Archive for September, 2008
My Level III Security Commission Card is coming up for renewal, so last Wednesday I took a trip into Dallas to receive my semi-annual training at DFW Gun Range, the firm my company, Allied-Barton always uses here in the DFW Metroplex.
I have been attending training at DFW Gun Range since 2004 and have never been disappointed in the instruction. I highly recommend them, check out their web site above, then stop by and see what they have to offer.
Since I do not work an armed post this bit of training was paid for me, myself, and I, and I had to provide my own firearm instead of the Glock 19 the company issues. That morning I took my Ruger P-89 with me for my requalification shoot. I was not to be disappointed.
I have been a Level III or IV security officer since 1985 and have qualified with a variety of firearms over the years including a S&W mod. 65, 66, a Sig P-228, a Glock 19 and now my Ruger P-89. I have always shot a very high qualification score, usually within just 2-3 points of perfect. Before you think I am a great pistol shot (I am not!) you have to understand that the standards for security officers in the state of Texas are embarrassingly low.
A few years ago I was at the qual range 3 times in about a two year period and shot with my Ruger, then the Sig and finally with the Glock. I fired a 247 with my Ruger, 248 with the Sig and 249 with the Glock. I fell in love with the Glock and could tell it was ergonomically the superior gun. The problem that I and my other two officers had with the brand new company issued Glocks was the last round in the magazines failed to feed with an alarming regularity. 3 new Glocks, 9 new mags, 3 officers, and we all had the same problem. My problem with the Sig was that the finish rusted if I sneezed hard. My Ruger, though nowhere near as comfortable to shoot, has been utterly and completely reliable since 1994 when I purchased it new (purchased because of the Clinton Gun/Magazine ban; I think I bought about 10 guns that year). The Ruger, though it has never jammed or misfired in 14 years and thousands of rounds fired, is simply not quite as accurate as the Sig or Glock. Until this past week!
Perhaps it is because I have fired so many rounds through it over a long period of time, and that I have recently been practicing with it, but whatever the reason this past week I shot a perfect 250 for my requal. I think that is the first perfect score I have ever shot on the course. And, my grouping was the best I have ever shot, with the exception of when I was shooting the Glock. This time I only had three flyers and all three stayed within the 8 ring which still scores as 5pts. I completely tore out the center of the target.
But before I go patting myself on the back for my superior shooting skills, you need to know that in my class, despite my perfect score and my tight group, I was the 4th best shooter! Two other Allied Barton guys outshot me- their groups were way tighter than mine. One other guy had a 249, so I technically out scored him, but his group was so tight that I really think the doufus next to him shot at the wrong target. Seriously. The hole was down at the bottom of the paper. This guy was a retired Army Infantry Master Sergeant, from the 82nd Airborne, and could shoot. There is no way he pulled that one bullet so low. By the way, he was using a Ruger as well, but his was a newer model P-94 maybe. The Allied Barton guys were both shooting Glock 19s and one, the best shot of us all, had multiple jams. What’s up with the Glocks these days? Anyone else have this trouble?
All in all it was a good day of training and I was satisfied with how my P-89 behaved. This is my combat pistol, it stays with me when I am on the road (Texas allows us to carry in our cars). I wear the Ruger when I am out in the woods in hog country, though the 9mm is underpowered for hogs. I keep it primed with a variety of +p ammo in either 115gr or 124gr JHPs, but I also usually carry my S&W mod 66 in .357mag for hogs.
I have a couple of different holsters for my Ruger including a Bianchi military style holster I keep on my LBE from my Army days but wear when I go hunting, camping, etc. Though designed for the M-9 Berreta it fits the P-89 just fine. I also have a cheap shoulder rig for my Ruger that I wear at times in the field that would also be good to wear while driving in an TEOTWAWKI scenario.
I would love to eventually purchase a Glock or two or three, but in the meanwhile, I will continue to depend on the utterly reliable, shootable Ruger.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
Introduction: According to the FBI crime statistics for the first 6 months of 2007, the number of murders had dropped by 1.1% compare with 2006. In Fort Worth for 2006 there were 49 murders which was a rate of 7.6 per 100,000 and the national avg. was 7.0 per 100,000. One anecdotal fact that is not a scientific statistic, is that in the last summer the City of Detroit has had more murders than we have lost soldiers in the war in Iraq. Has anyone here beside me personally known someone who has been murdered? I have known at least 4 people who have been murdered. Have any of you personally known a murderer? I have known at least 5 murderers. I have done funerals for 1 murder victim, and 1 murder/suicide double funeral. Then throw in suicide, self murder. How many of you know someone who killed themselves? Besides the murder/suicide double funeral I have done 2 suicide funerals for teenagers.
In today’s passage we want to examine the First Murder and see what this text is actually telling us, then we will look at murder in the context of the whole Bible and then try to look at the answers the Bible gives for the various problems of murder. This passage will touch on a lot of theology and a lot of practical issues for today.
I. The First Murder
Vs.5b “but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.” Here we get to the causus belli, the root of the problem. Cain was envious of his brother’s acceptance and resentful of his own rejection. We do not know in what way God showed his acceptance of Abel and rejection of Cain. Some have proposed that fire came down from heaven and consumed Abel’s offering, but the text does not say. It may have been some kind of direct communication by God since we see God speaking directly to Cain in v.6. Or it could have been just a very subtle, gradual thing that was subjective and tied to other issues of sibling rivalry and the offering was the last straw. But Cain hated his brother. The text says “Cain was very angry…” it literally means “it burned to Cain exceedingly” and is similar to what we find in Gen. 34:7 in the story of Dinah’s brothers’ reaction to her rape “the men were indignant and very angry”. So this was not just a little envy, jealousy or depression; this was a burning hot anger that is rooted in those other sins.
“and his face fell.” In other places in Scripture there is the concept of the Lord’s face shining upon you (the Barocha of Numbers 6:24-26). The idea here is the perfectly normal aspect of how a person’s face looks when they are angry or plotting evil.
4:6-7 Just like in 3:9, 11 when God questioned Adam and Eve about their sin, God confronts Cain with his attitude. The goal of this questioning is to help Cain avoid worse sin. “Why are you angry?” Getting to Cain to look inside and examine the source of his sin was the first step. Why was Cain angry? He was angry because his brother’s sacrifice was accepted. But wasn’t Cain also then angry with God for accepting Abel instead of himself? We cannot sin just against another person, or sin just inside of ourselves; all sin is against God.
Notice the remedy in vs. 7 “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” Obedience to God is always the standard and the answer to most of our problems. The text literally says, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up, which reverses what was said in v.6. In 1Sam.15:22 “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. See Mark 12:33; Matt.9:13; Hosea 6:6.
“And if you do not do well, will you not be, sin is crouching at the door.” Sin is aptly described here as an animal resting at the door, ready to pounce if disturbed. In the Akkadian language, this word is used to describe a demonic dragon that sleeps at the entrance to buildings ready to attack you when you cross the threshold. This understanding would then parallel the seed of the serpent in 3:15. The idea is that sin can be stirred up by your wrong choices and it can then master you.
“Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it” is almost identical to what God said to Cain’s mother in 3:16, again linking the two passages.
Application: 1) One sin very often leads to another, and then another. 2) A small, hidden sin very often leads to bolder sins, visible sin, more serious sin. 3) Sin really is like an untamed wild dragon that awaits the person who may cross the threshold. Picture the Dragon Smaug in The Hobbit as Bilbo Baggins tries to burgle his treasure trove.
Vss.8-16 Three words are repeated throughout this section: “brother” “kill” and “ground”
Vs.8- The idea here is that Cain lured his brother out to the field so that he could kill him. In other words this was premeditated murder, not manslaughter. In the Law it is punishable by death. See Deut.19:11-12; 22:25-27. The word “brother” is repeated so often in order to underscore how evil this deed was- he killed his own brother! The firstborn child in the world kills the second born. Here again is a theme that is repeated in the rest of Genesis: Ishmael was hostile to all his brothers (16:12; 25:18); Esau in Ge.27:41.And in 37:18 Joseph’s brothers conspire to kill him.
Vs 9- “Where is Abel your brother” echoes 3:9 when God called out to Adam, “Where are you?” Tying these to acts together with the language, Moses shows us that they are linked. Notice that God gives him a chance to confess his sin! Doctrinal point- God is merciful and seeks to lead us to repentance Rom.2:4. Notice that in response to the kindness of God, Cain responds with a lie, “I do not know.” Sin so leads us down the wrong path that we become so foolish that we think we can hide from an all seeing God or lie to an all knowing God. But we do it every time we sin. We act as if God could not see us. In Cain’s case it is more blatant in that he is confronted directly and lies to God’s face. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer to that we find in Lk. 10:25ff and the story of the Good Samaritan. Lev.19:17-18.
Vs. 10 “What have you done?” echos 3:13. “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” Notice that in 3:8 Adam heard the sound of the Lord. The ground is now polluted; the ground that had been cursed because of Adam’s sin is now polluted with Abel’s blood.
Vs. 11-12 Cain is cursed, whereas in 3 it was the ground that was cursed. Deut.21:1-9. The guilt of innocent blood! There are obvious parallels with Christ. Heb.11:4; 12:24 Abel’s blood convicts the sinner and Christ’s brings forgiveness. The language of “you are cursed” is linking back to 3:14 and shows like father like seed both the serpent and Cain are murderers. Cain is driven from his family as his parents were driven from Eden. The curse takes away Cain’s livelihood as he cannot farm any more whereas Adam just was going to have more difficulty. Notice that the punishments for sin are getting steeper too. Notice also that Cain’s being exiled points to Israel’s being exiled to wander in the desert for their sin at Kadesh (Nu.14; Deut.2:14f). Doctrinal point- Sin brings exile from God and from the family of God.
Vs13-14 There is some disagreement over the translation of this verse. Some say it can mean he is expressing repentance, most do not say so. The context of v.14 is that Cain is complaining about the price he has to pay for sin. He is sorry for getting caught, not repentant for the sin. He is still self-focused. This is how most people respond to being caught. How do you respond when you are caught in sin? There are 4 aspects to his punishment: 1) He is driven away from the ground that will not be as fruitful; that which he offered to God was not only inadequate but now is cursed; 2) He is driven from the presence or face of God; 3) He is forced to be a nomad and wanderer now instead of a farmer; 4) Others will want to kill him. How ironic- the murderer is afraid of being murdered.
Arthur W. Pink writes, (Gleanings in Genesis, Moody Press, 1922, p.62) “My punishment is greater than I can bear will be the language of the lost in the Lake of Fire. The awful lot of the unsaved will be unbearable, and yet it will have to be endured and endured forever. ‘From they face shall I be hid’ cried Cain. Though the sinner knows it not, this will be the most terrible feature of his punishment- eternally banished from God. ‘Depart from me ye cursed’ will be the fearful sentence passed upon the wicked in the Day of Judgment.”
This statement also brings up an interesting question when combined with vs. 17 and the issue of Cain’s wife. Who are these other people who might want to kill Cain and where did he obtain a wife? Some critical scholars see this as a sign that the Cain story was from a much later time period and was inserted here, and is thus, inconsistent. I think the story absolutely happened the way the Scriptures tell it. It shows that as soon as sin enters the human heart every possible evil can and will happen. As far as the other people and where did they come from, there are really only two possibilities. Either God created other couples along with Adam or Eve (see John H. Walton, NIV Application Commentary, p.265 where he mentions this as only a possibility; he believes all came from Adam and Eve) or all these other people were the increasing offspring of Adam and Eve.
I believe that there had to be a first couple of Homo sapiens. As improbable as evolution is, even there you would have to have the right couple with the right adaptations at the right time to produce the first Homo sapiens couple. The Genesis story makes complete sense here. The genetic purity of the race as first created by God would allow for the children of Adam and Eve to intermarry without risk of birth defects. It is ironic then, that the man who killed his own brother was in fear of his other brothers and sisters taking vengeance on him. An argument for the contrary view that God did create other people could come from the text in that the story does not specifically say these others were Cain’s siblings. The text simply does not address the question unless you look at 3:20 and 5:4 as the answer, which makes the most sense. C. John Collins writes in Genesis 1-4 A Linguistic, Literary and Theological Commentary, P&R Publishing, 2006, p. 254, “All humans have this pair, Adam and Eve, as their ultimate ancestors.”
Vs15-16 We don’t know what the mark on Cain was. Matthews writes, (NAC vol.1A, Genesis 1-11:26 p.278) “This ‘mark of Cain’, as it is popularly known, has proven to be a seedbed for confusion….’Mark’ is the common word for ‘sign’ (‘ot); the exact nature of the sign or its place on the body…is unknown. One Jewish tradition pointed to Cain himself as the ‘sign’ who served to admonish others to repentance….In effect this has become true for later generations, if not his own, for Cain the man has become a token of sin’s fruit and divine retribution (1John 3:12; Jude 11).”
Although Ham, the son of Noah, received a curse and there is no textual reason to tie this to the mark of Cain, in popular theology some have tried to say the curse of Ham was black skin. When someone does some egregious social faux pas, or even a real crime, there is the phrase, “He’s a marked man”. In the Bible however, there are a couple of other instances of someone receiving some kind of a ‘mark’. In Ezekiel 9:4ff certain men are given a ‘mark’ on their forehead for protection. Then in Rev. 13-14 there is the ‘mark of the beast’ on people’s foreheads or hands that set them apart as belonging to the beast. Apart from that mark no one can buy or sell, but spiritually it is a sign of God’s judgment.
Many have asked, “Why did God spare the life of the murderer when, later in the Law, murder is commanded by God to receive the death penalty?” First of all, it is always God’s prerogative to give grace or judgment. Secondly, do you really want God to punish all sin immediately with the penalty it deserves?
Another aspect of the sparing of Cain’s life by God is that it points to the cities of refuge later in the Pentateuch. Cain’s city that he builds in vs. 17 prefigures the cities of refuge in Deut. 19:11-13 and Numbers 35:9-34.
In vs. 16 “Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod.” Cain, though spared death, is to live outside the presence of the LORD, thus representing spiritual death, sin, living outside the camp. It is tied by language to 3:22-23 where Adam was also sent out of the Garden. A very similar construction is used of Jonah in Jonah 1:3, 10. More directly, Moses links this idea later in Exodus and Leviticus with death or quarantine in Ex. 31:14; Lev. 13:46; 15:31; 18:29. Nod is also a play on the word used in 4:12 “wanderer”, (nad). The concept is also seen in Israel going into exile as a judgment of God.
In the NT there is the idea of church discipline seen in such places as Matt. 18:15-17; 1Cor.5. And even in the teaching of hell and judgment we see this idea in Matt. 22:11-14; 25:41; Lk. 13:22-30. What does it mean to be cast out of the Lord’s presence? In what sense are lost sinners “restless wanderers like Cain?”
Walton writes, (NIV Application Commentary p.267) “If chapter 3 represents the fall of humankind, chapter 4 represents the fall of the family. If chapter 3 shows the infiltration of sin into the human race, chapter 4 documents the impact of sin on the family. Sin brings internal strife to the family and eventual alienation among members of the family.”
Redeemer Church Sunday School
Genesis: Finding Answers to Life’s Crucial Questions
Sunday, September 21&28, 2008 Genesis 4:1-17 “The First Murder”
Read Genesis 4:1-17
Note: this Lesson was taught over the course of two Sunday’s. The class discussions were good so it is taking a bit longer than I thought to get through the material which is quite alright!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Overview: Though Zwingli was educated in the Erasmian humanist manner, he was led to the doctrine of the sole authority of the Scriptures and justification by God’s grace through faith alone. Zwingli and Luther arrived at the same conclusions independently and virtually simultaneously. Serving as pastor in Zurich from 1519-31 Zwingli’s preaching was exegetical and some of his followers went on to start the Anabaptists. He and Luther disagreed on the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, Zwingli taking a memorial view. Deeply involved in the politics and military of Zurich, Zwingli died at the battle of Kappel in 1531.
- Attends the University of Vienna 1498; goes to Basel in 1502 & receives MA; 1506 begins pastoring in Glaris and starts studying Greek. Meets Erasmus in 1514.
- Moves to Einsidlen as priest and begins to preach the Gospel in 1516.
- 1517 Zwingli memorizes the Epistles of Paul.
- 1518 becomes the people’s priest at the Cathedral of Zurich. In 1520 the city council declares that only the Word of God should be preached.
- 1523 he convinces the city council that salvation is by faith in Christ alone and argues for the removal of images from the churches.
- 1524 Zwingli married Anna Reinhardt; they have 4 children.
- 1525 a student of Zwingli’s, Conrad Grebel-son of a Zurich city councilman-led a group of students into the belief and practice of Believer’s Baptism. The city council sided with Zwingli and denounced the radicals led by Grebel and Felix Manz. The Radical Reformation was born. This is part of the beginning of the Baptist story.
- 1526 he meets Luther at the Colloquy of Marburg; they have a terrible disagreement over the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, Zwingli taking a memorial view, Luther holding to consubstantiation and the spiritual presence of Christ.
- 1529-31 two wars between Catholics and Protestants in Switzerland. Zwingli dies in battle October 11, 1531.
- While studying in Basel 1502-06 he is influenced by Thomas Wyttenbach as well as Erasmian thought towards the doctrines of sola scriptura, sola gratia & sola fide.
- By 1518, like Luther, he was preaching against penance, relics and indulgences.
- His dispute with Luther over the Lord’s Supper led to diverging paths amongst the Protestants. His radical Biblicism led his followers to believer’s baptism.
- He did away with the mass, rewrote the service to focus on the sermon, and did away with much of the music. Though an accomplished musician, he sold the church organ, not finding any New Testament warrant for musical instruments.
- His reliance on the Zurich city council, his participation in politics and willingness to take up the sword point to a mixing of church and state.
What is the significance of the Greek New Testament produced by Erasmus for the Swiss and German reform movements?
How did a backyard Bar-B-Q of some sausages help further the reformation in Zurich in 1522?
Why did Zwingli not follow the New Testament teaching about Baptism like his students Conrad Grebel and Felix Manz did?
Zwingli was not afraid to use the city council of Zurich to advance the reformation cause. What are the blessings and dangers of a minister being involved in local politics?
Zwingli memorized the Pauline Epistles. How much scripture do you have memorized?
Recommended Reading: For God and His People: Ulrich Zwingli and the Swiss Reformation, Jean Henri Merle D’Aubigne’. BJU Press: Greenville, SC. 2000 (286pp.) originally published as part of a 5 volume History of the Reformation 1835-53.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is one of best attested facts in ancient history and is the best proof that Jesus is the Christ and that salvation lies in Him alone. Here are the notes from a lesson I taught my church in 2002 about using the evidence for the Resurrection as a means of proving Jesus is who he claims to be.
Essential Truths- Apologetics
The Evidence for the Resurrection
Wednesday 11-13-02 PM
I. The Core Facts about the Resurrection
II. The Other Explanations for the Facts
III. The Resurrected Lord
Introduction: In studying essential truths of the Christian Faith we have been examining Apologetics, which we can also call “witnessing better”. Here we are learning that there are some answers to the tough questions we are likely to encounter as we witness. Much of what we have discussed in this study has been quite difficult, but almost all of it is based on my real life experiences in witnessing. Tonight we will look at something that most of you are very familiar with, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
What we shall attempt to do is find the basic core facts about the resurrection from the Scriptures and examine these core facts as evidence. Then we shall look at what other possible explanations there may be for the facts other than the resurrection. Finally we shall look at the implications if Jesus of Nazareth was in fact raised from the dead.
It is my belief that Christianity stands or falls on the fact of the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth which proves that he is Lord of lords and King of kings and we should therefore follow, serve, love and worship him with our heart, soul, mind and strength.
I. The Core Facts about the Death and Resurrection of Jesus
1. Jesus was tried by the Jewish Sanhedrin. Matt.26:57-68; Mk.14:53-65; Lk.22:66-71; Jn.18:12-24. Jesus was condemned by the Jews.
2. Jesus was tried by the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate.Matt.27:11-31 who had him flogged and crucified. Mk.15:1-20. Lk.23:1-25. Jn.18:28-19:16.
3. Jesus was executed on a cross and died. Matt.27:32-50. Mk.15:21-41.
Lk. 23:26-49. Jn.19:16-37.
4. After Jesus’ death, his body was pierced by a spear to ensure he was dead. Jn.19:33-37. (Zech 12:10).
5. Many people witnessed his death. Matt.27:55-56. Mk.15:40-41. Lk.23:48-49. John19:25-27.
6. The Roman Officer in Charge, the Centurion, was called before Pilate to testify to the death of Jesus Mk.15:42-45.
7. A wealthy member of the Jewish Council, Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus’ body and buried him in his own carved out tomb.Matt.27:57-60. Mk.15:42-46. Lk.23:50. Jn.19:38-42** (with Nicodemus! We think that the apostle John knew some of the council members because he states that he knew the high priest in John18:15).
8. The women followers of Jesus saw where Jesus was buried. Matt27:61. Mk.15:47. Lk.23:55-56.*
9. A Roman guard force was tasked with guarding the tomb in case of the disciples trying to steal his body. Matt.27:62-66.
10. Jesus was in the grave for parts of three days (from Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning).
11. Though Jesus had prophesied to his disciples that he was to rise again on the third day, they were not exhibiting any hope for this. They were dispirited and in hiding. Matt.28:1, 17. Mk.16:1-3, 9-11*, 13*14*. Lk.24:1-11**, 12, 13-17-27, 31, 36-37. John 20:1-2**, 10-16*, 19*, 24-25.
12. The Roman guards witnessed part of the resurrection and were terrified, then bribed to lie about what happened. Matt.28:2-4, 11-15.
13. The women were the first witnesses of the resurrected Jesus. Matt.28:9-10. John 20:14-18.
14. The resurrection was accompanied by an angelic appearance, the supernatural. Matt.28:1-7. Mk.16:5-7. Lk.24:4-7. Jn.20:11-13.
15. The grave clothes were still in the tomb.Lk.24:12. john20:5-7.
16. The Apostles and disciples witnessed the resurrected Jesus, including up to 500 at one time. 1Cor.15:3-8.
17. Jesus ate real food and was touched physically by the witnesses. Matt.28:9. Lk24:38-43. john20:20, 27, ; 21:13f. Acts1:1-4;
18. The first Christians proclaimed publicly in Jerusalem that Jesus had raised from the dead.Acts2:22-41. If it were not true thousands of people would not have converted, the Sanhedrin would have been able to prove it false right away. The early believers did not set up a shrine at his grave.Acts3:11-20,
19. The first Christians, who personally knew all the facts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection were willing to give up everything, including their lives, on this issue of the resurrection/salvation. Acts4:1-4-12-20; 5:17-*40*; 6:8-7:60 Stoning of Stephen. Acts 12:1-3.
20. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9.
21. The change in worship patterns from the Sabbath to the First Day of the week. 1Cor 16:2.
II. The Other Explanations for the Facts
1. The resurrection stories are legend and myth. The most common excuse today. However, the NT documents are the most authenticated, prolific and most numerous of all ancient mss. The proven early dates of the gospels and Pauline epistles does not allow for the lengthy time it takes for myth to develop. The radical change in the lives of the disciples and early church despite severe persecution points to fact not myth.
2. The swoon theory- Jesus did not really die, he merely fainted and the cool grave revived him. He was able to push away the heavy stone and sneak past the Roman guards and convince his disciples that he was risen and glorified. Then he would have to fake the ascension.
3. The stolen body theory. See Matt.27:11-15. The scared disciples would have to sneak past the Roman guards and then propagate a lie that they knew was a lie and give their lives for a lie.
4. The wrong tomb theory. The women knew where the tomb was, the guards knew where the tomb was, the Rulers failed to produce the body.
5. The spiritual resurrection only. You have to do violence to the whole NT to interpret it this way. It is only a feel good, anti-supernatural stance that carries on the forms of Christianity without the substance. Classic liberalism.
III. The Resurrected Lord
Liar, lunatic, legend or Lord of lords! If the resurrection holds water then all the rest of scripture is true. Believe in only one miracle, the resurrection, and all else falls into place.
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Mark 1:40-45 “Have You Been Touched By Jesus?”
Sunday 5 September 1999 AM
I. Recognize Your True Sinful Condition
II. Humbly Seek the Great Physician
III. Jesus Has Compassion On The Sinner
Introduction: When a person gets ill something in his/her body is either infected by a virus or a bacteria; some diseases are caused by other problems such as a genetic disease or a disease that results from a poor diet or some other environmental factor, and some we still do not know exactly what causes the disease. But when we are ill, the body just doesn’t function properly, we feel bad, and if untreated it can lead to death, and many diseases are incurable, terminal. If you start getting ill you sometimes ignore it, either knowing that it is just a cold or allergy and you can get over it on your own. Some people ignore some pretty major problems though, and then something really bad happens and you find your self in the hospital. If caught and treated early you could have been healed. But many folks get ill and immediately seek the help of their physician, they get a prescription of medicine and they get well quickly.
This old world is seriously ill, it’s broken down and dying. Our culture, western civilization, American Society, is dying, changing drastically for the worse in a lot of ways. Many people are asking the questions “What is wrong with America?” in the wake of all the political scandals and the apathy of the silent majority. The school shootings are another symptom of our sick world that causes people to ask “Why do kids act this way?” Many wonder what the best way to fix our culture is.
This morning we will examine the story of Jesus healing the leper and we will find the answer to a couple of these big questions: “What is wrong with us?” and “What is the answer to our mess?” In this healing, this miracle we see pictured the radical nature of salvation and the awfulness of our sin as the great compassion of Jesus moves him to reach out and touch a man who is one of the walking dead, a leper, unclean by a horrible disease. This morning I am asking you, Have You Been Touched By Jesus? Has Jesus touched your soul, changed you, and saved you from the leprosy of your sin?
I. Recognize Your True Sinful Condition.
This story begins with the leper coming to Jesus and , on his knees, begging Jesus to make him clean. The leper knew he was ill and that he could never cure himself. Leprosy was a horrible disease that utterly ruined the lives of those diagnosed with it. While it is likely that the term leprosy described several different skin diseases with varying degrees of severity the main form of the disease was a truly frightening and crippling disease.
Leprosy could start as a bacterial infection of the nerves of the extremities which deadens and numbs the fingers, toes, nose, lips, eyebrows and ears. This would cause the victim further injury as he would not notice or care for a small cut or burn and infection would damage the injured part. In some cases of leprosy grotesque tumors grow on the extremities, if you have seen the movie Brave Heart, the father of Robert the Bruce was isolated in a room and as the movie progressed his face grew more and more disfigured with the tumors and sores, even as his role grew more and more evil.
As the disease progressed it was common for several fingers, toes and even the nose or an ear to fall off due to the infections. Thus the lepers became crippled and disfigured both. It was a long death.
In Leviticus 13:45-46 is part of the law dealing with lepers, “The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.” To us today, with our modern understanding of medicine, we cringe when we read this and think how awful to banish them instead of taking care of them. But they did not have much real medicine back then so there was not much they could do but banish them.
But their banishment is tied in with God’s dealings with Israel spiritually. God was to dwell with his people and therefore they were to put out of their camp what was unclean and lepers were the living dead, they were corrupt in their flesh and were an illustration of sin. Throughout the Scriptures leprosy is used as an illustration of what sin is like.
Sin deadens and numbs our souls to God’s holiness, even his very existence. Just as leprosy works from the inside out, so too does sin as it infects us on the inside and shows up in our exterior behavior. Just as leprosy cripples and disfigures so does sin make us spiritually crippled and disfigured. Paul writes that “you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world…”Eph.2:1-2. Just as the smell of corruption and rotting flesh surrounded the leper, so the smell of our sin is a stench in God’s nostrils. We are unclean in God’s eyes by the infection of sin, we are the walking dead spiritually.
This same story is recorded in Luke 5:12 but Luke includes one detail that Mark does not. Dr Luke says “a man came along who was covered with leprosy” indicating that this poor soul had an advanced, grievous condition of this dreaded disease. This man’s condition was of long standing, it was critical, it was desperate, and he knew it. He was filled with leprosy.
So too each and every person is filled with sin, covered with sin. This is a fundamental difference we have with the modern world that insists upon the fundamental goodness of man. This is a basic difference we have with the post-modern world that is becoming the dominant world view today, that says there is no good or evil, who are you to judge? The Bible insists that all are sinners, there is none who do good, none who seek God, we are all together in this corrupt condition of sin.
Until people understand they have a great need for cleansing, for forgiveness by God, for mercy and grace, until they realize the hopelessness of their sinful condition, they will not seek a cure from the Great Physician. People know that things are messed up, the world is broken, their lives are missing something important. But they pursue other solutions that are not solutions. The modernist seeks to correct the world’s problems with new social programs, education, redistribution of wealth, big government, or idealistic utopias. The post-modernist seeks to eliminate the problem of sin by redefining it, hiding it in living for the moment, grabbing all the gusto you can because you only go around once.
The sad thing is that even in the church there are those who think that religion and morals and good appearances are all that is required to effect the cure of leprosy in the heart. One common complaint I get from lost people or folks who have dropped out of church is that the church is full of hypocrites and mean, closed minded people. Certainly that is just another excuse to hide behind but nonetheless, it does reflect the sad problem of their being unregenerate, lost religious folks in the church. Many people deny the depravity of their own souls while eagerly urging the preacher to evangelize the lost out there.
II. Humbly Seek The Great Physician
Notice how the leper approaches Jesus: he begged Jesus on his knees. He was desperate for what only Jesus had to offer. He was humble and contrite, yet bold enough to approach Jesus. He knew what his condition was and he asked for cleansing indicating he knew it was uncleanness besides bad health, he called it what it was. We as sinners must approach God only through Christ, we must approach humbly knowing we are unable to help ourselves and that we are undeserving. We must cast ourselves entirely upon the mercy and grace of God in Christ, forsaking all other means, trusting in Christ alone.
I do not know how far the leper traveled to find Jesus or how he even found out about Jesus’ power to heal. The important thing is that once he found out he set out to find Jesus. With his advanced case he probably had great difficulty walking, perhaps he used a crutch. But he sought Jesus.
Maybe he told others of his search, perhaps other lepers. But he showed up alone, we can only come to Jesus alone, no one else can do that for you. Your parents and grandparents cannot do this for you. You come to Jesus absolutely bereft of any credentials that would impress Jesus. Hence we must come humbly.
Many folks may come initially humbly but very quickly forget what it is like to be a leper, they forget what is like to be lost in sin. If you were raised in the church and got saved early in your life, be thankful that you missed out on a lot of sin and consequences for sin. But just because you never lived in the leper colony doesn’t mean you were not qualified to live there.
Too often those of us who got saved early do not make the effort to reach out to the other lepers who are still with out Christ. We get proud of what Christ has done for us, thinking we are better than the lepers. We lose the humility that we had when we first came to Christ. We often expect lepers to smell good and look good when they show up here; we expect them to know our language. The lepers of our day do not think like we do, if we are going to be missionaries to the lepers we must change our ways, learn their language and thought patterns so that we can humbly bring them to Jesus.
When Christians lose their humility, lose the awareness of leprosy, we become fairly well useless for the Great Physician to use in bringing in other lepers. Though the cure has been effected in our souls, yet there remain some impurities. Spiritually, we battle sin every day until we go home to be with the Lord. Because we are still sinners, though justified in God’s eyes, humility with each other and with unsaved sinners is an ongoing requirement. Every day we approach the Lord humbly, and every time we meet another leper, we humbly minister to them.
III. Jesus Has Compassion on the Leper
In this story we see God in the flesh reaching out and touching an unclean leper. We see demonstrated the infinite compassion of God in this simple act of Christ. This is really a remarkable picture of the incarnation in that the Lord of Glory left his throne in heaven to be born of a woman, to enter this sin-filled world. he clothed himself in our flesh, he took on our burdens. Jesus entered the leper colony when he came to earth.
God is holy, righteous, wrathful against sin, yet he is infinitely compassionate towards sinners. His love knows no bounds, his mercy is astounding, his forgiveness everlasting. God sent his only son into the leper colony of sinners like us in order to save us for his own glory.
When the leper approached Jesus he basically broke the law by getting to close, but when Jesus reached out and touched the leper he broke the law too! I don’t think Jesus lightly placed his hand on the man’s shoulder, I think Jesus grabbed a hold of the man firmly. Who knows how many long years it had been since he had felt the kind loving touch of another human. I am sure he had heard all the insults and curses and probably felt a few stones hurled his way, but a kind touch? Not until the King of kings touched him.
How compassionate is Jesus? There is not a sinner anywhere who is too far gone for Jesus. Oh we are pretty comfortable if Jesus saves normal sinners like us, respectable sinners. But Jesus can reach into the heart of the worst drug addict, the prostitute, the cruel person who beats and kills for pleasure. Jesus saved Saul of Tarsus who was a religious fanatic who was casting Christians into prison. He touched the heart of the thief on the cross, and the Centurion who supervised his execution. Some of the worst criminals of our day have received Christ, have been born again. Just the other day I heard that the infamous murderer “Son of Sam” had been born again. Many people complained when James Dobson helped lead Ted Bundy to the Saviour. But God’s grace is available to the worst cases of leprosy, like this man who was covered with leprosy. If you want to read some stories of the compassion of Jesus, read some of Chuck Colson’s books, he always includes stories of what God is doing in the prisons of the world. Chuck Colson understands leprosy of the soul! He has been inside the worst prisons in the world and touched the vilest offenders, hugging his fellow lepers.
Jesus was always touching people in Marks Gospel: 1.31 he touches Peter’s mother in law; 5.41 he touches Jairus’ daughter; 6.5 lots of sick people; 7.33 the man who was deaf and dumb; 8.23 the blind man; 9.27 the demon possessed boy; 9.36 and 10.16 the little children. The personal touch was part of Jesus’ ministry of compassion and healing.
Of course the healing was immediate and total, the leper was cleansed completely. The missing fingers, toes, lips, nose, ears were restored. The sores and tumors were gone. The numbness was gone and he could feel again. Hmmm, he was healed so that he could feel pain again…
When Jesus heals the leprosy of our soul, when we are born again, we do not lose our pain; we gain a new capacity for pain. We are now sensitive to the pain of sin; we feel guilt when we sin, whereas before we could do a lot of sin without feeling any remorse or guilt. Now we hurt for our other leprous friends who have not the cure yet. Yes, to be healed by our compassionate Jesus, to have our leprosy healed is to gain a capacity for pain and suffering.
How was the cure effected? Jesus shows his Lordship over His creation, his power over disease, in this confrontation. There is the aspect of Him recreating the lost digits of the man’s fingers and toes. This is not some tent revival healing service where someone with a cane throws it down and claims to walk better. This was a transforming miracle that shocked all those who saw it.
Notice also that instead of Jesus becoming defiled by touching the unclean leper the leper himself became clean instantly. Jesus was not defiled by enwrapping himself in human flesh and dwelling with sinners. Because of his infinite holiness when he touches sinners they get cleansed instead of him getting defiled. the power of God’s holiness overcomes our sinfulness.
What is the basis for the cleansing of the sinner? Jesus cleanses us from the leprosy of our souls by his having kept the law perfectly and then becoming a sacrifice on the cross for us. His righteousness is then applied to our account when we respond to his grace with faith, trust and repentance. Because the Holy Spirit indwells us, regenerates our sin deadened heart, we are cleansed from the inside out.
Conclusion: Have you recognized your sinful, leprous condition? Have you approached Jesus, the Great Physician, for a cleansing? Have you humbled yourself before the Lord? Are you still humble? Has Jesus touched you and made you whole?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
“Preacher, these old ladies want to fire you for refusing to marry Katie’s granddaughter.” These words from the old deacon brought a sinking feeling into the pit of my stomach. I had been at the church for less than a year and this was about the third time I had been threatened with being fired over a biblical stand I had taken or over something that had threatened a tradition in the church that was holding it back.
Here was the situation: the granddaughter of a faithful member, in fact a member of the pastor search committee that had hired me, was wanting me to conduct her wedding in the church, but she and her fiance’ had been living together for some time. Though raised in this church, the young lady had not been to church in years; both of them claimed to be Believers. When I first agreed to meet with them and discuss the wedding I told them that I could not perform the ceremony because they were living in sin. If they separated soon and showed signs of repentance I would perform the wedding. They agreed to separate as soon as possible. As the wedding drew closer I checked with them to see if they had fulfilled their committment; they had not. The young man answered, “Well, we are still sleeping in the same bed but we aren’t doing anything sexual.”
Well, I wasn’t born yesterday! I told them that they should seek another minister to do the wedding since they had broken our agreement. They agreed and there were no hard feelings. The grandmother spoke with me and absolutely supported my decision. Katie was always encouraging. She was one of the few bright spots in that church.
When the word got out that Pastor Walker was not doing the ceremony, tempers flared. Several of the older ladies wanted the deacons to fire me. The deacons covered for me as best they could. But when one deacon asked me why I wasn’t doing the wedding I only told him that was between me and that couple. So the anger of the church intensified. Katy also came to my defense and told some of the women that she supported me in my decision. She may have told them why I refused to do the ceremony, I do not know. The interim minister they had before calling me to pastor performed the ceremony.
Just a few months later and I was in another pickle regarding a wedding. An older couple came to me wanting me to marry them. He was a founding member of the church, very active, and served as a trustee. She was his first wife, divorced over 40 years prior. Both had remarried other spouses and both spouses had since died.
The Scriptures seemed pretty clear about this in Deuteronomy
24:1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.
I consulted a couple more pastors who were older, wiser, and deeper in the Word than I was and got a split decision. One stated unequivocally “No, you should not marry them because of Deut. 24”. The other said, “Yes, you can marry them because of Romans 7”
7:1 Or do you not know, brothers —for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.  3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
I did not think Romans 7 adequately covered the situation because a prior divorce and remarriage were involved. Therefore, I sided with the clear text of Deut. 24 and gently told this wonderful older couple that I could not do the wedding.The older couple absolutely understood my position and were very gracious and not upset at all. The old ladies of the church went ballistic. Again, for about the fourth time in my first year I heard the cry, “Fire the Preacher!”. The older couple came to my defense and told them that they weren’t upset so why should anyone else be upset. They got the chaplain from our town’s Volunteer Fire Department to do the ceremony.
The third wedding that came my way was a couple from the community who were living together. In speaking with them, they expressed an understanding of their living in sin and a desire to get right with God. They wanted a small ceremony at home with their daughter and a couple of friends. They expressed their desire to come to church and begin following Christ. I did marry them and they did begin coming to the church faithfully and I did see signs of genuine repentance. They moved away but contacted me a few years later expressing gratitude and telling about how they were serving the Lord in their new church.
It was at this point in my pastorate, about a year and a half in, that I had to do some serious thinking. I realized that the church I was attempting to pastor had almost no biblical foundation, no convictions, no desire to actually be a biblical church. They had rejected the Word time and again in the matter of weddings and, for those who have not read my other blogs in the Worship War saga, in many other ways. I now knew why no pastor before had stayed beyond three years. The constant threats of being fired by the old ladies was distressing, but their rejection of the Word of God was grievous.
As yet another wedding was coming up that I seriously disagreed with, I had to make a decision. If I said no to my third church wedding in a row, I was pretty certain I would be forced out. Should I compromise my standards so that I could stay and maybe gradually lay a biblical foundation in this church?
I compromised my standards and performed the wedding. This was probably the wrong decision, but I still have doubts and conflicting thoughts. At the time I was convinced that I would be fired for refusing this wedding. I could have resigned, but the nagging thought in my mind was that every other pastor they had had for almost 35 years at that point had bailed out, been “called to another field”, or been forced out. My leaving would not do the church any good. Do I stay or leave?
I suppose it is possible that had I stayed the course and not compromised my standards, I might have somehow been able to stay. God may have worked it out. Obedience is always the best choice, but I failed that particular test.
In summary, over the years I did close to thirty weddings. Some were at the church, some in the community, most were related to my secular job. In all my weddings I presented the gospel in a brief way. The distressing thing was that out of about thirty weddings, maybe only 2-3 were actually biblical weddings where the couple were not living together, pregnant, unbelievers or unequally yoked. About 10% of the weddings met the biblical standard. This is a sign of a sick society and a VERY SICK CHURCH. I REPENT of my doing these weddings.
One particular wedding stands out. It was the grandson of one the prominent women, Melba. Her grandson was engaged to an atheist. I am most ashamed that I did that wedding, but once you start compromising…The interesting thing about this wedding was that it absolutely typified this church. It was all for show; to make the grandmother feel good and look good. Though the grandson professed to be a believer, there was absolutely no evidence of such in his life. But he had been “saved and baptized” in this church years before I came along. I knew the drill. This church was all about looking good, but not about following Christ or obeying the Word.
On issue after issue I challenged the church, pushed their envelope, and stuck to the Word, but in this one issue I compromised and gave in.
At the end of my pastorate, in the last year or so when the fighting got to an extremely intense level, one prominent lady who absolutely despised me, came to my office finally, after 13 years, and had a long chat. In the course of that talk I told her that story of the first wedding that I refused to do. Her mouth dropped open, she stated that she remembered that but that she never heard that the couple had been living together and that that was the reason why I wouldn’t marry them. She said that put a different light on the subject. She asked why I hadn’t made that known back then. I told her that it was between me, the Lord and the couple, and that it was not the church’s business (the couple were not members of the church, though the lady had been at one point). Then I told her, “Time and again this church has objected to my decisions without knowing the full story or coming to me for a personal talk. This is the source of many of our church’s problems.”
That conversation ultimately made no difference to her and her husband. They were constantly pushing to remove me from the church and ultimately won that battle. Oh yeah, that couple have a daughter who was raised Baptist but married into the Mormon Church…but that is a story for another time.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008–It has been a few months since last I wrote about the Worship Wars in the church I pastored for 15 years as a bi-vocational pastor. The church is a small, elderly, traditional, neighborhood church, Southern Baptist, founded in the 1950’s. I pastored from 1992-2007and it was non-stop fighting. In the 50+ years history of that church I was the only pastor to stay past 3 years. These articles do not include the name of the church, though I will tell you it was in a suburb of Fort Worth, TX. The church peaked in membership in 1968 and declined steadily, much as most of our churches have done. It is still in existence, though only running about 20-25. These stories are usually negative as I seek to discover what I did wrong and what I did right. I have a goal of seeking healing for myself and my family and of providing some assistance to young ministers who may be in a similar situation or who are about to enter the ministry.
This morning while reading through the various news blogs and sites I came across a very probing and convicting article at BaptistPress on doing weddings for lost people. I have the link below. This article brought to mind the various trials I faced over the issue of weddings, so I thought this would be a good time to write about the subject.
When I started pastoring in 1992 I do not believe I was adequately trained or prepared for weddings. In seminary we had studied the issue of divorce and re-marriage in ethics class, but that was about it. I never did any kind of a biblical, theological, or historical study of weddings, or, more properly, marriage. In my personal experience and background, I came from a Christian home that had been broken by divorce. I had participated in a few weddings as a groomsman or as a guest, and had heard several sermons about marriage over the years. I had attended the Bill Gothard Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts and heard his teachings on marriage, which were generally pretty sound. (OK, I know now that Gothard’s hermeneutic can be messed up at times and not all his teachings are strictly biblical, but he was still pretty good.) In the Christian Ministry class and Pastoral Leadership class there was a little bit of reading and instruction about conducting weddings, but no theology. I had been married for about 10 years when I started pastoring. In the past year I have turned down one offer to do a wedding. Thankfully, I don’t think I will be doing any more unbiblical weddings.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
Sunday, September 21, 2008–Here are the notes from the sermon on the first murder that I preached about 9 years ago. These are just notes, and this wasn’t one of my best sermons. Next week I will post my notes from Sunday School at Redeemer. Today I finished up last week’s study and began the study of the First Murder. Those notes will be more extensive than this sermon.
Genesis 4 “The First Murder” 11 July 1999 PM
I. The Ten Commandments
II. The First Murder
III. Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
Introduction: As we wrap up this first series from Genesis I am fully aware that in the beginning I had stated that I wanted to cover the entire book in a timely manner, perhaps 16-20 sermons. Then I thought, well maybe I can do it in 30-40 sermons. This is my 42nd sermon and we are just concluding the 4th chapter! I have to confess that when I started I really tried to commit myself to not going this deep, but once I got started I realized this may be my only chance in my whole life to preach through Genesis, and Genesis is probably my favorite Old Testament book, therefore I just was compelled to go slow and deep, I wanted to do it right. Keep in mind that the first person I preach to is God, for His Glory, secondly I preach to myself, and then I preach to the church. This is how we got to where we are now! Next week we begin Mark’s Gospel and I am excited about that!
Tonight I want to deal with the big event of the 4th chapter, which I really have not focused on! The murder of Abel by Cain is the big story here. We have looked at the issue of worship, the spread of sin, the consequences of sin, and the two races of men, now let us look at the big sin itself. But we will do this in the context of the 10 Commandments.
I. The Ten Commandments and Genesis 4
First of all we must note the obvious that the Ten Commandments were not given until a long time after these events took place outside of Eden. Yet the Ten Commandments represent the eternal unchanging nature of God, they come from the mind and heart of God. Let us examine the 10 Commandments and apply them to Gen 4 first as a whole then we will focus on the murder.
You shall have no other gods before me. Cain did not know of any other gods, he was not worshipping any false gods it would seem. But, to the extent that we reject the God who is, when we neglect the attributes of God we don’t like, when we are careless of who God is, then we are trying to worship a god of our making. This is what Cain was doing when he chose to not bring an acceptable sacrifice and worship God in faith and spirit and truth.
Now the objection could be made that God is infinite and incomprehensible to mere mortals such as Cain. But we are judged by how much revelation we are given, and Cain knew better than he acted! Cain worshipped God poorly because he had an inadequate concept of God, making a god after his own image.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything…” Well Cain did not set up an idol, this is true. But the essence of idolatry is the worship of the creature rather than the Creator, worshipping that which is not God. To break this commandment is to worship God in a manner in which he does not prescribe. This is what Cain did, he valued his offering over that which God desired; he wanted to do it his way instead of God’s way; in essence, Cain made himself a god when he decided to do worship his way. It may be the cost of a lamb was greater than the cost of his fruit, in which case he was worshipping his wealth. It is virtually impossible to break the first commandment and not break the 2d too. Man will worship something, if not the God who is, then an idol.
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God…” If Cain claimed to be worshipping God, but he was not worshipping by faith and he was worshipping wrongly, then by invoking God’s name he was breaking this commandment too!
“Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy…” Well we don’t know if Cain was worshipping on the Sabbath or not, the text does not make it clear. But I believe that if it was the Lord who instructed Adam and Eve and their family in worship, then He probably told them when to worship. If Cain was worshipping God on the day God wanted, and if he worshipped wrongly, then he was not keeping the Sabbath holy was he? Proper Sabbath keeping must be accompanied by the proper use of God’s name, proper worship of the one true God. So all 4 of these first commandments are linked.
“Honor your father and your mother…” I think we are safe in saying that to murder your brother also brings dishonor to one’s family. Can you imagine the awful sinking feeling as Adam and Eve realized that their firstborn son had killed his brother? Just as he had lied to God I am sure he lied to his father and mother.
“You shall not murder.” We will discuss this one in the next point, but for now we must say that this is the most readily apparent sin of Cain.
“You shall not commit adultery” This one I don’t think he violated!
“You shall not steal” murder necessarily involves theft from God and man. He steals from God in that murder usurps God’s sovereign authority; and he has stolen life from Abel, all of Abel’s hopes and dreams perished with him. Murder is the greatest of thefts.
“You shall not give false testimony…” This commandment is against lying and Cain certainly tried to lie to God and surely lied to his parents.
“You shall not covet…” Cain perhaps coveted the acceptance by God that his brother Abel received. Here is the root of his murder, envy and jealousy, anger and bitterness.
From this brief study we see that Cain violated 9 out of the 10 Commandments. Now let us look at the 6th commandment in particular in regards to Cain and to ourselves.
II. The First Murder
As the story reads it appears that Cain deceived Abel and led him out to the field with the intent of murdering him, thus making it premeditated murder, or as Jack Lord used to always say on Hawaii 5-O “Book him Dano, murder one!” It was no mere crime of passion, a crime of the moment; it was done apparently with malice and aforethought. It was not manslaughter, an accidental slaying out of neglect or poor judgment or reckless behavior. This was homicide, fratricide, prefiguring the biggest crime to come, deicide. We do not know what weapon Cain used, whether it was a stone, a club, or his own hands.
What does the 6th Commandment teach us any way? Clearly it teaches us not to murder. Some have interpreted it as do not kill as the KJV states and consequently they use this commandment to claim they cannot participate in the military, police, self defense, and they oppose capital punishment. But God is very consistent and would not command one thing while commanding us to violate it later. God does prescribe capital punishment and military operations in other parts of His Word, therefore the commandment to not kill really does mean do not murder linguistically and contextually.
Look at Matt. 5:21-26. Jesus links murder with the heart attitude of anger, despising and hating someone else. This gets to the core of a person because while it may be easy to say “I have never killed someone” it is more difficult to say “I have never hated or despised someone”. Jesus addresses the spiritual truth of murder not just the technical legalities. We can certainly relate when we see murderers get off on some legal technicality or the misguided sentiments of a weak jury faced by slick lawyers.
Michael Horton quotes the Heidelberg Catechism “In forbidding murder God means to teach us that he abhors the root of murder, which is envy, hatred, anger, and the desire for revenge, and that he regards all these as hidden murder.” (p.167)
It would be easy to focus on the bad guys of society and preach against them (whoever them is) but is the church guilty in some way of violating this commandment? To the extent that any body of believers tolerates or, God forbid promotes, racism, abortion, unjust wars, slavery or unjust economic policies then that body may corporately be guilty of murder.
Some historical examples may help you understand what I am saying: 1) Slavery in our history as Southern Baptists. 2) Continued racism by Southern Baptist churches even to this day, some even harboring KKK clansmen. 3) Many Baptists support a woman’s right to choose to abort her baby. 4) In Nazi Germany much of the church supported Hitler and his policies against the Jews and were for the war against Poland and France, Russia and England.
III. Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
Cain asked God this question when God confronted him. This question was an attempt to evade responsibility, it was a lie. But this question also raises the other side of the commandment forbidding murder. Look at Lev 19:18, 33-34. Matt 5:43-48. Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25ff. John 13:34-35.Luke 23:34; 1John 3:11-12, -20; 4:7-12Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Sunday, September 21, 2008– First of all, keep in mind I am one week behind in my blogging of Tim’s sermons. This sermon was preached Sept.14th. These are the notes I took in church so they are bit scattered at times. If you want to hear the sermon you can go to my blog roll and click on Redeemer Church and go to the sermons.
Matthew 3:1-12 “Prepare the Way of the Lord”
Introduction: A king is preceded by a herald and John the Baptist (or, the Baptizer) is that herald. John is the fulfillment of a promise from isaiah 40. Jesus didn’t just appear by happenstance when he did, he appeared according to the Word of God. Isaiah wrote 700 yrs. before Christ. God is not in a hurry to fulfill his promises.
John appears in the wilderness much like Israel appeared in the wilderness. the Isaiah 40 passage is written to Israel in exile- a wilderness. God is patient.
In vss. 13-17 Jesus comes to John the Baptist for baptism, then heads off into the wilderness. Jesus the last Adam, comes to take his people out of the wilderness to paradise.
John was strange looking with his camel hair clothes, leather belt and eating wild lucusts and honey. He was a herald crying out “Make straight the way of the Lord. What is the message John wants to communicate?
I. He Preached Repentance- A Baptism of repentance. In v.5 all of Judea and the Jordan area went out to see him preach. He was not preaching a health and wealth fake gospel! He was preaching repentance and baptism of repentance. Baptism was not new, it was related to the OT ritual washing and was practiced by the Essenes. Baptism was usually for converts from the Gentiles, the God fearers.
Baptism does not wash away sin or cleanse the heart- it points to our need and what God alone does. It wasn’t enough to be circumcised and baptized; there must be more. John’s message was for all people- old and young, synagogue leaders, priests and peasants. It is not just an emotional thing; there must be conviction, repentance. You need to be grieved at the core over your sin.
II. Focused on the Coming of Christ- We exist to promote the glory of Jesus Christ. What did John say about Jesus? He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Regeneration and Judgment! Redemption and Consecration. Apart from the Holy Spirit applying the atonement to you, you will not be saved.
III. John’s Message Was of Meekness- “After me comes one more powerful and worthy than I” Are you really ready for the One who is to come? Are we ready for Jesus to come again?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Thursday, September 18, 2008– Here is a short introduction/summary of William Tyndale, the English Protestant responsible for the English Bible that became the King James Bible. This piece was written for Reformation Celebration 2007 at Redeemer Church, Ft. Worth.
- Born 1494 in Gloucestershire; BA from Magdalen Hall, Oxford 1512; MA and ordained as a priest in 1515; studied possibly under Erasmus at Cambridge, a hotbed of Lutheran thought, 1517-21 (?) and was part of the famous White Horse Inn discussion group which included Coverdale, Latimer, Cranmer, Frith, and other English Reformers.
- 1521 Tyndale is chaplain in Sir John Walsh’s home and tutor to the children.
- 1522 he is charged with heresy by the Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester.
- 1523 sought permission of Bishop Tunstall to translate the Bible into English- permission is denied, so Tyndale preaches in London and begins work on his translation with financial help from a layman, Humphrey Monmouth. When the persecution began he moved to Hamburg.
- His New Testament was published in 1526 in Worms and copies began to be smuggled into England where the translation was condemned by Bishop Tunstall. Cardinal Wolsey now condemns Tyndale and calls for his arrest in Europe.
- 1530 he published the Pentateuch; he opposed King Henry VIII’s divorce and the King asked the Emperor, Charles V, to have Tyndale arrested.
- 1535 Tyndale is betrayed by a friend, arrested in Antwerp, and executed in 1536 by strangling and then being burned at the stake on October 6.
Summary: Henry C. Sheldon writes in his History of the Christian Church, vol.3 The Modern Church, Part One (1895) “Among these early reformers from the universities, the first place as respects breadth and permanence of influence is to be assigned to William Tyndale, the one man among all Englishmen who has left any marked impress of his individuality upon our English Bible….Tyndale became convinced that the Bible in the language of the people must serve as the great instrument of reform.” (p.266).
The Impact of the Tyndale Bible:
· Coverdale Bible of 1535; Great Bible of 1539; Geneva Bible of 1560; Douay-Rheims Bible of 1582-1609; King James Bible of 1611; and the Revised Standard Version of the 1940’s all are derived from the work of William Tyndale.
· “Nine-tenths of the Authorized Version’s (KJV) New Testament is Tyndale’s. The same is true of the first half of the Old Testament….” (William Tyndale: A Biography, David Daniell. Yale University: New Haven, CT. 1994. p.1).
· Words and phrases coined by Tyndale: Jehovah, atonement, Passover, scapegoat, let there be light, my brother’s keeper; salt of the earth, it came to pass, the powers that be, filthy lucre, gave up the ghost.
Questions for Further Study:
What one scholar is the link between Luther, Zwingli and Tyndale and their efforts at translating the Bible into the common languages?
Why was the Catholic Church so opposed to new translations of the Bible?
What did Tyndale have in common with Paul from his Philippian jail experience?
Questions for Application:
What Christian Radio preacher named his show after the White Horse Inn?
Tyndale fled England due to the persecution. Is it right to sometimes flee persecution?
William Tyndale: A Biography, David Daniell. Yale University Press: New Haven, CT 1994 (429pp.).
Here are some good websites:
Friday, September 19, 2008– Here is an updated review and the link to my review of Ringworld
Wednesday, September 17, 2008–An opportunity missed is how I would describe Larry Niven’s sequel to his classic Ringworld. Last week I finished Ringworld and wrote a positive review, basically agreeing with the status of “Classic” and with the Hugo and Nebula prizes. This week I have read Ringworld Engineers and am disappointed. In fact, the sequel exposes some of the failings of Ringworld that I glossed over in my review. I cannot recommend this book to any of the Christian sci-fi fans out there due to the excessive inter-species sex Niven includes for no apparent reason. I can only mildly recommend it to Niven’s fans of Ringworld because it does answer some of the questions that Ringworld left.
I loved Ringworld because of the larger story. Niven pretty much started the sub-genre of sci fi that focuses on the BDO- Big Dumb Objects- artifacts left from ancient civilizations (although Arthur C. Clark’s 1948 short story The Sentinel sort of started the Artifact thing). And Ringworld is the Mother of all Artifacts! It made for a great story; a fantastic idea that was believable despite its scale. However, Niven’s prose is clunky and his stories seem disjointed. In Ringworld Engineers the tendency towards disjointed, episodic adventures that we experienced somewhat positively in Ringworld became irritating at the least. Throw in the fact that Niven’s has Louis Wu copulating with every new humanoid species he comes across, at times verging on bestiality, and the novel became junk.
Of course when you open the novel with the main character being what is essentially a crack head, (wire head) it is already down in the gutter. Granted, Niven has the character break the habit, thus showing some serious character development for a change, and he ties the “drug” addiction (current addiction) in with the bigger plot in the final action scene with the “tree of life” food of the gods. But that little bit of character development and plot twist does not make up for the overall weakness of the idea. It almost seemed like a bad Star Trek plot. Then there was that extremely weird and gross scene in the middle of the novel with the Vampire people and the sex gas they used….voof!
One of the biggest problems with Ringworld Engineers was that he completely lost me on some of the dialogue. The characters and the story would make some sudden leaps that I found sooo implausible and sooo jumbled up that I simply could not follow what happened and why. Worse, I stopped caring. Here is where I wish Niven had actually written a bit more instead of less. A bit more explanation would have been a good thing at times.
One of the key things about good science fiction is that it makes the reader believe it could happen. This story failed to do that. With Ringworld, I could believe in the mega structure itself, and the wide variety of life forms it sustained, but they became cartoonish in Engineers. It did not have the style or subtlties of Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series with all the different species on Barsoom.
Friday, September 19–OK, after thinking about the book a bit more, perhaps I have been a bit too harsh. I do seem to see an interesting theme in the book that deserves some praise, the search for the tree-of-life and the ancestors of humans who constructed the Ringworld. I did discuss this a little bit in my review of Ringworld but the theme is brought to fruition here. There is some interesting playing off of a biblical theme with the “tree of life” motif and the concept of, if not immortality, at least longevity along biblical lines and even more.
Lengthening human life is a sub theme or even a basic assumption in a lot of SF. But Niven gives it an interesting twist in his works. There is the booster spice that has kept Louis Woo going, but that is not the main idea. The ‘tree of life’ will transform you into a Pak Protector if you are within the age limits when you consume it, but it will kill you if you are too old, as is the case of Louis Wu.
My interpretation of this quest for the Ringworld Engineers is that we have a longing to know where we come from. This is not merely an SF theme, it is a theme in life and in theology/philosophy. In Genesis 1-11we see Creation, Paradise, the Fall, and then the results of the fall- man’s descent into sin and misery culminating in the end of the world as we know it (the Noahic Flood) and then the slow rise of man again to the Tower of Babel where God again stops man, this time by confusing his language. But from the end of Gen. 3 when God removes man from the Garden to Revelation 21-22 we have man living East of Eden and seeking to return to paradise to feed on the Tree of Life, which is a biblical metaphor for Christ (although the original Tree of Life was a real tree in my view).
Just as God would not tolerate man eating of the tree of life after he sinned, so the humans of Niven’s universe cannot eat, though they desire it, without dying. Niven’s twist of having Teela (the innocent “Eve” of Ringworld?) becoming a repulsive Pak Protector shows that if we pursue the tree of life we may not like the outcome. Wu finds the Ringworld Engineers and doesn’t much like what he finds. Is Niven saying that if we look for our ancestors, our ‘creator” we may despise him/them/it? when we find them? It is perhaps not safe to try to return to the gods?
There is some theological truth here. Keep in mind I am writing as a conservative, Bible believing, Calvinist Christian of the Baptist persuasion. This side of Eden, we cannot, on our own, return to the tree of life. All of our efforts to duplicate Eden or become gods ourselves will end in something ugly and fatal. To attempt to eat of the tree of life our own way would be to become something hideous. Natural man will view our “Protector” as bad and we will always resist God.
I do not know what Niven intended with his parable of the tree of life in Ringworld Engineers, and I doubt he had any theological purpose, so do not think that my interpretation implies that this is what Niven intended. But what I have seen in a lot of SF is that the themes many authors explore DO have theological considerations whether they intended them to or not. I try to view the world and everything in it through the lens of Scripture.
Science, philosophy and theology are inextricably linked whether the atheistic scientist or the materialist philosopher believes so or not. We are all human and are seeking to find answers to Life’s Crucial Questions. Niven’s answer to the crucial question of “where did we come from?” is the Pak Protectors who live ‘forever’ on the tree of life. Though an interesting answer for the search for the designers of Ringworld, it is not a satisfying answer for real life. Who made the Pak?
In conclusion, while the book did bring out some answers to a few nagging questions left over from Ringworld, the book just did not work for me and I cannot recommend it. The concept was good, and I wish a writing team that is as good as the team that took up Jerry Pournelle’s War World series would take this on as a project. The interesting search for our ancestors and the Tree of Life adds some interesting philosophical and theological questions but those are overshadowed by the problems I have noted above. Iam not sure I will continue reading this series.
Also, here is a very good article about Science Fiction from Christianity Today:Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
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