Posted in Truth and Error

Irony of Bible Burning on Behalf of BLM: An article by Jerry Newcombe

americanvision.org/24173/the-irony-of-bible-burning-on-behalf-of-blm/

An excellent, articulate, concise article that accurately summarizes the importance of the biblical worldview and why an accurate historic viewpoint, while unfortunately lacking in our current cultural climax, is desperately needed today.

Posted in Biblical Questions

Thoughts on Biblical Death: Part 2

OUTLINE

I. Death: Result (wages) of Sin

1. In Adam we all die. As his offspring we all inherit death as a consequent sentence of his disobedience in the garden. In Adam we become sinners, and as a result we die physically due to our separation from God. We are born unclean, unholy, unrighteous enemies of God; children of wrath.

2. We are all sinners, but that does not mean all our sins are crimes. Some sins are criminal in nature and result in the swift judgment of God in terms of a death sentence. I have identified three subsets under this category in studying the Old Testament (Tanakh; hereafter OT).

      • Major—Group Death Sentence.
      • Minor—Individual law-breaking death sentence
      • Cut-off—A death sentence in a metaphoric sense.

3. We are all sinners and this, if not repented of, results in everlasting condemnation. This is found in the New Testament (hereafter; NT) more than any other part of the Bible.

**Summation of the parts: All of us die physically as a consequence of Adam’s sin. Some of us may die in this life, having our lives cut short, if our sins are worthy of a punishment of death by violating God’s law. Some of us may experience death figuratively speaking, in the sense of being cut-off, but this is not necessarily a permanent state. Some of us will experience eternal punishment for rebelling against our Maker, having died in our sins. For such, there is no repentance of sins possible.

II. Death: Results (wages) of Christ’s Righteousness

1. In Christ we all die . However, what we die to is different than the death we were born into. We are born “dead in trespasses and sins,” but when we die in Christ, we are reborn “dead to trespasses and sins.” In Christ, we die so that righteousness may abound. In this way, He makes all things new, and we are new in that we are creations in/through Him. For these the power of death has been broken, and it is robbed from the victory that the evil one desired.

The Types of Death We Witness after the Fall (OT)

As was noted in the outline provided above (Part 1, point 2) there are three subsets of physical death that are directly/indirectly a result of Adam’s rebellion as seen in the OT. The first two we shall look at are sentences of death carried out by the Lord God and his representatives (civil magistrates). These result as a violation of His holy law. I have classified them as major and minor cases. These sections nor the footnoted texts in support of them are not meant to be exhaustive. They are given, however, to encourage the reader to knock some dust off their Bible’s if they’ve laid around for far too long. Or, if that’s not the case, maybe you need to get past some of your pet verses that you’ve spent the majority of your time stroking.

Death as Judgment… (Major Cases)

Many of the deaths that we witness in the OT are related specifically to judgments delved out by the Lord. The catastrophic Flood of Noah’s day is one example.[1] Another is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.[2] We have the plagues poured out on Egypt culminating in the death of the firstborn who failed to heed the Lord’s destruction.[3] When that wasn’t enough God destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.[4] The rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram is one example of many where God judges a multitude for their sin.[5] The Israeli vs. Canaanite conquests where Moses and Joshua led many battle campaigns against the foes of the Lord.[6] The destruction of the Northern Kingdom Israel by the Assyrians,[7] the devastation wrought against Jerusalem and Southern Kingdom of Judah by Babylon[8] give ample proof of God’s retributive action.

Time and time again we witness war being waged by the Lord against sinful men. The reason they died is because they had broken God’s law and it was a just punishment for their sin.[9] Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking it. The law is a nonnegotiable standard.  Law breakers are still guilty if they violate the law without detailed knowledge.[10] Each of these types of death were exercises of penal punishment—i.e., the death penalty being enacted.

Death as Judgment… (Minor Cases)

In this short space, I’ve spoken primarily about the major penal executions carried out in the OT, but there are more deaths that fall under this category. God established as the 6th commandment “Thou shall not kill [murder]…” (Exod 20.13), some mistakenly apply this to all manners of killing. However, there are some sins that are worthy of death (1John 5.16-17). Take for example the death of Lot’s wife.[11]

These would fall under the criminal statutes laid out in the case laws of the OT. Here are a few criminal offenses that receive the highest form of punishment, the death penalty: Adultery[12], Man-stealing (i.e., forced slavery/chattel slavery)[13], rape[14], attacking one’s parents (not little children but adults)[15], blasphemy[16] (includes lying under oath against one’s neighbor,[17] if the perjury would have granted the accused a death sentence), various manners of sexual exploits (incest[18], bestiality[19], sodomy[20] (which would cover the entirety of the LGBTQ? today), sacrificing of children[21] (i.e., abortion, infanticide, or child sacrifice), false worship (like Aaron’s sons),[22] and false teaching.[23]

Though the penalty for such sins—sins of a criminal nature and not merely private—was death, this does not mean that lesser punishments could not be delved out by the elders at the gate.[24] Moreover, it was not a simple matter to enact this strictest form of punishment. In order to get the death penalty, the civil system had to prove their case on the testimony of two-to-three (solid) witness.[25] They did not merely take the word of such individuals, but were required before God to inspect the crime fully. The accused were assumed innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around (or why else look for perjuring witnesses?).

Death Metaphorically Speaking…(Cut-off)

Death is spoken of, or referred to, in a number of circumstances in the OT that do not pertain to physical death. For example, you have the concept of being “cut-off” from the assembly of Israel due to uncleanliness. This can be seen in a variety of instances. We will briefly look at three.

Leprosy is spoken of in Leviticus 13-14. Those found with that contagion are cut-off from the congregation of Israel, unless or until a priest declares them clean (i.e., having been cured of the disease). This served as a living example of sin. Not that the leper necessarily committed a sin to contract the illness, but just as sin kept one from the sacraments and worship (i.e., access to God) so too does sin break the bond of fellowship with one’s creator. Though living, the leper was in a sense as good as dead. They were cut-off from their friends, their family, their jobs, and various rituals of worship given to God’s elected people.

I would recommend that the reader become familiar with the purpose behind circumcision[26] (the cutting off of that flesh demonstrated a transition from life and death, unclean to clean, apart from God to be a part with God). I would also point to what divorce actually entails in both OT and in the NT. To be divorced is a death of the relationship.[27] The innocent part therein was allowed by the Lord to remarry, but the guilty party was restricted (though many still did it). To break the bonds of the marriage covenant (i.e., adultery) earned the guilty with two or more witnesses a death sentence.

Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with the OT and the relationship of God’s law with His people (as further defined in the case laws) do more harm than good when they attempt to teach on these matters (cf. 1Tim 1.6-8).[28]

Forthcoming…

Next, we will look at the final type of death taught as a consequence of Adam’s sin as cited in the NT. In that post we shall look at the final state of those who die in their sin. 


ENDNOTES:

[1] Read Gen 6-9.

[2] Read Gen 18-19

[3] Read Exod 1-13

[4] Read Exod 14-15

[5] Read Numb 16

[6] Exod-Numb, Joshua-Judges-1Sam. These books provide the information you are looking for.

[7] E.g., Isa 10; Hosea 5-10

[8] See Jer 20.4; 29.21; 39.6-7; Ezek 12.13-16; Dan 1-4. Again, none of these references are meant to be exhaustive. They are merely pointers to get you started in your study. When reading prophetic books, pay attention to the timing of the prophecy given. This is usually in the opening sentences of the book in question. This provides historical context. Next look at the books of Kings and Chronicles for the kings of the period mentioned. In the prophetic books the name Israel sometimes refers to the whole nation as if it were united since their calling out of Egypt as sons/daughters of Jacob, but at other times this refers primarily to the Northern Kingdom (also called Ephraim) that split after the kingship of Solomon.

Check your assumptions at the door. Be aware of your traditions that might lead you falsely. Sometimes it is argued that these prophetic utterances only speak of the end of all things, but be aware that the vast majority of those prophecies were given as an indictment (a legal case) against the people, kings and prophets/priests of that day not our day or some future date. Also note that symbolic language has a literal meaning, but only when the symbol is correctly understood from what has been spoken of prior. Which means you cannot read your understanding of symbols today—in our generation—back into the period of the prophets. This is a bad hermeneutic (way of drawing a meaning from the exegeted text) to practice on any part of Scripture, let alone biblical prophecy.

[9] See Lev 18.24-25; Lev 20.22-23; Deut 12.32; 18.12. What these passages prove is that God judges a nation for breaking His holy law regardless of the knowledge they have. It is true that there are variances in “eternal condemnation” for violators of God’s edicts, but the physical penalty is death. And this was carried out on all nations at different times. Cherry picking texts or glazing over them due to traditional blinders is not an excuse for not knowing these things if you are a teacher of the Word of God. Understanding them in light of today’s context requires wisdom, but we must not do as some have done in ethical matters and dismiss God’s holy law as no longer applicable.

[10] The late Greg L. Bahnsen explains as much in his ethical work “By This Standard.” On this particular subject he writes, “Only Israel was given a written revelation of these laws, to be sure. All will grant that. But that fact alone does not imply that only Israel was bound to obey the moral standards expressed in such written revelation. After all,” Bahnsen continues, “though Paul, God wrote to the Ephesian and Colossian churches that children should obey their parents (Eph 6:1; Col 3:20), and nobody seriously takes that fact to imply that only children of Christian parents are under moral obligation to obey their parents. Therefore, the fact that only Israel was given a special revelation of certain political laws would not imply that only Israel was bound to keep such laws” (see also Rom 1.30-32; 2.12-15). Greg L. Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, [1985], 1998), 234, PDF e-book.

For the reader that may still have difficulty with this idea of being held accountable where a law might not be known, I would merely refer them to our current traffic law system. To speed is a violation regardless of whether or not the driver is aware of the speed limit placed on a particular area (say a suburb). Though leniency might be shown, the guilty will still be held accountable by the law. The Judge reserves the right to make determinations that he finds equitable given the nature of the case (cf. Gen 18.25).

[11] See Gen 19:17, 26; Luke 17:32; compare with Acts 5:3-5, 8-10.

[12] Lev 20:10.

[13] Exod 21:16.

[14] Deut 22:25-26.

[15] Exod 21:15, 17.

[16] Lev 24:16.

[17] Deut 19.18-20.

[18] Lev 18:6,

[19] Lev 18.7-19, 20:11-12, 17-21.

[20] Lev 20:13.

[21] Lev 20:1-5; Exod 21:22-25.

[22] Lev 10:1-3. Some may wonder why some of these “sins” were labeled criminal offenses worthy of death. No doubt people today have a negative reaction toward such realities. But these crimes were seen as an attack on God first and foremost, and then also the spheres of governance that He had established. The most important of which was the family unit, a close second was society as a whole, and the final consideration was civil authorities. God gave His reasoning for enacting such penalties when necessary, “To purge evil from your midst” (Deut 13.5; 17.7, 12; 21.21; 22.22, 24; 24.7).

Bahnsen writes, “Not only are such penal sanctions necessary in society, they must also be equitable. The measure of punishment according to the just Judge of all the ear is to be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life—no less, but no more (for example, Ex. 21:23-25; Deut. 19:21). The punishment must be commensurate with the crime, for it is to express retribution against the offender.” Idem., 273.

[23] Deut 13:1-5.

[24] Here James B. Jordan offers some helpful insight into the matter of the maximum penalty of the law. Speaking specifically on the subject of adultery, Jordan points to Mary and Joseph in the gospels. In “…a case of adultery…both would be put to death, unless it were a case of rape [ref. to Deut 22.25-27]. There seems to be some latitude here, however, since we read in Matt 1:19 that ‘Joseph, being a just man…was minded to put her [Mary] away privately.’ Here again we see a circumstantial application of the unchanging law of God; Joseph apparently regarded Mary as basically a good woman, who must have fallen into sin on one occasion, and os he determined that death was too severe a punishment for her. That this was perfectly just, the text itself tells us. This proves, by the way, that the death penalty is not mandatory in all cases where it is prescribed by law. It is the maximum penalty.” James b. Jordan, The Law of the Covenant: An Exposition of Exodus 21-23 (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984), 148-149, PDF e-book.

It should be noted that while I agree with Jordan’s conclusion that the maximum penalty of the law—death—was in fact the maximum penalty, but was not necessary to be enforced in every case, but should be judicially decided on a case-by-case basis. I think that Joseph’s reaction to Mary’s pregnancy should also be viewed in light of missing evidence. The death penalty needed two-to-three witness in order to establish it (Deut 17.6). Whether or not Mary being pregnant and Joseph claiming that he was not the man was sufficient to seek her death (if that had been what he desired) I do not know. Surely, in this Joseph was driven by love to be merciful to the woman he was about to take as a wife and in this case, he reflects one “slow to anger” a communicable attribute of God.

[25] This does not limit this to “person-to-person” interaction. It had to be specific lines of evidence that served as a witness to verify that the crime had actually been committed. Circumstantial evidence in those cases were not sufficient lines of evidence to carry out a death sentence. This would interject reasonable doubt, which would nullify the grounds for executing the alleged criminal. “What if the person was guilty, though?” one might inquire. The biblical notion of justice is seen as finally resting in God’s hands. If the alleged perpetrator is in fact guilty, but the court system is unable to prove it, then that individual has the fearful reality of facing his/her Maker on judgment day.

[26] Gen 17:10-14; Deut 10:16; 30:6; compare with Col 2:11.

[27] “…if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him…But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved” (1Cor 7.12-13, 15; ESV, italics mine).  Here Paul is saying that the innocent party (the one not wanting a divorce) is not enslaved (bound) to remain married to the unbelieving person who has abandoned them. Bound by what? Enslaved under what? To what binds the two covenantal members of marriage? In what way are they being torn asunder? The answer lies in understanding what is previously known about marriage. I will be brief though since this is a footnote and not an article in and of itself. In Romans 7:1-3 Paul uses marriage as an analogy of how our union with Christ frees us from our former slavery to sin. The spouse is free from the bonds of marriage when the other spouse dies. The law no longer binds them. In the same way, the innocent party in a divorce is freed from being bound to the law of God since their spouse is considered dead (metaphorically), which is how Paul could tell the Corinthians that they need not worry if they desired to remain married but their spouse did not. In such an instance, that sort of covenantal violation freed the innocent party from guilt; though their spouse was counted as dead (again, metaphorically speaking).

[28] I am by no means claiming “teaching par excellence” in this, for I readily admit that I am still a student on such matters. But having studied them for some time I am confident in what I have thus far explained. I would recommend to the reader the two works cited in this post perhaps as introductory works in this particular field of inquiry.

“By This Standard” this work pertains to the ethical validity of the OT Law-Word of God in all areas of life. The argument presented by Bahnsen states that every jot and tittle of God’s Law is upheld by His Sovereign authority, and its status remains unless some prohibition has been provided regarding a specific statute announced by the Lord. God has the authority to change or eliminate His said law, we do not (e.g., Gen 1.29; Mark 7.19; Acts 10.15).

“The Law of the Covenant” by Jordan is exactly what it says it is, an exposition of the case laws provided in Exodus 21-23. These case laws expound and explain the fuller application of the Ten Commandments in daily life. Jordan’s treatment of these matters makes accessible what many modern Christians have a hard time understanding. His offered application to everyday life drawn from God’s holy law gives greater clarity to Paul’s words of teaching the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20.27) so that every man is fully equipped for a righteous life. (2Tim 3.17).

Posted in Beliefs

Wetting our Fingers

If you wet your finger and stick it up in the air you can tell what direction the wind is blowing. There is a somewhat obscure (out of the way to most Bible readers) that makes the following comments regarding some godly leaders of their time:

“…the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do…” (1Chr 12.32).[i]

A zeitgeist is the spirit of the age. The wind that fiercely blows upon the culture and society that besets a people. What spirit do we find blowing on the winds of life today?

Hot Potatoes…

There are a few subjects that individuals both inside and outside the Christian Church viewed as taboo. To borrow from a lecture that I heard from the late Greg L. Bahnsen they are the “Hot Potatoes” of life.

Did you ever play that game when you were a child? I think I’ve only did it once during a youth lock-in many years ago. The closest I get to it now is when I decide to make baked potatoes for dinner. If you’ve ever held one that has been heated, you’ll know that you cannot hold onto it very long before you burn your hands.

In the same way there are certain subjects that others wish you wouldn’t try to handle. Better to leave them be. Better to remain silent. Better to as my kids have told me “put a blanket on it.” I guess if we don’t speak about those issues that people find troubling, then life will be much more pleasant. Much more akin to a loving environment that we so adore…unless it’s not our version of love. Unless we feel compelled to speak on it. Here I am merely referring to the “tolerance crowd” that requires we be tolerant of all views, except those that they find unhealthy, unwanted, distasteful and downright wicked.

What are some topics that I notice many Christians ignore? I mean better than to ignore them, to “put a blanket on them” than to risk offending our readership, our social media following, our reputation in our tight little network of friends.  And yes, I will pick on my brethren for a minute since judgment first falls on the house of the Lord (cf. 1Pet 4.17). For we are supposed to be leading the way, not riding the wind.   

Here are just a few:

1) Sexual ethics[ii]; 2) Politics[iii]; 3) Doctrinal distinctives[iv]; 4) Abortion[v]; 5) Critical Race Theory[vi];  Gay Marriage[vii].

I suppose I could add more if I really thought about it, but that should be sufficient. These are all subjects that the current zeitgeist (that mysterious wind that blows the minds of people in nefarious directions) has deemed off limits. Christians, who should be setting the standard, fall in line with it, acquiescing to the current that drives humanity towards oblivion.

Personal Conjecture on Something Called Holiness…

Now I am not as good a student of history as I should be. I wish that I were, but I find that there are too many other things vying for my time. I am a husband, a father, a pastor, but most important of all I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. I wish that I could say that I were an excellent one, but that would not be accurately painting the picture. I’d have to use some darker colored paint to make the canvas more appealing, so to speak.

In this I am not alone. We are told in Scripture that there is “no one good, no not one” (Psa 53.1-3). For there is “not a man who has not sinned” (1Kgs 8.46); and yes, ladies that includes you as well. But we who bear the name of Christ are called to holiness. We are called “to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect” (Matt 5.48; cf. Lev 20.26). Though we will always fall short of that standard, to that standard do we run. Yes, yes, it is probably more akin to reality that we struggle walking and sometimes even crawling towards that standard, but still we persist.

What is that holiness code? Have you ever wondered? You can sum it up in a word. Do you know what it is? How about…JUSTICE. We are to pursue justice, for we are called to follow the edicts of the king. Which means what precisely? That however He determines a thing, that is how we are to see a thing.

Reason for Descending Thoughts…

Do you know why people inside and outside the Christian Church don’t want to talk about these hot potato issues? Do you know why they’d prefer that you keep your mouth silent too? I mean, other than their reputation with the world.  Because, in their heart of hearts they want to be king. They want to be king? Yes, they desire to be king. They desire to rule as they see fit in their own eyes.

Now for the Christian this is a constant struggle. But not everyone who bears the name of Christ really struggles much with this in their life. And so, when it comes to hot potato issue, they would prefer to “keep the peace” with those who are antagonistic to their professed king. So…no word on sexual ethics, politics, abortion, gay marriage, doctrinal distinctives or Critical Race theory to name a few.

The reason they get along so well with the world, singing the same song around the same camp fire (Kum-ba-ya anyone?) is because they prefer not to rock the boat. However, we should be doing what the late Walter Martin said, “I don’t want to rock the boat, I want to sink it!”

Some Meat with the Potatoes…

Alright, now to the meaty portion of this post. Let’s talk about politics for a moment. In the past, I used to pay much more attention to the political waves being tossed to and fro in our country. But for peace of mind I detached myself from it for a while. Unlike some Christians I believe we have been afforded a wonderful freedom by God in this country where we can have an influence over who is found leading this country. We have been given a right from our Creator to place in power leaders who reflect our Lord’s ways of thinking.

Now I know what you are thinking, “Politics are dirty business. And frankly, they are the sort of business that Christians ought not get involved in.” I’m sure that Satan and all those the march to the beat of his drum (knowingly or unknowingly) enjoy such sentiments. Well, there was a wise person who once said, “if you want dirty dishes clean, you’ll need to wash them.”

So, if you want a society that reflects the holiness standards of your professed Lord (king) and Savior (deliverer), then you better get involved. And part of that involvement requires that you speak out. You call an atrocity an atrocity. Just make sure that your definitional standard is drawn from God’s Word, and not your own personal biases and assumptions.

My Reasons…

If you were to look at my voting record you would find that I vote Republican. There is a reason for that. Do you know what it is? No, its not because I’m a 40-year old white male that has somehow lived a life of privilege (don’t assume you know my life, unless you’ve asked). The reason I do not vote Democrat and will not ever unless they radically change their platform (foundation) is because everything they stand for is embedded with a doctrine of death.

For example:

  • They support the destruction of the family unit that God has ordained. This has been done by divorce on demand, abortion on demand, gay marriage on demand, and now children ruling the home with subjective opinions as to their gender as they are being manipulated by a devilish society and abusive parents/guardians.  What can survive in the wake of these things unless they are artificially supplied life support?
  • They support governmental theft on a slightly larger scale than the Republican party (I say slightly, because let’s face it both parties love their welfare state for it garners them power to remain in office). It is wrong to take what someone else has worked for and give it to another. It is wrong to be envious, covetous, jealous of another person’s wealth and so deem that only the government is the responsible party to know what to do with such “excess funds.” Socialism has never worked in the history of this planet. It has always failed. But like a video game socialist leader keep hitting reset hoping for a different outcome, all the while they are untouched by the policies that they have inflicted on the rest.
  • They seek to drive a wedge into the heart of this nation over ethnicity. What they refer to as separate races (white vs. black; white vs. Hispanic). Speaking about reparations, and affirmative action, etc. They preach against segregation while doing their absolute best at segregating us from each other, spurring on bitterness and hatred.
  • They support injustice by rejecting the constitutional standard, by waging war on the Christian faith that helped form this nation. Don’t believe me read the preambles of all fifty states of this union and at with them the colonies and you’ll see that I’m not wrong (See Here: https://americanvision.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/God-and-State-Constitutions.pdf). How have they done this? Indoctrinating our children with lies, robbing parents of their rights (instruction/discipline), labeling opposing thoughts as hate speech in order to silence, and if that won’t work criminalize those who disagree with their teachings.[viii]
  • Not to mention the impeachment farce that has been a media circus for how long now?

What the Impeachment Entails…

They have accused President Trump of collusion with Russia, but no evidence has been presented (contra: Hilary Clinton sending secret information via email to the Russians). They have accused him of obstructing justice, of treasonous acts against the nation, of trying to dig up dirt on a political rival. However, the telephone conversation in question, that supposedly had evidence to this criminal offense, was surprisingly innocent. And the supposed witnesses to the criminal activity of our president were not actual witnesses to anything. They gave subjective opinions based on personal conjecture, and were found to be hear-sayers. Which is inadmissible in a court of law. They have refused to allow the president to face his accusers, to call his own witnesses in his own defense. They have no evidence of crimes but yet they are doing everything they can to destroy their political opponent, the very thing he was accused of!

Now I know that President Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again!” And I will be the first to admit that there are many things that I do not like about our current president, or for that matter the Republican party. Nor am I so naïve to assume that you can somehow make America great through politic’s at the national level. But if we are God’s children, then we are to be ruled by God’s standards. And in closing I will give just a few.

Scriptural Tenets…

“A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed” (Deut 19.15).

This is the gold standard for accusing another of criminal activity. You need actual witnesses, not hearsay. You need to have at minimum two to three lines of evidence in order to try someone for a crime.

“If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. ‘The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you” (Deut 19.16-20).

This is how the accuser is to own up before the defendant. Both parties will have their day in court. Both testimonies will be weighed. The priests represent the law of God (ethical norms), and the judges represent the civil magistrates (cf. Rom 13.1-7). If a witness is found to be false and the accused shall not only be exonerated of the alleged crime, but the accuser will face the same punishment he intended to lay at the feet of the defendant. In other words, if the Democrats cannot prove their case and are found to be false, driven by false motives, they shall (or should) be the ones impeached for wrong doing. The very thing they have sought to do to the president from the beginning.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before you” (Psa 89.14).

If this is true of God our King, then ought not it likewise be our pursuit as His people, citizens of His eternal kingdom? For the Lord hates injustice.

“You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute…Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty. You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just” (Exod 23.2-3, 7-8).

In short, you shouldn’t wet your finger and put it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing to decide the direction to go in. Rather, you ought to look to the Lord and seek what is righteous in His sight. Even if you don’t like our current president. You don’t have to like him, but you do have to love your God.


ENDNOTES:

[i] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the New American Standard Update (NASB).

[ii] e.g., the LGBTQ? Craze—they can tell you what is right and wrong to accept/do, but it is unquestionably wrong for the Christian to offer a counterargument.

[iii] e.g., Democrat vs. Republican; Socialist vs. Capitalist; Welfare state or Defense; etc.

[iv] e.g., Ethical norms in general, and the morals that are guided by them; Creation vs. Evolution; Science vs. Faith; Monergism vs. Synergism; biblical authority; etc.

[v] This could really be a subcategory under “sexual ethics,” since it is a poor sexual ethic that leads to the murdering of innocent babies in the womb.

[vi] The false teaching that your skin color somehow gives you privilege, while at the same time you are arguing for privilege over those you are accusing of it; rather than, discerning a person by the content of their character.

[vii] Yes, this one should probably go under “sexual ethics” as well since a poor ethic leads to the redefining of marriage to mean something that is not actually marriage.

[viii] For example, education is not a federalized right under the constitution of the United States, this was added by politicians vowing for control. Words are not a crime; thus, Hate Speech is an oxymoron. You can speak hatefully to someone that is true, but it’s not a crime. You might be a jerk, but that doesn’t make you a criminal. Discipline and instruction of children is a parent’s sovereign right, not the states. And yet, here in Ohio not too long ago there were Christian parents that had their child removed from their home because the Children Protective Services in the Cincinnati vicinity didn’t like the sexual ethics (derived from Scripture) that were being taught to their child.

Posted in biblical justice, Law, Theology, theonomy

Legal Relativism: Hasty Conclusions drawn about God’s Justice

Today, I want to deal with the legal relativist. You know the Christian who says, “Well, that Law was valid back then in that time, in that place, but not so today.” I want to pick on the Paul Copan’s of the world, men and women who are extremely talented Christians that have a strong aversion to applying God’s Law today. I realize that’s not a popular position to take, because it offends my brothers and sisters in Christ. Can we stop wearing our emotions on our shoulder’s please? We need to develop a little backbone and be able to take some criticism. Or do we, as professing believers, fail to realize that judgment begins with the house of the Lord (cf. 1Pet 4.17)?

For example, Copan argues “…as we look at many of these Mosaic laws, we must appreciate them in their historical context, as God’s gracious, temporary provision.”1 Copan is making this statement in light of the penal sanctions expressed in the Old Testament (hereafter O.T.). Highlighting the death penalty for adultery, he appeals to 1Corinthians 5:1-5 where the man is caught having an affair with his step-mother. Copan thinks that the only role the Law of God is to play here is for excommunication from the church body, since that is what the apostle Paul says the Corinthians should do. I’m sorry to say this, but that’s just sloppy exegesis on his part. A shame really when you get right down to it, because in a lot of ways, Copan is a very bright individual.

“Where does he commit an error?” you ask. Great question, glad you asked it.

First off, let’s look at the sin the man is guilty of. It is true that he has committed adultery for he has slept with his father’s wife, but he’s also guilty of incest. Biblical law takes familial relationships very seriously, and when one is grafted into a family through adoption, etc., they are considered a genuine family member. The man has not only seen his father’s wife’s nakedness, but he has fornicated with one who is considered his mother.

  • “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness” (Lev 18.8).
  • “If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Lev 20.11)
  • “A man shall not take his father’s wife, so that he does not uncover his father’s nakedness” (Deut 22.30).
  • “Cursed be anyone who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s nakedness.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen'” (Deut 27.20).

Second, notice the penalty is a death sentence. That alone makes many Westerner’s pause, reconsider and pull back. Is there really any crime deserving of death? God says there is. You say there isn’t. Who’s right? Well, unless you think you are God, then the answer seems rather simple. But surely we live in an age of grace such extreme (harsh, awful?) penalties are no longer applicable.

Hmmm, really? Again, I guess it depends on who you think you are. And you do realize that if you truly think this way you are calling the God of the Bible “harsh” and “awful.” I understand why unbelievers do this, but why you?

The death penalty is just, but there are limitations on how it may be applied. Let’s deal with the justice of it first, and then we’ll return to the limitations.

Justice

Why would the death penalty be just? How can taking the life of another be right? Two quick answers will settle it.

1) The punishment fits the crime. How you treat others, the Lord through His civil servants (cf. Rom 13.1-7) will do to you.

  • “If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him…You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God” (Lev 24.19-20, 22).
  • “Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deut 19.21).

**Obviously, the concern is for the victim not the perpetrator.

2) The punishment causes other criminal activity to lessen; evil doers don’t want to be blatant with breaking the law if there is quick retribution brought against them.

  • “So you shall purge evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. (Deut 19.19b-20; cf. 13.11).

The alternative is seeing crime rising in society, because civil rulers fail to do what is right and just according to the Word of the Lord.

  • “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Eccl 8.11).

Do we not read of this in Israel’s history when they failed to abide by God’s judgments, seeking instead to do their own? Do we not see the fruit of this philosophy (cf. Eccl 8.11) in our own societies here in the West? We refuse to punish rapists, murders, child-molester’s, etc., speedily and with justice, preferring a man-made standard because the God of the Bible is too harsh, and so these individuals become more emboldened to continue running to harm their neighbors and shed blood. Justice would be better served if we did what was right in God’s eyes, and stopped pretending that we are the true kings.

Limitations

There is a notable distinction that God makes between certain sins. Some are criminal in nature and deserve a negative civil sanction, others do not. For example, the 10th commandment is against coveting (desiring/lusting after) what is your neighbor’s (fellow human being’s) property. This is a sin that needs to be repented of, but there are not civil sanctions against it. How in the world can a judge (civil authority) discern another man’s heart? They can’t (we can’t), and so that type of sin is judged by God alone (cf. Jer 17.9-10). However, this is not the case with adultery (which actually falls under the umbrella of sexual fornication). Adultery, incest, bestiality, homosexuality, etc. are sins that God provides civil sanctions against—i.e. they are crimes.

However, there is a caveat that needs to be mentioned. While certain crimes (sins that) deserve a civil penalty, there are limitations on how one may prosecute them. There has to be evidence. Specifically, there has to be two-to-three lines of evidence, and we are not talking about circumstantial here, but direct evidence.

  • “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established” (Deut 19.15; italics mine).
  • “On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness” (Deut 17.6; italics added).

You could not convict someone of a crime deserving death without first meeting these necessary limitations. The people in question were innocent until proven guilty. Does that sound familiar? It should.

Moreover, the one being charged with a crime was protected from perjurers. If an individual or group of individuals brought false charges against another, and they were found guilty of lying, then they were the ones punished with the penalty that they sought against the other (Deut 19.16-19a). I cannot help but think of the Cavanaugh case in recent months as I contemplate the aforementioned verses.

Dare we say that these laws are from days gone by and are no longer applicable? Have you not read Matt 18:16 or 1Tim 5:19 or even Heb 10:28? Perhaps, you should for it is clear that their validity still stand.

“Wait a minute, if this is true, what about 1Cor 5? It seems that Copan does have a valid argument, since Paul did not insist on the things that you are claiming!” you say. Thank you, I appreciate the attentive nature of your reading. Please allow me to respond with the final thing that Copan failed to recognize in his hasty conclusion.

Understanding the Three Spheres of Governance…

Who was Paul speaking to in 1Cor 5? To what sphere of government was he referring to, in order to make a judgment against the man sexually fornicating with his stepmother? That’s right! Paul was speaking to the church in Corinth. There are three spheres of governance that God has established. Each sphere has a specific area of authority to rule and exercise godly dominion. They are the family, the church, and the state.

While it may be properly said that the Church has the authority to offer biblical guidance (godly counsel) to the other two spheres of governance (family and state), the Church through its elders, deacons and congregants2
has no right to rule in them. The parents are over their children, and the father is the head of them all in submission to his head—God. The civil magistrates are over their citizens, and they—the magistrates—are to be under their head who is God.3

Why is that important? Because, it would have been unlawful (against God’s Law and therefore sinful) for Paul to have the man sentenced to death. It was (is) beyond the sphere of authority for the Church of God (of Jesus Christ) to sentence a man to death, as they are not civil authorities.

However, they did offer the man a sentence of death in the sense that he was cut-off from the fellowship, handed over to Satan, and treated as an unbeliever. If the man failed to repent of this sin and plead the mercy of Christ in confession to the body from which he was forced out of, then his physical reality of being cut-off would be fully realized in the life to come. Being eternally damned, cast into darkness—bound and chained—where weeping and gnashing teeth is the norm.

The reason we do not see the application of the full penalty of these laws in existence today is not because they are invalid, but because we are rebellious sinners and our governments reflect this disposition. This should be obvious to the Christian living here in the states where many of the just laws of the past, based upon the Law-Word of God, have been slowly overturned and done away with. Why has this happened? Because the Church who should be counseling the nation’s civil leaders at all levels of government have been cowed into a corner, or they have truncated the gospel to a get out of hell free card, rather than standing for what is right and true.

While, I am saddened by Copan and other Christians for their confusion regarding these truths, I am not surprised as they are a product of a watered-down gospel; the gospel of the kingdom (rule) of God in Christ the King. Living in the land of relativists, we should not be baffled that many Christians are legal relativists to.

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ENDNOTES:

1 Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 65.

2 There is no true hierarchy in the congregation/assembly of Jesus Christ. He alone is the head of His church. Though there are notable rules of leadership, no one person elder or otherwise has explicit rule over the people of God. All members of the covenant community are on equal footing, although there is a slight difference in the roles each one plays, dependent upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10.42-44; ESV).

3 It should be noted in God’s economy that the citizens of the city would carry out the punishment determined by the elders at the gate.

“The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all of the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst” (Deut 17.6).

Why? More than likely so that those who brought charges against another image bearer would not take lightly giving false testimony since God would hold them accountable for murder if they did so. No doubt this was also a testimony of zeal for the Name of God whose name had been defiled by the act of the criminal (cf. Num 25.1-11); as well as, the righteous vindication of the victim who had suffered at the hand of the wicked person being condemned.

Posted in Beliefs, biblical justice, critique, Law, politics, Racism, Worldview Analysis

Holding Present Generations Accountable for Past Generations Sins: Is Reparations a Biblical Concept?

Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die…The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself; and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezek 18.4, 20).

This principle statement offered by the prophet Ezekiel to Israel at a time when the southern kingdom of Judah was falling to the Babylonians is demonstrating that we are all responsible for our own sins. God does not hold us accountable for another’s sins, but we are judged rightly on the sins that we commit. The prophet took this from an earlier statute given by God to Moses to the children of Israel (physical offspring of Jacob):

“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sins” (Deut 24.16). To ignore this principle is to pervert justice (cf. Deut 16.19; 27.19). In case the language is not plain enough, to attempt to hold someone accountable for what another person has done is unjust, unrighteous, and not a reflection of God’s heart.

Of course, I imagine some might throw up the argument that Paul says we are all judged for Adam’s sin (cf. Rom 5.18-19)1, but that is an incorrect interpretation of that passage. The sense in which Paul is speaking in Romans is merely to point out that through Adam’s sin all his offspring (as a consequence) were made sinners (Rom 5.19). That is to say, Adam’s children are now identified as sinners, and as a result we all sin (cf. Rom 5.12-13). Again, in case you miss it, we are born sinners therefore we sin—NOT—we all sin and are then labeled sinners; for that inverts the argument of Paul opposite than the way he intends.

The point in the Ezekiel and Deuteronomy passages is that according to God’s way of thinking, we are all judged equitably for our own actions. We cannot point the finger over here and say “they made me do it!” Nor, can we say to this individual or that group, “you are accountable for what was done previously and you must pay the penalty;” even though, you did not participate and were not even there when those sins took place.

In short, no one alive today is responsible and therefore accountable for the sins of slavery in American history. What our forefathers did in the past was wrong and deserving of death (cf. Exod 21.16; Deut 24.7; 1Tim 1.10), but it is a great leap of logic to try and pin their sin on anyone living today.

I bring this up in regards to the subject of reparations. The concept of reparations states that whites should pay for the sins of their forbearers who had black slaves, regardless of the fact that whites today did not in fact participate in the sins of the past, with monetary benefits. In other words, we should be able to tax white people for sins previously committed against black people.

Rather, than argue the case myself, I thought it better for another—who articulates it much better than I could—to demonstrate why this is biblically wrong and sinful and not an appropriate way for brothers and sisters in Christ to treat one another.

Gary DeMar is an apologist and accomplished author and former president of American Vision, a Christian worldview ministry located in Atlanta, GA. And while some may disagree with his eschatological viewpoints2, this should not keep you from listening to what he says politically from a biblical worldview. Please read the article posted below, let feel free to let me know what you think.

https://garydemar.com/should-todays-white-people-pay-reparations-to-black-people/

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ENDNOTES:

1 I should point out that what we see with Adam and the comparison that Paul makes with Jesus (the last Adam) is in terms of covenantal heads. Adam is the representative of the whole human race. God established him in the sense of a covenantal head. According to the stipulations of covenantal arrangements there is an order of hierarchy that must be recognized. The transcendent/eternal God as the governing authority, the created image bearer as the representative of God, the Ethical boundaries established by Creator, the positive/negative sanctions (blessings/cursings) in response to obedience/disobedience, the inherited state of those in covenant with God.

Adam disregarded the first three in the garden. He refused to acknowledge God’s authority over his thoughts and actions. He refused to image and represent God when the serpent and his wife spoke against his Creator. He refused to obey the ethical boundary (law) that his Creator had established. Therefore, rather than being blessed he was cursed, and his continual inheritance on earth for he and his children were no longer identified as children of God, but children of wrath—i.e. sinners.

Jesus as the covenantal head of a new people did what the first Adam did not and therefore purchased for his offspring (those in Him) an inheritance of blessing and eternal life. Only those in Christ experience that positive sanctions of God and a continual inheritance with Him throughout eternity.

2 Gary, like me, is a Post-Millennialist. Eschatology has never been in the history of Christianity been a litmus test for orthodoxy. The arguments from historic Pre-Mill, A-Mill, and even Dispensational Pre-Mill are argued over various understandings of certain biblical texts; Unlike the arguments over Creation, which often smuggle in philosophical viewpoints outside of Scripture—i.e. evolution, big-bang cosmology, etc. Those eschatological disagreements may be the source of fruitful growth and dialogue, as all of God’s children should be doing their best to see what the Scriptures actually teach (cf. Acts 17.11-12). They should never be the source of broken fellowships between the family of God.