Russell and Duenes

Archive for April 2015

The Lord Has Let Me Live

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Caleb said to Joshua, “Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lordspoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.” (Josh. 14:10-11).

God’s sovereignty is seen here in a couple of ways. First, Caleb confesses that it is the Lord who has let him live these past 45 years. God has been sovereign over the days of his life, allowing him to survive. Second, and I think this is implicit, is God’s sovereignty in preserving Caleb’s strength. The fact that Caleb was as strong at age 85 as he was at age 40 is not to be seen as the product of good genes or an unusually strong constitution. Rather, I think we should see that God sovereignly kept Caleb alive and also kept the strength of his youth alive. 

Caleb then asks Joshua for a certain portion of the land, and Caleb believes he can take it, for “perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.” (v.12). If the Lord, in His sovereign power, is with Caleb, then Caleb will prevail. And indeed He does.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

April 30, 2015 at 4:39 am

Who Knows the Hearts of All

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“Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.” (Acts 16). In other words, the betrayal of Jesus was a sovereign act of God, ordained to come to pass through God’s plan revealed in the Scripture. God chose a man who became the catalyst for Jesus’ arrest. This shows God’s rulership over even the discreet events of life.

“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” (Acts 1:24-25). Here God’s sovereign omniscience is even more clear. God knows the hearts of everyone, all our thoughts and motivations. And God is the one who chooses who will replace Judas among the eleven disciples. Yes, the disciples rolled dice to find out who it would be, but they understood that how the dice landed was under God’s sovereign control. 

Some might argue that, of course, God was sovereign over these events, because they were crucial to His redemptive plan, but God does not so govern the day-to-day events of all men’s lives everywhere. And it’s true that these Scriptures do not concern themselves with that question. But if God is sovereign over the roll of a dice and over who will betray Jesus and who will replace the betrayer, why should we think he is uninvolved in other events in His redemptive plan? Would he leave them to some other lesser power, ultimately?

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

April 28, 2015 at 4:42 am

So That He Might Destroy Them Totally

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In Joshua 11, no less than 10 armies came out to gang up on Israel in battle. The text says: “They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots.” Yet, as God typically had done for Joshua and the people, He promised to “deliver all of them slain before Israel.” This was only possible if God is a sovereign God, able to stem the overwhelming force of the enemy armies. And indeed, “[t]he Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, so that they defeated them, and pursued them . . . and they struck them until no survivor was left to them.”

Joshua and the Israelites went on to conquer all of the various territories of Israel, destroying all the cities they encountered. How had this happened? God’s sovereign promise: “[I]t was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.” God ruled over the Canaanites’ hearts to draw them out into a losing battle.

“I, the Lord, do not change,” the Scripture tells us. If God sovereignly subdued God’s enemies in Joshua, He will do the same for His people today. We must keep in mind that the Israelites had to fight. God did not just blow on all the Canaanites and have them fall over dead. God’s people had to struggle and fight battles. But God was behind them all the way, giving them the victory, as he does with us, by His sovereign might.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

April 27, 2015 at 4:05 am

Will They Now “Save Themselves for Marriage?”

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Peter Leithart, who contributes regularly to Touchstone magazine, wrote a thoughtful piece in First Things, entitled, “The Failure of Gay Marriage.” He argues that the nature of the gay marriage project, a project not given to the norms of true marriage, has sown the seeds of its own irrelevance and failure among gays. Indeed, on a broad scale gays have never had any intention of taking on values such as virginity and chastity prior to or within marriage.

In keeping with this point, the line in the article that grabbed me is a quote from Sam Shulman: “I am not aware of any gay marriage activist who suggests that gay men and women should create a new category of disapproval for their own sexual relationships, after so recently having been freed from the onerous and bigoted legal blight on homosexual acts. . . [D]eclaring gay marriage legal will not produce the habit of saving oneself for marriage or create a culture which places a value on virginity or chastity (concepts that are frequently mocked in gay culture precisely because they are so irrelevant to gay romantic life).”

This is a potent assertion, and points to the reality that achieving the legalization of gay “marriage” has never really been about marriage or adhering to a traditional marriage culture. It’s been about forcing a certain social and sexual culture on our people and nation, a culture that has been destructive of, and will now more forcefully eat away at, true marriage. As Shulman intimates, it’s simply unimaginable to think of oneself hearing a male homosexual talk of “waiting until marriage.”

I believe Leithart’s piece also puts the lie to the oft-repeated trope that legalizing gay marriage won’t have any effect on true heterosexual marriage. As the line goes, I’m already happily married to a woman, so what harm will be done to my marriage if Bill next door marries Joe? And so what if gay marriage does not entail virtues like fidelity, chastity, sexual purity and the establishment of kinship ties? Surely that’s not going to cause heterosexuals to abandon marriage, is it?

But this misses the point entirely. It’s not that my heterosexual marriage will suddenly fall apart upon the legalization of gay marriage. Harm to an institution does not work that way. Rather, as Leithart says, “[t]he irrelevance of marriage to gay people will create a series of perfectly reasonable, perfectly unanswerable questions: If gays can aim at marriage, yet do without it equally well, who are we to demand it of one another? Who are women to demand it of men? Who are parents to demand it of their children’s lovers—or to prohibit their children from taking lovers until parents decide arbitrarily they are ‘mature’ or ‘ready’? By what right can government demand that citizens obey arbitrary and culturally specific kinship rules—rules about incest and the age of consent, rules that limit marriage to twosomes?”

This is how marriage will be further weakened and debased by gay marriage. This is how human flourishing in our nation will suffer another blow. It’s not the only blow, of course, and Leithart concludes that it is not even the main one. The legalization of gay marriage will simply exacerbate the almost incalculable damage heterosexuals have done to marriage in the first place.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

April 22, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Posted in Duenes, Ethics, Marriage

Some Great Pieces on Gay “Marriage”

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The Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse has some great pieces on gay marriage from a variety of angles. I thoroughly recommend them. Find them here, here, here, here and here.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

April 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Duenes, Marriage