The Sides of the North Are Slippery
I choose, and have chosen this option for quite a while now, option #2. What about you? Which option are you party to? Read and find out.
Ps. Merry Christmas! And don’t you forget it.
The Sides of the North Are Slippery
I choose, and have chosen this option for quite a while now, option #2. What about you? Which option are you party to? Read and find out.
Ps. Merry Christmas! And don’t you forget it.
Where are we to project our responses to the situations that we face in this life? To whom do we bear the responsibility of our actions? Years ago, I remember a disagreement between professing Christians over David’s prayer in Psalm 51. It was the following line of the song that caused the disturbance:
“Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when you speak and blameless when You judge” (Psa 51.4).
The rub, you see, was that some wanted to lay the stress of David’s sin in equal parts against Uriah the Hittite and Bathsheba his wife whom David had an adulterous affair with, and against the Lord. But the emphasis in the text is that David’s sin was against God alone. It was God that was the offended party. And while, one might argue that David had also sinned (i.e., wronged) Uriah and Bathsheba in his sinful activities, the reality is that when we sin it is God alone who has been wronged in our pursuits.
The problem is in our approach to God, His Word, and the creation as a whole. Either our approach will be man-centered or God-centered. I think that this is the reason why we have such a difficult time determining the proper course of action in various scenarios. Not to mention we struggle with making the necessary category distinctions in order to properly weigh what our activities in this life should look like.
When David spoke in the way that he did in Psalm 51:4 he was right to do so. Sin properly defined is a violation of God’s Law-Word. It is a refusal to abide by the dictates of what God has determined to be good. This may be done purposefully or accidentally (i.e., in ignorance), but in either case we are still culpable before God. We are still presented to Him as guilty in His court. Now it is true that my sin may hurt others around me. Perhaps “may” is not the right word, how about “will,” for my sin will definitely hurt others around me. Our actions in this life have a rippling effect. Consequences come from the decisions that we make. And, in David’s case the lust of his heart, which at that moment in time was Bathsheba, rippled generations beyond that fateful day on the roof of his palace.
David, having been laid bear before the Lord through the word of His prophet Nathan recognized his plight. His eyes had been opened that which were formerly blinded by his sin. In response to this awakening he cried and confessed his sin before the Lord above. David knew that it was the Lord alone that he had personally violated with his sin. Though others were harmed by his behavior, it was the Lord God who bore the brunt of David’s sin. Being a God-centered man, having been enlightened by the Word of God, he recognized this and immediately confessed as soon as the sword of the Spirit had pierced his hardened heart.
God-centered versus Man-centered approach…
All of life is ethical, therefore, all of life is religious. Some might prefer the term “spiritual,” which is fine as long as we understand that to be truly spiritual means to be “Spirit led,” or “led by the Spirit.” In fact you cannot be truly God-centered without being guided by the Holy Spirit. If the spirit leading you is any other spirit than the third person of the Triune God, then your approach will most certainly be a Man-centered approach.
Of course this raises an important question: “What does it mean to be guided or led by the Holy Spirit?” In John’s gospel, Jesus tells His disciples that when He finally departs this earth to return to the Father, sharing in the glory that He had in the beginning (John 17.4), He will not leave them alone but will send to them the Spirit of truth (cf. John 14.7; 15.26; 16.13). And the Lord explains that it will be the role of the Holy Spirit to “…guide [them] into all truth; For He will not speak on his own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16.13). Later on, when the years of John’s apostleship are coming to an end, he reminds members of the body of Christ the following:
“We are from God; the person who knows God listens to us, but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.” (1John 4.6; NET).
A similar refrain is offered by the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth:
“Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1Cor 2.12-13).
In short, it is the God-centered man who has been enlightened by the Spirit of truth. Meaning that such an individual will not only have their thoughts imbued with Spiritual things, but Spiritual activity as the Holy Spirit brings about a reformation of the mind and will of the redeemed person (Rom 12.1-2; cf. Eph 4.17-24). Moreover, this is the reason why Christians are commanded by the Holy Spirit to
“…examine everything; hold[ing] firmly to that which is good, [in order to] abstain from every form of evil” (1Thess 5.21-22; brackets added for clarification).
The Perfect Image…
Why must we do that? Why are we commanded to examine everything? Why are we told to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God…?” (1John 4.1b). The short answer is because God’s people are called to imitate Christ (cf. 1Cor 11.1; 1Thess 1.6), who is the perfect image of God in human flesh (Heb 1.3; Col 1.15, 19). And, Christ tested all things. He never made a decision that He did not first weigh in His mind, “Does this honor God or man?” As His own testimony affirms,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in the same way” (John 5.19; emphasis added).
Now I have given considerable thought to this truth for quite a while. Jesus did nothing outside the purview of God’s will. Just as He told the serpent that, “man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4.4), so too did He live. Furthermore, this is the requirement that He lays at the feet of all those who desire to follow Him, to be His disciples:
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8.31-32).
For it is the true disciple of Christ that is sanctified by the Word of Truth (John 17.17). But how are we to know what is true if we do not take the time to carefully examine all things in light of God’s Law-Word? How can we say whether or not we have sinned (either in ignorance or purposefully) if we have not taken the time to weigh all things in accordance with God’s objective standard of truth (cf. John 8.46; 2Cor 5.21)?
Unjust Weights and Measures…
There is a passage repeated in the Old Testament that bears repeating. I believe that it provides a necessary justification for what Paul later calls on Christians to do in Thessalonica, as he is prompted by the Holy Spirit. What I am referring to is the various passages on unjust weights and measures:
As with many truths in Scripture there are often layers to them. Or to use my favorite illustration of the diamond with its many cuts, the truth will reflect the light a little differently depending upon the manner in which we look at it. One truth; many points of contact, or application.
The same may be said of these passages regarding unjust weights and measures. The concern is about truth versus falsehood. In the law court this would be seen in relation to issues of justice or injustice. God abhors favoritism. He hates using opposing standards of measurement when weighing right or wrong; meaning He hates arbitrariness or inconsistency. We are told to examine all things, and when we identify that which is good we are to cling to it. Being people of the Lord of Truth, guided by the Spirit of truth, we are to be reformed in our minds by the Law-Word of the God of Truth.
People of the Book, People of the Truth…
All aspects of this life are ethical, religious, and are therefore spiritual. God’s people are to be defined by one standard alone. This is why historically, Christians have been known as people of the book. In Ephesians 4, after Paul explains what the sinners thoughts are guided by, he asserts that Christians are to driven by another standard:
“But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, ridding yourselves of falsehood, speak each one of you with his neighbor, because we are parts of one another” (Eph 4.20-25; emphasis added).
How can a person weigh in the balance anything if they refuse to see the issue in its entirety? If you only see one side of the scale, and allow the other side to be hidden, will you have truly examined it in light of God’s Word? If you use God’s Word as the standard for this area of your life to make a judgment call, but then refuse to do the same in another area of your life have you not proved yourself guilty before the Lord? What right does the creature possess to use one standard here, but another standard there when weighing the issues of life? Who is truly “centered” in that choice of action, God or man?
Do you not know that God’s people are called to be bulwarks for the truth? Unmovable towers that do not bend or buckle, regardless of the pressure applied to them? Christ says that He is King, and Scripture testifies that He is King of kings and Lord of lords—He is above all—and, at the same time He says that His people are for the truth. How then can His people abide by a lie? How can they willingly live in it without being tormented day and night? Do you not see that to allow the lie to stand without your opposition to it, you are making yourself an enemy of Christ? That in that instance you are not being faithful to Him, but are sinning against Him?
David lived for nearly a year blinded by the lies of his own heart. How long are we going to live with the lie that is being perpetrated daily through our politicians and media? How long will we allow false weights and measures—arbitrariness and inconsistencies—to rule the day? Who are we to be responding to first and foremost in these things that we currently face? Is it not God alone who is to be our top priority? If we love Him above all, will we not in turn honor Him above all? Will this not also put us at odds with the current cultural winds that are blowing? Yes, but isn’t that the point?
“The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts” (Prov 17.3).
God is turning up the heat in our culture, not just as a judgment against sinners, but as a manner of testing (and proving) the hearts of His people. If Christ were hated, so too will you also be. But know this,
“Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1.2-4).
The question of biblical study is one of perspective. As I have noted in my previous entry the inscripturated Word of God is clear. Murkiness does not define it. The question is not its perspicuity (clarity), but our attitude and baggage of bias that we tend to bring along with us when we attempt to decipher its meaning.
When last we met…
My reference point in my last post was Matthew 16. There we have two instances where the clarity of what is revealed of God through Jesus Christ, the incarnated Word, is muddied by the waters of the human mind. The Pharisees and Sadducees represent unbelieving thought. They understood what Jesus was saying. They’d heard Him teach. They’d been witness to His activities. They’d listened to eyewitness testimony verifying from others the signs of God in their midst. But they rejected the notion that the conclusion had to be—the Messiah, the Son of God, their long-awaited king was before them (Matt 16.1-4).
Similarly, the disciples of Christ witnessed Jesus personally; day-to-day. They were privy to the way Jesus thought and were eyewitnesses to His activities. However, there were times when they failed to decipher the intended message of Christ. This is recorded for us twice in Matthew 16. First, it was with the meaning of Jesus statement:
“Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matt 16.6; NASB).1
Then, a little later, it was Jesus testimony of what must soon take place in His ministry:
“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matt 16.21).
Despite the fact that Peter (one of the twelve) rightly deduced Jesus’ true identity:
“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matt 16.16).
He struggled with the Lord’s teaching of what that truth ultimately meant. That God’s Messiah must die. That He must be handed over and killed by Jews and Gentiles alike. That He must be raised up on the third day.
Why? Why the struggle? Why the inability to see the truth of God as it was given? Because, it did not fit the presuppositions of the audience. The truth penetrated on some level. The clarity of Christ’s message was undeniable. But it was offhandedly rejected.
Types of bias…
Being biased is unavoidable when it comes to reading, hearing and listening to God’s Word. Absolutely, without exception, having a bias in relation to biblical truth is unavoidable.
As I enjoyed a morning run this week I mulled over the subject of neutrality. When we interact with God’s Word, we need to be aware of what our attitude is beforehand. Having a bias is not wrong, but having a wrong bias is. Neutrality is not optional (not even possible), but submission (humility) is.
“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given to it, except the sign of Jonah” (Matt 16.4).
This rebuke from Jesus to the self-appointed religious leaders of Israel was in light of their refusal to admit the truth before them. They’d been given signs. Signs were given to verify the validity of Jesus’ claims. They wanted more. Meaning they were biased against what they’d been given, and such a stance would not be entertained by the Lord.
The sign of Jonah…
What was the sign of Jonah? Why did the Lord make reference to it? Often times it is said that this is in reference to Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection three days later. This is derived from the fact that Jonah, the Lord’s prophet, spent three days in the belly of a fish (large enough to swallow a man whole) before being vomited up on the land; returned, as it were, to the land of the living.
I do not deny that this is one aspect of the “sign of Jonah.” And yet, I am of the mind that there is something more, something deeper, that is being pinpointed by Jesus here.
Jonah was sent to Nineveh to proclaim God’s wrath (i.e., righteous judgment) against that city. Jonah refused to heed God’s call (command). He fled to Tarshish, a location in the opposite direction of Nineveh, in order to avoid what he knew. It is at the end of his story that he confesses the reason for his fleeing:
“Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this [--the redemption of the Ninevites--] I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity” (Jonah 4.2).2
Without delving too deeply, I will quickly get to my point.
Bias on display…
The call of Jonah came through loud and clear. God’s Word of command to go to this foreign people was not murky. In fact, it was the clarity of the Lord’s message that drove Jonah to flee to Tarshish. He knew that God intended to save Nineveh. He knew that God was sending him to deliver a message that warned them to flee from the coming wrath (comp. Matt 3.7). And so, in stubbornness of heart he rebelled. This led to God’s judgment on Jonah. When God sent the fish to swallow His prophet, Jonah was as good as dead and he knew it. Thus, we find he confessed his sin to the Lord, and in so doing, submitted to God’s Word (see Jonah 2.7-9).
In the book of Jonah, we see the bias of the Lord’s prophet on full display. First, he was biased against what the Lord had spoken. Second, he was biased in favor of what the Lord had commanded of him. Finally, we see that once again he struggled with personal bias against the sign of Nineveh’s repentance.
It is impossible to come to the Word of God in a position of neutrality. I repeat, impossible. It is often said that we need to be aware of our biases before we come to Scripture. There is a sense where such advice is warranted. However, it is foolhardy to attempt to come to biblical teaching as if we are a blank slate. Rather we should approach God’s Word in abject humility. Confessing our biases at the forefront, and being ready at a moment’s notice to discard them (to sacrifice them) on the cross of Christ.
All Scripture (Genesis through Revelation) is God-breathed. Therefore, it is good for rebuke, correction and teaching, so that we are properly trained in the righteousness of God (cf. 2Tim 3.16-17):
“The fear of the Lord…” (ff. Prov 1.7; 9.10).
That is the required bias of any who bear the Name of Christ. Our biases need to be changed from sinful stubbornness, to righteous willingness.
One of the things that Greg L. Bahnsen has taught me in his writings (and it has been continually confirmed both inside and outside the Church) is that men love their own opinions. They love to appear wise and knowledgeable. Yet, much of what they believe is grounded in the relative thinking of man’s mind, not the unchanging Word of Christ.
If we are to win wars, then we must be willing to lost the first and most important battle before us; by swearing our fealty to king Jesus (cf. 2Cor 10.4-5). Do this and the clarity of Christ’s Word shall shine through; making muddy waters clear. Fail to do this, and you will receive the rebuke of Peter:
“Get behind Me, Satan! …You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matt 16.23).
1 All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the New American Standard Bible, 95’ update (NASB).
2 The bracket section is added for the reader’s clarity. This is for those who have not read through this little prophetic book. For the one who has taken the time to study this historic piece in context, the conclusion here given is unavoidable.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
“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.
[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.
A one trick pony. A pounding of the same drum. The beating of a dead horse. The repeating of the same tale. Perhaps, that is what I am about to do today, but I cannot resist the urge.
A few posts back I wrote about what I called “that shadowy idol called doubt.” My reason for doing so was two-fold. On the one hand, I think that doubt is a good thing. On the other hand, we have a tendency of elevating our doubts to a height that they should never be placed.
Doubt a good thing…
Specifically, doubt can be good when it comes to our abilities. We ought never to think too highly of ourselves. We should never allow our knowing to puff us up with pride. And so, when it comes to human ability (what we can or cannot do) I think a little doubt is a good thing. It keeps us realistic. We all have limitations. We all have blind spots. We all have personal struggles.
In terms of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, I think a little self-doubt teaches us to lean more heavily on the Rock of our Salvation. God is our refuge. He is our strong and mighty tower. It is in Him that we stand, we move, we live, we breath. He is what sustains us by the power of His Word. He is the one who gifts us and enables us to serve Him. From His mouth comes knowledge and wisdom. From His hand comes strength and power to stand in the midst of our adversaries. A little self-doubt in our abilities teaches us to be dependent upon Him who made us in His image. A little self-doubt teaches us to yearn for the grace of God:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with my weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (1Cor 12.9b-10; ESV).
And so, doubt can be a good thing, when it teaches us to reach for our Lord.
Doubt a bad thing…
However, the opposite is the case when we doubt God or His Word. We ought never to think that God might be mistaken, or that His word is lacking in anything. All that we have been given in Holy Scripture is necessary for living a righteous life. All that we have in the Bible is sufficient for answering those tough probing questions we all encounter. How are we here? God created everything. How did He do it? He spoke it into existence. How long did it take? Six days (approx. 24hrs in length). Why is there so much evil in the world? Because of the curse of sin. Why are people selfish, hateful and sometimes down right wicked? Because being children of Adam they are sinners—they bear his image. Why do we find fossil grave yards all around the world? Why are there sea creatures at some of the highest points of the planet? Because of the global flood of Noah’s day. Why are their different languages? Why do people look differently in one part of the world from the in other parts? Because God separated the earth (people) during the time of the tower of Babel. Why are clothes necessary? To cover our nakedness, to remind us of our shame (i.e., sin). What’s our purpose? Why are we here? We are to glorify God, having been made in His image (i.e., to represent Him). What happens when we die? We face judgment, some to eternal life others to eternal death (i.e., separation).
These are just a smattering of questions that some people have regarding basic life questions. These are mocked and doubted both inside and outside of the Christian faith. But there are other areas of doubt.
A Smattering of Questions…
Did the walls of Jericho really fall down after marching around them and blowing trumpets in Joshua’s day? Did Moses really part the Red Sea by following God’s commands to raise the staff and separate His hands? Did manna come down from heaven? Did the rock produce water? Did the Israelites clothes really not wear out after 40-years of wondering in the desert? Did Balaam’s donkey really speak? Did the serpent in the garden? Were the Israelites really slaves in Egypt? Did God choose (elect) to save them because of a promise to Abraham and God’s decision to place special love on them? Did Peter walk on water? Did Jesus turn water into wine? Did Gideon rout the Midianites with just 300 without losing a single man, even though they fought numbers in the 10’s of thousands? Did Samson really kill a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey? Did Paul really get bit by a poisonous snake and just shake it off without any health issues? Did Jesus really arise from a sealed tomb under Roman guard and then appear to His disciples? Did silver become so abundant in Israel during the reign of Solomon that it was like gravel? Did Elijah stop the rain for three-and-a-half years, and also call fire down from heaven? Did he really outrun Ahab who was riding in a chariot to Jezreel? Did David slay a 9 ½ foot giant named Goliath? Did Daniel escape a lion’s den unscathed? Did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego go into a burning furnace and then after some time inside leave that furnace without hair or cloth singed or smelling of smoke?
What do we do with those biblical events? Do we believe them? Or to our own peril, do we doubt them? If we doubt them, do we then parade those doubts around as if we are really sophisticated, smart thinkers? In our doubt, are we ashamed of admitting them to the world? As a result of our own doubts, do we attempt to find answers for them that will alleviate some of the embarrassment that we might experience when those who don’t believe ask us our thoughts regarding them?
A Serious Flaw in our Thinking…
When our doubt is exalted in this fashion it is an idol, for we would rather cherish our doubts in those moments than the Lord who has spoken truly. Our failure to fully grasp such things is not excuse, for doubting them. And if we doubt these supernatural occurrences (which are logical in a universe that God has created), then what grounds do we have in believing that our salvation, purchased by the life of Jesus Christ, is not also on shaky ground? If those things, which make up an integral part of the whole of our Christian faith can be legitimately doubted and explained away, then what justification can we provide in saying that our faith is not in vain?
Often you will hear Christians appealing to 1Cor 15 where Paul argues for the resurrection of Jesus Christ as necessary or else our faith is in vain. But what is forgotten is that Paul is addressing a specific issue in the Corinthian church where some were arguing against the resurrection (bodily). However, he was not saying that Christ’s resurrection is the only aspect of our faith that makes it null and void if it didn’t happen according to the Scriptures. The Christian faith is a total encompassing worldview. It all is interrelated. It is all one cogent whole. Thus, if one part is found to be in error or false or to be seriously doubted, then so too might any other part of it be. If God has not spoken truly in His Word through His prophets and apostles on any point, then what basis do we have in not assuming that it is all in vain?
Faith is the opposite of doubt. Abraham was accredited righteousness, not because of anything he had done, but because he believed (did not doubt) what God had said. We are called to have the same faith. In this way we are identified as children of Abraham. But if we hem and haw on God’s Word at various points, preferring to express our doubts as if they are good things, then how is this an exercise of Abrahamic faith?