Counsel of Chalcedon
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1991 Issue 7

For prayer to be effective and powerful, it must be in accordance with God's purposes for mankind. It must align itself with the clear revealed will of God. The Scripture teaches that it is God's desire and purpose to subdue the world to Himself. The kingdom of God is to pervade all of life.

Each month the "Cross-Examination" column presents a summary statement of a Reformed and Reconstructionist conviction in theology or ethics, and then offers brief answers to common questions, objections or confusions which people have about that belief. Send issues or questions you would like addressed by Dr. Bahnsen to the editor.

As we saw in the last column, Scripture teaches us that God's holy and unchanging character is revealed to us in the requirements of His law. God's own self-revelation provides moral absolutes which are not variable, changing or relative to particular times, places or cultures. The law declares a universal and immutable standard of moral right and wrong. Accordingly, Jesus did not come into this world to oppose or cancel the total demands of God's previously revealed law, but rather to submit to its required penalty in order to save law-breakers like ourselves. By His own declaration, we believe that not the slightest jot or tittle will Pass away from the law of God until earth passes away - in which case those who teach the breaking of even the least commandment will be judged as least in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19). We maintain a position of moral absolutism. God does not change His mind about righteousness and evil, and Christ did not come to abrogate what God had said, but rather to reinforce and honor it in His own life, teaching and redemptive ministry.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Tim. 4:2, KJV)

Paul is giving instruction to Timothy, a pastor, in these chapters. He is not only telling him what to do in the work, but how to conduct himself in doing it. Here in verse 2, Paul is giving the methods by which we are to confront people. This charge is appropriate to us because we usually have the tendency to make two mistakes. We either fail to confront altogether, (because we desire to avoid conflict) or we abuse the necessity of confrontation to the point that we do evil in the process. Furthermore, the method of confrontation we ought to employ is determined by at least two factors: the circumstance that warrants a confrontation, and our position in the Kingdom of God.

This morning we begin actually entering into the message of Zechariah. The gist of our first message was that our God is a concerned God who speaks to real people regarding their historical circumstances and needs. Our faith is not one of mysticism, but of spiritually based realism.

Our message today is entitled "Mourning Before Morning." The idea behind our tide is that God lays upon us the necessity of mourning for our sins, before He will grant us a new, bright morning of glory in His favor. The necessity of repentance before blessing is as true on the personal level, as it is on the cultural level. And both of these ideas--personal and cultural repentance--are prominent in Zechariah. May the word of God penetrate our hearts, leading us to bow before Him in humble sorrow for our sins, that we might bask in the glory of His favor.

Eschatology is the study of the doctrine of "last things" (from the Greek eschatos, meaning "last"). This study is normally subdivided into individual (or personal) and general (or cosmic) eschatology. The former examines the phenomenon of death and the intermediate state, as it applies to individuals. The latter studies those events which are to occur at the close of human history; it includes the millennium, the general resurrection and judgment, and the eternal state.

This past year I was appointed by the high school athletic booster's club to supervise the concessions during the basketball games. My two sons played on the varsity team and I felt a responsibility to help the school in any way I could. It is also a good way to make many new acquaintances.

One evening I was showing a volunteer mother how to operate the popcorn machine. This was her first time working in the concession stand and she was very apprehensive and serious as she followed my instructions. I added first one properly portioned measure of salt to the popcorn. Being in a jocular mood, I added a second measure of salt explaining that often I did this. She then asked why I would double the proper portion. I responded with a straight face, "Because we sell more drinks this way." She looked a little surprised at my response, especially since I had previously told her that I was an ordained minister. Later, as I was showing her how to serve the soft drinks I encouraged her to fill the cups to the top with ice. I explained how ice was less expensive than coke and this enabled us to make more money. By this time she must have been wondering if I had received my ordination papers through some mail order catalogue. Maybe I had taken my humor a bit too far.

The Golden Scepter, by John Preston.

This book contains six sermons of Preston's on II Chronicles 7:14 that are much needed for our own day.

On Secular Education, by R.L. Dabney edited for the modern reader by Douglas Wilson.

The writings of Southern Presbyterian theologian Robert Dabney, remain important today. Readers find his comments often speak clearly to today's issues. Thus this brief essay, edited by Douglas WIlson, is welcomed and a joy to read.