Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Good News For Jews

A Christian friend asked, “When God made the new covenant, what did the Jewish people lose as far as their standing with God as well as land promised to them?” 

Below is my response. 

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I don't think the Jewish people “lost” anything as a result of Christ and the New Covenant. (The Gospel is good news for Jews too!) 

As far as their “standing with God,” no Jew was ever saved by being Jewish. All people are and have been saved by grace through faith. Old Testament saints looked by faith toward Christ (the Messiah) and New Testament saints look by faith back to Him. This is the clear import of Paul's insistence that folks are truly Abraham's seed by faith, not biology.  

 . . . they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed (Romans 9:6-8). 

Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:7). 

The truth of which Paul speaks is not new to the New Testament. That is, no one is or ever was saved by DNA. 

In regards to the land, God kept His promise. This is made abundantly clear in the book of Joshua.  

So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass (21:43-45). 

Again Joshua says,  

Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed (23:14). 

That being said, the "land promises" point to ultimate realities in Christ and His church both now and in the new heavens and earth. In other words, Christ did not come to delay or postpone God’s promises; rather He is the ultimate fulfillment of those promises. 

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us (2Corinthians 1:20). 

Thus my concern for Jews is that they come to Christ. They need Jesus more than they need real estate.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Blue Bomb


In the end the ultimate threat to the American republic will be Americans. The problem is not wolves at the door but termites in the floor. Powerful free people die only by their own hand, and free people have no one to blame but themselves. (Os Guinness, “A Free People’s Suicide,” p. 37). 

I remember it like it was yesterday. America was different back then. The year was 2008 and I had just resolutely cast my vote against Barack Hussein Obama. There was a chill in the air as I strolled from the poll to my car. 

“Car” doesn’t quite capture it. My vehicle was a thing of legend. In fact, the good folks of Beardstown—and the other people there too—affectionately dubbed it: The Blue Bomb. 

It was a bright blue, 1993 Chevy Cavalier and it absorbed fast foods, foul balls, and first-time “drivers” with nary a word. In short, it was a marvelous piece of machinery. 

Anyway…as The Blue Bomb purred through the parking lot, a disheveled stranger flagged me down. I cracked the window (manually, of course) and he asked, “Can you give me a ride into town?” Naturally, I said I would.

About 30 feet into the voyage my passenger remarked that he didn’t know “half the people” on the ballot, but that didn’t stop him from fulfilling his civic duty. A reflexive thought sprang to mind: Hmmm…I wonder who he voted for? (You’re thinking it too. Don’t judge me.) 

However, I quickly learned that what he lacked in political acumen he made up for in the skilled use of profanity. Again I mused: This man just cancelled out my vote. 

As we pulled onto the street he inquired what I did for a living. I told him I was the pastor of Grace Bible Church. He then asked how “big” my church was. Realizing that this was a question of membership and not architecture; I said, “Oh, we’re a small congregation.” 

He then requested that I drop him off at the tobacco store and in only a few moments we were there. I was expecting the obligatory “thank you” when he opened the door, but as he hoisted himself out of the seat he threw over his shoulder: “Well…if your church grows maybe you can get yourself a better car!” 

True story. 

I do have a newer car now: a 2008 Chevy Cobalt. Unfortunately, it’s not because my church experienced explosive growth but because The Blue Bomb experienced explosive engine failure. Republics and relics don’t last forever. Such is life. 

But such is not life in the world to come. 

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~Matthew 6:19-21

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Marriage Bed


Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. ~Hebrews 13:4 

Some time ago a Christian acquaintance contended that Christians “defile” the marriage bed if they engage in certain types of sex and he then proceeded to offer what is “clean vs. unclean” relations between husband and wife.  

Yet the author of Hebrews offers no qualifications. He merely affirms that marital sex is "undefiled." 

Two things come to mind which make sex marital:  

1) It must be exclusive (between husband and wife only...no others [“no others” includes pornography]); and 2) It must be consensual (neither the husband nor the wife should be forced or manipulated [physically or emotionally, etc.] to do that which the husband/wife deems degrading or hurtful). 

Within the above biblical boundaries, this boils down to individual preference and/or conscience. And in this matter—as in all matters—we must be cautious to not elevate our scruples above those of scripture. That is, certain parameters may be fine for one’s own marriage but should not be used as a universal standard. 

Our authoritative, universal standard for Christian conduct is the Bible.  

However, I am unaware of any passages in scripture which give guidelines for what is acceptable sex between husband and wife (beyond Moses' proscription of coitus during menstruation, which of course has to do with laws of separation and sanctification, not morality as such). 

Hence, the notion of "clean vs. unclean" sex within the context of Christian marriage is uncertain and invalid. In fact, in the Old Testament, intercourse of any kind (which involved male ejaculation) rendered the husband and wife "unclean." 

"When a woman lies with a man, and there is an emission of semen, they shall bathe with water, and be unclean until evening" (Lev 15:18). 

When Moses commanded purification he said, "Be ready for the third day; do not come near your wives" (Ex. 19:15). 

Thus, "clean" and "unclean" have to do with laws of separation and/or sanctification. These we believe to be fulfilled or completed in Christ. 

And so, as long as husband and wife are within the proffered parameters of marital sex (see 1 and 2 above), I know of no scriptural reason, and therefore feel no compulsion whatsoever, to intrude upon them. 

Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her,
and likewise also the wife to her husband. ~1Corinthians 7:3

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Silence of The Lambs


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress (Philippians 4:13-14). 

In “Phil vs. The GLAADiators, pt. 2” I raised a minor point that when it comes to the imprisonment, torture, and murder of Christians all over the Muslim world and other places like North Korea, by and large little is said in American churches. 

Why are we so silent? Let’s consider some possible reasons. 

Ignorance
Many Christians are ignorant of the persecution of our brothers and sisters in the faith. But is this ignorance excusable? I don’t believe so; not in our age of instant information. I can’t help but wonder if the ignorance is willful. And shouldn’t the church be a force to combat such ignorance? 

Fear
Are we scared speechless? If so, what are we afraid of? Some fear that if we begin in earnest to voice our disapprobation, the persecution may grow worse. This is at best unfounded.  

It’s quite possible our phobia has more to do with being maligned and mislabeled by the mind-bending “Islam is a religion of peace” cult. Yet even more probable still: We fear the discomfort of our members more than the displeasure of our enemies.  

Defeatism
Why concern ourselves with things we cannot change? This defeatist mindset flows from two, at times interconnected, streams: Politics and eschatology 

On the one hand, humanistic visions of “spreading democracy” have thus far been an abject failure. But we are not called to put our faith or confidence in man. 

On the other hand, dark Dispensational visions of an ever increasingly wicked world and an ever increasingly weakened church are not conducive to hopeful, spiritual, cultural confrontation or transformation. 

Apathy
Could it be that we are silent because we lack true empathy and genuine concern? Some allege that our silence would be broken if persecution similar to that in the Middle East or Africa were to take place in our own country. How selfish and myopic. How sad.  

Surely our union with persecuted brethren is spiritual, not spatial. Miles shouldn’t matter. 

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it . . .
you are the body of Christ (1Cor. 12:26, 27). 

Can you think of any other reasons for the silence of the lambs? Are any of them godly?