Top Honors

(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

 

Continue reading

Advertisements

Yahweh’s Restoration Movement Cult and the Trinity

Trinity Graphic

Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, once wrote “False teachings emerge anew in every generation it seems, but inventing a new heresy is quite a challenge. After all, once every doctrine vital to Christianity has been denied, all that remains is a change in packaging.”[i]   Old heresies once declared anathema by Christians, every so often are brought out, dusted off, and repackaged into some new cult.   Doing street evangelism and abortion ministry, I’ve recently come into contact with some of these various cults. A couple of things that most if not all cults have in common is a redefinition of God and a works-based salvation.

A New Old Heresy

One such cult that I’ve recently come into contact with is a group that calls themselves “Yahweh’s Restoration Movement (YRM).”   They are a small sect of what is often called “The Sacred Name Movement” which in turn is an offshoot of the “Hebrew Roots Movement” which developed from the Church of God (Seventh Day) in the 1930s. The movement was influenced by Joseph Franklin Rutherford who named the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult which has a long line of false prophesies including the false prediction that Christ would return in 1925.[ii] The Sacred Name Movement is essentially a cross between 7th Day Adventism and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They advocate for the use of the sacred named of God (Yahweh) and the use of Christ’s name in Hebrew.   They put such an emphasis on pronouncing these names “correctly” that salvation is dependent in part upon getting this correct. This is humorous when one realizes that there are several different sects arguing over the correct pronunciation which disagree with each other. You can find some that say that Christ’s name must be written and pronounced as Yahshua while others may say Yeshua , Yehoshua, Yahushua, Yahoshua, Yaohushua, Y’shua or Yahshuah.

While it may seem harmless enough to debate over how to properly pronounce the name of Christ in Hebrew even though the New Testament was written in Greek, these cults have other more dangerous beliefs. They reject the Christian and Biblical doctrine of the Trinity while claiming that the Trinity is an invention of the 4th Century. They reject the eternal divinity of Christ rehashing the Arian heresy that Christians decidedly dealt with in the Nicene Creed. According to the website of the “Yahweh Restoration Movement” they believe that “The Son was created by the Father.”[iii] They believe that Jesus is a lesser being than God though they would claim that he is the Messiah. To deny the eternal divinity of Christ by making him into a created being thus denying the trinity is to fundamentally get wrong the revealed nature of God. To get this wrong is to get God wrong. It ultimately results in a created false god leaving those who hold these views to be relying on a god who does not have the power to save.   Ironically, while these cults are so intent on getting the name of God right they completely get wrong the nature of the one whose name they are so worried about.

So how can we respond to these cults? I will be writing a series of articles on this blog looking at the scriptural evidence for the eternal deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. Of course, Christians for almost two thousand years have been writing on the doctrine of the Trinity and yet this glorious doctrine still provides rich blessings for us to explore as we will never plumb the depths of the knowledge of who God is even in eternity. For the remainder of this article, I will provide a brief response to two challenges that these cults make towards Christianity regarding the trinity.

Those who hold to the views of YRM claim that the doctrine of the trinity is a pagan invention that the Church plagiarized into its beliefs during the 4th century. Again from the YRM website, “Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it… From Egypt came the ideas of a divine Trinity.”[iv] In a recent conversation I had with a YRM follower, I was told that it was not until 381 AD that the doctrine of the trinity was created because the early church fathers never taught the teaching of the trinity.   There are two basic accusations being made here:  1. Christians stole ideas from Pagans and 2. The Ante-Nicene (Pre-Nicene) Church Fathers did not teach the Trinity.   We will deal quickly with each below.

Christianity Stole from Pagans?

It is quite the internet fad today to argue that Christianity plagiarized from Pagans. The story usually goes that there were ancient Roman, Egyptian, or Middle Eastern Cults that all had gods who were born of virgins, were crucified, died, and were resurrected. Some usual candidates identified to have been copycatted by Christians are Mithra and Iris. Tektonics has an in depth article detailing the fallacies in this accusation regarding Mithra and Christ.[v] To summarize, the comparisons between these ancient mystery religions and Christianity are not even close. For example, the claim that Mithra was born of a virgin are false. Mithra was believed however to have been born out of a rock. Mithra was not crucified but was believed to have killed a bull. The more one studies these pagan religions the quicker one finds that any similarities are completely superficial.

In his “A Ready Defense”, Josh McDowell outlines four basic fallacies that people often commit when linking Christian accounts with mystery religions:

  1. Combinationism or universalism – This fallacy basically takes all the different mystery sects from 1500B.C. to 500 A.D., amalgamating them together, and saying that they are a coherent belief system from which Christianity borrowed. Many of these religions evolved greatly over that 2000 year time span. To say that Christianity stole this belief or that one when those beliefs weren’t necessarily even regarded as part of that system any longer (or had yet to be developed) is ridiculous.
  2. Coloring the Evidence – Basically, this error occurs when a critic distorts the teaching of the mystery religion by using Christian-type language to describe a belief – and then claiming that Christianity stole from it because the beliefs read similarly. In reality the mystery practice is usually something completely different in intent or symbolism that the Christian “counterpart”.
  3. Oversimplification – Many critics will find thing such as a resurrection story and then try to demonstrate how Christianity borrowed from this type of belief. Usually, this is at the expense of many crucial details that really differentiate the myth from the historic Christian account. Also, many of these stories aggrandize the myth more than is necessary.
  4. Who’s Influencing Whom? – This error happens quite often. It consists of assuming that because there is an element in an Eastern religion as well as in Christianity, the Christians must have borrowed from the Eastern tradition since that religion’s founder lived first. The problem is that Christianity was so aggressive in its spread over the Roman Empire and Asia, many of these religions adopted Christian symbology and practice in order to make their religion look more appealing to stop losing converts to Christians. This can usually be discovered by looking into the various practices of those religions and noting that a feature similar to Christianity wasn’t recorded or mentioned in any writing until after the Christian era had proliferated.[vi]

These claims then that Christianity aped pagan beliefs are ridiculous and unfounded in history. Any similarities have been grossly exaggerated.  In particular there are no ancient religions that have one God in three persons.  Let us supposed for a moment however that there were closer similarities than what we already find. What would that mean? Walter Martin wrote in  “The New Cults: “In order to find out if the doctrine of the Trinity is true, we do not look to see if it resembles paganism, but to the bible, to see if God teaches it in his word. Pagans also believe in the concept of God. Does this mean that God must not be true? Pagans sleep. Does that mean sleeping is wrong ? We must not dismiss an idea merely because it is held in common with those whom we may not approve.”[vii]

Church Fathers and the Trinity

Scripture is our authority and to it we must look for our beliefs because it is the very word of God. It is in the scriptures where we will find the doctrine of the Trinity. I plan to write a follow up article to this one where I will show from the scriptures the doctrine of the Trinity and the Deity of Christ. However, I will finish this article by addressing the second accusation that the doctrine of the Trinity was not taught by the early church fathers prior to the 4th century.

I will provide some quotes from a few of the church fathers. There are plenty more quotes to be found and read but these few will surely put to bed the notion that the trinity was a 4th century invention. You will notice that these early church fathers spoke of the deity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit using language reserved for God. The use of Trinitarian language is evident from the beginning of Christianity. Here are just a sample of quotes:

Mathetes 130 AD – “the holy and incomprehensible Word the very Creator and Fashioner of all things. As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so sent He Him; as God He sent Him; as to men He sent Him; as a Savior He sent Him the immortal One for them that are mortal” Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, ANTE Vol.1 pp.63,65

Polycarp 150 AD “Wherefore also I praise Thee [the ever-truthful God] for all things, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee, and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen” – Epistle of the church at Smyrna Ch.14 ANTE Vol 1 p.92

Ignatius of Antioch 117 AD “We have also as a Physician the Lord our God Jesus the Christ the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For ‘the Word was made flesh.’ Being incorporeal, He was in the body; being impassible, He was in a passable body; being immortal, He was in a mortal body; being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts,” -Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The ante-Nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975 rpt., Vol. 1, p. 52, Ephesians 7

Notice how this next quote refutes those who deny the divinity of Christ and those who would say that Christians borrowed from the Greeks and their idle tales:

Tatian the Syrian 170 AD “We do not act as fools, O Greeks, nor utter idle tales, when we announce that God was born in the form of a man.” – Address to the Greeks, ch. 21 ANTE Vol 2 p.149

Melito of Sardis 170-177 AD “The activities of Christ after his baptism, and especially his miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of the deity hidden in his flesh. Being God and likewise perfect man, he gave positive indications of his two natures: of his deity, by the miracles during the three years following after his baptism, of his humanity, in the thirty years which came before his baptism, during which, by reason of his condition according to the flesh, he concealed the signs of his deity, although he was the true God existing before the ages.” Anastasius of Sinai’s The Guide 13

Clement of Alexandria 190 AD “I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father.” – Stromata, Book V ch. 14 ANTE Vol.2 p.970

Tertullian 205 AD “”The connection of Father and Son, of Son and the Paraclete [Holy Spirit] makes three who cohere in a dependent series. And these three are one thing; not one person.” – Against Praxeas ch.25

“The Son of God is identical with God. The Spirit of God is God.” – Against Praxeas ch.26

“We define that there are two, the Father and the Son, and three with the Holy Spirit, and this number is made by the pattern of salvation . . . [which] brings about unity in trinity, interrelating the three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are three, not in dignity, but in degree, not in substance but in form, not in power but in kind. They are of one substance and power, because there is one God from whom these degrees, forms and kinds devolve in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” (Adv. Prax. 23, PL 2.156-7).

 

In Conclusion:

To deny the trinity is to deny the very character of God.   It is to deny who God is and thus to make an idol for oneself.   It is an old heresy repackaged in a new cult. Yahweh’s Restoration Movement and its sister sects ultimately reject the real Christ and diminish the glory due the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have briefly looked at two fallacious arguments put forth by these heretical groups. The doctrine of the trinity was taught and believed by the early church. Because of the Arian controversy, the church convened a council to deal with this heresy in the 4th century but the teaching of the doctrine predates that council.   Not only does this teaching predate that council it can be found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible.   In the next article in this series, we will examine the scriptures to see what they say in regards to the Trinitarian nature of God.

[i] . “There Are No New Heresies — New Thought Isn’t New | AlbertMohler.com,” accessed December 7, 2015, http://www.albertmohler.com/2007/03/30/there-are-no-new-heresies-new-thought-isnt-new/.

 

[ii] “Jehovah’s Witnesses and Their Many False Prophecies,” CARM – The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, accessed December 7, 2015, https://carm.org/jehovahs-witnesses-and-their-many-false-prophecies.

 

[iii] “Is the Messiah Yahshua a Lesser Being or Is He Yahweh?,” accessed December 7, 2015, http://www.yrm.org/onenessqa.htm.

 

[iv] “Astonishing Bible Truths That Your Church Never Taught,” accessed December 8, 2015, http://www.yrm.org/astonishingtruths.htm.

 

[v] http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/mithra.php

 

[vi] “Are There Pagan Origins of Christianity?,” accessed December 8, 2015, http://www.comereason.org/pagan-origins-of-christianity.asp.

 

[vii] Walter Martin, The New Cults (Santa Ana, Calif: Vision House Pub, 1980).

 

One Kingdom Shall Remain

US-JUSTICE-GAY-MARRIAGE

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)”

the-statue
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.

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.

10930935_368265610024557_3261499297986181640_n

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.

The Purpose and Practice of Marriage – Ephesians 5

marriage supper

(What is the Purpose of Marriage?   Here is a sermon I recently preached on the Purpose and Practice of Marriage.)

 

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:22-33

 

Introduction:

A while back, a friend of mine posted a video on Facebook entitled “Dad, How Do You Like Your New IPad.” I got a pretty good laugh from it.    Let me describe it for you.  It is about a minute long clip that opens up on two adults, a daughter and her elderly dad, working on a salad in the kitchen.   The daughter asks the dad who is busy chopping up onions in the background if he likes his new iPad.   He likes it pretty well, he says.  She then asks if he has figured out how to download apps. However, just as she gets that question out of her mouth, he turns around and you can see that he is using the iPad as a cutting board.   He proceeds to scoop the onions off the iPad, rinse off the iPad in the sink and then stick it into the dish washing machine. The whole time the daughter just stands with her mouth wide open.   The dad looks at her standing mouth agape and says with a confused look of his own, “what’s the matter.”   It reminds me of when my daughter Jasmine was younger.   She is a pretty sneaky little girl. She somehow got a hold of my cell phone when I laid it down within her reach. Plop, straight into her mouth it went. She followed up that by using it like a hammer to beat on her toys.   I guess what I am trying to say is you can’t trust old people and babies with technology . . . just kidding.   What you see in these examples is that if you don’t know what a thing exists for, you will end up using it wrongly.   You may even break it.   To say it a different way, if you don’t know the purpose of a thing you will end up abusing the thing.

Marriage is an institution that so many people in our day do not understand the purpose of. If we were to take a survey among people in this room and ask what the purpose of marriage is, we would probably get back several different answers.   Our culture is so confused about marriage.   And this confusion is leading to a misuse, neglect, and abuse of what marriage is supposed to be. A few examples will show how prevalent this confusion about marriage has become.   A recent study done by the Pew Research Center has shown that after decades of declining marriage rates and changes in family structure, the share of American adults who have never been married is at a historic high. When these people are surveyed regarding the role marriage plays in society, they reflect an attitude regarding marriage that shows why these marriage rates are lowering. The Pew Research Center finds a public that is deeply divided over the role marriage plays in society. Survey respondents were asked which of the following statements came closer to their own views: Society is better off if people make marriage and having children a priority, or society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children. Some 46% of adults chose the first statement, while 50% chose the second.   As marriage rates are dropping, divorce rates remain still too high. According to an Enrichment Journal article on the divorce rate in America, the divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%. The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%. The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%.   During the time that marriage rates have been dropping, support for allowing two men or two women to get married has been increasing.   In 1989, 69-79% of Americans opposed allowing homosexuals to marry.   In 2014, 59% are now in favor.   Also add in the fact that according to a USA Today story, between 1990 and 2012, the percentage of unmarried couples living together more than doubled.   NBC news reported that by the time they’re 20, 1 in 4 women ages 15 to 44 in the U.S. have lived with a man, and by the time they’re 30, that ratio climbs to 3 in 4.

What does this all mean? To summarize, more people are living together instead of committing in marriage, too many people get married who will not stay married, and too many people think that marriage is something other than what really is.   When we do not know the purpose of something, we will abuse it.   Fortunately, God has provided us with the answer so that we can know about what the purpose of marriage is.   Please turn in your Bible’s with me to Ephesians 5:22-33.   As we look at this passage today, we will be drawing out two primary points.   We will first see the purpose of marriage is to be a physical, tangible symbol and sign that shows off God’s love for His people. And next, will see how this purpose leads us to rightfully practice marriage in our homes, community, and church. The purpose will lead to the practice.

Purpose:

Let’s begin by looking at the purpose of marriage.  But before we look at the specific purpose of marriage, let’s lay down a principle that should guide us whenever we are looking at the purpose for anything.   Two passages in particular help us with this principle.   Romans 11:36 says “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” And Colossians 1:16 says “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” The principle is this: All things are created by God through Christ and find their purpose in Him. All things exist to bring God glory. God burns with a white-hot passion to make his Glory known in the entire universe. Therefore, all things both good and bad exist to give God glory. Whether it is through the display of his wrath and justice on evil or the display of his mercy, grace, and love in all goodness, all things were created for God’s glory.   You and I exist to showcase God’s glory.   Marriage also was created by God to demonstrate God‘s glory.   This is the principle behind all things.

 

With God’s glory the ultimate purpose, how does marriage complete this purpose?   There are many secondary ways marriage brings God glory. These include operating as a tool to sanctify Christians, to overcome loneliness, and to provide for the procreation of the species but marriage’s ultimate fulfillment of its Godly purpose is listed here in Ephesians 5. As we look at this passage, you see two lines of thought moving about it. There is the very real practical instruction regarding husbands and wives given here.   But underlining all of this practical instruction is a larger glorious theme. You will see throughout this passage the phrases “As to the Lord” and “As Christ. “ These phrases occur 6 times in this brief passage.   All the practical instruction in this passage is tied to these phrases. We are to obey these practical instructions because they are done “as the Lord” or “as Christ” has. Verse 31 and 32 bring into clarity what this all means. Here in these two verses we are given what marriage primarily exists to accomplish.   Marriage exists to bring God Glory by being a tangible, visible, and living picture of God’s love for His people.   Marriage is a symbol.

 

All throughout the Bible, God uses physical acts or objects to act as visible signs to represent abstract and invisible ideas.   Children often have a hard time with abstract ideas.   For example, when teaching a child to add we often use blocks or toys.   Addition using only numbers with no corresponding concrete object like finger so toes to count is a very hard concept for a child to learn.   When reading stories to children, we use books with larger colorful pictures that often pop out.   This is also one of the reasons that movies and TV shows for even many adults have become such a popular way of imparting ideals and philosophies.   A picture is equal to a thousand words.   God throughout the bible has used visible signs to represent something else.   He used the rainbow to represent his covenant promise to Noah. God uses the sacrifices in the Old Testament to point to Jesus’ sacrifice. We have other physical signs such as circumcision, Passover feasts, the Lord’s Supper, and Baptism.   These all represent far greater things than just their immediate application.   We see here in Ephesians that marriage was created by God to also be a sign or symbol.

 

Marriage is a sign to all the world of God’s love for His elect people.   Paul quotes Genesis 2: 24 here to explain this.  So like Paul let’s take a quick tour through the Bible to see this picture at work.   This tour is going to be a quick fly over so we are not going to be landing on any one verse for an extended time.   There are however plenty of sources of information on these passages to help guide you in a deeper study on them.

Sit back and put your seat belt on as we take this biblical tour.   If you will look out your right side window, you will see first up on our tour of marriage in the Bible, that marriage goes all the way back to the beginning. In Genesis, God creates Adam alone.   None of the animals are a suitable helper to Adam, so God created Eve to be a companion to Adam. Genesis 2:24 describes this first marriage and how it relates to all others. This is the verse that the apostle Paul quotes:“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”   What we see in here is more than just the introduction of Adam to Eve.   We see that marriage is a gift and is itself an example of God’s love for Adam and all mankind.   Marriage from the beginning is tied up with the love of God.   Next, in Genesis 3, we have the temptation and fall of mankind.   In the fall, the marriage order is turned on its head as Eve takes the spiritual lead and Adam neglects his responsibility to lead his wife. Satan attacks marriage from the beginning. He knows it is to be a picture of God’s love so Satan attacks it. Adam and Eve fall. God gives out curses in this passage and explains that because of sin, child-birth will be harder and that marriage will also be tough. God also gives the promise though that it is through the birth of a child, in particular Jesus that all will be restored.

It is in Exodus that God rescues his people from slavery in Egypt.   God renews his covenant with descendents of Abraham at Mount Sinai by the giving of His law. This covenant ceremony is in many ways similar to a wedding ceremony.  The covenant is of course also alike a marriage.  This may be one of the reasons that in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, Marriage and family is protected strongly in 3 of the Ten Commandments. There are various laws in Deuteronomy protecting marriage, prohibiting adultery, and calling for the purity of virginity. God’s people are to abstain from sexuality immorality in part because our sexuality is to be a picture of the commitment of God’s church to be pure.  Also in Deuteronomy, we see the first indication that idolatry is like infidelity in marriage. Deuteronomy 31:16 explains to Moses that the Israelites will commit spiritual adultery.   They will break their covenant vows. Yet God will be true to his vow. This theme is picked up greatly in the later prophets.   What is certain here is that God’s love for his people is the ultimate marriage and for his people to follow other gods is for them to play the part of a prostitute.

The entire book of Ruth is a love story that beautifully showcases marriage as a picture of God’s love.   We see in the book of Ruth, God bringing into his covenant a woman who would not normally have been included. She is included by marriage. Marriage as a picture of God’s love for the nations is shown in the inclusion of this foreign woman.   Ruth of course plays a huge part in redemption history.   She is the ancestor of  David and more importantly Jesus.

In the books of Psalms and Proverbs, marriage is both praised and compared to God’s promises.   In perhaps what is the strongest example yet in our tour of the Bible is the book of Song of Songs.   This book is a poetic account of marital love, fidelity, and intimacy. The early Jewish rabbis taught that the book pictures God’s love for Israel. Early Christian writers took the same approach. One writer in the third century wrote a ten-volume commentary on Song of Solomon, telling how the book describes God’s love for Christians.

Finishing up the Old Testament, we come to the prophets.   It is here we that God’s love for his people and his people’s commitment or lack of commitment is compared to a bride and groom.   Isaiah 49:18 speaks of God clothing his people like a bride. Isaiah 61 continues this message of God clothing his people with beauty, dignity, and love like a bride.   Isaiah 62 includes this beautiful passage:

“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

Jeremiah and Ezekiel also make frequent use of this comparison.   Chapter 16 of Ezekiel is lengthy but in beautifully poetic terms it says that even though we have all went after false Gods and committed spiritual adultery, God is a loving groom that calls us back to Him.   God calls people from among all the nations to be His. He will cleanse their sin and make them pure as a virgin bride.

Hosea the prophet makes this point even more clear because God uses Hosea’s life and marriage to deliver this point. Hosea is told by God to marry a woman who will cheat on him and get herself sold into sex slavery. Hosea though loves his unfaithful wife and buys her back from prostitution. God uses this living picture to show that God loves and redeems sinners through Christ.

The Old Testament is clear. God’s love for us is compared to marriage.  Entering into the New Testament we are again greeted with this picture.   Jesus’ first public miracle is at a wedding. He institutes his blessing on the wedding and begins his ministry celebrating marriage.   Jesus also over and over refers to himself as the Bridegroom. He points the Old Testament promises of God to save his people and to love them. Jesus uses this marriage them all throughout his ministry and sermons.    Jesus is the ultimate groom who lays down his life to love his bride. Finally in Revelation of  we are told of the marriage supper of the Lamb.   It is His second coming that Jesus’ union with his people, the Church will be completed and celebrated.

And this concludes our tour of the Bible and we arrive back to our passage in Ephesians 5 now after having gone through the entire Bible.   We have seen that marriage is used extensively as a picture of God’s love for his people. We see this fully illustrated in the life, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ for his people.   This lines up exactly with what Ephesians 5 says.   In fact, Ephesians 5 goes a step further. God’s love is not just compared to marriage but true marriage here is compared to God’s love. That is the reason that God’s love throughout the bible is compared to marriage is because marriage itself is supposed to be a display God’s love.   Marriage exists to be a picture that we can witness in our lives and the lives others.   Marriage shows us the love of God for his people.     This is the primary mission of marriage.

We see in this passage that Jesus does 6 things for His bride, the Church.  Verse 25, Jesus loves His bride. He gives himself sacrificially also in verse 25. He sanctifies and makes pure the church  in verse 26. He presents her to the Father proudly in verse 27. Finally in verse 29, Christ nourishes and cherishes the church. This is that amazing grace and amazing love we sing about. This is what our marriages are meant to be and meant to point to.

If Marriage’s purpose is to point us to the love of God in Jesus, then knowing this will inform our understanding of the practice of marriage.   Again, the picture shows us the practice.

The Practice of Marriage:

 There are several things that knowing the purpose of marriage will lead us to understand.   We now know that marriage is about more than just romantic feelings.   It is a picture of self-sacrifice and commitment.   Marriage is also exclusive, that is it is only between one man and one woman. Today this part is under attack  in our country.   Marriage however is only between two people of the opposite sex.   It is the union of a bride and a husband, not a husband and husband. Nor is it mean to between three or more people.   Marriage is clearly defined in the bible this way both in the Old and New Testament.

Two objections are usually given here. The first objection is to say that Jesus himself did not forbid homosexuality or homosexual marriage.     This objection really misunderstands the nature of scripture and overlooks what Jesus does say about marriage. The argument that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality presumes that the rest of scripture are not the words of Christ. Jesus and the Holy Spirit co-exist in the Godhead and have been in perfect and eternal communion from eternity past. It is Holy Spirit – God Himself – who inspired all of the Bible, including epistles like Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy where homosexuality is addressed. Secondly, as already mentioned on our tour the Bible, Jesus in the Gospels does address marriage frequently.   He points to the same passage in Genesis that Paul uses here in Ephesians to say that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The second objection regarding marriage that some people make is to point to those in the Old Testament who had more than one wife.   To answer this objection we must be able to differentiate between prescriptive and descriptive texts.   For example when we go to a doctor with an illness, the doctor first diagnoses and describes our sickness to us.   He then proceeds to prescribe for us a medicine to cure the sickness.   Descriptive texts in the Bible merely describe the way things were.   They are not necessarily commandments or even models for us to follow.   The Bible describes a lot of things.   The Bible does not sugar coat things either. It describes the Old Testament kings and prophets, warts and all.   Prescriptive texts on the other hands are commands for us to follow.   We see that marriage in the Bible time was under attack just as today.   God warns the people that if they marry many wives they will face many bad consequences.   And often the Bible describes how this disobedience and distortion of marriage leads to the downfall of many great people including King Solomon.

The Bible is clear that marriage is between one man and one woman for life.   It is a permanent institution that is to endure during the life of the bride and groom. Malachi 2:16 says that divorce is violence.   Marriage is established by God and what God establishes should not be broken by man.   We do not have time to go into all of the teachings on divorce today but needless to say, divorce is never a good thing.

Because marriage is a picture of God’s love, it is fitting that marriage occurs all around the world.   People from all nations marry.  All nations are able to see this picture of God’s love.   Marriage as an institution is not just limited to Christians though its message is decisively Christen.   Christians however should seek to only marry believers. Single Christians should not become unequally yoked with a non-Christian.   Charles Spurgeon says this “When husbands and wives are well yoked, how light their load becomes!”   This is so true.

            Because Marriage exists from the beginning,  it is not primarily or even secondarily a political institution. The government’s involvement should only be limited to acknowledging what God has already declared marriage to be.   No Senate, House of representative, President or Supreme Court can change what marriage is.   They can try all they like but calling something marriage that can not be marriage does not change what is not marriage into marriage.  It is not up to popular vote.   Nations, politicians, and voters who seek to challenge God’s definition will ultimately face judgment for their distortion of God’s picture.

And lastly and as personal application for us today, our marriages as Christians should reflect the love of Christ. This love will reflect to our spouses and from there the world will see displayed in our marriages God’s grace. This points us to the very practical instruction in these verses.   This instruction is commanded by our Lord but has gone out of vogue in our current times.

We see from this practical instruction that because marriage is a picture of Jesus’ love for His church, husbands are love their wives sacrificially overlooking weaknesses and imperfections.   Just ask Jesus laid down his life for the Church, husbands are called to sacrificial love.   Just as Jesus sanctifies and makes the Church pure, husbands are watch out for their wives purity. They are to protect their wives spiritual life.   Husbands and men, this means first putting away all sexual immorality and lust from your own lives. You cannot protect the purity of your family and wife if you are looking at pornography in your private time.   Nothing will kill a marriage quicker than sexual immorality.   And the sad fact is that there are men who go to church every week yet go home and look websites that distort the beauty of the sexuality that God has given us to use within the confines of marriage.   Men or women if you are caught up in this destructive behavior there is hope, forgiveness, and cleanliness in Christ.   Repent and put your faith in Him. You also need to seek help by contacting other godly men if you are man or other godly women if you are a woman.  To repeat, husbands you are to guard the purity of your wife.  This means that husbands also lead their wives to follow Christ.   Husbands are to be the spiritual leader in their home.   You wife should not have to drag your butt out of bed on Sunday morning to get you to go to  church. You are the one who should be leading your wife and your family into a closer relationship with Christ.

Wives you are called submit to the loving leadership of your husbands. Just as the church submits to Christ, you are to follow your husband’s leadership. Submission is not welcome in our current culture but yet it is what God calls you to.   This is not a weakness as many may think. Christ himself is an example of submission. The night that he would be arrested and crucified, Jesus while gathered with the twelve disciples washed his disciples’ feet.   The Bible says He did this knowing full well that He was the king of the universe.   Jesus was also able to submit to the will of His father because he was motivated out a love for Him. Wives out of love for the Father and for your husband, you can submit to your husband knowing that you are the daughter of the King.

Wives and husbands pray for each other.   Wives and husbands keep the marriage bed undefiled. Wives and Husbands lead their children.   In all of this, we display to the world and to each other the love of God.

 

Conclusion:

So in conclusion all of this points us back to the savior who is full of grace and mercy, a savior who bought his bride at a great price, a bride who often plays the part of a prostitute  caught in adultery.   The church is made up of people who do not deserve the love of God yet he willfully sacrificed all for their sake.   Marvel at the love of this Savior.   Charles Wesley wrote a hymn that perfectly recounts his love

“And can it be that I should gain An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain— For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me? Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”     That is the picture that marriage is meant to be. May we all submit to that love and may all of our marriages beautifully display that picture.

 

How to become a Christian? The Gospel in Four Words

what_is_the_gospel4

The Gospel can be stated using four words: God, Man, Jesus, Response. Let me unpack each of those words briefly and you will understand the Gospel and how to become a Christian.

God: It all begins with God. The Bible in its first verse (Genesis 1:1) says that “In the beginning, God created. . .” God is the author of life and creator of everything we see. He is not only creator but owner of everything. Job 41:11b says” Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.” Because God is creator and owner, He determines the purpose of everything and everyone. God is also Holy and commands us to be Holy. Leviticus 19:2 God created us to be Holy and to live in relationship with Him. The word “Holy” has a lot of meaning but it essentially means that we are to be pure and free from evil. This leads us to the second of the four words.
Man: Mankind was created by God and thus are His. God revealed to Man how they should obey him. God’s commands can be summarized in two commands: Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. People however since the creation have not obeyed. Beginning with Adam and Eve people have rejected God’s ownership and commands. The Bible says that we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Sin is disobedience to God. Sin also separates us from God. Isaiah 59:2 says “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Since God is the source of life and all that is good; separation from him leads to destruction and evil. The Bible says what we earn with our sin is death. (Romans 6:23). If you look around at the world or watch the news you can see the effects of sin everywhere. But the effects of sin don’t only affect our life in this world, Sin also will be judged by God. Just as everyone will die, they also will be judged after death. (Hebrews 9:27). Everyone has sinned and has lived in rebellion against God. This punishment is a terrifying thing because God is a just and holy God who cannot and will not allow sin to go unpunished. God however also loves, which leads us to the next of the four words.
Jesus: God loves us and thus wanted to make a way to both punish sin and forgive us. God decided to take the punishment sin upon himself in our place by sending His Son, Jesus to live and die on the cross (John 3:16, Romans 5:8) Jesus was born, God in the flesh. He obeyed God’s law and lived a Holy life free from sin. Yet ,He chose to take our sin and punishment upon himself and die. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that God made Jesus to be sin even though he did not sin, so that we might become righteous. He did this as 1st Peter 3:18 says by suffering in our place so that we might be forgiven by God. The prophet Isaiah prophesized that this would take place years before Jesus would come. Isaiah said “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Jesus however not only died but defeated death by rising from dead. Jesus did this so that we might have a right relationship with God and this demands a response.
Response: Our response to the good news that Jesus died for our sins is to turn from our sins and to put our faith in Jesus. Romans 10:9 says it this way, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” We realize the evil in our hearts and the rebellion that we have against God’s commands. We then throw ourselves at His mercy and accept the gift of salvation that is offered in Jesus. Becoming a Christian is not about trying to do more good things but is about trusting in what Jesus has already done in our place. We respond to the Gospel by faith. This is not a blind faith but a trust in the reliability of Jesus. We can trust Jesus because he loves us and because he did rise from the dead. When we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, God places on us the righteousness that Jesus earned and removes the guilt and shame of our rebellion and sin. One of Jesus’s followers, Paul wrote that when someone trusts in Jesus, they become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). They are forgiven and will have eternal life. Jesus said in John 5:24. “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
How does one become a Christian? Admit that you are a sinner deserving of judgment. Believe in your heart in what Jesus did on the cross. Confess and make Jesus Lord of your life.

If you have responded to the Gospel today, send me a message and I would love to follow-up with you.

Is the OT God immoral?

morality-sign1

A friend of mine and I were having a discussion about the existence of God on facebook.  And we came to the issue of the moral argument for God.    Without posting our entire discussion I will post a  comment of mine followed by his response.

My Facebook post:  I have to also say something to my friend’s denial of the moral argument. Facebook friend stated “As for the Objective Moral Values and Duties, there is no such thing as objective moral values. There are only subjective moral values. If they were objective, they would be universal to every man, woman, and child on the planet. They are not. Therefore, false.”There are several problems with your critique. First of all you misunderstand what Objective means. To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so. It is to say this morality is universally binding on everyone whether they believe it or not. And if you argue that there are no such things then you must then be arguing for subjectivity. But there are objective morals. I can give you one. It is wrong no matter who you are or where you live whether you believe it or not to sexually abuse a 2 year old. This is objectively wrong and evil. If you are going to deny objective morality then you have to be open to the possibility that somewhere sexually molesting a 2 year old might be right. Ultimately you would have no grounds for objecting to anyone who would molest a 2 year old other than to say that it is wrong for you but it might be right for them.. No reasonable person would accept this. The reasonable man knows in his heart that there are objective morals even if he may not know all of them.

Now here is his response:

Ok, I’ve thought about it for awhile, and I will now try to present my argument. First of all, I want to say that I would love if not only child rape, but all rape was universally immoral. Unfortunately, not only in our culture in the USA, but all around the world, rape of women is somewhat acceptable. In the USA, we have a ridiculously high rate of blaming the victim or not even believing the victim. In other parts of the world, the victim is completely blamed and often times put to death. Now if morals are objective and created by God, then what is God’s (not Jesus in the New Testament) stance on rape? Here is Deuteronomy 21:10-14,”When you go out to war against your enemies and the LORD, your God, delivers them into your hand, so that you take captives, if you see a comely woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as wife, you may take her home to your house. But before she may live there, she must shave her head and pare her nails and lay aside her captive’s garb. After she has mourned her father and mother for a full month, you may have relations with her, and you shall be her husband and she shall be your wife. However, if later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom, if she wishes it; but you shall not sell her or enslave her, since she was married to you under compulsion.” While one can argue that this constitutes a marriage by God, it is still rape, and it is ordered by God. This isn’t even the worst part. There are Bible verses that claim God tells Israeli soldiers when they conquer places to throw babies off the city walls. How is that moral? This may be the Old Testament, but Christians still claim this is the inspired and perfect Word of God. Well, at one point in history, your God condoned and ordered both rape and child murder. These are not moral values you have now, and these are not moral values I have. They are your Objective Moral Values and Duties, though, since they are God’s Word and Law. Isn’t that where you said Objective Morals come from? I can’t accept the morals of a god that orders baby murder.

Because his question is a good one, I want to give it a fair response.  Therefore this blog post will serve as that response.

I want to begin by first restating what I mean by objective morals. Objectivity means that it does not depend on human opinion or knowledge. It is simply valid and binding, regardless of human opinion. This means that the objective morals are not dependent upon public opinion or popularity. We also need to be careful to understand what “objective “ does not mean. One of my favorite Christian thinkers William Lane Craig describes objectivity as opposed to absolute:

“The reason I think it preferable to talk about objective moral values and duties rather than absolute moral values and duties can best be seen by considering their opposites. The opposite of “objective” is “subjective.” The opposite of “absolute” is “relative.” Now very little reflection is needed to see that “relative” does not mean “subjective.” Just because one’s moral duties are relative to one’s circumstances doesn’t in any way imply that they are subjective, that there is not an objectively right or wrong thing to do in such a situation.”

He goes on to say :

“Absolute” means “regardless of the circumstances.” “Relative” means “varying with the circumstances.” We can agree, for example, that it is not absolutely wrong to kill another person. In some circumstances killing another person may be morally justified and even obligatory. To affirm that one’s moral duty varies with the circumstances is not to say that we have no objective moral duties to fulfill.

This distinction is important to remember for the moral argument as evidence for God.

Now having said that I want to get into your objection. If I may summarize your objection I think you are saying (correct me if I am wrong) that if there are objective morals then it seems contradictory for God to be commanding the destruction of a people or nation. You would say that God himself is being immoral here. Now the first and easiest way to dismiss your argument would be to say that if you don’t believe in objective morality than you have no real case for saying that God commits an immoral act. Since morality is subjective, you have no real grounds to object to anything. Which is why in my post above I pointed out that you do not have grounds to say that child molestation is wrong.  In a way your question betrays your spoken belief in subjective morality.

However, I think it would be fairer to you to say that your objection about God commanding certain things is that they may seem to go against objective morality. It would seem to be an internal contradiction to Christianity and thus based upon the coherence theory of truth,  Christianity doesn’t hold up.  This is where I want to devote the rest of my time.

I will not be addressing specifically your issue of rape and the legal code for punishment and protection of women. Instead I will just give you a link to a source that I think deals well with that issue.  The link to that article gives a fair  look at the issue from both a Christian and Jewish perspective. However, while i will not be addressing that issue specifically, what I have to say will still cover it in principle.

This leads us to what I believe to be the core of your argument. It has been called the Moral Monster argument and is often used by the likes of Richard Dawkins.  We need build a solid foundation to work with when dealing with this issue. Therefore, I want to go through the Old Testament and pull out some things we can learn from it about God. This section of my argument will also address the idea that the OT God is different from the NT God. I know you didn’t bring up that objection but I might as well kill a couple of birds with one stone.

The first thing we learn from the Old Testament is that God is the creator and lawgiver.  It is because God created everything that He has the right to do with His creation as He pleases and to command of it what He pleases. At first glance that could be a scary thing especially if God is this moral monster as Dawkins likes to accuse him of being. However,  we learn from the Old Testament  that the commands of God issue from Him as a reflection on his character. What does the character of God look like from the Old Testament?

Well, the OT points out that God is good. His goodness causes Him to create good things.  In the much maligned first book of the Bible, God says of his creation, Gen. 1:31, “that it is good.” God’s creation not only showcases his awesome power but it also showcases his love for people. Psalm 8 says it like this :

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

I don’t know about you but I find it pretty amazing that the God who created the entire universe of unimaginable scope and measure still thinks of mankind as a special creation. He gives us dominion over His creation. Because of his love for us, he gave mankind such an awesome responsibility. The OT continues on describing the love of God. Here are just a handful of the verses that speak of God’s love:


The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. (Ex 34:6-7) “Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the LORD. (Jer 31:20)

I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. (Jer 32:40-41)

The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” (Hos 3:1)

The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.
(Ps 145:14-17)

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
(Ps 146:7-9)

In particular, God’s love and concern for people who are disadvantaged is frequently mentioned throughout the OT. The law contained several rules for treating orphans, widows and foreigners fairly and providing for their needs (e.g. Dt 24:10-22).

But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless…
You hear, O LORD , the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
(Ps 10:14, 17-18)

Craig says, “You can’t read the Old Testament prophets without a sense of God’s profound care for the poor, the oppressed, the down-trodden, the orphaned, and so on. God demands just laws and just rulers.”

God is love but there is also another aspect of God. He is just. In fact, his love demands that he be just. He must punish evil. But even in his justice he is merciful. We see in the OT that He literally pleads with people to repent of their unjust ways that He might not judge them. “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ez. 33.11).

The story of Jonah is a story of God’s mercy upon a wicked and evil people. God sent Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh that He would punish their evil ways. Jonah didn’t want to go because He knew if the people repented God would spare them.

God’s judgement is anything but whimsical or arbitrary. When God announces to Abraham his intention to destroy Sodom, God is willing to spare the cities for the sake of righteous people.

“Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen. 18.25).


One last verse will suffice to showcase God’s patience and desire to withhold judgment. This verse comes four hundred years before the verses that you pointed out regarding God’s commands to Israel to wipe-out the Canaanites.

“Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. . . . And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites [one of the Canaanite clans] is not yet complete” (Gen. 15. 13, 16).

This verse shows that God was patient with the people of Canaan and that He would not let Abraham destroy them because of his patience. But the verse also projects forward to a day when the sin or iniquity of these people would be so full that God would punish them.

To summarize all of the above, God as creator is loving, merciful, patient, and just.

This justice then is at the root of the question at hand. Gregory Koukl says this :”Those who are quick to object that God isn’t doing enough about evil in the world (“A good God wouldn’t let that happen”) are often equally quick to complain when God puts his foot down (“A loving God would never send anyone to Hell”).”

In the end of time, God will settle the ultimate judgment.  God often judges people and nations here on earth in the present and in the past. God uses several means to carry out this temporal judgement:

  1. He uses natural disasters and other natural means. In the OT we have the flood, the plagues on Egypt,  horde of locusts, famines and ect.
  2. God uses people.  In particular, he gives government the responsibility to punish evil here on earth. God may use people who act righteously but he also uses people who act out of evil intents. God used the Assyrians and the Persian kings to punish the people of Israel. These kings were pagan and evil and often acted out of evil motives yet God uses them to seek punishment on the people of Israel for idolatry. God also promises to punish the Assyrians and Persians for their evil motives.

There is one other foundation that we must look at before we finally put all this together into an answer. That is the fact that every person born is sinful. This means we are all deserving of punishment. The fact that any person is given another breath of life is because of the absolute mercy of God. William Lane Craig says this “since God is the highest Good, we have a moral obligation to love and worship Him, and He would be evil if He did not care whether people fulfill their moral obligations or not.” This means that when we refuse to worship him or obey him we are rejecting the highest good.  A  just God, a good God would care about that.
Now  lets  put all that together and see where we stand. God is loving, good, merciful, patient, and just. People are sinful deserving of punishment. God passes over a lot of suffering but his patience does not last forever. He then will punish people. He warns people. He gives them time and then he punishes those who did not heed the warning. This is what happened with  the Canaanites. In fact we see this pattern again and again in the OT.  Robin Schumaker describes the pattern :

1. God declares an annihilation form of judgment to stamp out a cancer.

2 .The judgments are for public recognition of extreme sin.

3.  Judgment is preceded by warning and/or long periods of exposure to the truth and time to repent.

4.  Any and all ‘innocent’ adults are given a way of escape with their families; sometimes all given a way to avoid judgment via repentance or leaving a particular region. It should also be noted that expulsion from a land was the most common judgment, not extermination. This pattern goes all the way back to the ejection of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (cf. Gen. 3:24).

5.  Someone is almost always saved (redeemed) from the evil culture.

6.  The judgment of God falls.

What do we know about the Canaanites. They were evil. They would often attack the rear of the Israelite’s caravan where the poor, sick, eldery and children were located . Deut. 25:17-19  These same nations and tribes were rampant with child sacrifice to pagan idols, homosexuality, prostitution as a religion, bestiality, theft, and murder. God put up with this for 400 years before finally commanding the Israelites to wipe them off the map and out of the land. But before this God told the people to warn the local tribes and nations of this judgment.

So this brings us right up to your objection. Is God being objectively immoral in commanding the slaughter of a group of people including their children? The answer is firmly no. I have explained that God has the right to do with his creation as he wishes. God also is loving and merciful and patient. God also gives a warning of judgment and time to repent. God then acts upon his judgment.
Schumaker further addresses this aspect in regard to the children :

“First, the typical Israeli rules of engagement included a warning and declaration period of the coming, impeding war. Women, children, the elderly, and others who wished could easily flee far ahead of the fully announced military attack. Only those who (or whose parents) stubbornly remained would face war and its outcome.Second, in the case of Amalek, it has already been shown that the entire culture had been corrupted by the sin of the adults. From the perspective of eternity, there was no hope for any child who was left behind. Scripture implies that young children who die go to be with the Lord (cf. 2 Sam. 12:23), so while some children may have been killed in war, they were ultimately saved by God from becoming what their parents were.Last, socially and physically, the fate of children throughout history has always rested with their parents, whether they were in good hands (in the case of Noah) or bad (Amalek). The actions of the parents were the final determinant in the temporal/earthly well-being of the children.”

I feel the weight of your objection in this matter and I would agree that if any human were to command the slaughter of a group of people then that human would be wrong.  We even have a phrase that we say when people do this thing.  We say that “they are playing God.”   They are playing God because ultimately life and death are God’s prerogative.   No human has the perfect knowledge or wisdom of God, so if the Israelites acted apart from a divine command then they would be wrong.

But God does have perfect knowledge.  Traditionally we have divided this knowledge into categories.   God has a perfect knowledge of the present.  This means that he knows ever minute detail with complete understanding of its cause and purpose.   God knows all of the facts in the present condition.  But God’s knowledge doesn’t stop with the present.  It goes backwards into history but also forward. This is often called God’s foreknowledge.  This means God knows everything that will come to pass exactly as it will come to pass.   A third category is what we call middle knowledge.  This is a knowledge of all possible worlds and all possible outcomes.  This means God knows every possible outcome of every possible decision or action in the universe.   God’s present knowledge, fore knowledge, and middle knowledge means that God has a complete picture of all things.    It is this knowledge along with a perfect wisdom that understands what to do with the knowledge that gives God the ability and the right to determine life and death.  It gives God the right to issue forth the command to the Israelites to kill the people of Canaan.

Now I have tried to address your objection. I think that far from being a problem for the idea of objective morality, God’s judgment is just and underlines not only the existence of objective morality but the seriousness of it too.

I lastly want to put this into the larger context of the Bible and to explain why these stories are in the Bible.  I think this will ultimately give a small glimpse of another reason why God would issue this command then and why it would not be appropriate today.   Christians often described how the Bible came together as “progressive revelation“.  This means that unlike Muslims which believe the Koran was revealed at once, the Bible was written over a period of years by many different authors.   I think this characteristic alone speaks volumes for how awesome the Bible is.  One of the last great presidents of Princeton, Charles Hodge described progressive revelation this way, ” What at first is only obscurely intimated is gradually unfolded in subsequent parts of the sacred volume, until the truth is revealed in its fulness.”    This means that God revealed his truth to humans through the course of history leading up the time of Jesus in which the revelation would reach its completion.   God did this because Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection are really the focal point of history and the entire Bible.

God revealed this truth first to Adam and Eve in only a small way after they sinned.    This occurred in Gen 3:15 and is called the protoevangelium.  This verse reveals that one day the child of woman would one day destroy the serpent.   When Adam and Eve sinned, God put into motion the plan to redeem mankind from its sin.   The Bible would then progressively reveal the unfolding of this plan.   God would make promises to Noah and then Abraham.   Theses promises would foretell of a day when a messiah would come from the offspring of Abraham to save the people from their sins.   This leads us up to the nation of Israel.   The nation of Israel was to be the nation and people group that Jesus would come from.  God intended for these people to remain separate and to be committed to Him.  Thus many of the Old Testament laws are set up to maintain this distinction from the other pagan nations.   This explains the dietary and ceremonial requirements of the Israelites.   This also explains why the Bible has legal code meant for the nation of Israel including the verses protecting conquered women from rape that you posted about above.   Finally because it is because of God’s promise and commitment to send Jesus to be the savior for the entire world that God strictly commands exact obedience to the Israelites.  It is to preserve his promise and commitment.  This is another reason on top of the one mentioned above for why God would command the Israelites to remove from Canaan the pagan people there.   God knew that those people would either try to destroy the Israelites(and they did try) or that they would bring the people of Israel to accept sinful and evil practices.  Ultimately it is for the sake of our salvation that God worked in the way that He did.

I am aware however that his answer may not be satisfactory for you. I will add this objection is not a problem for me because I trust that character of God. I know that his judgments are just and good. I also know that ultimately I am just a creation lacking the perfect knowledge or wisdom of God. Therefor there are decisions of God that I may not like but I know that as his word says that all things work to good for those who trust him. This trust I think is completely founded in evidence.  I also think that the Cosmological argument along with the fine tuning argument, the moral argument, the ontological argument, the evidence for the resurrection, and the evidence from the lives of Christians throughout history including my own are more than enough to prove the existence of God and to give me basis for my faith.

The following sources also may provide a little more help with this issue:

Rational Christianity

Carm
Reasonable Faith.org
The Blaze

Is God Immoral for Killing Children

Is Yahweh a Moral Monster

You will also notice that throughout the blog post I have included links to give articles and other sources that also provide valuable insight.