One Kingdom Shall Remain

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Today, the United States Supreme Court followed up its past few days of foolish rulings with another tyrannical and unconstitutional order declaring that homosexuals have a “right” to “marry.”  . The Court since its beginning increasingly has given itself more and more power. They have in the past ruled that a black person was a piece of property and that there is a right to murder children in the womb.  In the past few years, they have usurped the legislative branch by rewriting laws to uphold the immoral and unconstitutional Obama Care.   Today, they have attempted to usurp the marriage foundation. The Justices that make up this Court are illegitimate claimants to the magistracy.  But they are not alone in their complacency.  They are just another piece in the puzzle of a  bloated federal leviathan. This is all, of course, reflects a nation of greedy, selfish, and immoral people. John Adams once said, “W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The United States of America is a crumbling empire bent on self-destruction. Its government is in crippling debt. It promotes the destruction of life in the womb, killing its future. It celebrates sexual perversions that cannot create life and will only bring lasting ruin.  This can seem like a despairing and heart wrenching time for Christians. No doubt many will be tempted to turn to predictions of the rapture for solace.

11650738_10152997006133526_677169778_n(These predictions never pan out of course.)
The Bible ,however, can provide us with greater hope than failed predictions of a getaway car even in the face of a rebellious and tyrannical government. Daniel 2 speaks of a kingdom that has come which will outlast all empires and nations. America may linger on for a few years. God may grant us repentance and full restoration. Or America may ultimately collapse. But, Daniel tells us while interpreting a dream that ” And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure. (Daniel 2:44-45)”

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In Daniel’s time, this was a future prediction speaking of the coming of Christ.  With the coming of Christ in the manger, this vision became reality.  In Luke 11:20 Jesus says,” But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus was clear, the Kingdom of God has come. And it will break into pieces all kingdoms and bring to an end those who oppose Christ and his Lordship.  If the United States continues on in its rebellion, it too will be broken into pieces but Christ’s kingdom will remain.  Daniel inspired by the Holy Spirit tells us that this is certain and true.  That is to be our hope in this time. Our response in this time needs to be one of repentance and obedience. Jesus told us in Matthew 28 that “all authority in heaven and ON EARTH” is his.   We are to go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS (Matthew 28:19).   Our hope is not found in courts, governments, or the Red, White, and Blue.   We need to be in the streets, in our neighborhoods, in our cities and towns proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  We need to put all of life  under the sure authority of God’s law-word.   The Gospel is the good news of forgiveness of sins for sure.  However, it is much more.  It is the good news of the Kingdom of Jesus.  This King brings forgiveness and transformation to those who repent and put their trust in him.  This King has his good and perfect law for all aspects of our life, including civil government.   We have one King and He is Jesus (Revelation 19:16, Isaiah 9:6).   We proclaim him and pledge allegiance to Him alone.

The 6th Commandment- Hold Back the Slaughter

(The following is a transcript from a sermon I preached on May 31, 2015)

A month and a half ago, Pastor Tony told me that he would need me to preach today. As you know Pastor Tony has been going through a series of sermons on the 10 Commandments.   He told me then that I was free to preach the next sermon in the series or whatever sermon God had instructed me to preach. At the time he initially asked me, today was supposed to be the 8th commandment, Thou Shall Not Steal. However a few Sundays back, Pastor Tony felt God leading him to take a break from the series for a sermon on Romans 1 and then the next week for special sermon for Mother’s day.   This change meant that instead of the 8th commandment, this week’s message will be about the 6th commandment. Pastor Tony and I have both seen God’s hand at work in how this has fell into place. God has gifted me the opportunity to share with you a passion from my heart and quite frankly from God’s own heart. I pray that God will use me today to awaken our hearts to obey God’s commandment to Hold Back the Slaughter.   Let us, pray. (Pray)

Please turn in your copy of God’s word to Exodus 20:13 and Proverbs 24:11-12.   And as your turning to these passages I want to give by way of introduction a reminder regarding God’s law.   First, God’s Law was given as a gracious move on God’s part after rescuing the Israelites from slavery. It is an act of grace that he gives believer’s his word and expectations for their life as his covenant people. God’s commandments are truly meant for our benefit and not our harm. Secondly, we must always remember that we cannot be saved by law keeping. Ephesians 2:8 &9 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith, and that it is not our own doing. It is the gift of God, not a result of works.   The Law never was meant as a way for salvation. It was never given that power. Let me repeat, we are saved, justified, made right with God by his total grace through faith.   Now having been saved, we are now set apart or sanctified to good works.   If anyone is in Christ he is a new Creation. We have been recreated and now enabled by The Holy Spirit to keep the commandments of God.   So if the law was meant for salvation what was it given for?  1. The commandments point us to our need for a savior. They are like mirror that reveals our sinfulness and inability to save ourselves. 2. They are given to restrain evil. One way they do this is by providing to the magistrate or rulers the standard for what constitutes a crime and the prescribed punishments thereof.   3. The third purpose of the law is to reveal what is pleasing to God. As born-again children of God, the law enlightens us as to what is pleasing to our Father, whom we seek to serve. The Christian delights in the law as God Himself delights in it. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). This is the highest function of the law, to serve as an instrument for the people of God to give Him honor and glory.

As we look now to Exodus 20:13, I want us also to remember that Jesus summarized all of the Law in Two Commandments- Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind. And Love your Neighbor as yourself.   These two summarize all of God’s law.   The 10 Commandments though in a way are summaries too.   They act as chapter titles or a table of contents for the rest of the law.   Therefore to fully understand each commandment we need to keep in mind both how they fit into Christ’s summary and how it in turn they are broadened and defined in the rest of God’s word. One thing we see is that each commandment often has a negative or forbidding aspect and a positive or commanding aspect. We also see that the commandments are not just concerned with outward obedience but also the condition of the heart.

That said let’s read our passage. Exodus 20:13 :“You shall not murder.”   Aright that’s pretty easy to figure out, let’s all go home. Seriously, while containing just four words, this commandment when fully understood should drive us to our knees in repentance and then on further to action.   I want to briefly share with you first a theological foundation to this commandment and then transition to a specific implication and application for us as Christians in a culture of death.

First let’s look to the theological foundation for this commandment. To do that, we begin of all places in the beginning. Genesis 1:1 tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. We then see throughout this chapter God speaking forth into the darkness and by his words creating.   The Earth, Sun, the moon, the stars, fish and birds, plants and animals are all created by God speaking them into existence.   But on the sixth day, God does something different. He forms a person from the dust of the ground and breath’s life into him. The Genesis account gives the briefest of mention to the fact that God created the stars. The vast expanse of the heavens is almost seen as an afterthought.   But the Bible, spends a great deal of more time on the creation of people. In fact it gives an account in chapter 1 and then turns around and gives a more intimate account in chapter 2 on the creation of Adam and Eve.   There is something personal about how God forms man and breathes life into Him. We are told here in Genesis that God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. We are all created in the image of God.   What does this mean? Not wanting to bore you with the many definitions, I am going to give you what I have come to believe through my studies this to mean. “Being created in the image of God” means that we are made to be his representatives on earth. We are to operate as his image or ambassador. In Genesis, the first humans were commanded to subdue the earth, to take dominion of it. We are to do this in God’s name as his image bearers.  Thus our lives have value as we are created to be God’s representatives.

I want to look at a few more passages here that drive home the point that God has created us and formed us.   God’s Word says that He personally made each one of us. Speaking personally of Jeremiah, God says in  Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Before we were even conceived God had a determined to create us.   We also see God’s choosing and purpose for Paul before he was born in Galatians 1:15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 139:13,16 “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb… Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” And in Job we read “Your hands shaped me and made me… Did You not clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life.” Isaiah the prophet writes “This is what the Lord says—He who made you, who formed you in the womb. “   And again in Job, “Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One form us both within our mothers?”

God has determined to create us and give us life. He formed us in the womb. Life is a gift from Him. And as Job tells us “In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being” Job 12:10.   If God gives us life and makes us in His image, then it is He alone who has the right to determine what to do with that life. In fact it is his prerogative to decide when to give life and when to take it.

However in the garden of Eden we see that the Image bearers Adam and Eve did not believe God. They were willingly deceived into believing a lie.   They believed the lie that they could be not just image bearers but God themselves. They could cast aside the name they were supposed to rule in and instead attempt to reign in their own. What follows shortly after is that their son Cain again claims a right reserved to God alone and he kills His brother, Abel.

Thus I want us to see four things about Murder:

  1. Murder is an attack on the image of God and thus truly an attack on God himself. It is an act of war against God the Creator of the Universe.   We understand this when it comes to ambassadors of a nation. Ambassadors are given referential respect in the nations that they are sent to. To attack imprison, threaten, or worse kill an ambassador of a nation for most of history was seen as not just an attack on that person but an attack upon the nation He represents. In 2 Samuel David sent representatives to a nation who has just lost its king. The new King saw them not as the delegation of honor they were meant for but as a threat. This new king shamed the delegation by cutting off their beard and shredding their clothing. David saw this an act of war against God’s people and went to war.    Murder and unjust violence against a fellow human is an act of war against God.   David again acknowledged this in his Psalm of repentance. David whom had stolen a wife and committed murder acknowledge that this was first and foremost a crime against God.
  2. Murder is a crime against God and man. It therefore is a capital crime. The state has been given the responsibility of being an agent of wrath upon those who kill. Christians should not oppose the death penalty for murder because God has prescribed that very thing. Exodus 21:12 12 “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
  3. As I said above, the law is not just content to deal with outward conformity but it has our hearts conditions in mind as well. .   Matthew 5: 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.     Hate in your heart toward another person created in the image of God is a sin against God.   And while God has not given the government the responsibility to punish people for their heart “hate crimes”, he has promised a sure and just punishment for an unrepentant person full of hate.
  4. The 6th Commandment is not just a prohibition but it also entails upon God’s people a responsibility to defend life. God’s people are to protect the less fortunate. We are to seek to justice. You can’t read through the prophets of the Old Testament without seeing the concern for life and justice.   We are to love our neighbor as our self.   We all know the parable of the Good Samaritan.   Jesus tells us to even love those who hate us and pray for them who persecute us.

There is so much more than can be said here but I want to turn now to a particular implication of this commandment for today. Having now laid down a general understanding of this command I want us to look at our passage in Proverbs and see how it applies for us as a church today. Proverbs 24:11-12 says “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”

I recently watched a video from the end of the Second World War.
The Americans after having defeated the Germans and liberated the residents of the concentration camps made sure those residents of Dachau and other towns were forced to confront the horrors of the concentration camps. According to Harold Marcuse, in his book “Legacies of Dachau,” after the liberation “a group of Nazi elite was forced to tour the Dachau crematorium on May 8 1945.” There they were made to look at the naked, emaciated bodies of the innocent victims of Nazi barbarity, piled up in the mortuary room right next to the gas chamber. Young boys in the Hitler Youth were brought to the camp and forced to look at the corpses on the Death Train.

Just a short distance from these concentration camps, the German people had went about their business in the towns. They went to work, raised their children, listened to music, and even went to church while a hike a way Jews, Gypsies, blacks, and other unwanted people were forced into death champers and slaughtered.

As you watch the video footage of these Germans hiking up the five miles to the liberated camp, you can see that they are woefully unprepared for what they are about to see.   Many of them look like they are just out for gentle stroll through the country side. They have smiles and pep in their walk.     But as they were marched through these camps, their faces change.   The smiles are gone and replaced with tears of pain and outrage.

According to Peter Wyden, in his book “The Hitler Virus,” a few of the Dachau notables, who were forced to view the corpses, fainted. Some cried and many shook their heads. Most of them turned away, eager to avoid the scene. Afterwards, they were heard to whisper, “Unglaublich!” (Unbelievable)

The practice of bringing German civilians from nearby towns to the concentration camps after they were liberated was started by General Walton Walker who ordered the Mayor of the town of Ohrdruf and his wife to visit the Ohrdruf labor camp after it was discovered by American troops on April 4, 1945. After their visit, the Mayor and his wife returned home and killed themselves.

What a gruesome and horrible scene. The German people had long heard rumors or even know about what had happened in those camps but they refused to acknowledge it.   They lived in a culture of death and pretended like nothing was wrong.   And we look back today wondering how that could have happened in a modern society in enlightened Europe.

How could they have allowed that to happen?   My question is How Can we allow the same thing to happen.   Just an hour down the road from this church building, Tuesday through Saturday, people go into a building and pay someone to slaughter their child.   Every year 4,000 children are taken to the butcher by their own parents here in Kentucky.   We are living in a Holocaust.   Every year in the US, 1.06 Million Children are killed. Since 1973 there have been almost 58 Million children killed in our nation.   Every day 2600 babies are murdered by the very ones who are supposed to love them.   And we would ask the Germans how they could allow such a thing to happen. How can we allow it to happen?

Since I can’t take you on a physical tour of the facilities in Louisville and Lexington, please allow me just a minute to describe for you the procedures that they do at these facilities. I have taken the names of these procedures straight from the website for the abortion death camp in Louisville called EMW’s womens surgical center.    Please listen as to what happens day in and day out at this place in Louisville.

EMW’s Abortion Mill does both medical and surgical abortion. Let’s begin with the surgical abortions: The first procedure is called :.

D & C (Dilation and Curettage): within first 12 weeks
The abortionist uses a dilator or laminaria to open the cervix. Laminaria are thin sticks from a kelp species that are inserted hours before the procedure and allowed to slowly absorb water and expand, thereby dilating the cervix. A suction device is placed in the uterine cavity to remove the fetus and placenta.  Then the abortionist inserts a curette (a loop-shaped knife) into the uterus. The abortionist uses the curette to scrape any remaining fetal parts and the placenta out of the uterus. After suction, the doctor and nurses must reassemble the fetus’ dismembered parts to ensure they have all the pieces.

D and C

D & E (Dilation and Evacuation): within 13-24 weeks after last menstrual period
The fetus literally doubles in size between the 11th and 12th weeks of pregnancy. Soft cartilage hardens into bone at 16 weeks, making the fetus too large and strong to pass through a suction tube. The D & E procedure begins by inserting laminaria a day or two before the abortion, opening the cervix wide to accommodate the larger fetal size. The abortionist then both tears and cuts the fetus and uses the vacuum machine to extract its remains. Because the skull is too large to be suctioned through the tube, it must be crushed by forceps for removal. Pieces must be extracted very carefully because the jagged, sharp pieces of the broken skull could easily cut the cervix.

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As for the Medical or Chemical abortion. They use:

RU-486 (Mifepristone): within 4-7 weeks of the last menstrual period.
Also called “the abortion pill.”
This drug interferes with levels of progesterone, a hormone that keeps the fetus implanted in the wall of the uterus. The woman is prescribed Mifepristone and then Misoprostol (Cytotec) is taken two days later at home. This medication causes the uterus to contract, induces labor and expels the dead fetus. A follow visit may be required if the baby is not expelled, at which time a woman has a 5-8% likelihood of needing a surgical abortion to complete the process.

This happens not an hour from our church.   People take the precious life that God has gifted them with and have it destroyed.   Moms and Dads who are supposed to care about their children will have their child ripped limb by limb.   This is our Holocaust. These are Kentucky’s children being killed, children who should grow up to make a difference in this world.   These mother’s and father’s will not experience the changing of the first diaper, seeing the first smiles, hearing the coos, and watching their child grow. These children will not experience learning how to walk, clumsily falling down just to get back up and do it all over again. These children will not hear the sound of their mother’s voice saying I love you. They will not say their first words, da da or mama.   No these children will not do any of that because they will have been murdered by their own parents.   And far worse is that for the most part the church, the bride of Christ has set back and done very little.

A Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer once said ““Every abortion clinic should have a sign in front of it saying, “Open by the permission of the church.” Wow that is tough to hear.   But in many ways it is true.

For one many of these people who are going to the mill in Louisville claim to be Christians. Many of them go to churches and sing hymns.   I’ve even been at there one Saturday and had a man who brought his daughter for an abortion tell me that He was a minister after he threatened to beat me up.


Secondly, for most we have relegated this to a political issue.   We have bought the lie that this is best fought in the senate or Whitehouse.   Because of that too many preachers have been afraid to speak to this issue.   Thirdly, for many we have just become too apathetic or resigned to defeat.   There are a lot of excuses we give to keep from doing anything “I don’t want to get involved.” “It’s none of my business.” “I might make enemies if I say something.” “It’s too much trouble.” “I’m too busy to take the time.” “I’ll leave that job to the professionals.” “Someone else will take care of it.”

Excuses will not do.   Proverbs 24: 11-12 tells us Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”   Dietrich Bonhoeffer a christian preacher put to death by the Nazis for speaking out said “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”   And the bible agrees with Him.

Our work being biblically mandated and sovereignly ordained, we are called to be salt and light in a darkened, and defiled world; we are commanded to care for the fatherless and bring justice to the oppressed and preyed-upon. We have been exhorted to expose deeds of darkness, and destroy speculations raised up against the knowledge of God. We are exhorted to rescue the weak from death, snatch the falling from flames, and hold back the stumbling from the slaughter. We are to be against the world, for the world.   So what is the answer?

Supreme above all philosophies, all isms and ideologies, is the fullness of the Gospel of God; (that God himself stepped down into human history as Jesus Christ, conceived in the womb of a young unmarried woman who did not choose to be with child or plan on being a mother, to live a sinless life before wicked man whom he came to die for, and redeem from the just wrath of God against sinners. It is the will of God that all men might come to know Him, and in the fullness of time, Christ Jesus has made this possible). The Gospel above all else possesses the capacity to mobilize human action, motivate moral behavior, and mandate consistent compassionate social justice. It is the answer to all of societies ills and injustices. It is the bulwark against an ever increasing inhumanity of man against man. It is the Gospel alone that will end human oppression and redeem mankind from the dominion of evil powers and sinful man. It is the wellspring of love, hope, and joy. The actual foundation for justice. And the real answer to abortion

We have been given the weapons of God to take down all strongholds.   The Gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church.   We have the power of the Gospel.     Paul says it is the power for salvation.

We have to begin dealing with the excuses. Each of us need to look at the fullness of the gospel and repent. We need to repent for our apathy. Repentance will involve us turning from apathy and doing nothing to being what we are called to be, salt and light.

We need to reclaim a culture of life.   Our world is a culture of death. It celebrates abortion and all types of sexual perversions that are incapable of producing life.   We who are in Christ have been given life.   We are being empowered to keep God’s commands which bring forth blessing.   We have to put to death in us the idea that children are a curse and not a blessing.   My brother has 5 children and I can’t tell you the number of well meaning people who have asked him if he knew what causes children.   Our culture looks at having children as strange.   Test yourself, if you are of the age where you can have children and you are married, What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about having another child? Is it money?   Is it Oh No , what would we do.   I am not discounting the importance of providing financially. But our first concern should be whether it is God’s will that we have children. We should think about what God would have us do.   I am grateful that our church does celebrate children.   But there is more we can do.   We need to educate them in the Lord.

We all need to be sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.   We have wonderful and great news.   How often do we share that news with others around us?   Do your friends and coworkers see in you a transformed life? Have they heard from you the glorious truth of the gospel? Sharing the gospel is not just for the pastor, it is all of ours blessed responsibility.

God has gifted us as a church with many different people with many different talents and skills.   We can use them to God’s glory and to end this evil on our land called abortion.   God has gifted some of us to be teachers and principals. How can you use that vocation and skill to fight abortion? How can you be used to make a difference? There are teenagers every week who go to the clinic who have abortions. They need to be told the gospel. They need to be called to repentance.   God may have placed you where you are to make that difference.

We have people who maybe God has gifted with good business skills and know how to use their resources wisely. Maybe you can contribute by buying tracts, drop cards, signs, cameras, ads, or a host of other resources that can be used to stop abortion.   We need people who are willing to give of their resources to help unexpected mother’s who are seeking help instead of an abortion.   We need someone whom we call when a mother leaves the abortion clinic having changed her mind but needs help. We need people willing to adopt a child, to give them a loving home and family.

Many of us have Saturday Morning’s off or any other mornings for that matter and I know we like to sleep in. But there are children dying. God can use you driving to Louisville to hold a sign for a couple of hours.   You can pray there and reach out to plead with the woman going to murder their child.   Just this week, we saw a couple change their mind after having been pleaded with by Christians.

Maybe you can’t do that because of health reasons or job situation but you can write letters to politicians, post on facebook, and do a host of other things from your home.   The opportunities are almost endless here. But we must act.

I’d like to close today with two quick stories.

The first is of the early church. They were persecuted and lived with many fearing for their lives. They had been sent by Jesus into a dark world.   In the city Antioch where they were first called Christians, abortion and a host of other evils were rampant.   People would not only abort, they would throw their unwanted babies out into the street to die if they were born.   People with disabilities were mistreated.   It was a culture of death.   This ragtag band of believers there worked tirelessly under threat of death to take in these unwanted children. One of the first Christian documents outside of the Bible, speaks out against abortion.   These Christians suffered and many died.   But God used them.   They transformed that city.   Eventually the whole of the Roman Empire would succumb to Christian influence.   The gladiator games where people were put to death for other’s enjoyment were ended. Christianity transformed Europe and led to the foundation of our country.   This was all by God using Christians working with the power of the gospel. They rescued those going to death.

A second story is told from a German man who lived during World War II.

“I lived in Germany during the Nazi holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. I attended church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews, but like most people today in this country, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. What could anyone do to stop it?

A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when one Sunday we noticed cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews. They were like cattle in those cars!

Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those old wheels because we knew that the Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was so terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help these poor miserable people, yet their screams tormented us. We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time that train came rumbling past the church yard, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, we’d just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it much anymore, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene. “

Irvington Baptist Church will we be like the Christians in Antioch who we willing to suffer unto death to rescue those who are to being taken away to death or will we be a church who just sings songs louder over the cries of our unborn neighbors are stumbling to the slaughter.

Let us Pray.

Man’s law vs God’s law – It’s a Riot

All eyes are on Baltimore, Maryland this week as dangerous riots have broken out this week in response to the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the police.
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But in case you haven’t been paying attention here is a sample of headlines.

“Huge fires set across Baltimore as Freddie Gray rioters torch city, loot stores and injure fifteen police officers as violence rages into the night and local politicians are left turning on each other .” – Daily Mail

“Baltimore Rioters Threatening ‘Anybody… Who Was Not African-American”- CNN

“‘Police Violence’ on Blacks ‘Far More Shameful’ than Baltimore Riots” – News Busters

“Police: We failed to get Freddie Gray timely medical care after arrest”- CNN

“New reports of looting as Baltimore mayor under fire over ‘destroy’ remarks, response to riots”- Fox News

The liberal response tends to be to condemn social injustice and perceived racism within the system, siding with the rioters.   The conservative approach tends to condemn the lawlessness of the rioters thus siding with the police. What however is the appropriate response?   Here are a couple verses to think about:

Isaiah 10:1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression

Exodus 23:1-3 You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.

Judges 21:25 In those days …everyone did what was right in his own eyes

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

The problem is both in the system and in the individual.   We as a culture have rejected God’s rule.   We rebel against His law. Instead of God as our highest authority, we have decided to be an authority unto ourselves. We are a people who worship idols, do every type of sexual perversion, hate our brothers, have greedy and covetous hearts, dishonor our parents, neglect our children, and elect people who approve of all the previous to be our leaders. We have individuals who reject God’s commandments and a government which does the same.   This inevitably leads to injustice.

Instead of a government of laws that upholds God’s rule we have a government of man’s rule.   GK Chesterson once said ““When you break the big laws you do not get freedom. You do not even get anarchy. You get small laws.” We get a ton of small laws.  When we break God’s commands we don’t get freedom, we get enslavement.    When we set up ourselves as lawgiver, we get law upon law upon unjust law.

Looking now at Baltimore, we see that the blame goes to both sides. We area people who are rebellious.   We have a government which makes unjust laws.  Rebellious people rebel against the unjust laws.   The police, made up of people with sinful hearts, are tasked with cracking down and enforcing these human laws.   In the process, some police act as a law unto themselves as well. This leads to more injustice and more rebellion.   There is enough blame to around.

The gospel is the answer.   God sent His son to live a Holy law-fulfilling life. He willingly took upon himself the shame and guilt of our rebellion. God was pleased to put on Christ the punishment that we deserve.   Christ died as our substitute. He defeated death in his resurrection. He therefore ascended to heaven, to the throne, where he reigns as priest and king.  We need to repent of trying to be a law unto ourselves.   We need to repent of our disobedience.   We need to lay down our arms and quit our war against God.   He will then enable us to live Holy law-fulfilling lives as well. He will enable us to govern our lives by His law. We will then reform ourself as an individual, our families, our culture, and our government.

Paul says of God’s law in Romans 7:12 “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.”    God’s law in the whole of the Bible is just.   It is good for both individual and for our government.   Psalm 19 says that God’s law is perfect.   God is concerned with justice.   He has revealed in His word what the true and just path is.  As long as we as individuals and as a nation refuse to have Christ as Lord, we will see more of Baltimore.  The answer is not lawless rioting nor is it tyrannical government.   The answer is submitting to Christ.  The answer for Baltimore, Ferguson, the United States, and the world is the gospel. May we embrace it.

Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament

(The following is a book review of  Christopher Wright’s  Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament.)

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In the second century A.D., Marcion of Sinope was rightly declared a heretic for rejecting the Old Testament scripture and declaring that the New Testament had a different God than the Old. Unfortunately in our current culture, there are many who have adopted a subtle version of this heresy. Many in the contemporary church have a very low view of the Old Testament, and tend to somehow think that Jesus came to do away with it. Christopher Wright makes it clear in Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament that far from coming to do away with the Old Testament, Jesus comes from within the Old Testament framework.   The Old Testament provides the background for so much of Christ’s teaching and mission. Yet it does more in that Jesus came to fulfill and uphold all that the Old Testament taught.

In reading the Old Testament, we are reading the very words of God. As Paul writes to Timothy, “All Scripture is God breathed and profitable…(2 Timothy 3:16-17).” The Old Testament contains the commands of God, the mission of God, and the promises of God. These are the words Jesus read. These are the stories, songs, and commands that Jesus memorized. Wright says that, “In short, the deeper you go into understanding the Old Testament, the closer you come to the heart of Jesus.” This is the thesis of Wright’s book. The more we understand the Old Testament the better we will understand Jesus and the more we understand Jesus the better we will understand the Old Testament. Wright works to show this through how the Old Testament story, promises, and mission find their completion in Christ. Wright also shows how Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, Son of God and Son of Man is based upon revelation found in the Hebrew scripture. Lastly, Wright shows that far from coming to abolish the Old Testament commands and ethic, Jesus comes to uphold and re-establish those commands through Christ’s own ethical teaching.

The Hermeneutic

Before digging into each of Wright’s chapters and main points, it might be helpful to say something here about the hermeneutic that he uses.   While this book is not on hermeneutics per sey, Wright, as do all theologians who write books, uses a hermeneutic principle as he interprets the scriptures. Wright dismisses allegorical schools of interpretation that would seek to spiritualize the words of the Old Testament. He does, however, acknowledge typology, though he does have some reservations about how typology has been used in the past. He says that typology has been abused in the past by those who would seek to find a type in every passage or story of the Old Testament. For Wright, to use typology properly is to understand “Christ and the various events and experiences surrounding him in the New Testament by analogy or correspondence with the historical realities of the Old Testament seen as patterns or models.”

For Wright, the Old Testament is not primarily “a promise box full of blessed predictions about Jesus.” It is a story from real history with promises that only make sense in relation to that history. Wright’s hermeneutic will be firmly grounded then in historical grammatical interpretation. However, it is not historical-grammatical interpretation alone but historical-grammatical in light of redemption history. Therefore for Wright, “first of all, we must affirm whatever significance a particular event had in terms of Israel’s own experience of God and faith in him.” That is the grammatical-historical part of the hermeneutic. And for the redemptive historical aspect Wright says, “Second, however, we may legitimately see in the Old Testament event additional levels of significance in the light of the end of the story—that is, in the light of Christ.”   Thirdly for Wright and possibly the most important aspect is that “the Old Testament event may provide levels of significance to our full understanding of all that Christ was and said and did.”

Much more could be said about the hermeneutic used but that would fall outside of the scope of this review. It does seem to be a healthy correction to both those who would over emphasis typology or allegory and those who would see no typology. One should be careful however that this correction does not go too far in the opposite direction. The entire Bible ultimately has God as its divine author. He has seen the beginning from the end. We also know from Peter’s letters that the Old Testament human authors were writing down things for our benefit.   Wright seems a little hesitate for example to say that Genesis 3:15 refers specifically to Jesus, though he says that it ultimately finds its completion in Christ. This hesitation to see this as a direct reference to Christ seems to be unfounded in light of God as the primary author of all of scripture. That minor critique aside, let us now turn to each of Wright’s main points.

Jesus and the Old Testament Story

It makes sense that Wright would begin his look at Jesus with what is often called the Hebrew gospel, the Gospel of Matthew. Many people skip the genealogies but Matthew had a purpose in starting his account with one. Matthew wants to show that Jesus did not just show up on the scene out of the blue. Jesus is the one who all of the Old Testament was anticipating, the Messiah. This genealogy therefore shows that Jesus has a legitimate claim to this title. In recounting this lineage Matthew is also recounting the story of Israel. “So when we turn the page from the Old to the New Testament, we find a link between the two that is more important than the attention we usually give it. . . The Old Testament tells the story that Jesus completes.”

Wright then recounts the story of the Old Testament.  Central to this story are the covenants. Wright seems to deviate from traditional covenant theology, in that he does not see an Adamic covenant. He doesn’t spend a lot of time at this point, so it is hard to tell if he is rejecting the implied “covenant of works” in the Garden of Eden or the idea of a post-fall covenant with Adam that is the beginning of the “covenant of grace.” It not being his main point to come up with a complete covenantal theology, it will be too difficult to supply a full critique for this review. Wright’s main point is to show that Adam sinned in the garden and man fell. God does show grace to Adam and Eve in supplying a covering for their bodies and promising that the seed of the woman would defeat the serpent.

Skipping forward to the Abrahamic covenant, we see part of what may be called Wrights secondary thesis for the book.   “The main point of God’s promise to Abram was not merely that he would have a son and then descendants who would be especially blessed by God. God also promised that through the people of Abram God would bring blessing to all nations of the earth.” A theme of Wright’s writings in other books and clearly in this book is the mission of God throughout the Bible. God chose Israel so that they would be a blessing to all nations. Jesus’ mission then is tied to that blessing.

The story of the Old Testament is tied to this election of Abraham and his descendents. Wright rightfully sees that the Mosaic covenant was not a covenant of works but one of grace. God had saved his people from slavery and chosen to enter covenant with them as a nation. He would be their God in relationship with them. “It is important to see that this covenant was based on what God had already done for them. God’s grace and redemptive action came first.” Their obedience to law did not allow them to enter the covenant but was to come from response to God’s grace. This obedience would enable them to complete their mission and calling to the nations. Israel was often reminded that while they were chosen it was not because of anything in them but because of God’s love and purpose.

But we see that the people did not and could not live up to this mission. They fell into sin and idolatry. Even after periods of great blessing through the kingdom of David and Solomon, the people did not remember their commitment. God who had a concern for justice within the society, sent prophets to call His people back to Him and remind them of this commitment. Wright makes several points about this concern of God for justice and righteousness.

God’s moral concern is not only individual (though the masses of individual stories show that it certainly does claim every individual) but also social.” God evaluates the moral health of society as a whole, from international treaties to market economies, from military strategy to local court procedures, from national politics to the local.

These same concerns show up in the teaching and ministry of Jesus. We also see in the New Testament that in fact the death and resurrection of Jesus was a victory over all authorities.

At the cross Jesus defeated all the evil forces that bind and enslave human beings, corrupt and distort human life, and warp, pollute and frustrate the very creation itself. That victory is an essential part of the biblical “good news.” And applying that victory to every dimension of human life on earth is the task of Christian mission.

Jesus comes at the end of this Old Testament story. The people of Israel had failed to live up to their mission. They had been taken into captivity and now brought back into the land. However the people were still not fulfilling this purpose.   They were still under the rule of the Romans.   The New Testament opens up with Jesus into this story.

Jesus and the Old Testament Promise

Having gone through the Old Testament story leading to the birth of Christ, Wright now turns his attention to going back through that story and pulling out major themes and points of contact with Christ. The first aspect of this is to pay attention to how Jesus fulfills the promise of the Old Testament. Again going back through the beginning of Matthew, Wright highlights five scenes from Jesus’ childhood and how Matthew claims that all these events fulfill scripture. In using this fulfillment theme, “Matthew clearly wants his readers to see that Jesus was not only the completion of the Old Testament story at a historical level, as his genealogy portrays, but also that he was in a deeper sense its fulfillment.”

How does Jesus provide this fulfillment? Are these texts mentioned by Matthew direct prophecies of Christ or does Matthew have something different in mind when highlighting these texts? Wright shows that these texts in their original context do not seem to be prophecies on the surface. Instead it seems that Matthew is working back from events that happened in the life of Jesus to certain texts in which in light of Christ they contain a deeper significance. Wright follows his hermeneutic mentioned above to show that the Old Testament events are in some way types but also that they point forward to a greater promise and fulfillment.   This section was very helpful in seeing, for example, how Jesus could fulfill something such as the text of Hosea.

He is not suggesting that the Hosea text was a prediction. His point is simply that what God had done for his people Israel—in fact the greatest thing God had done for them—had its counterpart, even in a purely physical sense, in the life of Jesus.

Continuing, Wright explains that what makes the the exodus and the return from exile so important to the Old Testament story is that even though they in and among themselves were awesome examples of God’s grace in history, they were more than that. “Both events were utterly saturated in promise.” This promise is what Jesus is fulfilling. All of the Old Testament points forward to the promise of God beginning in the garden and continuing through Abraham, Moses, David, and the Prophets. This promise, according to Wright, is more than prediction because unlike a prediction, a promise involves a relationship. This promise to make of Abraham a great nation so as to bless the entire world is fulfilled in Christ. Again coming back to Wright’s theme of mission in the Bible, the promise is to fulfill this mission.

Wright is very helpful in clearing up some misconceptions people have about the Old Testament. He points out that salvation has always been by grace in both the New and the Old Testament:

Some people have the idea that the difference between the Old and New Testaments is that in the Old salvation is by obeying the law whereas in the New it is by grace. But that sets up a totally false contrast. In the Old as in the New, it is God who takes the initiative of grace and calls people to faith and obedient response.

He also points out that there is a conditional element to this promise that requires our response. God’s promise requires our faith and obedience. Wright drives home that our response is vital. He does not mince words.   Our faithful obedience is necessary. However, Wright should note that part of what makes the new covenant so glorious is that it enables what the old couldn’t, our faith and obedience. In Christ, we are transformed. We are justified not by any of our merit but by Christ’s faithful obedience.   We are imputed his righteous obedience. Jesus fulfilled the obligation that we could not. He also however enables us with the Holy Spirit now to respond in faith and obedience. God then fulfills the promise and demands of the covenant. This does not in any way diminish our responsible to respond in obedient faith.   It does however provide the way that this is even possible.

One further note on the promise from Wright’s view is important to highlight.   Wright does an excellent job of explaining the nature of the land promises in Jesus. Using the story of a father who in the days before the invention of the automobile promises his son a horse when he turns twenty-one, but gives the son a newly invented automobile instead, Wright tries to show that the promises in Christ are expanded and better than what could be imagined in the Old Testament.   While the analogy is not perfect there is truth to the fact that in Christ the promises are expanded and better.   One point of contention is that in the book of Hebrews, it seems to say that Abraham and those in the Old Testament were aware that the promises were larger than just a promise to a plot of land in the Middle East. The question that always arises is: how much did the Old Testament saints understand about the promise? A good case based upon statements from Jesus and other New Testament books can be made that they knew more than what we often want to allow that they knew.   That said it is important to see that instead of a plot of land in the Middle East, the meek now inherit the earth.   The promise is not limited by national boundaries but all of the earth belongs to those in Christ.

Jesus and His Old Testament Identity

Next, Wright continues into the book of Matthew to Jesus’ baptism. Here the voice of God proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God. Wright now moves to answer what it means for Christ to be the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Messiah. Going again through the Old Testament we see that each of these titles have precedent. Sonship of God is something said of both Israel as a nation and of its king.   The king in particular enjoyed a son-like relationship with God. He was a representative of God’s rule and was required to be obedient to the divine King. This idea of sonship is also linked to the idea of the servant of the Lord in Isaiah. This link is especially prevalent in Jesus. Jesus is the representative of God. He is the King and he is the obedient servant. “Similarly, obedience was the link with the allusion to Isaac, as the one willing to be sacrificed, even as the only son of a loving father.” Kingship, servanthood, and service are built into the calling of Jesus.

Wright looks at this sonship theme in four ways. First he sees how the parent-child relationship actually works in Israel’s society. Next he shows how the metaphor undergirded the covenant concept. Third, he shows how sonship generates hope and expectation. Fourthly, Wright sees that idea is broadened and given eschatological flavor. This leads us to see that Jesus as the Son of God is one who represents Israel. Where Israel failed at being this Son, Jesus is God’s true son who would succeed in completing this mission. Wright also correctly points out that “(i)n an eternal sense, of course, Jesus always was, is and always will be God the Son, the second person of the Trinity.”

More can be said about this chapter but I would like to quickly highlight an excellent section of it. Some have argued that Christians should not be involved with politics. They argue from both a faulty view of eschatology and from a faulty of view of Christ’s mission.

But for the present it will be enough to say that if Jesus had intended only to talk about a purely spiritual revival in an otherworldly framework with no relevance to the seething politics of his day, then he went about it in a very strange way. So many of the words and actions of Jesus were so challenging to the political authorities that they executed him as a political threat. But to argue that because he did not preach violent politics he was therefore uninterested in politics at all is absurd. Nonviolent is not simply nonpolitical—now or then. No, the difference between Jesus and his contemporaries was not that he was purely spiritual while they were political (a modern kind of dichotomy that would probably not have made much sense in Jesus’ world anyway). The problem was that his announcement of the arrival of the kingdom of God in the present did have profound political and national consequences for the old order of Jewish society that were too radical and final for its leaders to tolerate.

Jesus indeed was political and the gospel has implications for all aspects of life. Jesus being the Messiah King has enormous practical applications that Christians should be working through. We will see in the next two chapters how this works out in Christ’s mission and ethical teaching.

Jesus and His Old Testament Mission

We have seen how Jesus comes within the historical story of the Old Testament, how the Old Testament promises of His coming, and how the Old Testament provides the identity of Jesus as the Messiah, King, and Son of God. Now we are at what is the heart of Wright’s message. We are now looking at why Jesus came. What was his mission? This mission is tied up in all of the previous chapters. It is what the story, promises, and identity point to. We see that each of these things are tied up in the expectations of the Messiah. To be sure there were some expectations that had developed during the inter-testamental period that were unfounded, but there were clear expectations set forth by scripture.

Again Wright points out that the mission is tied to the covenant and mission of Israel. Israel was to be a nation of priests and kings for the rest of the world. In Israel’s faith and obedience the rest of the world was supposed to marvel and give glory to God.   But further than that, the scriptures declare that the nations would stream to Israel and its God. Thus the goal of the Old Testament is world missions. It is a turning back of sin and a recreating of the world in righteousness.   It is a restoration from the fall. All people and even nature itself was awaiting this mission. Wright explains that Israel was awaiting its restoration and the ingathering of the nations. This was seen in eschatological terms as the final great act of God, the Day of the Lord. This was what the kingdom of God was all about.

Jesus’ mission is launched by John’s mission “to identify, through his call for repentance and baptism, the remnant of Israel who, by responding, was destined for cleansing and restoration as the true, eschatological people of God.”   Wright says that

The fact that Jesus accepted and endorsed the ministry of John the Baptist and launched his own ministry on the foundation of John’s shows that Jesus also saw his own mission in terms of the fulfillment of the great expectations of the restoration of Israel. If John was the one who had been sent to prepare Israel for its eschatological restoration by God himself, then Jesus was the one who had been sent to accomplish it.

There was something deep about Christ’s coming. We then see that Jesus preaches that the kingdom is at hand and is here. This means that the promises from the psalms of restoration had entered in history. We then see in Christ’s death the atonement for sin and in the resurrection the victory over it. Christ then tells his disciples that authority in both heaven and on earth had been given to Him. Jesus is not just King over some nebulous spiritual realm. He is Lord and King over all reality. He then tells his disciples to take that good news worldwide.

In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were to bear witness among the nations of God’s saving and redeeming rule. They failed but Jesus the true Israel and Son of God did not. Now in Christ we are fulfilling this mission.

Jesus was launched by a revival movement for the restoration of Israel. He himself launched a movement for the blessing of the nations. Jesus, therefore, was the hinge, the vital link between the two great movements. He was the climax and fulfillment of the hope of Israel and the beginning of the hope of the nations

This is incredibly good news. Sin can be forgiven and lives changed. Through this gospel, individuals, families, cultures and entire nations can be changed. We are called to a part of it.

Sometimes our eschatology hinders this. A pessimistic view of history and the future can lead people to see themselves as just holding on until being rescued out. Dispensationalism with its view of a secret rapture has led many Christians to avoid being salt and light in a real way in the culture at large. Why bother polishing brass on a sinking ship? Premillennial views miss this glorious picture of the kingdom of God. They miss the message that Jesus brought that in Him the kingdom of God had actually come. The promises of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets were coming true in Christ’s day. He was bringing the kingdom then and not at some later date. Amillennialism also fails on this same part. It misses the progressive growth of the kingdom into victory promised throughout the Old Testament and in Jesus’ teaching. Ultimately it is the Postmillennial view that accurately sees this thread of mission and victory woven throughout scripture. The Postmillennial view has always been such a great fuel for missions.   No wonder the period that we often call the Greatest Century of Missionary advance was also the time in which the Postmillennial view was the dominant one.

Jesus and His Old Testament Values

We have seen how the Old Testament provided the story, purpose, identity and mission of Jesus. Jesus had come to fulfill the mission of Israel to be a light to the nations. He did this through perfect obedience and by being a sacrificial atonement for the sins of His people. Through Jesus those who were far off are now made near to God.   Those born genetically Jewish and those born genetically Gentile are now in Christ united together as the true Israel of God. They are now called and enabled to continue the mission of Christ. Jesus commands his followers to share the good news of the gospel of the kingdom by making disciples, baptizing them, and teaching these new disciples to obey all that he commanded.

Wright now turns to these commandments and shows that Jesus’ commands are not a new or different law than what was revealed in the Old Testament. In Matthew, Jesus says that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Wright here does not go into a complete exposition on Matthew 5 but does make it clear that Jesus is not ending the requirements of the law. Greg Bahnsen wrote a complete exegesis of this passage. He says in “Theonomy in Christian Ethics, “fulfill” should be taken to mean “confirm and restore in full measure”. Wright’s view is similar.[1] Wright says that Jesus taught the validity of the law and made a point to correct misapplications and notions in his opponents. Christ in his teaching thus is restoring the full measure of the law.

In fact the nations are described as waiting for him to bring the law (Torah) and justice (mishpat) of God to them. In other words, the Servant has the task of making real to the rest of humanity the whole package of ethical values and social priorities that God had entrusted to Israel. Being a “light to the nations” includes this moral teaching dimension as well as the extending of the saving light of the covenant.

Wright explains that Jesus is not concerned merely with outward conformity to laws. This is not new to the New Testament, because in the revealing of the law in the Old Testament we see that God is concerned with “the whole shape of a person and society, the inner drives of the heart, the direction of the walk of life. “

It is important to realize that our justification and right standing with God does not come by our obedience but by the grace of God. Our obedience is only made possible by this grace. “The repeated command is to obey God’s laws wholeheartedly, since that is the way to life and blessing for a people who have already experienced God’s redemption.” The law is and never was a way to salvation. It is intended to show how those who are redeemed live.

Wright works through several motivations for keeping the law that Christians have. First as said above, obedience flows from gratitude for grace—in both Old and New Testaments. Another powerful motive is that the law is for our own benefit. The assumption behind this kind of motivation is that God, as the creator of human beings, knows best what kind of social patterns will contribute to human well-being.” God’s law used lawfully is good and protecting of life.   Living by God’s commands will generally bring benefit and happiness. A society built around these commands will generally prosper while a country in disobedience will find judgment.

The reality of God’s rule cannot be spiritualized into heaven (now or later) or privatized into individuals. Of course, it does have spiritual and personal dimensions, which are fundamental also. We are called to submit to God’s reign in our individual lives. But the term itself speaks of the aligning of human life on earth, in all its dimensions, with the will of the divine government of God. To pray “may your kingdom come” is to pray “may your will be done on earth as in heaven.” The one must produce the other. . .To enter the kingdom of God means to submit oneself to the rule of God, and that means a fundamental reorientation of one’s ethical commitments and values into line with the priorities and character of the God revealed in the Scriptures. The point of being Israel and living as the people of Yahweh was to make the universal reign of God local and visible in its whole structure of religious, social, economic and political life. It was to manifest in practical reality what it meant to live, as well as to sing, “the LORD reigns.”

Wright cannot be accused of having a truncated view of the gospel.   The Gospel saves sinners and souls. The Gospel does not stop there though. As people are saved their lives are changed. This change will naturally work itself out into every area of life. More can be said of this positive view of the law for the Christian life but the interested reader would be encouraged to seek out more along this work in the writings of Greg Bahnsen, RJ Rushdooney, or Gary North.  You can find must more at Chalcedon, The American Vision, and Apologia Radio.

Conclusions

Wright’s work here is an excellent introduction to Jesus through the Old Testament. There is not much to be critical of. Wright’s theme of mission through the Bible is refreshing as is his view that the law of God is still applicable today.   Of course there will be exegetical work to do to see where in the New Testament we are told that some parts of the law, i.e. the ceremonial aspect have a changed application in Christ. Work will need to be done to see what part of the law was a shadow of Christ such as the sacrifices. Another refreshing theme of Wright is that he has a whole life perspective of the gospel.   The gospel will have impact on economics and politics along with our spiritual lives.

One area that Wright could improve on is to be very clear about is the doctrines of grace. It is not that he does not acknowledge grace through faith alone but one can never overestimate the value of this doctrine. The biggest area of improvement is the lack of footnotes or endnotes. He does have a bibliography at the end but it would have been helpful to be able to track his research along with him.

Overall the book provides good insight into why Christians are to be the people of the book, both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus without the Old Testament is not Jesus. His mission, identity, and ethics get lost when we neglect to see how he comes into the Biblical story with its promises. This teaching is vital today in which Jesus is often ripped from his context to support all manners of evil. Wright is correct, the better we understand the Old Testament the better we understand Jesus.

[1] Bahnsen Greg, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, 3rd Ed. (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press, 2002), 67.

Every Saturday Morning

Tomorrow morning is Saturday morning, the day where most people look forward to so that they can sleep in.   It’s not like I enjoy hearing the alarm go off at 5:45 A.M.  I hit the snooze once or twice before rolling out of bed, hopping into the shower half awake, getting dressed and heading out to the car. Putting the car into reverse so I can back out of the apartment parking lot, I look forward to the day when this will not be necessary.   I turn the music up and collect my thoughts as I try to prepare for what will be a battle. It’s not that long of a drive before I turn onto Market Street in Louisville, KY.   The sun is still coming up but this street already has plenty of action.   Lining the sidewalk dressed in blaze orange vests, the deathscorts have already beat me to some of the best parking spots. What motivates the orange vests to come out every Saturday is a bit of a mystery to me.   They are faithful in a way that puts to shame a lot of those on my side including myself.   I drive past looking for a parking spot as they are lined up in front of the death mill.

It is an unsuspecting place, 138 West Market Street. The official name is the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, a name that masks its actual purpose.  The initials in the title stand for the last name of the three co-founders of the place. Two of them have already passed on to see their maker; the third still lives an exuberant lifestyle that the money from this place can provide. Just as understated as the name is the look of the building.   It has an awning that extends from over two glass doors to the sidewalk and two windows with the blinds drawn.   There is really nothing from the looks of the outside that would draw much attention to the horrific acts that occur inside.

Every Saturday morning, actually every day except Sunday, women come to EMW to have their pre-born child slaughtered. So I find my usual parking spot and head out of the car.   I meet up with a few other like-minded Christians, though there are far too few of us here. We pray and ask our Father in Heaven to shut this place.   We ask God to change the hearts of the women and men who come to this place. Around 7 AM, the doors to the death mill open up. Fortunately there are not any official parking places for customers of EMW so most of them have to park on the road and walk a distance to get to it.   And this is why I am there.   I notice a brand new Camaro sports car pull up to a parking meter. Inside is a man dressed in designer clothing and a young lady dressed in sweats.   Both of them get out the car.   I approach, with the hope of being able to offer assistance and some persuasive words that will help them decide not to go the abortion mill.

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Before I can get out the words “my name is,” two of the orange vested people barge in front of me. They do everything they can to try to ensure that the couple will not hear anything that I or other sidewalk counselors have to say.   And so begins the march to the death camp. We walk beside the couple, pleading for the life of their child. The deathscorts sometimes mock and sometimes swear.   Every once in a while a new deathscort will get too excited and try pushing us or use force in some other way.   Often those who are heading in to kill their child will get angry at someone pointing out the obvious fact that they are heading in to kill their child.   I am not motivated out of hate for them. I love them and their child.   I do hate though.   I hate that they are going to pay someone with the title “doctor” to tear their baby limb from limb.   I hate that Satan has so blinded the minds of the deathscorts that they actually think they are doing good instead of evil.   I hate that this place exists.   I hate having to get up early Saturday Morning.

I love Christ, my King, however. He has commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves.   He has called us to stand up and speak out for those who have no voice. He has called us to speak out against injustice.   So I stand with signs, tracts, and other believers.   We call to those headed toward death. We call for them to turn back.   We offer assistance. And most importantly we offer the good news that Christ died for them so that they do not have to continue on the path to destruction.

This particular Saturday, twenty-five women go into the clinic.   The deathscorts take off their orange vests and go home, job well done.   They don’t have to think about the guilt and pain those women will feel later that day, later that week, later that month, and for years after. Twenty-five women will have their womb robbed of the precious joy that God created, twenty-five mothers who through their own actions will not experience the joy of their little one smiling up at them.

Some Saturdays, not this particular one, in the midst of this tragedy there is joy to be found. Sometimes the deathscorts are not able to drown out our message of hope and love.   Sometimes, a child is saved from the gruesome grip of death. God works in the heart of a mother and she changes her mind. Sometimes she leaves before getting out of the car, other times she comes out of EMW.   But it is joyous and worth every 5:45 alarm. My prayer is that every Saturday morning, will see more and more of these stories.   My prayer is that no Saturday ever again will contain the horror of abortion. Join me in that prayer.
(For more information about becoming a side-walk counselor or getting involved in abolishing this modern day evil check out Abolish Human Abortion or the Abolitionist Society of Louisville.

Children at War

Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

We are at war. It is a long war that has already been won but one in which we still must engage.  “I believe the children are our future…” Whitney Houston sang in her tribute to self-love and idolatrous pride.  It is true though about children and the future.  It has been that way since the beginning.   In the Garden of Eden, God cursed the serpent and promised a war between the serpent and the children of Eve.   The serpent listened, got the message, and has been out to destroy the seed from the beginning.   This is precisely why children are always the target for evil.   They are not just collateral damage but are ground zero.   God promises Abraham children more numerous than the sands.   Later, Pharaoh when saw the sand growing and becoming too large to control, set about systematically executing children.   The False god, Moloch, demanded children to be sacrifice to him in return for prosperity (See Lev. 18:21; 20:2-5; 2 Kings. 23:10; Jer. 32:35).   God on the other hand says that children are gifts and blessings to be respectfully trained and taught the truth of the love of God (Psalm 127, Deut 6). “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior  are the children of one’s youth,” Douglas Wilson points out that there is more to this than the promise of cuteness:

Children are a heritage, a reward. But then the first metaphor is jarring, and perhaps not what we were expecting. Instead of saying that they are like a row of stuffed bunnies in a well-decorated crib, he says that children from the Lord are like a fistful of arrows. Children are arrows for the fist, and even more arrows for the quiver. For what occasion? Target practice? Costume parties? In the ancient world, the city gates were not only where defenders of a city would face invaders, but they were also what we would call the public square. Blessed was the man who had sons who stand with him in a crucial showdown at the city council. They were shoulder to shoulder behind him, and not over on the other side.

Cute and not-so-cute children  grow up to be men and women who are a force to be reckoned with.  The serpent gets this.  He realized that the seed of the woman would crush him.   In Matthew 2, Jesus is that seed. He is born and again the serpent through Herod sets his sights on the children.  This child is King of the universe, however, and will not be defeated..  This child grows up to be the arrow of all arrows greater than the black arrow of Girion, used to kill Smaug.  Jesus on the cross is bruised but the serpent is crushed. The Child defeats the snake. The victory is secure and all that is left is the victory march through time where the serpent will finally be thrown in Hell forever.

In the meantime, the serpent, though mortally wounded, still seeks to destroy the children.   And thus children are targets. Adolf Hitler said, “He alone who controls the youth, controls the future.”   But we send our children off to state run schools where they are indoctrinated into being good little slaves of the state.

Joel McDurmon writes at the American Vision on the beginnings of the state school system of the US in the 1800s:

Overrun by such Unitarian thought, Massachusetts was the first state to create a State Board of Education in 1837. As its first chairman, they placed Horace Mann. Of interest was the timing of the creation of this secular board: up until 1832, the Congregational Church was an established church in that state—receiving funding from the state to pay her ministers, etc. That was abolished in 1832 (Massachusetts was the last state to do so), and the state-funded education program was in place in only five years. And in that same year 1837, Mann brokered a political deal that immediately doubled the budget for public education. Common schools were already being funded in Massachusetts by local taxes, but this was the first centralizing of it by the State. The astute observer will note what many public school critics to date have pointed out—the established churches were kicked out and the public schools were made the de facto state-church in their place, but were now officially a secularized state-church, and the tyranny was doubled in the amount of money appropriated for it.

God’s word says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7) All knowledge and wisdom find their source in God. There is no truth or way of knowing truth apart from God.  Yet, we send our children to be “educated” for 8 or more hours a day where there is no mention of God as the foundation for any knowledge.   Voddie Baucham points to “Student-teacher sex scandals, student-student sex, immodesty, foul language, drugs, alcohol, radical homosexual agendas, teachers taking students for abortions, ‘sexting’ leading to suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, brutal beatings, and school shootings.  These are just some of the headlines that have become the norm.  And that does not include things like cheating, disrespect for authority, impropriety towards the opposite sex, and other moral behaviors children learn regularly and repeatedly in school.”

Van Til wrote about this type of education: “Non-Christian education puts the child in a vacuum…. The result is that child dies. Modern educational philosophy gruesomely insults our God and our Christ. How, then, do you expect to build anything positively Christian or theistic upon a foundation which is the negation of Christianity and theism?”   The enemy wants our children and unfortunately too many Christian’s send the gifts that God blessed them with to the enemy.

While the serpent loves to indoctrinate children, he enjoys killing them just as much. This week is the anniversary of Roe V Wade.   Since 1973, 56,662,169 children have been killed in the United States.   Makes Herod and Pharaoh look like the little league. We allow this evil to go unchecked for the most part. Republican politicians throw a bone to those against abortion during the campaign but very few of them do much more than give platitudes when in office.  All the while democrats are demanding to kill preborn babies anytime for any reason. Feminists scream about a woman’s right to choose to kill a woman in the womb and make you pay for it.

But the war has already been won.  Jesus defeated the serpent on the cross and has called us believers to be the church victorious.   The gates of hell shall not prevail. They are gates, not offensive weapons but defensive shields. We, Christ’s followers are on the offensive and are given the command to charge those gates. Those gates will fall.  So stand up believers, protect the children.   Quit sending them to Satan to be killed or indoctrinated.   Speak out about the evil of abortion.   Not just now at the anniversary of Roe V. Wade but all year. Stand strong and those gates will come down. The Children are the future and the future is a defeated Serpent and a Church standing victorious by the blood of the Lamb and the witness of our testimony. Don’t shrink back now!!

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