Ever since Cain rose up and slew Abel, bullies have been roaming upon the earth, rejected by God and seeking to impose their will on others by whatever means necessary. The number of bullies and the level of bullying rises and falls inversely to the knowledge and fear of God held in the culture in which they roam. Sadly, the knowledge and fear of God are rapidly waning in the American culture and thus the bullying at school, in neighborhoods, offices and governing bodies is rising with equal rapidity. So what is the response of the Church and its members who are favored of God toward those who are not? Continue reading
On this national holiday, which has at previous times been set aside for the giving of thanks to the one True and Living God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, even God Almighty our savior, we are reminded of the centrality of giving thanks at all times as indispensable to eternal life both now and in the age to come:
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NASB
The Apostle writes that God’s will for those who have eternal life in Christ Jesus is to be constantly adoring God’s character, unceasingly admiring His works, and overflowing with thanksgiving for His beneficence toward us in the perfect outworking of His providence. There was a time when not only the church understood this, but the American people at large. Continue reading
It is a sobering reality that God creates sentient creatures (men and angels) who are set apart for eternal doom and who, of their own volition, are piling up judgement upon themselves. Given the opportunity to choose, they would rather suffer His wrath, than serve His purposes, but serve them they do. God makes no creature that is not useful as all created things are a part of the outworking of His decree; “The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.” Proverbs 16:4, NASB. The wicked serve God now in at least two ways: 1) they are a trap for the reprobate, inflamed and inflaming each other — dry wood vigorously rubbed together bursting into flame; and 2) they are a tutor to the elect, sorely trying their patience and proving their faith. They will acknowledge His rightful position on judgement day (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11 and Phillipians 2:9-11) and in eternity they will serve as displays of His unending zeal and righteousness as vessels of wrath. Continue reading
Having come to Christ in faith, the disciple increasingly wants to know what God’s will is. Often when this is asked, what is meant is “Does God want me to marry THIS person? or buy THAT car? or take THIS job or live in THAT place?” etc. This is a legitimate concern and we do well to remember the instruction of James 4:13-17. Sometimes, what is really being asked about is what God has ordained for one’s life. To seek, in advance, what God has ordained, in the sweep of history, personal or general, since the foundation of the world, is a trip into madness. Even Christ refused to engage in speculation on such things (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32, , Acts 1:7). In short, the will of God is to do that which is pleasing to Him according to His revealed will. The Scriptures are pretty clear about that. The New Testament even uses the phrase “the will of God” (translated from the Greek phrase θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ “God’s will” or κατὰ θεόν “according to God”). There are at least five such passages which are most helpful and abundantly clear.
The natural man imagines a Universe that “just” came into existence — a thing of high order that is now running down until there is no order. The question that is assiduously avoided is where did the order we observe today come from. The scientist notes that not only is the Universe ordered but it is highly biased for life. Where did that life come from? The answer du jour ranges from classical evolution of life from non-life to panspermia — the theory that life on this planet actually originated somewhere else. Of course where did THAT life come from?
A popular theistic counter argument observes that universal order and points to an intelligent designer. Intelligent Design however only argues for some kind of creator and falls short of what the Scriptures declare. Prisons, torture chambers and con games also show evidence of intelligent design, and their efficiency provokes fear and dread. Design does not necessarily clarify intention.
The Scriptures reveal that we are created by a Triune Being whose persons are in a perfect everlasting bond of love. The creaturely analog is a covenant secured by an oath that arises out of a desire to bind oneself to doing good to another. Beyond mere design, covenant abounds in declared and performed intentionality of good will that is the fruit of a being that has enjoyed a loving relationship. In human relationships, being in a good marriage, or being raised in a loving family can create a bias of good will toward all others. Conversely being in a bad marriage, or raised in a dysfunctional family tends toward a malevolent bearing toward others. Imagine the perfect lovers expressing that love toward the highest and best object. Now imagine that in infinite capacity times three. This is the God who has made everything in heaven and on earth.
This Universe arises from the unabated and unassailable intention of the Father to glorify His Son, the Son to honor His Father, and the Holy Spirit to impress, multiply and fill it with the adorable majesty of their perfect union. Theologians refer to the unwaverablity of this intention and the inevitability of its fulfillment as God’s Eternal Decree whereby:
“God, from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor is liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” – Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter III, Paragraph I.
Our role is to reflect that glory in love toward God and toward our fellow man as sharers in the covenant blessings found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ who came as He promised to deliver wretched sinners from the wrath of an offended God in His persons to become objects of their perfect love. Our sin is our preference for our selfish love, over God’s abounding and outflowing love. Nonetheless, it was God’s intention to save us after we rejected Him — a salvation secured by the most exquisite price of the incarnation and sacrifice of His eternally begotten and beloved Son and demonstrated by His resurrection from the dead.
This Universe and all that happens in it has arisen from the delight of God in His Persons in creating, redeeming and reconciling all things to Himself. Note that this does not mean all shall be saved, but those who are redeemed are saved to the uttermost, and those who are reprobated are likewise damned to the uttermost as expressions of His love and His zeal respectively. To be awestruck by such thoughts as these is merely to begin to live in a Universe arising by, and for the expression of, covenant-faithful love — a Covenanted Universe.
Of course I can say that because I’ve never met an atheist — not in person, in print, on the radio or TV, not even on the Internet. I am well aware that there are plenty of persons, like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Dan Barker (Christopher Hitchens no longer holds to atheism), who posit an atheistic argument and while one could rightly call the purveyors of such arguments “Atheists, ” to do so masks the real issue and the heart of those who hide behind such arguments. Atheism, the position that there is no God, is an argument put forward by beings who were created in the image of God and that live in a created and well ordered universe that declares the glory of it’s Creator — the very God that they deny. The real issue then is the hatred and defiance of God expressed by those who offer the atheistic argument. Those who call themselves Atheists are in reality nothing more than particularly brazen Antitheists who resist God as do all men, some of whom call themselves agnostics, pagans, witches, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Roman Catholics or even “Christians.”
This last week the Pope, in an interview published in a Jesuit journal, La Caviltà Cattolica, and republished in America: The National Catholic Review, suggested that the Roman Catholic Church should not be obsessed over abortion, gay marriage or birth control. The Pope posited that doctrine should not be pursued over and against love and serving the marginalized. One may often hear a similar sentiment even in evangelical Christianity. Or perhaps the way it is put is that homosexuality and abortion are being treated as the unpardonable sin over and against other sins that are perceived as tolerated or practiced in the church.
While it is true that the pharisee and hypocrite are alive and flourishing among us, there is something in such accusations that shows an ignorance of what the Church is. The Church (and by that I mean both the Church universal and its local expression) is the Body of Christ, the visible expression of the Kingdom of Christ, the household of faith, and the household and church of the living God. In this last role especially, the apostle Paul calls it “the pillar and support of the truth.” (I Tim 3:15b, NASB). In this role we are the defenders and maintainers of truth, God’s truth, and we can’t pick and choose our battles because we can’t pick and choose which truths are important and which are not. Because ALL truth points to, and is supported by, THE truth (i.e. God Himself), an attack on any point of truth is an attack upon all truth.
Our job, in the defense of truth, is to bolster up and rally upon any point where truth is under attack, lest the enemy break through the lines and then attack us from both the front and the rear. During the early church, the Christians would not worship Caesar as their Lord but Christ alone as Lord. During the time of the German Reformation, Luther stood against the popish religion that attacked the free Gospel of Christ. During the English Reformation, men died at the stake because they would not admit a mediator between God and Man other than Christ (i.e. the necessity of a priest). They also would not bow to wine and bread or the legitimacy of the Mass. This is where the world chose to attack and here is where our forebears in the faith would not give, not one inch.
In our time the vanguard of widespread evil is an attack on the image bearer of God by devaluing human life in legitimizing abortion and euthanasia, and upon the Triune character of God by debased sexual and marital relations in homosexuality, transgender and same-sex marriage. All sin is worthy of eternal damnation because all sin is against the majesty and glory of a Holy God, but some sins more directly repudiate the character and nature of God. God Himself points to murder as rising up against God through His image bearer (Genesis 9:6). He especially marks out fornication and adultery as worthy of special attention in judgement (Hebrews 13:4). Homosexuality is pictured as the lowest sin of those reprobated — given over to sin — when they fail to acknowledge God (Romans 1:18-27). The bible doesn’t address transgender directly but does picture gender, and its distinctions, as good and given according to God’s wisdom and abundant generosity. One can not seek to change their gender without a direct assault on that wisdom and generosity.
And so the battle is joined where the lie insists that it is the truth, and a Christian can not shrink back or cower where this battle is joined. Martin Luther put it this way:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.
“Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.”
And Christ puts it this way:
“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” — Revelation 21:8, NASB, emphasis mine
In preaching the Gospel, we must also preach the truth. And the truth is that abortion is murder, euthanasia is also, homosexuality is perverse and can never be considered the basis for the covenant of marriage, and to declare oneself transgender is to repudiate God’s goodness and wisdom at its very core. We are all sinners and we need a savior who is Christ the Lord.