Nick Batzig – A Biblical Theology of Glory

We rarely use the word glory in any knowledgeable sense in our culture. Sometimes we employ it in its adjectival form (i.e. glorious) when speaking of a sunset or some particularly unique accomplishment (usually that which is instrumental, athletic or theatric in nature). It’s my assumption that most of us use the word glory and its derivations for emphasis without being cognizant of what the word it actually means. Significantly, the concept of glory is the greatest of concepts in this world, as it is the emanating of the perfections of the infinite and eternal God–both in creation and new creation. In an entry in his Miscellanies, Jonathan Edwards defined the word glory in the following way:

“Glory is a shining forth, an effulgence; so the glory of God is the shining forth or effulgence of His perfections, or the communication of his perfections, for effulgence is the communication of light.”

To whatever we may ascribe the concept of glory, of this much we must be settled–glory is inherent in God and something that He has chosen to share with His image bearers. However, glory is also something that we lost in the fall and is the chief thing that God has promised to restore in Christ by virtue of His work of redemption.

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Nick Batzig – Interpretive Indecisiveness

Doctrinal indecision is not a virtue. It is often the consequence of our sinful hearts and intellects. However, it may also simply be the inevitable consequence of the intellectual and spiritual progress that believers must make in their Christian lives. For instance, many new believers have not come to a settled position on the interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6–which is completely understandable. There are many fine theological nuances that belong to the Scriptural doctrine of the Trinity, doctrine of Christ, doctrine of man, doctrine of the church, doctrine of worship, doctrine of the sacraments and the doctrine of the last things. It takes time to develop a canonical and biblical theological understanding of the Scriptures in their systematic theological and redemptive historical relations. Acknowledging this is far different from encouraging doctrinal indecisiveness in the name of humility of virtue. It is no virtue to commend doctrinal indecision.

There is yet another dynamic to biblical interpretive indecision that we recognize–namely, how to handle those portions of Scripture that can be taken in a variety of ways that are in keeping with the context and the analogia fidei (i.e. the analogy of faith). I have been a pastor for close to a decade now and still struggle to come to a settled position on a number of passages of Scripture. One example of the sort of passage that I have in mind is that place in the Gospels where Jesus says of John the Baptist, “among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28). It is fairly straightforward what Jesus means when He speaks of the greatness of John. John was the last of the Old Testament prophets–the one who pointed to Jesus in the flesh–and was therefore “the greatest of those born among women.” What, however, did Jesus mean when he said, “the one who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he?”

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Nick Batzig – Teachability

One of the great goals, to which each of us should aspire in our short lives, is that of becoming a teachable person. That statement sounds, at one and the same time, both noble and straightforward. However, a careful consideration of this subject leads us to conclude that it is commonly mischaracterized and misunderstood. Many have wrongly implied that teachability is antithetical to voicing convictions or formed opinions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Teachability sweetly complies with thoughtful convictions and opinions. True teachability is actually one of the rarest of qualities in the hearts and lives of people. So, what is required in order for us to become teachable?

1. Teachability requires revelation. The first mark of a truly teachable person is that he or she is eager to listen to God in His word. No matter what interest a person may have in science, mathematics, literature, art, music, linguistics, politics or athletics, if he or she does not have a deep and abiding interest in Scripture, then all the learning he or she has amassed is ultimately useless. The great lie with which Satan tempted our first parents was the lie that they could interpret the word by means of their reasoning capacity as detached from the special revelation that God spoke to them concerning the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Solomon explained the futility of the quest for knowledge apart from the desire to know God through His word when he wrote, “Of the making of many books there is no end, and much learning is wearisome to the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). Jesus also drew this conclusion when He said, “What if a man gains the whole world yet loses his own soul. Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” A teachable man or woman is one who gives himself or herself to a pervasive study of God’s word, in order to know Him and live for Him.

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Nick Batzig – Keeping Short Accounts

My family moved to St. Simons Island, GA in 1989. I was 12 years old. One of the first things that I distinctly remember about that beautiful, little secluded Island was the fact that we could walk into a store, write our name on a ledger and walk out with just about whatever we wanted in the store. I remember my dad and mom talking about needing to pay off their account at the hardware store every month. The owners and my parents both wanted to keep “short accounts.” It was a peculiar and fascinating experience for a boy who moved there from a major city in which that would have never happened. The population of the Island was small enough at that time for store owners to feel as if they could offer that service. Needless to say, it didn’t last long. Within a year or two, you could no longer do so. It is somewhat tragic that this practice isn’t part of our culture anymore, because it serves as an illustration of an important aspect of our spiritual life. In the Christian life, we are–as the Puritans used to say–to “keep short accounts with God and men.” So, what do short accounts look like in the Christian life? Here are a few thoughts:

1. Confess Your Sins. Believers are people who confess their sin. That is part and parcel of what it means to be a Christian. If a man or woman, boy or girl, never confesses their sin, they reveal that they do not believe that they are sinners in need of a Savior. A true believer is one who has learned, by the work of the Holy Spirit, to say, “Will you please forgive me?” This is true in the vertical dimension of our relationship with God, first and foremost; and, it is true in the horizontal relationships we have with others. If we don’t confess our sin, we evidence that we are not sincere in our profession of faith in Christ. We must first confess our sins to the Lord. We learn this from Psalm 51, where David prays, “Against You and You only have I sinned” (Ps. 51:4). Even though David had sinned against Uriah, Bathsheba, both of their families, his family and all of Israel, he viewed his sin, first and foremost, as that which he committed against the Lord. It was sin because he broke God’s law. We too must first go to the Lord and then to others. When we go to others, but not to the Lord, we functionally act like the man or woman who goes to the priest in the confessional but not to God in heaven.

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Nick Batzig – 7 Ways to Care for Your Wife

In that extremely complex and, at times, hard to understand section of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we come across the comparison between the married and the unmarried (1 Cor. 7). In short, the Apostle insists that marriage is good (and the norm) but that it brings with it a division of attention. Those who are married have a preoccupation with their spouse. Those who are unmarried are free to more fully “care about the things of the Lord” while “the married man cares about…how to please his wife” and “the married woman cares about…how to please her husband.” This forces us to ask question, “What does it look like to biblically care about the needs of my wife?” That is a question that I feel as though I am just beginning to learn how to answer 11 years into marriage. While there is no silver bullet, there are many things that the Scriptures teach us in order to help guide the process of learning to love your spouse. Here are 7 basic, biblical ways that the married man can seek to please his wife:

1. Lead Her in Worship. Whether this occurs one on one or in the context of family worship, a godly husband will seek to “wash his wife with the water of the word” and to lead her “to the throne of grace” that they might together receive grace and mercy to help in time of need. A man who truly loves his wife will want to sing God’s praises with his wife and to encourage her with God’s word. This is the most foundational way that a godly husband can love and serve his wife. Everything else in the marriage is secondary to and will necessary wax and wane commensurate with this all important calling. God has given a believing husband his wife so that he might shepherd her soul to glory.

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Nick Batzig – Sinful Anger: Its Cause and Cure

Pride fuels self-righteousness, self-righteousness fuels sinful anger and sinful anger fuels destructive thoughts, words and actions. Who among us has not known what it is to have sinful anger in our hearts? Who among us has not harbored a sinful longing for ill-will or revenge toward one who has hurt us–even if only momentarily? This sinful desire for retaliation is one of the most destructive of all sins in the lives of God’s people and in the church. In order to keep ourselves from it, we need to know the One who never harbored a sinfully angry thought, never spoke a sinfully angry word and never acted in sinful anger. We need to go to Him who, though He knew no sin, was made sin for us. We need to flee to the throne of grace to find grace and mercy to help in time of need. However, we also need to remember several things that God’s word says about ourselves and the nature of sinful anger.

In what is one of the most important writings in all of church history, Jonathan Edwards focused on the subject of sinful anger and its opposition to Christian love. In this work, Edwards set out four things that believers are to remember in order to watch against sinful anger. He wrote:

“The heart of man is exceeding prone to undue and sinful anger, being naturally full of pride and selfishness. We live in a world that is full of occasions that tend to stir up this corruption that is within us, so that we cannot expect to live in any tolerable measure as Christians would do, in this respect, without constant watchfulness and prayer. And we should not only watch against the exercises, but fight against the principle of anger, and seek earnestly to have that mortified in our hearts, by the establishment and increase of the spirit of divine love and humility in our souls. And to this end, several things may be considered.

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Nick Batzig – A Year-End Self-Examination

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As we approach the end of another year, it would do us good to step back and engage in a bit of self-examination. To borrow and adapt a saying of Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The Apostle Paul, charged believers with the following admonitions to self-examination: “Let a man examine himself” (1 Cor. 11:28), “examine yourselves whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5) and “let each one examine his own work” (Gal. 6:4). The reality is that most are fairly proficient when it comes to examining their jobs, life-situations, bank accounts and the actions of others and quite negligent when it comes to examining their own hearts and lives. Far from succumbing to the fallacious insistence that we are too introspective, believers need to give a more serious reflection to our spiritual condition. It is altogether possible for men and women to be severely backslidden and yet willingly ignorant to a sense of urgency concerning the spiritual condition of their souls. Backsliding, no less than apostasy, is an ever present danger. The severity of backsliding (i.e. temporal departure from Christ) is heightened by the fact that it often looks like the beginning of apostasy (i.e. ultimate departure from Christ). As Sinclair Ferguson has rightly observed, “the solemn fact is that none of us can tell the difference between the beginning of backsliding and the beginning of apostasy.” With that sobering reality in mind, what can be done as we set out to begin the process of self examination?

When we undertake this all-important work, we need to keep a few things in perspective. First, self-examination must take place before the searching light of the word of God. No self-examination will be accurate apart from that light. Imagine a doctor trying to operate on a patient in the darkness. Professing believers need the light of God’s word to expose the sin in the deep recesses of our hearts. The most dangerous thing in the world to do is to shut the ears of our hearts to God’s word. This starts to happen when we neglect weekly Lord’s Day worship. It may seem imperceptible at first. We may convince ourselves that we have not shut our ears; but the first mark that we have begun to do so is that we begin to make a practice of “forsaking the assembly” (Heb. 10:24-15). Shutting our hearts to the light of God’s word also happens on a day to day basis as we allow “the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for other things” to choke out the word. These are the “thorns” that choke out spiritual life wrought by the word of God in our hearts. These three powerful enemies of spiritual life and growth constantly compete for the driver’s seat of our hearts. Rather than meditating on God’s word day and night, the heart that has been taken captive by the love of the world foolishly keeps its “eyes on the ends of the earth” (Prov. 17:24).

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Nick Batzig – A Biblical Theology of Clouds

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Everyone loves a sunny day; and, everyone hates a cloudy day, right? After all, we have a singular medical classification for the negative effects of cloudy days on the human psyche. We tend to speak of the beauty of any given day in relation to how much of the sun and sky we are able to see. However, Scripture encourages us to view the clouds in such a way as to think of the glory and presence of God. The Scriptures everywhere utilize the imagery of clouds to signal the immediate presence of God in time and space. This is one of those biblical-theological themes that has not often been given due consideration. Surprisingly, the Scriptures have much to teach, by way of illustration or allusion, about the symbolic and redemptive-historical significance of clouds.

The first place where clouds play a prominent role in redemptive history is in the flood narrative. No sooner had Noah and his family stepped off of the Ark that the LORD placed his bow in the clouds–a sacramental reminder of the covenant mercy that He was promising in preparation for the coming Redeemer. Clouds are those created symbols of transcendence and imminence. They reflect both the transcendent glory of the Lord and His imminent approach to us. The Apostle John tells us that there is a rainbow around the throne of Christ (Rev. 4:3). How fitting then, when God promises to give mercy from His Covenant throne, that He puts His bow in the clouds, as if to say, “From my majestic and transcendent throne, I will bring my mercy down to you.” The Lord promised in the Noahic Covenant, “It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (Gen. 9:14-16).

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Nick Batzig – Desiring to Rule Over Genesis 3:16

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There are a number of reasons why I have been following with great interest the debate over the ESV’s recent change of translation of Genesis 3:16 (see this and this). First, it is clear that the complementation debate will necessarily push exegetical considerations to the forefront of disagreements (something for which we should all be thankful and from which we should all be the beneficiaries); and, second, the meaning of Genesis 3:16c-d has been one of the most highly disagreed upon by biblical scholars throughout all of church history. It is the second of these reasons to which I wish to give consideration.

In his excellent book Flame of Yahweh, Richard M. Davidson posits that biblical scholars have put forth six major interpretations of the short trophe at the end of Gen. 3:16. The first of these views proposes that the later part of verse 16 teaches the following:

The subordination/submission of woman and the supremacy/leadership of man are a creation ordinance, God’s ideal from the beginning (Gen. 1-2) and part of the fall consisted in the violation of this ordinance when Eve sought to get out from under Adam’s supremacy/leadership and Adam failed to restrain her (Gen 3). God describes in 3:16 the results of sin in the continued distortion of God’s original design for ontological hierarchy or functional leadership/submission between the sexes — with the man’s exploitive subjugation of woman and/or woman’s desire to control the man (or her “diseased” desire to submit to his exploitations)

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Nick Batzig – When the Saints Go Marching In

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In light of the news about the Roman Catholic canonization of two Popes and the canonization of Mother Teresa, it is vital for Christians to understand what the Scriptures teach about sainthood. There are certain topics that I am reticent to write about — sainthood is not one of them. This is not because I believe that I’ve attained some level of holiness more than that of my brothers and sisters in Christ; nor is it because every Christmas, without fail, one of my friends jokingly prefixes the title “saint“ to my name. Rather, it is because both the Old and New Testaments unreservedly teach that all true believers are — in this life — saints. Laying hold of this truth has massive implications for our growth in grace, as well as for our personal assurance on the way to glory.

An often-overlooked aspects of the biblical teaching on sainthood is how the title is used in the Old Testament. The first occurrence is in 1 Chronicles 6:41, where we read, “Let your saints rejoice in Your goodness.” This title was also one of the Psalmists preferred ways of describing all true believers (Ps. 16:3; 30:4; 31:23; 34:9; 37:28; 85:8; 97:10; 116:15; 132:9, 16; 145:10; and 148:16). We see this from his declaration in Psalm 16:3: “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” During the exile, Daniel made recurrent use of this title (Daniel 7:18-27).

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul addresses believers with this title in the introduction of the majority of his epistles (e.g. Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Jude). Believers are repeatedly referred to as saints throughout the body of many of the New Testament letters (e.g. 1 Timothy 5:10; Hebrews 6:10; 13:24; and Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4; 11:18; 13:7 and 10) without any qualification other than their having believed in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior of sinners.

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