Biblical Questions

Buried Treasures: What Are You Willing to Stand For?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6.21)

This is not a post that I intended to write, but one that I want to get off my chest. And, I suppose that it does coalesce with what I have been saying over the last few posts. Christianity is at war with the surrounding culture.

That statement probably comes to a shock to some within the Christian community. The funny thing (a sense of irony; not a laughing matter) is that though many of us may be unaware of this reality those outside of our covenantal body[1]comprehend the true state of things…we are at war. There is a battle being waged between the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the serpent (cf.Gen 3.15; Matt 3.7; 12.34; John 8.37-47).

Understanding the Overarching Conflict:Kingdom Related

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other”(Matt 6.24). This is the reason I have labeled the gospel as a battle motif. Not because Christians are seeking to pick fights with the world, but because of the natural enmity between the two nations; members of the kingdom of light versus members of the kingdom of darkness.[2]I realize that we do not often refer to the saved versus unsaved as citizens of distinct nations, but that is in fact the case or texts like Col 1:9-13 are robbed of meaning:

  • “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased praying for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthen with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son….” (italics added.)

Notice the distinction between the two kingdoms. Both have opposing ultimate standards. The one is established, committed to, and in love with God. To the Lord do we owe our allegiance, for it is His will that we seek, and it is His knowledge and understanding of reality that we strive for.Those who do not share citizenship in the kingdom of Light[3],by nature are members of another kingdom and seek to do the will of the master of that domain.

An explicit point that Jesus made during his earthly ministry:

  • “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear[4][Gr. “not able”] to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John8.43-44).[5]

This is the reason the Lord told his disciples that they would be hated by those in the world[6],and as they persecuted him they would likewise persecute them (us).[7]It is our opposition to the evil in the world that ushers in hate and persecution. We are not called to needlessly pick fights, but we are called to stand firmly upon the truth. We are commanded to oppose every ideology, every theology, every philosophy, every ethical theory or scientific inquiry, etc., that stands in stark contrast with God’s Holy and Righteous standards.

The inner Problem Determining the When and Where to Fight: The Political Battlefield

Unfortunately, all of us are affected in some measure by the culture in which we live. By nature, we dislike strongly when someone hates us.We have strong aversions to persecution or suffering in its various forms. Much easier is it to go with the flow than to act like a salmon swimming against the current of the streams of thought found in our culture. People have their sacred cows that they do not want molested or tarnished, and this is true for the Christian as well as the non. One particular sacred cow is found in the field of politics (or river, if I were to stick with the salmon metaphor).

I believe in social justice. Not social justice as defined by our society, but justice as revealed in Scripture. A more applicable term might be biblical justice if I were afraid of offending those within my Christian fold, but I’ve been more of a salmon in life than one of those school fish. Therefore, I have no qualms using the phrase “social justice” within biblically defined parameters.

Now since I believe that Christians ought to be concerned about justice in society, I have no problem speaking on political issues. Some Christians will not touch such things with a ten-foot pole, others can get down right nasty. I found this out first hand in my first pastorate. It was an election year, and since I believe that the Bible speaks to all areas of life—my Lord is the Lord of life, and not just mine but all aspects of it—I opened my mouth.Some may have preferred that I had shoved a shoe in it, but I didn’t…I won’t.

My position politically is to vote for that candidate that best reflects my positions in life. I realize that we have not had very many“good choices” over the past few decades, but that is to be expected when the Church remains divided and silent allowing unbelieving thought to fill in the vacuum we have created culturally. One particular issue that I pay attention to is baby-killing.

You know it is a sick bit of irony when we will protect the babies within the womb of animals (especially endangered species), but when it comes to the infants in human wombs justifications fly off the shelves like water, milk and bread before a snowstorm.

I will not vote for the murder of babies, and I will not vote for anyone who refuses to take a firm stance on that issue. Little did I know that one of my parishioners was a party-line voter. That is to say, didn’t matter what the issue was they would always vote for that party. With a Bible in one hand and a finger jabbed in my direction on the other I was yelled at as I stood behind the podium.

Heartbroken is the best word that I could use to describe my internal reaction. Disbelief was a close second. After a few moments, when the individual managed to pause to take a breath. Perhaps, this person thought they had me dead to rights, I’m not sure, but I was thankful for the opportunity to speak. I posed a question to the person, “do you not think that the Bible speaks authoritatively on political issues?” The question was side-stepped. The ad hominem attacks ensued for a few more moments, and then the individual left.Their spouse came up to me apologizing saying that they would probably not return to church services there. I told her I appreciated her kindness, let her know that I would be praying for them both, and then after all others had left I collapsed in tears.

Now I was not angry with that brother, and I prayed for them that night, pleading my case before the Lord. The next day the person who had stormed out of the church called me in tears asking forgiveness for the way that they behaved. We had a good conversation that day, and he and his wife never stopped coming to that church until I resigned.

What this has to do with Buried Treasures

Jesus in the sermon on the mount makes the obvious point,“where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.” You cannot serve “God and money.” Either God and His way of life is most precious to you…your treasure; or, the material/relational benefits of this life are what you care about…your treasure. I guess there is a meme out there about the state of New York stating that they don’t believe in the death penalty (the killing of convicted criminals), but they are for the murder of babies in the womb. That is a sad, sad reality.

So, for today I want to turn your attention to Endabortionnow.com. This is a ministry arm of Apologia Church in Tempe,Arizona. They are networking with churches all across this country (and in parts of the world like Australia) in providing materials and offering training for opposing the killing of our heritage. They call the sanitized taking of life what it is murder, but they also share the gospel with women who are entering those clinics that seek to victimize unborn children. They also provide for those women who decide to not go through with killing their offspring by providing the necessary materials needed to take care of the newly born children (i.e. diapers, formula, even in some cases places to stay), even offering adoption if the mother does not believe they could take care of the child.

Literally thousands of babies have been saved by this ministry as they network with other Christian church’s/ministries across this nation. Perhaps you’ve heard the slogan “put your money where your mouth is.” Well, I give as I am able to this ministry and I want to get the word out for other like minded individuals to do likewise.

If you are not able to get on the front lines, then you ought to be able to dip into your wallets. This is one fight that all professing believers ought to be involved in, in some way. God Bless.

ENDNOTES:


[1] But you say, “I’m not a covenanter. I don’t believe in covenant theology, that’s a reformed theological position.” In response, I ask, “Have you made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ? Do you acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior before others? Have you been baptized? Do you participate in communion/eucharist?” If you answer “yes” to these questions, then you are a member of the covenant community. Have you not read, “And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many’”(Mark 14.22-24; ESV). By the way, participation in these sacramental rites(baptism/communion) is a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and acknowledgment before others that you have faith in the one whom you identify as Lord and Savior. Whether or not you are truly saved is the subject of another discussion, but it should be noted that being a member of the “covenant community” is not equal to being a member of the “saved community.

[2] Some may ask, “But why can’t we just get along? Aren’t we called to peace?” In response,I would ask, “peace with whom? To whom should we seek to be at peace with?”Obviously, as Christians we are commanded to live peaceably with all people as long as it is dependent upon us (Rom12.18). But that peace is not to be adopted at the sacrifice with what we know to be right and true (cf. Deut 4.1-8; Deut 20.11-12). I will attempt to explain the overarching manner in which this is to be done in a future post.

[3] Remember Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8.12); and in another place: “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world” (John 11.9). This is not a new teaching, but one encased in Old Testament theology: “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light” (Psa 36.9; cf. John 1.4-5, 9); “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling” (Psa 43.3; cf. John 8.31-32); “For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the lightof life” (Psa 56.13; cf. John 3.19-21); “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day(Prov4.18; cf. 1John 1.5-7).

[4] In the English the sense should still be easy enough to understand for “cannot bear” means “cannot accept or allow one to be subjected to” (Merriam-Webster) for they are hostile to what the Lord is saying (cf. Rom 8.7-8) because of where their true allegiance/parentage lies (v.44).

[5] For those that want to argue that this is limited to a Jewish context, I merely refer you to the following texts in the N.T.:

  • “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” (Eph 2.1-3; cf. Rom 1.18-32);
  • “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother”(1John 3.10);
  • “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1John 5.19).

If you want some O.T. evidence that refers to the same sort of context, I would recommend reading Psa 1.4-6; 2; Prov 1.10-33; Isa 30.1;Jer 12.3-4; Ezek 22.9-11, etc.

[6] I should probably note that the “world” (Gr. Kosmos) is not meant to convey the idea of the planet. Although the Greek can have that meaning, the references in John’s writings normally (not always) speak of two opposing systems of faith. Likewise, when Paul calls Satan the prince of the air, or the devil is referred to as the “god of this world” this does not entail his control over the planet earth, but instead speaks of his blinding influence over fallen human beings. The world (planet earth) is the Lord’s. He sits as sovereign above it, for it is His footstool (cf. Isa. 40.22; Isa 66.1).

[7] See John 15.18-20; Phil 1.29; 1Pet 4.13.

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