Friday, December 30, 2011

Hopeless Material for Gospel

"No material could have seemed less promising as the raw data for a gospel story than that which is provided in the first chapter of Ruth:  a famine, three deaths, three widows, and anarchy." - Eugene Peterson, Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work

Possibly an overstatement, for there are plenty of other tragic stories in the Scriptures from which the gospel comes forth (the Exodus story itself comes immediately to mind).  However, his point is poignant and important.  This is the stuff of life that God works with and brings forth salvation and glory as no one else can.  Real life.  Your life.  Right where you are now.  There is a gospel story being written and all you have to do is believe.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Taxation III

And so, we have two forms of taxation with biblical precedence.  First, we have a flat tax, the poll or head tax.  Second, we have a progressive tithe-tax.  The first apparently takes care of the civil order expenses (and is controlled by the civil order).  The second takes care of the ecclesiastical, educational, and social welfare needs of the society.  But the tithe is not directed at all by the civil order, and even the ecclesiastical order does not have full control over the direction of the tithe.  Every third year, the tithe is given locally to support the local Levites, the poor and the foreigner, with the believer taking a vow before God that he had given all of his tithe according to God's commands (Deut 26:12-15).

In both situations, society would be strongly motivated to encourage a robust covenant community that followed the commandments of the Word.  They would be motivated because revenue would flow to deal with the needs of the community and the general welfare of the society.

And of course, worthy of note - no sales taxes, no property taxes (the earth is the LORD's), no inheritance taxes, and no other taxes to speak of.  (And people think that imposing the OT law on us would be oppressive!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Taxation - II

The poll tax was imposed on every male over the age of twenty.  Every male was required to pay the same amount, a half-shekel (Ex 30:13) and was used "for the service of the tabernacle of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before th LORD, to make atonement for yourselves."  But this atonement wasn't part of the sacrificial system of Leviticus.

"The fact that atonement is cited as one of the aspects of this tax misleads many.  The meaning of atonement here is a covering or protection; by menas of this tax, the people of Israel placed themselves under God as tehir King, paying triubte to Him, and gained in return God's protecting care." - Rushdoony, IBL, pp281-2.

Becuase it was equal amount for all (30:15), it could not be too large or it would be oppressive upon the poor, and by being an equal amount, it would not be oppressive upon the rich.  All equally needed the protection of the LORD as King, for no one was to trust in their riches for such protection.

Such a flat-tax would probably immediately be welcomed by half of our population.  Women would not be taxed!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Taxation - I

If we consider the work of the tabernacle as solely religious and fail to see it as a religious-ecclesiastical as well as a religious-civil center, we conclude that the Old Covenant administration has nothing to teach us about taxation.  But if the tabernacle was central for understanding all of life because all of life is religious, then the home, the state, and the church find instruction from the tabernacle and we can see funding for them in what was brought there.

Rushdoony suggests that the poll tax (Ex 30:11-16) is the flat tax to provide for the civil needs of a society, while the tithe, an income tax based upon one's increase, is to provide for the ecclesiastical and social needs of a society (Institutes of Biblical Law, pp 281-2).  This could help a society grounded in submission to God's Word recieve direction in determining what kinds of taxation are biblical and right.

There is much more on this - even in just the few pages Rushdoony deals with it, and I am sure many others have expounded on it elsewhere.

Monday, October 31, 2011

One Little Word - Reformation Sunday Exhortation

In singing A Mighty Fortress, we are singing of the only answer that can save our nation – the one little word.

God spoke the Word and all that is made was made.  That same Word holds all things together.  That Word became flesh and dwelt with us.  That Word was hung on a cross for our sins and that Word died, was buried, and rose again.  In so doing, that Word made a mockery of every principality and power that would ever stand against God and His Word – He laughs at their attempts to undo His perfect plan.

In Psalm 107, we read that “He sent His Word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions” and that is just what we need.  A Word.  One little Word.  Jesus.

Come and worship, He says – come and bow down before the Lord your Maker – the One Who is making all things new.  As we do, He promises to shake heaven and earth, to reveal His glory and the folly of unbelief and rebellion, to batter down the gates of Hades, to renew you and your family in His goodness, from the confession of your sin to the communion at His table of Grace and Thanksgiving.

Come with boldness, come with confidence, come with humility.  It is unbelievable that you and I are allowed into the very Presence of the Holy of holies, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, but we are.  And so here we come – and He will have His way with us again – O pray for a reformation – from our hearts, to our churches – to our nation – to the world.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Resting in God with Your Children and For your Children

Resting in God with Your Children and For your Children (rough manuscript notes from a homily I gave at a Sunday Evensong service)

You come to the end of a long day. Another long day. If you are the parent of small children, you come to the end of a long day of caring for those ones, those little souls entrusted to you. And if you are like the rest of us, you often come to the end of that day feeling quite certain that you have fallen short.

Now, in these next few minutes, I am going to address this particular scenario – but it won’t take you much imagination to simply apply the same principles of rest and trust to every believer’s day – every believer’s life – every believer’s scenario – for anyone and everyone who wishes to faithfully follow Jesus – and I am assuming tonight that you do – if you don’t – then you are lost and you simply need the gospel, the truth that Jesus died for sinners – like you and me – and that without Him, that sense of falling short at the end of your day, is just a foreshadowing of what you will feel one day before Him when you realize that you have fallen short of all His standards and requirements, all the while refusing to receive the perfect work of Jesus, God’s Son, to give you all you needed to satisfy God’s requirements and cleanse you from all shortcomings.

But to the point now – to those of you who have children – and to those of you who know others who have children – and to all of us who know we have fallen short – often – day after day – again and again.

You put those children to bed, you pray with them (or maybe you didn’t get a chance to that night), you look at them and you wonder – “have I done enough? Have my shortcomings destroyed their chances for walking faithfully with the Lord? Will they love Jesus more because of the way I lived my life before them, or will they despise Him because I said I was one of His followers and I did or said this or that, or didn’t do the other thing that I should have…?”

Oftentimes, very devout, very pious, very openly professing Christians, struggle with this as they come to the end of their day. And I want to warn you that this kind of worry is from the pit – it is the work of the devil, Satan, the great Accuser, and it is to be rejected fully. But in order to do that, it must be replaced with Truth – a truth that is a High Tower and bulwark against such accusations. And that truth is the promise of God – for you and for your children.

So – you fell short – you didn’t do all you should have – you did things you shouldn’t have – and now you wonder if it is too much, too little, too late. Well, consider what you are standing on – YOUR WORKS. Play a little mind-game for a moment. What if you had done perfectly everything you were supposed to do, what if you had said everything with unbelievable eloquence and persuasiveness? What if all of your good works were done to perfection and everyone noticed. What if you, as far as you could tell, had kept all of God’s commands, had outdone all His requirements. Would you then feel confident that your children would be saved, sanctified, had their ticket to heaven?

That is no gospel in Jesus Christ – that is a gospel in yourself – and you and I are lousy Saviors. What it reveals is that we are depending upon ourselves and our good works to save ourselves and our children. It is subtle, because we are told to obey and do good works and raise our children in such and such a way. But we are not told to do so because that will earn us or them their salvation. We are told to do so, believing the promises of God for ourselves and our children, in such a way that we are transformed to be a kind of people who obey and faithfully follow God and devote ourselves to others – out of sheer gratitude for all we have been given and all God is promising to work through us because of His good pleasure.

And that is why, when you perceive at the end of the day, whether there were things to thank God for as He made you faithful, or whether there are things to confess to God because you were stubborn and refused to obey – in either case – as you come to the end of your day – you will not because you cannot – trust in yourself for the salvation or success of your children. You will trust in God who works everything for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His good pleasure.

When we rest in that way, it is evidence of a faith that is given to us that is beyond us, beyond our comprehension, beyond our situation and circumstances, and far beyond our works. And that faith will work itself out in us to where, having given up on works, we will find ourselves refreshed and empowered to do those good works which God has called us to. But we won’t trust in them – not tonight and not tomorrow. Our trust will be in the LORD.

And so, like Elijah (scripture reading had been 1 Kings 19:1-18), hear the still small voice and His message – He has far more set aside for you and for His people than you realize. You think you’ve run out – but God hasn’t – He has hid more for you and has far more available than you realize. Sleep and rest with that faith – and arise tomorrow with that refreshment. And like Jesus’ prayer (scripture reading had been Matt 11:25-30) – thank God that He has seen fit to reveal Himself to those Whom He has chosen. And then hear this with faith – He has chosen you – He has chosen your children – the gift of His Spirit is for you and for your children. Come to Me, Jesus said, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Receive that rest – and sleep with faith.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – Amen.

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Occupy Heaven!"

Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Westlake Park (why, we all wonder…). Occupy Washington DC. What is the point? In occupying these places, these unthinking pagans hope to influence the secular leaders to think about them. How pitiful – how futile – how hopeless.

However, you and I, in the name of Jesus Christ, have been called this morning to come and occupy heaven, to occupy the thrones of the kingdom of God – to join in His counsel and to determine the course of human history according to the providence of the Author, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Glorifier of all Human History.

We don’t get this yet - but here, in the corporate, called, gathering of saints each Lord’s Day – we are striking down the gates of Hell along with all of her corruptions upon this world. Another slam of the battering ram of faith against the walls of unbelief. And it is not us, our strong feelings, our slogans and signs, that will make any difference upon this world. It is only through the faithful preaching and living out the gospel that there will be change that will last for our lives and to a thousand generations.

And so, you have been summoned. God called you here this morning – why? Well this should become more and more obvious – so that we alone, the elect of God, would inherit the world. And so come - come with your praise and all of your concerns – do you think any of these are beyond Him – come and worship the Lord.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tenth Anniversary of 9-11

– September 11th will always be a sober day in our lives because of the events our nation experienced 10 years ago. This week, and especially today, our nation has appropriately been patriotic, emotional, and reflective. Patriotism is good in its place, and weeping with those who weep is appropriate. But, ten years into this tragedy, the foundational issue by which this nation will ultimately stand or fall has yet to be addressed by our leaders. As a nation, we continue in our outright rebellion of God’s laws, and we continue to embrace the god of the people, demos, and his brother, relativism, to the exclusion of the only true King of kings and Lord of lords, even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Word made flesh. If we continue to do this, we will certainly reap what we sow.

If we continue to arbitrarily determine who deserves the right to life and who does not, refusing to submit to God’s Holy Law, how dare we point an accusing finger at holy-war Jihadists. They are simply doing what we are doing, making up their own rules. God is simply using them so that we might see how bloody we are, how callous we are, how wicked we are.

If we continue to arbitrarily determine what is true and what is false, what is ethical and what is not, using our so-called humanistic wisdom, then God will continue to send those to us who are simply living this out according to their own so-called wisdom. It is a glorious thing to die while trying to kill as many infidels (non-Muslims) as possible. What’s wrong with that for an ideology? Who says?

If we continue to say that all gods are equal, that there is no difference, as long as you don’t hurt other people, God will continue to challenge that back end “toleration” statement. “What do you mean, ‘as long as you don’t hurt other people”? Who gave you the right to set that standard? What if my god says it is a good thing to hurt other people? What if I find pleasure in hurting other people?

In my lifetime, Columbine High School and the brutal murders of 9/11, were the very same, absolutely, carefully measured, and yet pulled-punch message from God – and I mean the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords upon this earth in time and space, Washington DC, Olympia, and your own home included. And that message is simple: Do not continue to demand that God be separated from your public affairs. Do not demand separation from God, something which is also called hell – for a day is coming that, if you do not repent, that is exactly what He will give you.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Poison of Profit

Schlossberg continues in his chapter, "Idols of Mammon" with the observation that it was during the time of the Great Depression that it became increasingly respectable to believe that capital investment, and especially the pursuit of profit, was antithetical to the Christian gospel.

Funny how much we hear these days of the CEOs and Wall Street barons, those arrogant rich, who do not care for the working class. Just like in the days of the Great Depression, although the idea has certainly continued to cultivate in many over the last few years.

But there is a resurgence of what has been called the Christian left that claims to be evangelical and yet promotes these kinds of ideas. The power of envy has not only gripped American life, but even the church.

The place to fight this is in the centrality of our worship, through which we bring our tithes and offerings in the tribute offering, giving thanks to God alone for all of our increase, acknowledging Him as Sovereign over all, and filling the deacons' fund with more than enough to care for those in need.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chuck Colson on Classical Christian Education

Getting an endorsement for Classical Christian Education from a Christian leader like Chuck Colson is a great shot in the arm. It is a shame so many Christian leaders, starting with pastors, refuse to shepherd the flock in regard to training their children up in the paideia of God.

Watch this:

One man once said, "If every Christian pulled their kids out of the government school system, that system would be forced to shut down tomorrow." Of course this means that churches must work together to build wonderful Christian education systems, school and homeschool models, to support their chidlren. And then, these schools would themselves become powerful salt and light to the world around.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Covenant Relationships and Covenant Life

Deuteronomy 21 could be a bee's nest of problems for the preacher. He will likely have to deal with the difficult topics of women-slaves, polygamy, and rebellious sons being turned over to the authorities for execution. All of this has to be dealt with, but that is not the greatest issue in Deuteronomy 21 which is where Moses, I believe, is continuing to expound on the sixth commandment.

These are not little, miscellaneous laws. There is structure to be found. If "thou shalt not kill" means that we have a variety of responsibilities for life and the lives of others in our covenant communities, then these laws begin to cohere.

A city must take responsibility for the quality of life in its midst. A man may not take advantage of a woman even in times of warfare. A father must follow God's law with regard to his sons regardless of his personal favor. Parents must take responsibility for their childrens' actions and the consequences of such actions upon and within a community. And when justice must be carried out, we must not let the sun go down on our anger.

In all of these situations, covenant life and responsibility are at issue.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Corrupt Economics and Envy

"The original federal minimum wage laws were supported by northern textile manufacturers who wanted protection from the competition of southern manufacturers benefiting from low cost labor. From the avidity with which businessmen seek to avoid having competitors, we can infer that competition is at least as distasteful to capitalists as it is to socialists. They may praise it on the lecute tour, but when it comes to questions of public policy, they seem to believe that it works well only in other industries." - Schlossberg, p112, Idols for Destruction.

In his chapter, "Idols of Mammon", Schlossberg gives multiple examples of the power of envy that is at work in our economic and political system. However, he is quick also to note that the problem is not with "them" - the ones in the system or the system itself. The American culture, and the Americans that live in it, love the benefits of the system even at the expense of the costs of socialistic regimes placed over them.

"Resistance has always been possible...and with enough participants, may be effective. It is even more clear that the citizens in democracies cannot be absolved from the crimes and stupidities of their leaders. There is no refuge in the cry that the system is responsible." - p106.

And so we witness this summer the inability of the conservatives or the liberals in Congress to honestly handle our debt crisis. Capitalism and the free market systems are not losing to liberal politicians but to the envy of the people. The rare jewel of Christian contentment (Burroughs), and not more Republicans in the Senate or White House, is the only answer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The State's First Duty

"The first and basic duty of the state is to further the Kingdom of God by recognizing the sovereignty of God and His word and conforming itself to the law-word of God...Because of its failure to require that the state be Christian, because of its implicit death-of-God theology, the church has surrendered the state to apostate reason and the devil. The church has done this becuase it has denied the law of God. It has, in fact, implied that God is dead outside the walls of the church, and it then must logically proclaim His death within the church." - Rushdoony, IBL, p240

It seems we, the church, continue to play this game. We agree with the state that we will let her manage her affairs according to whatever standards she chooses, requesting only that we be allowed to do the same behind our walls. But the state is the strong one in our day, and because we have competing gods, our walls are pushed closer and closer together until there finally is no place that the state cannot say that she has authority there as well.

The state and the church are both in rebellion to the word of God in this. Both need to fully repent that the Kingdom of God might flourish in our land.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Confession, Consecration, and Communion

Each Lord’s Day, God summons you – you individually, and you corporately – you as individuals and you as families and you as His church, the body of His Son, the Bride for His Son, the work of His hands, the sheep of His pasture. We come again and again, but it should never be dull or monotonous for those with eyes of faith. The remaking of the world, our world, is taking place as we gather.

We come and confess our sins because they have been paid for at the cross. We do not have to bear them, we do not have to pay for them. The Sin-Offering has been made and so we stand in that sin-offering, that once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are made clean again because He died for us.

We come and offer up ourselves, all of ourselves, in the Ascension offering. Our prayers, our songs, our praise, offered up in Jesus’ name and with the shouts of our Amens, are received in the presence of the Ancient of Days at His throne, where He speaks His Word to us, cutting us open with the precise skills of a sovereign surgeon whose word is sharp and reveals to us who we are in graphic detail. He cuts us apart, arranges us, finds us in Christ, and receives us as perfect because of His perfect righteousness. He re-arranges us, renews us, instructs us, and tells us His story and how we are in that narrative again – and we find ourselves made new in the New Man, in Christ.

We come to a Table of Fellowship and in the essence of what was pictured through the Peace Offering, where God, priest, and confessor ate together in the sweet fellowship of full reconciliation, love, acceptance. We even find ourselves called sons and daughters of the living God, co-heirs with Christ, reigning with the One who sits at the right hand of His Father with all authority over heaven and earth, even down the details of our coming week. We will walk with Him this week because we have supped with Him this morning.

So come and worship – worship the God who is remaking us all into the image of His Son by the power of His Spirit. Do not hold anything back, do not doubt Him, His goodness, His love, His acceptance of you in His Son – do not doubt the work of His discipline in your life through trials and sufferings – speak to Him about all these things, and find your glory in His, your life in His, your eternal joy in Him through His eternal joy over you.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Prophet, Priest, and King - at the Lord's Table

We come to the Table to partake of our Lord. We do so by faith and in the power of His Holy Spirit and not by any merit of ourselves. But we do partake, we are changed, we are being made into the New Man, into the image of Christ.

And as we saw, Jesus is the Greater Prophet – we partake of this Prophet and our way of thinking about the world is changed – the words that come out of our lips should change as well.

Jesus is our High Priest – and we partake of the perfect sacrifice, offered once for our sins – we sit down with our High Priest and sup with Him and with our heavenly Father in union and communion – all is well for peace has been made with our God and therefore we may have peace with one another – we have learned forgiveness, for we taste it here at this Table. Therefore, we can give forgiveness – we are what we eat.

Jesus is our King, and we partake of His reign, His riches, His abundance at this Table. He shares all things with us and we co-reign with Him, equipped here by our Mighty Warrior to defeat every foe in His name. Therefore, we leave here prepared to take every thought captive to Christ, and to spread the kingdom of Grace throughout our world.

This is the Table of the Word of God – this is the Table of Truth and Love. All who have been baptized are summoned to come and partake – and welcome to Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Giver of Thanks - Always

All of us have received countless, unmerited gifts from our God and Redeemer, the greatest of which is our union and communion with Christ Himself which is ours by faith for eternity. But we have received many lesser gifts as well – and as I said, countless and unmerited. All of us have also not received many gifts from our Lord, and often these are gifts which we see others have been given and we wonder why God does not like us or what have we done wrong.

When we forget that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, we begin to boast in ourselves over the gifts we have received, which makes us prideful, arrogant, selfish, and miserly. We worked hard for these gifts and too bad for everyone else. When we forget that God is the Sovereign One who has decided, for good reasons, not to give us gifts which we would like to have now, but He has given them to others, we begin to think we’ve been cheated, that God is not good and kind, and this makes us envious, bitter, faithless, and generally miserable people.

What must we do? We must give thanks in all things. We must give thanks every time we DO NOT receive a gift that we wish we had. We must thank God for His sovereign wisdom, His perfect timing, His ways which are beyond finding out, and the stories He has given us over and over again which prove that He always has good reasons for His timing and choices.

But that is hard – for all of us. Begin here: begin with giving thanks for all the gifts you have been given. Make a list. Practice giving thanks for the smallest things. Practice giving thanks over and over again for those things. Discipline yourself to be a thankful person all the time in all the little, mundane things, so that you are well trained to handle giving thanks when God doesn’t give according to your plans or time.

He has called you here to give thanks – to give thanks for your salvation and the promised salvation of the world – some of which we can see and much which we cannot yet see – to give thanks for His perfect works of sanctification in and through you and throughout His church – to give thanks for the Triune God, for the power of the Word and Spirit at work in us – and this service ends with a Eucharist – a Thanksgiving Meal, where we cap off our thanks with thanksgiving. This should flow over to a time of fellowship and feasting this Sunday at our monthly feast – but it should spread out into all the days of this week. Give thanks – in all things. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say- rejoice.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Did Paul Mess with the Old Testament?

Quite the opposite of the way Klinghoffer views Paul's interaction with the Old Testament, he claims that Jews (like himself), " just the reverse. They prioritize the Old over the New. They begin with the premise that God speaks through the Hebrew Bible. With this in mind, they may proceed to evaluate the claims of Christianity. Because they approach and interpret scripture in chronological order - as seems reasonable, after all - they find that the New Testament does not arise naturally or logically from the foundation document, the Old Testament." - p110, Why the Jews Rejected Jesus.

First of all, of course they prioritize the Old over the New. In fact, they reject the New outright. But his point is deeper than this. He believes that Paul, and Christians ever since, reinterpret the Old with the erroneous New. Interestingly, this is just what Jesus was dealing with in the Sermon on the Mount. Over and over again, He says, "You have heard it said....but I tell you...." Many, including Christians, take this to mean that Jesus was ramping up the law, or reinterpreting the law. But that is not what He was doing. He was reorienting the listeners to the original point, the original interpretation and intent and application, of the law.

Second, throughout the New Testament, the writers show their logical and chronological handling of the Old and New - Klinghoffer is missing this. Hebrews 1:1-2, for instance: "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds..."

The New Testament never teaches an abandonment of the Old Testament. It does regularly teach an abandonment of damnable misinterpretations of the Old Testament and false-teachers who mishandled it to the detriment of their followers: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in." - Matt 23:13.

The New Testament in many ways is a testimony of Israel's unfaithfulness to the Old Testament. It is a renewal of covenant with those who would respond to God's Word with faith, like their spiritual father, Abraham. And Klinghoffer cannot see that because he calls himself a son of Abraham while not having the faith of Abraham. He cannot see that his people executed another Prophet, just like they did countless other times - prophets whose books they now include in their holy book.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets." - Matt 23:19-31

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No Authority, No Peace

Rushdoony, commenting on the Fifth Commandment, states,

"The problem of authority is basic to the nature of any and every society. If its doctirine of authority is shattered, a society collapses, or else it is held together only by total terror."

He goes on to note that we have forgotten that all authority is a matter of religion: the god or ultimate power of any system is also the authority and lawgiver of that system. And to the extent that we don't acknowledge the absolute law-giver of whatever system we are under, even if it is not Christian, that society will veer towards anarchy or totalitarianism. Might will make right.

America refuses to overtly acknowledge a particular absolute source, although she plays with demos as her god, the voice of the people. But that is not actually codified and so all kinds of rulers and lawmakers quickly learn how to get around that god.

In the end of course, we must acknowledge the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ as King of kings. We must kiss the Son, lest He become angry and we perish in the way.

The other thing to note is that the "total terror" that comes IS that judgment from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a sign that He is judging. The gospel of the Prince of Peace must be preached and obeyed. Nations must call upon the LORD and be saved.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Rise of Matriarchal Power

"Where women are concerned about their defense, it means normally that either a fearful outside invader is threatening the society, or else within the social order men are ceasing to function as men." - Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, p203.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Inherited Skepticism

"The overall reception of Jesus among those who knew of him - doubt turning to outright hostility - was only in keeping with a general Jewish tendency evident in the nation's past. The Jews are an acidic people, inclined to debate and question. Their inherent, inherited skepticism may account for the fact that among ancient peoples they were the first to successfully critique and forever pull away from the dominant polytheists of their world." - Why the Jews Rejected Jesus, Klinghoffer, p.13

I have no idea (yet) what Klinghoffer's view of the miracles of the Old Testament is, but he is clearly unimpressed with the idea that such miracles (Abraham's visions, Jacob's wrestling, the plagues upon Egypt, and on and on) might have resulted in a people worshipping the God who did and spoke these things. Secondly, while his characterization of the Jews as an "acidic people, inclined to debate and question" may or may not be true, the notion that they "forever" pulled away from "dominant polytheists of their world" is not true at all. This is the issue that Yahweh has with Israel - they continue to return to the gods of Eqypt, the gods of the Canaanites, and the worshipping practices of the polytheists all around them.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What if the Jews Had Accepted Jesus as Messiah?

This is the question Klinghoffer asks in the introduction to his book, "Why the Jesus Rejected Jesus." His point is to say that it is actually in Christianity's favor that the Jews didn't accept Christ.

He sets up the arguments betweent the Lord's brother, James, and Paul, as recorded in the book of Acts. But he misunderstands what happened. He treats Paul's rejection of the Jews rejecting him and his claim to turn to the Gentiles as though it only happened because the Jews rejected him (like a salesman moving to another location to sell his wares - my metaphor).

"Had the Jews embraced Jesus, therefore, followers of the church of James would have continued to be obligated in the biblical commandments of circumcision, Sabbath, kashrut (eating only kosher food), family purity...and so on. Thus, in every key respect, the Jesus movement might have remained a Jewish sect" - Klinghoffer, p7.

But Klinghoffer misses the point of Galatians and the whole New Covenant under Jesus in this consideration. James, or at least those who considered themselves "of James" were in error. They were in error of what the ceremonial law was pointing to and they were in error of the correct teaching of Paul - and Jesus. If the Jews (as many actually did) had come to Christ, they would have heard the good news of the gospel and within a generation, rituals like circumcision would have been subsumed in the fulfilled work of Jesus Christ, the Messiah who would come and make all things new.

This looks to be a good, irenic, and helpful debate with a Jew who wishes to make his case without the shrill. However, from the start, he is missing the point of the gospel, the shadows of the law and temple, and the fulfilment of Jesus not only to the Jews, but to the whole Adamic race.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Gospel and God of Love

(thanks to Peter Leithart and many of these thoughts from his book, "The Four")
The Gospel is the Story of Israel and the Gospel writers tell us the story of Israel rejecting Yahweh. Each time God comes, Israel turns from Him. God comes to Israel in Moses, and is rejected. God comes to Israel through priests and kings and prophets, yet Israel refuses to listen to her LORD. God comes to Israel through Joshua, Solomon, Elisha and Jeremiah, and yet Israel rejects the servants of Yahweh. Even when Yahweh comes in the flesh, in person, as the Son, Israel still rejects him.

That is not good news – but that is not the end of the story. The God of Israel does not stop coming. After His servants have been rejecting Him again and again, He still keeps coming and will not give up coming. Israel’s history is a story of a spurned husband who refuses to give up on His bride. His bride spurns Him and finds other husbands, but He woos her back. He is the relentless pursuing Hound of Heaven.

That is the message of the romantic comedy. Yahweh comes in flesh, and is rejected even to the point of being put to death – a horrible, humiliating death. But the resurrection shows that Israel’s God will not let Israel have the final word. He will not let Israel’s rejection stand. He keeps coming back, even after Israel thinks they have killed Him.

This is great good news, the unsettling gospel of God. This Gospel reveals that God is love, and shows us what kind of love God is: He is relentless, faithful, persistent Love. And this Love has pursued You again. He will not cease to come to you. Regardless of whether you had a good week or a bad week – a week of obedience or a week of failure – He is coming again – to You – in this service of worship. He will have you. He will love you. He will wash you and renew you and speak His covenant faithfulness to you. And He will grant you faith to respond in faith – and you will be renewed. So come and worship this God of Love.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Even the Wrath of Man Shall Praise Thee

Even the wrath of man shall praise thee” (Cantus Christi version of Psalm 76:10a), that’s an interesting phrase – what are we singing?

Matthew Henry tells us that these are words of comfort to the believer, He writes, We live in a very angry provoking world; we often feel much, and are apt to fear more, from the wrath of man, which seems boundless. But this is verse is a great comfort to us, for as far as God permits the wrath of man to break forth at any time he will make it turn to his praise, will bring honour to himself and serve his own purposes by it: Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, not only by the checks given to it, when it shall be forced to confess its own impotency, but even by the liberty given to it for a time. The hardships which God’s people suffer by the wrath of their enemies are made to redound to the glory of God and his grace; and the more the heathen rage and plot against the Lord and his anointed the more will God be praised for setting his King upon his holy hill of Zion in spite of them, Ps. 2:1, 6…

He continues - Men must never permit sin, because they cannot check it when they will; but God can. He can set bounds to the wrath of man, as he does to the raging sea. Hitherto it shall come and no further; here shall its proud waves be stayed. God restrained the remainder of Sennacherib’s rage, for he put a hook in his nose and a bridle in his jaws (Isa. 37:29).

We live in a world full of sin, full of terror and terrible events. But even this wrath of man shall praise God and so we gather to sing His praise. We often do not know how such vile events and catastrophes will turn out for good – what we do know because we are promised is that they will.

We must believe this and worship accordingly – and we must worship that we might believe this at ever deepening levels. God is God and that means He is God over this sorry world – controlling the affairs of every nation and every household. More wonderful, God knows every storm, every trial, every test in your life right this minute – and He has a hook in its nose – it will go no further than where He says, “stay – here – and no further” And then, He will manifest His praise in and through it as He vindicates you, relieves you, renews with you, and even when He raises you up at the last day.

Love Never Fails

(This was my Call to Worship Exhortation on Feb 13th, the day before Valentine's Day)

Valentines Day is tomorrow – and so listen again to what love is – and Who love is –

Jesus said, John 15:9-17 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 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 remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

Paul later defines true love – he writes, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails…

That is why God has summoned You, His people, brothers and sisters in Christ, to come before His presence with thanksgiving and joy. Love never fails – and God is love. He has never failed. He never will. He accomplishes all that He intends through and in His love – the Father’s love for the Son, the Son’s love for the Father, the Sending of that Love in the Holy Spirit who causes us to live and love in the abiding love of the Triune God – and therefore to love one another in other-worldly ways – ways that should not make sense to the rest of the world – but they do to those who know the love of God. Far beyond the sentimental Hallmark moment of Valentine’s Day – Jesus commands you in His name and in the power of His Holy Spirit – love one another – as I have loved you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sabbath Rejoicing and Delight

Conisdering the variety of sabbaths instituted in the Old Testament, Rushdoony comments, "There is thus a wide difference between the that rest is not the essence of every sabbath; rejoicing and faith are. The other sabbaths were largely seasons of feasting and celebration. All the sabbaths were to be a delight to the covenant people."

"...The merely external rest of the sabbath was important, but an even deeper and more basic rest was the rest in the authority and work of God, and man's delight in it."

It seems this must be essentially recovered and practiced in order to call the Sabbath a delight.

Monday, January 24, 2011

God of the Storm

Matthew 8:23-25 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

How often in your life do the situations you find yourself in seem far stronger than the LORD in whom you believe? Who looks stronger on the boat – A Killer Storm or a Sleeping Savior? How often does it look like the problem is far greater than Jesus could handle? How often does it appear that He is asleep or doesn’t care?

That is why you are summoned here to worship and renew covenant with your God – so that in the midst of your life and in the midst of our corporate life as a church, and even as a priesthood of this nation, we might go to God and wake Him up if we think He needs to be awakened. Is He oblivious to your financial difficulty or the problems in your marriage? Is He asleep while our nation continues into a moral decline and multiple seeming disasters? In covenant renewal we hear, “I will be Your God and You will be my people”.

Matt 8:26-27 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?

It is here, in this service of worship that He will correct and strengthen your faith, redirect it where it should go, reveal more of His mercy and love, and call upon you to trust Him again in the midst of whatever storm He has placed you – or us. You have come to worship the God of the winds and the sea, the God of the stars and the mountains, the God of the storms and the God of the calm. In every situation, He is God – in every circumstance, He is your God. Come, He would speak with you…

Is Abortion a Sin?

If you are faithful to the Scriptures, there is no debate. Abortion is nothing less than the murder of a human being (Ex 20:13, 21:22-25, Psalm 139:13-16). Modern medical technology has not only made abortion a far safer procedure for the mother, it has also revealed the glorious hand of God in the womb in living color and in our growing knowledge of the details of the life and development of a baby during his or her nine months in his or her mother’s womb. And the logical fallacies of our nation betray us even in the recent news. Conservatives and Liberals all joined together in acknowledging the ongoing, life-saving work of doctors over Rep. Gabrielle Giffords even though her life depended upon the skill, care, time, sacrifice and expense of others. No one called for a debate as to whether such costly care required determining whether or not Giffords was a person; no one was given a choice. How much easier should it be to see the simple, normal, and yet profound work going on in the womb of an expectant mother?