Psalm 34:8

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Can a True Christian Live in Bondage?

A few days ago, I sent out a Tweet and updated my Facebook Status, with a quote from Sam Storms at the Desiring God Pastor’s Conference:

“People are in bondage to sin because they’re bored stiff with God.”

From my iPhone I saw that I had several responses, including one or two from a friend from seminary. I went on Facebook this morning to respond to his comments, but he had removed them while I was “unplugged” yesterday. I’m not sure why he did it, but it seemed a bit cowardly to remove them. I don’t know if he will check back on this, but I feel that I must respond. If he chooses to respond, I will publish his response(s).

If I remember correctly, he said that he didn’t think that a “true Christian” could live in bondage, that someone came to a saving knowledge couldn’t live in bondage.

Well since our authority is God’s Word, let’s see what God has to say about it…

Look at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:1-35. A problem had arisen because some Jewish believers felt that in order to be saved, you had to become a Jew, that only faithful Jews could be Christians. If it were not possible for believers to be in bondage to the Law, then why did the Council even consider the issue?

Look at Paul’s rebuke to the Galatians in Galatians 3:1, followed by his admonition in Galatians 5:1. If it were not possible to live in bondage as a believer, why would Paul have urged them to not be enslaved? For that matter, the entire book of Galatians is a rebuke for those who would choose to live in bondage.

Look at Paul, a “spiritual heavyweight” in my estimation, who expressed frustration in not being completely free (Romans 7.14-25). He states in so many words in Romans 7:25 that the “flesh” is enslaved to the law of sin. As long as we live in a “dirt suit”, we will continue to struggle with the question of, “Whom will we serve?”

Again, without his comments to refer to, I don’t remember his specific words, but I do remember seeing the word knowledge in his post. I think his comments were based in Galatians 4:8. However, if you use that verse, you must also look at Galatians 4:9, which is actually the same sentence in Greek.

I think it’s emblematic of many believers who think that all they have to do is read another book, attend another seminar or go on another retreat to get to that “next level”. In other words, if we just learn a little more, we will be able to behave better and walk closer to Christ. And this may be driven by the plethora of sermons on “Seven Steps to …”, “How to…”, etc.

Whether or not we admit it, it’s a modern-day form of gnosticism and deism. However, we are not to live as gnostics and deists. Instead, we are to live as a “grace-aholic” (to quote the late Dave Busby), relying on God’s grace to not only save us, but to enable to live the holy life that God intends for us to live in freedom (Galatians 2:21).

So much of the preaching that’s celebrated in our churches can be boiled down to, “Now that you’re saved, it’s up to you to clean up. Here are the steps to do it.” I even heard a pastor refer to (in so many words) “God the Father, God the Son and God the Word”. He was greeted with a roaring affirming response from the audience.

WHAT???? It appears that the Holy Spirit has been replaced by the Bible! The empowering Holy Spirit of God has been replaced by the written Word of God. And if you look around at “conservative”, “Bible believing” and “Bible teaching” churches, it’s no wonder. Statistics tell us that our church people aren’t that much better than unchurched people when it comes to the ethical choices we make.

Dr. Storms was spot-on in another quote that I added as a comment to my Facebook status,

“You persuade a person away from rancid beef not by a lecture about freshness but by offering delectable fillet mignon.”

I once heard of a young seminary grad whose parents heard his first sermon. He proudly asked them what they thought of his fine exposition. His mother responded, “I came expecting a banquet, but instead, you gave us an autopsy.”

Our problem isn’t a lack of knowledge. Our problem is that we’re bored with God (or at least our experience and estimation of God). And nobody, including many of our preachers, are telling us that there’s more to experience and empower us to live the Christian life.

The solution is to offer up a very big, magnificent, all-satisfying, personal, LIVING God .

We don’t need medical examiners. We need gourmet chefs!

 

Boxer Likens Abortion to Viagra

US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) did a tremendous service to the conservative cause when she compared a woman’s right to an abortion with a man’s right to purchase Viagra. “Why are women being singled out here? It’s so unfair… We don’t tell men that if they want to … buy insurance coverage through their pharmaceutical plan for Viagra that they can’t do it.”

“So unfair”??

Senator Boxer sent a much-needed reminder to all of us that value life that, in the abortion debate, we’re not talking about the same thing. She clearly revealed that to the democrats, abortion is simply a “reproductive rights” issue. She revealed it perhaps more clearly than many in the conservative movement often do.

In the minds of conservatives “reproductive rights” has to do with choosing how many children we want to have, at what intervals, and which (if any) birth control methods we use.

Our camps are labled “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life” for a purpose. No one wants to be labeled as “Anti-Choice” or “Anti-Life”. Pro-Lifers must insist that our position is not to tell a woman how many children she can have (as they do in China). There is wisdom in limiting how many children you have but the State has no right to arbitrarily set the limit for you. So in the debate of “reproductive rights” conservatives stand for a woman’s right to make those reproductive choices.

However, those of us who value life argue that the abortion kills babies. It’s that simple. Perhaps that’s one reason why we don’t like providing legislative loopholes. For instance, an exemption for the “life of the mother” is unnecessary, since every pregnancy puts the mother’s life at risk to some extent. If you start with and maintain the premise that abortion kills babies, everything in the abortion debate is affected.

And unless we define the debate accordingly, our tax dollars will be used to kill babies. Thank-you, Senator Boxer for helping us see what the debate is really about.

 

The Effect of Grace and Seeking the Kingdom of God

I’m experiencing a bit of a “6 Degrees of Separation” this morning. A friend’s Facebook pointed me to his website which linked to a blog on grace. Here’s the blog link. In the blog, the author speaks of the inward and outward move of grace.

“Internally, the grace of God moves me to see my sin, respond in repentance and faith, and then experience the joy of transformation. Externally, the grace of God moves me to see opportunities for love and service, respond in repentance and faith, and experience joy as I see God work through me.”

The 6 Degrees feeling is in light of the fact that tomorrow morning I’m preaching on the Kingdom of God. Jesus told his followers to seek God’s Kingdom first. (Matt 6:33). I touched on this last week, but felt that I needed to expand this a bit, so tomorrow we launch into a series at Bethel.

Seeking the Kingdom of God has the same effect: seeing things through God’s eyes. Henry Blackaby states in his book Experiencing God, that we can’t know the truth of our situation without getting God’s perspective. How true that is. As long as I’m looking at my surroundings, I can’t see the hand of God working in and through the situation to make me more like Jesus. I call it the Romans 8:28-29 Factor.

 

The Nobel Prize and the Improper Use of Grammar

It’s interesting, the Left is actually admitting that the only reason Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize was because he replaced George W Bush — or at least Joan Walsh does.

I am a product of the public school system. My dad was a public school superintendent. I remember school teachers telling us that grammar is important. We must understand words people use — and the way they’re used — in order to understand what someone is saying. And what they’re not saying.

I received/endured the required English grammar training of our public school system. I also took two years of French in high school and one year in college. I was fortunate to have also studied one year of Classical Greek at UNC Chapel Hill (a secular state university). Studying classical Greek prepared me for one year of New Testament Greek. Finally, I took a year of Hebrew. One of the most fascinating classes I took in seminary combined Greek and Hebrew and looked at The New Testament Interpretation of the Old Testament — but that’s a side issue here.

Bottom line: I think I have a pretty good feel for how language works: nominals, verbals, conjunctions, and prepositions are grouped together and change their forms accordingly to express thought.

The process of breaking down a language in order to understand someone’s thoughts is called exegesis. The exegetical process is objective. Anyone with a handle of a language and its vocabulary can do it. Exegesis involves observation. Observation asks the question, “What is being said?” and as such, is objective. Interpretation on the other hand, is a different issue. When one takes the observation and asks, “What does this mean?” one has stepped outside the realm of observation and into interpretation.

One of the challenges of teaching the Bible is waiting to ask, “What does this mean?” until I have understood, “What does this say?” This is one of the reasons we have so many disagreements between denominations, cults, etc. “Everybody has their own interpretation” — but that’s a side issue here.

When Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the Peace Prize in his will, he said that it would be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

Grammar is apolitical. Properly interpreting words and their use is not affected by one’s worldview. Note, I said properly interpreting.

For a moment, let’s take Obama, Bush, political parties, and worldviews out of our minds; admittedly that may be very difficult for many of us. If we set aside our differences and simply look at Nobel’s own words, the Peace Prize was to be awarded to the person who “shall have done …” Grammatically, this is called a future perfect.

The American Heritage Dictionary at dictionary.com defines the future perfect as, “A verb tense that expresses action completed by a specified time in the future and that is formed in English by combining will have or shall have with a past participle.” About.com says about the French future perfect, “The French future perfect is most commonly used like the English future perfect: to describe an action that will have happened or will be finished by a specific point in the future.”

I am not a lawyer. I never studied in a law school. But I know that laws are based on the proper use of grammar. The court system issues verdicts based on words, phrases, etc. That is why our laws are so verbose; lawmakers want to make sure there are no (or few) loopholes in the law.

Again, setting aside worldviews, politics and everything else that makes us different, we must all agree that Nobel’s will has been violated. Nobel did not establish the Peace Prize in his will to be awarded to some who provided a promise (or “hope” — sorry, I couldn’t resist) of future action. It was to be awarded to someone who had completed something in the future.

When Obama’s nomination was submitted, he had been the US President for only twelve days. All of us must agree that in his first twelve days of his presidency, President Obama had not, “done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

If Barack Obama is nothing else, he is a smart man. You don’t graduate from Harvard or Yale without a great deal of mental competency. Interesting, George W Bush graduated from Yale  — but that is a side issue here.

Grammatically, we must conclude that Barack Hussein Obama should not have been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. He clearly did not deserve it. As a Harvard Law School graduate, Mr. Obama must agree with these conclusions and as such, should have declined the award. That is not to say that he might qualify for it in the future; but that it yet to be seen. If someone were to sue the Nobel Prize Committee for wrongly executing Nobel’s will, they would be successful, according to the clear use of grammar.

Objective conclusion: Barack Obama did not deserve the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

He should give it back.

 

American President Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize less than 9 months into his presidency.

BHO’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize was submitted within *12 days* after his inauguration! The Prize committee’s reason: “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

HUH?????

Former Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei said, “In less than a year in office, he has transformed the way we look at ourselves and the world we live in and rekindled hope for a world at peace with itself,” He has shown an unshakeable commitment to diplomacy, mutual respect and dialogue as the best means of resolving conflicts.”

In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, designated that the peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses.”

Wow, it looks like throwing your own country (and Israel) under the bus and sucking up to known terrorists qualifies you for being awarded the Prize!

That helps clarify why terrorist leader Yassir Arafat won the award in 1994.

Promise: If I’m ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize — and based on my observations above, that will NEVER happen — I will decline accepting it. It’s no longer prestigious; instead, it’s meaningless.