Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Excessive Drinking, Abuse of God's Image, and Sexual Lifestyles

Warning: This may seem like I am on a soapbox. The easy answer is I am. If you are someone who calls himself a Christian yet lives a life of sin you have two options: a) close your heart and don't read this post because I promise this isn't for you or b) be receptive and read this. Tell me your thoughts. I am not a holy Christian. I am a sinner...but the difference is I repent from it and actively try to do better. That may sound condescending and I cannot apologize if you are offended. We are called, as Christians, to defend the name and character of our Yahweh Ben Yahweh. That is what this post is about: defending the character and name of my God. Anyone who calls himself a Christian must live up to that name. When someone calls himself a Christian and then lives a life of disgusting immorality then I must step up and call it what it is: sin.

There are no names named on this post, yet this does revolve around someone I know. This could be about many people I know and I leave it vague for obvious reasons...this applies to many people, not just one. I will cover several topics...drunkenness and abuse of the body (of which drunkenness does apply but also you could fit in smoking, drugs, cutting, and many other subjects) but I will be focusing primarily on sex...pointedly sex outside of marriage. Leave now if that is too clique.

What is sin? Sin is anything God defines as wicked and opposes him.

  • Ephesians 5:18 states this: And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. 
That is one of a few that I could list here. How is drinking in excess something to be encouraged and continued as a lifestyle? Drinking alcohol is enjoyable, I get that. But when you begin to toy with the line that is drawn between sober and anything but sober I would state in no uncertain terms that it is a sin. What good is found in drinking excessively? It feels good? The same could be said of any sin. When excessive alcohol is entered into by any person what follows? A loss of morals, character, and godliness. This is an incredible article I found (without even looking for it) during the writing of this post and I cannot recommend this enough: http://www.independentbaptist.com/2015/06/dont-tell-me-that-drinking-alcohol-doesnt-affect-you/

This one will have a lot of Bible verses...just a warning. How are we to treat our bodies? Our bodies were made IN THE IMAGE OF GOD. I will say it again...in the image of God. Do we, as humans, fully comprehend that phrase? God is the HOLIEST of the very HOLY. The most incredible thing you will ever truly know. We are pleased to be granted a relationship with Him...we are in the image of the Holiest of Holy! What an honor! Why then would we mistreat and abuse our bodies? Why would we drag this beautiful image and representation of our God down?
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. 
  • Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 
  • Psalm 139:13-14 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
  • Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 
  • Romans 6:13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 
  • Genesis 1:26a Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."

I am 19 years old and I am engaged. Maybe this is TMI for my homeschooled readers but I press on. I am excitedly waiting to share with my husband what I have waited for and saved for almost 20 years. This isn't just some post about some girl saying how happy she is she is a virgin. This is post of a woman saying how she has seen so many of her friends throw their sexuality around like it is worthless to them. Let me tell you...they are ruined. They are riddled with guilt whether they will admit that or not. I've had these friends attack me because they feel I've rubbed my virginity in their faces, when in reality...I've never talked about the fact that they've slept around or insinuated that I'm better than them for it.
  • Genesis 2:24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
If you read that it does not say that a man and woman become one flesh often and with whomever they feel like it with and then eventually maybe get married and continue to become one flesh with marriage. There are two distinct time periods...being an individual and being pure...and being married and being one flesh. Where in Scripture does it say you may have sex and then continue to do so until you don't care to anymore? Where does it even suggest sex outside of marriage is acceptable? 
  • Hebrews 13:4 Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. 
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9b-10 Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers–none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. (bold added by yours truly)
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (forgive me, a repeat of earlier but I think it bears repeating)
  • Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (again, bold added)
  • Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality...
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin. Then each of you will control your body and live in holiness and honor–not in lustful passion as the pagans do, in their ignorance of God and his ways.
  • Romans 13:13  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:13b The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
  • Proverbs 5:3-5, 9:17-18 The lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But the result is as bitter as poison, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave… To those without good judgment, she says, `Stolen water is refreshing; food eaten in secret tastes the best!’ But the men don’t realize that her former guests are now in the grave.
  • Colossians 3:5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires.  Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
 I think I've made my point with Bible verses. Our bodies are holy and set apart...consecrated until the proper time. If we fail to do that, we have committed sin. What happens when we sin? We are called to repent and receive forgiveness granted we do not go back to that lifestyle of sin. I say lifestyle of sin because I know many women who have strayed but have felt the guilt and have then gone back, repented, asked for forgiveness and ACTIVELY sought to never go back. Those women now live a life of peace because it is no longer their lifestyle. But I also know more women who live the lifestyle and while they may say with their mouths that they are sorry and repent verbally there is no change in their lifestyle. Those women are condemned until they actively seek a pure lifestyle.

How do we do better once we've already messed up?
  • 1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.
  • Psalm 51:1-2 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
  • James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. 
God calls us to repent and not go back! To put to DEATH the old sinful desires and to put on a new pure man in Christ. The grace of God really does set you completely and totally free!
  •  John 8:3-4, 7, 10-11 The teachers of religious law and Pharisees… said to Jesus, `this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’….  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, `All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!’…. Then Jesus stood up again and said to her, `Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’  `No, Lord,’ she said.  And Jesus said, `Neither do I. Go and sin no more.’

Is there hope for those who have failed already to keep this commitment to Christ pure? Always hope.
--This link is to a wonderful article that God sent to me as I wrote this post that deals with sexual purity and how to help those who have already given away their virginity: http://www.girldefined.com/lost-virginity-help-reclaim-future

--I also found this article helpful when looking at specific topics that discuss sexual purity: http://www.soulshepherding.org/2012/07/bible-verses-on-sexual-purity/

--A book that has been recommended to me repeatedly is Theology of His Body/Theology of Her Body and it discusses sexual purity, how sexuality can be good, how to recover from living a life of immoral sexuality and repair yourself from it, and what it means to be created male and female in the image of God. You can buy this used online for less than $10.

I'll end on this note. Sex is not bad...sex is wonderful! I'm not married but I can already tell you one of the reasons I'm looking forward to marriage is so that I can be free to have sex with my husband! The desire for sex is GIVEN to us by God. It is a gift and the only context in which this gift of sex is wrong is when we misuse it and take it out of the conditions in which it is given to us. Song of Solomon is a whole BOOK of the Bible that pretty much deals exclusively with the topic of sex. That ought to tell us something!
  • Song of Solomon 2:7 (repeated in 3:5 and 8:4 as well) Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the swift gazelles and the deer of the wild, not to awaken love until the time is right.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 
  • Genesis 1:28a And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
  • Ecclesiastes 9:9a Enjoy life with the wife whom you love.
  • Song of Solomon 7:6-10 How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine. It goes down smoothly for my beloved, gliding over lips and teeth. I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me.
  • Proverbs 5:18-19 May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  A loving doe, a graceful deer- may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.

Please feel free to comment regardless you agree or disagree with this post. I welcome feedback. May God grant you peace and calm as you overcome the days ahead!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Doctrinal Care

Doctrinal Care
Romans 3:9-18

Anthropology - the study of man. This is more of studying the doctrine of man which then implements itself into the character of man. Fallen man is utterly sinful, and by this we mean that only things done comparatively good are still filthy rags in God's eyes. Even saved man daily sins, even the holiest of man on earth has the smallest understanding of God's Law. 

We have been dipped, rolled, and saturated in the idea of man being good in this day and age with the culture we have. The culture we have is convinced that man is ultimately good. It is our environment that corrupts us, but we are good deep down inside. We are brainwashed to believe that we are not utterly sinful. Even the church has taught it and where else could we hope to find real Truth than in the church. If man was really good then why would we ever go to church at all? Why else than to meet other nice people, listen to some upbeat feel-good music, have a nice coffee bar and other cliche church activities. They might still say in abstract than man sins, but the concrete idea that is communicated is that we are basically good. 

It's not that we are sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we are sinners. We were born that way. It is not our environment that makes us sin, but rather what is within us, our sin nature. We needs to take responsibility for our own sin and faults. The Bible speaks of us falling prey to sin because we give in to temptation. Change and renewal happens from the inner man to display the outward actions of any man. This is only done by the propitiation of the blood of Christ. 

The problem is not our environment but us apart from Christ. No man can convert the sinful heart of man. It must be Christ alone. The state pushes the idea of educating man and culture to their own ideas and this will cure any bad environment and therefore any sin. They make themselves as the god of the culture. We come to church and we need to be reminded of our sin. From there we can move on to asking for repentance and being granted forgiveness. Our church and state these days do whatever they can to convince us of our natural goodness to draw us to their agenda and away from the truth of our sin nature as taught in Scripture. 

The future idea of a general goodness of man may lead to an idea of mans' perfection. While we may laugh at that, it is the only next step to mans' goodness and if they are consistent then it really will make sense to everyone. Man does have a sin nature. It is his nature to sin continually apart from Christ. The only option for anything but sin is to look for Christ alone and to turn from all media and news and anything that wants to push the idea of man having a nature that is good. Only in Christ can we have any hope of goodness. 

"When Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel in the province of Asia, and was given the vision of a man in Europe calling across the waters, 'Come over into Macedonia, and help us,' one section of the world was sovereignly excluded from, and another section was sovereignly given, the privileges of the Gospel. Had the divinely directed call been rather from the shores of India, Europe, and America might today have been less civilized than the natives of Tibet. It was the sovereign choice of God which brought the Gospel to the people of Europe and later to America, while the people of the east, and north, and south were left in darkness. We can assign no reason, for instance, why it should have been Abraham's seed, and not the Egyptians or the Assyrians, who were chosen; or why Great Britain and America, which at the time of Christ's appearance on earth were in a state of such complete ignorance, should today possess so largely for themselves, and be disseminating so widely to others, these most important spiritual privileges. The diversities in regard to religious privileges in the different nations is to be ascribes to nothing less than the good pleasure of God."
 -Loraine Boettner
"The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination."

Friday, May 2, 2014

Living by Faith

Live by Faith. 
Hebrews 11:20-22
Dying Well.

They chose the ends of these men's lives to describe them, their deaths. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph who all died in faith. 
Isaac in verse 20 was the longest to live out of all three of them but has the least written about him. He had two chapters while the other two had about twelve. This verse 20 refers back to Genesis 27 when he blesses him. When they say his eyes were dim it is also meant spiritual eyes as well as physical eyesight. He called the wrong son to him, Esau instead of Jacob. We also know that Isaac preferred Esau. So why include him as a man of God in Hebrews? Well Isaac believed in the promise of God to make him and his descendants a great people. He did believe and have eyes that saw the promise of God and followed through with faith. This was all based on faith. Also, once he realizes he blessed the wrong son, he immediately yields and submits to God's will. And then continued on to bless Jacob again for a second time on purpose based on the promise of God. We need to have firm faith based on nothing than the promise of God and also the promise of God through His son. Also another thought is that parents must speak these words into their children's lives. 
Jacob is also listed as a man of faith. Every time he goes to do something he probably shouldn't have done he does it right. He is a sneaky man through the gaining of his birthright and the winning of his wives. He deceives and lies but gains blessing and great promises of God. He desired the right thing and sometimes muddled it up by adding too much of himself. We do this so often, Jacob is a good picture of ourselves as Christian sinners. You see the end of Jacob's life in Genesis 47 and 48. The latter speaks of the blessing of the firstborn and the blessing of Joseph's two sons. He dies solely reliant on God. His scheming and errors fall away and see him as he always should have been. Joseph works vey hard to get his sons blessed properly, but Jacob followed God's word and promise and crossed his hands to reverse the blessings. It was all contrary to even what Joseph wanted, but Jacob was living in faith. 
Joseph was another man to live and die by faith. He had an entire life of consistent faith. Despite the fact that he lived 93 years in Egypt and had all his family and wives and houses and everything there, he desired his future that laid with the promises of God and desired his bones lay in the land that he grew up in for 17 years. Joseph says that they will someday be freed from that land and when that happens he wants to be there, free. He wants his physical bones to be in the land of God's freed people. Through all of his life he displays such strength and faith in God and God's promise to him and all of his descendants. 

Thoughts on Sunday School

Matthew 19:27, 20:1-16  - "Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" Peter takes a commercialism view here. He thinks, 'I have given it everything so I ought to get a good deal back from you'. He believes if he gives he deserves to receive. Jesus says it is worthless, God gives as He gives, none of it is earned by us. No matter what Paul did, he cannot demand something in return. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. God owes man nothing. We stomp our foot saying it's not fair that He saves whom He saves. We stomp when He is too generous (like in this parable in chapter 20) or when He is not fair enough. But the truth is, He owes us nothing, who am I to debate Him having mercy on whom He has mercy with? Jesus reminds them, they will receive blessing, but so will others. Regardless of whether they give all or not, they are chosen and will not receive some special treatment. Peter would be one of the early workers, saying he had worked all day and received the same as those who came later. Can we be content with the grace we have been given and not play the comparison game? Why be jealous of the others around us and not be grateful and focused on the grace that HAS been gifted to us. We cannot do good things with the reward in mind. We cannot be godly with the end mindset of getting rewarded for it. That makes the gospel about us. We must keep the focus on the proper place. We are not the center of attention, we are here to bring glory to God. The blessings and rewards are supposed to be a side benefit. Let us just be thankful for whenever God does choose to bless us and reward us in His own timing. God measures rewards with His scales, not ours. "How dare you be so generous! I want more generosity!" is what this passage screams. And yet, even a good deal of the passage isn't "You're not generous enough to me", but rather "You're too generous to them". That is how selfish we can be. Envy is sadness at the joy of others and joy of the sadness of others. 

Thoughts on a Sermon

Christ's reputation was going before them. He was already a bit famous. Christ chooses words carefully, using words like "The Lord has need of them". It is in question whether Christ was not aware of being the Christ, but we must realize He fully knew who He was. But He also pointed to the Father a good deal and shows deference to Him repeatedly. Christ is the peacemaker, coming to ride on a colt. The only way to find true peace in this chaotic world is to how the knee to the Peacemaker. He is the King of Peace. "Hosanna" is translated as "save"...they were looking for a saving from Rome, but the true saving is from sin. Christ's role is as prophet, priest, and King...this is His role as King and the first thing He does is to go to the temple, matching His kingly role with his priestly role. He used the language to name the temple "His house". And if so, it made Him the owner and as such He had full right to do as He did. To cleanse it. He entered as a King and he did a kingly work, clean out a place of corruption. There is a relation between Church and State and Christ shows it here. Not only that, but this passage shows His healing side as well. It is a kingly trait to demonstrate a healing power. The blind and lame came to Him in the temple to be healed. He cleanses out the evil and brings in a healing ministry. He then uses children to proclaim His praises, children were known to announce the King and bring about his praises, but in these days our young children are denied entrance in God's covenant by baptism or such. The fig tree stands as a picture of the Church, there is no fruit or health in the life of the Church. The owner comes to see the fruit by is disappointed when it is bare and unfruitful. This is how Christ came to see His Church. "Let no fruit be on you again" and then the fig tree withered away. The fig tree stood for Israel and if Christ came and cursed it and it withered away...Christ said it will never bear fruit again, it ought to mean something in our vision of Israel. We have been sold the idea these days that Israel can do no wrong and is still God's beloved people. They are no longer God's people. The Church is now His faithful people, His beloved. The elders then went to damage and harm Him in the eyes of the people. He answered their questions with questions to trap them directly back and they realized they had lost. Judgement and salvation to hand in hand. Those who turn and embrace Him wholeheartedly will receive merciful salvation, but those who refuse will receive a judgement. In Christ, our judgement has already been released. We see only salvation now because of His death and taking our judgement to the cross with Him. 

Resurrection Sunday

Isaiah 26:19, Job 19:25-26

Resurrection: The Marrow of Christianity

Christ's resurrection is our resurrection. The woman went to help with the embalming process. The more spices and embalming spices, the more respected and lifted up the person. A previous elder was said to have 40 pounds of the spices and yet, Nicodemus was said to have given 100 pounds himself alone. His death was not a pretty one. The blood and humanity of his death is essential to see the glorious resurrection. Now we have women going to give more spices. They will be the first witnesses. Women back then were not seen as reliable witnesses. At the birth of Christ, God uses shepherds to witness...shepherds were not seen as reliable witnesses. And now He uses women as witnesses. This is a large deal why the women were not believed. It was a garden where God first brought about life and now God uses a garden to bring about a new life. Death came by the first garden but life is brought by the second Adam in this second garden. In the resurrection man has peace finally with God. It is only because if the resurrection that we can look around and see the good, the true, and the beautiful left in this world.

(At this point I got so engrossed in the sermon that I stopped taking notes. I apologize!)

"Make no mistake: if He rose at all it was as His body;
If the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
Reknit, the amino acids rekindle, the Church will fall. 

It was not as the flowers, each soft Spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
Eyes of the eleven apostles; it was as His Flesh: ours. 

The same hinged thumbs and toes, the same valves heart
That -- pierced -- died, withered, paused, and then
Regathered out of enduring Might new strength to enclose. 

Let us not mock God with metaphor, analogy, sidestepping
Transcendence; making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
Faded credulity of earlier ages; let us walk through the door. 

....and I lost the rest of the poem, I'm sorry!

Desiring the Word

1 Peter 2:1-10
Desiring the Word

Doctrine in an inescapable category. You cannot avoid it or be neutral about it. If not a Christian doctrine you will be teaching a non-Christian doctrine. Ministry is used to build up and strengthen new believers and refocus the older believers. Every Sunday between Resurrection and Pentecost is to focus on doctrine and ministry. Doctrine and ministry go hand in hand with one another and cannot be separated. 
What is the basis for doctrine and ministry? The answer is the Word of God. We are to be a people who crave the Word, the Truth. We are supposed to be a Word-oriented people. We are to have a love and desire for that spiritual milk. Not a fleeting desire, but a whole life deeply rooted into the Word the entire time. Not just the New Testament, but the Old as well...when Paul talks about the desire for the Word, the Old Testament was all they had at the time. The Christian life is to be one of constant growth and constant maturity. The only way to be able to truly do this is to delve into the Word and make it a regular habit to influence your life. We rid ourselves of all evil things (verse 1) and then come to Him (verse 4). This is what forgiveness is to look like. The putting off of the old man and the putting on of the new man. The Stone is living because it signifies the life found in Christ. Once united in Christ we take on the name of a living stone to carry on what it is to be as an image of Christ to others. We (spiritual stones) are being built into a living House (the body of the Church). Whenever we come into the church to gather and provide worship for Him we are coming together to build a spiritual house inhabited by Christ. Not only that, but a holy priesthood. Not as individuals, but as a community. He is our High Priest and we are His little priests. We represent the people to God when we lift up others in our prayer life. We ought to be honored to be priests to Him and holding up others to Him in prayer. We are to bring Him our spiritual sacrifices. The reason for this is that Christ was the last physical sacrifice and so we offer up our souls and characters to Christ as spiritual sacrifices. If we did not offer them up we would be as filthy rags. Do we acknowledge and accept that we are part of a spiritual and living House? We belong not only to God, but also to one another. Our sacrifices are only acceptable as offered up with Christ, our Redeemer and Mediator. Malice is to intentionally hurt someone else; deceit is to hide truth to make others believe something else; hypocrisy is to pretend to be good when not; envy is to bring others down or to wish them ill for something they have that you do not. A chosen generation, His special and holy people. We are to look different, we are set apart to bring forth the praises of Him who has brought you out of darkness. You must realize they will hate you for being a walking sign of His Word. You must realize it is always worth it. The place to always start is the Word. 

"Unlike the modernists of old, our liberals are quite happy to let us believe in the Virgin Birth or the Bodily Resurrection, or for that matter praying in tongues, presumably on the assumption that it keeps us occupied and out of their way. They only object when we dare to argue for moral limitations and ideals they have long ago abandoned. They will tolerate the most extravagant supernaturalism, as long as it is not assumed that the supernatural makes binding statements about human sexual behavior." -David Mills

"The situation is desperate. It might discourage us. But not if we are truly Christians. Not if we are living in vital communion with the risen Lord. If we are really convinced of the truth of our message, then we can proclaim it before a world of enemies, then the very difficulty of our task, the very scarcity of our allies becomes an inspiration, then we can even rejoice that God did not place us in an easy age, but in a time of doubt and perplexity and battle. Then, too, we shall not be afraid to call forth other soldiers into the conflict." -J. Gresham Machen "American Reformed Theologian Circa 1930"

Lent - Week 5

Lent V - Giving Up Modernity for Lent 
Matthew 6:24 / II Kings 17:41

You cannot serve two masters. When you replace God, you exchange your god for something else and it shapes your thought process. God does match up to man's approval so man thinks he can just swap Him out for another god. Man is seen as innocent and helpless when he chose to sin in Genesis. We are reading God's word in light of our own thinking apart from God's intended purpose. We come up with our own theology after rolling God off the throne. Our Christianity today is very different from the Christianity of our great grandparents and even earlier. You have to wonder if this could still be considered Christianity. The values of this country are long overturned. The values for freedom and liberty for people apart from a tyrannical government have long been forgotten. We came here in a revolution to the revolution there against the people. The French Revolution was what gave way to Modernity. That was the revolution we were revolting against. Modernity has been in place for so long that we naturally assumed that the god of Modernity is the only option left. The Church is now supporting it because it doesn't know any better. Modernity is in everything around us and is the only true influence on us anymore. The success of Modernity (the French Revolution) was not just the fall of the Bastille. It was also in the fall of Christianity. The liberty, equality, and fraternity of the French Revolution do not match up to the liberty, equality, and fraternity of God's law and definition. It was seen as a liberty to escape from God's law rather than to remain comfortable and at ease in His law, safe from fiat law. We are not to just coexist. That is a slogan asking for Modernity to flourish. Modernity had to attack nature  to bring down God's given society for a unified saneness. This is a macro issue of what is wrong with the world and we cannot become aware of or fix the micro issues until we at least realize the macro issues. We cannot serve two masters. We have been serving the god of Modernity for too long and we need to put off the gods of the past and follow God's desire for us. It comes at great cost because Modernity does not allow for any other god to share it's throne. 


1) Sovereignty is totalistic. All or nothing. God cannot be sovereign in one area but not another. God is an immanent God, He is nearby.  

2) Sovereignty is made of planning and predestination of some kind. Total planning and execution. His planning shows us yet again that He is immanent still. 

*If you take away sovereignty from an area (planning or anything else) you must give that sovereignty to someone else but the planning or whatever else will still get done.*

3) Sovereignty is omniscience. It is all-knowing. Omniscience will not just go away, either God will have it or you will try to give it away to something else. You cannot have total planning by God if he does not totally know everything (including the future). 

4) Sovereignty is characterized by ownership. Everything is the Lord's, He owns it all and we are but stewards. We are not our own but we were bought with a price. Ownership never goes away, it can only be transferred to someone else. 

5) Sovereignty is characterized by Law. The law will reflect  the law-giver. The taxes/tithe are also a good thing to look at. Is it 10%? Or more like 40-50%? 


"As Pastors we need to keep in mind and teach God's people of the distinction between the love of God's benevolence or mercy, and his love of complacency of delight. 

Why is this distinction unfamiliar to us? Is it because we think of God's mercy, and the life of faith, of sanctification, as solely motivated by gratitude for what that mercy has procured? But there is more to it than this. God delights in his people (Psalm 147:11, 149:4). How so? When there is evidence of their Christ-like renewal. So Christians are to 'walk worthy of The Lord, fully pleasing to him,' following Christ who pleased His Father (2 Peter 1:17, Colossians 1:10, 3:20, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, 2 Thessalonians 1:11). God does not delight in his people 'just as they are' but insofar as they come, fitfully and imperfect, to take on a Christian character. Are there conditions required to quality people in coming to the Cross? Certainly not. The Lord receives us just as we are. Are there conditions for divine delight in his people? Most certainly. Is the pleasing of God the ambition of Christians today?"

Paul Helm

Epiphany Part 7

Epiphany Part 7 - The Manifestation of Christ's Desire
Matthew 28:16-20

"The Great Commission" - 3 Ways We Misread It

1) We think it should be read individually as opposed to covenantally. A lot of it has to do with grammar and Greek that I may not be able to fully explain here. The word disciple here is used as a verb where it previously was used as a noun. Some versions use "teach" instead of "make" when referring to the disciples. "Make the nations disciples of Christ" was the original purpose. We are to conquer the nations as nations. We are not to save a few people out of the nations and bring them to Christ, we are to be full conquerors and take the whole nation to Christ. We tend to be pious and individualistic. Nations are to be whole covenants. Whole people groups brought all over to the gospel of Christ. Nations will be conquered as nations come to Christ. This can only be done by following the true Biblical doctrine of Christianity without relenting or submitting ground in order to seem more tolerant or inclusive of any and all radical beliefs. We cannot reduce the content of the gospel in order to bring in with the nations. We have lost the fervor of the Gospel. We have lost the passion of covenantalism. 

2) We don't like the idea of nations. Everywhere God assumes the idea of nations throughout the Scripture. Genesis 10:32, Genesis 12:2, Genesis 22:18, Genesis 35:11, Isaiah 60:3, Micah 4:2, Psalm 2:8, Zachariah 9:10, Isaiah 2:2, Matthew 28:19, Revelation 7:9, Revelation 21:24, Revelation 22:2. Christ constantly calls the nations to Himself. They belong to Him and He will not give them up and neither should we. Christianity is not selfish, we are to share it with the world, whole nations and people groups. We are all to come to Christ as we are. We cannot think covenantally because we refuse to come to Christ as a covenant, but rather as individuals. 


Harmony of believers. Reformation must happen within cultures for the atonement to have any meaning. Without it, you have tyrannical government and leaders. People can be easily manipulated by their guilt. They have guilt because they have no atonement. A people who have no forgiveness is controlled by their guilt. You see this displayed by Stalin. It is the war of all against all. There are legal ramifications for the atonement. When the law is violated, the law must be repaired. That is what the atonement teaches. Man broke the law and it must be made up or fixed somehow. We cannot do this repair. Christ is our substitution and restitution. We must have a high view of Christ's repair. Our theology gets into everything and creates our every thought and action and reaction. The Church becomes the thermometer of the culture to determine how well it is doing. We cannot substitute harmony for theology or true atonement. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


"But the Kingdom of God also defines the Church in its relation to the world. The Church has a foundation of its own, has its own rules, its own mode of existence. But precisely because of the fact that it is the Church of the Kingdom, it has also a positive relation with the world, for the Kingdom of God is seeking acceptance in the world. 

A sower went forth to sow. And the field is the world. That is why the Church is seeking catholicity. And this catholicity has a double aspect, one of extension and one of intensity, in accordance with the nature of the Kingdom. So the Church is a wide as the world. The horizons of the world are also the horizons of the Church; therefore its urge to carry on missionary work, to emigrate, to cross frontiers. This is because the Church is the Church of the Kingdom. She is not allowed to be self-contained. 

But there is also an intensive catholicity of the Church because of the Kingdom. The Church is related to life as a whole. It is not a drop of oil on troubled waters. It has a mission in this world and in the entire structure of the world. This statement does not arise from cultural optimism. This is the confession of the kingship of Christ. For this reason, too, the Church is the Church of the Kingdom. 

And the third remark is my concluding one: as Church of the Kingdom, the Church is seeking the future. She has received her talents for the present. But her Lord who went into a far country will return. Her waiting for Him consists of working. Otherwise she will hear: "What have you done with my talent?"
"When the Time Had Fully Come: Studies in New Testament Theology"
-Herman Ridderbis

Conviction - One

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:5-10 NIV)

I am writing as a conviction. Not enough people write convictions these days. They write about what would make you feel good about yourself. But this is an issue I struggle with and maybe you do too. I think all humans do. 

I have been raised with a healthy awareness of my sin. Rarely has it been the case where someone sees I am in sin but has not mentioned it. And I am so grateful for it! It keeps me on my toes and keeps pride at bay. But admit it, all of us have a bit of pride remaining. Who among us wants to admit that they are sinful? I don't. That requires some pretty heavy humility. 

I picked this passage because I was reading it on my lunch break and it convicted me. "If we claim to be without sin...", it mentions this twice in the above passage. Now, I don't know very many people who go around saying, "Oh, I'm perfect" or "Psh, I don't sin." That isn't something we usually hear. But what about "Well, that's not my fault." ..or other such lines. How often do we want to shift the blame and point the spotlight at anyone else but ourselves? I believe that is a very easy way to claim to be without sin. You may think this is extreme. I don't mind if you disagree with me! Again, this is my conviction of the day and maybe it convicts you. 

God is very clear about sin. It is not to be tolerated. We are to be above blame, but part of that is to be able to admit our sin and failures before nailing it to the cross. We have to face the fact of our sin, break down the barrier of pride to enter into humility and forgiveness for our sin to be able to put it in the past. If you are just shifting the blame, you deny yourself as a sinner and you deny you need the Savior and you make Him out to be a liar for all He came to say and do for you. 

I don't know about you, but I grew up afraid of the dark. There were monsters in my closet and under my bed when it was dark. There were murderers in the shadows and scary animals around every corner. But when there was any light, it was like it expelled any fear or fright in me. That is Christ with sin. Our sin is our fear...it haunts us, plagues us, guilts us...it drives us to insanity and makes us cringe and hide. But He is all light. What comfort to step into the light, to never fear those shadows, to never fear the dark. That is a life we are to have. The more we lean on Him, the more we rely on Him, the brighter our light can be. The more we can attract those who are still afraid of the dark. The more we can portray Christ's glorious righteousness and robes of white. "In him there is no darkness at all." If we are to claim to be a light-bearer, we must throw off the darkness by the power of Christ and live gloriously in His name and. His footsteps. If we walk in His light, He promises to purify us of all our sin.

So that's my conviction of the week. Maybe you agreed and maybe you didn't, but either way I hope you are blessed by it! If you ever have a passage you'd like me to address, drop a comment below!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lent - Week 1

"Lent 1 - The Manifestation of Christ's Desire II"
Matthew 28:16-20

Lent is a time of confession and repentance. But Protestants don't always pick that up. The Church calendar was said to have been forced out because it caused a lack of focus on the Lord's Day. There was a whole argument against the Church calendar. First they would say that the Bible never spoke about holidays like Ash Wednesday so it had to go. Second, they would say it also set up competition with the Lord's Day. If every day became the Lord's Day, then no day would be holy of special. And thirdly it would violate the consciousness of Christians to have to attend church when it wasn't even necessary. Our focus must remain on the real Lord's Day and not just any random holiday on the Hallmark calendar. Lent was originally and sometimes even now a way to communicate penance and our contribution to our salvation through that. And as Christians it should not be about our work for salvation, but rather His work for us. The CRC Church has given it up for this reason, it has nothing to do with us. Yes, we are to repent and confess, but it is not those works that are what actually saves us. It is not to be focused on us. 
This time of penance and withdrawal it is to carry a weighty-ness and transcendence. It can be a connection from our past. We are to have a true view of worship. We are to have a holy view of God and His holy day. There is nothing wrong with singing psalms or hymns with any number of voices or instruments. There is nothing wrong with banners or decorations or a symbol of the cross in the church. All of these have been discouraged by some before. 
Lent is characterized by prayer and fasting, which eventually led to giving up something. The problem is not with the idea of it, but rather your purpose behind it. It cannot be a tool with which we use to climb up into the lap of God. Lent means spring and Lenten means springtime. However we can still rescue the true Lent and there are a few ways we could do that. 
We must change the focus from our work in Lent time to Christ's past work for us. *I* am giving up and *I* am repenting and on it goes. 
We can keep penance as a theme in Lent while knowing it does not earn us God's favor just by us repenting. We must be mindful that we already have His favor. Even our best repentance needs repenting over.
Another theme of Lent has been baptism. We can focus and preach on humility and the importance of Christ's baptism and how it works out within our baptism as well. 
We need to steer away from anything that would distract from our regular Lord's Day...Lent is good, but it cannot be greater than our regular Holy Day of God. 
We would take out any habit of Lent that would take away the importance of the cross and the work on the cross. We must use this time to be an emphasis on His work. No matter what, salvation must be focused on Him. 

Conclusion of last week's passage: we must disciple the structures of a people. We don't have the capacity to disciple whole nations, we usually go for an individual. God is a nationalist, He speaks about His nations of people throughout His whole Scripture. Another thing is that we shy away from dominion. Christ is the second Adam where the first Adam failed when he did not take dominion over the serpent and his wife. God made man to have dominion over His earth and man failed with that. Adam was to have dominion over the earth and animals and instead, an image of animals had dominion over him. When Christ left, He commanded us to have dominion to carry on His true dominion. As Christians, we have a fear that dominion means tyrannical and overpowering authority. When Christ came, He had dominion and He passed it off to us. We are to take it and dominate the world for Christ. 

"When error is admitted into the church, it will be found that the stages of its progress are always three. It begins by asking toleration. Its friends say to the majority: 'You need not be afraid of us, we are few and weak. Just let us alone, we shall not disturb the faith of the others. The church has her standards of doctrine, and of course we shall never interfere with them. We only ask for ourselves that we be spared from interference with our private opinions.'
Indulged in this for a time, error goes on to assert equal rights. Truth and error become two balancing forces. The church is permitted to do nothing which looks like deciding between them; that would be partiality. It is considered bigotry to assert any superior right for the truth. We are to agree to differ, and any favoring of the truth - because it is truth - is partisanship. Any points of doctrine that the friends of truth and error hold in common are considered to be "fundamental doctrines," and any points of doctrine on which they differ are effectively set aside by being labeled "non-essential doctrines." If anybody objects to such a watering-down of the truth, he is labeled a disturber of the peace of the church. At this point, truth and error have become two coordinate powers, and the goal of church officers is to be skillful in diplomatically preserving the balance between them. 
From this point, error soon goes on to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy. The adherents of truth began by tolerating errorists, and then they themselves come to be merely tolerates, but only for a time. Error henceforth claims a preference for its judgements on all disputed points. Men are placed into positions of authority, not - as at first - in spite of their departure from biblical truth, but because of it. They are rewarded for repudiating the doctrines of the faith, and are given positions from which they can teach others to repudiate them, and help make them skillful in combating them."
- Charles P. Krauth
Lutheran Minister -- 1823-1883

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Epiphany Part 6

Epiphany Part 6 - The Manifestation of the God-Man as Merciful
Matthew 11:25-30

Often we get caught up in the emphasis of God's harsh justice and firm law and we skip over His mercy. Jesus begins by thanking God for hiding things from certain people. In evangelism, we ought to do this as well...whether the gospel is rejected or accepted we are to thank God for paving the road for both. Amid discouragement, He closes the eyes of those who will not see and opens the eyes of His people. Mindful of this, we cannot predict if someone has or has not accepted the gospel, we are to always try and try more to preach the gospel, never giving up. We are to always be thanking the Father for the blinding or clarifying work that He does constantly. He will be glorified no matter what, whether through the blinded or the seeing. We often get so focused on the converting that we reduce the content of the gospel in order to see more come to Christ. We change it and make it more tolerable in order to get more blinded converts in the Church. Christianity, or the conversion to it, has become about dreams, emotions, and feelings *only*, and never speak on God's holy majesty or mercy, the Law, the need for forgiveness, or the self's sin. It speaks only to what people really want to hear, their feelings. 
"Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." Our God given belief is not of ourselves, it has nothing about ourselves. It goes on speak about how it is up to the Father. We stand as no holier than those without because of ourselves. We cannot take pride or an upturned nose to it, because it has nothing to do with us. We did nothing to deserve it. It is only of God's great mercy and grace. We are never to refer to ourselves as wise or intelligent apart from anything of Christ. Christ, Himself, refers to us in the passage as "babes". 
He calls us to Himself, saying how light His burden is. The ones He invites are the ones who know that they are dependent only on Him. They realize their lack of sufficiency in and of themselves. He raises up those who see themselves as needy of Him. Too often is is our pride that stands in the way of gaining that mercy and knowledge of God. It is a holy prayer to ask of God to take away selfish pride. 
Christ calls us to come to Him. The habits and rituals were overbearing and heavy, near impossible to achieve. But Christ takes it all away and says clearly "This is what the Law says." He says how His way is light, how He has made it light. To have his yoke and burden is a good thing, it is what we were made for. You will always have a yoke and burden in life, the only question is what yoke and burden will it be? Christ tells us of how this yoke and burden were made exactly to fit is. Christ came not to dismiss the whole Law, but to fulfill it and create a light burden, to rescue from an overwhelming burden of sin. 

Epiphany Part 4

Epiphany Part 4 -- "Transfigured"
Mark 9:2-32

There is a good deal of imagery going on in this passage. There is a symbolic image of Moses and Elijah being "present" because of the idea of the law being among them. This points to Christ's redemptive aspect. They both prophesied him and so it is of great importance that they were here in the transfiguration passage. 
The idea of the mountain and clouds were not by accident. It has always been through Scripture an image of God being present when mountains are mentioned. Abraham with his sacrifice of his son, Moses and the law, Elijah...with each there was a mountain and the presence of God. 
Clouds are also a picture of the coming of Christ and His dominion. Throughout Scripture we find the image of clouds with the image of God. 
We are already living in the age to come as we live with Christ. This is visited in God's people, we do live in this present wicked age, but we are to walk as one who lives in the times to come. We are to walk in the age of Christ, we are to be like Tolkien's character Legolas, who is said to have walked through two realms. 
Honor and glory are the words used to described the enthronement of Christ when God says "This is my beloved Son". This is a reference to the previous passage in Psalm 2:7 when it speaks of God in the image of Father and Son. The King has come. 
Our salvation is complete. Christ calls for a difficult life. Christ did not come to co-exist. He came to bring life to those who would believe. He came to bring judgement to those who would not believe. Christ was a man who could relate to us, he remained a man, as the son of man, to be a corporeal image to us as humans. Matter matters.

"Christianity does not claim to convey merely religious truth, but truth about all reality. This vision of reality is radically different from a secularist vision that wants Christianity to scuttle into the corner of the hearth by the coal shovel conveniently out of the way of anything but private religious concerns." -D.A. Carson

Epiphany Part 3.5

Epiphany Part 3.5 -- Jesus' First Miracle
John 2:1-11

The wedding part is important, but it is Christ that is shown forth through this passage. He didn't just confirm the wedding, He confirmed himself. 
"On the third day" is an important phrase. Throughout the book of John, he tries to parallel and you almost get a sense that he is making a new creation story. Both books begin with "In the beginning" and both speak of light coming forth. In Genesis it is a real light and in John it is a salvation light. Christ is the new creation. You get a sense of a day after day account in both books. On the real seventh day of this new creation in the book of John, we see the pinochle of creation. We see a woman enter the story, this woman who leads the creation, not hinders it. The seventh day is Genesis is the greatest day and so it is here in John. 
This is seen as a new wedding for a new covenant between God and His people. Hosea speaks of a marriage between God and His people and this is a great image of it. The old covenant was seen to bring condemnation with the first plague of bloody water but this new and better covenant is seen by a miracle of wine and joy. 
An underlying meaning to the passage of the master speaking of the best wine is that saving the best for last, in relation to redemption. You find the first miracle being one of joy and merriment and great mirth. That is supposed to mean something to Christians. We are to be a people of joy and laughter. 
The stone water jars that he used for the wine. In 3:25 there is an argument that arose about tradition. Now the stone jars may be a symbol of the old covenant. Christ uses that to say that everything spoken in the old covenant has come to be fulfilled with Me. It speaks of the new being past and the new covenant has come to be fulfilled. 
In John, Christ speaks to his mother here, the woman at the well, the woman accused of prostitution, and his mother at the cross, as "woman". It sounds cross and/or crude to us, but it was customary to them. The fact that Mary was so concerned about the wedding hints that it might have been a family wedding and if so it was fitting to have done His first miracle around His family. 
This wedding was symbolic of His death. He takes wine and uses it to symbolize His body. Just as that water was turned to wine, so our sin nature must use the hand of God to become anything like our Christ Lord. 
This new creation is this whole idea of the passage. He is our return to the beautiful Eden, our celebration of wine with joy. Paul speaks of joy unspeakable and that is what Christ has brought us. His first miracle circles around great joy and merriment, not just with the wine, but also with the wedding. The fulfillment has come to fruition with Christ. 

Epiphany Part 3

Epiphany #3 - The Naming of Jesus 
Luke 2:22-40

This was the day of dedication to God of the baby Christ. Epiphany - a making known. There are many points here being manifested and made know. The overall theme is redemption and salvation. Redemption is spoken over and over in this passage with everyone involved. The sacrifice was a sign of devotion and dedication to God. A complete commitment to giving the child to God. Christ came to satisfy the law, He came to come and fulfill it for us. The firstborn of anything was considered to be holy and sacred and set apart as a consecration of God. So Christ was the firstborn to be set aside for the purpose and consecration of God. Without the shedding of blood, there is no consecration for sin. 
The Bible records that Simeon was promised to see the Christ. The words that Simeon speaks of Christ reflects exact passages from Isaiah when they speak of Christ and His nations, speaking of the light of the nations that overcomes the darkness of the world. Christ is the light that must suffer but will eventually overcome any darkness. We find the light of Christ explodes out to all nations and whole people groups are brought into the salvation paid for on the cross. We labor and pray for the West, that the light originally there will be shown forth and restored as it once was. Christ is coming to bring hat salvation, but it cannot come without the idea also of judgement. There will be those that will fall. To some He is the salvation of life and to others the destruction of eternal damnation. Simeon's words bring the conflict to our minds, the conflict of Christ. Christ cannot leave men neutral, either life or death. 
With the visitation of Anna we see that Christ opens up salvation to all, men and women alike, it is for all people from everywhere. Shepherds, wise men. , men and women everywhere. Anna was a prophetess and it was unusual for a woman to do this. She was older, reminding us that salvation is for young and old. She was to be especially respected for her age. 
Christ has come to divide people. Those that choose Christ shall have redemption. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Epiphany Week 2

Epiphany #2- Baptism of Christ; the Fulfillment of God's Law
Matthew 3:13-17

Baptism is a setting apart as unique and to be used by God. The washing goes back to the priest washing before the sacrifice. 

New creation established

1) Christ is identified as their sin bearer. It was for a remission of sin. Jesus identifies with sinners, He is their represented head of His people, sinners. He had no sins, but He was made sin for our behalf that we might have salvation. He is standing in the place of the Church and taking the role of chief sinner so that though He was blameless throughout His life, He might take all sins and crucify them with Him on the cross. Christ is our righteousness to God. 

2) The Lord identifies as our chief High Priest. He fulfills all righteousness. We as sinners cannot bring about any righteousness. We are brought into that righteousness as we follow the Law, and because Christ came to fulfill the Law, He also fulfills the righteousness demanded. Through baptism He goes from a private person to a public person who fulfills the ultimate will of His father. He provides sacrifice to the Father for the salvation of sin. 

3) Christ is our sacrifice. Christ is taking upon Himself the role of sin bearer, the priest who petitions the Father, and the lamb who is the sacrifice for sins. The Father is well pleased with that sweet smelling sacrifice. In Him, He is well pleased. The sacrifice has pleased Him to look past our sins. God is pleased with Christ and has turned away His wrath so that now He is pleased with us. Christ is the suffering servant for His people. 

4) In Christ is found the new creation. In Genesis 1:2 we see the Spirit hovering over the earth, God's creation. And now in this Matthew passage we see the Spirit again hovering over this new creation of God, the fulfillment of the new creation. The promised new kingdom. In Christ the new kingdom and creation have come. Christ is now anointed for His public, taking on our federal headship. Christ took up our burden and now we take up our own burden to follow Him. He bore our burden then, and now we take up His burden of following Him, a much lighter burden by any means. Bear one another's burdens is a theme that runs through Scriptures and now displayed through the cross. We like Ch