(According to the deathscorts website, $138.10 was donated because of me to pro-death causes. I think it would be great if several of you would help counteract her donation by matching it and giving it to P82ministries. We could use your donations to buy more signs, tracts, and to have to give to expectant mothers. If you are interested in donating to a ministry that is on the frontlines of battle, you can contact P82 ministries on our facebook page or you can contact me through email at Jspurgeon524@students.sbts.edu)
This week I received a high honor. I was declared by the pro-abortion clinic deathscort blog “Every Saturday Morning” to be their “top fundraising hateful anti of the day.” What an honor!
If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:14
There are several ways to teach a subject but the different approaches can be summarized as “tell them how” versus “show them how.” In Doctrine that Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life, Robert Smith relies heavily on the latter to instruct pastors in the importance of doctrinal preaching. His style of writing uses a lot of metaphors and pithy quotes to compare preaching to dancing and escorting. This brings an original approach to a book on preaching that when it succeeds, it hits a home run but when it doesn’t succeed it strikes out, leaving the reader unsure of what the metaphor really was meant to convey.
Robert Smith Jr. serves as Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity Beeson Divinity School where he teaches Christian Preaching. He formerly taught Christian preaching at The Theological Southern Baptist Seminary as well. He is obviously well versed in preaching and one gathers right away that the style of the book will be similar to a sermon. The reader can almost hear the writer preaching the material of the book in the way that he uses metaphors and pithy quotes and proverbs. Smith says that the book is about doctrinal preaching and handling the word of God in such a way as to bring joyous praise and glory to God. He works to drive home the importance of doctrinal preaching while at the same time providing various definitions of preaching from people through history before finally settling on his own definition. He summarizes his definition as “transformation through Christ.” Doctrinal preaching “is the escorting of the hearers into the presence of God for the purpose of transformation.”
Smith employs two larger metaphors to define doctrinal preaching and to build the rest of the book upon, an exegetical escort and a doxological dancer. He hangs the major themes of the books on these two metaphors. First, the role of the exegetical escort is to embrace the text of Scripture in order to be able to escort the hearer into God’s presence for transformation. One of the major themes of Smith’s book is that the text must be first interpreted correctly by the preacher and then internalized by the preacher. The preacher must sit under his own preaching. After having done this, then the preacher can exegete his audience and bring the text to bear upon them so that they will be confronted with the truths of scripture.
Smith says that the exegetical escort must rightly divide the word of God. He says that the sermon must come from the text and not imposed upon it. He says that doctrinal preaching will keep three focuses in mind, apologetics, polemics, and catechism. The exegetical escort will work to establish what the correct teaching and doctrine by arguing from the scripture while fending off false teachings and nourishing the sheep.
The second big theme of Smith’s book is that preaching must be balanced between the intellect and the emotional, the mind and the heart. He drives this point home with the doxological dancer metaphor. He shifts from content to style of delivery and back with this theme. The doxological dancer “is to communicate the doctrinal message of the Bible with accuracy and ardor so that the exuberant hearer exults in the exalting of God.” The doxological dancer internalizes the message for himself. He exegetes his audience. He then he can now deliver the message in such a way that his audience is moved by the content and delivery of the sermon.
He uses analogies of songs and also speaks of the history of African Americans to help drive home the importance of making the sermon dance. He says that you “Begin low; Proceed slow; Rise higher; Take fire; When most impressed Be self-possessed; To Spirit wed form, and Sit down in a storm.” He reminds the preacher that the gospel of Jesus Christ should not be boring. The preacher is escorting the people into the presence of the Lord and this should cause us to rejoice. It should change us. The audience is concerned with the “what”, the “so what” and the “now what” so the preacher must be able to answer these questions in a way that causes the listener to exalt God.
Another big theme for Smith is preaching with the power of the Holy Spirit. Here he uses a metaphor of jazz improvisation. He argues that a preacher must have internalized the sermon so well that he is not glued to the manuscript but is free to go as the Spirit leads. He does not diminish the importance of preparation because he has already spent ample time speaking about sermon prep. However, he is very adamant that the preacher must trust God through his preparation and especially in the delivery of the sermon. Finally, Smith ends with reminding the reader that preaching God’s word faithfully will have an effect upon the preacher and his listeners. The preacher should preach so that his listeners will be motivated to take that message to their neighbors, communities, families, and friends.
Smith is obviously an accomplished preacher and is masterful at telling stories. He uses that to good effect in this book. As said in the introduction, he seems to lean on showing how rather than telling how. That is, he relies heavily on applications of his points from metaphors, pithy quotes and parables. For some readers, this style may take a little getting used to. He doesn’t give clear and delineated points as in other instructional books but instead seems to flow from thought to thought seamlessly. This approach provides a good example of how a sermon can flow however it left me wishing for him have been a little clearer. His two big metaphors are the linchpin of the entire book. So we will begin with looking critically at them.
The exegetical escort fits his style of showing and not just telling. An escort comes along side someone and ushers them to where they need to be. Smith drives home the point that the preacher must sit under his own preaching first. This is especially helpful for a young preacher. The preacher cannot lead his people where he has not first been. This means that the preacher must spend time in the study preparing for the sermon. But he must also spend time in prayer embracing the sermon as well. He says that “If the preacher exults in the Lord in the prayer room and study, the channels will be open for the preacher to motivate the hearers to mutually participate in the exaltation of God in the pulpit.” He says that the three lines of public ministry, preaching, teaching, and administration must be undergirded and propped up by the three lines of private ministry, prayer, reading Scripture, and spiritual direction.
In the second metaphor, Smith describes preaching as doxologically dancing. This metaphor is not as strong as the prior. This is partially because Smith wants to keep some things undefined. He says that the mystery of doctrinal preaching makes it hard to define. Because of that he speaks in a lot of metaphors and parables. While this at times can be his biggest strength it also can be the biggest weakness. There was an entire chapter on jazz improvisation that made things muddier. I was never quite able to grasp exactly what point the metaphor was supposed to be making. He spoke of call and response during the sermon but outside of African American churches, there may not be must experience of this kind of back and forth during the sermon.
The doxological dancer is one who presents the sermon in a way that matches the content. This is helpful in acknowledging that we must engage our audience with emotions and examples that match the content of the text. Our delivery cannot be boring. Smith is very critical of those would preach in an unattached way. He also seems to suggest that for the Spirit to move there must be spontaneity. He in particular was not fond of liturgical worship styles because he says they keep God at arm-length. Those of us who hold to a more liturgical worship style believe that God has commanded certain things and certain ways that worship must be done. I think we must be careful to not over associate the movement of the Holy Spirit with spontaneity lest we become impulsive and disorderly.
While disagreeing with Smith on liturgical worship, he makes an important point about trusting in Christ while delivering the sermon. We must not be so full of pride that we think we must have complete control of every single second. Sometimes God uses our pauses or forgotten thoughts to drive home a previous point to the audience. God may bring to mind something that had not been thought of during the preparation but would be appropriate during the delivery. We cannot be so beholden to a manuscript that we become glorified readers. The challenge is to trust God in the delivery.
Equally important is the fact that we cannot assume that our hearers know the biblical stories. Smith says that in a previous generation, you might have been able to assume that the listener could fill in some of the details or backgrounds in more familiar passages. But he says that it is important that preachers not assume and instead to go ahead and provide that context. Secondly, we cannot assume that our listeners understand theological terms such as justification and sanctification. We must work to drive home these terms by illustrating them in terms that our listeners understand. He points to the example of Christ using parables. We also see this in what he calls the “biographical snapshots.” That is the bible uses narrative to place us in the story alongside the characters where we learn the doctrine that God is teaching us through them.
One danger that Smith points out is that preaching cannot be devoid of grace. He said that Paul always taught theology of grace before the theology of works. The gospel gives us the power for the works. I think we must be equally careful not to miss the role of God’s law to act as a mirror driving us to Christ. The commands of God are meant to be obeyed and our disobedience has created the need for Christ’s sacrifice. The law drives us to Christ and Christ empowers us to obey the law. There are ditches on either side. To focus on duty without position is to miss the Gospel and leave people dead in their sins. To focus on position without duty neglects one of the purposes of the Gospel, our sancrification.
Smith strongly points out that preaching is to be both to the mind and the heart. God’s word is not something to be merely assented to but it must be loved and obeyed. The preacher cannot be happy to only appeal to the intellect but must engage the emotions as well. I do wish that Smith would have shown better how to engage the heart as well as the mind. I also wonder if this might be a false dichotomy. Does not the mind engage the heart? Are they really separable? Obviously Smith means that the preacher must engage the emotions through the use of illustrations and other tools that make the passage hit home. He says that the use of hymns and stories help drive the doctrine to the heart in a way that other language cannot.
Dr. Smith’s unique style showcases what he is trying to drive home. He uses stories, music, illustrations, and quotes very well. This is at times where the book shines. Not coming from a similar background as him, it was interesting to see how he drew from his heritage to drive home the points. It is good to engage with cultures and traditions that one is not normally familiar with. Smith’s stories from slaves and their adoption of music to showcase their struggles were very interesting. Smith’s background here adds to preaching books a viewpoint that is not often found in them. I found some of the sources of his quotes a little questionable, however. Not of all of them were from orthodox preachers or theologians. But never the less I appreciated this viewpoint.
Robert Smith gives a good reminder to preachers that their task must be to honor the text of God’s word and to connect it with his hearers. The preacher must let the scripture define the doctrine and then present it in such a way that it moves the listener. Doctrine ultimately must drive our living. Smith gives many examples of this throughout and even ends the book with two sample sermons putting into practice what he outlined in the rest of the book. The preacher must be an exegetical escort ushering his people into the presence of God. The preacher must worship God in preaching. The preacher in this case is a doxological dancer embracing the doctrine in praise. If the preacher can accomplish this he will ensure that the audience will turn around and preach the sermon in their homes, at their jobs, and in the barbershops.
(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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 & 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.
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.
History can repeat itself.
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.
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
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.
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!!