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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

RBG and the Immorality of the Left

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or RBG as she is more commonly known these days, passed into eternity a few days ago. And, since her demise, much has been said and written about her from both sides of the political divide. Those on the left have lionized her as one of the most influential (for good) individuals of her generation. Those on the right, well that's a more mixed bag. Some have "honored her legacy" while others have indicated the problems with her positions. In general, those on the right have been more polite than those on the left would be against a similar political opponent: as is usually the case!

From the Christian perspective, I repeat the comment I made shortly after her death on Facebook: the lady was no doubt influential, but that influence was greatly for evil rather than for good. She was a godless individual whose guiding light was not righteousness and the will of God, but tolerance and support for evils such as abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and many others. One could say, without hesitation, that RBG was among the most wicked rulers this nation has known. 

At the same time, however, we understand that salvation is of God. God saves whomever, whenever, however He desires. We cannot rule out that God may have regenerated this lady's heart at the very last second of her earthly life. That being said, it is essential for us to also uphold the biblical understanding of salvation. Salvation is neither automatic nor without its costs. Although God saves, He has revealed how He saves and how we can avail ourselves of that salvation. Neither RBG nor anyone else can expect to be given an opportunity to repent after their death. And neither will they be saved without repentance. If it is true that the thief on the cross was saved in the last hour of his life, he was not saved without repenting of his wickedness.

Could RBG have repented quietly in the last hour of her life? Of course. But the likelihood that a person who gave herself to such a mountain of evil during her lifetime is all of a sudden going to backtrack and reject it all is very small. Even so, our desire and hope as believers is that somehow, someway she did become repentant and was saved. We should wish no one hell. That is why we evangelize, because we hope that as few as possible will go to that awful place. In the book of Revelation, John eats a little book that tastes sweet in the mouth, but is bitter in his stomach. The episode is in the context of God's impending judgement. 

Yes, the thought that God will judge the wicked is sweet, at first. But when we consider the awfulness of that judgement and the end of those who will inherit it, it truly makes our stomachs ache. The lesson that this lady's life provides is that wickedness will end in destruction. The legacy left by the wicked, as the Psalm says, will stain the land and perish from the earth. What reward will RBG or anyone else have from a life of unrighteousness and sin? Nothing but pain, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Learn the lesson and repent if you are on the same highway to destruction!

 



Friday, September 11, 2020

"My Sheep Hear My Voice"

 

Saw this video today and it is well worth watching. It's only about 20 minutes and it was produced by Justin Peters. In addition to the fact that the information in it is very good, the last couple of minutes are really wonderful! Give it a watch and see what you think.



Friday, August 28, 2020

A Little of This and That

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. Who put light for darkness and darkness for light. Who put sweet for bitter and bitter for sweet” (Isaiah 5:20).

I recently spent four months at home, unable to go to work because our leaders determined that it would be best for only a “skeleton crew” to basically keep the lights on while the COVID virus continued to stalk the land. When this all began in what seems today like a lifetime ago, in the fall, news casters dubbed the virus either the Wuhan Corona Virus, or the Chinese Corona Virus. No one thought it strange since they were simply referring to the fact that it had originated in the city of Wuhan in China.



Sunday, August 9, 2020

To Obey Or Not To Obey

“’For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good.’ Even in the Roman legal code, there was a strong sense of justice. That’s what Paul and Peter are talking about here [in 1 Peter 2]. I repeat what I said in my other video on the same subject: the state government of California promotes, endorses, and supports the murder of children in the womb. And just so you know, baby-killing nodes are open and running in California right now.”

When it comes to the current issue concerning COVID, if one were to write down the opinions proffered by every so-called expert, it would probably be possible to fill the entire state of Texas with the paper that exercise would generate. And it is not just experts. Everyone and anyone with a particular platform (something that today just about anyone with a computer has), have also set themselves up as the authority when it comes to the virus and what we, and especially the government, should and should not be doing about it. From one side you hear that if we don’t wear masks the whole world is going to end in the zombie apocalypse. From the other, you hear that if we give in and wear masks, the next thing that will happen is that we will all be sent to the salt mines.

The quotation above was offered by Alan, aka “Polite Leader” during one of his YouTube channel webcasts. He was discussing the fact that the state of California has threatened John Macarthur with arrest as well as the imposition of a $1,000 daily fine on Grace Community Church if it continues to insist on remaining open for services on Sunday. There is also an article making the rounds on Facebook about Gil Garcetti, the distinguished mayor of Los Angeles, threatening anyone with cutting power and water to their homes if they dare have large gatherings (presumably including Bible studies).

What does all this mean? My interest here is not concerning the COVID situation in general. As with just about every other medical and scientific issue, there are as many ideas and beliefs about how the virus behaves and what it can do as there are scientists. To hitch your wagon to one of those individuals or group of individuals is a fool’s errand. They will change their mind from one day to the next simply because they are fallible human beings like the rest of us. When something like this virus hits, it takes us all by surprise. To be sure, scientists who are studying this illness know more about it than the average Joe, certainly more than this average Joe. But we need to bear in mind that the situation changes rapidly and that we don’t have all the answers.

But what really takes me aback, is this seemingly revisionist effort by some to redefine Romans 13 and what it means for us today. If we continue to listen to the aforementioned webcast, we will hear Alan catalog a series of sinful behaviors that California condones. Homosexual marriage, transsexuality, celebrating Harvey Milk Day, etc., etc. But he then goes on to say that “the government of California is not a Romans 13, 1 Peter 2 government. It is in fact an Acts 5 government [the Jewish leadership that attempted to suppress the preaching of the gospel], and to that government the apostles said ‘we ought to obey God rather than men’.” The obvious implication is that we do not need to subject ourselves to the government of California because they are not legitimate. I must confess that I had not heard this line of argument before recent times. The first time I heard it was a couple of weeks ago from another internet apologist. Although it sounds good at first, if you don’t pay attention to it closely, on closer inspection you will see just how dangerous such line of thinking can be.

Many make the argument that when we seek to understand a biblical passage, we must understand, among other things, the historical context in which it was written. But in order to make the argument outlined above, one would have to ignore the world in which Paul penned those words in Romans 13. The Roman government approved of ceremonial killing in circuses. It went about subjugating countless countries. It approved of slavery and enforced servant-hood. It looked the other way when its citizen exposed new born children in order to get rid of them. It promoted Caesar worship, the worship of countless idols, and temple prostitution. And yes, persecuted the church mercilessly for nearly 200 years. Are we now going to say that the Christians of the time should have risen up in arms to “defend their rights”? Was the Roman government a “Romans 13 government”? If not, then what was the point that Paul wanted to make? In the same passage he tells the Romans that we pay taxes for conscience’s sake. “Why Paul, you should have told them to withhold their taxes since they were being used for all kinds of immoral behavior.”

Folks, we can debate the merits of disobeying the “do not meet” orders. We can discuss whether such orders infringe on the command that God has given the church to meet. All that can be discussed and argued, and indeed has been, at great length. Opinions will vary as to where the church should draw the line. Some think that the elders at GCC are doing exactly the right thing. Others are not so sure. But one thing is certain: to argue that we should ignore Romans 13 because our particular government is not acting in accordance with God’s design for government, is an extremely dangerous position to take. Every government is, to one extent or another, ungodly. Every government will make decisions that will be contrary to God’s revealed will. Can we then ignore government and treat it as illegitimate? That is the argument that many made about Donald Trump not being their president!

We may not like the government we currently have. We may think it ungodly, immoral, corrupt. But it is still the government that God has ordained. Or are we now to posit the argument that the current state government in California somehow slipped through the cracks before God had a chance to determine which government that state was going to have? Those of us who are Reformed certainly should know better. The governments in California, in Texas, in New York and everywhere in between have been ordained by God for His own purposes. And the fact that in many cases they are ungodly may just be in order to bring about the judgment of this nation. But whether for judgement or not, we don’t get to pick and choose what government we obey. Yes, we obey God rather than man. But we do so only when the laws of man conflict with the laws of God. Otherwise, we don’t get to pick what suits us and, if we do, we do so at our own peril!




Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Martyrdom of Polycarp

"They did not nail him then, but simply bound him. And he, placing his hands behind him, and being bound like a distinguished ram [taken] out of a great flock for sacrifice, and said, "O Lord God Almighty, the Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of Thee, the God of angels and powers, and every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before Thee, I give Thee thanks that Thou hast counted me, worthy of this day and this hour, that I should have a part in the number of Thy martyrs, in the cup of Thy Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption [imparted] by the Holy Ghost. Among whom may I be accepted this day before Thee as a fat and acceptable sacrifice, according as Thou, the ever-truthful God, hast fore-ordained, hast revealed beforehand to me, and now hast fulfilled. Wherefore also I praise Thee for all things, I bless  Thee, I glorify Thee, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee, and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen."



Friday, July 24, 2020

What Lives?


Anyone who knows me, knows that I love baseball. Some of the fondest memories I have of my childhood are related to the grand game. I remember winning, and loosing, smiling and crying. I remember my dad being an umpire and treating me more strictly than the rest of the players because he didn’t want anyone to think he was favoring me. I didn’t understand that concept then, but now I can see there was a lot of wisdom in it. Many of our family outings have been built around baseball. When my dad turned 75, we went to Cooperstown to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. And when he turned 80, we traveled to Arlington and Houston to watch the Rangers and the Astros.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

By What Standard?


I ran across the documentary linked on the picture sort of by accident. But I must say that I found it extremely enlightening and informative. And I say that from the point of view of one who attends and is a pastor at a congregation that understands the biblical pattern for men and women and that understands that we are all one race. But the thing about all this complementarianism (which seems to have been sort of forgotten in the storm of viruses and racism) and racial intersectionality, is that as with many other issues such as homosexuality and social justice, they will sooner or later come to our doors. And when they do, it is imperative to know why we stand where we stand.

As we contemplate the landscape of the “church” today, we see a very disparate organism. There are churches that are strong bulwarks (and I hope we are among them) against the efforts of society, and even some in the church, to bring all the social baggage of our day into the church. But there are many more which are doing little to resist those unbiblical trends and are even being easily co-opted into helping the forces that are attempting to bring down the structure that God has erected (good luck!!). Often when we view documentaries such as this one, we are made to wonder what ever happened to the Bible in the minds of some of these folks. You will hear a whole lot of sociology and psychology and all kinds of such claptrap. But you will often be hard pressed to hear anyone try to support what they’re attempting to convince you of with a “thus saith the Lord.”

There are some things within the documentary that are problematic simply because it deals primarily with the Southern Baptist Convention. To my mind, that organization is an extra-biblical organization and as such it is going to have a lot of the issues that come with such a status. The Bible clearly lays out the pattern that each congregation of the Lord’s people are to be autonomous and independent, what we would call the congregational model. Once you begin to stretch that model and begin to create extra levels weighing down on the local church, the potential for problems multiplies. I know that the SBC claims that each congregation is supposedly independent, but it’s hard for me to see how that independence can truly be sustained if you’re part of that organization. But, that’s really neither here nor there. The bottom line is that the Bible is under assault, even by some of its purported proponents.

Watch the video (it’s kind of long at nearly 2 hours, but it’s worth it) and let me know what you think. Obviously, I have a lot more to say about this, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.
(I found it especially interesting at the beginning of the documentary when the Lifeway representative was asked what he thought was so distinctive about the SBC and he replied that the respect that they have for the Scriptures. But, when asked about complementarianism and what the Bible has to say about it, he was strangely silent about it!!)



Friday, June 19, 2020

While Rome Burns…


While many in the church spent the past few weeks whining about having to wear a mask or throwing temper tantrums because they have to social distance, the Supreme Court of these United States handed down a ruling in the Bostock vs. Clayton County case. The decision that the court handed down, will have repercussions for everyone in this country, and especially the church, for the foreseeable future. This is what Kyle Blanchette, writing for National Review, in its online edition of June 18th, 2020 had to say specifically about Neil Gorsuch and his reasoning in siding with the majority.


Friday, June 12, 2020

How Do You Feel?


"We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued," the statement said. "Causing pain was never our hearts' intention, but it doesn't change the fact that indeed, it did just that. So today, we speak up and make a change." Lady A.

Just this morning, I saw a news report that the country music group formerly known as “Lady Antebellum” is changing its name to “Lady A.” The reason offered by the group is that they wanted to distance themselves from the supposed association of the name with the slavery issue that dominated political discussions immediately preceding the American Civil War. Let me point out, in case anyone reading this article is unaware of this fact, that antebellum is the Latin word that means “before the war.” That’s it. Nothing more is implied by the term. It is what people reading the term infuse into it that make it either benign or problematic.


Monday, June 8, 2020

As We Continue To Wait


Sometimes I have a lot to say. But there are times when I have a lot to say, that someone else has said it much better than I ever could. Such is the case with the article linked here. For those of you who don’t know him, Costi Hinn is the nephew of infamous “faith healer” Benny Hinn. He used to travel around with his uncle being, in his words, a receiver in his campaigns. A receiver is one of those men you see on the videos who “receive” the people that Benny is “slaying in the Spirit.” After breaking with his uncle, Costi was truly regenerated by the Spirit and is now teaching and preaching the truth. He has collaborated with Justin Peters on a number of videos exposing the “Word of Faith” charlatans.

At any rate, in this article he tackles the elephant in the room that is facing all of us in the church today: worship and the COVID19 pandemic. Different churches have approached this problem differently. Some have appropriated the approach others are using and that seems to work for their particular situations. Others are taking a more or less measured approach depending on their leadership and membership. But whether one approach or another, there are always ways in which things could have been done better. After all of this, by the grace of God, is over we are likely to look back and point to the things we did wrong.

As you read the article, please consider our situation. We still have some folks who have not come back to the assembly. And it is important to be sensitive to them and not look down as though they were somehow lesser Christians than the rest of us. And that also goes for social media. Think of what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7--God has given us a mind that is, in the original Sofranismos: sound and self-controlled.

Navigating Different COVID19 Convictions






Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Root Cause


There are many of us in the church who think of eschatology as an esoteric topic that is best left to those who have the time to invest in its study. Not only do I not have the time (or, perhaps I should say I do not want to take the time), but I find the subject rather difficult and requiring more intense and dedicated study that I can ever give it. Add to that the fact that, when one deals with something that is yet to happen, the likelihood of being wrong is quite high! Thus, although the Bible teaches concerning the things that are yet to come, there are many areas, such as the events preceding the Second Coming, that are quite difficult and in which there is no way to know whether one is right, until the events take place. Without a doubt, whether one is right about one eschatological position or another, we will all find out once the end comes.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

"The Christian's Responsibility in a Pagan Society"


“A politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but weakens our loyalties. Our primary citizenship is not on earth but in heaven. …Though few evangelicals would deny this truth in theory, the language of our spiritual citizenship frequently gets wrapped in the red, white, and blue. Rather than acting as resident aliens of a heavenly kingdom, too often we sound [and act] like resident apologists for a Christian America…Unless we reject the false reliance on the illusion of Christian America, evangelicalism will continue to distort the gospel and thwart a genuine biblical identity…American evangelicalism is now covered by layers and layers of historically shaped attitudes that obscure our original biblical core.” John Seel


Monday, May 18, 2020

The Atheist of the Gap


One of the accusations that atheists often levy against Christians, is that we believe in a so-called “God of the gap.” That is, whenever an evolutionist or other atheist is unable to explain something about creation (of course, in their worldview it wouldn’t be creation, but I digress), the Christian will supposedly step in and claim that “ha, see that proves that evolution cannot account for everything in creation; therefore God must exist.” Thus, the atheist accuses the Christian of believing in a god who can only exist in the gap in human knowledge. Someday, the atheist claims, science will be able to explain the supposed gap, and then what’s going to happen to God?


Friday, May 1, 2020

“We’re All In This Together?”


Nearly 19 years ago, the United States was attacked by 19 terrorist who flew four aircraft into the twin towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Virginia, and into a field in Pennsylvania. After that attack, the United States went to war against, first the Taliban in Afghanistan and then against the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. The latter war effectively ended several years ago, although there are still U.S. troops in Iraq. But the war in Afghanistan still continues to this day, howbeit with a much smaller footprint.



Tuesday, April 21, 2020

“God Didn’t Do This”


“And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk” (Revelation 9:20, KJV).

At a recent news conference, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, declared with great bravado and confidence that “the number’s down because we brought the number down; God did not do that, faith did not do that, destiny did not do that; a lot of pain and suffering did that.” He made these remarks while telling the press that the number of cases and deaths attributed to the COVID19 virus had declined. Unfortunately for the governor and the rest of his state, although the “curve” of cases and deaths seemed to decline at one point, they quickly shot up again. New York alone accounts for nearly 15,000 of the deaths that have been recorded in the United States attributed to the virus. The cases in that state, are thankfully once again declining.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The God of Science!


I came across the video above where Todd Friel speaks of a recent article in the New York Times entitled “The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response.” In it, the author complains that the “religious right” has done all it could to dismantle the scaffolding of science and that, due to that fact, our current crisis has been made worse. Of course, whenever a liberal (and the New York Times is perhaps the preeminent liberal paper in the country) wants to complain about Christianity, which is equated almost without exception with the religious right, they will link it with Trump and the Republicans as if by reflex. To the liberal left, Christianity is the Republican party and the Republican party stands for Christianity.

Throughout the article, the author bemoans that Christians and the Trump administration specifically, have made a shambles of science and that they are guilty of not listening to expert opinion—read scientific “consensus.” The irony in all this is that the left likes to think of itself as the enlightened caste who have left the childish belief in a “god” for the more intellectually stimulating and rewarding scientific consensus. Paul spoke of how the “god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” in 2 Corinthians 4, and the god of this world takes a lot of forms. And for today’s society, especially in the West, that form is the scientific community and its enlightened consensus. Whatever some liberal scientist has to say is law to today’s empty headed liberal. It is with a great deal of irony that one has to look at the folks who are so proud of their “open minds,” but who in reality have allowed their brains to fall out of that opened window.

As brother Friel correctly points out in the video, Christianity is not, cannot be opposed to real science. And that is simply because real science is God’s science. As Cornelius Van Till said in a different context, but that holds true in every area of life, all truth is God’s truth. If science has said anything that is true, then it has only discovered the truth that God created into that particular substance, discipline or philosophy. And science is no exception. The scientific truths that have been discovered over the centuries, have been discovered simply because God allowed man to do so. But instead of recognizing that fact, like the scientists who made some of the greatest discoveries in history, today’s scientist has made of science itself a god to which they must bow and to which everyone must offer the pinch of incense.

If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have nothing to fear from science. And if any “scientist” tells you that God does not exist, or that if He does exists, He is not in control or is somehow helpless, you can go ahead and laugh (do it inside, you don’t want to be rude)! And after you compose yourself, politely and lovingly tell the person that they know nothing of the God of heaven and that you have the answer to his ignorance. We cannot be arrogant, but cannot stand by and allow folks to go happily into hell thinking that they have all the answers. The love of Christ and the God who is there demand that we live always with eternity in the front of our minds.




Friday, March 13, 2020

"His Eye is on the Sparrow"

"I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then, I shall  fumigate, help clear the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid place and person where my presence is not needed in order to become contaminated, and thus perchance infect and pollute others and cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me, and so I am not responsible either for my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but shall go freely." Martin Luther


Saturday, February 22, 2020

What Would RC Do?



Not long ago I saw a posting on Facebook that asked the question in effect "what would RC do"? The context of the question was a video that came with the posting about one of RC's classes on YouTube. In the episode in question, RC was discussing with his class that he once encountered a lady, in his earlier years, to whom he originally referred as "colored." In the course of their conversation, the lady told him that she preferred to be addressed as "negro" (you can likely guess the time frame in which the conversation took place). After thinking about it for a bit, RC tells his class, he decided that if that is what the lady wanted to be called, then that's what he would call her.



Friday, February 14, 2020

The Bible


“The tragic fruit of neglecting the Word of God is not just ignorance…[it] is a barren life. And not just barren, but a powerless and dissatisfied life is inevitable when you neglect the Bible habit of the Christian life, of reading the Word of God. And today we’re living in a time when people want everything the easy way. You used to have to percolate coffee; you don’t have to do that anymore. You can just stick the spoon in the jar and slap it in the hot water and give it one stir, and you’ve got coffee. In the same way people today are seeking spiritual shortcuts. Instead of faithfully studying and seeking a true knowledge of the Word of God, they pursue some kind of an experience that will just shortcut the whole thing.” Jack Macarthur



Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Perils of "Political" Christianity


Well known and respected pastor John Macarthur made a very insightful comment the other day which set my thinking wheels to a higher gear than usual. In a question and answer session at the congregation where he preachers, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, he was asked about politics and the atmosphere that permeates that world. In our politically charged society, especially in the campaigning season ahead of the 2020 elections, that is a question that occupies the minds of many, if not nearly all of us. 



Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Allure of "Relevance and Practicality"


Not long ago, John Macarthur was asked what he thought of Steven Furtick, the "pastor" of the so-called Elevation Church. After a pause, Macarthur uttered a single word: “unqualified.” It was obvious that brother Macarthur was nonplussed about the question and that he is not, to say the least, a fan of Mr. Furtick. Anyone who has listened to Mr. Furtick "preach" and who is not a sycophant who attends Elevation Church or a like-minded mega church, understands why brother Macarthur used that single, suggestive word in describing this individual.