Sunday, May 24, 2015

IRELAND REDEFINES MARRIAGE


The Republic of Ireland voted in favour of changing its constitution in order to permit same-sex or homosexual marriage. The people have spoken! Democracy lives in Ireland! However, is the redefining of marriage a wise thing?

Apparently 4% of the Irish population identify themselves as either homosexual/lesbian or bisexual. Sure, the figure may be more due to some wishing not to disclose their sexual preferences but the figure certainly includes homosexuals who are against redefining marriage.  

Be that as it may, but what was wrong with the definition that marriage is between one man and one woman forever (i.e., till death) that the Irish now wish to change it? Well, apparently the Irish wish to bring in “marriage equality,” suggesting that somehow marriage has been unequal up till now. The idea is that if two men or two women “love” each other then they should be allowed to enter into holy matrimony.

The Roman Catholic Church (which is big but waning in Ireland) considers marriage to be one of its seven sacraments. Therefore, this new definition of marriage cannot be incorporated into its Church dogma without papal authority. If we remember this is a church that, for example, without Biblical authority tells its priests that they cannot marry then we will understand that perhaps it may be swayed by public opinion. However, for Biblical Christians the issue is simple. The question is: Is same-sex marriage Biblical? In other words, does God’s Word teach that marriage is only between one man and one woman forever? Of course it does! And there is the rub. Jesus in Matthew 19:3-6 by referring us to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1 and 2 is clearly teaching us that marriage is between only mature males and mature females.

To be sure those who do not care what the Bible says about marriage do not care if two people of the same sex get hitched. Some people may be indifferent on this issue. However, those who voted in Ireland have consciously and unequivocally voted to endorse and promote homosexuality in their society. Is this a good thing? What does the Bible say?

The Bible takes a scientific or empirical approach and calls homosexual acts ‘unnatural.” So that you do not miss what the Bible teaches about homosexual acts consider the following: Someone once said, “A square peg in a round hole may be possible with a bit of force – but it is ugly!” Homosexual “marriage” endorses sodomy and buggery and other unnatural acts. And for the record God forbids such unnatural actions between husbands and wives.  

Some may conclude that what two consenting adults (two males or two females) do in private is their business but the whole of the voting public of Ireland have made it their own personal business. The majority has voted to redefine marriage to include what the Bible describes as something unnatural (e.g., Romans 1). That is Ireland’s prerogative as a sovereign state. But is it wise? The Bible says it isn’t. However, the people of Ireland have spoken.

Monday, May 11, 2015

MOODS


Moods

 As human beings we are subject to various moods. Certain things may put us in a bad mood, e.g. our sports team losing the grand final or the loss of your wallet. A good mood may come upon us when our team wins or we come into money. When it comes to moods we can run the whole gamut from elation all the way down to depression. Our moods are tied to our emotions. If grumpy someone may ask if we got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning, and if happy we may be asked if we have just won the lottery! Some of us may spend years trying to keep a lid on our emotions; anger, anxiety etc. However, moods are part of human nature. Mood swings usually relate to responses to events.

Jesus, the perfect human, wept beside a friend’s grave, got angry with money-lenders, and experienced both joy and sorrow. Jesus, being God, has two natures, divine and human. Theologians debate whether Jesus’s divine nature felt pain and suffered when He was on the cross. If we keep in mind that Jesus is one divine Person with two distinct natures forever we’ll get something of an idea how hard it is to know if God has emotions. In other words, a Person not a nature experiences emotion. Oil and water don’t mix and neither do Christ’s two natures. Oil on water can be set on fire but not the water. This is because oil and water have different properties. Therefore, it would seem safe to assume that the divine Person of Christ would experience emotion on two distinct levels, i.e., the physical level and the divine level. The following example may be a tad gruesome but a person having their leg amputated without anaesthetic could be asked how the pain they were experiencing was affecting them emotionally. In other words, we too are affected on different levels.

    Was God in a good mood the day He poured out His angry wrath on His Son as He hung on the cross for the sins of His people? Did the Father experience sadness when His Son died? Did the Spirit mourn or grieve when the Son was laid in the tomb? Did God shout for joy when His Son was raised from the dead? I think we can safely say that God experienced all these moods – humanly speaking! And there’s the rub. We simply have to say that God is without human passions. Otherwise we run the risk of confusing the two natures of Christ.

Is there any practical application in knowing that God through Jesus Christ knows human emotion at a human and divine level? Well, first off let’s acknowledge that God is not subject to moods. You’ll never catch God having a bad day! He’s not subject to His creation or any events. He’s in sovereign control of all things. Hence we hold that Almighty God is without passions (at least as we understand them). Secondly, because in God ‘there is no variation or shadow of turning’ we can approach Him knowing  He won’t chew our heads off for disturbing Him! As the Prophet Jonah said, ‘You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm’ Jonah 4:2b, (cf., Exodus 34:6-7). And thirdly, because of God’s grace we can say ‘“No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives’ Titus 2:12. Therefore, let’s work towards controlling our moods rather than having them control us.

Don’t wait till you’re in the mood: call on Christ today!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Waning (Christian) West


"According to Friday's Scottish edition of the English Daily Telegraph (page 6 flagged *** Sc) under the headline - Do not vote, it's a sin... Muslims are intimidated in the street - "Some Muslims were told not to vote while others were allegedly ordered by spiritual leaders to back Labour as Tower Hamlets became the centre of election controversy yesterday". "Two types of leaflet were distributed in Tower Hamlets [east London]. One displayed the words 'Don't vote' and '#StayMuslimDontVote'. It also read: 'None have the right to legislate except Allah.' The other read: 'Warning. Voting for man-made law is Shirk [idol worship] associated with Allah.'"

As we see above, during the lead up to Britain’s General Election (May 7, 2015) some Muslims wereurging other Muslims not to vote. These “Don’t vote” type of Muslims don’t sound that much different to many present day “Christians” who have come under the influence of Anabaptist theology that is stifling Christianity’s influence in the world. “[Jesus] said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” Luke 13:20-21. E.g., the Amish and the Mennonites have turned their backs on society and have no Christian influence whatsoever apart from being cultural curiosities. Then there are others who think the Ten Commandments have nothing to do with Christians!
Then there are others who don’t believe in the following use of the Law, i.e., “A second purpose for the law is the restraint of evil. The law, in and of itself, cannot change human hearts. It can, however, serve to protect the righteous from the unjust. Calvin says this purpose is ‘by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice.’ The law allows for a limited measure of justice on this earth, until the last judgment is realized.” RC Sproul.[1]
Then there are those who believe there are only Nine Commandments. They remove the Fourth Commandment of the Decalogue, the one regarding the Christian Sabbath.

Anyway, I’ve shortened to bumper-sticker size what the wise Presbyterian Robert Lewis Dabney says somewhere – here’s the bumper-sticker, “Healthy Pulpit, Healthy Nation.” We hear very little about God’s Law from the pulpits and that is why the West is crumbling. As the West continues to implode Socialism with its attendant Atheism and Islam with its attendant Sharia is rushing in filling the void.

Bottom line? Christians need to get educated on what the whole Bible teaches! Then we will again be an influence for good on this earth. Why? Because “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” Psalm 24:1. Antinomianism is as much an enemy of Christianity as Islam. The West needs to return to the foundation s it was built on.

"For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." Isaiah 2:3a-4.

My old professor actually had the following bumper-sticker on his car's bumper: "God's Law or Chaos."[2] 


Friday, May 1, 2015

IS GOD IMMORAL?


Recently I got engaged in an honest but albeit brief conversation by a 100% Atheist. I told him that I’d never met an Atheist who was a one hundred-percenter and quickly drew attention to the fact that even Richard Dawkins didn’t claim to be 100% Atheist. I used the example of Dawkins’s double-decker bus advert: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” That word “probably” betrays a healthy doubt about God’s non-existence. Perhaps God is hiding on the dark side of the moon!

Unfazed by Dawkins’s wimpy equivocations,  my 100% Atheist contender proceeded to enquire after my evidence for God. To which I responded that my evidence for God’s existence was the same evidence he uses to deny God’s existence, i.e., creation and all that’s therein.

Wanting to cut to the chase I quickly dispensed with all and sundry “other gods” by telling my sparring-partner that I am a follower of the Triune God, i.e., the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture.

He wanted to talk about the age of the universe. I told him that I was a “Young Earther.” “Six thousand years old?” he asked. I asked him why not! He mentioned the speed of light from distant planets. I told him that I wasn’t a scientist and neither was he but that, as I had done, he also should read Russell Humphreys' (who is a scientist) book called (Starlight & Time). Humphries has done his sums and gives a good answer rebutting the notion that the speed of light travelling from distant stars seems to suggest a universe very much older the six thousand years.

He entered into the whacky realm of Quantum Physics and Mechanics as he tried to respond to my question of how can something come from nother.

Rather than debate the meaning of stones and bones, Peking Man, Piltdown Man, Lucy, Australopithecus, DNA and Intelligent Design et al, I tried to get back to Bible. I said that he presupposes that the Bible is not God’s Word and that I presuppose it is God’s Word. I told him that the bottom line is that I presuppose that God is and that he presupposes that God is not. Therefore, it’s all about God.

My worthy and intelligent opponent took the bait and told me that he had once been a Christian but had rejected  its worldview on account of God’s immorality. I, of course, at this invitation lunged forward to pierce deftly the heart of his argument! “Atheists, especially 100% Atheists,” said I, “have no basis for morals!” Theirs is a dog eat dog world of no good or evil, a universe with no purpose.

He wanted to talk about God’s Ten Commandments. I said that the Decalogue is an expression of God’s character, His moral character. He said, “Even the one about ‘Thou shalt not kill?’” He then proceeded to make an obvious and perhaps very good point about God’s not keeping that particular Commandment when He sent His people into the Promised Land and told them to kill everyone they came in contact with.


I asked therefore what the difference was between God commanding His people to put a people to death and God putting them to death Himself. We digressed a little when I started talking about the rest of mankind drowning in the great flood in Noah’s day. I added that he could do a scientific study and take a pick and shovel and that he would find evidence for a global flood all over the planet. He would find millions of dead things that had been buried, being rapidly embedded in silt that became sedimentary rock. This is consistent with a global deluge.

I asked what was his biggest problem with God, the Bible and Christianity. From here it was back to the question of morals, God’s morals.

So, what are we to do with God when He seemingly breaks His own moral standards by telling human beings to do something He has already commanded us not to do? True, God has forbidden murder. However, the Bible clearly teaches us that murder is a capital offence. (There are other capital offences in Scripture but let’s stick to the case in hand.)

The whole Bible teaches us what the Apostle Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit summed up in the words, “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23a. It’s been this way right from Adam’s sin against God and His Law in the Garden till today. God is the One who gives us life and God is the One who takes it away again.

But meanwhile back to God’s morals and the flood at the time of Noah. After Noah and his family came out of the ark, i.e., after God had put to death every other human being, God said to Noah and his family, eight in all, “And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made him.’” Genesis 9:5b-6. Thus the death penalty!

From the time of the Reformation in 1517 Western societies began to be built on the rule of law, i.e., God’s Law – with its attendant penalties. The right of kings and queens to put their subjects to death at a mere whim were challenged on Biblical terms. The so-called “Divine Right of Kings” was revoked when the monarch’s authority to rule was placed under God’s rule of law. The Reformation did the same with the papacy. Both Church and State would have authority only to do what God in His Word permitted them to do in their respective spheres of authority. Thus freedom for all!

Freedom in Western democracies comes from, and functions only because of, the rule of law, i.e., laws based upon God’s Ten Commandments. Western judiciary systems were to reflect God’s court of law. In other words, judges were to represent God and His justice on earth. However, let us quickly add that when Cain slew his own brother Abel God did not immediately put Cain to death. Neither did He execute King David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her innocent husband killed. Therefore, though the death penalty is on a Christian-influenced nation’s law books for capital offences, it does not preclude mercy.

So, in answer to my 100% Atheist friend, justice and mercy go hand in hand with God. There is nothing immoral about God! God has condemned us to death for our sins but at the same time He extends to us the hand of mercy. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23. As Jesus says elsewhere, “Repent and believe the good news.” Mark 1:15. I did! Rahab the harlot did – and she and her family were spared when the people of God under God’s supreme command  and instruction moved into the Promised Land.

Sure, we talked about a whole lot more than this but unlike my 100% Atheist friend I see no contradiction in God saying in the 6th Commandment, “You shall not murder” and Him Himself or His appointed judges lawfully putting people to death for having broken this Commandment.

(See my ebook "Why I Am Not An Atheist") - http://www.amazon.com/WHY-I-AM-NOT-ATHEIST-ebook/dp/B00JI6U4LW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
 (See "Russell Humphreys Answers Various Critics" - http://www.trueorigin.org/ca_rh_03.php
 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

ANZAC Day


ANZAC Day is the day that stops a nation. And, being the centenary this ANZAC Day will stop every Aussie in their tracks as we honour those Australians and New Zealanders that fought and died for our freedom and for justice: those who gave their lives in war and conflict for the cause of peace. In particular we remember those, and are inspired by those, who died at what many call “the birth of our nation” at ANZAC Cove. Things were different one hundred years ago. Back then the children would learn and would grow up singing the following words:

To help the weak against the strong,
To guard the right against wrong,
And bear the flag of Truth along.

It takes physical strength mixed with spiritual fortitude to help the weak against the strong. Says one writer, speaking of our heroes who were at ANZAC Cove, “Mental strain and physical illness reduced the bodies of our finest youth to gaunt skeletons held together only by determination.”

Yes, it was sheer determination that held these brave men together when they were fighting to help the weak against the strong, as they laid down their lives for their friends, their mates. It was, it is, and will ever remain the honourable thing to do! It is just to guard the right against wrong, for this is to hold up the flag, the banner of truth!

In this one is reminded of a verse of Scripture that says,

“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19b)

Those marching today should march proudly on this the centenary. With your flags and your banners waving in the breeze, breathe deeply the air of freedom as you march to the beat of liberty. And may the Australian sun be seen glinting off of the “Rising Sun” badge on your slouch hat! Yes, thank the LORD that He lifts up a standard against the enemy of truth, the enemy of justice, and of freedom.

The people who line the streets as you march today will cry out to you, saying, “Thank you!” They are thanking you for your determination to help the weak against the strong, to guard the right against wrong, and bear the flag of truth along – just like your forefathers, just like all those brave men and women who died in all wars and conflicts that have been fought in the defence of our peaceful nation.

It was a Padre, the Reverend Arthur White, who began our “Dawn Service” tradition. He had conducted a service at 0400h on the morning of the departure of the earliest ANZACs to leave Australia. After the Great War, at dawn on 25th April in 1923, he and twenty others watched a wreath they had thrown into the water. As it floated out to sea, he recited these words, “As the sun rises and goeth down we will remember them.”

How can we forget them? How can we ever forget our fallen? They have made the supreme sacrifice! They laid down their lives for their friends!

In Laurence Binyon’s 1914 poem “For the Fallen” from which our “Ode of Remembrance” is taken, we find the following words:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.

Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
Yes, they fell with their faces to the foe. Brave!

Jesus set His face against the foe as He went to the cross to defeat death itself! Yes, death killed Him, but death has no victory, for He slew death by being raised again on the third day. And He didn’t die for His friends. He laid down His life for His enemies, you, me and all of humanity!

The enemy may come in like a flood, but the LORD has lifted up a standard, the risen Jesus Christ. We look to Him for ultimate justice and absolute truth. He fought the good fight. He conquered the last enemy which is death. In Him alone is there forgiveness and reconciliation with God, everlasting life, for He is the resurrection and the life.

Keep this in mind as we remember those who fought and those laid down their lives while defending our nation. They shed their blood for Australia, the land that is girt by sea. They laid down their lives for our nation, young and free! They wrote their names on history’s page that at every stage we may advance Australia fair!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

RAISING THE STANDARD


Raising the Standard

Introduction
As you know, the 25th April is the centenary of the landing of the ANZACs at Gallipoli. On 25th April the whole of Australia comes to a halt at the ANZAC Day stop-sign to spend time honouring and remembering the Australians (some of whom were members of this church) and the New Zealanders that fought and died for our freedom and for justice.

We acknowledge all those who fought and all those who gave their lives in the Great War for the cause of peace. In particular we remember those, and we are inspired by those, who died at what many call “the birth of our nation” at ANZAC Cove.

Back in those days as children they would have learned and would have grown up singing the following words:

To help the weak against the strong,
To guard the right against wrong,
And bear the flag of Truth along.

Helping the weak against the strong takes physical strength mixed with spiritual fortitude. One writer, speaking of those who were at ANZAC Cove, says, “Mental strain and physical illness reduced the bodies of our finest youth to gaunt skeletons held together only by determination.”

Yes, it was sheer determination that held these brave men together when they were fighting to help the weak against the strong! It was, it is, and will ever remain the honourable thing to do! It is just to guard the right against the wrong, for this is to hold up the flag, the banner of truth!

There is a verse of Scripture that is notoriously difficult to translate from the original Hebrew. It is Isaiah 59:19. The New King James Version of the Bible renders it thus,

“So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19.

The Banner
We’ll let the experts in Old Testament Hebrew debate which is the best way to translate this text, as to whether it is when the enemy comes in like a flood that the Spirit will raise a banner or standard or whether it is the LORD Himself who, like a river driven by the breath of the LORD, that comes in like a flood. But either way, the LORD will cause those in the East and those in the West to fear His name! For, “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun.”

Earlier on in his Book Isaiah says of the LORD, “He will lift up a banner to the nations from afar, and will whistle to them from the end of the earth; surely they will come with speed, swiftly.” Isaiah 5:26. There’s that picture of the Spirit of the LORD lifting up a standard! We see the same thing going on in Isaiah 13:2, ‘Lift up a banner on the high mountain, raise your voice to them; wave your hand, that they may enter the gates of the nobles.” Isaiah 13:2. And the same is pictured again in Isaiah 18:3, “All the inhabitants of the world and the dwellers on the earth: when he lifts up a banner on the mountains, you see it; and when he blows a trumpet you hear it.” Isaiah 18:3.

So, we might all agree then that the words, “when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him” are completely in line with the Book of Isaiah and indeed the rest of Scripture!

I remember as an Army Chaplain marching in my first ANZAC Day parade here in Brisbane. The regiment I was attached to held its banner high. What a glorious sight to see them marching on ANZAC Day with their flags and their banners waving in the breeze, as they breathed in the air of freedom, as they marched to the beat of liberty, with the Australian sun glinting off of the “Rising Sun” badge on their slouch hats!

They were there because the LORD has lifted up standard against the enemy – the enemy of truth, of justice, and of freedom. As I marched on that particular ANZAC Day the people lining the streets were crying out, “Thank you!” They were thanking the “Diggers” for their determination to help the weak against the strong, to guard the right against the wrong, and bear the flag of truth along – just like our Australian forefathers, just like all those brave men and women who fought and who died in the Great War.

But we’re not here to glorify war. War is hell and we all long for the day when all wars will cease, for the times when the nations, as Isaiah says elsewhere, “Shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4b.

When we look at the news on TV we have to wonder how it will ever be possible for all wars to cease! Surely all mankind would have to rally under His banner for this ever to happen?

It was a Padre, the Reverend Arthur White, who began our “Anzac Day Dawn Service” tradition. He had conducted a service at 0400h on the morning of the departure of the earliest ANZACs to leave Australia.

After the Great War, at dawn on 25th April in 1923 he and twenty others watched a wreath they had thrown into the water. As it floated out to sea, he recited these words, “As the sun rises and goeth down we will remember them.” How can we forget them? How can we ever forget our fallen? They have made the supreme sacrifice! In Laurence Binyon’s 1914 poem “For the Fallen” from which our “Ode of Remembrance” is taken, we find the following words:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

Yes, they fell with their faces to the foe. They were brave! We will remember them. We ought to! But let’s ponder our verse again, So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

The Banner Unfurled
Now, Scripture says that you reap what you sow and that our last enemy is death. In popular culture death is usually depicted as the Grim Reaper, a skeleton clothed in a hooded black cloak, carrying a scythe and pointing his boney finger at you. Death personified! Be that as it may, but how is death going to be conquered? In other words, how ultimately is the Spirit of the LORD going to raise up a standard against death? Well, it’s the stock answer to every question asked at Sunday School, isn’t it? The answer is Jesus, isn’t it? Jesus! It’s all about Jesus being lifted up.

Jesus is our banner hoisted! Jesus is our flag unfurled! Jesus is our standard raised! As a flag on a high flagpole snapping and flapping in a strong wind draws our attention, so does Jesus Christ when He is lifted up by the breath of God, even the Holy Spirit, working through men and women.

Jesus caused the Grim Reaper to point his boney finger at himself, if you will! How so? Well, it’s all about Jesus defeating death by setting His face to the foe and heading towards Jerusalem and the cross that awaited Him!

It’s all about the Spirit of the LORD lifting up a standard against death through Jesus being raised from the dead! Yes, the death of death is all about Jesus and His resurrection!

Of Jesus Paul says to the Corinthians, “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:25-26.

So, we have it on good authority then that our greatest enemy, even death itself, will be defeated. Think about it: death itself has been conquered by Jesus! He is risen!

Jesus has crushed the serpent’s head! He has defanged the serpent! He has removed the sting from death’s tail! Jesus has dealt the deathblow to death! Jesus is the standard that the Spirit of the LORD has lifted up.

Jesus Himself said before He went to the cross, “‘Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’ This He said, signifying by what death He would die.” John 12:31-32.

You know, there is a famous painting by Rembrandt called “Raising of the Cross.” Christ is depicted as already having been nailed to the cross and there are soldiers raising it with Jesus on it so that it stands vertical. However, there at the feet of Jesus is a man wearing a blue painter’s beret. Wow! It’s Rembrandt himself! He has painted himself as one of those raising the cross!

That’s the trouble, isn’t it? Jesus didn’t die for His friends. He died for His enemies! For “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8b. Yes, we needed to be reconciled to God because we were sinners when He died for us. And as sinners we were His enemies! But look at our verse again, the second half, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

Like Rembrandt in his painting, and as Jesus has said, we are to lift up Christ. Yes, the cross condemns us because God’s Law condemns us, but, at the same time, the cross saves us!

The cross condemns us because He had to lay down His own life to save us from death and the punishment thereof, i.e., the wages of our sin. Sin is our breaking of God’s Law.

We couldn’t and we can’t save ourselves because as sinners we are at war with God! But the cross saves us because Christ by His substitutionary death has received in full from God the punishment that we each deserve! And by His perfect life as our representative He has paid in full what each of us owes to God, i.e., perfect obedience to His revealed will.

In a nutshell God has imputed or accounted or transferred you the believer’s sin to the Man Christ Jesus and punished Him instead of you. God pummels His Son on the cross. Then God imputes or accounts or transfers Christ’s righteousness to you the believer. And then He pats you on the back and says to you, “Well done good and faithful servant!”

What did you do to receive along with the Christ Jesus the reward of everlasting life? Nothing! You did nothing! It was the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit who did it all! It was God who put the Grim Reaper back in his grave where he belongs, and where he’ll never bother you again, forever – if you are a believer!

Yes, the Spirit of the LORD lifted up a standard. For Paul says to the Romans, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11.

The Spirit of the LORD who raises the standard has raised Christ from the dead and will likewise raise all who trust in Him from the dead unto everlasting life. God has given us His Spirit as a token or deposit of this good news!

The 1998 Oscar winning war epic, Saving Private Ryan, tells the story of the daring rescue of Private Ryan, the last survivor of four brothers, by a Captain and a small unit that had been sent to find him. They find him and they bring him home alive. It was loosely based on a real event.

Well, “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Jesus is the Captain who has single-handedly rescued us. He has rescued us from all our enemies, sin, Satan and self. He even has rescued us from our last enemy which is death! He will bring us home alive!

Conclusion
When you look around the world today, when you look at the news, when you see the wars that are going on, when you see the apparent decline of Christianity in the West, you may be thinking that the enemy is coming in like a flood. Well, don’t despair, just keep in mind, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

Raise the standard! Lift up Jesus Christ! Lift Him up in your home with your family. Lift Him up at school or at work or whatever you do. Yes, raise the standard!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

TO SWEAR OR NOT TO SWEAR?


To Swear Or Not To Swear?

If we define “swearing” as “to use offensive words when we speak” then two questions need to be asked: 1. Which words are offensive? 2. Offensive to whom? 

Let me start by noting that we live in an age where it would seem that almost everyone is taking offense at almost everyone else! I speak off course of the Political Correctness Movement whereby many people are afraid to express outwardly in words what they are thinking internally – just in case someone somewhere somehow chooses to be offended by their comments!

If we believe in free expression then others ought to be permitted to voice their heartfelt opinions. However, this is not to say that some pushback should not be permitted and/or expected. However, shouting “Fire!” as a joke in a crowded theatre or joking about bombs in an airport are a couple of examples of extremely poor taste and are definite stupid and offensive uses of free speech! Therefore, there ought to be consequences for thoughtless and careless use of words.

However, as we zoom-in on the issue we are trying to address, which is the use of swear words in everyday speech, when we talk about “offensive words” we generally mean “four-letter words.”

But what makes a swear-word offensive? The answer in general terms is twofold: Company and Context. Even polite people have been known to utter expletives when receiving an injury to their body! However, as we zoom-in even more, here we are attempting to address the issue of how to totally refrain from the use of foul language in all conversations and situations. How do we go about doing this?

 Well, first off we ought to refrain from using blasphemy. When God worked His grace in my heart some twenty seven years ago I found that I immediately stopped taking the Lord’s name in vain! God says in the Third Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7. I’m guilty as sin! Guilty as charged! So I stopped using the name Jesus, Christ, God etc. as swear words on account of my new relationship with God.

However, this doesn’t mean that I’ve completely ceased from all blasphemy. How so? Because, as with every one of the other nine Commandments, there are dimensions to the Third Commandment that continue to expose me as a sinner! Taking God’s name in vain includes a very long list of things I had never even thought of. These are listed in detail in the Westminster Larger Catechism Question 112. What is required in the Third Commandmend? And Question 113. What are the sins forbidden in the Third Commandment?[1]

Let’s not tie ourselves in knots over swearing! If we keep in mind that the primary purpose for God giving us the Ten Commandments is to show human beings that they are sinners, and as such are in need of a saviour, i.e., THE Saviour Jesus Christ, then we shall be set free from throwing our hands up in despair at even attempting to keep such impossible commands or any blatant refusal to try to keep them!

Jesus is the Saviour of sinners. The Law shows us that we are sinners and, used by the Holy Spirit, convicts us of the same. “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24. Elsewhere Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15. Jesus is the same Person who, as God, gave the Ten Commandments in the first place. Therefore, how can we continue to take the Lord’s name in vain seeing as He has gone to the cross to receive the punishment we are due for breaking God’s Commandments and has paid the price in full? Surely we would demonstrate that we are ingrates if we continued to take the Lord’s name in vain.

But let us zoom-in even closer on the use of four-letter words. I once knew a man in whose everyday speech every second word or so was a swear word. Yet whenever he spoke to his mother all foul language would immediately vanish! This man would go a long way in cleaning up his act if he spoke to everyone as if he were addressing his own mother! The Fifth Commandment is: “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12.

God is our heavenly Father. By His Spirit He is with us wherever we go. The land He is giving us is (the new heavens and) the new earth! Would we use foul language in His presence? And is He offended by our use of foul language? Well, the Third Commandment is still pointing us to the Saviour of sinners! Therefore, if you find yourself swearing apologise, i.e., confess your sin to God, knowing this: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. “And if anyone sins, we have and Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1b.

What’s the bottom line? How does one stop using swear words?

First, Take God with you wherever you go and honour God your heavenly Father by your speech. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Second, Try to set lift the tone of every conversation you have by avoiding foul language. “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” 1 Corinthians 15:33.

Third, discipline yourself! “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection…” 1 Corinthians 9:27a.

Fourth, before you use a swear word ask yourself if the God who loves you and sent His Son to die for you would be pleased to hear it!


[1] Q. 111. Which is the third commandment? A. The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Q. 112. What is required in the third commandment? A. The third commandment requires, That the name of God, his titles, attributes, ordinances, the Word, sacraments, prayer, oaths, vows, lots, his works, and whatsoever else there is whereby he makes himself known, be holily and reverently used in thought, meditation, word, and writing; by an holy profession, and answerable conversation, to the glory of God, and the good of ourselves, and others.
Q. 113. What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment? A. The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the not using of God’s name as is required; and the abuse of it in an ignorant, vain, irreverent, profane, superstitious or wicked mentioning or otherwise using his titles, attributes, ordinances, or works, by blasphemy, perjury; all sinful cursings, oaths, vows, and lots; violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful; and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful; murmuring and quarrelling at, curious prying into, and misapplying of God’s decrees and providences; misinterpreting, misapplying, or any way perverting the Word, or any part of it; to profane jests, curious or unprofitable questions, vain janglings, or the maintaining of false doctrines; abusing it, the creatures, or anything contained under the name of God, to charms, or sinful lusts and practices; the maligning, scorning, reviling, or any wise opposing of God’s truth, grace, and ways; making profession of religion in hypocrisy, or for sinister ends; being ashamed of it, or a shame to it, by unconformable, unwise, unfruitful, and offensive walking, or backsliding from it.
Q. 114. What reasons are annexed to the third commandment? A. The reasons annexed to the third commandment, in these words, The Lord thy God, and, For the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain, are, because he is the Lord and our God, therefore his name is not to be profaned, or any way abused by us; especially because he will be so far from acquitting and sparing the transgressors of this commandment, as that he will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment; albeit many such escape the censures and punishments of men.