"Oh, how I love Your law!" - Ps. 119:97
Have you ever been in a art gallery or a museum, looking at some painting or artifact, and not really know what you're looking at? If you're not familiar with the artist or the artwork on display, it can come across as somewhat foreign, distant, and uninteresting.
This is how many believers look at the Law of God today. For far too many contemporary Christians, the commandments of the Lord are remote images of a time and place long since lost and forgotten. The Law of God must have had its purpose somewhere - back there - in history, but to try to find its relevance for us today is as difficult as understanding and appreciating a fine piece of artwork from an artist we simply are not familiar with.
If Christians are going to restore their admiration of God's law, they have to first restore their admiration for its Author. The Law of God reflects the character of the Lord. It is a window in the heart and mind of God, revealing those things which our Lord values most. It shows us what is important to Him, and therefore ought to convict us as to what should be important to us. May Christ's Church return to God's law, as a means of grace, a way of life. And may we become like the Psalmist of old - loving God in and by loving His law!
"Faithful are the wounds of a friend" - Proverbs 27:6
This Proverb is talking about the times when our friend or friends come to us and say things to us which - at first - may sting a little (or a lot) but ultimately serve our greater good. Notice it says "faithful" are the wound of a friend. When we confront someone with sin in their lives, when someone we know or love has veered off the straight and narrow, it is a faithful thing to try to bring them back towards the Lord.
But sometimes those words our friends bring to us in the form or rebuke or admonishion hurt - they are like a wound. Our carnal flesh, our sinful flesh will recoil at others who lovingly try to show us where we have gone wrong. Often, we take out our frustrations on them - attacking the messenger rather than dealing with the message. Wounds can hurt, but when viewed with a repentant heart, they are seen for what they really are.
This is what true friendship is all about, it's about helping one another remain faithful to God. Through our prayers, words and concerns we are to act as "our brother's keeper" in the sense of having each other's spiritual well-being in mind. True Christian friendship is sometimes best seen in this way - leading a fellow believer back into a plain and righteous path. If you are the one on the receiving end of this - remember faithful are the wounds of a true and godly friend.
Dr. R.J. Rushdoony offers some important thoughts on the rise of Humanism in our culture...
"God is a consuming fire, a jealous God" - Deut. 4:24
The Lord is stingy when it comes to His worship. He reserves the right to accept no alternatives - we are to worship Him and Him alone. Anything we place in front of God becomes an idol. If the Lord is not first in our hearts and minds, when it is no longer the Spirit of God guiding us, but our own carnal nature - seeking after what it wants - we have fallen into idolatry. God is jealous for His own worship. It is sinful when we fail to give to Jehovah that which is His rightful due. What idols exist in your life? In what ways do the things of this world - the cares and concerns of wordliness - creep in and take His rightful place in your life? Where ever idolatry resides in our life, we are commanded to repent of it and turn in faith back to God. For how much better it is to find God merciful and full of grace, than a consuming fire, ready to destroy!
"He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son." - 1 Jn 2:22
Dispensational theology has done much over the past 150 years or so to sensationalize end times doctrine, or what we might call eschatology (the study of end times). Yet, most of what has come out of the modern camp of Dispensational thinking has been discredited and is no longer broadly accepted among Christian pastors, teachers, and leaders. But because it once held a very dominant influence over much of the evangelical church, there are still many who continue to promulgate the beliefs of this faulty eschatological system to the overall hurt of Christ's church.
One of several bad fruits produced by this doctrinal tree of error is our present-day view of antichrist. The contemporary church's view of this Biblical figure has become so extraordinary, that many Christians are eagerly looking for a global elitist who is going to lead everyone down a devilish path of destruction and despair without hardy a complaint or whimper from the willing multitudes. Some folks believe this shadowy figure is already born in the world and even now awaits his opportunity to ascend to unprecedented power.
Though when we come to the Scriptures, I believe a much simpler, plainer and realistic picture of who or what antichrist is, is portrayed for us. First, the only place in the Bible we read about antichrist is in John's epistles (1 Jn. 2:18, 1 Jn 2:22, 1 Jn. 4:3, 2 Jn. 1:7). In 1 John 2:22 we are given what amounts to a summary statement about the nature and character of antichrist. He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
In other words, antichrist isn't some mythical creature who is going to arise like a Phoenix from obscurity to rule the world. Anyone, any people, any institution can be antichrist - that is - anyone who denies God the Father and Christ His Son is antichrist. Looked upon in this light, in view of a Biblical definition of antichrist, it should elicit fear and trembling among God's people. Modern theology has led us astray. The spirit of antichrist resided in the days of John, and abides with us today as well in the hearts and minds of those who stand opposed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, let us reject the fanciful notions of antichrist which have been projected upon us by recent sensational doctrine and theology, and let us examine ourselves, to see if any spirit of antichrist - any denial of the Father and the Son - exists within the realm of our own soul.
"...do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31
Over the years this verse has come to mean to me that everyday is an opportunity to rise up and offer a sacrifice of worship and praise to God. I'm also convinced all of life "flows" from our faithful worship of the Lord. Especially as Christ's church gathers together on the Lord's Day each week at her appointed time and with one united voice lifts up her heart, mind and soul to her King, it sets the mood for the rest of our activities for the next seven days. I really try to create a reverent yet joyful Christ-centered atmosphere of worship at Christ Covenant Church. My desire is for God to be exalted in the midst of His people and for His Word to be broke open and shared among the saints - filling our spirits with heavenly food.
As we look into the month of May, I pray the Lord will continue to abide with our congregation. I remain overjoyed at the work HE is doing in our humble fellowship. My prayer is we remain faithful to Him and allow the sovereign Potter to mold and shape us according to His purpose and will. We will continue in our study of Tozer's book, "Man, the Dwelling Place of God" in our "Equipping Hour". I have begun a study of the various topics covered in the Book of Proverbs during our worship service. Also, I hope everyone is looking forward to our picnic and afternoon at the Memphis Zoo on May 5th. It should be an exciting time.
I thank God everyday for my family & my church family. Together they make being a husband, father & pastor the greatest gift God could give! May He receive all glory, honor and praise due His worthy name!
"...you will be like God" - Genesis 3:5
The philosophy of Humanism is as old as man himself. It was born in the primordial lie of Satan when he successfully tempted our first parents into wanton disobedience to God. Despite the clear and unambigous command of the Lord not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Adam succumbed to his own desire to "be like God" and became the first Humanist ever to walk the earth.
Mankind has been trapped in this sin ever since. The philosophical idea of Humanism, though it has taken many forms over the centuries, remains fundamentally the same; it is man's desire to be a god unto himself. The Humanist seeks to usurp the power, glory and authority which rightly belongs to the Creator, and attribute them to himself. Humanism is everything God abhors - a self-seeking self righteous attempt at redemption by the progress of human endeavor. The god of Humanism is man wholly considered through individual and collective autonomy. It was born out of the Edenic lie and it continues that tradition with every proposition put forth on its behalf.
The only solution to Humanism is Biblical Deism, a return (through repentance and faith) to the God of Scripture. It is a return to that momemt when we failed in our moral obligation towards the Lord, seek His forgiveness, and embrace the new life granted in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ, our second Adam, did what the first did not, He obeyed the will of the Father, and through Him alone, can man know his proper place.
"By wise counsel wage war." - Proverbs 20:18
American imperialism has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 40 years. From the muddy swamps of Vietnam to the ruins of Mogadishu, the United States has had its hand in almost every major (and many minor) conflict around the entire earth. Our military presence is felt on every inhabited continent and in most countries. Rivaled only by the late great empiricism of Britain, the American globalist’s military complex is the 21st century power to be reckoned with around the world.
So how are Christians to think about war? And in particular, how should we think about our own involvement in conflicts with our fellow man? The Proverbs say to wage war by wise counsel. So war is not always wrong, but it is also not always wise. In the 4th century, Augustine developed several ideas about Christians and conflict. These ideas have come to be known as the "Just War Theory". Below then are a few thoughts to consider as believers about all the wars taking place around us.
1. Is it a just cause?
War should be designed to protect the innocent, repel aggression and defeat evil. War should never be engaged in for purely personal or political gain. As Christians, we know God defines good and evil what is truly just and unjust. Therefore, unless we can clearly see a just cause to war, we must reject its premise.
2. Is there competent authority?
Biblically, only nations can go to war. A just war can only be initiated by those who posses rightful authority to declare war. National leaders have a right and responsibility to declare war against another nation when just cause exists. By "competent authority" then, we mean do the national leaders have the ability to discern and mete out justice both domestically at home, and in turn internationally with other countries? How leaders administer justice in their own nation will help define how they will abroad.
3. Is there reasonable expectation of success?
For a country to get bogged down in other intra-national conflicts where no real objectives or goals can be reasonably set or obtained is to compromise the idea of a just war. The "war on terror" is such an example. The 'war on terror' is an undefined open-ended conflict with no reasonable expectation of success simply because the limits, scope and objectives of this so-called war are in continued flux.
4. Finally, have all other means of peace been sought?
Armed war should always be the very last resort. As Christians, we are to do all we can do to live at peace with our fellow man. Unless war is thrust upon us, and unless we can discern a just cause to enter in war with others, then we should avoid it at all cost. The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to its expected evils or harms.
As it stands today, I find no just cause, competent authority, reasonable expectation of success or any effort to exhaust all other means of peace in any of America's ongoing armed conflicts. At every step, ungodly military force is being pressed upon our fellow man around the world to accomplish ungodly ends. As Christians then, we should have no part in this. Let us simply pray God would grant is repentance, and let us remember the Lord’s words, "By wise counsel wage war".
"You, O King, are a King of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory” – Dan. 2:37
What do earnest Christians mean when we call Jesus “King of kings”? Do we really believe that, in some sense, Jesus rules over others? Do we allow out thoughts of Christ to rise and extend to the degree that we truly envision our Lord to be “the” Lord over all? Are we asserting His right as Monarch into every aspect of our life? Or, for all practical purposes, do we limit the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ to the inner, personal, spiritual realm of our own meager hearts?
I fear we do a grave and serious injustice to the ruling authority and character of King Jesus when we limit the scope of His dominion to the ethereal “spiritual” sphere. Granted, Jesus’ kingdom certainly includes the captured hearts and minds of men, but I don’t think it ends there. If Jesus is to be a ‘King of kings’ as the Scriptures clearly state He is, then His rule must go beyond the inner sanctum of our soul, to the uttermost ends of the created order.
The implications of this truth are far reaching. It means, first of all, that this entire world is His world. The earth and all the inhabitants thereof owe their worship, their obedience to the Lord (Ps. 33:8). Likewise, the Bible says, the Lord Jesus Christ all things were created by Him and all things were created for Him (Col. 1:16). As the Sovereign over creation, Jesus’ kingdom envelops every living thing, every rock, every twig, every drop of water, everything.
In one of his letters to Erasmus, the German Reformer Martin Luther wrote him saying, “Your thoughts of God are far too human”. Unfortunately, I believe this holds true for too many modern evangelical Christians today. We limit our thoughts, our beliefs, our understanding and the practice of our beloved faith to the degree we limit the rule of Christ in this world. If Jesus is merely the Ruler of our own spiritual life, do we really expect His reign to have much impact on the world outside of us? I don’t think we do.
Yet, the Scriptures are clear! Jesus is the King of all kings. He is the High Potentate, whose supremacy, kingdom, power, strength and glory would cry out even from the very stones He Himself created. Therefore, may our vision of Jesus not be too human. May we lift up the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in such a way as to rightly honor Him as He is so vigorously portrayed in Holy Scripture. His dominion is an everlasting dominion and His kingdom and everlasting kingdom. It extends from one end of the universe to the other. Let us therefore live as if we truly and sincerely serve the crown rights of King Jesus!