July 9, 2008 at 1:21 pm (Church)
Chuck Colson has some interesting and eye-opening figures on the holocaust of Christians in the twentieth century. The article itself is dated 2002. The estimate is that 45,000,000 Christians have been martyred in the twentieth century. According to the same estimate, the total number of Christians martyred since the time of Christ is around 70,000,000.
I want to point out a couple of things. Firstly, such numbers, as Colson points out, do not diminish the horror of the Holocaust in the least. However, Jews should not think that they are the only ones who have been persecuted in the twentieth century. Christians have lost more than 7 times as many lives as the Jews lost in the Holocaust. Not a fact that you will hear much about in the news (nor do I particularly want it to be reported. It is not as if Christians need to brag about being persecuted).
The other thing I wish to point out is that Colson’s conclusion is not how we should pray for the church. Indeed, the Chinese church has told us differently. Why should we pray that persecution should be eliminated against the church, when persecution is something we are told that we should expect? Not only that, but persecution is good for the church, eliminating nominalist “Christians.” I am not saying that persecution is a good thing, in and of itself. I am very thankful that I am not being persecuted for my faith. However, God overturns evil for good constantly, as He has been doing all throughout history. I am raising the point only to encourage us to pray for the persecuted church. And this is how we should pray: that the church remain faithful in its witness, not compromising the truth of the Gospel for comfort’s sake.
July 9, 2008 at 12:00 pm (Covenant, Federal Vision, Sabbath)
I have loved this quotation from Vos as soon as I read it:
Before all other important things, therefore, the Sabbath is an expression of the eschatological principle on which the life of humanity has been constructed…The Sabbath brings this principle of the eschatological structure of history to bear upon the mind of man after a symbolical and a typical fashion. It teaches its lesson through the rhythmical succession of six days of labour and one ensuing day of rest in each successive week. Man is reminded in this way that life is not an aimless existence, that a goal lies beyond. This was true before, and apart from, redemption. The eschatological is an older strand in revelation than the soteric. The so-called ‘Covenant of Works’was nothing but an embodiment of the Sabbatical principle. (from Biblical Theology, p. 140).
It just struck me recently that the Covenant of Works functions as a Sabbatical principle because of the work-rest paradigm of the Covenant of Works. As God had rested from His labors, so also was Adam going to rest from his labors, had he obeyed.
This eschatological Sabbath-structure of the Covenant of Works plays also into justification and the Covenant of Grace, in that Christ has done the work while we get the rest of eternal life. Of course, this is only true in an “already” sense. There still remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, which is why the Sabbath has not been abrogated. But the Sabbath character of the Covenant of Works is why all attempts to make Adam’s obtaining of eternal life solely by grace through faith fall to the ground, whereas Christ’s obtaining of that Sabbath rest for us (in an already/not yet schema) is the fulfillment of the Sabbatical principle of the Covenant of Works in the Covenant of Grace.