Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Again, On Tolerance

Since it is a good thing to be judged to be tolerant and since tolerance requires sympathy and indulgence and may be endorsement of something with which one differs; it seems to be wise to stay ignorant of the possibilities. One does not want to put a strain on one’s love and wisdom.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tolerance

“Tolerance: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.” This is a good definition for a good word.

However, like many words, definitions change with the usage in the culture.

Here is a sliding definition of tolerance: “an endorsement with enthusiasm for beliefs and practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.” Anything short of this endorsement faces the accusation of intolerance.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Prejudice

“Prejudice: an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.”

It looks as if “tolerance” is a good word and “prejudice” is a bad word.

Some of “tolerance” is an advance positive judgment without information whereas “prejudice” is an advance negative judgment without information.

The practice of both words may be based upon ignorance.

Let us be adequately informed so that our judgments, pro or con, are neither prejudicial to the good nor tolerant of evil.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Narnia

In the summer of 1958 I was, with Jerry Hawthorne, teaching for a week at Cedar Campus in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. One evening our little family was invited to Keith and Glady Hunt’s home where we heard Keith read aloud the first chapter of The Last Battle. Douglas had just turned five, Evan would be four, and Heather turned two at the camp. Well that turned me on to Narnia. That November we opened the OCF Bookstore in Annapolis, Maryland. We had immediate access to Narnia. This is a plug for the Chronicles of Narnia. They are children’s books. I am 78; I am not too old for Narnia.

This is also a plug for “What I learned in Narnia” by our oldest son, Douglas. This is a series of CD’s on the following subjects: Authority, Confessing Sin, Nobility, Spiritual Disciplines, Love of Story, Complete Grace, Love for Aslan, and Love for God.

This is great personal teaching about the above subjects and also great teaching about all kinds of people, their character, their reactions, and God and Jesus.

It is also teaching about C.S. Lewis and in the presentation, about Douglas Wilson. This is his father speaking. This is the real Douglas Wilson speaking.

If you have not read the Chronicles of Narnia you can get them at any library or at any bookstore, secular, or Christian. Or you can order them from us at ccm@moscow.com.

You can order What I learned in Narnia from us or from the publisher, Canon Press at 1-800 488-2034 or at www.canonpress.org.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Advertising

All of us have basic needs; food, clothing, and drink.

We are not to be anxious about meeting these basic needs.

“So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:31-34

There are two reasons given.

1. This is what unbelievers do. Do you want to be like the unbelievers?
2. God knows you have need of these things.

If we seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness, God will provide the basics.

This is not the subject. The subject is advertising. Advertisers do not advertise basics. They do not need to advertise basics. People will buy basics even if they are not advertised.

What is advertised? Luxuries! We are told that these luxuries are necessities. They are “needed” by us. We “deserve” them.

Advertising deliberately uses words and pictures to tempt people to covet in such a way that the people do not know that they are coveting.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Coveting Your Own Stuff

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'" "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy." Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:17-27

The rich young man’s coveting his own money kept him out of eternal life.

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

“Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13-21

God called him a fool. He was covetous.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24

Are you too attached to your own stuff?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Coveting Stuff Not Your Own

“You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17

The success of free enterprise and capitalism is largely based upon coveting. Coveting is one of the things that precede purchasing, borrowing, stealing, and cheating. Coveting is not the only thing that precedes purchasing; it is just one of the things. God is not opposed to Free Enterprise or Capitalism, but He is opposed to coveting.

Although the quotation is the tenth commandment it is very close to the First and Second Commandments.

“You shall have no other gods before me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:3-6

What is the connection? It is in Colossians 3:5

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” Colossians 3:5

Coveting is idolatry.

If I purchase that which I covet I am no longer coveting my neighbor’s stuff; it is mine; I just bought it. I am no longer coveting my neighbor’s stuff. See tomorrow’s post.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Israel

Israel today is a far cry from the Israel of the Kings; David and Solomon or even Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, or Josiah. It is also a far cry from the Israel of the idolatrous kings.

Israel is a secular state made up of people from all over the world who are at least ¼ Jewish by birth. Some of the Israelites are religious, different kinds of Judaism. Some of the citizens are Christians with a Jewish ancestry. Much of Israel is atheist with a common bond of Zionism the Jewish state. To my knowledge no Muslims are citizens of Israel.

The greatest supporters of Israel among the Gentiles are Evangelical Christians because of their understanding of a future Israel from the Bible.

The other supporters of Israel are those who are opposed to Islamic terrorists.

Some of those who are anti-Israel are from a long history of anti-semetic culture. Although Israel plays up to their Evangelical supporters they in turn are not supporters of active believing Christians in Israel.

A far greater concern is that both Israel and Islam have not believed the good news of salvation through the person of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. People who die on both sides in this current conflict are lost.

This is true also in Kashmir where Hindus and Muslims die and in Sri Lanka where Buddhists and Hindus die.

We are in a spiritual war. All of these physical wars are subsets of the spiritual war. These physical wars are not just between good and evil; they are between evil and evil.

Are you willing to proclaim the good news?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Discovering Your Own Sin

Recently, I read of a new Christian who had decided to forgive a brother in the church who had offended him. This should have been refreshing news to me, when there are so many brothers in so many churches who do not forgive those from whom they have taken offense.

I do not know his situation but I do know of many similar situations.

Forgiveness has been decided on but in the heart forgiveness does not occur. The forgiver has difficulty forgiving even though he wanted to and chooses to. Why not?

Here is one of the reasons. When he was offended by the brother it was easy for him to see the brother’s sin. It never occurred to him that taking offense was as great a sin as giving offense. Maybe even a greater sin. Giving offense may have happened in ignorance with no malice at all. Taking offense is always sin and needs to be confessed and repented of to restore this person to the joy of the Lord. After his joy is restored he then can forgive his brother from the heart.

For more on this subject check www.ccmbooks.org and download How to Be Free From Bitterness or e-mail me for a free hard copy; ccm@moscow.com

Monday, August 07, 2006

Mobs and Riots

Back in the early thirties, when I was a little boy, my father told me a story of a lynch mob in Omaha who stormed the Douglas County Jail. They intended to hang a black man who was incarcerated in the jail. The sheriff stood in the way and told the mob that they would have to hang him before they could hang the black man. The mob agreed and proceeded to hang the sheriff and the inmate. An open touring car came driving through the mob. The occupants cut the ropes of both men. They fell into the car. The car drove off.

My father had one moral to the story. It was, “Do not join a crowd. Most people in the crowd are there because they are spectators. They think that they are not part of the mob; they are only onlookers. However, they are the ones who give authority to the leaders of the mob.”

I have seen on TV and heard of many kinds of mobs. There is a hysteria that is created that affects everyone.

Here are a few:

1. Spectators in English soccer matches
2. Riots that burned down Newark, Watts in L.A. and Detroit, all in the late
1960’s.
3. Anti-Viet Nam War Student riots.
4. The Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968.
5. Home town celebrations after winning the Super Bowl or the World Cup.

Today, 10,000 men in a frenzy in Baghdad hating Israel.

All of these mobs are incited by a few men. Then they become self sustaining

Here are a few more from the New Testament.

The crucifixion of Jesus; Pilate was coerced by the mob and the mob was caused by the chief priests and the elders.

“But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!" "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” Matthew 27:20-26

The riot in Ephesus: “About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: "Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty." When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Acts 19:23-34

The riot in Thessalonica: “But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.” Acts 17:5

The riot in Antioch: “The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.” Acts 13:49, 50

Do not join the crowd regardless who is inciting it.

People seem to think they are personally not guilty when they participate in riots which destroy, loot, harm, and kill.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

God's Patience

“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time . . . Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.” Genesis 6:5, 11, 12 (NIV)

This was the state of man before the flood.

“Then he said, ‘May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.’” Genesis 18:32 (NIV)

Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared for ten righteous people.

“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city. Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ still they are swearing falsely.” Jeremiah 5:1-2 (NIV)

If there had been one righteous person, Jerusalem would have been spared in 587 BC. In the past, the percentage of righteous people did not have to be very high in order to withhold the physical judgement of God.

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.” 2 Peter 3:8-11 (NIV)

In the future, there seems to be a different standard for withholding spiritual judgement. It is the patience of God. It is not a minimum, it is now a maximum (everyone). God’s patience is exercised because he wants everyone to come to repentance.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

John 14

“When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, ‘Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.’

Jesus replied: ‘A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’ ” (Luke 14:15-24)

There are three stages of invitation to the great supper. The first is the formal invitation to people who are used to great suppers. They are wealthy; they are not hungry. (I have bought a piece of ground, I have bought five yoke of oxen.) The second is to the people in extreme poverty, or helpless. There is no danger that they will refuse a great supper. They are hungry. The third is to everyone else. They were not invited; they were compelled to come to the supper.

This parable is about the kingdom. How do we know? It is a response to this statement made to Jesus when Jesus was at a formal dinner where he also told a story about lunches, dinners, and banquets.

“Blessed is he who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

The first group of people invited thought that they had no need and had greater priorities.

The second had much need, knew it and had no other priorities.

The third may or may not have known that they had a need and may have thought that they had greater priorities. It made no difference. The greater priority was that the house be filled. They were forced to come to the dinner. I believe this process is going on in every generation in every nation.

In Jesus' time on earth the first group were the Jewish people. “He came to his own and his own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11)

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

“Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold we turn to the Gentile.’ ” (Acts 16:46)

We do not know how those three groups are determined today. It may be that in our time the Jews still should be the first to be invited. They have the right of first reception or first rejection.

The other possibility are those who have grown up in Christian families or in Christian churches, in name if not in fact. They may think that they have no need or have greater priorities.

The second group should be the Gentiles who are destitute and know it. This group normally will be glad to hear the good news and will respond to the gospel. These are the prisoners, the orphans, the widows, the alcoholics, the aliens in the land and people outside the normal hearing of the gospel like aborigines in remote parts of the world.

I do not know what to think of the third group. It may be all or some of those not previously invited. It encompasses the majority of the people in the world. How God will coerce them to come in I do not know. That he will, is certain.
We though, are the proclaimers, the inviters.

“In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30, 31)

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Corinthians 5:20, 21)

People who refuse the invitation will not make it to the feast in the kingdom.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Baptism

Here are the two key texts on baptism in the New Testament. Because they are primary texts I will refer to them several times throughout the study.

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Matthew 3:11

“For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:5

There are clearly, two distinctions between who is baptizing and in what element is the baptism.

They are John and Jesus or man and God and water and the Holy Spirit. For man to baptize with water there needed to be evidence that repentance had taken place.

John said it. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:7, 8

Peter said it. “Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.” Acts 10:47, 48

Paul said it. “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” Acts 26:20

“While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.” Acts 19:1-7

Since man might not see the heart the instant of repentance he must wait for the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit before he may baptize with water. This evidence will include the change of character from the works of the flesh to the fruit of the Spirit.

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:19-24

And a public confession that Jesus is Lord.

“That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10

This repentance is an act of faith caused by the preaching of the Gospel.

“While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon's house was and stopped at the gate.” Acts 10:17

And God

“And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26