the first coming by Old Testament prophecy.”

– Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (4:685).

Last Lord’s Day (Sunday), we considered the weighty saying of Christ, “The Son of man came not to serve, but to be served, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).  Jesus was going to the cross, but sadly, his disciples detoured him with their foolish question.  Yet Jesus made this sad detour a boundless blessing for them and us, if we have ears to hear.

Listen – if even for a minute or two – to the message here.

 

There are many stories out there that challenge the dominant LGBTQ narrative, that those with Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) can in fact live within a full, complete, and joyful marriage to those of the opposite sex. Oh, and be a Christian too!  Doesn’t fairness require that their story be heard as well?

Listen to this piece from NPR (and kudos to them for demonstrating something of classic journalistic impartiality!).

And check out this too.

I hardly deny that many may suffer from SSA.  While I’ve never experienced it, I can empathize with those who do.  And in a sense, I can sympathize. There are many things that I am tempted to do that I simply don’t do.  If I acted on all my impulses and were thus “true to myself,” you would probably like me a lot less than you actually do.  (And if you don’t like me at all, well, you’d have even more compelling reasons!)  I’m afraid if I were true to myself, I wouldn’t have the lovely wife and beautiful children I do now. Every day I resist temptation, fighting against what some might call “natural” desires. But I distinguish between natural-good and natural-bad instincts. Eating food is a natural-good.  Being intimate with my wife is a natural-good. Yelling at my children when I am tired and haggard, however, is a natural-bad. It’s natural in the sense that it’s human, but human in the fallen sense.

And this leads us to yet another narrative that needs to be heard. The great ‘meta-narrative’ of the Bible. It is a story that explains exactly how this world ended up as a big, messy jumble of natural-good and natural-bad instincts. Here’s the basic plot: Creation – Fall – Redemption.  God created everything good, in proper harmony, with a perfect unity and complementing diversity. Mankind was at one with itself, at one with its environment, and above all, at one with its God. Mankind, though, transgressed, listening to the lies of the Tempter. And so our first parents fell into sin and misery, and we their offspring, fell in them. Inheriting their nature, we acted out the unnaturalness of our own sinful bent. We polluted the pristine waters of nature, we dirtied our souls!  But God, planning to redeem, made sure that man didn’t gaffe up everything. In His common grace, He hemmed in and restrained something of the natural-good, that it may continue until He sent His Son to fix the brokenness once and for all.  By the crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, God broke into this disordered world to get back what He made.

Conversion gives the believer a radical new start.  They are a new creation in Christ. Yet, Christians aren’t perfected; they walk to heaven with a limp.The old man has been dealt a mortal blow, but he is still striving to regain control. The Christian struggles with temptations every day.  Temptations that the world will call “natural.” But he knows, she feels that this needs major qualification. That “natural” was then, this is now. And the now is natural-good, and good getting better every day!

Augustine, the great catholic teacher of the Church, was quite the womanizer prior to his conversion.  I suppose he was being true to himself. But after his conversion, things had changed from the inside. One day, an old flame found him on the street, came up to him, embraced him and exclaimed, “O Augustine!  It’s me!” To which he replied, “Yes, but it’s not me!” The old Augustine was gone (though I doubt not the old man wanted to rekindle the former romance). But he had embraced his new nature, a nature not unnatural, not repressed, not denied, but reborn.

 

 

Rembrandt_The_Apostle_PeterSomething that often strikes me when reading the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – is their earthiness.  There is something raw, unpolished, and therefore real about these four eye-witness accounts of Jesus Christ.  It has the ring of the genuine.  Their portraits of Christ and the twelve apostles are absolutely not photo-shopped.

One clear instance is the un-photo-shopped Peter.  Peter was hand-picked by Jesus at the very beginning of his three-year ministry.  Peter was a common man.  A fisherman by trade.  Really, had the Savior not singled him out, he would have lived and died a nameless nobody in the backwoods of Judea.  But Jesus changed all that.

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Rembrandt_The_Apostle_PeterUna cosa que siempre me atrae la noticia al leer los Evangelios—Mateo, Marcos, Lucas, y Juan—es su terrenidad.  Hay una calidad cruda, no pulida, y por eso autentica de estos cuatro relatos de estos testigos actuales de Jesucristo. Tiened una calidad genuina.  Sus retratos de Crito y los doce apostoles absolutamente no estan retocados.

Una instancia clara es el no-retocado Pedro.  Pedro fue escogido personalmente por Jesus al pricipio de su ministerio de tres años.  Pedro era un hombre comun.  Un pescador por profesion.  Verdaderamente, si el Salvador no lo hubiera escogido, hubiera vivido y morido como cualquier otro en  Judea.  Pero Jesus cambio todo eso.

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Jacopo_Bassano_workshop_-_Animals_boarding_the_Noah's_Ark_-_Louvre“Y se arrepintio Jehova de haber hecho hombre en la tierra” (Gen. 6:6).

El arrepentimineto que aqui se atribuye a Dios no pertenece propiamente a el, sino tiene referencia a nuestro entendimiento de el. Pues porque no podemos entenderlo como es, es necesario que para nuestra ayuda, en un sentido, se transforme. Que el arrepentimiento no puede suceder en Dios, aparece facilmente de esta consideracion que nada sucede que es por el inesperado o no previsto. El mismo razonamiento, y comentario, aplica a lo que sigue, que Dios fue afectado por tristeza. Ciertamente Dios no siente pesadumbre o tristeza, pero permanece para siempre como si mismo en su reposo celestial y contento: no obstante, porque de ninguna otra manera se podria saber cuan grande es el odio y la detestacion de Dios para el pecado, el Espiritu se acomoda a nuestra capacidad. Por tanto, no hay necesidad de involucrarnos en preguntas dificiles y espinosas, cuando es obvio a que fin se emplean estas palabras de arrepentimiento y dolor; lo que es, para enseñarnos que desde el tiempo en que al hombre fue tan grandemente corrompido, Dios no lo contaba entre sus criaturas; como si dijera, ‘Esta no es mi maniobra; este no es el hombre que forme en mi propia imagen, y a quien adorne con tales dones excelentes: no me digno ahora reconocer esta degenerada y contaminada criatura como mia.’ Semejante a esto es lo que dice, en el segundo lugar, acerca del dolor; que Dios estuvo tan ofendido por la impiedad atroz del hombre, como si hubiesen herido su corazon con angustia mortal: Hay aqui, por lo tanto, un antitesis inexpresado entre esa naturaleza justa que habia sido creada por Dios, y la corrupcion que broto del pecado. En lo mientras, a menos de que queremos provocar a Dios, y causarle dolor, aprendamos aborrecer y huir del pecado. Ademas, esa bondad y ternura paternal debe de, en forma no leve, sojuzgar en nosotros el amor al pecado; puesto que Dios, para mas efectualmente penetrar nuestros corazones, se viste de nuestros afectos. Esta figura, que representa a Dios como transferiendo a si mismo lo que pertenece a la naturaleza humana, se llama anthropopatheia.

Juan Calvino (1509-1564)

In our morning message, we considered Genesis 7, the ancient story of the Flood. On that day of reckoning, sinners saw God for what He is – God.  And then they breathed their last. All this fell out just as God predicted, with zero “margin of error.” Here’s a short clip:

To listen to the complete sermon, click here.