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Gospel Thoughts on a Dark Anniversary

Below is a bulletin insert that I wrote for Lord’s Day, January 21, 2018, in remembrance of the 45th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision which legalized human abortion in all 50 of the United States. Monday, January 22nd is that anniversary: 

Thoughts on A Dark Anniversary

On Monday, January 22, 2018, Americans in the US will wake up and go to work and about the day as usual. Looming as the backdrop of that day sits an anniversary that some celebrate as a victory of women’s reproductive rights and others lament as one of the darkest stains on our national conscience.

On this day, in 1973, 45 years ago, under the so-called right of privacy, the Supreme Court declared abortion legal in all 50 States. As the national median age is 37; more than half of Americans, including myself, have always lived with this so-called right to privacy—human abortion.

The psalmist reminds us that there is no privacy before God when it comes to human life; for he is the one who forms and weaves. Psalm 139:15-16 says:

“My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,  intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw […]

A Regrettable Future

Imagine a terrible situation.  Imagine yourself off at some point in the future, and that you have ruined your family or friendships; you’ve brought great pain and misery to those who trusted you.  Imagine yourself in a moment where it hits you:  how much you’ve done, how much you’ve lost, how deeply you’ve hurt people – imagine how hard you’d cry; imagine the heart-ripping regret you’d feel, how you’d do anything and give anything to go back to this time in your life, this very day, this very moment, before any of that horror happens so that you can keep far from the path which led to that destruction.  Such joyful thoughts!  In a way, they are.  Here’s how.

Wanting to Silence those who Show us up?

Introduction

I’m planning to preach tomorrow on the murder by Cain of Abel. Time is pressing on so I’ll try to be fairly brief.

Text

John brings out Cain’s main motive for his murderous act, in 1 John 3.12:

“We should not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s were righteous!”

The word ‘RIGHTEOUS’ shows us that the deeds of Abel conformed to the standard God set, whereas, in comparison, in the case of Cain, they fell woefully far short.

The problem with Cain’s offering?

The problem with the gift was neither that it was cereal, nor just a token expression (this common popular interpretation is probably a part but not the heart of the matter), nor even because there was no blood (blood, of course, was required for without death of a sacrificial victim there is no pardon or acceptance – Moses is teaching Israel, in Genesis, during their wilderness wanderings, so mention of gifts, lambs and fat parts assumes some kind of knowledge of the Old Testament sacrificial system): have there not been many false religions in history that offered blood of sacrificial victims […]

Browse Worthy: Edifying Posts

Usually my “Browse Worthy” posts are united by a topical theme from posts I’ve read over a period of time. Not so much today. Admittedly, “edifying” is a large catchall!

Memorial Service | R.C. Sproul

This service glorified the Lord even as it reminds us of how He is pleased to work through His servants. of which Dr. Sproul was a great one. I appreciated the emphasis on both God’s holiness and R.C.’s warmth as a person.

The 100 Most Influential Evangelicals in America | Tim Challies

No, Tim did not generate this list but responds to Newsmax’s column with this title. R.C. Sproul is one rightly included on it, but as Tim points such a list including also heretics and Catholics shows the word “evangelical” has lost its meaning in the modern American mind.

The Lawmaker Made Under the Law to Save Lawbreakers | David Murray

I appreciated reading even this morning David’s clear summary of the law, Christ’s relationship to it, and our consequent relationship with it given our union with Jesus.

Why Saying “She’s Just a Friend” is an Insult | Aimee Byrd

The perspective in this article by Aimee is a needed one. Men and women can have healthy, dynamic, loving brother and sister relationships […]

Incorporation Is Incarnation—What Apple Borrowed From Augustine

The secret to the spectacular success of Apple has been putting the right idea in the right form.

At Apple’s founding, Steve Wozniak brought the engineering insights, and Steve Jobs brought the knack for packaging those ideas in desirable and usable products.[1] The result was the Mac, the iPod and the iPhone.

Knowingly or not, Jobs and Wozniak inherited their successful formula from the 5th Century church father Augustine. Augustine’s theology said that Jesus Christ is the right idea—divine truth—embodied in the right form—human flesh and human speech.

Photo courtesy of Apple Inc.

As sinful humans, none of us has access to the divine. But Christ is both divine and human. Through his sinless humanity, he reconnects us with God the Father. Through his perfect speech, he gave us the gospel.

Augustine wasn’t the first to articulate this doctrine of the Incarnation. But he took the idea a step further. According to Calvin Troup, Augustine recommended the incarnation formula—the embodiment of divine truth in a beautiful, usable form—as the basis for preaching, writing books and, by extension, all cultural work.[2]

“Through his incarnation, Christ perfectly integrates philosophy and rhetoric, form and content,” wrote Troup, now the president of Geneva College, in his examination of Augustine’s Confessions. […]

Holidays and Holy Days (Part 2)

The following article is a guest post by Dr. Michael LeFebvre, Pastor of Christ Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, author of Singing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms, and Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Board President. 

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Several years ago, I wrote a post for Gentle Reformation called “Holidays and Holy Days” (link here). In that article, I described the roots of the Christian Calendar—including holidays like Easter and Christmas—in the Levitical holy days of the Old Testament. The point of that article was to explain why some churches like the RPCNA uphold the Lord’s Day Sabbath (which the New Testament continues to exhort) while not observing extrabiblical holy days like Christmas. The New Testament does not institute Christmas as a holy day, and in fact the Old Testament Levitical festivals (on which the “Christian Calendar” was based) have been discontinued in the New Testament. With due respect for the sincerity with which many hold Advent worship services each December, there is actually significant reason to question the celebration of Christmas as a church holy day.

That being said, there is every good reason to affirm the place of Christmas in the calendar of American, civic holidays. And to celebrate it as a civic holiday (but […]

Onboard with a Transgender Flight Attendant

This past summer I flew a number of times. On one international flight, as I boarded I was met by a friendly, female flight attendant. As I passed by her to go to my seat, in my mind I did a double take. I realized that the attendant was not a woman, but a man dressed as one. It was pretty obvious.

His face was broad and his voice was husky. Those qualities could easily have been attributed to genetics or a cold. But as I took my seat in the row closest to first class (love the legroom there), other things stood out that made it clear this attendant indeed was a man.

He served the first class passengers warmly and played the part of a hostess quite well. Yet he could not overcome certain things. His thick Adam’s apple protruded. When he walked, he swung his hips just like a man might do imitating a woman, sadly painful to witness. When talking with a seated passenger, he would lean over them with too much intensity and eye-batting. He would then respond to something they said by flipping his long hair back over his shoulder like a teenage girl might do. Observing […]

What’s wrong with the Occult?

I’m giving a talk this evening to some of the young people of our Presbytery about the Occult, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone today… Eastern Presbytery CY members look away now!!

 

In his introduction to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis wrote ‘There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.’ Lewis makes the point that the Devil is perfectly happy with either of those extremes – both suit his purpose very well. The apostle Paul says in 2 Cor 2.11 that we are not ignorant of the Devil’s tactics. The occult is one of his many tactics to ensnare human beings, and so we should be aware of it dangers.

 

What is the Occult?

The word ‘occult’ means ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’. Occult practices have to do with gaining secret, hidden knowledge and using invisible powers to control things in the world. This knowledge and power comes from the unseen, supernatural world. All kinds of practices fall under label ‘occult’, such as fortune telling (in any of its many […]

An Old Christian Model For New Church Growth

Chat in Corinth

‘Have you heard about the latest Church Growth Model in Corinth? The latest preachers in Acro Creek think they’ve nailed success! O.K., it’s a little alternative, and it’s the opposite to what Paul said (but then again, for some strange reason, he seems to have cancelled his announced visit – some lame excuse about an unforeseen turn of events)! Yet, we cannot help but notice, it does seem very popular: it appears to be working! They’ve definitely had results! The crowds of pagans are flocking! They’re going to extend their buildings! Even better, there’s no suffering, so perhaps we should give it a go.’

Model for Ministry

If that was the chat in Corinth, it would explain Paul’s loving determination to put the record straight, and turn Corinthians back to the Cross. Having explained the nature and glory and hope of the Ministry of the New Covenant, he commends his urgent appeal, by the model minister he is. Effectively, he says, ‘this is how to do the work, this is the Christ’s model for church growth’, as we make our appeal, 2 Corinthians 5.20, ‘Be reconciled to God.’

“We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed, […]

The Importance of Practical Religion

‘The Gospel is at stake! You must not budge an inch! Peter, brothers, Barnabas, you’ve got to change your practice!’

Is that how it happened in Antioch, with Paul’s face-to-face rebuke of Peter, where he refused the spare the blushes? The truth of the Gospel was endangered by behavior that was disconnected from principle (Galatians 2.11 & 14):

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned …But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of Gospel, I said to Cephas: ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile, and not like a Jew, how can you force Gentiles to live like Jews.”

In my initial naivety, I thought that there was only one simple single principle being taught: that we should lovingly, prayerfully, firmly, yet bravely, highlight hypocrisy publicly, if the Gospel is in jeopardy – of course we should do that, no matter who it embarrasses, for the love of Christ, with the hope of restoring brothers – but to bow to peer pressure, and create confusion about the Gospel, puts souls at eternal risk, so we cannot pass the buck!

However, on reflection, principial disconnection from practice […]