Posted in Biblical Questions

Would Jesus be Woke Today? – The American Vision

Matthew Dowd who was the chief strategist for the re-election campaign of former President George W. Bush who’s now running as a Democrat in the Texas lieutenant governor’s race implied in a tweet that conservatives and Republicans would criticize Jesus as being “woke” if He were alive today. Given the definition of being woke, Jesus would denounce it since it’s being used to promote racial division in the name of “social justice.
— Read on americanvision.org/posts/would-jesus-be-woke-today/

By Gary DeMar at American Vision.

This article reveals what occurs when foolish people attempt to interpret the Bible in order to justify a social(istic) issue like Wokeism. In short, their argument, proposition or premise falls flat on its face because it’s false–Dr. Kristafal Miller

Posted in unity and love

A Day Dedicated to Love: As God Intended

Over the weekend I had the privilege of officiating the wedding ceremony of my eldest son, Gabriel.Here is a picture of the newly wed couple.

It was an exiting day for our family. Marriage is a wonderful gift from our Creator. While, my wife and I are not eager to be grandparents in the foreseeable future, we are thrilled to graft our newly wed daughter (in-law) into our family. Even better is knowing that both of them love the Lord Jesus Christ and desire to honor Him for what I hope is a long-life.

Weeks before the wedding I was asked whether or not I was going to preach a sermon. After some thoughtful consideration and prayer I knew in my own heart that a sermon was not optional. And so, I considered what would be an appropriate message for the young couple, as well as those in attendance. Because I have not had the time to post much of my writing on this site, I thought it appropriate to share the message I gave on October 16, 2021.

Love is a powerful word. It is what brought the two of you here today. But, God’s definition of love is in many ways a foreign concept with our current cultural convictions.

In Scripture, love is described as an action. First and foremost love is defined by how we relate to the Triune Creator God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit):

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10.27a; cf. Deut 6.5; NASB).

Secondly, this love is to be reciprocated to others:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12.31; cf. Lev 19.18).

While these truths are often repeated by believers and non, they only give us direction as to where our love is to be pointed, but they tell little of how we are to love. There is no need to fret, though, for Jesus Christ gives us the directives for how we are to love. Love is defined by keeping the Law-Word of God; following His instructions in regards to good and evil:

If you love Me,” Jesus says, “you will keep My commandments” (John 14.10). Furthermore, the Holy One of Israel adds, “If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love” (John 15.10). Jesus expresses to His followers that true love is one that is faithful to the Word of God, keen on the instruction God has given us for living, so that we may enjoy loves true expression. “Why,” you might ask? The answer is given to us by the apostle Paul:

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law [of God]” (Rom 13.10; bracket added for clarity).

Often times at weddings you will hear the recitation of 1 Corinthians 13. The reason for this is rather simple, it gives wonderful sounding words in defining biblical love. Contextually, Paul is speaking about the type of love that is to be given to fellow members of the body of Christ (ekklessia—from the Greek; the congregation or assembly of Jesus; often called the Church). However, given the nature of marriage—a covenantal institution ordained by God in the beginning; a gift given to a man and a woman who desire to share their lives with one another—it does seem appropriate that the love described there apply to marital union.

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness [that is, sin], but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things endures all things. Love never fails…” (1Cor 13.4-8a; emphasis added).

Notice that in each expression love is defined as an action. True love is found in humility before God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. True love is God’s Law-Word at work in the life of a believer. This does not insinuate perfection on the part of the believer for reality proves that we all fall short and sin; first and foremost against our Maker, but also against our neighbor. In such cases the solution is to confess our wrong and seek forgiveness against the offended part. One final word by the apostle Paul is important for the soon to be newly wed couple to hear (as well as you in this audience).

In Ephesians 5 some words of wisdom are given to the married and the marrying. First Paul calls on the Christian to remember his or her position before their Lord God:

...Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph 5.1-2).

Then, Paul speaks to the married, and in our case this afternoon, the soon to be married:

Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are parts of His body. For this reason a man shall leave His father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, as for you individually, each husband is to love his own wife the same as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (Eph 5.25-33).

Let me simplify this passage for you all, in particular for the two of you, for there is much that Paul says here. Paul is comparing the union of husband and wife with Christ Jesus and His bride, the Church. Just as the bride of Christ is called to submit and respect her Lord, so too is the wife to submit and respect her husband. Why? In the same way that Christ is the head of the Church, the husband is the head of his wife. Meaning what? That he is responsible for her. He is responsible for how he leads in the home, how he cares for his wife, how he protects her from all harm in the same way that Christ leads, cares for, and protects His Church. And if the husband performs his role as husband properly—a spiritual leader that is concerned with doing right and abstaining from wrong (although not perfectly)–then the wife needs to follow his lead, and in so doing she honors her Lord and Savior Jesus.

The husband is commanded to love his wife like Christ loved the Church. How did Jesus do this? He willingly laid down His life for His brides sake. So too then is the husband expected to willingly give of his life for the betterment of his wife. Just as we would never harm our own bodies, the same ought to be true of husbands and their wives. If the husband acts with such things in mind, then he too honors his Lord above.

Again we find that true love, when defined properly, is action. It is based on a faithful commitment to one another. Gabriel and Makalah this is the type of love you are expected to demonstrate to one another; before God and mankind. The same expression of love Christ demonstrated and is now demonstrating for those bonded to Him, is required of the two of you. If you love Christ, as you both have professed, then you will love each other as He commands.

Marriage is a wonderful gift from our Creator. One that is not meant to be taken or entered into lightly. May the Lord of Glory bless your union on this day. And, may those in attendance be a help and not a hindrance to your new found life together.

Let us pray.

Posted in theonomy

King’s Law: Of Whose in Particular do we Speak and Thereby Abide?

Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death” (Exod 21.16; ESV).1

This law is against kidnapping and it prohibits chattel slavery. The law states that the penalty for such activity is death. “Shall be…” is the equivalent of “certainly.” That is to say, “That person, who is found guilty of such activity, certainly will be put to death. Those who commit such acts deserve to die. Furthermore, God commands that when an individual is found guilty, when the punishment is to be carried out:

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).

Meaning that the justice being served out in such situations is warranted and equitable to the offense that has been committed. The purpose was to purge the evil from society and to drive fear into the hearts of the people so that they did not commit such abominable acts (cf. Deut 24.7). Think for a moment how upholding God’s holy standard in society would affect society as a whole.

Rather than a Civil War, which our nation suffered under for treating a certain sector of society as less than human (i.e., animal property), where tens of thousands died, some, members of the same household, an application of God’s statutes in the civil sector of our society would have prevented it. The simple truth remains as a historical reality, where the Christian worldview (a.k.a., the biblical worldview) persists, slavery and other such undesirable practices dissipate. One such example is seen in the life of William Wilberforce (1759-1833, A. D.), a Christian parliamentarian in England whose life’s goal was to eradicate the slave-trade and the practice of holding slaves as property on the shores of his cherished country. He succeeded at the end of his life, after a long, well-fought battle.

It was Wilberforce’s convictions that stemmed from his religious zeal for the God of Scripture revealed in Jesus Christ and made evident by the Holy Spirit’s Word-driven promptings that moved England to a slave free state. The reason our nation suffered a Civil War was not only tied to chattel slavery, but an abuse of power being practiced by those serving in the offices of civil government. Rather than recognizing their duty as God’s ministers for good (Rom 13.4), they pursued the desires of their own heart.

Why? Why is this the case? Because at base all men are sinners, preferring the standard of their own subjective word over and above the revealed Word of God. But, why was it that some who professed to bear the mantle of Christ argued against freeing men and women and children from chattel style servitude? Because, they refused to use the Word of God, in particular His laws concerning chattel slavery, as a corrective lens over and above their perverted view of reality.

This attitude prevails today. People prefer their own law, their own traditions, their own understanding of the world around them rather than God’s own. People prefer a secular form of governance, rather than a divinely inspired one. I can understand this from someone who denies the God of Scripture, but not those who profess the name of Christ.

Lord and Savior (Deliverer)…

Christians profess that Jesus the Christ is Lord and Savior, but what is supposed to be understood by this profession of faith? Well, I’ll tell you what its supposed to mean. It means that Jesus is our King, our Deliverer. He is the established head over all things, having preeminence over all things, because all things were made through (and for) Him. Therefore, all things are commanded to serve Him.

James R. White sums up very nicely the reality of Jesus Christ and His gospel in a statement he made during a public speaking event. I do not have the direct quote in front of me, so I will paraphrase: “I’m tired of people presenting Jesus as a weak beggar, for He is a mighty Lord. And, the gospel is not an invitation, it is a command.”

This reality is demonstrated in the words of Christ’s Great Commission. Before His ascension to His heavenly throne at the right hand (the hand of power/authority) of His Father, Jesus declares a word to His disciples:

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28.18; NASB).

This statement does not mean that before that day Jesus had no kingly authority. He has had that type of authority before the beginning (cf. John 1.1-3; 8.58; 17.5). What then is meant? That, now as the God-Man (fully divine, fully human), having accomplished the work that He was sent to complete (John 19.30; Col 2.14-17), He has became the permanent mediator between God and man, being mankind’s chief representative, replacing Adam in the garden (Rom 5.12-19; 1Cor 15.45-49, 57), and thereby destroying the works of the devil (1John 3.8).2

According to Gary North, “This text [Matt 28.18-20], more than any other in the New Testament, places the nations under Jesus Christ.”3 A point similarly made by Kenneth L. Gentry in his work entitled, The Greatness of the Great Commission: “In the concluding Great Commission, Christ sovereignly declares that He had been “given’ ‘all authority,’ not only over the kingdoms Satan had authority over, but also in heaven….”4

Most notice the evangelistic side of the commission, but few seem to recognize the other elements pertinent for consideration. The role of the Christian disciple under this charge is that of representation. Not only is the proclamation of the gospel (a command to the nations) required, but after baptism (an identification with Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior) in the name of God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) the disciple is to train up new converts in the observing and obeying of all that God has commanded. This last reference (Matt 28.20a) speaks of God’s Law.

A key aspect of the law of God is that it is not burdensome to the new convert, but a delight to their lives (1John 5.3). An oft repeated verse illustrates this truth:

Take my yoke [figuratively, my law] upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke [figuratively, My law] is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt 11.29-30; ESV).

Imaging slaves…

All men (people) are slaves. No, I didn’t misspeak. All men are slaves. The question isn’t whether or not we are slaves, but who are we slaves to (cf. Rom 6.16)? Jesus explains that people will be a slave of one master or Lord (see Matt 6.24 and Luke 16.13). They will, in response, hate the one and love the other, being devoted to the one whom they serve as they despise another.

To be an image bearer means that we are dependent not independent beings. God created mankind to serve Him, to live for Him, to exercise godly dominion through the reflection of His holy mind. If we are not slaves to the Lord who created all, then we will be slaves of some other lord. We will either respond to the voice of God in obedience, submitting to what He has revealed as good, or we will listen to the voice of another. The Great Commission of Christ is that He, having all authority in all creation (both the seen and unseen), sends out His representatives into the world, commanding all sinners to lay down their arms of rebellion and serve Him. Those that become new converts (i.e., disciples) are required to learn and obey all that He has commanded.

Not a N.T. thing…

Nowhere does Scripture limit this teaching to the New Testament. The overarching principle of the Creator versus the creature distinction, which is on display even in the Great Commission, is that when God speaks (or has spoken) through His inscripturated Word we are required to listen (i.e., obey). The only time a law or command can be said to be different now than in the past, is if God has dictated it to us as such. Mankind is never, not even the redeemed body of Christ, to add to or take away from what God has declared as good, righteous and holy. How can the subjective mind of man ever have a standard as clear as the objective mind of God? It is not possible.

Applicability of God’s Law Today…

Here’s the thing, the law against chattel slavery is an example of what the Lord requires His disciples to teach to the nations. This form of sin (a criminal act against a fellow image bearer of God) is worthy of death. This is true of a multitude of sinful activities, which we would define as crimes today, and even those our modern culture would not.

Here are a few examples of crimes against society as a whole that are worthy of death. Things that make modern Evangelicals pee their pants in frustration. To rape is punishable by death (Deut 22.25-27). To maliciously lie in a court of law in order to get the death penalty for one you hate is punishable by death (Deut 19.16-19). To kidnap or steal a fellow human being is punishable by death (Exod 21.16). If a person has an aggressive animal that they have not dealt with properly and it kills another, both the owner and the animal shall be put to death (Exod 21.29). To have sex with an animal is punishable by death (Lev 20.15-16). To kill a child in the womb is punishable by death (Exod 21.22-23). To kill a thief in broad daylight is punishable by death (Exod 22.3). To mistreat the widow or fatherless (i.e., the orphan) is punishable by death (Exod 22.22-24). To curse one’s parents, to strike out against them in harm is worthy of the death penalty (Lev 20.9). Treason in its various forms is punishable by death (Deut 13). Publicly blaspheming the Name (character of) God is punishable by death (Lev 24.11). To have sexual intimacy with the same sex (a man with a man, or a woman with a woman) was worthy of the death penalty (Lev 20.13; Rom 1.26-27, 32; also see Matt 19.4-5). As is adultery (Deut 22.22), and incest (Lev 18.6; 20.11-12, 14, 17), and cross-dressing (Deut 22.5; known in our day as transitioning genders).

This list is by no means exhaustive, and it does not cover a multitude of other laws that deal things touched upon in the civil sphere. For example, theft was dealt with not by the cutting off of one’s hands, or throwing them into prison, but the penalty prescribed was restitution or indentured servitude until what was stolen was paid back by the percentage determined in light of the violation that had taken place (e.g., Exod 22.1-14). It should also be noted to the reader that just because something required the death penalty, does not in fact that the death penalty would be determined. The prosecution must prove the guilt of such a person or persons, and this only in the light of two to three witnesses (i.e., lines of evidence), anything less would not suffice (see Deut 17.6; 19.15).

It is when we get to the particulars of God’s Law that begins to get people squeamish. (I was somewhat joking about modern Evangelicals peeing their pants in frustration). Jesus is identified in Scripture as King of kings and Lord of lords (1Tim 6.15; Rev 1.5; 17.14). The reference alone should settle the debate in regards to “whose law should be the standard for living?” A king exercises authority by dictating the normative practices of their citizenry. Laws are unavoidable. According to the Bible the civil magistrate is the one charged with upholding the good and punishing evil doers (cf. Rom 13.1-7). Debate swirls around what the role of civil magistrate actually entails, around what good and what evil are being spoken of. If only we would learn to read a little further, then perhaps, and I say “perhaps” because of the desire to be our own little gods, we would discern the truth as clearly as it has been dictated to us. For it is God’s law that is referenced as the normative good that the civil authorities are meant to publish and uphold (cf. Rom 13.8-10). And if it is not God’s Law, which is the Law of Christ, then whose shall it be? I think the current culture along with her leaders speaks volumes of just what type of law is being enforced upon us today.

In the United States, there was no king and so the people sought to do whatever they perceived right in their own eyes, under the guise of “We the people…” and our civil leaders were joyous at the opportunity to impose their own subjective opinions on the hearts of all…..

ENDNOTES:

1All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV). Emphasis added.

2This resurrection certified this result (i.e., judicially), although history has a part to play as things are incrementally brought under the sovereign Jesus’ feet: “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he [Jesus the Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1Cor 15.24-26; ESV).

3Gary North, Priorities and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Matthew (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1999), e-book, Chapter 46, “Discipling the Nations.” https://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/sidefrm2.htm.

4Kenneth L. Gentry, The Greatness of the Great Commission: The Christian Enterprise in a Fallen World (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990), PDF e-book. When Adam sinned in the garden, he laid down his arms of warfare (contrary to Gen 2.15) and surrendered to the creature, rather than the voice of his Creator (Gen 3.17), and as a result was sold into slavery unto sin; judged ethically dead before the Lord (cf. Eph 2.1-3).

Posted in Musings

A Cultural Mosh Pit of Christian Commitments: Where to Stand and with Who?

Call me naive but early on in my Christian walk I assumed some things about the faith that I’d thought were “a given.” Over ten years ago, I was running a job for a commercial heating and cooling company out of Columbus, Ohio. I heard a man singing a hymn, approached him, and tried to strike up a conversation with what I assumed was another believer. Instead, I ran into the “You don’t look like me, don’t think exactly like I do, and so, ‘you must not be a Christian.’” An altogether uncomfortable but necessary learning experience. Especially, given the current cultural mosh pit that we are living in.

In what follows you will find, I suppose further clarification of what I had written about in a previous post entitled, War and Violence, Peace and Unity: What Do These Four Terms Have to Do With the Christian Worldview?. Not a very well read piece. I suppose that it may have something to do with the title. Christians get uncomfortable using certain words to describe the Christian faith and gospel of Christ on which it revolves. Meaning that terms like “war,” and “violence,” seem antithetical to what many well-intentioned, but nonetheless uninformed members of the Evangelical community identify with as a spirit filled Christianity. It is also possible that wasn’t well-written, in that case I apologize for not being clearer.

Syncretism plagued Israel during Elijah’s day. It most certainly has a strong foothold on those that claim membership in the Christian family today. My concern is that we need to tread carefully as we walk out our faith, and yet at the same time stand steadfastly upon a fixed standard. And I should add we ought be very cautious that the standard upon which we are steadfastly standing is in fact one that is worthy of our undying commitment. I think that is where the guy I mentioned earlier stumbled a bit.

Objectivity NOT Quick Observations…

Christians ought to be unified on Truth. All this talk nowadays about being peaceful and unified, essentially ignoring all differences, is not the type of “oneness” that I am speaking about. Our judgment needs to be firmly grounded in biblical truth not outward appearances. The one is an objective standard that does not waver on the seas or winds of life. Whereas, the other is highly subjective, differing from one degree to the next.

To be crystal clear here, a true believer is not dependent on what they look like on the outside, but on the inside. Because we are severely limited in our view of our human counterparts, we tend to err when we seek to determine the status of a person’s relationship with God. Like Samuel we might think someone is an appropriate picture of the Christian faith (a genuine believer in God), but a deeper look at the heart (intellect, will, and character) would reveal something else entirely (cf. 1Sam 16.7). This is something that we are ill-equipped to do. Even judging the fruits of some, as Jesus says we ought to do, requires a longer look at someone’s life than many care to give (cf. Matt 12.33).1

Therefore, it is not skin color, tattoos, piercings, hairstyles, clothing, height, weight, class (i.e., rich or poor, popular or unpopular), or any other number of observations we may apply to this person or that person, this group or that group that determines the faith of another. What determines it is where they stand in regards to the Truth of God’s Word. You may look differently than me, but if you stand firm with Jesus Christ, then we are on the same side. We may fall on different spectrum of the same truth, but we are still called members of God’s family.2

Where you stand…

What does it mean to stand with Christ? How does one stand on the Truth of God’s Word? Can I truly be said to be united with Christ, and adherent of the Truth of God’s Word, if I give voice to those things that the Lord declares an abomination? If the Holy Spirit warns us against the types of unions we become involved in (cf. 2Cor 6.14-15), challenging us to think through our intimate associations (not limited to marital unions), then how can we give approval to blatant sins? We should not. We cannot. For to stand with Christ and His Word means that we must stand against all opposition to His Namesake:

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2Cor 10.5; ESV).

2Corinthians 10:5; ESV

However, in order to take such a stand, in order to attempt to bring all thoughts captive under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we must be willing to stand on His Word. And how can we be considered wise in our standing, if we do not know the Rock upon which our feet ought to be firmly planted? Moreover, how do we prove that our feet are firmly planted on this Rock and not on shifting sand, if we refuse to submissively obey?

Exercises of Faith…

Faith is not a work of man, but it is a work of God’s grace! For faith that is without good works—acts of humble obedience to our Lord and Savior—is truly a false faith. Do you not know that it is what you do that reveals what you are?

  • How then can you say that the murdering of unborn infants in the womb is a right that needs to be afforded? Who gave you the sovereignty to determine when to end a life or when it was good to sanction its coming into the world?
  • How then can you say rather than focusing on the blood of Christ that redeems lost sinners from every tribe and nation and language upon this earth that we must maintain our outward distinctions? Who gave you the sovereignty to determine the worthiness of white vs. black?3
  • How then can you say that marriage is defined by cultural consensus (male and male, female and female), rather than by our Creator’s edict (male and female, woman for the man)? Or, that male and female is a distinction defined by feelings rather than God-given scientific, observable characteristics? Who gave you the sovereignty to determine what constitutes a good marriage and a genuine gender?
  • How can you say that governmental theft of personal property is a good thing as long as you or some other that you feel strongly about is the recipient of the funds? Who gave you sovereignty over the labors and wealth of your fellow man?

How can you call for peace and unity, when such things are at war with the one you profess as Lord and Savior? Who are you showing your faith in when you support things that violently oppose the Truth of God’s Word? If we are genuine in our faith, then our faith needs to be engaged at a level beyond the surface of our skin. Christians may not look alike in the immediate sense, but we ought to look alike from a distance.

ENDNOTES:

1To judge a fruit (a work) of another requires more than a quick fly-by, so to speak. Careful observation takes time. And so, in order to properly discern the type of fruit a man produces requires you be involved in their life for longer than a day. We all fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3.23). Thus, one day might bring some bad fruit on our trees that need repentance. A true believer will do this, but not so for those who offer a false profession of faith. It is the longevity of the tree and the overall fruit that it produces that provides a clearer picture of who we ought to mark as needing avoided.

2One biblical example given to us to help guide us through the quagmire of personal intuitiveness is Paul’s discussion on eating meat or vegetables in Romans 14. All food is declared good to eat, but we are to give some lead way with one another in our preferences of the types of food we will eat.

3Ray Sutton writes, “All racists are the same. They believe their race or even their nation is special because of its ethnic distinction…This inevitably leads to war, because impure races have to be destroyed. They are a threat to the pure race.” That You May Prosper: Dominion by Covenant (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984), 94, PDF e-book.