Frame chapter 6 - The Family of God

Systematic Theology, by John Frame

As Lord, God is the normative and authoritative head of His covenant with us.
As king, God pursues His purposes in history.
As Father, God relates to His people intimately.

God is Father and we are brothers and sisters as believers in Christ.  We are part of a royal family.  The promised Deliverer comes through birth.  We are adopted into God's family, made joint heirs with Jesus.  God extends His covenant blessings to the children of believers.

Some modern theologians argue for gender neutral language referring to God, or even feminine pronouns.  The Bible does occasionally use feminine metaphors to describe God's relationship to us, but the overwhelming and significant descriptions are masculine (Lord, husband, Jesus is male, priests were, church as bride, etc.).

This was he most disappointing chapter so far.  Frame spent too much time rejecting a fringe "God is female" view, instead of enveloping the idea of family as he did kingdom and covenant.  Some of this, like adoption, he will cover later, though.


Book deals

Hanegraff and easy History of the Church, for a steal.

A Prayer for Muslims

This is from 1923, and still relevant.

Goodness, Leading to Repentance

Romans 2:1-4
"Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"

We are a Romans 1 people, and rightly so.  It is true that ungodly people suppress the truth in their ingratitude.  God turns them over to their sinful desires as part of His judgment.  We accurately assess unbelievers in this.  But as believers we are targeted in Rom 2.  We are without excuse.  The difference between believers and unbelievers isn’t that we don’t sin and they do.  It isn’t even that we admit the truth and they don’t.  The difference is that we repent and admit our wrong and seek God’s forgiveness.  We need lots of training and reminding to do this, and so we pause and think about it at this point in the service.

It is God’s goodness that leads us to repent.  He holds back judgment to give us opportunity to admit our fault.  We easily take this as God letting it go.  But He is waiting for repentance, not letting it slide.  Don’t take God as one who overlooks sin.  He wants you sanctified.

But also don’t take God as an angry, frowning, scolding God.  Psalm 103 says He will not always chide.  It is God’s goodness that helps us have the boldness to admit our wrong and hope for favor from Him anyway.  He is not a hard master, but a loving Father.



Grace before Sin?

Here's a well done but heavily theological article on the covenant of works.

Many have sought to ostracize this position in the Reformed world today, yet it appears to be a respectable position among the Reformed historically.

Lots of theology humor going on, too...


Effectiveness of worship music

Bob Kauflin at a Desiring God conference.  This is really good.

:45-1:30 is actually why I dislike RUF and Sovereign Grace melody re-writes of classic hymns.

Turn Your Family to God, instead of Just Shaking Your Head

The early church didn’t say, “Look what the world is coming to!”
They said, “Look what has come into the world!” —Carl Henry

Here are two articles on family worship.  Practical.



Frame chapter 5 - The Kingdom of God

The Bible as a story of God's covenants with man shows us the norms and structure by which we are to live.  The Bible can also be told as the story of the kingdom of God, showing us the historical situation we find ourselves in.  God takes millennia to fulfill His purposes, not according to the timeline of human kings.

We live in two ages.  The present age will pass away at Christ's return, but for now sin is still present and people live without thought of God.  The coming kingdom of Christ is already here since His resurrection, but not yet fulfilled.  So this is a time of suffering for the church, but also victory.

God is king and lord of His kingdom (Ex 15:18; Ps 93-99; 1 Sam 8:7).  The ark is His throne.  Jesus is God's appointed king of his kingdom (Ps 2), the greater King than David (Matt 22:41-46), who told Pilate he was a king and welcomed the crowd's praises as their king at His triumphal entry.  He has all authority as the highest king of all kings (Phil 2:9-11; Matt 28:18; Rev 19:16).  Now that He ascended, His people carry on His kingdom work in evangelism, discipleship, cultural and social change, seeking to bring all the world to keep His ways in all things.

Heralds announce good news in God's kingdom - the Gospel of God's favor to us in Christ's death and resurrection.  God's vengeance on His rebellious enemies is part of His Kingdom work.  Proclaiming God's law is also important.  We aren't saved by keeping it, but it does more than drive us to Christ for having broken it.  It also shows us how to live in the present and future.

There is not a kingdom of law (the state) ruled by a religiously neutral natural law, and a kingdom of grace/gospel (church).  There is one kingdom of God, and the social order beyond the church either acknowledges and submits to God or it doesn't.  Modern secular society is not neutral in religion, but rebellious against the true God.  [Another way of saying this: God is not okay with governments trying to be neutral regarding Him.  He expects kings to bend the knee to Him in this world (Ps 2:10-12).]

Jesus describes kingdom life in the sermon on the mount.  The church is kingdom headquarters, but isn't the boundary of the kingdom.  The kingdom has deeply shaped human cultures in the past, as it should.

Review: Father of Dragons

Father of Dragons
Father of Dragons by L.B. Graham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Worldview is solidly Biblical, but the writing isn't the highest quality. It's long and it plods. If you're desperate for something for your kids to read, you could do worse, but I wouldn't pay more than the kindle prices.

View all my reviews

Review: Shadow in the Deep

Shadow in the Deep
Shadow in the Deep by L.B. Graham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Decent reading for 8-14 age range.

View all my reviews


Strolling the links

2 minutes of Tim Keller summarizing the Bible as "Jesus is the true and better ___________."

The marriage bed for the exhausted wife.  Helpful, practical, and short.

7 signs you're spending too much time looking at your phone.  Yup.

What to do when you feel disconnected at church.

On Patriarchy and Legalism

Mike Farris has distanced himself (and HSLDA, I guess) from patriarchy and legalism, focusing on Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard.

It's a good article - I had no outright disagreements with it.

On patriarchy, Farris' summary " that women in general should be subject to men in general" is accurate and rightly rejected.  I've noticed certain cultures pursuing old-style deference of all men to all ladies in manners and protocol.  This is usually a good thing, but can be read wrongly as an assertion that women in general should be subject to men in general.  Farris may be a bit off target to summarize patriarchy with a list of things women can't or shouldn't do, though.  

Farris' section on women not voting is the weakest part of the article.  This is a fairly minor aspect of patriarchy, and the Bible is pretty much silent on women's suffrage in a democracy.  Farris argues mainly from disgust that women should vote.  (He would have done better to point to the daughters of Zelophehad, perhaps.)  He seems unaware here of the impulse among patriarchy folks to reconstruct a biblical society, regardless of the political or cultural situation and assumptions today.  If the Bible infers a patriachal system where only heads of families or clans speak or vote, then that's what we should have, is the thought.  Anyway, I'm with Farris in the end.  I don't think the Bible forbids women from voting as a standing norm today.

The discussion of legalism, too, could have been a bit more careful.  It's true that "personal views are [not] universal commands of God."  And Farris' main point is right: teaching as "God's way" views that go beyond Scripture is the main problem.  But what do we do with differing interpretations of Scripture?  One person thinks Deuteronomy 6 forbids public education, while another person doesn't think that inference is valid.  Is the first person a legalist, if they honestly think the Bible teaches their view?  Is the less-conservative person who is offended by that interpretation the right person to judge whether they are legalistic?  Do we just go by common consensus (or scandals?) to judge whether a person's teaching is extra-biblical?

On the main point, I have seen Gothard adherents vacillate between saying "It's God's way," and saying "It's just a choice we've made for our family."  Maybe they are confused.  Or they just know when they can assert extra-biblical teaching as God's way, and when they have to back off because their audience rejects their position.

Ultimately, this will shake out in what the next generation does on their own.  Farris makes a striking statement toward the end: "I’ve come in contact with many young people who were raised in patriarchal or legalistic homes.  Almost none of them are following these philosophies today."  Too often, patriarchy folks have relied on authority to advance their cause, when they need instead to persuade their older children that their inferences from Scripture are reasonable, sound and wise.  Sometimes they can't make that case, because they arrived at their position out of fear and/or seeking too much control, not from the Scriptures.  Other times there is a Scriptural case that should be made.

The positive thing patriarchy contributes to the Christian world today is getting men to take responsibility for their lives and families.  Overzealous advocates sometimes argue that if a woman does x, it makes it hard for the man to take responsibility, so she should not do it (example: looking down on a wife who does most of the finances, because she has more of a knack for it).

I just reread Vision Forum's Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy.  90% of it is really good.  There are a couple paragraphs, where I would disagree with an extra-biblical implication they seem to be trying to make.  A lot of those assertions are made in situ instead of on paper.  I'm fine calling myself a biblical patriarchy guy, as long as I have 15 minutes to clarify and explain what that means.  This is probably why Farris rejects the term.  There is a bad patriarchy (patriarchalism?) to avoid as Farris describes it.  But the general principle that husbands should lead is biblical and good.

As a pastor, it's important to equip men to lead their homes well.  It's just as critical to call them on the carpet if they are over-doing it to the detriment of their family.

My main prayer is that

  • Christians will help each other look to Scripture as we make discipleship and family/parenting choices,
  • we don't over-react to a straying culture by insisting on extra-biblical practices,
  • we filter all teaching through the grid of Scripture,
  • we teach and show our children the Lord's ways in our loving lives as well as our true words and boundaries


See the Savior through His Stewards

Matt 20:26-28
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The Lord Jesus gave his apostles authority in the church, to teach and write down inspired Scripture, to give us truth to remember Him rightly.  Those apostles appointed elders in the churches and passed on the stewardship of the church to them.  So you see elders preaching and serving the Supper now.  This is a stewardship.  It isn’t our table, it is the Lord’s.  See through us to see Jesus giving you bread and wine.  Don’t get stuck on the stewards – how silly or smart, or simple or sophisticated you think we are.  See the Servant instead, who gave His life as a ransom for many.

Do not see your Master as a hard man.  He is not.  He lavishes us with grace and daily bread.  We see that every week here.  He will entrust us with much more in the consummation.  We will enter into His joy.  Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross and despised its shame.  So trust Him, and go serve Him with all your might.  Your strength may be small, but the main thing is that you use it.  Take and eat, take and drink.  And go in the strength of this food to serve the Lord.  But first

Receive and rest on Christ alone today.


Thankful Refuge-seeking, not grudging duty

One mistake we can make when we think about stewardship is to think that we’re doing God a favor by being at church or giving money to church.  These things are good in themselves – God does ask them of us as NT sacrifices.  But He doesn’t need our money.  What we have to do is in vs 14 – thank Him.  Like pride, ingratitude is a root cause of many sins.  But thankfulness will lead to right worship.  God loves a cheerful giver, not a grudging one.  We are to thank God.  And we are to Call on Him when we’re in trouble.  When things are going fine, we forget we are in trouble with God apart from Christ.  We have to call on God in Christ for mercy.



Some Explanation Required

St Francis of Assissi is famous for saying, “Preach the gospel at all times.  If necessary, use words.”  Paul puts it strongly about communion in 1 Corinthians 11, too:  “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”  Our actions, our lives, proclaim the gospel.  Celebrating Communion as we do, shows or re-enacts the Gospel story.  Christ’s sacrifice, restored fellowship with God.

But I’m starting to think Francis went too far.  One hallmark of the way we do the sacraments, is that the Word of God must accompany, explain and ground those sacraments.  Actions do speak louder than words, but we shouldn’t rely on actions alone, and think we never have to speak.  When God sent a famine on Israel or some other judgment, He sent prophets to explain why.  When God acted for us at the cross of Christ, He made sure to write down an explanation in the NT.

This Supper needs some explaining.  The basics are easy and found in 1 Cor 11:23-26 – the same night Jesus was betrayed, He gave His disciples bread and wine to eat and drink, telling them to do it to remember Him.  And there is much rich truth to explore in this sacrament every week, connecting it to the word.  As you share bread, and pass the tray of wine, share the life of Jesus with your neighbor as well. 

Receive and rest on Christ alone today.