Judge Kavanaugh, the 9th Commandment, and Eternal Justice.

Judge Kavanaugh, the 9th Commandment, and Eternal Justice.

 

By Pastor Eric Anderson

October, 2018

Exodus 20:16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

This hearing for Judge Kavanaugh, set to be the next justice in the highest earthly court in the USA, should disturb us as human beings, and as the Redeemed in Christ.

We believe in God. We believe that He is the eternal judge. Therefore, all crimes against humanity which are first and foremost sins against God, He will deal with in the end. For He sees all and knows all and His standard is perfect (Exodus 20:1-17, Psalm 19)

Therefore, Judge Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford may be guilty before God of sexual immorality drunkenness or a host of other sins. He will deal with them justly. 

So, why is this a travesty for our nation? Because the Bible also speaks of how to apply the ten commandments. Deuteronomy speaks of the need for witness to establish as much objectivity as possible in front of judges. When a crime is committed without witnesses, the guilty will not go free. He or she will face God for his sins against God and men, someday. Yet, he or she cannot be prosecuted in human courts today or (most-likely), in this lifetime. A justice system cannot be upheld by “he said/she said.”

Deuteronomy 19:15-21 A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. 16 If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, 17 then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days.18 The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. 20 And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

God is Just and we are called to speak the Truth, as objectively as possible. The 9th Commandment frames lying, exaggerating and deceit as a form of stealing and judicial injustice. A false witness could not only exonerate the guilty, but falsely punish the innocent. But more, the whole of the system of justice could be upended and untrustworthy. When this happens,chaos erupts and human suffering increases. 

Proverbs 18:17 The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.

Matthew 18 affirms this process for conflict within the church. Matthew 18:15-20 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 

We call this Biblical peacemaking. The Witness two or three others helps to calm emotions, make sure each side is heard and to separate real sin from hurt feelings, mis-understanding, or worse, false accusations. We are to correct and rebuke when needed, not only for the person sinning, but for the one who maligned another s character through accusation, slander and hinting. We are to steward others character and their right to be treated without partiality (Exodus 20:17)

In Fact, so serious are we to be about protecting another’s reputation that Paul says: Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (I Timothy 5:19)

Why? The church is to be a safe place for brethren to dwell in unity. Truth and mercy to be offered, for individuals of all backgrounds to worship God and fellowship together.

Satan loves to deceive. People demand justice on their terms. Revenge is what I do when I am so offended I take matters into my own hands. I punish, kill and murder–maybe not your body, but your character to the eyes of the “hurt feelings court” (James 4)

Our nation’s judicial process was formed by Scripture…or, at least laws and equitable principals derived from Scripture. This is why we have a statue of limitations, and why a police report needs to be filed. Without witnesses, a person’s memory can change over time, since other events affects our recounting with accuracy. We have heard how a person’s psyche can be manipulated to assign past injustice to explain present depression and suffering (Freud)

We should presume self-serving and political motivations in most everything. This is why we have laws and courts of law: To protect against human fallen-ness and sinfulness, from ourselves and our worst tendencies. Whatever happened 35 years ago, it cannot be used to malign a person today, if it’s validity wasn’t established during a reasonably time afterwards. A person’s reputation since should be taken into account. Does that mean sexual immorality and drunkenness in the teen years are to be seen as innocent? No. Immature, yes, from a human perspective. But innocent in the eyes of God: no!

I have seen first-hand what the “hurt feelings” police and justice system will do. It will be impossible to establish truth, when both parties are at odds and stick to their story, if there is no other witnesses or objective evidence. This should not be. Only people who do not fear the Lord would see the Kavanaugh hearing as a good thing. People who reject what God Word declare, will demand all their idea of justice in this life…for they have nowhere to confess their guilt or pain.

It is of course, very sad if Dr. Ford was assaulted at the hands of Judge Kavanaugh. In that case it is lamentable if Judge Kavanaugh goes free. But the injustice is only temporal. If her (Dr. Ford’s) hope is in the Lord, She can know that justice will be paid, eventually, for her sins have been paid for already. And if Judge Kavanaugh is innocent of this charge and his faith in in the Lord, he can know that He will be exonerated in the end. But it only matters if the entirety of his sins have been forgiven by God through Christ.

As Christians we know firsthand that the mercy God gives us is not based upon our innocence but out Guilt. That Jesus Christ Justly paid for every sin, public and private. Blood guilt was paid We live with sure hope that when we stand before God…our advocate will declare “Not Guilty” Sin paid for. Justice Done, Mercy Granted. All is at peace here. 

Deuteronomy 21:1-8 “If in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess someone is found slain, lying in the open country, and it is not known who killed him, 2 then your elders and your judges shall come out, and they shall measure the distance to the surrounding cities. 3 And the elders of the city that is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer that has never been worked and that has not pulled in a yoke. 4 And the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come forward, for the Lord your God has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of the Lord, and by their word every dispute and every assault shall be settled. 6 And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, 7 and they shall testify, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it shed. 8 Accept atonement, O Lord, for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not set the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel, so that their blood guilt be atoned for.’

Finally and therefore, we can live with the knowledge that sometimes the guilty escape the justice of human courts,.. but never God’s court.

 Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[a] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

This is why Scripture says that we can have peace for some matters for which we will get no reciprocity because we are submitting to the future justice of God.

Worship and What’s Wrong with the World

by Pastor Eric 

 

Who is God? He is Creator. Before Creation was, there was a Creator. This means that God is Set-apart from Creation. He is distinct in all He is. In His essence He is perfect and all loving, all powerful and all just all the time. Above which there is none greater, before which, there was no source.  

 

Why is this important?  Christianity, the Worship of One True God, is What Dr. Peter Jones calls Two-ist. Meaning that There is a distinction between Creator, who is set-apart and independent, and Creation(us,) who are created, limited and totally dependent upon God.

 

What is wrong with world? We are. Human beings, God’s very good creation, rebelled. Refusing to Humbly acknowledge Holy God and His Holy Created order, we deceive ourselves into thinking that nothing is Transcendent, that All truth is in what we prefer or feel.

 

Romans 1:25 declares that, being and Spirital people by nature, our problem is not that we worship , but that we choose to worship created things which should not be worshipped.

 

The Delusion that we are the Creator and that God is not, this is called One-ism..that we can become God. That we can find solution from creation. This is self-worship, that me and God are the same.

 

How has this Worked? Not well, to vastly understate the reality. Dennis Prager says that Secularism (or Paganism) begins with the breaking down of every Holy distinction which is given by God in Creation (Genesis 1-2) The distinctions are between God/Man, Man/Amimal, Male/Femal, Good/Evil,and in trying to finding meaning, worship and healing in ourselves, we violate these holy distinctions.   

 

Abortion: the offering up of Babies at the alter of personal convenience, Feminism and Efffimate/emmasculated men: the offering up of our roles pf male and female for the perceived religion of Freedom and autonomy. Think of the controversies raging around ideas such as transgenderism, sodomy, adultery and lesbianism—beliving that we can create our own meaning and rebel against God’s created order in the bodies which we possess.

 

This is all One-ist–thinking: that we are creators and can make our own meaning. That there is nothing transcendently Holy. If it feels or or makes me feel authentic, then it must be good, so goes our rationalization.

 

 Is God angry? Oh yes he is! God reigns and He is unchanging, and Death proves we cannot excape our Creator; and will face final judgment for our deeds.  The consequences of His Eternal judment are displayed in preview in the conflict, depair, suicide, lonliness present and increasing in our current culture. Even the breakdown of family is judgment which comes from rebelliing against any standards set by God.      

 

Enter Christianity. Christianity is Two-ist. It is not about feelign better, or having your best Life now. It is a Holy worship of New Birth, true life. It is Returning to Holy Creator God by Faith and Repentance.

 

Why? God did not fail. Our sin has not incapacitated him. the Creator was not affected nor suprised by our rebellion. He has made a solution. John 3:16 says that for God so loved the world that He gave his only son, that whosoever believs in HIm shlal not perish but have Eternal Life.  

 

How? Holy God has made a Way. In Him is Hope. For He came into the world as a Perfect Son, the 2nd Member of the Trinity–He lived a perfect life, died a designed Atoning death, satisfying the wrath and just punishment we have earned. He chose to love his creation, even rebellious self-worshippers. He was buried for our sins and rise again.

 

This is the Good News. Believe in HIm. Repent of your wicked one-ist worship, of destroying His world by acting like you were Him. Read His Word and let it re-order your whole of Worship. Join a faithful church which preaches and proclaims the Good News of His Son from the Bible. He is alive today–He is willing to forgiven and receive repentant sinners. Worship Him. 

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares: The Woke Church or Satan’s Fifth Column

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares: The Woke Church or Satan’s Fifth Column, by Bob Beltran
 
Wheat and tares look exactly the same, they have the same color, grow in the same way and have similar seeds, only when the wheat matures can you tell the difference. One is fruitful (the wheat) and the other is not.
 
What is a fifth column you may ask? Let’s say you are a leader of a country and you want to conquer your neighbor. You enlist a group of your own military or allies from within that country you are planning to invade, who are indistinguishable from those you will conquer. When the invasion begins, they rise up to disrupt command and control measures and disrupt everything and anything to give you the best chance of success… enter the woke church.
 
From the Gospel Coalition, David Platt, Paul David Trip, Matt Chandler, Mark Dever & 9 Marks, Al Mohler and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Max Lucado, and a whole host of others who seemed to have preached the gospel and stood on the inerrancy of the Bible. Now that the Christian church is under attack from the many state and local governments many of these seem to have come out swinging. Whether it is chastising churches for meeting against government orders, pushing facemasks or backing Black Lives Matters, social justice, white guilt, and radicalism these folks seem to have left the true gospel by adding group sins and group repentance which is not a gospel at all. They are now bringing forth heresies that will never lead a person to the cross but away from the cross and to eternal damnation.
 
Paul had strong words for these people in Galatians 1:9-10 “As we have said before, so now I say again if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed (damned). 10 For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
 
These are men who professed the truth, declared they were called to preach, and are they now counted as the enemy? Are they seeking to please man instead of God? Is there a chance that a few may truly be Christians? Yes, but it is hard to reconcile the venom they are spewing with a heart that is led by the Holy Spirit.
 
They have led many with them and I would turn to 1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”
These leaders are doing Satan’s work and I would say that they have left the tare category, are they conscious that they are in “Satan’s Fifth Column” category? Do they no longer care if they actually resemble the sheep… it seems that they are proud to be resembling goats.
 
Is everyone who follows in the footsteps of the woke church lost? I would hope that there are those who are truly in Christ but I would have to believe that they are babes in Christ or that they have no discernment.
 
One thing is for sure, the woke church is unfruitful and they are planted by Satan.
 
Matthew 13:24-25 24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.
 
Matthew 13:37-43 37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
 
As John Macarthur pointed out If Jesus was interested in a social gospel, He would have shown it in His day. Look at Israel during Christ’s time on earth, if there were oppressed people it was the Jews. When the king chose to kill all babies under the age of 2 there was no one powerful enough to stop him. The tax collectors could take what they wanted as long as Caesar got his share. They were conquered people with a foreign army stationed within their borders and yet Jesus did not at any time put forth a “social justice gospel”. He came to save men from the wrath of God the Father. So what is the Gospel?
 
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
 
This is God’s gospel and no man has the right to add to it or take away any part of it. Adding social justice or anything else changes the truth to a lie. We have all sinned and Christ on the cross bore the wrath of God the Father in our place. Yes, we are saved from the wrath of God by the completed work of the cross By Jesus Christ and when He rose from the grave it showed that His sacrifice was accepted by the Father.

The Gnosticism which COVID—19 reveals

The Gnosticism which COVID—19 reveals

 

Is worship physically present with the body of Christ essential to being a Christian? Is bodily gathering together to worship with Christ’s people crucial and a requirement as you understand Christianity? Does a person have to obey Jesus Christ in order to be a Christian, in order to have any hope of seeing the kingdom of God and not eternal perdition? 

Or, for you, is Christianity primarily about a “personal experience?”

Surely, does not Christianity entail a life, a path in which Christ Jesus is King, a pathway that obligates us to obey His commandments?

 John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”

In I John and Colossians, specifically, the authors are writing to churches that are being devastated by a new religion, a blending of Christianity with paganism. They urgently appeal to Christians who are being subjected to teachings that were importing pagan ideas and beliefs into the Christian faith as false teachers were re-framing the significant aspects of what it means to be a Christian.

 Gnosticism entails religious beliefs that regard evil as resident within created things and that views true knowledge to be the possession alone of those who have received secret, spiritual insight.

 Being Spiritual, Gnosticism de-emphasizes any commandments which are transcendent and are moral or concern the body. For example, as long as you feel close to God, you will be forgiven of your all sins, (today referred to as “brokenness”). Gnosticism denies original sin and total depravity—it teaches that life is the mastery and unlocking of the inner good and finding one’s personal happiness. To receive grace is to feel good, rather than living obediently. Jesus came to unlock your potential, not to save you from eternal hell by causing you to follow him.

 I am amazed, but shouldn’t be, at the amount of churches and leaders who seem to have made embodied congregational worship optional, not just for the first two months of COVID-19, but seemingly indefinitely. The belief that a personal experience at home is just as good as gathering (and risking sickness and inconvenience) in person in a building or place.

The Video Venue home worship is simply not church. It may have been deemed a good and necessary option for a time, but it is not a replacement of the embodied congregational gathering required of Christianity. Video Venue/virtual worship, taken to its logical conclusion, is a replacement of Christianity. It says that I do not belong to the body of Christ, my presence is optional, The Pastor/guru comes to impart in my life good feelings and principals for living. That is enough. It is individual and autonomous. Just me and my personal Jesus.

In this my personal safety becomes the chief virtue of my life. It is scary to go to church. It might upset my emotional balance. My personal inner comforts are what matters. Don’t tell me otherwise; that is legalism and hurtful of my Holy, in-corrupted feelings.

I fear that the COVID-19 virus is becoming an occasion for apostasy into Gnostic self-worshiping paganism. It is a revealing of how many “confessed Christians” do not have the category of the necessity of embodied worship gathering with the body of Christ, in obedience to Jesus Christ’s commandments as King. Their religion may be closer to the Gnosticism the apostles of Christ encountered in the first century. It may not be Christianity.

 Hebrews 10:25 warns against this: neglecting of the congregational gathering. I John warns against disobedience and not loving the brethren. I Corinthians states 5+ times that “when you gather” as the church.

 When is the gathering of the church for worship ever entirely safe? It may not be safe, but it is sacred. The assembly is a time set apart by a Holy God to worship in Spirit and truth, preaching and proclaiming King Jesus in all of His glory (Col 1).

 The Gospel Declares that Jesus Christ came bodily. He came to redeem all of us. He lived and died and rose again bodily, not merely spiritually. There is no separation of our feelings towards Jesus and our actions in obedience towards him and our good works of love towards others. He calls us to gather and worship him as He directs in His word. This is both faith and repentance. In exchange we receive the assurance that he grants to those he loves who are obeying Him.

 Titus 2:11-15 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

 

Pastor Eric Anderson: Creeds, Convictions and Commitments on Sola Scriptura as related to The New Social Justice Movement

Pastor Eric Anderson: Creeds, Convictions and Commitments on Sola Scriptura as related to The New Social Justice Movement

 

Creedal Positions:

I am committed to The reformation practice of Sola Scriptura; as articulated through the Historic Christian Creeds and Confessions (II Tim 3:15-17).

LBC 1689 1.6 The whole counsel of God concerning everything essential for his own glory and man’s salvation, faith, and life is either explicitly stated or by necessary inferences contained in the Holy Scriptures.

The Bible declares; and thus I believe, that God has created differing ethnicity’s/cultures of people (Gen 10:5,20, 32; 11:1-8) under one human race/blood (Acts 17:26) 

I am committed to preach the Word of God in and out of season (II Timothy 4:1-5). Therefore, though, in any local context, the different patterns of groups may be considered in evangelism (to the Jew I became a Jew, Titus 1:10-16), we ultimately must leave the ethnic make up of Christ’s church to the workings of His Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:5-7); through whom a new Christian culture is created among all regenerate people in every local church (Galatians 5-6, I Cor 13)

LBC 26:5 In exercising the authority entrusted to him, the Lord Jesus, through the ministry of his Word, by his Spirit, calls to himself out of the world those who are given to him by his Father.9  They are called so that they will live before him in all the ways of obedience that he prescribes for them in his Word.10  Those who are called he commands to live together in local societies, or churches, for their mutual edification and the fitting conduct of public worship that he requires of them while they are in the world.11

I believe The Good News that makes The Gospel Good News: That the body of Death, the old man was paid for at Calvary. (Romans 6:5-11) We believe that all Christians are living in light of the Resurrection and awaiting our glorification of all that is Sin-cursed and fallen; this already/not-yet reality is a tension in all Christian ministry. (Romans 8:12-39) 

I believe that real justice comes from and can only be defined by a commitment to Truth: Sola Scriptura. Any political strategy, social or personal attempts, which are not rooted in the Fear of God and wisdom flowing from His Word will only undermine the church and harm people.

I believe, principally from Scripture, that, while God judges the heart (I Samuel 16:7, Matthew 5:17-30, 7:21-23) the justice we are called to steward is objectively verifiable, rooted in Truth (Exodus 20:1-17, Isaiah 1:16-17) and provable by the establishment of two or three witnesses ( Matthew 18:15-20, Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 19:15)

 lBC 21:2 God alone is Lord of the conscience,12 and he has left it free from human doctrines and commandments that are in any way contrary to his word or not contained in it.13 So, believing such doctrines, or obeying such commands out of conscience, is a betrayal of true liberty of conscience.14  Requiring implicit faith or absolute and blind obedience destroys liberty of conscience and reason as well.15

Convictions:

I believe the current Evangelical Social justice movement, acutely trending within traditionally historically reformed partnerships, is, as a whole and in the final analysis, deeply damaging to the church because it is driven by an over-fascination with the world–both the sins which Jesus paid for, and the praise of the words, definitions and values of the fallen cultures of men.

I discern that the root of this is under-realized eschatology; which fans man-fear and anger (Proverbs 29:25); leading to the confusion of some fundamental and basic Biblical-Gospel categories and definitions (Identity in Adam/Christ—old man/new man, definitions of sin, extent of Atonement, implications of resurrection and regeneration, etc); as well as an obsession to return to the very land of Egypt the Lord Jesus Christ has freed the elect from; and warns against coveting afresh. (Romans 8:12-15; James 3:14-18).

LBC 25.3 The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error.4 Some have degenerated so much that they have ceased to be churches of Christ and have become synagogues of Satan.5 Nevertheless, Christ always has had and will have in this world to the very end a kingdom of those who believe in him and profess his name.6

I further observe that although this current movement seems to mirror a Socialist/Marxist philosophy, it is not dis-similar from any number of historical “Evangelical-Utopian” promises which have infiltrated the church visible and undermined her gospel work and witness. Through depending upon human effort, the praise of men, pragmatic numbers and quotients, these disorderly-trends divide by demanding sacrifices from certain people for favor of others. This includes, but is not limited to, the church-growth, prosperity, gay-christian and feminist movements of the past 50 years.

Commitments:

LBC 15.4Repentance must continue throughout our lives, because of the body of death and its activities. So it is everyone’s duty to repent of each specific, known sin specifically.7

As it is deems wise and necessary, Christians should and must talk about specific sins and patterns of idolatry we inherited from our forefathers (I Peter 1:18), and are now participating in.

For example, the sin of prideful favoritism, which James explains in 2:1-13, should be discerned, rebuked and changes made, to the extent to which the secret sins of the heart (pride) have become visible (division/favoritism);

Yet, I do not dwell upon those; whether this is public or in private counseling; since a Christian is under condemnation, but under grace; and the eternal debt is paid for and canceled.

Instead I commit to person-to-person peacemaking and counseling which involved Gospel declaration, specific sin-repentance and forgiveness; which includes specific commitments to change and reconcile, in all relationships where pride, anger, and fear manifests itself to separate people from one another; of which racism is only one example.

 LBC 26:4aThe Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church. By the Father’s appointment, all authority is conferred on him in a supreme and sovereign manner to call, institute, order and govern the church.7 

Footnotes:

  1. This has been a growing concern among individuals in our fellowship for some time, and while we hope to not “respond” to every trend, we discern this is a serious enough threat to The Gospel and True Unity to re-affirm what we believe with polemic underpinnings.

     

  2. The timing and the gravitas of this paper came from the concerns surrounding the direction of Evangelicalism and the Neo-Reformed movement (including institutions) specifically related to articles, blogs and talks surrounding TGC/ERLC MLK 500 Conference. Although the New Social Justice movement’s official positions and definitions can be fluid and hard to pin down,much of our concerns can be seen and summarized through listening to the talks from the MLK 500 and T4G2018 including, but not limited to, the talks from David Platt and Matt Chandler.

     

  3. There is a wealth of podcasts and articles analyzing the Spiritual and Ecclesiastical Dangers of this movement: easily accessible from a variety of Apologists and pastors, including James White, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Darryl Harrison, P. Andrew Sandlin, Samuel Sey, Todd Friel, Todd Pruitt and Douglas Wilson. A google search will yield much fruit.

  4. For academic, yet accessible articles, see Paul Helseth Elect from Every Nation, Ardel Caneday Let’s Get Biblical: Moving from Scripture to Theology Concerning Racial Reconciliation, Neil Shenvi Critical Theory and Christianity, and Peter Jones Revoice: Sliding into Heresy

     

  5. Lifespring Church hosted a recent conference on the Doctrine of The Christian Mind, which devoted two talks to this subject as related to historical deconstruction of terms. See www.visitlifespring.com, under “Sermons” from April 2018. In addition, Dr. Caneday came and spoke with a recent pastors fellowship we hosted about these trends and the need for Biblically grounded language.

     

  6. Furthermore, I am concerned this new infusion of Biblical and worlds terms will necessary lead to re-definitions of morality including gender and sexuality; for this may as well be called the church growth/seeker movement 2.0, in which the world demands, not big programs and contemporary music from the church, but social, sexual and gender pragmatic affirmation.

     

  7. Finally, we love our fellowship and unity. For many of us what we have enjoyed as a network we have not had before to this extent. We are thankful to our God and King, who has seen fit to draw us together, during these divisive times.

The Two-fold purposes of Divine Election for the Christian, JC Ryle: from Expository thought on John 3:16-17

The Two-fold purposes of Divine Election for the Christian, JC Ryle: from Expository thought on John 3:16-17
 
“Election to eternal life, is a truth of Scripture which we must receive humbly, and believe implicitly. Why the Lord Jesus calls some and does not call others, quickens whom He will, and leaves others alone in their sins, these are deep things which we cannot explain. Let it suffice us to know that it is a fact. God must begin the work of grace in a man’s heart, or else a man will never be saved. Christ must first choose us and call us by His Spirit, or else we shall never choose Christ. Beyond doubt, if not saved, we shall have none to blame but ourselves. But if saved, we shall certainly trace up the beginning of our salvation, to the choosing grace of Christ. Our song to all eternity will be that which fell from the lips of Jonah–”Salvation is of the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9.)
 
Election is always to sanctification. Those whom Christ chooses out of mankind, He chooses not only that they may be saved, but that they may bear fruit, and fruit that can be seen. All other election beside this is a mere vain delusion, and a miserable invention of man. It was the faith and hope and love of the Thessalonians, which made Paul say, “I know your election of God.” (1 Thess. 1:4.) Where there is no visible fruit of sanctification, we may be sure there is no election.”
 
John 3:16-17 (16) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (17) These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
 
(I (Eric) add this post-script: The Doctrine of God’s gracious Election only makes sense and is glorious when it is personalized with the Acknowledgment of Two necessary foundational truths:
1.God: God is Holy
2. Man: I am a morally Rebellious Sinner, unholy and dead in my sins, deserving of the just punishment of Hell)

Church Worship (and other livelihoods): The Duty to use our Citizenship….

Church Worship (and other livelihoods): The Duty to use our Citizenship….

or….Paul did not intend in Romans 13 to promote absolute submission to human authorities,

 

Citizen:The native of a city, or an inhabitant who enjoys the freedom and privileges of the city in which he resides; the freeman of a city, as distinguished from a foreigner, or one not entitled to its franchises.
- Webster’s 1828

A couple of pre-emptive statements:

  1. I am not arguing against the reality of COVID-19 virus nor the degree of prevalence of the spread COVID-19, whether in Crosby, Colorado, or in California, etc, etc.

  2. I am not arguing that our church, in retrospect, should not have suspended regular worship. As my friend Joe Reed says, “If someone knocks on your door and says your roof is smoking, only a fool would not go outside and check to see if the thing is burning down.” God is sovereign, we are not; yet we are called to make decisions based upon commandments, convictions and calculated risk every single day. We are guided by obedience to God and love of others, and we act by faith because we do not have foresight. We are, after all, flesh and blood. That’s why, at various times in the winter, we have canceled our church programs for snow (or even on the basis of a forecast) based upon the limited knowledge we have while calculating risk/reward. I do not regret, for our church in our area, the decision to suspend worship for a time, the same decisions that almost all were making, upon the forecasts of COVID–19.

That said…

I am deeply concerned about this now popular notion among-st Christians that Romans 13 argues for absolute submission to the human Governing authorities for seemingly whatever length they suspend the assembling of the church.

Truth: Our attitude should always be one of humble submissiveness, and our actions should be in submission to proper authorities, unless the government goes against the clear directives of Christians as laid down in God’s Holy Word.

What are those clear directives?

Gathering together personally and publicly as a local church for worship (Colossians 3, Hebrews 10:25). The Holy Spirit brings isolated sinners from death to life, through the preaching of the Gospel, and into a local family, the church, as we run together towards heaven (Hebrews 12:1-2) The church is certainly more than Sunday worship, but it is also certainly nothing less than Sunday Worship – together, in person. Virtual meetings are a mirror of gathering, but there are many “one-anothers” which cannot occur through a video screen, and much participation by the whole is lost while watching the performance of one. Virtual worship is something, but it is certainly not “the church.”

Let me give an example from Scripture which I think is quite applicable today, showing us how and when to properly interpret scenarios where submission to Government applies.

In Acts 16 as Paul and Silas are preaching the Gospel, the rightful governing magistrates of Philippi, being influenced by some upset and angry citizens, arrested and beat the evangelists, throwing them in jail. They were then released by a divinely sent earthquake. Their jailer and his family, in fear and awe of God’s power and the kindness of his disciples, hear and are converted by the Gospel to Christianity. Here is the relevant text for us today, in our current situation: Christians who are also American Citizens:

But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” (36) And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” (37) But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” (38) The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. (39) So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. (40) So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
Act 16:35-40

Do you see it in v. 37? Paul uses the rights of his Citizenship, as (evidently) understood by All Romans, to challenge the authorities, that they, not he had violated the law and needed to repent, to change their course. Paul was actually demonstrating proper and legal submission to the government by reminding them of the rights of Roman citizens that Roman magistrates were expected to honor. The Magistrates had violated the law, not Paul.

Paul disobeyed the magistrates by not leaving town, but his dis-obedience was not moral, it was not a sin against God. The magistrates were out of line, according to their own oath of office. But confronting them, he was both helping himself and doing them a favor.

Each nation, of course, is different, so let me appeal to Americans.

In the USA the rights of citizens are recognized in the Constitution. It is the right of citizens to free, peaceful assembly: “Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

 

We obey God and God commands us to gather together bodily for worship (Colossians 3, Hebrews 10:25). It is what the pastor/elders/leaders of your church will be held accountable to God for. Did they obey God, even in the face of opposition? We can suspend worship, related to common sense reasoning (weather, pandemic, etc), but it is the church’s government, not civil government’s responsibility and sphere of authority. If, we as church leaders, make a wise or foolish decision, that is on us, not our civil government. Our American Constitution itself recognizes the very fact. Thank the Lord for this reality. The Governor can make recommendations and pleas to the church, but the church leadership are delegated to make decisions on Worship.

My question: In our Governor’s executive order to not allow churches to “meet for public worship”, is he, within the rights of his office and the laws of the land, according to the Constitution, or are we?

When we gather peaceably, we are exercising our rights as citizens and indirectly reminding others that this right is protected.If we do not remind the government of our place and their place, according to our own laws, who will? My primary goal in re-staring public worship is not to remind the government of anything. I am obeying God’s command. But, as an American Citizen, it is within my rights to do so. Period.

All things considered, such as the issues of risk, health, and love, it is crazy for the church right now to not at least read the constitution and wrestle with our American rights, our duties as the citizenry, as Paul did in Acts 16 when his rights were violated.

 

End Notes:

*We must differentiate the authority of civil magistrates and the authority (oft too much) of public opinion. Fear is a powerful weapon to wield, and it can enslave those who succumb to its influence. How often do we surrender our call and obedience to God because of the fear of who will shame us or hurt us?

*Similar principles and rights apply to businesses and other livlihoods in our nation. Where in the constitution is my right to make honest and peaceable commerce not protected right now….by what standard?

*A helpful video on the purpose of Church worship (Governmental Authority and the church) is found at https://www.facebook.com/aomin.org/videos/247003543025946/