Saturday, December 21, 2013
Adam's sin was passed down or, imputed to us. It was charged to our account. It was placed on our side of the balance sheet. He was our head whom God chose to represent all of mankind. His sin is our sin. Not fair? Was it fair that God rescued some of us by placing our sin upon the one who never sinned? This is called imputation, whereby God placed our guilt upon his perfect sinless son Jesus Christ so that we might become just in the eyes of God(2 Corinthians 5:21). Was this fair to him? We don't want fairness, but mercy and grace.
Make no mistake, those who are not just in themselves have been justified and declared to be righteous because of the actions of Jesus Christ. They place their faith in him as their substitute. Their eyes have been opened and they now realize their guilt before God and the fact that they can be saved from the wrath of God by accepting the work of Jesus Christ on the cross as payment for their sin. Payment in full. Because of this, the birth of Jesus Christ is the single most important event in history. He was the Son of God. He was
Immanuel, God with us. Though we do not really know when exactly he was born, we can rejoice in the fact that he came, was obedient unto death, and conquered sin.
Merry Christmas to you.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Courtship and Betrothal are words that have been tossed around for years in Christian home- schooling circles (See David Crank's article). Depending on whom you follow, one could come away with varying degrees of emphasis and understanding. Various passages are used to teach this but fall short when biblical hermeneutics are applied. Many of these teachers are misapplying the "biblical" principle illustrated above.
The idea that parents should be involved in dating and marriage propositions on behalf of their children has become popular, and with good reason. The culture is corrupting the church in ways that are not repairable. Reverence for God and a resultant concern for others has been lost. Thus, the activities of church-going individuals with regard to dating has seriously devolved into selfish gratification that is harmful to all involved. I like to refer to what we are seeing today as "recreational dating". No purpose, just fun and excitement. There is little regard for young ladies as "sisters in Christ" or young men as "brothers in Christ". Everyone is fair game and my happiness is the goal! I wonder, is this idea biblical?
This downward spiral is no surprise, is it? Is Christian culture in the US becoming more like Christ or more like the world? The result is that parents are becoming involved in the dating process. They want to be sure that their son or daughter does not make a mistake in marriage. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, this godly concern is a biblical concern because marriage is to be a picture of Christ and his church, his bride. But, how we get there is the thing with which I have a problem. In other words, How parents become involved and stay involved in this process is where there is an issue.
Some parents err on the side of patriarchy and force themselves into this process against the will of their young people. They are well intentioned but wrong. This is simply a short cut. They have never had much of a relationship with their kids. So, they have forced obedience and neglected to look at the heart. I must say they have done their best, but simply did not know any different. Other parents err on the side of humanism, thinking that junior is 18 now and they have no right to speak into his life. They stay out of the entire process and give no guidance at all. They "hope" junior has found a good match but have never really taught him what to look for.
I would like to bring balance to this whole issue. Are you ready? The key to this whole thing is very simple and biblical. Develop such a thriving relationship with God that your life overflows into a fruitful relationship with your children so that when they come to the place of making these kinds of decisions they will desire your input with open hearts and minds. No coercion, no manipulation. John Wesley said something to the effect; "don't look for a ministry but anticipate the fruit of a disciplined life". This begins at a young age and carries through. Start today. You may have blown it many times over. Start today. Your kids might be older now. Start today. Create a culture in your home of loving God and loving others because it is the right thing. Put away the legalism and forced "godliness". Allow God to change your heart. If you have taught your children to know and love wisdom then they are going to desire all the counsel they can get (Proverbs 11:14). Allow Spurgeon's Catechism to guide your emphasis and motivation for living:
There is a culture in your home. You may not be aware of it but there is one. In your home, projects may be more important than people. Things might be more valuable than godly character. Anger and coercion may be the means by which you get your kids to obey you. Manipulation may be the way you relate to your spouse. Achievement may be more important than humility. This is culture. They key here is to find out what Scripture says about culture. On what does your family place value? (Proverbs 29:21, 12:15-16; Colossians 2:8; Ephesians 5, 6; Luke 6:45)
Quick guidelines for relationships
- Until one is ready to support a family, or is on a reasonable path to this, no thought should be given to dating, courtship, betrothal or whatever you want to call it. But, one should always be preparing spiritually by being under sound biblical teaching and engaging in ministry.
- Ask others more mature than you if you are ready for marriage based on issues of spiritual maturity and responsibility. Be teachable and listen.
- Parents, if your kids are in a youth group, the inevitable dating will only complicate things and cause harm in the church and drama in your home. Your young person will end up being affected by hurt feelings, misunderstanding and wrong assumptions. (I do not care for youth groups because unhealthy dating is virtually impossible to avoid)
- Can premature dating help my child grow in godliness and increase in godly character? I think not. If godly character and a rich relationship with God through Christ is not my goal for my children, I must reevaluate my focus. Sound radical? Living for Christ is supposed to be radical (Luke 9:23). There is no other kind of Christianity.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
But the "why" we call out to him is the critical factor. Again, it goes back to Philippians 1:6. He begins this work on our behalf and we simply respond to His gentle but effectual wooing.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Your best life now. Everyday is a Friday. Positive messages for broken people. Our church is relevent. We are an inclusive congregation. God doesn't hate. Doctrine separates. The Bible is true because I believe it. That church doesn't have enough programs for my kids. There's not enough people my own age at that church. I want...
No doubt you have heard many of these statements. Titles and phrases like these are a glaring testimony to the state of the church today. For instance: "relevance". We unknowingly hold such a low view of God and His word that we have to declare our teaching "relevant", as if God's word alone somehow isn't. In its context, what is really meant by "relevant" is: "Our church will give you everything you desire and we will make you feel good in the process".
Returning to biblical Christian living has been a difficulty for every generation. It is not for the faint of heart. The early Church was forced into a steadfast position on truth. Many were required to renounce Jesus Christ or be killed. Hence, we see the message proclaimed in Romans 10:9-11. This reference is not a recipe for a "sinner's prayer" but probably to a public acknowledgment of the personal lordship of Jesus Christ. Christians were forced to bow to Caesar or be killed; young and old, women and children. But, as time went on, the early Church eventually got off track. They left the simplicity and authority of Scripture and began adding to it human "wisdom". It wasn’t until the Reformation that these false ideas were renounced and "Scripture alone" became the hallmark.
Many believers today think that suffering is reserved only for some future time of tribulation. Some purport that the Church will never suffer the hardships which believers have in fact undergone. The Church will be removed from judgment but not from suffering (1 Thessalonians 4:31, 5:9). It is because of our unfamiliarity with Church history that we make such assertions. Christians have suffered greatly down through history and in many countries around the world, believers today are being violently persecuted.
The Church in the USA is suffering, but in a different way. There is a silent killer devouring the Church. However, this suffering and destruction at the church door is self-imposed. Churches are choosing the broad way, not the narrow way.
What is this silent killer? Two words: The first is Covetousness (Exodus 20:17). Under the supervision of pastors parent's hearts are turned to everything BUT their children. They wouldn't verbalize this but their actions speak loudly. In general terms, both parents today work 40-60 hours a week to afford two new cars, a large home, and expensive vacations. Wives and mothers are sent to work because for some, the thought of having a smaller, older home, older car or possibly educating children at home is not even a possibility. Career goals, ambitions and dreams have become the priority. We want stuff and things. We want security that we think is found in abundance and ease. Is Matthew 6:33 relevant to this discussion? Men, what about the admonition in Titus 2:4-5? Isn’t this a direct admonition for women to manage their homes. If our wives are working 25-40 hours a week outside the home how are they able to manage things effectively at home? Why doesn't this verse bring conviction to us? This is what covetousness looks like. We sacrifice spiritual fruitfulness so that we can settle for meagerness. We don’t want to walk by faith but by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We don't consciously consider that God's word and work are at stake. We don't consider that sending our wives out to work may result in The WORD OF GOD BEING BLASPHEMED (Titus 2:5).
Covetousness clouds our judgment and changes our priorities.
The second word is Selfishness. When arriving home from a long day at work TV, golf, hobbies, time with "the guys"etc., complicate our evenings. Men go on long hunting trips, ski trips or other outings with their friends leaving their families behind. Would we consider giving up those things for a time to make investments in our kids? Some would say this is legalistic and radical. To which I say "yes it is". The Christian life is not a bed of ease where we continue on like we are single and let others teach and train our kids. It is our Job. What about singing with our families in the evening and teaching them the richness of the Hymnal? What about discussing theology and making it practical our your kids? What would happen to our families if our children knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are our priority? What if they knew that we could not wait to get home to play ball with them, do projects with them or just spend time with them? I know a single mom who is forced to work full time. She recently became a believer and saw the danger her two teens were subjected to in the public school. She pulled them out and is teaching them at home after she gets home from work. She goes into work extra early to be able to get home early enough to make that investment. She is also going through a book study in the evenings with them to insure that they are getting teaching throughout the week in addition to online sermons. She is not selfish. She gets it. Unfortunately, too many do not.
What does Deuteronomy 6:4-9 have to say about this? 1 Peter 5:5 and Ephesians 5:21 admonish us to submit one to another. Submission to one another simply means that “your needs compel me more than my own”. Mom and dad, do the spiritual needs of our family come first in your planning? Do they compel you? When considering sports or activities are you first thinking about the spiritual impact? Is the soul of your child more important than things and careers? Most of us would answer in the affirmative. But, what are we doing about it? If you asked your children what is really important to you, what would they say?
In general, church leaders are allowing and even encouraging this abdication (discarding) of parental duties and responsibilities. We are so concerned with "growth" and building payments that the message preached becomes watered down. Mentioning the truths outlined above becomes too big of a risk. Some parts of Scripture are hard to hear for all of us, but we teach the whole counsel of God without apology (Acts 20:27). If people cannot handle truth spoken in love they may be a "weed" in the garden (Matthew 13:24-30) but we do not soften the message. Those of us who would teach the "radical" ideas outlined above are labeled by many as narrow minded family worshipers and legalists. In reality, we are simply identifying the root of the problem and calling out those who are perpetuating it.
We will look at statistics in this area in our next post.
As a result of poor leadership, this community of church goers is allowing the philosophy of the world's system to "raise" its children. The Church has not been alerted to the admonition of James 1:27. TV, movies, various events, concerts and peers frame the thinking of our youth rather than Scripture. James 1:27 is not just instructing us to abstain from gross immorality but also wrong thinking, wrong philosophy (Colossians 2:8), and wrong assumptions about life, family and church. Generally, Christian kids are raised in the same way as non-Christian kids. The only difference is that the former goes to church weekly. But, attending a church that is trying to make the content "relevant" and does not teach parents the tough truth, will subtly erode their view of the word of God. They are getting human ideas and human philosophy, not truth that hits them between the eyes and changes them. The point is this: if parents are not being conformed to Christ's image (Romans 8:29) in the community of church through teaching, preaching and fellowship then they will not know how to pass that along to their children. It will simply be an illusive, moving target that they can neither define nor hit.
In subsequent posts we will look at how a local church can help in this area. Preview
This is not for the faint of heart. Proverbs 24:10
Saturday, February 9, 2013
This list is not exhaustive. All these ideas are important; even essential. Putting them together can help a local church and its individual members become usable and fruitful. But taken individually, they can easily become "the issue" and "the focus". It is so easy to become preoccupied with one idea or another and lose the overall vision that Scripture lays out for us.
Our focus must be on Christ alone by feeding on His Word. A heart for Christ will influence our thinking about each of these areas listed above. Christ is the theme of Scripture and Scripture is our basis for all of living. Mary and Martha illustrate this important lesson for us in Luke 10:38-42. One focused on serving. And, incidentally, lost her joy in the process. The other focused on literally "the best things" and was commended by the Lord. What were those "best things"? The teaching of the Word of God by the Lord. Hearing his word. It is here where serving is rooted and the foundations of fruitfulness are built. Hearing and focusing on Scripture is where the underpinnings of our passions must be.
The power of God is not in methods, however biblical they may be. The power of God is in receiving and obeying God's word. Attending a church that has the "right" doctrine and methods is needful. But, hearing and reading are only the first steps to believing and doing. James warns us to be doers of the Word not hearers only, deceiving our own selves. Hearing God's Word, by design, produces faith, real faith. If our faith is real it will literally be life changing. As parents, living a life changing faith is the only way of seeing the product of this in our own children. If we are going through the motions and we are not living a real, life changing faith, we will not be passing anything of lasting spiritual value down to our children no matter how many bible studies and conferences we attend. God does not call us to know it, but to live it.
What so many today fail to understand is that good doctrine produces life. But, in the Church today, people are bored by doctrine and have heaped to themselves teachers that provide self help ideas and success principles. Understanding Theology, Ecclesiology, Soteriology and the like are not taught and so then are not understood by the Church. We have a surface level understanding of God and so focus on what God can provide for us. Even worship is focused on our desires to give God what WE want to give Him instead of asking what He would like for us to give Him. We are content today for God to be ANYWHERE but on His throne because we have little understanding of God and His ways. We want Him to bless us but we do not understand that we are here for His glory, not the other way around. The Church does not even understand what God's blessings are. We pray for what we do not understand.
This blog will explore the ideas listed above as well as other essentials like:
- What does a "mature" son or daughter look like?
- What is the price of discipleship?
- What are foundational character traits we and our children must develop?
- How do we identify our real "needs" that God is pointing out to us in daily living?
- How can we help men and women to see the "issue"? How can we help them to develop a "whatever it takes" attitude when it comes to knowing God and passing it on to those in their care?
Scott Eckles for Bethel Baptist Fellowship