Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page

Our natural preference to admire the creation rather than the Creator

For in regard to the fabric and admirable arrangement of the universe, how few of us are there who, in lifting our eyes to the heavens, or looking abroad on the various regions of the earth, ever think of the Creator? Do we not rather overlook Him, and sluggishly content ourselves with a view of his works? And then in regard to supernatural events, though these are occurring every day, how few are there who ascribe them to the ruling providence of God—how many who imagine that they are casual results produced by the blind evolutions of the wheel of chance? Even when under the guidance and direction of these events, we are in a manner forced to the contemplation of God (a circumstance which all must occasionally experience), and are thus led to form some impressions of Deity, we immediately fly off to carnal dreams and depraved fictions, and so by our vanity corrupt heavenly truth. This far, indeed, we differ from each other, in that every one appropriates to himself some peculiar error; but we are all alike in this, that we substitute monstrous fictions for the one living and true God—a disease not confined to obtuse and vulgar minds, but affecting the noblest, and those who, in other respects, are singularly acute.

John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Sermon Jams – Ravi on Sin

31 Sermon Jams

Being Slave vs. Free and Unborn vs. Born

Piper wrote a great article regarding Lincoln’s take on the logic of slavery. He extended the logic very well into the area of abortion.

I saw that one of the most popular posts on WordPress a week ago regarded a technique for stumping anti-abortionists like Dr. Piper (I’m not going to link to it because it would be a waste of your time). The writer proposed that if you want to stump an anti-abortionist, just ask them this, “If abortion were made illegal, what should happen to women who get an illegal abortion?” I don’t think Piper would’ve been too stumped by this line of questioning.

It seems to me that the abortionist’s way to stump the anti-abortionist (a label that I welcome) is to take the focus off of the issue, the personhood of the unborn. The logic is revealed – they do not consider the unborn to be a person and so abortion is permissible for us. Do you see how this compares with the logic of slavery? If certain members of the human race aren’t considered persons, then we can enslave them. If certain members of the human race aren’t considered persons, then we can kill them.

I don’t sit around thinking up ways of stumping abortionists. I think it would be much more profitable to those on both sides of the matter if we would spend more time considering the issues rather than trying to come up with tricky ways of stumping those who may disagree with us.

Abortion and the Moral Gray Area

The writer of Proverbs 24:11-12 knows there will be some who will disobey his wise council. Not only will they disobey, but they will be capable of offering up ignorance as an excuse for their disobedience. The fact that they are even capable of claiming ignorance in their disobedience implies that there must be some reason for why they are able to do this. John Piper said it something like this – the situation must be that if you wanted to, you could say you were lacking knowledge or you were unaware that people were dying and so you did nothing. To me, this speaks loudly – it screams – of application in our day to the issue of abortion and other attacks on the sanctity of human life. The pro-abortion movement is all about promoting ignorance. Read the literature available at abortion clinics. They use words like zygote and fetus and extraction and CHOICE. And they do this with a purpose. They are giving people the opportunity to stay in the dark if they want to and it is sin. And it is exactly what people want.

Even the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States used ignorance as an excuse. Here is what is written in the majority opinion of the court in the case of Roe v. Wade:

When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.

Do you see what they have said? They have claimed the proverbial moral gray area regarding the issue of human life and abortion. All they did was admit our ignorance and then choose to use it as a reason to NOT protect the lives of the unborn.

Imagine with me if you would what the so-called experts would say to try and explain to my 6 year-old daughter what a doctor is doing when they perform an abortion. Of course I would absolutely never dream of doing that to my daughter, but can you imagine with me what it would look like to watch the so-called experts explain themselves to a child. That’s because words like zygote and fetus and extraction and choice will mean nothing to a 6 year-old and so when it comes down to it – the claim of ignorance is stripped away in the presence of innocence. If you asked any child what was growing in the belly of my wife the overwhelming answer would be “a baby”. That may be partly because they have been taught this (and thank God for that), but even more than that – they have seen what comes out of the bellies of expectant mothers! Babies do!

The reason there is a gray area which mankind is even capable of using as an excuse is because in our own willful and sinful ignorance, we have created the moral gray area to bail ourselves out. It is the church’s duty to strip away the gray area and ignorance and moral confusion. It is the church’s duty on the authority of God’s word, to draw the distinct line that divides right from wrong and truth from lies.

More Quotes I Found While Reading the Institutes

Enlightened by him, we no longer believe, either on our own Judgment or that of others, that the Scriptures are from God; but, in a way superior to human Judgment, feel perfectly assured—as much so as if we beheld the divine image visibly impressed on it—that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God. We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our Judgment, but we subject our intellect and Judgment to it as too transcendent for us to estimate. This, however, we do, not in the manner in which some are wont to fasten on an unknown object, which, as soon as known, displeases, but because we have a thorough conviction that, in holding it, we hold unassailable truth; not like miserable men, whose minds are enslaved by superstition, but because we feel a divine energy living and breathing in it—an energy by which we are drawn and animated to obey it, willingly indeed, and knowingly, but more vividly and effectually than could be done by human will or knowledge…Such, then, is a conviction which asks not for reasons; such, a knowledge which accords with the highest reason, namely knowledge in which the mind rests more firmly and securely than in any reasons; such in fine, the conviction which revelation from heaven alone can produce. I say nothing more than every believer experiences in himself, though my words fall far short of the reality.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

Situational Ethics and the Sanctity of Human Life

The idea of situational ethics should be troublesome to the mind of a biblically thinking Christian. It should be troublesome to us because in the mind of a biblically thinking Christian, what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong – what is true is true and what is false is false. But there is a line separating those things and it is that line which can, very often, become blurry to us. Why is that? Is there really such a thing as “the gray area?”

I believe there is a gray area – to us. Sometimes the gray area can be a situation that really has no ethical implication and so there really is no right or wrong in the situation (what color shirt do I wear today?). However, most of the time the gray area represents that blurred line between right and wrong. We have to admit that there is such a thing as a gray area. However, I still believe that there is a right and wrong and truth is absolute. I agree with Dr. R.C. Sproul, who has said this “gray area” that we perceive, is really in fact representative of “confusion”. Why is there confusion? It is because we lack perfect knowledge. There is confusion because we do not know everything. We do not have all of the answers and so we become confused in certain situations about what is right and wrong or what is true and what is false. We are human and we are sinful.

However there is one who has all of the answers. There is one who knows everything. There is one who is never confused. There is one who is perfect in knowledge. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth always knows what is right. He always knows what is just, what is true, and what is good. There is no moral situation that you could possibly find yourself in where, if you took it to God, God would look at it and say, “I don’t know what to do here. I don’t know. What is the right thing here?” God always knows the answer. The closer we are to the LORD God, the less confusion there will be and the more the gray area will shrink for us. There is no gray area with God. He is not ambiguous about anything. If we would seek the mind of God, if we would know his word, then there would be much less of a gray area to us.

However, in the post-modern secular humanistic society that we live in, the gray area has become a great expanse of gray. Moral confusion runs rampant. Dr. Voddie Baucham, at the 2006 desiring God national conference related the condition of our culture very well. He talked about how the post-modern secular humanistic society that we live in answers the questions, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”

Who am I? The answer – you are nothing. You are an accident. You are a mistake. You are a glorified ape. That is all. You are the result of random evolutionary processes. That is it. No rhyme, no reason, no purpose. That is all you are.

Why am I here? You are here to consume and enjoy.

When you put these two things together, you get terrible results. If I have no rhyme or reason for my existence, if I am no more than the result of random evolutionary processes, and I only exist to consume and enjoy, the only thing that matters is if I am more powerful than you and if you have something I need for my enjoyment. Because if you have something I need for my enjoyment and I am more powerful than you are and there is no rhyme or reason to your existence, then it is incumbent upon me to take from you what I need for my own satisfaction. Have we not seen the logical conclusion of this kind of social Darwinism. Have we not seen a culture that at one time said, ‘There is one race that is further evolved than all other races. And because the Arian race is further evolved than all other races it is incumbent upon the Arian race to dominate and/or exterminate other races in order to usher in the next level of our evolution.’

Don’t look down on their scientists and their biologists, who looked upon Jews as things and not people in order to justify their extermination because that is exactly what our scientists and our biologists do to the baby in the womb – the same concept of eugenics. The same concept of, ‘All that is, is an inconvenient lump of flesh.’ Or even more sinister, ‘This child will be severely deformed and will therefore hinder your ability to consume and enjoy.’

Defending the Faith and Sharing the Gospel

Al Mohler has a great article about the death of evangelism in America

On that note, I had a conversation with a friend at work regarding an email correspondence he had with a gentlemen.  This gentleman called himself a Christian, yet believed there were still many ways to God.  Here was my counsel to him, for what it’s worth, after he let me read the email correspondence with his friend Warren.

What I have found to be true in trying to present the uniqueness of Christ to folks like your friend Warren is that it really boils down to a single issue that you stated very well in your last response – “God is holy.  Man is wicked.  Because of man’s sinfulness, he is not worthy to be in the presence of God.  His destiny is death.  ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.'”  This is the key to the Holy Spirit breaking through to this guy just as it was true in our own lives.  None of us (Warren, me, or you) can accept the reality of the sin within us unless the Holy Spirit, working through the word of God (Romans 10:17 – “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.”), breaks us and reveals to us our need for the Savior.  Warren believes what he believes because he does NOT believe he or anyone else truly needs a redeemer.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t also present proofs to him regarding the reliability of scripture and the reality of the resurrection – I’m just saying that it is clear Warren is not a Christian although he may say he is and so he primarily needs to hear the gospel.  You know what I mean – we are surrounded every day by people who see no need for a savior just as we once did – all they think they need is someone to point them in the right direction and then they are perfectly capable of getting there on their own (whether “there” is heaven or nirvana or paradise or whatever) just like we once did.  Until Warren comes to terms with the truth that there is a sin problem in his heart that makes him guilty before a holy God, no evidence for the resurrection or the reliability of scripture that you present to him is going to convince him.

I hope you continue your interactions with Warren and I encourage you to concentrate your efforts on his conscience by showing him what the Bible says about the natural condition of mankind – that we are all sinners and under the just condemnation of God, that Christ bore that condemnation in our place and that is what makes Christ unique among all other false gods.  The God of the Bible, as He is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, is the only true God and he is a redeeming God.  No other religion makes the claims of Christianity in that all other so called gods do not redeem.  They may set forth a prescription for mankind to adhere to so that they may find redemption, but only the God of the Bible has acted in history to redeem a people for himself.  He alone is mighty to save and until Warren discovers that he has no hope outside of the redemption that comes through Jesus, he will not be convinced of the resurrection as fact and the inspiration of the Bible as divine…

Remembering Reagan’s Personhood Proclamation on Obama’s First Day in Office

January 14, 1988
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation
America has given a great gift to the world, a gift that drew upon the accumulated wisdom derived from centuries of experiments in self-government, a gift that has irrevocably changed humanity’s future. Our gift is twofold: the declaration, as a cardinal principle of all just law, of the God-given, unalienable rights possessed by every human being; and the example of our determination to secure those rights and to defend them against every challenge through the generations. Our declaration and defense of our rights have made us and kept us free and have sent a tide of hope and inspiration around the globe.
One of those unalienable rights, as the Declaration of Independence affirms so eloquently, is the right to life. In the 15 years since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, however, America’s unborn have been denied their right to life. Among the tragic and unspeakable results in the past decade and a half have been the loss of life of 22 million infants before
birth; the pressure and anguish of countless women and girls who are driven to abortion; and a cheapening of our respect for the human person and the sanctity of human life.
We are told that we may not interfere with abortion. We are told that we may not “impose our morality” on those who wish to allow or participate in the taking of the life of infants before birth; yet no one calls it “imposing morality” to prohibit the taking of life after people are born. We are told as well that there exists a “right” to end the lives of unborn children; yet no one can explain how such a right can exist in stark contradiction of each person’s fundamental right to life.
That right to life belongs equally to babies in the womb, babies born handicapped, and the elderly or infirm. That we have killed the unborn for 15 years does not nullify this right, nor could any number of killings ever do so. The unalienable right to life is found not only in the Declaration of Independence but also in the Constitution that every President is sworn to preserve, protect, and defend. Both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments guarantee that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law.
All medical and scientific evidence increasingly affirms that children before birth share all the basic attributes of human personality — that they in fact are persons. Modern medicine treats unborn children as patients. Yet, as the Supreme Court itself has noted, the decision in Roe v. Wade rested upon an earlier state of medical technology. The law of the land in 1988 should recognize all of the medical evidence.
Our nation cannot continue down the path of abortion, so radically at odds with our history, our heritage, and our concepts of justice. This sacred legacy, and the well-being and the future of our country, demand that protection of the innocents must be guaranteed and that the personhood of the unborn be declared and defended throughout our land. In legislation introduced at my request in the First Session of the 100th Congress, I have asked the Legislative branch to declare the “humanity of the unborn child and the compelling interest of the several states to protect the life of each person before birth.”  This duty to declare on so fundamental a matter falls to the Executive as well.  By this Proclamation I hereby do so.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim and declare the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death, and I do proclaim, ordain, and declare that I will take care that the Constitution and laws of the United States are faithfully executed for the protection of America’s unborn children.  Upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God. I also proclaim Sunday, January 17, 1988, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day.  I call upon the citizens of this blessed land to gather on that day in their homes and places of worship to give thanks for the gift of life they enjoy and to reaffirm their commitment to the dignity of every human being and the sanctity of every human life.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twelfth.
Ronald Reagan

Reading “The Institutes”

Last week, my brother and I started reading John Calvin‘s “Institutes of the Christian Religion“.  Pick up a reading plan here and join us.  This week we finally got out of the preface works and into the first chapter.  Here are some of the quotes that I took note of…

…the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty.
…we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves.
…Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to find him.
…If, at mid-day, we either look down to the ground, or on the surrounding objects which lie open to our view, we think ourselves endued with a very strong and piercing eyesight; but when we look up to the sun, and gaze at it unveiled, the sight which did excellently well for the earth is instantly so dazzled and confounded by the refulgence, as to oblige us to confess that our acuteness in discerning terrestrial objects is mere dimness when applied to the sun. Thus too, it happens in estimating our spiritual qualities.
…not a particle of light, or wisdom, or justice, or power, or rectitude, or genuine truth, will anywhere be found, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause; in this way we must learn to expect and ask all things from him, and thankfully ascribe to him whatever we receive.
…until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is the author of all their blessings, so that nought is to be looked for away from him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; nay, unless they place their entire happiness in him, they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity.

C.J. Mahaney and Hip-Hop and the Cross

I got an iTunes card for Christmas and so naturally I used it to purchase some hip-hop.  I’ve got to admit that I love some old school Run-DMC, but you will not find “It’s Tricky” on my iPod or any other Run-DMC classics.  Instead, after reading some tips from Tim Challies, I purchased some Lecrae, Shai Linne, and Flame.

Shai Linne has a song based on the old African Spiritual, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.”  I highly recommend it.  At the end he has sampled an excerpt from a C.J. Mahaney sermon.

Mahaney says, ” Before we can begin to see the cross as something done FOR us, leading us to faith and worship, we have to see it as something done BY us, leading us to repentance.  Only the man or woman who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross may claim his share in its grace.”  That’s good and it’s in a hip-hop song…awesome.