If your church is singing “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies” or “God bless America” during the Sunday worship service, it may need to reevaluate what Sunday worship is about.
This is not anti-patriotism. I am as patriotic as the next person (and I love fireworks-who doesn’t), but Sunday worship is not the place to be singing songs about America-or any other country.
God’s House is just that-God’s. Whether it be in America or China. Worship on the Lord’s day is about His covenant relationship with us, and us with Him. Sunday worship is a means of grace for us (and our communities).
So wave you flags, shoot off your fireworks, BBQ your meats, and enjoy the hoopla. And when it comes to the Lords day, enjoy your time with Him; praising, worshiping, confessing, and receiving grace; for with His kingdom does your true nationality lie.
In reading Proverbs 1-4, I found it fascinating that the Bible plainly tells us how to acquire wisdom, knowledge, and understanding-like-just sitting right there, black and white. Assuming we would all like to be wiser, more knowledgeable, and to understand what we know and how to apply it, I present the following:
Proverbs 1:20 states blatantly that “Wisdom cries aloud in the street”, that is to say that it is easily accessible. It is our own immaturity, selfishness, and laziness that keeps us from grasping what is right in front of us (struggle with daily Bible reading much?). Proverbs 2 then gives step by step instruction as to how to obtain knowledge and wisdom. You could not write a recipe in a cook book clearer then how Solomon spelled it out (he knew his audience well). It can be bulleted from Proverbs 2:1-5 as such:
- Receive my words
- Treasure up (meditate/remember/dwell on) my commandments
- Make your ear attentive to wisdom
- Incline your heart (desire) understanding
- Call out for insight and understanding
- Seek it like a something incredibly valuable
“Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God”.
Another essential factor is that we not forget from whom the source of all knowledge and wisdom come: “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding…” (Prov 2:6).
Now, re-read that because it is probably a thought that we most often take for granted and do not really conceptualize the power of the truth of that verse.
Another interesting thought:
Prov 1:5 says: “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.”
There is a kind of circular, closed loop, system being described here. It is the person who is already wise being admonished to hear and increase in learning. The fact that they are wise implies that they do, and will do, this very thing; listen and increase in learning. Also, the one who understands is told to obtain guidance. Again, this is a direct result of the fact that this person has obtained guidance previously, gives guidance, and will continue to do the very thing that gave him the understanding in the first place.
These counsels are also the character traits of the person being counseled. The wise is wise because he listens, and the understanding give guidance because they know to obtain guidance.
When is bigotry bigotry? According to the new moral majority, only when conservatives are expressing an opinion. The left is apparently incapable of transgressing its new moral imperatives, which is quite convenient when you think about it. It’s a level of blindness and hypocrisy which far exceeds that of their hated enemy, that old-time religion.
Noah is waiting for the flood waters to recede and he sends out two birds. I have not contemplated or researched enough yet to comment on the raven but when reading about the dove being sent out, some striking things stand out (note: there is no mention of a seven day waiting period between the raven and the dove…significant? I do not yet know).
The dove is sent out and comes back with nothing. Noah waits seven days and then sends it out again. The dove hovers over the face of the water because it is formless and void and returns again with nothing.
Noah once more waits seven days and sends out the dove, and on this third time it returns with an olive branch of new creation.
In this four verse narrative we see all of the trinitarian creation story being told again.
Later on we also see the Edenic exhortation beings reiterated, this time to Noah: “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.”
This is a command-blessing that echoes that given to Adam during the first creation.
Now, there is another waiting of seven days and on this fourth time being sent out the dove does not return, and maybe this means everything I said above means nothing-or it ties in some how that I have not yet seen. I welcome comments and will update this post as I contemplate more on this passage; however, I think there is way to much coincidence to be ignored.
God loves to tell His story, many different times, in many different ways. Eschatologically we and the earth, which is under another curse, are waiting for the next new creation, and the final seventh day sabbath rest, that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit to inherit at the second advent of our Messiah.
Recently, Tim Keller was interviewed by the NY Times and in that interview Keller espoused the importance of believing the basic orthodox beliefs of Christianity, namely; the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus.
John Stone Street wrote an excellent article that talks about the backlash that Kellers has received from other “Christian” groups who are labeling Keller’s brand of Christianity- i.e. the orthodox, confessional brand- as dangerous.
As much as I didn’t like C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity (I know, #unpopularopinion) John Stonestreet points out that even Lewis declared the need to believe in the miracles of Jesus.
The passage in Galatians I am currently focsuing on tells us exactly how important Paul thought the essential doctrines of Christianity to be:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9
Paul is astonished by how quick these believers have started to believe false doctrines and listen to “other” gospels. Paul does not mince words in his condemnation of those who forsake orthodox Christian truth: “let him be accursed”.
In short, if you forsake the essential truths, and the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ definitely fall under this category (see my post here), there is no salvation.
“I thought all I needed was the ABC’s: Accept, Believe, Confess”.
Sure, but what are you accepting, believing, and confessing? If you do not believe the Bible to be entirely true, you call God a liar. If you do not believe the Jesus was who He said he was (virgin born and resurrected) then you do not believe in the actual Jesus-this means you are not a Christian by the Bible’s own definition.
Admittedly, the title “Christian” is probably the most hijacked title of all time. Anyone can call themselves a Christian and does not have to justify why because…who cares about objectivity and history.
Why is this acceptable? Frankly, I have no idea. In society one cannot be considered a US citizen without the proper paper work. Someone cannot just come into America and declare themselves a citizen and magically receive all the benefits thereof. There are things they have to agree and submit to before they can gain citizenship. This is also true of Christianity. If you do not preach the orthodox truths of Christianity, yet have the gall to identify as a Chrstian-i.e. a “Christ follower” then Paul says:
“Let him be accursed”
Well, that’s not very ecumenist of you Paul.
Let me tell you; if you thought Paul was dangerous as a Pharisee, you should get to know him as a Christian.
Along side my regular Bible reading I am hoping to also do more in-depth studies of several books of the Bible. Writing about it will help me meditate on the passages and get my thoughts down. I will admit to this being a selfish tool of accountability that, as an added benefit of being a public forum, might also bless someone else.
I decided start in Galatians and move on to Hebrews (probably). I did a little with Hebrews last year but definitely not enough.
It seemed appropriate to starts in Galatians too because it is, arguably, Paul’s earliest letter that we have. What did he teach those early church plants?
I have already read through Galatians in the ESV, ASV, KJV, and the HCSB; maybe I’ll try to brush up on my Greek too…maybe. The hope in reading it through so many times to start off with, is to have the entirety of the context in the back of my mind as I now digg deeper into specific, smaller portions of Paul’s letter.
Also, I am trying to work on memorizing the letter (check out the all called “Verses”. Very useful memorizing tool). But I may modify this plan to end up being that I just memorize the highlights-we shall see.
Today I was looking at the first 5 verses and stopped to the think about vs 4 in particular:
“Paul, an apostle-not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches at Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Galatians 1:1-5
What does it mean “the present evil age” ? Once I accepted Christ as my savior I was not instantly raptured into His presences. I also am greatly affected by the evil in the world around me-to which I, as a sinner, sometimes contribute.
My mind was taken to the gospels and how the Jews thought that Jesus was going to deliver them in a very literal way on earth by overthrowing Rome and establishing a physical Kingdom on earth. Yet this is not what He did, and they missed what He was doing. The Jews had no concept of a dying Messiah, and Jesus definitely was not what they pictured their conquering Messiah to be like. However, Jesus did exactly what He promised He would do in the Scriptures. He overthrew the kingdom of Satan and established-and is establishing, His Kingdom.
Did sorrow cease? Not yet. Did evil desist? Not yet. Not Yet. But God did deliver us from the present evil age.
If you are a child of God, you are His. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35). We may still be affected by sin but we are not defeated by it, nor a part of that community. If someone has accepted Christ as their Savior, they are part of God’s covenant people, ultimately delivered from this present evil age and currently having a citizenship not of the evil age around them.
Let this also be a lesson in hermeneutics-not everything is literal. Christ did not establish a literal kingdom in Jerusalem at His first advent, and this was one reason the Jews rejected Him. The Bible often talks in spiritual terms and it takes being saturated with the Scriptures to learn and discern when.
If you don’t believe me, check out Galatians 4:21-31. Paul specifically tells us how Old Testament Scriptures where allegorical in the case of Hagar and Sarah (this does not mean the account was not also true). If Paul had not pointed this out, would any of us have seen it? Maybe, but not without having read our Bibles-a lot.
If you are God’s child you are delivered. Live in that truth as you deal with this present evil age.