Category Archives: World View

…was crucified, dead and buried…

    I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
    And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
    Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
    Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
    The third day he rose again from the dead
    He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
    I believe in the Holy Ghost
    I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
    The forgiveness of sins
    The resurrection of the body
    And the life everlasting. Amen. [1]

The facts of Christ’s crucifixion are essential to Christian belief. “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried…” (1 Corinthians 15:1–4, ESV) I am not aware of any dispute regarding Jesus’ crucifixion. Even those who deny that Jesus was God, who claim that he was historically only a man, and maybe a Rabbi, generally will accept that he was crucified.

Most scholars in the third quest for the historical Jesus consider the crucifixion indisputable, as do Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan and James Dunn. Although scholars agree on the historicity of the crucifixion, they differ on the reason and context for it, e.g. both E. P. Sanders and Paula Fredriksen support the historicity of the crucifixion, but contend that Jesus did not foretell his own crucifixion, and that his prediction of the crucifixion is a Christian story. Géza Vermes also views the crucifixion as a historical event but believes this was due to Jesus’ challenging of Roman authority. On the other hand, Maurice Casey and John P. Meier state that Jesus did predict his death, and this actually strengthened his followers’ belief in his Resurrection.

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Historical_Jesus

As the above quote would indicate, the dispute about the crucifixion surrounds the historical context and, more importantly, the supernatural aspect of Jesus predicting it. Yet Paul states clearly that the death of Christ was “according to the Scriptures.” The Biblical test is the only one that really matters, unless we want to deny the inspiration of Scripture. (That is one of the amazing supernatural aspects to the Word of God. All Scripture is in harmony and few things are stated that are not repeated throughout.)

Peter is one who clearly states that Christ Jesus predicted his death and that the prophets knew of it by the Holy Spirit. “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:10–12, ESV)

Most would agree that the predictions of the death (and resurrection) of Christ throughout the Old Testament are plentiful. Isaiah 53 is a good example.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:3–6, ESV

The death of the Savior was predicted even within the curse from the original fall of Adam and Eve.

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:14–15, ESV

If you rule out the opinions of those who “search for the Historical Jesus,” I am unaware of any Biblical scholar who denies that Jesus was innocent yet crucified, that his crucifixion was the payment required by God’s justice for the forgiveness of sins, and that this is a real act in history with eternal and historical significance.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation [2] by his blood, to be received by faith.

Romans 3:21–25, ESV

Why does the creed include he was dead and buried to crucified? I can suggest two reasons. First, over time, there have developed theories that Jesus did not die, but merely fainted or lost consciousness. Such theories are explanations for the resurrection which being a supernatural event cannot be historical as well.

Thus grew and thus died the theory of the rupture of the heart of Jesus. It is only an evidence that there is no proof in
the hands of the Christians that Jesus died on the cross, and like the drowning man they catch at every straw. But the proof is now complete that Jesus did not die upon the cross, and the tomb at Khan Yar is a living witness of this fact, the truth of which would soon be seen by the world.

The ‘Rupture of the Heart’ Theory of the Death of Jesus, The Review of Religions, May 1905, p. 191.

If you are interested, there are more recent articles that are similar here, here, and here. All of these articles come from the same source. However, they are representative of the overall theory that Jesus did not die on the cross. Yet, each one uses science as a credible proof of their point and they are still speculative at best. The creed takes into account the nature of human sin and it does not allow for theory. Jesus died according to all four gospels and all remaining New Testament writings.

Second, the strongest evidence for the death of Jesus is that he was buried. Mark wrote about the event this way, “And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.” (Mark 15:42–47, ESV)

Even before people thought to argue that Jesus did not die, Mark answers their objection. “Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died.” Those who were crucified with Jesus had their legs broken to hasten the process. As long as someone on the cross still lived, the Roman guards had to stay so that no one could come and save them. Instead of breaking Jesus legs, they thrust a spear in his side. This too was to speed up his death. Speculation that following all of the physical suffering Jesus experienced before the cross did not significantly effect his death, and that the spear thrust itself did not hasten it is foolishness. If he did not die, then there is no Christianity, and I can’t help but wonder if this is the motivation for the argument.

We must note that the creed is not interested in speculation. It is doctrine, the teaching of the Christian Church from the beginning. It is a concise statement telling us what we must believe to be accounted members of the Way. It is truth physiologically and historically with enough evidence to verify it. Paul makes sure that we know there were many witnesses to the resurrected Jesus, and we are told that the disciple Thomas had his doubts answered by touching his wounds. The problem is not evidence, though. It is interpretation, and interpretation of something always begins with what the interpreter brings of his or her self.

The beginning of any belief system is one’s world view. Modern science is rooted in materialism. Modern education is a matter of indoctrination. All of the ideas of mankind begin either with God or no god. One is truth and the other is not. There are no options in-between, no compromises to be made. I believe…

[1] Historic Creeds and Confessions, electronic ed., (Oak Harbor: Lexham Press, 1997).

[2] PROPITIATION, n. propisia´shon. [Fr.; from propitiate.] The act of appeasing wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person; the act of making propitious. In theology, the atonement or atoning sacrifice offered to God to assuage his wrath and render him propitious to sinners. Christ is the propitiation for the sins of men. Rom. 3. 1 John 2. Noah Webster, Noah Webster’s first edition of An American dictionary of the English language., 2006.

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Filed under Faith, Gospel, Truth, Uncategorized, World View

Everything is Racist?

“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.”

Romans 1:28–32 (ESV)

I can’t help but think that all of America has gone mad. Every day, someone somewhere claims that something in normal life is racist. For example, go here. Some of these sources claim to some sort of expertise whether as journalists, politicians, university professors, or theologians. Some of Paul’s inspired words for these people include envy, foolish, heartless, and ruthless. Their baseless claims are slanderous and come from their hatred of God.

One might wonder why the most patriotic citizens in our country came from other countries to seek freedom. Yes, the freedom they celebrate is the same freedom others so easily denigrate. The sad part of our freedom of speech is that so many use it to freely express their inventions of evil, or maybe it’s just their ignorance. So many victims born in the United States!

The liberty so many generations fought and died for is the freedom to work hard in order to provide for family and self. It is the freedom to help others in need and to be self-governing good people. It is the freedom to fail, get up again, and amend our ways. It is the freedom to forgive.

Some people say time changes all things. I say that it is not time that changes things, it is sin that takes all that is good and transforms it into everything that is bad. Freedom to be righteous has become freedom to be self-righteous. Freedom to make one’s way through life has become a desire for a free ride. True caring for the poor or the oppressed has become public theft through illegitimate taxation that people who choose not to be responsible are essentially paid to remain irresponsible.

Ultimately, the greatest deception of sin, in my opinion, is to make us believe that hatred of our condition is actually a love of ourselves. Equal opportunity has become equal outcome whether the outcome is earned or not. When the outcome is desired but not earned, it is tragically wasted. Working for something validates the value of the thing worked for. To receive something for nothing makes the something worth nothing. Liberty that does not cost a weighty price is not liberty. It is merely licentiousness.

God says through Paul that because people refuse to worship God, he gives them up to their own depraved thinking. Apart from submission to the Creator, there is no meaning and no value in anything. So, in the mind of those who deny God the status and glory that is his by right, everything is racist because “of no value, that which is worthless” is the real definition of the word racism. And Americans now reap what Americans have sown.

All value is derivative from the only One who is ultimately valuable, the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has endowed his creation with value. This is especially true in regards to human beings, for we are created in God’s image. We were made to reflect the glory of God as mirrors of that glory. The image I see in a mirror is not me, but it is a representation of me. Therefore, we are not Gods but we were made to be representations of him. This explains why animals do not create things of beauty. We can see their beauty as creatures of God’s handiwork, but only human beings write poetry or great symphonies. Only those who bear the image of the creative God are creators of art, architecture, technology, and more. God gives us the raw material and using the knowledge, holiness, and righteousness within us we use this material to create wonderful things.

God’s goodness and grace are displayed in that even humans who refuse in sin to worship God use what God made them to be and create, rule creation, and work for one another. It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous and waters their crops the same. At the same time, the wickedness of the unrighteous is also displayed when they oppress and murder, hate and destroy, cheat and steal. How do we know this? By the reality that God’s love, righteousness, and justice have never completely disappeared from his creation.

Moreover, God entered his creation in Jesus Christ and showed us once again how valuable his creation and his people are. Our value is the very life of Jesus, who was crucified to pay for our sin. His work was finished on the cross which was proven effective by his resurrection from the dead. The good news did not stop there, for, on his coronation day, he ascended to heaven to take his throne and fulfill his rule over the earth. (May the Lord forgive us for no longer celebrating Ascension Day.)

This is why Paul could boldly claim that haters of God deserved to die. He did not say it was our job to kill them, only that they deserved death. Denial of God is the denial of everything that is. Applying this to our country means that making claims of racism where no racism exists is proof of the rejection of God and his creation. Is there such a thing as racism? Has the government of the United States of America done injustice and evil? Yes, but the standard is the one set by the Creator and Law Giver to whom everyone and every institution owes obedience and worship.

Our judgment is not what condemns people, for only Jesus Christ has been given that function. Yet, we are to judge others’ actions so that we can strive to counter their wickedness with righteousness and justice. Please notice that I did not say “social justice.” Social justice is the creation of sinful man. It may be dressed up as God’s justice, but there is no substitute for the real thing. Social justice condemns. God’s justice displays his glory. God’s justice corrects evil, cares for victims of evil, and restores wholeness.

God’s justice has dealt with the injustice of racism. The United States paid a huge price for the lives destroyed by the legalized slave trade. But God’s justice prevailed and slavery was ended. Many black Americans paid a huge price for the Jim Crow laws. But God’s justice prevailed and discrimination was made illegal. In neither of these events did justice happen overnight. Today, there are still some vestiges of discrimination. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ rules from heaven and is recreating the earth according to the New Covenant. Now, as I see it, you can either scream about perceived racism and injustice, you can demand to get something for nothing, or you can actually receive something without cost, the grace of God in salvation from sin, and you can join the reclamation work of the Lord.

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:8–10 (ESV)

“…the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17 (ESV)

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Filed under Gospel, Hate, Humanism, Law of God, Obedience, Racism, Sin, World View

Cancel Culture

I just finished reading Gary DeMar’s latest article on American Vision. You can read it hear. It got me thinking, and I have come up with a few questions, some of which come from the article itself.

Why is it that it is acceptable for other religions to publicly display their beliefs but not Christianity? Why are atheists so insecure in their thinking that they feel the need to shut Christians up? Why are those who demand the Constitutional freedom of speech the same ones who would deny it for those who disagree with them? Why is it that a race of people who cannot get over the oppression of their descendants have no guilt or remorse for oppressing others in their quest for superiority? Why is it that companies and corporations believe that promoting deviant lifestyles will serve to increase their business?

Why is it that those who most hate being judged by their skin color hate others for theirs? Why is it that legal immigrants, many of whom came to America with much difficulty, love America and the Constitution more than many citizens by birth? Why do so many historians hate history so much that they are willing to make it up as they go along? Why is it that those who have not read an author’s work are often the ones who object so strenuously to its content? Why is it that the most ignorant among us can’t help but demonstrate that fact publicly? Why is it that institutions of higher education turn out so many poorly educated people?

Why is it that the people who object to the pledge of allegiance because we are not a nation under God are the ones who have no problem spending money with In God We Trust printed on it? Why is it that you can often tell the nature of one’s spirituality by counting how many times they take the Lord’s name in vain? Why is it that someone so quickly uses the words God and Jesus Christ as expletives, but no one uses the name Buddha or Krishna this way? Why is it that an organization that hates the gospel of Jesus Christ and deceitfully manipulates its members can call itself a church?

Without having any good answers to these questions, this middle-class white male is not giving up or giving in. After all, watching those who differ ideologically with me go ballistic when I defend my faith that, though there may not be a white culture, there is undoubtedly a Christian culture that for over two millennia has provided developments in science, medicine, technology, books, music, and so much more. Their screaming and antics are more fun to watch than anything on T.V. these days.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:1–4, ESV

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1–5, ESV

Then I fell to my knees, and looked up toward my Lord, and said, Thank you for answering all my questions. Maranatha, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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PEASAGLE #2

The horror you inspire has deceived you, and the pride of your heart, you who live in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill. Though you make your nest as high as the eagle’s, I will bring you down from there, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 49:16, ESV

“Behold, the day! Behold, it comes! Your doom has come; the rod has blossomed; pride has budded.

There is an old proverb, “Pride goeth before a fall.” It comes from the Bible. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, ESV) Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and it has a lot to say about pride. “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13, ESV) “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” (Proverbs 11:12, ESV) “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.” (Proverbs 21:24, ESV) “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23, ESV)

Pride is sometimes challenging to define. When I have written or preached about pride, I often get a response, “Isn’t it ok to be proud of your work or of something you have done well?” The first definition of pride in a dictionary is, “Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.” (Noah Webster, Noah Webster’s first edition of An American Dictionary of the English language., 2006.) This is the definition of pride that I believe explains the sin of pride.

This is not to deny that the word pride has other meanings. Among the many definitions offered by Webster is this one, “Generous elation of heart; a noble self-esteem springing from a consciousness of worth.” (Webster, 2006) Most of the definitions, though, include the negative aspect. In Webster’s first definition, notice the words inordinate, unreasonable, lofty airs, and contempt. Not very flattering.

Theologically, the argument can be made that the sin of pride is essentially a failure to recognize one’s place in creation and status before God. As created beings, there can be no pride in who we are because everything we are is God’s gift in making us in his image. The only thing we have ever brought to our being is sin. Our joy, exaltation, and appreciation of the creation are merely recognizing who God is and results in worshipping him. However, all of that joy and worship are marred by sinful pride.

Every other sin boils down to pride. Sin declares that I am greater than God. I get to choose my destiny. Yet, the problem is there are more people than just me. These people are all influenced by pride, too. So, everyone is at odds with everyone else because our pride demands that we are each god. As Israel learned a few millennia ago, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4, ESV) Pharaoh was a proud ruler over Egypt. The Pharaohs were gods to the people. Therefore, the one God had to crush the little god and his followers revealing that there is no other. Each of the plagues Moses brought to Pharaoh was an attack on a specific Egyptian god.

Sadly, we humans never seem to learn. This all-powerful God who defeated Egypt and drowned the Egyptian army was their God. He had called them. He had made them a nation. So why did they whine about being in the desert, about being thirsty and hungry? The Israelites even began to say that they should go back to Egypt. (Keith Green writes a great song about this.) If you think about it, the only answer is their pride made them think they could control God. I’m hungry, so feed me!

Israel continued throughout its history to express their pride. God always responded with the principle he expressed in his Law.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Exodus 20:2–7, ESV

Pride, it turns out, is the fundamental problem in all disputes. In our world, pride runs rampant. I used to like to play and watch sports. Not so much anymore. It used to be that some of the greatest players scored a touchdown without some kind of display, saying, “In your face, man, I’m better than you.” End zone dances, flips, stunts took the joy out of watching for me. When the NFL wanted to curtail such demonstrations, the fans complained about it along with the athletes. Now athletic pride shows itself in athletes thinking that their opinions outside of sports should be more highly valued than those within the field they are talking about. Colin Kaepernick knelt during the traditional Star Spangled Banner. LeBron James brought Black Lives Matter to the NBA.

Even the idea of Critical Race Theory rests upon some kind of prideful belief that one race should be treated better. Ok. Aside from the fact that race itself is a human construct dividing people, is it really reasonable to claim that all white people are inherently evil racists? Even the President, with hubris, declared that white supremacy is the greatest threat to America today. I say the greatest threat to America is pride. Too bad I don’t have an athletic platform to exploit.

Please excuse my sarcasm. Some things need the light of the Gospel to highlight them. Paul had a great solution to pride, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV) That is the test for pride. The word more significant means “to be of surpassing or exceptional value—‘to be exceptionally valuable, to surpass in value, to be better.’” (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains, 1996, 1, 620.)

Just think. If we all saw everyone else to be of surpassing or exceptional value, there would be no disputes, no theft, no covetousness, no crime. We would never worry that we are getting ripped off. There would be no pornography, very different television, and music and books without adult content labels. That day will come. In the meantime, we can turn to Jesus Christ.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:4–8, ESV

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PEASAGL

There is a long tradition in the Church that speaks of Seven Deadly Sins. When I learned them, my instructor suggested the acronym PEASASGL: Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and Lust. Though there is no one place in Scripture that puts these seven sins together, Paul comes close in Romans 1.

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. 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.

Romans 1:21–32, ESV

Paul did not worry about what people thought. I was concerned first and foremost with what God thought, and he was not afraid to express it. It is not hard to spot all seven of these sins in our world today. They have been with us from the beginning. However, that does not excuse their presence. “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.” We should not be surprised by the evil men do and the evil they devise.

My question is, when did the Church decide to stop calling these things sin and join in approving those who practice them? When did the Church stop preaching about PEASAGL? I have no answer. The apostles did not hesitate to identify false teachers and heretics in the Church. When was the last time you heard the voice of the Church in harmony declare something as heresy?

I grant you that we should be cautious about using the term heresy. Many things have been called heresy that are not, and many things that are heresy that are not called heresy. The reformers called the teachings of the Roman Church heresy and the Church called the reformers heretics. We should be even more careful about using the word heretic. Were both wrong? That’s a whole other discussion. My point is that there are some things the Church Universal agrees as essential to faith (the Apostles’ Creed), and they used to agree on PEASAGL.

I say used to because sin is something we order for dessert, not something we do contrary to God’s holy will. I believe that some of the problem is due to the fact that though we are declared righteous in Christ, we all still commit sin. Yet, I believe that there has been another change in the world. We have cast off reason for emotion. What feels right is right. Such a thought is itself the sin of pride. It is the original sin.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:18, ESV

The day we became more concerned about other’s feelings than truth is the day that sin won. Yes, people’s feelings do matter. God’s Truth matters more, and this is why Paul wrote what he did in Romans 1. Today, the Church chooses which parts of Scripture to observe and which parts to cast off. That whole part about God giving those who deny him over to unnatural passions sticks out to me. Notice that denial has to do with truth, and passions have to do with feelings. Paul defines unnatural passions as homosexuality. Isn’t it interesting how the glorification of homosexuality today is through Pride parades and Pride gatherings? Pride is often called the chief sin because all other sin begins with and flows out of pride.

So, not only are these people proud to be sinners, they flaunt their sin publicly. But it goes a step further. Those who disagree with them and celebrate their sin are labeled as phobic of one sort or another. There is no discussion about the matter. Name-calling, another emotional response, is how it is defended. All the while, God is calling out, “Come, let us reason together.”

Then, the Church, the body of Christ in the world, decides that homosexuality is ok because those parts of God’s word are judged to be archaic and culturally irrelevant. Of course, humans judge it to be so because culture determines who God is, what God says, and what God means. Indeed, an all-loving god would not deny us our passions! Nowhere does God tell us to be disciplined, obey Christ’s commands, and be holy even as he is holy. The Church has become sinful. It is a holy thing to do to welcome those who practice such deviant things into our midst. It is there they can learn what God’s love really is. As Isaiah reports God’s message, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

If we don’t preach about sin, we have nothing to offer the world. We preach sin because sinners can be cleansed and made whole through the blood of Jesus Christ. But, that’s ok. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. The reality is that we all don’t want our feelings hurt. So much so that we are willing to allow God’s beautiful creatures to spend eternity in a hell where their feelings will never stop hurting.

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Fear

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:7–9, ESV

Fear wants us to give up. That is the easy thing to do. In the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the character George Bailey gets so pressured by a run on the bank that he fears losing the bank altogether. In his fear, he wishes he had never been born. That is the ultimate fear, one that brings us to the edge. George Bailey wishes he had never been born. Others who think they should never be born take it one step farther – suicide. Nihilism is giving up.

Nihilism (ˈnaɪɪˌlɪzəm) n 1 a complete denial of all established authority and institutions. 2 Philosophy. an extreme form of scepticism that systematically rejects all values, belief in existence, the possibility of communication, etc.. 3 a revolutionary doctrine of destruction for its own sake. 4 the practice or promulgation of terrorism. [C19: from Latin nihil nothing + -ISM, on the model of German Nihilismus] ▶ ˈnihilist n or adj ▶ ˌnihilˈistic adj

Collins English Dictionary, 2000.

Reading through this definition of nihilism, I concluded that this is what is being played out in America right now. I’m not claiming that people are running around saying they are nihilists. What I see, though, are the distinct characteristics of nihilism in the actions of many around us. The denial today goes beyond the “denial of all established authority.” It is a claim that all of the values of the past are evil. The word used most often is racist. The idea that all white people are racists because they are white is reason enough to “cancel” them. Thus, we are living in the chaotic waters of “cancel culture.”

Moreover, anyone who listens to the logic of white non-culture (because the whites got all their culture by stealing it from other cultures anyway) is a racist too. Lately, if you support Israel, you are reprimanded for being unsympathetic with Hamas. Nihilistic tendencies are not well thought out, and there is an emphasis on feeling over logic. The Church has been no help in preventing nihilism. Either she has been accused of being an authoritarian tool to manipulate non-white races and subjugate them, or she has joined the bandwagon by focusing self-centered worship focused on how you feel as you are walking out the door.

When I was younger, I couldn’t help wondering how a family could be so kind and encouraging while they were at church yet bicker and argue all the way home. I cannot tell a lie; I was one of them. Almost every time I went with my friend to his church, I was crying toward the end and dying to go forward for the altar call. Feelings don’t last. You can be happy one moment and outraged the next. Listen carefully to the crowd at a professional sporting event. When the home team does something great, there are cheers. A three-point shot goes through the hoop, and the people are thrilled. They didn’t hear the whistle of the referee calling a foul on the shooter. What do you hear then?

Against modern-day conceptions, Christianity is not a religion made by white people to enslave any other people group. Granted, there are many who, years ago, chose to be selective in the passages of the Bible they wanted to read and interpret. But that is no reason to say all people devoted to the Bible’s truths are wrong. Before and after the Civil War, plenty of men owned slaves and even defended this practice from the Bible. We can never forget that the Bible can be sliced up and interpreted almost any way you want. Many unscrupulous people in the church’s history have used the Bible for their personal gain. I think that is why Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42, ESV)

I believe that Paul is saying something similar when he writes to the Christians in Galatia, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows.” No matter what anyone says and no matter what anyone does, there is a consequence. The wisdom of this statement has been used in a shorter version, “You reap what you sow.” You sure do. And so do I. Sometimes we get a taste of the suffering we have caused while we walk this earth. Whatever the case, we will all stand before Christ, ad he will judge our works.

Therefore, the angels could say to God’s people, “Fear not.” You see, if you have given yourself to Christ, he has washed away our sin. How can this be? Indeed, I am as evil as the guy burning down a store enraged about something they never really experienced themselves. I tend not to show it that way, but my heart is the same. There is but one difference, Jesus has reaped what I have sowed. He took the righteous judgment I deserve and nailed it to the cross.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

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Necrocracy

There are a lot of oddities in the world. Well, maybe not so odd when you consider the sin nature within all humanity.

A necrocracy is a government ruled by a dead leader. The Urban Dictionary defines necrocracy, “A system of government whereby the people are governed by the dead.” Now, some claim that North Korea is the only necrocracy in the world today. I haven’t taken the time to thoroughly investigate the claim, but North Korea is the most well-known necrocracy.

In 1950, Kim Il-sung led a revolution in Korea with the intent of establishing a communist government throughout the country. What has become known as the Korean War ended with no victor resulting in the current separation of North and South Korea. Kim Il-sung became the president of the North. Following his death in 1994, power was transferred to Kim Jung-il. But though the power transferred, the title of president did not. Kim Il-sung had created a nation that worshipped him (the demonstrative ego of all tyrants). In 1998, the Constitution of North Korea was re-written so that Kim Il-sung would be the Eternal President and the supreme leader of North Korea even though he had died. Kim Jong-il was made the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.

Therefore, North Korea is a nation ruled by a dead man making its government a necrocracy. Reflecting on the way things are in North Korea, the government of a necrocracy seemed odd. However, the more I thought about it, the more I came to see that all governments are necrocracies. All governments rely upon the rule of human beings who are polluted by sin. According to the Scriptures, the plight of sin is the condition of being dead. This was the curse for the representative parents of humanity, Adam and Eve. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16–17, ESV)

A popular explanation for this state of death is that humankind has been separated from God. Though true, I think there is more to it. The consequence of sin goes far deeper than mere separation. It involves all of the laws teaching the Jews what clean and unclean are. It involves the actual death of people, tribes, and whole nations. Sin has touched ever aspect of our lives polluting our thinking, perverting our actions, and shattering the image of God within us. Our likeness to God has not disappeared, but it does not control us. The grace of God prevents all of us from acting fully in sin. The degree of evil in humans and civilizations is limited by God’s eternal rule.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Ephesians 2:1–3, ESV

So, the truth is that all human governments are ruled by sin and they all decay. Edward Gibbons’ series of books, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” demonstrates the degeneration inherent in all human endeavors. But there is one government that is not human in origin, neither is it ruled by the dead. The government I speak of is ruled by the One who has risen from the dead, Jesus Christ. By taking upon himself the sin of the world, Jesus reconciled us to God and granted his sheep a new life redeemed and recreated in the image of God. Yes, sin doesn’t always act as if defeated by Christ, but we are assured it has.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1–2, ESV

The good news is that the King of all kings is the Lord of all lords as he was coronated by his ascension to the throne of God. And a consequence of this state of affairs is that human governments may also find redemption if submitted to Christ. God ordained government to rule the civil affairs of humankind. Government was established to restrain sin and evil natural to sinful people. This is the reason for the civil laws in the Old Testament. The Jews were a people promised to Abraham as a light to all nations. The moral law of God is the foundation of all law, for all creation reflects the nature of God. Apart from this moral foundation, there is no basis for morality at all which is one of the major flaws in evolution.

At least two things arise from the Gospel. First, sin and death have been defeated by Christ, and second, the righteousness of Christ is the requirement for all governments today. Many of our laws reflect God’s moral law, an no matter how much anyone complains that you cannot legislate morality, all legislation by its very nature is about morality. But, rebellion against the reign of Christ always results in the decay of life into death. Always! The farther any government disobeys God’s Law, the closer to extinction it becomes.

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. 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.

Romans 1:21–32, ESV

The spiral of sin as Paul describes is the downward spiral toward extinction, death. Yet, because of the graciousness of God, we have a benevolent King who watches over his own. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16–17, ESV)

My sense that necrocracy is an odd form of government is, therefore, both true and false. The untrue aspect is that necrocracy is the most common form of human government and it has been from the original fall of our first parents. The truth is that there is no need for humans to live under a necrocracy. Necrocracy is odd because if you don’t need to die, why choose death? It all sounds so simple, yet it is not simple at all. If it were merely a matter of choosing to no longer submit to death, everyone would do it. But, just like in North Korea, there is no second option, and all means of discovering a second option is prevented by the state.

Never lose hope! The world once thought that the Soviet Union was a great power for death. The world didn’t believe that the Berlin Wall would ever fall. And, even God’s people to a large degree have missed the Messianic King they sought. Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus Christ does control the world, and the job of his people is to establish his reign throughout the earth.

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A Church?

I confess. I did not watch the Superbowl. I was not tempted to watch the Superbowl. Generally speaking, I do not share the sentiments of the NFL , or most professional athletes, for that matter. I like the sports, but I do not like the pettiness of multimillionaires whining that they don’t get enough play time, make enough money, fail to fulfill their contractual obligations, and the quarterback doesn’t throw me the ball often enough. Its all a little bit phoney to me.

For instance, in football, a human being spots where the ball should be placed, sometimes from some distance away. Yet to determine if it is a first down, sometimes they have to measure to a pole connected to a ten yard chain which was also placed by a human eyeing it to where the ball actually is. Moreover, if the nose of the football comes short of the pole by the smallest of margins, it is not a first down. For me, if your going to eyeball it, then do it, but don’t bring in some kind of measuring system that gives it some kind of objectivity.

This blog post is not about football or professional sports, per se. It is about something that happens because of the Superbowl. The increased importance given to the Superbowl over the past fifty-five years has given us another tradition, Superbowl commercials.

CBS opened the bidding for 30-second commercial spots for Super Bowl 55 at $5.6 million, which was the average cost of the same length advertisement for last year’s game.

https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/super-bowl-commercials-cost-2021/o496m61j4lkn19kxoygv9690a

These commercials are often humorous. They try to be more catchy than normal ones. However, there is a trend that became more the norm than not beginning just a couple of months ago. Commercials right now try to awaken our senses to the need for social justice. Some people have made a joke out of this tendency trying to guess what product is being sold by what is going on in the commercial. Yes, you guessed it, they often fail.

Social justice is an emphasis that will be with us for a long time. My personal problem with those trying to convince me that being white male makes me among the lowest lifeforms on the planet is that by doing so, they perpetuate the same kind of social injustice they are complaining about. All of this is grossly unbiblical. Then again, what does contemporary social justice have to do with the Bible? For instance, Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1, ESV) What does this look and feel like?

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

John 8:3–7, ESV

I am not suggesting that any and all judgments are not to be made. What I do think is that we have no right to judge a human’s soul. Nor do we have the right to harm or kill another human outside of the government acting in accordance with true justice.

Therefore, I submit that modern cries for social justice are from those who should not cast stones because of their own sins. If everyone would observe this principle, there would be room to openly discuss the wrongs and injustices in society and find just answers to deal with them. Our tact now is that those who scream the loudest and the longest get laws passed in their favor. Such laws are often of themselves unjust.

With all of that said, here is my complaint about one Superbowl ad that aired Sunday that baffled me. It is the one where Bruce Springsteen talks about a small church in the center of America (the lower 48). The commercial is a play on our Americanism in an attempt to draw us together. It even ends with the word Re-united States. Why a call for unity? Why now? The clear implication is that now the evil Trump has been ousted, we can re-united and move forward as one nation (under God?). I cry foul. Hypocrisy. Manipulation. And I say that this ad, along with many of the pleas we hear today are not for unity but for uniformity.

Start with this. Why has there been such turmoil for the past four years? Because the Democratic Party acted like a spoiled brat and blocked anything the President tried to accomplish. They tried to void the first amendment right of free speech. They whined that when Trump was elected, the votes were in accurate and the election was stolen. They created a phoney scandal to impeach the President. They supported rioting, violence, and twisted facts into damnable falsehoods. Now that we have a new President, Trumps similar claims are ridiculed and discounted. One news reported did everything he could, badgering his guest Rand Paul into saying there was no fraud in the election.

Paul neither confirmed not denied whether or not there was actual fraud. What he did seek was the right for investigations to take place. The news caster was incensed. Even the courts have ruled there was no fraud he claimed. Paul again tried to bring rationality to the discussion pointing out that the courts refused to hear the cases stating those who brought the suits had no standing. That is far different that proving there was no fraud.

Do I think there was fraud? I personally believe that there is a good chance of fraud in every election since they are conducted by sinners on both sides of the aisle. But again, this is not my point. I want to know how people who saw no problem with defacing church properties, pulling down statues of Christ, and as a mob objecting to everything Christian as racist, can all of a sudden turn to the church as an icon for unifying the currently diametrically opposed sides? Bruce Springsteen can use the most calm and quiet tone in reading his script, but how many times has he been to church in his life? Better yet, has he tried to live a life guided by Jesus Christ and his commands? And what about the others?

How many members of our Federal government regularly attend church? How many take guidance from the Bible? How many seek to have a relationship with godly pastors? I’ll let you answer. As for me, I have a hard time accepting anyone who claims to be a Christian as just and devout who murders unborn babies, who let men play in women’s sports because they feel feminine, or who unjustly enrich themselves. Pastor, church member, non-church member, social justice warrior, whoever, look to the log in your own eye before you try to take the spec out of someone else’s.

The principles of the Constitution of the United States lie squarely upon that which is proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. Free speech is expected to be reasoned speech. Free exercise of religion is expected to be respectful of others who practice a different religion. Freedom of the Press expects that those who report the news report all of the significant facts truthfully without bias. America rests on law that protects everyone’s rights as bestowed by their Creator.

None of what I have written makes any difference for my decision to show the office of President with respect. It makes no difference whether I agree or disagree. I am legally allowed to publish both. However, those who govern are God’s appointed minister’s, and rebelling there (apart from biblical exceptions) is counted as rebellion against God. (Romans 13) But, please do not use the name of Christ or the image of his church as an icon for unity when you are not interested in true unity under Christ Jesus. After all, the commercial (for Jeep, by the way) discounts Catholic, Orthodox, Judaism, Islam, and any other religion not old country church. How unifying is that?

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The Law of laws, part 8 of 10

“You shall not steal.

(Exodus 20:15, ESV)

If you think about it, theft of some sort is involved in each of the other nine commandments.

  • You shall have no other gods before me. – Theft of God’s place as the only God.
  • You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God… – Theft of God’s rightful worship.
  • You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. – Theft of God’s name (identity, character, nature).
  • Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. – Theft of God’s creation and his rule over it.
  • Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. – Theft of the respect due to those whom God has given authority over you.
  • You shall not murder. – Theft of life.
  • You shall not commit adultery. – Theft of one’s present or future spouse.
  • You shall not steal. – Theft.
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. – Theft of one’s reputation.
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s. – Theft in the heart.

Granted, this is a broad stroke. Yet it does place theft as greater than simply not swiping pencils from work. Stealing is for everyone a difficult sin to break. At work, without even realizing it, we steal our employer’s time with irrelevant conversations that do not enhance our productivity. Maybe you think that is not theft. Instead, it is enhancing the work environement so production may improve with improved moral. Rationalizations like this infect every sphere of our lives. Moral is not about feeling good about where you are and who you are with. Moral in the workforce resutls from “six days you shall labor.” It comes from “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:17.)

Small rationalizations lead to larger ones. In our country we rationalize killing human beings because the “right to choose” is greater than the gift of God in procreation. We rationalize free and uncommitted sex because our fleshly desires are greater than God’s created order. We irrationally rationalize at the end of our public prayer when we say, “May the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace, peace in our families, peace across this land, and dare I ask, o Lord, peace even in this chamber. We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘God’ known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and awoman.” (see here)

Sorry to characterize this prayer with words I normally don’t like to use, but, it was foolish and stupid. The government of the House of Representatives allowed this man to publicly denounce God and blaspheme his name calling him the “monotheistic God, Brahma, and ‘God’ known by many names and many different faiths.” Yes, the is one God. No, he is not Brahma. No, he is not known by many names and many different faiths. The one true God is YHWH. He gave Moses his name to use so that being sent, he was sent with the authority of YHWH. The battle between Moses and Pharaoh was not about the two of them. It was all out war whereby God ridiculed and humiliated the many gods of Egypt, because there is only ONE GOD, the maker of heaven and earth, and ruler of all that is.

Sorry for shouting. I became aware of the prayer’s ending from news outlets criticizing Representative Cleaver’s prayer ending with “Amen, and Awomen.” Ok, that was stupid too. As has been pointed out, the word Amen comes from the Latin? No. It comes from Hebrew:

אָמֵן (ʾāmēn). adv. verily, truly, amen. Used in statements of affirmation in which the speaker accepts the truth of a statement.

Aaron C. Fenlason, Lexham Theological Wordbook, 2014.

It was transliterated in other languages later. Latin came later in history than Hebrew. The issue, though, is not about making a word that has nothing to do with gender into a word that only has to do with gender. Words now do not have meaning. Words mean what we want them to mean when we want them to mean whatever we want them to mean. And if you found that last sentence to be confusing and hard to follow, welcome to America in 2021. You may also reconsider leaving your children in public school.

Theft of a word is embarrassing. Theft of the knowledge of God is damning. I do not really blame our politicians for this hubris. As a pastor, I have lay the blame at the doorstep of the Church. In our culture it is impossible not to hurt someone’s feelings. So we let people believe whatever makes them feel good, and Calling God “Brahma” must feel good. However, no one with any sense or education should be able to see that the God of the Hebrews would have nothing to do with some mythical creature who created Hinduism. I have been to a Hindu Temple and out of respect, I asked the doorkeeper if he objected to a Christian entering the temple. He told me that Hinduism accepts Christianity and that the two are not that different from each other. I wasn’t there to proselytize but to learn, so I let that one go.

Hindus may accept Christians, but only those Christians who are willing to deny their faith and the teaching of Scripture for the sake of getting along and having fellowship. Why has the Church stolen the authority of God’s Word? Words, sentences, paragraphs have been twisted and manipulated the very meaning of God. Culture may change but God does not. He created two genders designed for marriage and procreation. Why is this all of a sudden bad doctrine? Because we don’t want people to leave the church. Parents with openly homosexual children place their need to be loved over and above their call to love.

Many years ago, Keith Green was recorded preaching a sermon. He wanted to illustrate the calling of the Church to evangelize so he asked if anyone present would not stop their child from running onto a busy highway. His point has been lost over the decades. Today, we are telling our children to have fun playing and ignoring the danger to life. If we don’t care, who will?

We are sinners who love to steal. We are sinners who need to repent. There is only one God who is in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You cannot serve him and play with the devil too. The hope our world needs is not feeling better but turning to Christ Jesus. He is not Brahma, and he is not a god known by many names. He is God known to those who bow before his majesty, repent, and seek forgiveness offered through his sacrifice. He may have various names in the Scriptures, but none of them embrace the foolishness we have seen lately.

God, forgive us for trying to steal from you rather than to receive freely what you offer. Amen.

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God Help Us

Several events in the past week or so have brought these three words to my prayers more often than usual. Don’t get me wrong, when I don’t pray this, I am failing in my praying. It was Jesus who taught us to pray saying, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Sadly, Christians often say this prayer but refuse to go the next step.

Faith without works is dead. At least according to James. You might rightfully extend that to prayer without action is a waste of time. Yet we need the biblical action of the church in obedience to God’s Law more than ever. Our Constitution was grounded in it. The preachers in the pulpit preached it before and after the Revolution. The Church of Jesus Christ has an obligation to be politically involved and active.

Without apology, I believe that our obedience to Christ and the moral law God gave us, does not allow us to blindly speak of conscience over righteousness. The time to allow anyone, especially those in power and those who shape the thinking of the rest of us, to lie, cheat, steal, and kill in order to gain what they want must end. And the Church is the leaven in society that was designed to stand against such immorality. Unfortunately, the church seems perfectly willing to act the three monkeys neither seeing, speaking, nor hearing as long as they are left alone.

The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (my own denomination) chose to “remember Breonna Taylor with a vigil for justice.” Every human being should be saddened when another human loses her life. But to claim she was an innocent victim of over-zealous police use of force denies the facts and truth of the incident. Taylor’s boyfriend shot at the police first and in running away to hide used Breaonna as a shield. This is only one example of how the church in this age has bought the lie and thus brought darkness into the world.

I have served five churches during my ministry. In all but one I have received rebuke for becoming “political” in the pulpit. Why, then, is it acceptable to join the modern Social Justice movement and support such political activity? Moreover, what political positions are non-moral issues? Abortion? Same gender marriage? Homosexual behaviors? Denying God’s determined gender to claim another?

How about publishing “fake news” by either the left or the right. Or violating one’s oath to uphold the Constitution all the while violating it. One of the things that has become an interesting twist in the events of late has been the revelation of the principle “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.” It is true that our sins will eventually find us out, but not to worry, we can simply deny them or ignore them.

The Church is the institution that has allowed the creation of today’s America. I say shame on us. Shame on me for not being a bolder pastor. Shame on our denominations for allowing the humanism of the world mold and shape us. Shame on us for not listening to our founding fathers and those of the past who warned of such apostasy. And shame on us for allowing politics become free of Christian oversight. It is not true what we are told, that there is an absolute separation of church and state.

The state exists by God’s grant. The state exists to keep order and make society free for the Church to manifest the Kingdom of God. The state is responsible to God. But how does God speak to the state? By those who proclaim the Word of God and those who obey it. We the people are the judge of the government and we should always be skeptical of the motives and manipulations of those who deny our right to do so.

…confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:16 (ESV)

Our first job as the Church is to pray. Prayer begins with confession. It seems to be that when we pray for one another in the humility of confession, we can no longer treat one another poorly. However, this speaks about relationships in Christ and not relationships outside of Christ. The world hates us because the world hates Christ. And anyone who thinks such hatred can be appeased simply by helping the poor, the oppressed, and the down-trodden, does not yet understand the world’s hatred of Christ. Are we to help the people living like the description above? ABSOLUTELY! But such help alone will not redeem them. Only Christ redeems, and who can believe if they do not hear, and who can hear if Christ is not preached?

James continues, though, for it is not enough to pray for forgiveness and for the spiritual health, growth, and relationship to Christ. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” I believe this is the prayer we must make for our world, our rulers, our nation, our enemies. Why? Because it is the prayer of a righteous person. Righteousness is obedience to God’s Law. Righteousness is obedience to the commands of Christ. And he commanded a lot more than handouts to the down and out.

Jesus told his disciples that their job was to make disciples. Discipleship in this context was to teach them to obey the commands of Christ. The Great Commandment extends to all Christians. Christian parents are to teach obedience to their children. Allowing children to grow up and make their own decision for Christ is like waiting children to grow up before they choose what food they want to eat. They will starve first.

The same holds true for Shepherds of Congregations. It is our job to teach the sheep to obey Christ. How can the sheep know what they need to know about Christ unless the Word is consistently preached? Saying that the Holy Spirit will lead you to the knowledge and obedience without the need of communal worship which includes the sacraments and the Word. God’s method is to use the Holy Spirit in conjunction with preaching in communal worship.

The key is confession and restoration to righteousness, then righteousness praying for the world, then the prayers of the righteous working by the power of the Holy Spirit through the arms, legs, bodies, and minds of the ones praying. Faith without works is dead. Prayer without action is useless. God can perform miracles and make wide-spread changes in the world. But looking at history, at least the history we have left, God usually does his work through human work.

God help us. Help us from ourselves. Help us from anti-Christianity. Help us to pray, stand, and work for the Kingdom that it may reign on this earth even as it does in heaven. If not, then let’s just go watch sports and movies on TV. God won’t help us do that.

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