Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Signs of the Times

Least Religious and Most Selfish Generation in American History - Millennials

According to an article in The Christian Post (click this link), Millennials are the least religious generation in American history. In addition to being the least religious generation in American history, Millennials are said to be one of, if not the most selfish generations in American history. They are driven by a radical view of individualism that seems to be reaching its pinnacle here in the west. Given the selfless nature of the Christian ethic, is it any wonder that the most selfish generation would also be the least religious? Christianity calls for a complete denial and surrender of self in submission to Christ, in absolute and total submission to divine law. The eggs that evolutionary theory has been laying in the academy are beginning to hatch and the chicks are on their way home to roost. The consequences are predictable. More about that in a few lines.

How bizarre!

How profane and disgusting!
Mitchell Gold pictured above dancing with his gay partner, desperately wanting to believe that he has entered into a marriage arrangement, has spoken quite boldly lately that Christianity, and Christian pastors have to be "made" to take homosexuality off the sin list. The gay movement has been talking out of both sides of its mouth and many of us in the Christian community have given them too much of the benefit of the doubt. When they said they wanted to be treated with kindness, and nothing more, we believed them. When they said gay marriage was about equal legal rights around things like wealth transfer and tax planning, we believed them. But then they started suing Christian business owners for not baking their cakes and ruining families's lives simply because they dared to be Christian or better yet, dared to disagree with them. They are the most radically intolerant group residing in American culture. They may not be engaged in physical violence, but their ideology is no less radically intolerant than that of radical Islam. And I do not believe that is even close to being an exaggeration. 

Fabulously and intolerably hot!
A lesbian couple in Canada went to a local jeweler to have some rings customized for their wedding. Little did they know, the owner opposed gay marriage. Nevertheless, the owner did business with the couple. However, the couple later discovered that the owner had a sign up in his business opposing gay marriage even though he did not discriminate against their supposed right to enter a marriage contract. This was so offensive to the lesbian couple that they demanded their money back. Now, if the owner had refused, no doubt he would have been sued. He did not refuse and it still cost him serious money simply because of how he thought about gay marriage. Folks, if you think this group will stop until they have forced everyone to celebrate with them, you could not be more wrong. I think you might want to reconsider giving the blaspheming perverts the benefit of the doubt. See story here. 

It is easier to put the foot in than it is to get it back out!
In yet another story (click here), Rick Warren regrets making a video a few years ago that essentially supported the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Can anyone stand up and speak the truth these days without apologizing later? Pastors from all walks of life and denominations seem to be far more interested in their own empires, their own popularity, their own comfort than they are in protecting God's Church or in defending biblical truth. Following Warren's statement, Peter Labarbera commented, “[Warren] regrets that the statement got out wider than his church. To me, that’s incredible because he should be happy that he had influence outside of his church to the whole body of Christ in California — indeed, to people all over the state voting on the issue who look to him for guidance,” he said. “And so, that troubles me that he even says now that he wouldn’t make that video. … That’s saying that he does not want to be a leader on the homosexual ‘marriage’ issue.” 

As if all this wasn't enough, a panel with the United Methodist Church voted 26-10 to change church law to allow for homosexual behavior and for clergy to be allowed to perform same-sex marriage. See story here. 

Once again, where are the men of God who will stand up with firm resolve, without apology, and stand for God and against the wicked blasphemy and immorality and lawlessness we see brazenly flaunted in our culture and even in the supposed Christian community? Ah, here is one:

Voddie Baucham: Is Gay The New Black

It is interesting that men of God always seem to share the quality of being a "real man." These men thunder God's truth without reservation, without apology, without fear, but with love and in awe of the God they serve and the truth they publish. 

The selfishness of the Millennials, the generation that will rise to power very soon in America will spell the death of this great country unless radical changes take place. The individual hedonism that defines this generation has no chance to oppose what America will soon face: either a radical Islamic state that will infiltrate and destroy her from within, or the Chinese empire or Russian or a joint effort on the part of both to wipe the American experiment from the planet. The reason that such selfish individualism cannot preserve the country is that there will always be those who are willing to selfishly cooperate with enemy to locate and destroy those who are not. When the highest cause is me, well, all the enemy has to do is take care of me even if he lies, and the me in me will betray the other every time.

From a spiritual perspective, the genuine Church of Christ has to stop dancing with the world. We have to return to the basic truth of the Christian message and we have to return to the bold message of Christ that this culture must repent or face the wrath of an offended and angry God! Look around. We must recognize that we have been desensitized by the wickedness, the immorality, and the blasphemy of a god-hating and corrupt culture. I used to sing America the Beautiful. Now I see America as the great blasphemer. The nation of heroes has become a nation of hypocrites. The nation that rebelled against a king in the name of The King has become a nation that rebels against The King in the name of the individual. Christians must strengthen their resolve against lawlessness in all its forms and since it is so bold and visible, it only seems fitting that we begin with these gay quibblers and move inward from there.

America, The Blasphemer

O blasphemer O selfish one
Who lives for thine own name
Who does all that which pleases thee
Without an ounce of shame
America, America
God pour His wrath on thee
And rip your crown from off your head
And drive you to your knees

You bless the cursed and curse the blessed
Grounded in your law
Distort the truth of God’s plain Word
While standing proud and tall
America, America
God has your sin in sight
To call you to divine account
And subject you to his might

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Defending Adam

As some of you already know, we have had an on-going discussion with Dan Trabue and his pal, who remains anonymous, regarding the historicity of Adam, the nature of Scripture, the justice of God, etc. I have decided to pull one final post together on this subject before moving on to other issues. Dan insists that Adam is fictional, belonging to the genre of myth. It has been my position that Dan has a hidden motive for why Adam must be myth as opposed to history. In our discussions with Dan he has rejected the reliability of Luke, the binding nature of Scripture, the supernatural source of Scripture, divine judgment, and has defended gay Christianity. The profile of Dan at this point seems clear and it is this profile that I have said motivates and drives Dan’s interpretation of Scripture more than any other factor. The truth is that each of us come to Scripture with the same challenge and it is only with the help of the Holy Spirit that we can place our prejudices aside and allow Scripture to do its work on our heart as opposed to us imposing the sin in our heart on the text.

Before I dive into this final summary regarding a defense of the historic Adam, I should say a few things about the issue of theological or philosophical hermeneutics. No one comes to the Scripture with a philosophically neutral attitude. I have made this point with Dan Trabue repeatedly. A person already has adopted or embraced a view of the nature of Scripture and its contents before opening its pages. It is abundantly evidence that most modern approaches to Scripture are not themselves the result of biblical faith. Rather, they employ methods that are themselves principles of the autonomous man.

To put it very bluntly, the popular approach to the text is to read it on one’s own terms, as a product of human ingenuity. This modern critical approach creates a massive ditch between human reason and biblical faith. Additionally, it places human reason in a position of superiority over faith. Either one’s understanding of the nature of Scripture is informed by Scripture, which is the position of faith, or it is informed by human reason, which is the position of modern critical approaches to the Bible. 

My approach to Scripture is that Scripture has its origin in the mind of God, that it is divine revelation designed specifically to inform us of the God who is our great King, Creator, and Redeemer; that Scripture is clear on the main points of the revelation it expresses, that Scripture is self-attesting, binding, our final authority, and that all truth claims must be subject to the truth revealed therein. In short, Scripture is a divine artifact. Scripture is unique and not comparable to any other literary work that has ever existed in the history of man. That position is a faith position. I arrived at that position, like every other regenerate Christian arrives at it: through faith in Christ. In other words, once faith is removed from our approach to Scripture, and in its place a naturalistic approach from human reason is adopted, one can take just about any view of the text they wish. Moreover, it is impossible to demonstrate that Scripture is supernatural revelation by means of rational argumentation and historical evidence. The conclusion that the Bible is the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation is something that only the work of God in regeneration can produce. And so it does. Now, with that in mind, lets provide a Christian defense of the historic Adam.

Contrary to some schools of thought, Genesis 1-2 does not belong to the genre of ancient Hebrew poetry. The text follows the structure of ancient Hebrew narrative. In the interest of space I will point to the ten sections headed by the toledoth as evidence. We read in Gen. 2:4, “This is the account (toledoth) of the heavens and the earth. The author intends to provide the reader with a true account for how the heavens and the earth came to exist. This same language is used in Gen. 5:1 when we read about Adam’s genealogy, which takes us from Adam to Noah. In the context of that actual genealogy, we read that it was “In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. It seems that Moses may have been correcting some false ideas about how it all got started from the very beginning. We see the use of this toledoth in repeated in Gen. 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1 and 37:2. All these sections deal with actual persons living in actual places at specific times. Adam and his offspring are listed alongside the rest of the individuals. The conclusion anyone should reach is that the writer portrayed Adam as historical because he included him alongside the rest of these historical figures.

In addition to this evidence, we must also not overlook the first gospel, given in Gen. 3:15. The promise to send a deliverer that would crush the head of Satan was not bound up in myth. It is far more reasonable to conclude that since Jesus Christ was the real seed that really crushed the head of Satan that the promise was historical top to bottom. Since the Christ event took place in time and space, we must conclude that the promise of Christ took place in time and space. If one is going to classify Adam as myth, they must classify the entire book of Genesis as myth.

Additional evidence that Adam was historical is located in 1 Chronicles 1. The author of this text provides a genealogy that begins with Adam and takes us all the way to David, Saul, and the people of Israel. The sheer volume of details spanning several chapters is more than staggering. It seems dishonest to adopt a contradictory opinion in light of the amount of evidence in this section of Scripture alone.

Job asks if he has covered his transgression like Adam? (31:33) Job was obviously familiar not only with Adam but with the details surrounding Adam’s sin. God, in His rebuke of Ephraim and Judah says that these have broken the covenant just like Adam had broken the covenant. (Hos. 6:7) If Adam was myth, so too was the covenant. But we know the covenant is real, historic, existing in time and space. Additionally in the New Testament we reference Luke’s tracing of Christ’s genealogy all the way from Christ back to Adam. (Lu. 3) Paul says that death reigned from Adam until Moses. (Rom. 5:14) The use of the Greek word mechri refers to a continuous extent of time up to a point. In order for Paul to employ this word, we meant conclude that he believed that Adam, like Moses, actually existed in time. Myths do not exist in time. Additionally, Jude describes the prophecy of Enoch, a man who lived in the seventh generation from Adam. Enoch, living seven generations from Adam indicates that Jude believed in a historical Adam.

Jesus Christ Himself gives us the clear indication that he believed in the historical account of Adam and Eve in the garden. Jesus’ view that divorce was not permissible under just any circumstances and that those who ignored those circumstances and remarried were committing adultery is grounded on His understanding of the historical creation account of Adam and Eve. We see this in Matt. 19:1-12. Jesus said that God created male and female from the beginning and that man would leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Jesus’ reference is clear: Adam and Eve. The ground for biblical marriage is anchored in the historical reality of our first parents, Adam and Eve.

It is here that I believe Dan and his anonymous friend find their philosophy threatened by Scripture and therefore, insist that Genesis is myth. Dan attends a gay church over in Kentucky. These secessionists have left the Christian Church because they do not like the Christian ethic. In particular, they do not like the sexual ethic expressed in traditional Christianity that condemns any and all sex outside of biblical marriage and that includes gay sex in all forms. As a result, Dan is highly motivated to find a loophole around the historical Adam. And so he does. All the evidence above is dismissed and replaced with this: Genesis sort of sounds like other myths in how the sentences are put together, so it must be myth too. That is the extent of the evidence offered up by Dan and his pal anonymous.

Christians have to realize the men are not argued into believing that the Bible is literally the very Word of God, given to us supernaturally through the prophets of God and the apostles of Christ and their very close associates. This belief is not a scientific belief. It is not a belief that is the product of unaided human reason. Men do not examine the claim that the Bible is the Word of God by use of autonomous human reason, scientific investigation, and historic and rational argumentation, only then to embrace it as it truly is. Men can only embrace the divine word, as it is by faith alone. This is not to say that there is no rational defense for Scripture. There most certainly is and I make that defense often. But the rational defense and argument for Scripture rests upon the presuppositions of Christian faith. If we are to argue for Scripture, then our argument must be faithful to Scripture. How clumsy it is to abandon Scripture in our attempt to argue for Scripture. But men do this more often than not. We do not only end with Scripture, but we also begin with Scripture. The only way to defend Scripture while being faithful to Scripture is to begin with Scripture, and to argue from Scripture, and to end with Scripture. Someone will ask what is our evidence for our belief about Scripture as if we must have something external to Scripture in order to get to our starting position on Scripture. This is a mistake. Our evidence for Scripture is Scripture. Our understanding of Scripture, or the nature of Scripture, is informed by Scripture through the work of the Holy Spirit. And this fact, that the Holy Spirit is necessary to understand the nature of Scripture, is highly offensive to the autonomous man. He (men like Dan) insists that our criteria for our view of Scripture not only come from someplace other than Scripture, but also that it find commendations from men like him. To this we say, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The New Covenant and Divine Law

For several decades now, there has been an antinomian attitude present in the teachings and sermons of evangelical Christians. The antinomian mindset has reached so alarming levels that Christians are routinely told and routinely think and believe that Christians have no relationship whatsoever to divine law. The Christian, through grace, is completely free in Christ. The idea of law in many Christian circles has been mocked, vilified, characterized as legalism, and ridiculed by most pastors within evangelicalism. The results have been more than a little devastating. It is the purpose of this post to set the relationship of the Christian and Divine law as it relates to the New Covenant in its proper biblical frame.
The first area to be investigated is the relationship between divine law and the New Covenant. We have a new arrangement today that finds its ground in the sacrifice and person of Jesus Christ. Jeremiah prophesied about this new arrangement several hundred years prior to the Christ event. It is in the words of Jeremiah then that we begin to understand how the New Covenant relates to divine law. Upon investigating this relationship it is my hope that our understanding of the unique relationship between divine law and the New Covenant will bear more fruit so that we may have a better understanding of what our mindset ought to be regarding the Christian, the gospel, and the law of God.
The explicit promise of the New Covenant is located in Jeremiah 31:31-34. The components of the covenant are as follows: 1) it will be a completely new covenant and entirely different from the one God made at Sinai; 2) It will be with the house of Israel and Judah; 3) God Himself will put His law within them and on their hearts He will write it and they will be His people; 4) they will no longer need an intermediary teacher; 5) each one will know the Lord directly; 6) sins and iniquities will be forgiven, never again to be remembered. This is the covenant that Jesus Christ came to enact some 2,000 years ago. Since the purpose of this post is to trace the relationship between the New Covenant and divine law, I will avoid chasing the distinctive characteristics of the New Covenant and focus my attention on just one of those distinctions: the law that God Himself writes on the heart.
The very first point here that should not go unnoticed is the place of prominence given to the law of God in the New Covenant. For so long now, certain antinomian theological schemes have prevailed in popular evangelicalism that have resulted in not just a misunderstanding of the place of divine law in the New Covenant, but in addition, an outright hostility toward God’s law on the part of people who are supposed to love God’s law. The situation is not just disturbing; it is extremely alarming.
The New Testament Church is governed by the New Covenant arrangement instituted by God in the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Luke 22:20, “This cup which is poured out for you is the kaine diatheke, new covenant in my blood.” Outside of the New Covenant arrangement, men cannot relate to God in any way other than by way of hostilities. Peace with God comes through the blood of Christ, which was spilled to establish the New Covenant. Jesus was extremely clear that what Jeremiah had prophesied, He was here to fulfill. Paul informs us that He has made us servants of a new covenant. (2 Cor. 3:6) According to the writer of Hebrews, Christ has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which is enacted on better promises. (Heb. 8:6) New Testament Christians are members in the new covenant community. And this new covenant is the arrangement that governs the new covenant believer’s relationship with the Triune God of Scripture. The question then is what about divine law and its relation to the new covenant and to the believer under the new covenant arrangement. What does the Scripture actually say?
In Matthew 5:17, Jesus tells us that He did not come to abolish the Law of the Prophets but to fulfill them. In v. 18 He informs us that the Law will have an abiding presence in the kingdom of God. In Matthew 7:12 Jesus tells us to treat people the way we want to be treated for this is the Law and the Prophets. In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus tells us that the greatest commandments are to love the Lord your with all your being and to love your neighbor as yourself. The Law hangs on these two commandments. Paul says that the Law is good, and the commandment is holy and good. (Rom. 7:12)
The question that comes to mind is which law does Scripture mean when it speaks about the law? At the Jerusalem Conference recorded in Acts 15, this very same question came up. There was a sect of Pharisees who believed and who were also teaching that Gentiles had to be circumcised and that they should keep the Law of Moses. The apostles arrived at the decision that everyone, both Jew and Gentile were saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus. Hence, it would seem here that Christians are not obligated to keep the Law of Moses. In 1 Corinthians 9:20-21, Paul made some very fascinating remarks regarding the Law of Moses and the Law of God. Paul clearly tells the Corinthian Church that he is not under the Law of Moses in v. 20. He could not be clearer in his statement. Paul then says that he is not without the law of God but under the law of Christ in v. 21. We have to conclude then that Christians are clearly under the Law, but they are not under the Law of Moses. We are clearly under what is termed in the NT, the Law of God or the Law of Christ. It is this Law that we must conclude is written on the heart.
In order to understand the Law of Christ, one must take the New Testament in its entirety. The commandments found there are the commandments that make up the Law of Christ which is itself an expression of the Law of God. We see components then of the Law of God expressed in the Old Testament covenants and especially at Sinai, but we see an even greater, clearer, and more precise expression of the Law of God in the New Testament revelation, within the New Covenant arrangement, in the Law of Christ written on the human heart through regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit by the washing of water by the Word. We see true Christians are those who have the Law of Christ, God’s law, now written on the heart. That is the difference. Christianity is not a religion whose essence consists of external religious ceremony. It is not a religion whose essence consists in the mystical experience of the idolatrous human heart. Christianity is the pure religion, the only pure religion whose essence exists in a person. The essence of Christianity exists in the essence of the person of Jesus Christ, God incarnate.
This essence of the Christian religion, expressed in the person of Jesus Christ, is carried into the life of the believer as we are in Christ and Christ’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit who makes his abode in us. This is what Christianity refers to as the Spirit-filled life. This is why the John says that Children of God and the Children of the Devil are obvious, easy to see, evident, clearly distinguishable.
In Matthew 18, Jesus issues instructions to the Christian community related to how we must deal with individuals in the Christian community that engage in lawless behavior. The steps are very candid. They begin with a private discussion, progress into a group confrontation, and then finally and public rebuke, ending in excommunication. It is incredibly peculiar that modern versions of Jesus complete ignore this aspect of the Christ they claim to love. In Acts 5, a couple named Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit by lying to the Church leaders. God executed both of them for this egregious violation against His Law. Once again, the modern versions of Jesus and of Christianity are radically different from this story. In 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul reacts to a couple in the Corinthian Church that had married under forbidden circumstances. It is not permitted for a man to marry his father’s previous wife. That type of relationship is regarded as incest. The Law of God strictly forbids Incest. The couple ignored God’s Law under the guise of grace and Christian liberty. Paul’s reaction was to have them excommunicated from the community immediately. The concern that Paul displayed regarding lawless behavior in the Christian community was both swift and severe. Paul’s attitude was that lawlessness is like leaven, or a cancer, that if left unaddressed will spread through the body eventually extinguishing any and all life that it infects. In Galatians 6:1 Paul commands the community to take action when anyone is overcome by sin or lawless behavior. The Church is never to ignore the lawless attitude of those in her community. Action is not an option. Inaction is not a viable course.
There are 1221 active imperative verbs in the GNT appearing in 952 verses. Clearly, the NT writers had a very specific ethic that they issued from the start of the Christian community. That a certain ethical and theological standard were imposed on the Christian community is beyond controversy. Christians were expected to adopt a certain set of beliefs and embrace a very specific ethical standard. Refusal to do either one would not be tolerated.
John tells us that anyone that claims to love God but that does not keep His commandments is a liar. Jesus said that every branch that abides in Him bears much fruit. In other words, just as lawlessness cannot abide in Christ, neither can a lawless person abide in Christ. Lawless people must be identified, instructed, corrected, rebuked, and they prove obstinate, they must be removed. There is no place in the New Covenant for lawlessness. There is no such thing as a New Covenant believer who has adopted a lawless lifestyle.
Contrary to some radical versions of Christianity, the biblical form of Christianity, the Christianity of the New Covenant is a Christianity, the core of which includes God’s Law. Apart from the Law of Christ, there is no salvation. To despise divine law is to despise God. Biblical Christianity teaches that men are regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit on their heart, their whole person as it were. It is here that the Holy Spirit writes the Law of God, the Law of Christ. The believer grows in their love for, appreciation of, and obedience to the Law of God contrary to modern American Christianity, which seems to have cultivated an attitude of disdain for that which they are supposed to love. In short, modern American Christianity has produced record numbers of false converts and false teachers who deny the essence of the New Covenant arrangement. Spiritually speaking, these cavils are like wild dogs, trolling the spiritual dumps, feasting on rotting and decaying matter of every sort. Their stench rises to the nostrils of God whose wrath boils over against the vile blasphemy hurled at his righteous name daily by these pompous vipers, who in the midst of their vile and corrupt lives, smile on Sunday mornings claiming to love Jesus and to know Him. They are the children of hell sent into the community to deceive and to destroy and it is time the Church stop playing games with them and show Christ the respect He is due by obeying His commands to put these obstinate pigs out of the parlor. 

Does Ephesians Five Really Tell Wives to Submit to their Husbands? Responding to DTS Professor, Darrell Bock and Sandra Gahn

With all the rage over feminist issues going on as a result of the #MeToo movement, it isn’t shocking that pastors and professors holdi...