Praise: A Sacrifice?

I grew up singing “We bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord” but I confess that I did not understand what a “sacrifice of praise” was until a few years ago. Praising God is fun … at least for me … so how could it be a sacrifice?

I am reading through the Book of Psalms right now, and it tells us a number of times to offer up a “sacrifice of praise” or a “sacrifice of thanksgiving.” Reading it translated as “thanksgiving” has caused me to ponder this even more.

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My family and I have entered a season of life recently that, honestly, I have been dreading. In it, I am going to have to die to self and forgo some of my plans this summer. That’s not easy for me but I know that, in this, God is performing His perfect work. Because of this, I do find myself thanking Him. I don’t always feel like it but, as I praise Him and thank Him for what He is doing in each of our lives, I feel more peace and more grace, and I know that, because of Him, I’ll never walk alone.

No matter what you are going through today, don’t stop praising Him. You may not always like the changes that God brings your way or the tasks He calls you to but, if you are willing to lay down your life and surrender to Him 100%, you will find that peace that passes understanding, and you will grow even closer to a God who loves you so much more than you can think or imagine.

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Marriage – what’s the Big Deal?

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There’s something more basic than homosexual activism and the resulting ruling by black-robed oligarchy declaring marriage a basic right that must include two (will it soon be three or more?) men or women.  States must offer and recognize marriage licenses for these couples. This is interesting because there are myriad licenses issued by the states that are not honored automatically by other states (concealed handguns, medical, law, plumbing, hair dressing) and there is no out-cry that basic human rights are being violated or that the national government has an obligation to “level the playing field.”

Search the U.S. Constitution and copy down every phrase that touches on marriage. …

 

 

 

I’ve printed them above for handy reference: there aren’t any!

How the national government determined it has a role in marriage (beyond tax policy) is another mystery. Post-modernism runs rampant in the court system, leading me to call the chief justice Humpty Dumpty – who told Alice words had whatever meaning he wanted them have whenever he used them. We are no longer a country ruled by law – we are ruled over by an oligarchy of folks in black robes who think they know better than anyone else what truth is, while denying the very truth found in the charter document of this country. They are to interpret laws and lower court cases, not make law up or imagine what the legislature meant nor be the country’s “Dr. Phil.”

Now we who know and belong to the Creator see the battle lines. The system of this world is at war with the creator of this world. Because they cannot see the One Who created this world, or them, they conclude He is imaginary. The Bible says people like this have become futile in the understanding (Rom 1:21 & Eph 4:18).

The Word of God tells He created marriage – giving Moses the reason and composition for this relationship that was announced to the creature before the Fall (Gen 2:24). Jesus confirmed this as YHWH’s plan in Matt 19, adding “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Notice this – “what God has joined together”; marriage is a covenant (Mal 2:14) that God created and that He calls each couple into when He joins them together. This is made clear even when man doesn’t consider a relationship marriage, as Paul teaches (1Cor 6:16) that that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her. For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

We can observe two things regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling: when two or three men get a marriage license, they are not married. The creator of marriage defined it as between a man and a woman. Man is by nature a liar and when the one known as Obama celebrates this ruling and when the oligarchy declares marriage to be a right for anyone and all combinations of people they are all defying God and heaping up judgment on themselves. Those who claim Christ yet join with the reprobates celebrating this latest abominable ruling are revealing themselves as enemies of Christ, not brothers and sister of Him.

Marriage is the only place given where sex can be enjoying as a gift from God – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV) Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. YHWH declares He will judge adulterers and sexually immoral (the phrase used in other translation where the KJV has whoremongers). Man is a fool in thinking he can contrive myriad relationships that will be fun (for a season), for he soon thinks something is not right for he tries to get society to approve of his sin (Rom 1:18, 32; 1 Pet 4:1 – 5). Judgment for violating the marriage covenant called for death in the Old Covenant (Gen 38:24; Leviticus 20:10-16) and calls for excommunicating a church member (1 Corinthians 5:1, 9 – 11). Paul teaches us “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (1 Corinthians 6:13) and tells Christians to “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Galatians 5:19-21) He also tells us (1 Thess 4:3) that it is God’s will that Christians abstain from sexual immorality.

Another aspect of marriage that makes it unacceptable for man to redefine: YHWH uses it as a metaphor to describe the relationship between the church and Jesus (Eph 5:31, 32). This is why the attempted deconstruction of marriage by our political leaders is so seriously evil. Judgment is coming for those who celebrate such wickedness – Rev 2:14, 20; 14:8; 19:1 & 2. Read those passages and see how those evil persons will end.

God has given us marriage as the only release for our sexual desires: (1Cor 7:2) — But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. There is no provision for a man to have a man or woman to have a woman – those desires are sinful and God will not honor them.

And man, as much as he tries to cover it up and talk louder about how sin is not sin, will not escape God’s judgment.

Romans 1:18-25 (ESV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Romans 1:26-32 (ESV) For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

May God have mercy! Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.

A Perverted Rainbow

Today, America wakes up to its first full day of celebrating a law that mocks God and biblical marriage. People are faced with a choice. Do we obey man or do we obey God? This ruling is going to cause some to abandon the beliefs of the Bible. Many in a church social club, I formerly pastored in California, will be rejoicing in the diversity of America. That group of people, along with millions more, abandoned the faith a long time ago in favor of votes that kept biblical marriage from defined as one man and one woman.

However, that was just a small part of the problem. The problem goes all the way back to the beginning of earth’s history. You see, dear readers, the reality is that EVERYTHING God created was good. It was perfect. There were no weeds, no thorns, no crying, no death, and no sin of any kind. God created one man and one woman with the command to take care of the earth and to populate the earth.

Sin entered the world because of a promise that Satan made to Adam and Eve. If you just listen to me, your eyes will be opened and you will be “just like God.” He was wrong and the perversions of everything that was good began.

God ordained marriage between one man and one woman only.
Satan perverted it and said that marriage could be between two or more of whatever your lustful heart craves.

God ordained marriage to be a holy union between one man and one woman to bring forth children.
Satan perverted that and said you can shack up with whoever and whatever you want, and if you want more to your cause, recruit them from the children being born.

God ordained government to bear righteous rule over the peoples of earth.
Satan perverted that and said governments can be opposition to each other and more importantly, that they can stand against God and His Anointed One, Jesus Christ.

God decreed that a flood would destroy the world and only those INSIDE the ark would be saved from the total destruction.
Satan perverted that and said that the drinking, marrying, carousing, debauchery, and wickedness was a great way to live and to ignore the ramblings of the crazy, religious, bigoted, preacher of doom. After all, God is a God of love. He won’t destroy anybody.

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THE WORLD PERISHED!

After the flood, God created a rainbow to be His seal in the heavens. It was a declaration to show the mercy and longsuffering of God. The rainbow was His picture to a depraved world that while He would never again destroy the world with a flood, He would be coming again. The next time He comes, there will be no rainbows. There will only be fire and total destruction of ALL that stand opposed to Him.

The true rainbow is made up of 7 different primary colors of a spectrum. It is a beautiful reminder of the wonder that God long holds up His wrath and judgment against the wickedness of this world. Seven in the Bible indicates perfection and completion.

However, Satan perverted that sign and it is now used around the world as a symbol of “gay pride.” It has only 6 colors. Six in the Bible is the number of man. This “rainbow” is not a true rainbow, but is a symbol of perversion, debauchery, sodomy, lust, pedophilia, and bestiality – just to name a few. The one below is a perversion, and for the record, the White House KNEW what was coming and this was done deliberately. Read Psalm 2 for the conclusion.

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If you are one who claims the name of Christ, you cannot celebrate what took place yesterday any more than you can celebrate the mass murder of babies in America through the means of abortion. Woe to those who call evil good, and who call good evil. God will not be mocked. Destruction is coming and the world will perish.

If you are reading this and think that this is the final conclusion of the LGBT community, then you have been duped. The LGBT community will NOT stop until the next step of Satan’s agenda has been accomplished and accepted. Polygamy will soon be accepted. The age of consent will be dropped just as is happening in other parts of the world. Adherents of LGBT, PFLAG, and NAMBLA cannot have their own children and will only grow as they prey on more and more young people trying to entice them to a life of lust-filled debauchery that will never offer anything but disease and heartache for it is not what God ordained.

Soon, this blog may be taken down because it will be considered hate speech. I know that day is coming. Many companies openly rejoice in the ruling by SCOTUS. One day soon, true believers will be given a choice to conform to the world’s standards or lose their jobs.

My prayer is that each of you who know Christ will seek to love those around you. Stand fast in the faith and know that greater is He that is within us than the evil one who thinks he rules the world. Encourage your hearts knowing that God is and always will remain the Sovereign of all creation. He is coming again and whether we die by old age or martyrdom, we will be with Him for all eternity. So, let us go through each day, one day at a time, and remember that this world is not our home.

God Opposes the Supreme Court!

FOR THE RECORD — DEFCON STANDS OPPOSED TO THE SUPREME COURT!!!

No matter what the Supreme Court says, there is One Who is supreme above all men and governments, and He has stated that homosexuality is an abomination. It is a very sad day for America that the moral foundations upon which this nation were built has just been trashed and trampled underfoot. If there is no repentance and forgiveness sought from God, there will be no mercy.

Despite the horrendous news that our beloved nation has taken a huge leap toward the pit of being an amoral society, I am SO THANKFUL that there are some things that will never change.

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1. God is STILL sovereign.

2. God knew the Supreme Court would stand against His Word. He is NOT asleep and is not slumbering.

3. Psalm 2 reminds us that while the rulers and kings stand against the Lord and His Anointed One (Jesus Christ), He laughs at them and holds them in derision.

4. Jesus Christ is still Lord of all and one day EVERY knee will bow.

5. True believers will remain a minority because Matthew’s gospel reminds us that the gate to heaven is narrow and few find it.

6. Romans 8 reminds us that NOTHING will ever separate us from the love of God, not even persecution or death.

7. 2 Timothy 3:12-14, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.”

8. Romans 1:18 & 32 are still a sobering reminder that the wrath of God is coming, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

9. The apostles made it clear that they were going to obey God rather than man. DefCon also chooses to obey God rather than man.

10. Biblical marriage will ALWAYS be only between one man and one woman.

11. Homosexuality and lesbianism WILL ALWAYS be an abomination to God, and nobody who chooses such a lifestyle will ever be granted admission to heaven, nor will those who give approval to those who practice such deviant lifestyles.

12. So much more to say, but a last thing to remember is that there is forgiveness by grace through faith alone in Christ alone.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11,  “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

The Danger of Presuppositions

The Danger of Presuppositions

The Sabbath before the command, a sermon by Voddie Baucham

reviewed and analyzed by Stuart Brogden

This review is not intended to malign or condemn my dear brother and friend, Voddie thBaucham; it is to expose the errors one can be led to if presuppositions are left unexamined, if documents other than Scripture are held too tightly. This sermon sums up much of what caused me to withdraw from Grace family Baptist Church; it violates many of the basic rules of hermeneutics that Voddie taught me, apparently having his view distorted by his “confessionally colored glasses” as Bob Gonzales put it.

To the sermon, which can be listened to here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=410151353280

Early in this sermon, Voddie asserts “Israel mirrors New Covenant people.” This is fundamental to the message of this sermon, but is it true? A mirror is intended to give an accurate image of the object, as when Scripture says Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God (Col 1:15) and He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb 1:3). Israel, however, is NOT a mirror image of the church which was purchased by the blood of Christ Jesus. Israel was a type, a shadow – providing a useful but imperfect image of the antitype, the church (Hebrews 8:1 – 6). They were a mixed seed of mostly unregenerate people. While the local church will have wheat and chaff growing side-by-side until the reaping (Matt 34:31; Rev 14:15), the universal church is pure and undefiled in any way (Eph 5:27). This cannot be said about Israel; it is NOT a mirror of God’s redeemed people. But it’s important for Voddie’s entire message that we agree that we are Israel (as he points out later), because the Scriptures tell us that the covenant was made with Israel and the words written on the stone tablets testify of that covenant (Ex 34:27 & 28). Moses emphasizes (Deut 5:2 & 3) this covenant was made with national Israel, not the patriarchs. And not – by implication – with Adam or the redeemed. As we will see, if Israel is not a mirror of the church, this message fails.

Still early in the sermon we are told, “Understanding the Sabbath is one of the most important junctures in our theology.” I agree with him on this. It will be apparent, however, I do not agree with his understanding of the Sabbath. Then he says, “Is it 8 of 10 or 9 of 10 who deny a Sabbath commandment?” It’s clear he simply made up this number, apparently to demonstrate the pitiable condition of the apathetic saints who disagree with him. Before getting into the substance of his argument, I am compelled to point out a subtle but glaring aspect of his repeated description of non-Sabbatarian Christians as those who deny or do not believe in a Sabbath command. Speaking for myself, I do not deny that the Bible has a Sabbath command. I believe in the Sabbath command. I simply look to the Scripture to inform me as to the subjects of this – and other commands. I deny that the Sabbath Command is binding for people in the New Covenant. I openly agree that it IS binding on those in the Mosaic Covenant, but not all men universally. By phrasing it as if we deny that the Bible commands some people to keep the Sabbath, Voddie implies though we cut objectionable parts from our Bibles. It is more likely, as we will see, that sabbatarians add parts to the Bible – reminding me of an author who describes dispensationalists as people of the invisible Scripture. Voddie taught me to tackle the best argument of those I disagreed with, as any victory over a weak argument would be meaningless. He appears to have forgotten this counsel, as this sermon engages only weak (or made up) positions.

One of the main tenents of his argument is that the Decalogue, as a unit, is equal to God’s moral law. This is not explained or defended from Scripture. As his beloved Second London Baptist Confession states in chapter 19, paragraph 3 (referring to the tablets of stone mentioned in paragraph 2), “Besides this law, commonly called moral …” and not one single verse is referenced. As one author I recently ran across observed, when theologians don’t have a biblical defense for something they assert, they use phrases such as “commonly called”. This is an appeal to a false authority – a logical fallacy. This is another aspect of preaching Voddie taught me – do not fall into the use of logical fallacies to make your point. Doing so lessens the authority of the message.

Therefore, he concludes, as a moral law, the Sabbath is binding on all people. From this position, He mocks 7th day Sabbatarians, whom he describes as 1 of the 10 who don’t get “truth” as he defines it. Another 10 percent hold to the idea of a “Christian Sabbath”; the remaining 8 of 10, a huge majority of Christians, deny the “Christian Sabbath” and are unable to explain why. Voddie is well aware of scholarly works by credible Christians who provide solid biblical defense for why the Sabbath is for Israel and not the Christian. D.A. Carson’s From Sabbath to Lord’s Day and Terrence O’Hare’s The Sabbath Complete are two such books that I know he is aware of. Is it sophistry to assert that, in general, all those Christians who deny the “Christian Sabbath” cannot explain why they hold that position. I betcha 9 of 10, or maybe 10 of 10 people who believe the Decalogue equals God’s moral law cannot explain it from Scripture. This is because Scripture does not define “moral law” nor does it equate that concept to the Decalogue. That correlation is simply not found there. That’s why the Westminster and Second London Baptist Confessions say the Law given Moses is “commonly called” the moral law. This is a concept originally put down on paper by Thomas Aquinas, the same one who developed the triad view of the Mosaic Law.

Baucham makes the interesting observation that since the Sabbath command was introduced in Exodus 16, chronologically before the law was given to Moses, and because it is allegedly rooted and grounded in a creation ordinance, it transcends the Decalogue. This is a double assertion based on his confessional presuppositions, not found in Scripture. When YHWH instructs the infant Hebrew nation about the Sabbath, using manna as the object, it is clear they were not familiar with the Sabbath, it was something new to them. This is the first record of the Sabbath in Scripture. It is another argument from silence to claim the Sabbath was known, kept and enforced from creation. The mention of the 7th day in the Decalogue does not establish a creation ordinance; it is given by God as an example for Israel to help them understand His command to rest from their work. John Calvin, John Gill, and John Bunyan each held a high view of the Lord’s Day, but dismissed and argued against the idea of a Sabbath creation ordinance. Circumcision was part of the Mosaic Covenant given before the Decalogue – does it also transcend the Decalogue and bind all people?

Voddie asserts that the 7th day of creation sets the pattern for work and worship. He later calls this God’s rhythm for life. I completely agree that YHWH was demonstrating for us our need for rest from work in sanctifying the 7th day of creation to Himself, as a minimum. Since all creation and the gift of work were soon to be cursed by the Fall, I also see the 7th day rest pointing to the One Who will do away with the ravages of sin and provide true and eternal rest for weary souls. Scripture tells us that God gave the Sabbath to the Hebrew people through Moses:

You came down on Mount Sinai, and spoke to them from heaven. You gave them impartial ordinances, reliable instructions, and good statutes and commands.  You revealed Your holy Sabbath to them, and gave them commands, statutes, and instruction through Your servant Moses.  You provided bread from heaven for their hunger; You brought them water from the rock for their thirst. You told them to go in and possess the land You had sworn to give them. Nehemiah 9:13-15 (HCSB)

YHWH gave the Sabbath to Israel as part of the ordinances, instructions, statutes, and commands, through His servant Moses. When Nehemiah continues on to describe YHWH’s kind provision in the desert, giving the Sabbath command to them is not listed. But taking the command in Exodus 16 into account, we can be sure YHWH taught and revealed His Sabbath to Israel at that time – but it was not given as the sign of the Mosaic Covenant until Sinai. There was a Sabbath before the commandment. It began as a teaching of the concept to the Hebrew people, not as a continuation of something they knew for generations since Adam taught Seth. In Exodus 16, when Israel is rebuked for trying to gather manna on the Sabbath, God tells them the Sabbath is to be kept by the families staying in their homes. There is no corporate worship, nothing standing as a type for the “Christian Sabbath”.

Voddie tells us, “Whenever you see Israel messin’ up – stop and insert yourself. That is you and me before we came to God. Forget generalities – this is you and me.” Again, the notion that Israel is a mirror of New Covenant saints shows up and seems innocuous. Voddie also taught me to be careful about inserting self into a Scripture passage, often using Jeremiah 29:11 to teach this. It appears he forgot this lesson. While all Scripture, including Exodus 16, is for our edification (1 Cor 10:6; Rom 15:4), not all Scripture can be applied directly to us. Israel is typological of all sinners, but that is NOT the same as saying you and I are Israel in this passage. Being less than careful in this matter can lead to serious errors – as when people drink poison and handle snakes by inserting themselves into Mark 16:17 & 18.

He quotes Ian Campbell from Why Easter makes me a Sabbatarian. This is an interesting article, easily found on the Internet, providing a defense of the Westminster Confession’s view of the “Christian Sabbath”. Despite Campbell’s assertion to the contrary, the pre-command for Sabbath-keeping in Exodus 16 is given only to Israel, not all people; same as the Decalogue. Nothing in the context of either scene comes remotely close to including Gentiles. Voddie admits the Decalogue summarizes the Mosaic Covenant, yet declares “the Sabbath was not just for Israel.” His continued conflating God’s moral law with the Decalogue leads him to impose the Decalogue universally. “If the Decalogue is a communication of God’s righteousness, then everyone is responsible for upholding it.” If by upholding it Voddie means we are bound by it (as the 1689 says), then he will run into myriad problems throughout the Bible as God’s righteousness is revealed and communicated in ways that even Christian Sabbatarians would not claim. The crime and punishment of Achan in Judges 7 comes to mind.

If everyone is required by God to keep His Sabbath, why is the only record of the Decalogue we have contained in the monologues by Moses, communicating this law (the summary of the Mosaic Covenant) to that people? If it was commonly practiced from creation, why is there no Biblical record of anyone other than Israelites being instructed about the Sabbath or punished for violating it? There is plenty of punishment meted out on people for murder, theft, idolatry, etc., before the Decalogue is published, giving warrant to the notion that there is a moral law at work in all humanity. Yet nowhere in Scripture is the Sabbath held up in this light; it is a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. The tripartite view of Mosaic Law is difficult to demonstrate, as when we try to separate moral law from ceremonial in Leviticus we see they are interwoven everywhere one looks. Principals of moral law and ceremonial and civil law are there to learn from; but they are not neatly defined and set aside (sanctified) as separate records.

Voddie claims Sabbatarians are the only people who see all men responsible before God for keeping His law. Others say man must voluntarily enter into covenant with God to be held accountable. This is another logical fallacy – the Excluded Middle: assuming there are only two alternatives when in fact there are more. Are Sabbatarians the only ones who embrace God’s sovereignty and monergistic work of justification, and the Christian’s responsibility to pursue godliness? Reading from Luke 6, wherein Jesus makes the claim He is the Lord of the Sabbath, Voddie asks, “would Jesus claim to be Lord of something that was abolished?” What if the Sabbath is by design a type of the rest we find in Christ as He redeems us? We are told to rest in the Lord (Psalm 37:7) and are invited by the Lord Jesus to find rest in Him (Matthew 11:28 – 29). If He gives us spiritual rest when we come to Him in faith (which He graciously gives His elect), is He not, in this way, continuing as Lord of the Sabbath? No one enters into His rest unbidden by Him – He is Lord of the Sabbath! Jesus does not promise the pale imitation of the rest provided for by temporal respite; He gives the eternal rest that can be found nowhere else. Baucham then runs to Hebrews 4:9 to claim THAT as a Sabbath – the weekly “Christian Sabbath.” For each of the types spoken of in Hebrews 3 & 4, the Spirit recounts how the infant nation of Israel failed to enter His rest in Canaan because of unbelief (Heb 3:7 – 19), how we who do believe enter that rest (not in Canaan, but in Christ; Heb 4:3), and He speaks, again, how Creator God rested from that work on the seventh day (Greek word hebdomos, #G1442; Heb 4:4), and how the (spiritual) rest promised to those who believe is different than the (temporal) rest Joshua promised (Heb 4:8). Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people.  For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:9-10 (HCSB)) This rest, sabbatismos (Greek word G4520) is used nowhere else; it is found only in verse 9. If it were to be a weekly Sabbath, we would expect to see sabbaton (Greek word G4521) which is used 68 times in the New Testament, overwhelmingly to describe the Jewish Sabbath. If the temporal rest Joshua sought was singular occurrence and the rest from creation was a singular occurrence, why would the rest believers gain when we are adopted by God be a weekly event, rather than a singular, ongoing rest in the finished redemptive work of Christ Jesus? The Jewish Sabbath was a pale ceremonial rest from work to demonstrate their trust in YHWH, not an instruction to develop corporate worship. As a command to rest from that work which provided food for themselves and their families, the Jewish Sabbath serves a wonderful type for Christians – to rest from that work which seems to earn God’s favor and find true rest in the finished work of Jesus, the antitype; not a weekly spiritual respite.

Where does the Sabbath command include worship? This question is never asked nor answered in this sermon. One might think it central to the idea that the command to rest from work had been changed not only in the day in which it is to be observed, but as to its practice. We are to assume worship is commanded; Voddie does, and then strains to accommodate the change in day: “The commandment is 1 day in 7, not the 7th day.” This is simply not true. If it were true, each tribe of Israel could have established their own day of the week to honor the Sabbath given by God as a sign of the covenant. We know they did not do so. The commandment is “the 7th day”; the example from creation is “the 7th day.” Exodus 20:9-10 (HCSB) You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. From Strong’s Hebrew dictionary: Number 7637, shebîʿâ, is found 98 times in the KJV and means “seventh” 96 times, “seventh time” once, and “seven” once. Since this word is used myriad times to describe the Jewish Sabbath (there being no other kind in Scripture), how could it mean any day in a given week? Our English translations (NIV, NASB, ESV, HCSB, KJV, and many others) all say “the seventh day.” I didn’t find a commentary written by men in either camp who interpret this word as “one day in seven;” they universally interpret it “the seventh day.” And as with creation, the day after the sixth day is specified as the day of rest, not worship. But Voddie says “8 out 10 Christians do not believe that there is a Sabbath command … this means that going to church is optional.”

In truth, we see clearly a Sabbath command; we don’t see it given to anyone other than national Israel and we don’t see it commanding worship. There’s a HUGE difference! Voddie continues to portray only two extremes – you believe in the “Christian Sabbath” or you believe worshiping God with His people is not important. This is another example of the Excluded Middle fallacy. There are many Christians who understand the Sabbath command to be a sign of the Mosaic Covenant and yet eagerly and willingly participate in regular corporate worship with the saints. People indwelt by the Spirit of God will increasingly desire to please Him and will not degrade into the slouches Voddie posits as the end of all who neglect his idea of Sabbath keeping. Being burdened by a law from the Mosaic Covenant will not transform them. The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) was emphatic on this point:

some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses!” (verse 5) … Now then, why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? (verse 10)

In this comparison between the Christian Sabbatarian position and those who do not agree with it, Voddie lumps all non-sabbatarians in with Ed Young’s horrible Easter Sunday extravaganza. “This command, which has been place since the creation of the world…” Again, there is no record of any Sabbath command or Sabbath keeping until Israel was instructed in Exodus 16. Law against murder is clearly in view, for example – yet NOTHING about Sabbath until the Exodus. There is no command or instruction to move the Sabbath to the 8th day. Christian gatherings on the 8th day (prayer, praise, preaching, and fellowship of the saints) have no connection to the commandment – which was to stay in your house and rest from your work. The false contrasts continues.  He states that only Sabbatarians give the Lord every Sunday, and everyone else only Easter. Voddie heavily expounds, “the timeless command observed by us on this day speaks volumes.” And “As God’s people, this is what God commands of us” – to gather twice as much manna on Friday so we won’t gather on the Sabbath. “But if you believe there is an obligation for God to be worshiped on this day, ‘but you do whatever to rid yourself of the guilt of playing sports on Sunday’ … is the day His or is it not?” “That’s the question – is the day His or is it not? We cannot embrace the blessing of the Sabbath without embracing the fact that it is a command.” He implies the “Christian Sabbath” is the only means by which saints can gather and participate in the ordinary means of grace our Lord has given us.

A long quote from B.B. Warfield’s sermon on the “Christian Sabbath”, pressing the command and obligation of the Sabbath, with no exegesis to show how this command is binding on Christians as is claimed. Voddie touts the notion that we must be commanded to worship each week because the world does not see its need to worship God – sounding just like Walter Chantry’s pragmatic plea to keep the Sabbath as a means of redeeming the culture (Call the Sabbath a Delight). Paraphrase: ‘Only if you get the “Christian Sabbath” as a command do you get the blessing God intends for you in this day.’ How ‘bout this, as an alternative: Jesus kept the law of Moses and the prophets, not just the Decalogue. He earned the right to be our lamb who takes away sin. We find the blessing of our rest in Him and His finished work.

He laments, ‘Failure to attend church regularly will cause your soul to shrivel. Failure to give God this day is to your great harm and detriment.’ Again – Christians want to gather and worship our Lord; the command does not command worship.

‘What does the Sabbath teaching in Exodus 16 tell us about Israel and us? First, it was commanded and very specific. Gather twice the bread on the 6th day … As the people of God, this is what God commands us. Again, 8 of 10 Christians do not believe the Sabbath command means they think going to church is optional.’ I agree with Voddie that we who claim Christ must trust Him to provide for us and not view work as an ends to be pursued to the detriment of our souls. This principle is taught us by the Sabbath command given the Hebrews. This is how types are interpreted, discerning the way they apply to us, rather than assuming equivalence.

“Ancient writers wrote about how extraordinary Israel was where in 1 day out of 7 everything stopped.” He doesn’t tell us the name of one of these ancient writers, but the official record of Israel’s history, the Scriptures, tell us Israel routinely profaned God’s Sabbath command and were punished many times (Ezek 20 & 22 for example). “This 1 day in 7 set them apart inwardly.” FAIL! Only the Spirit of God can do this! He presumes equivalence between “the Lord’s Day” and the “Christian Sabbath” and assigns spiritual blessings to Christians for keeping of the Law of Moses – which the Apostles declared a burden no man could bear.

“This is the day when we let everything else stop!” And yet – Voddie has repeatedly taught that it’s OK for people to enjoy sports and recreation on Sunday as long as it does not conflict with church. The Christian values the community of faith on Sunday, but meets with God every day. It’s not just the 8th day that is God’s – every day is. Our Sabbath rest is found in our Savior, not in a shadowy ceremonial type that was fulfilled in the person and work of our Lord.

FINALLY he tells us our day of rest is the rest we find in Christ (IAW Heb 4:9, perhaps?); but it’s still only a weakly (no misspelling!) rest for Voddie, rather than the ever increasing rest we enjoy as He sanctifies us. “He gives you six days – do you not believe He can multiply your bread on the 6th?” We mostly work 5 days in this country and ought to trust in our provider more than our employer – but that work is as much as ordinary means of grace as any other provided for us.

Voddie condescendingly dismisses rules for Sabbath keeping, pointing to Exodus 16:23 – claiming they were permitted to cook the manna on the 7th day, just not permitted to gather (the text does not say they were permitted to cook manna on the 7th day). Therefore, he declares, there are no lists for what it means to keep the Sabbath! But what says the Scripture? There we find many rules for Sabbath keeping – not only those made up by the religious rulers.  Exodus 31:15 (death for working); 35:1 – 3 (which forbids kindling a fire); Numbers 15:32 – 36 (death for picking up wood); Leviticus 25 (describes the Sabbath Year – why do Christian Sabbatarians not practice this?); Numbers 28:9 – 10 (burnt offerings); 1 Chron 9:32 (bread of the presence); 2 Chron 23:8 (military guard); Neh 10:31 (showing the Sabbath applying to Israel, not others); Neh 13 (God’s wrath promised to come on Israel for their profaning the Sabbath); Jer 17(prohibition of bearing burdens). No rules for Sabbath keeping, no penalties for breaking those rules? No lists for what God means to keep His Sabbath? Contrary to what Voddie says, the biblical Sabbath has rules, penalties, and lists. If the “Christian Sabbath” he holds to does not, it does not bear witness to the Sabbath in Exodus 16 he is pressing upon his flock.

Voddie claims the typological aspect of the Sabbath comes into play after the first resurrection. It’s only a weak weekly observance until you die. He declares that the work of ministry is permitted on the Sabbath and then says his Sunday ministry (preaching) is not work – it’s worship. Preparation for preaching is work. Why, then, defend the work of ministry on the Sabbath if that is not work? A day off to rest his body is fine, but he will not dare call it a Sabbath, “because the Sabbath is the Lord’s Day, not mine.” Every day we live is the Lord’s Day, not ours – just as every good thing we have is a gift of God and not our own (1 Cor 4:7).

My dear brother gives us many good reminders about the value of Christians gathering for corporate worship – yet no exegesis showing how the 8th day is defined by the 4th word. He simply gives a naked assertion that the 4th word “goes all the way back to creation.” The Scriptures are silent on this topic in that era; it violates Sola Scriptura to teach that it does. No argument from me that to work six days and rest one is a God-given rhythm for life. The Sabbath command teaches this – it does not teach nor require worship. “This is what we must learn, saints – that God will give us 7 days of provision in 6 days of work.” IS THIS THE APPLICATION OF THE 4th WORD FOR CHRISTIANS? I rather treasure the surety of my soul! Just as God rested from His work of creation to show us a pattern for life and point us to the promised seed, Christ rested from His work of redemption to provide us an eternity of rest – rest that starts as soon as He redeems us and gets better every day until He returns to bring the ultimate glory to His name by recreating the heavens and earth and putting a final end to sin for His saints. That’s my Sabbath – the God-man who is Lord of the Sabbath, He bids me find my rest in Him.

To borrow from Kim Riddlebarger’s Reply to John MacArthur (located here: http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/a-reply-to-john-macarthur/), This is hard to say, but in his sermon Pastor Baucham set up and repeatedly attacked a straw man.  His was a pyrrhic victory over a phantom foe.

A Tale of Two Sabbaths

A Tale of Two Sabbaths

Stuart BrogdenSabbath

The Bible declares itself to be sufficient for life and godliness for those indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This is the concept behind the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. People who truly hold to this doctrine will not embrace dogma that cannot be clearly taught from God’s Word. While there are myriad issues that divide denominations and churches from one another, one’s view of the Sabbath appears to be one of major contention amongst those who embrace the idea of Sola Scriptura. Within this arena there is a coalition who herald the Puritan view of the Sabbath, which is recorded in the Westminster and Second London Baptist confessions. What follows is a comparison between the biblical description of the weekly Sabbath and the confessional views of Christian Sabbatarians, according to the Second London Baptist Confession in chapter 22. Let the reader decide if the Puritans and those confessions had it right or followed traditions of man.

Biblical Sabbath “Christian Sabbath”
Every 7th day (Ex 16:27-30, Ex 20:8-11, 31:15, 35:2; Lev 23:3; Deut 5:14) Para 7: Claims “law of nature … by Gods appointment” a “moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages” (no Scripture citation). One day in Seven (Ex20:8). Changed from the last day of the week to the first day of the week (citing 1 Cor 16:1-2; Acts 20:7); claiming “Christian Sabbath” as the Biblical Sabbath was abolished (no Scripture citation).
Rest from all work (Ex 16:23, 25; 20:8-10; 35:2; Lev 23:3; Num 15:32; Deut 5:12-15; Jer 17:21) Para 8: Rest from all things (Isaiah 58:13; Neh 13:15-22).
Remain in your dwelling (Ex 16:29; Lev 23:3) Private and public worship are commanded (para 8; no Scripture citation)
It is a sign to the Israelite (Ex 31:13, 16, 17; Lev 24:8; 2 Chr 2:4; Neh 9:14; Ezek 20:12, 20)
Death penalty for violating it, even minor activities such as picking up sticks (Ex 31:14-15; Num 15:32-36)
No fires for cooking, Sabbath day meals were prepared the day before (Ex 35:3)
Ceremonial bread, made in accordance with a strict formula, was presented (Lev 24:8; 1 Chr 9:32)
Offerings – consisting of lambs, grain, and drink (Num 28:9, 10)
Soldiers/priests guard the temple (2 Kings 11:5-12; 2 Chr 23:4-8)
Gentiles not bound (Deut 5:15; Neh 10:31) All men are bound (para 7; Ex 20:8)
Prohibited from business (buying or selling) with Gentiles (Neh 10:31, 13:15-19)
Gentiles invited to join with God’s people and keep the Sabbath (Isaiah 56:1-7)
Israel to keep the Sabbath (Isaiah 58:13)
Duties of necessity and mercy are permitted (para 8; Matt 12:1-13)
No bearing of burdens (Jer 17:21-27)

Notes:

  1. The Second London Baptist Confession (1689 LBC) cites Exodus 20:8 for setting the Sabbath one day in seven and for binding all men. That verse does not mention the frequency of the Sabbath; verses 10 & 11 both specify the 7th day, that day which ended the week for the Hebrew nation. Every 7th day, not one day in seven – that’s the consistent record in Scripture. Neither does that passage mention anyone other than national Israel as the subjects of this covenant and this specific command.
  2. The 1689 LBC then claims 1 Cor 16:1-2 and Acts 20:7 as a record of God having changed the day of observing the Sabbath. Read the texts – narratives showing the practice of the new church on “the day after the Sabbath.” No instruction or record of changing the Sabbath; no record of establishing the “Christian Sabbath” or abolishing the 7th day Sabbath, which continued on during the Lord’s time on earth and the apostolic era.
  3. Because of the death penalty for minor infractions of the Sabbath command to rest (as shown in Ex 31 & Num 15), it was common in Israel for the people to ask the religious leaders for clarification of what was permissible. This developed into the complex, legalistic list of rules that were infamous in the time of Christ.
  4. The “holy convocation” mentioned in Lev 23:3 is widely considered to have been a call to prayer, praise, and instruction from the Word of God. But the biblical record (Ex 12; Lev 23; Num 28 & 29) shows a consistent requirement to cease work, with cooking meals being the only exception. There is the occasional mention of humbling one’s self, making offerings to God, and the blowing of trumpets. Some of these convocations lasted several days or weeks. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate this was a weekly occurrence of prayer, praise, and preaching; although extra-biblical history does show the post-exile nation adopting the weekly synagogue practice that was well established by the time of Christ.
  5. There are many special Sabbaths, such as the Day of Atonement (Lev 23:32) and the Sabbath year (Lev 25). This comparison is restricted to the weekly Sabbath.
  6. Nehemiah 13:20-22 reveals the only passage in Scripture wherein Gentiles are told about the Sabbath, their merchants being warned to leave the Jews alone on the Sabbath so the Jews won’t be led astray. Gentiles are not commanded by Nehemiah to keep the Sabbath.
  7. There is not one Scripture cited by the 1689 showing the weekly Sabbath being addressed to, defined for, imposed on, or required of anyone other than those under the rule of Moses. Nor is there any biblical record of Christians keeping the Sabbath.

What Price Revival?

Fathers, the best gift you could receive today would be the overwhelming desire to seek repentance from the thrice-holy Almighty, the One whom we have long forsaken for the pleasures of the world. Paul reminds us that we are to set our affections on things that are heavenly, not on the things of this world. We need revival in America and in England, but at what price will it come?

5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart

This blog was posted at Association of Biblical Counselors and was written by Leslie Vernick. I believe the words are very appropriate for what we are seeing, sadly, in many evangelical churches today. While it is important that we call sin what it is, we should be doing so with much love and grace. Ignoring the sin that is present in a congregation and not addressing both forgiving the offender as well as seeking forgiveness when the one offending is a recipe for disaster. The post below is in its entirety as found on the Association of Biblical Counselors website complete with links.

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As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.

I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing (Jeremiah 23:14; Titus 1:10; Revelations 2:2). It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21; James 1:4). We all miss God’ mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so (Romans 7:19–21). These things are not true of the evil heart.

Below are five indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart.  If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.

1. Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention.

They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information. (Psalms 5:8; 10:7; 58:3; 109:2–5; 140:2; Proverbs 6:13,14; 6:18,19; 12:13; 16:20; 16:27, 28; 30:14; Job 15:35; Jeremiah 18:18; Nehemiah 6:8; Micah 2:1; Matthew 12:34,35; Acts 6:11–13; 2 Peter 3:16)

2. Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words.

But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors. (Psalms 50:19; 52:2,3; 57:4; 59:7; 101:7; Proverbs 12:5; 26:23–26; 26:28; Job 20:12; Jeremiah 12:6; Matthew 26:59; Acts 6:11–13; Romans 16:17,18; 2 Corinthians 11:13,14; 2 Timothy 3:2–5; 3:13; Titus 1:10,16).

3. Evil hearts crave and demand control, and their highest authority is their own self-reference.

They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance. (Romans 2:8; Psalms 10; 36:1–4; 50:16–22; 54:5,6; 73:6–9; Proverbs 21:24; Jude 1:8–16).

4. Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card.

They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust. (Proverbs 21:10; 1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).

5. Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse.

They do not struggle against sin or evil—they delight in it—all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. (Proverbs 2:14–15; 10:23; 12:10; 21:27,29; Isaiah 32:6; Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 11:13–15)

If you are working with someone who exhibits these characteristics, it’s important that you confront them head on. You must name evil for what it is. The longer you try to reason with them or show mercy towards them, the more you, as the Christian counselor, will become a pawn in his or her game.

They want you to believe that:

1. Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences.

When they say “I’m sorry,” they look to you as the pastor or Christian counselor to be their advocate for amnesty with the person he or she has harmed. They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to comply.

The Bible warns us saying, “But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 26:10).

The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people, but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisee’s with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis 4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, he or she is eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin (see Zacchaeus’ response when he repented of his greed in Luke 19).

Tim Keller writes, “If you have been the victim of a heinous crime. If you have suffered violence, and the perpetrator (or even the judge) says, ‘Sorry, can’t we just let it go?’ You would say, ‘No, that would be an injustice.’ Your refusal would rightly have nothing to do with bitterness or vengeance. If you have been badly wronged, you know that saying sorry is never enough. Something else is required—some kind of costly payment must be made to put things right.”1

As Biblical counselors let’s not collude with the evil one by turning our attention to the victim, requiring her to forgive, to forget, to trust again when there has been no evidence of inner change. Proverbs says, “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips” (Proverbs. 25:19). It’s foolishness.

The evil person will also try to get you to believe

2. That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk.

Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know, but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it.

The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18; Jeremiah 7:8,10; James 1:22, 26). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:8).

If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk, you have every reason to question someone’s relationship with God.

Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we have been trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good, and without discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).

When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop counseling with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry” or “that he’s changing” when, in fact, he is not.

Daniel says, “[T]he wicked will continue to be wicked” (Daniel 12:10), which begs the question, do you think an evil person can really change?

 

[1] Tim Keller, Jesus the King, page 172

Dementia – Fighting for Joy

The Gospel Coalition posted this week some thoughts on dementia that I would highly recommend you read. I understand the heartbreak that many go through as they seek to care for their loved ones. As the disease takes hold, the mind of the loved one disappears into an ether that will never return. Some good friends are struggling with this at present with a family member and the sorrow they feel brings back some painful memories.

Dementia

I recall vividly, when my wife and I lived in England, having to watch my grandmother disappear before our eyes. In a very short timespan, I went from being her grandson, to her son, to her brother, and then one painful day, she no longer recognized me. This was a lady who loved the Lord and who had long sung the songs of Zion. Her face had changed little. The pain continued to course through her frail body but she rarely complained in the last months of her life. Even when my own dear mother came to visit us in England, we took her to visit her mom but there was not even a flicker of recognition for her daughter. What a painful experience and another sobering reality of what this life can bring to those we dearly love.

However, there is an unexplainable joy that comes to our hearts when we realize that for those who know Christ, they are kept secure in His care. Nothing can separate them from the love of Christ – not even dementia. For those who are left behind, appreciate what you have because one day it will be too late.

dementia2

We deal with these things because of the curse and sin that has passed from Adam to all of his descendants. Praise the Lord though that one day all of sin and death will be totally swallowed up. There will be no pain, no suffering, no tears, and no diseases of any kind. “What a day that will be when our Jesus we shall see!” This is the encouragement that is provided by the truth of Scripture.  For those who have a family member going through this, still show your love to those who cannot remember you. Many times, in our younger years, they loved us when we did not understand. It is our responsibility and our privilege to care for those who will go before we do to the other side of eternity.

Do not lose heart, dear friends and readers, at what you see before you. Trust the Lord for His wisdom, strength, and guidance as you give loving care even to those who no longer know who you are.

Is Forgiveness Optional?

I have several friends right now who are going through difficult times with people they once had close fellowship with. When a friend or relative turns on you and begins to slander you or in other ways make your life miserable, it is easy to become bitter and to even grow to hate that person. These feelings are not unique to our day.

In Psalm 41:9, David says: “Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Then again, in Psalm 51:12-14: “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was you, a man my equal, my guide, and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company.”

Seaset

Sea Sunset

It is never easy to know that someone hates you or is trying to turn people against you but it is even harder when it comes from someone you loved. Jesus Himself experienced this when one of his disciples, who had walked with him for years, turned him over to the Romans to be crucified. As bad as the physical pain was, it must have been magnified by the emotional pain of knowing the perpetrator was one who had been in his inner circle of friends.

When you are being mistreated, the Golden Rule still applies. You must strive to treat that person how you desire to be treated. This does not mean that you pretend there isn’t a problem and open your heart and home to them but it does mean that you refrain from name calling, wishing them evil, slandering them in return, etc. You do not have to let your good be evil spoken of (Romans 14:16), but you must pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:14) and ask God to help you to love them in spite of what they do to you (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35).

Believe me I know how difficult this can be. I am only sharing what the Word of God tells us in regard to these things. If it were easy to be a Christian, everyone would be one. But, to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). If you are truly saved, you have been forgiven much, and along with that forgiveness comes the command to forgive others (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).

It can be very hard to control the feelings of bitterness that arise but it will be at least a little easier if you commit that person to prayer. Ask God to save them or to convict their heart. Ask Him to give you a genuine burden for that person. Do not allow that bitterness to fester until it controls you. When that happens, you are no better than they are. Life is short, and you cannot afford to allow your time to be wasted through fretting about what is being said or done to you, and definitely not through retaliation. Draw near to God and continue to follow Him with your whole heart. If you seek Him and His righteousness, He will handle everything else for you. Your enemy may never come around but you will have peace in knowing that he or she can only speak lies about you because you have walked uprightly.

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In closing, I would add that, if you have hurt someone, causing them to become bitter, you must humble yourself and ask their forgiveness. They may or may not forgive you but you must repent specifically for wrongdoing on your part. Sometimes persecution comes through no fault of yours. I understand that. But before you can pray about the speck in your Brother’s eye, you must make sure there is not a plank in yours. You may even need to explain the situation to a close friend or family member and get their perspective as to whether you are even partly to blame. Only do this if you honestly want to know since you may not like the answer. As painful as this may be, I am convinced that, if you obey God’s Word in these matters, you will find that peace that passes understanding and will develop a closer walk with God than you ever thought possible.

What Would Jesus Fly?

From a secular writer, this article at Huffington Post says it all. If you follow the teachings of a man like Dollar and think he is a true man of God, then you have been duped by Satan himself. This man is a fraud, a shyster, nothing more than a carnival side-show trying to masquerade as a messenger of the Most High God of heaven.

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Here is what the apostle Paul has to say about people like Creflo in 2 Corinthians 11.

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

The article includes this choice tidbit – “World Changers Church International said, ‘A long-range, high-speed, intercontinental jet aircraft is a tool that is necessary in order to fulfill the mission of the ministry.'”

How strange – the tool Christ found necessary to fulfill the mission of the ministry was a rough, blood-soaked crown of thorns and a wooden cross!

For the record – the Savior HUMBLED Himself and found Himself despised and rejected by men. He found nowhere to lay His precious head and did not lay up treasures upon earth. Creflo can have all he wants down here because this is all he will ever have because judgment is coming in the next.

Christians Don’t Lie … Or Do They?

Christians don’t tell lies; they just go to church and sing them.
~A. W. Tozer

This quote came to mind a couple weeks ago as the congregation sang, “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” As I looked around, I wondered how many were thinking about the words that were coming out of their mouths: “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word.” My own thoughts were full of how sweet that truly is and yet how much I need to grow in the area of trust.

For many who have grown up in church, it is easy to sing songs because we have memorized them and yet the words elude us. How many times have you sung “Here I raise my Ebenezer” and had no idea what an “Ebenezer” is. (A name for a goblet perhaps?) I know there are exceptions to the rule, but I see way too many people singing lifelessly, and I expect that it is because the words are lifeless to them.

Our songs should be sung from the heart. Our worship must be honest. If you cannot sing honestly, don’t be afraid to stop and ponder the words or pray that God will help you to grow in an area.

There may be times you should sing in faith, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,” but if you have not surrendered and are not willing to surrender all to Jesus, don’t sing, “I Surrender All.” God inhabits the praise of His people but, if that “praise” is done simply for show or merely out of rote, He will not bless it.

I do not want to discourage you from singing but I do want to inspire you to sing with your whole heart. Know what you are singing and let Him know that you mean it. You are not singing those words because you have to; you are singing because you want to, and you intend to live them. It’s possible that this simple act could be what it takes for revival to begin in our churches.

Science, The New Hate Speech

It should be no surprise to any believer that the Christian worldview is going to be hated. Jesus promised that those that follow Him will be hated because they really hate Christ Himself. But we are entering into a new area of deceit. An era that will not even heed or reason according to its own authority. An era where it is okay to contradict your own worldview because there are no absolutes, and there is no way to tell whether or not what we know is right, right?

This kind of postmodern buffoonery has disparagingly rooted itself deeper by denying the most fundamental knowledge in the scientific community – what makes us male or female. Here is a great illustration of what is common knowledge concerning how gender assignment occurs in the most basic of biological text books.

 

 

ChromosomesIf you have read anything about genetics, this is how this chart works. Typically (I’m saying typically for a reason, which you will see below), the sperm will enter the egg during intercourse where the egg houses the X chromosomes. Gender is determined by the sperm, because it can have the X or Y Chromosomes. When we have XX, it is girl. When we mix XY, we have a boy. But wait, there’s more! There is a gene present in the Y chromosome called SRY protein. This gene is responsible for initiating male sex determination in humans, which then will typically cause testes to grow. Wherever this protein is absent, ovaries will grow instead. There are other factors that affect development of sexual organs, but overall, this is how sex determination works. For a great graphic visual of how this works, go here. (Warning: This video goes over anatomy. Although it doesn’t show actual human genitalia, it does reveal the process via computer graphics)

However, because of the fall of Adam in the garden, this process does not always work together harmoniously. Disorders of sexual development (DSD), or atypical genitalia, is a condition which can be diagnosed with various kinds of outcomes, including hermaphroditism. The percentage of people that can be classified as true hermaphrodites are very small. And even though there are other conditions that are likened to this, there are procedures in place that can assist parents and doctors to determine the sex of the child. For more reading about this, click here.

Now let us get to the meat of the matter. Since Bruce Jenner’s “sex change,” there has been a circus of people on TV and in the media outlets that are giving their various opinions on this critical issue. The biggest problem I see is that the majority of people who are applauding this behavior are lashing their tongues at those who view this kind of behavior has unnatural. I have read some pretty hateful comments on Vanity Fair’s Facebook page that truly should be deemed hateful. Anything from “sick” to “yuck” to “I just vomited.” But those remarks don’t get nearly as much attention as those that say, “Bruce Jenner is still a man” or something along those lines.

If we were to place the biblical worldview aside, what do you say about those that are calling Bruce by his new name Caitlyn? What about when they address him as she? What should we call those that bow the knee to such an idea that breast implants and facial reconstruction (which is all Bruce has done for now) makes a male female? One thought comes to mind, science haters. That’s right, science haters. Because it seems that science is the new hate speech. If that is too strong, then science deniers is also fitting. Either way a point in this direction needs to be made.

When we reevaluate what exactly makes us male and female from the time of conception, it should cause a reasonable human being to stop for a second and ponder that sex reassignment requires a change of genetic make up! As of right now, that is genetically impossible! For now at least. What’s worse, though, is if you even challenge the idea that Bruce Jenner is still male because of the scientific reasons cited above, you are still labeled a bigot and hateful person. Hold the phone! Am I a bigot because I cite the most fundamental knowledge discovered by the scientific community? Are we to throw out and burn every page that demonstrates to us the most basic knowledge of how we are made male or female? This is pretty scary stuff. Not only are Christians labeled bigots and haters because we state that homosexuality is sinful, but now foundational scientific discoveries are being openly defied in the name of sexual freedom.

America lost its moral fabric a long time ago. Tracing the black thread that has unraveled us to this point would be too much to write and is outside the scope of what I am trying to convey here. But when a country is willing to spit in the face of the most basic of testable, observable, and repeatable proofs concerning our genetic make up, we have indeed jumped off the precipice of moral hypocrisy to pure insanity. People will quote scientific discoveries all day long and will try to pit it against the Bible as if true science contradicts Scripture. They will quote study after study, and journal after journal using a Darwinian worldview in an attempt to demolish and minimize Christianity as being dangerous, insane, and intellectually foolish. But it seems that observable science is only the intellectual high ground when it is convenient.

The fact that the scientific community is not in an uproar concerning the antics put out by the media and liberal activists is not at all surprising to me. Mankind desires to be autonomous and to be free to sin however they like. They will jump from one argument to the next, like a checker piece, to justify their actions and their immorality, even when they know it is inconsistent within their own worldview. The American public has demonstrated that they are willing to overthrow what has been scientifically observable in order that they might celebrate what they feel is a “heroism.” It doesn’t require any specific worldview or a rocket scientist to affirm that X and Y Chromosomes make a male. But we are not to fret. The gospel of Jesus Christ shines the brightest in times like this.

Decade after decade God has shown Himself mighty in nations that have lived in all manner of confusion and debauchery. And there are only a few ways God moves in times like this – judgment or revival (in some ways, a mixture of both). I’m praying to see God glorify Himself through the faithful few who are going to be bold as lions, and will make the effort to speak truth to their neighbor, their co-worker, friends, and family…Christians who will display the love of Christ by opening their mouths wide to proclaim the truth that Jesus saves sinners wherever people are found. We need a holy people to walk righteously before a perverse generation, and to make His gospel known. Let’s be about our master business and be a witness to those that are within our reach. These things that sinful men glory in are temporary, but there is an eternity that awaits us all.

-Until we go home