From 400 B.C. to around year 0, God did not speak to man — He went silent. Those are even called the four hundred silent years. People seem to expect God to provide spoken Word, which is another case of the clay expecting something from the Potter. God gave us a Book, the Bible, and this is the prime and enduring method for God to communicate. We’ve got to depend on scripture. That is not good enough for many. A man wants direct revelation to himself. He’s going to need to get over that. It’s not happening. God gives grace to the humble, and the humble will receive the grace of God’s special revelation through scripture. It is enough. Look at it this way. We’ve got a book to sort through, exegete, pore over, and live. If we can’t start there and enjoy that, thoroughly understand that, then why would we deserve something more than that? Scripture itself says that this written form is complete and sufficient and superior. God says it is the best form of communication to men. Scripture not being good enough arises from human pride. It is good enough. However, even among professing believers, it isn’t. They don’t know the Bible, they ignore it, and disobey it. Some claim to still get Word from God, God giving them special revelation, another indication of the rejection of what God wants men to receive. Let us receive the Word of God.
Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA
Should patriotism be involved in the sacred worship of a church? I’ve read in several instances recently, “No.” What I read said that it violates the regulative principle of worship. We don’t read patriotism in New Testament worship. Let me push back on that idea. When we are patriotic in a service here, which is rare, and usually at this time of the year, patriotism is not an element of worship, but a circumstance. We might sing what some might consider a patriotic song, essentially a song that tells God something such as “blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” That line is from a song, Psalm 33:12. Would America be blessed if America’s God was Lord? Yes. Is natural law biblical? Yes. Is America founded on natural law? Yes. Our God has given us certain inalienable rights. The elements of our worship are regulated by scripture. If we pray a patriotic prayer, an element of worship, prayer, we could pray for kings and all who are in authority, and that would be a prayer regulated by the New Testament. If men submit to the powers ordained by God and at the same time obey God rather than men, why should we not point out the way that aligns itself with the Bible? That would be a proclamation of biblical truth. Patriotism that is just patriotism is not fitting of what stands for God’s kingdom in this age, His church, but regulated by scripture, it is.
If you study the cumulative words of the godly people of the Bible, the communication they initiate, their answers, and their arguments—all of those words—you find a wide variety of talk. James declares the ease of sinning with the tongue. You can count on someone pointing out where you went wrong with what you said. You may not have said anything sinful. You may have operated in a good and righteous way with your speech and someone accuses you of bad and sinful. What I’m describing occurs more today than ever. If you call a sin what it is, a sin. If you condemn it. Others will say you lacked the compassion of Jesus, that you behave in a selfish way. In general, people today will like it if you allow sin to go or even reward it with kind words. If someone comes at what you believe and in a very harsh way, personal attack and more, and you match that rhetoric, you will be accused of pugilism or unkindness, some lack of Christianity in your speech. You may think that you are merely answering a fool according to his folly. You may suspect that you are following the example of Jesus or Paul in their speech with opponents of the truth, but to no avail. Your conscience comes into these situations. In the battle, you know you stand for the truth. The truth rises far above you. You defend it, sometimes with combative speech. Rest in God.
If you want to write or show a popular and successful story in today’s culture, indicate how up to date you are by attacking the dad, the father, the patriarch in the story. Make him look stupid. Have him make bad decision after bad decision for selfish reasons. Show that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or that he knows what he is doing. Even better, make a joke out of him, a bumbling idiot. By doing so, those who are supposed to trust that role, or the person filling that role, won’t be able to do so. He will feel justified in not listening to this man and going his own way. She won’t need to submit and really shouldn’t if she knows what’s good for her. The man fights. He loses. He loses confidence. And boys don’t know what to do, how to live. They can’t have a role model, because they don’t have a role. They do have a lot of pent up energy, what was intended to fulfill the role, but nothing to use it for. A gang will work. Or be the woman. Or just close yourself off from society, too afraid, not confident, but frustrated. The frustration builds and you could blow that off by taking out on others around you, that is, if the psychiatrists don’t get to you first. And even if they do, that might be worse, as most of us know. Does this sound familiar? The world can’t admit its wrong, because it would have to admit there is a Designer, Who is masculine.
Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, WV. Her campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the US began in 1905, the year her mom, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Her mission was to honor her own mother by setting aside a day to honor mothers, “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” Anna’s mother had cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the Civil War and created “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to address public health issues. She succeeded when several states officially recognized Mother’s Day, first in 1910 in West Virginia. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the 2nd Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers. Jarvis soon became resentful of the commercialization, angry that companies would profit from the holiday. By the early 1920′s, Hallmark and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. She saw this as misinterpretation and exploitation, so she protested and even tried to rescind Mother’s Day. No verse commands a Mother’s Day, but it can and should be a reminder of the importance of biblical motherhood and opportunity to say thanks for our own mothers and their contributions to our lives. Happy Mother’s Day, Moms!
What exactly is different about a Christian? That sets him apart from the world? Is it just his ultimate destination? He’s going to heaven and not hell? Is it that his sins are forgiven and the sins of the non-Christian are not? Certainly a Christian is going to heaven because His sins are forgiven, and this is based upon His reception of Jesus Christ. He’s obtained the benefits of the work of Christ on the cross by faith. However, the Christian then is characterized by following Christ and that is a supernatural life that is different than the world. Salvation has changed him. And because He’s been saved, He wants to act like it. His new nature tends toward righteousness, that is, doing right things, which is essentially obeying the Bible. It’s worth obeying God, because that pleases God and the Christian does want to please God. An unbeliever could do some to many of the things that a Christian does. In certain cases, I think it’s true that some non-Christians act more like a Christian than some professing Christians act. They keep higher standards, closer to biblical ones than the professing Christian does. Bottom line, a Christian should be different. He should read, study, and obey His Bible. He should love God and then act like it. He should worship the Lord faithfully, so attend church services and strive to reflect the Lord in all his lifestyle.
Apostasy or apostate religion is most or best characterized by the description in Romans 1 that men ‘worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator.’ The wrong way is varied degrees of this all the way to the worst. The best churches are always fighting to keep worshiping God and not the creature. The nature of the flesh and human fallenness is toward men having their way. Often today churches are barely doing what God wants and very much doing what they want, while giving themselves credit for barely doing what they want and very much doing what God wants. In other words, they are deceiving themselves, or lying to themselves. We don’t change anything to the good when we lie to ourselves. God always knows. No one is fooling Him. That’s a good thing. We’ve got to keep fighting for true worship, where we really are interested in God getting what He wants. The so-called churches know what men want and they give them some or a lot of it to get them and/or keep them. As 2 Peter speaks about this, ‘they make merchandise of people.’ And these can be those who talk like they’ve got sincere motives. They are using people to get what they want and calling it church. It isn’t about the glory of God or the conversion of men. This will all end when this life ends and ultimately when time ends. Let’s take this seriously.
There is more testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ than any ancient historical event. Just an ordinary historian, Josephus, in Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, 3, wrote: “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.” Scripture itself is authentic and it has plenty to say about Jesus. Dating late first century is Clement of Rome, who wrote concerning church leaders: “Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God. . . .” There would be no Christianity without the resurrection of Jesus Christ — that is clear from the New Testament, and if the New Testament is the authority for Christianity, then it has stayed that way since He did raise.
In Matthew 20, Jesus used a parable to say that someone who was saved at the end of his life would get the same ultimate pay, eternal life, as the one who was saved toward the beginning of his life. I want to consider another related idea, which is that it is never too late to change or make some changes that you need to make. As saved people, we will and must conform to the image of His Son. We will keep conforming, because we’ve been justified — God has predetermined that (Rom 8:29). These changes, albeit later, are still what will happen. I’m still changing and I know it is never too late to change. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. An older Christian will by nature, since He has a new nature, be willing to change, because He has denied himself. Change requires humility. We must not be set in an old way that is a wrong, old way. Even though there are quotes like “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” that doesn’t make them true. They aren’t Bible. It is possible that might characterize someone who can’t change, because he has rejected Christ for the last time. However, you older person, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change. Be prepared to meet the Lord. End your life the very best of your Christian life. Keep on growing. Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
In my viewpoint, America is done as a nation. What does that mean to us? It really doesn’t change anything, because first we are citizens of heaven. This world is not our home. Perhaps we can stop thinking so much about this world and not the next. The only opportunity the country has is to repent and turn to God, and I’m talking about the nation, not just the churches. We should desire, in the midst of judgment, pockets of God’s mercy. It’s a better situation than Sodom, because there are far more than ten righteous. However, we’re on our way there for many reasons. As well, we can slow it down, slow down the ultimate demise, and we should want that for our children and grandchildren. The grandparents and parents should consider that. This is not just about you, whether you’re going to enjoy the end of your life, but what will leave behind for your children. Whether we have good churches, whether those churches are obedient, does matter. You can hasten destruction. You can make it much more difficult for the future on this earth for your children and grandchildren by what you do. You want to be an influence of righteousness if not being a basis for God withholding judgment yourself. He deserves to be honored even in the midst of wickedness, like an Elijah and Elisha of old. Let’s do what we can do.