Job 14:1 reads – “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Yes indeed, life on Earth is full of trouble, trials, and tragedies. Adversity is never far from any mortal, even the righteous. James writes – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). It’s not a matter of if, but when. Followers of Christ should expect trouble to come their way. Such has the potential to refine us and help us mature. But how? How should a child of God respond? Consider this acronym for F.A.C.I.N.G. tragedies: Continue reading
Perspective is everything. Where one person sees a half-empty glass of water, another sees it half-full. When I think of the crucifixion of Christ, I tend to think of it in one way predominantly (i.e., as if I was standing nearby watching it all transpire). But, there were many people involved in Jesus’ crucifixion; there were many different perspectives or viewpoints. In this series, I would like for us to consider their perspectives and also make some applications for us today.
Let’s begin with the first character who helped make the cross a reality:
1. JUDAS ISCARIOT: The Perspective of Silver
Matthew 26:14-16 reads – “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.”
Can you imagine working closely with someone for over three years as Judas and the other apostles did with Jesus? They ate together, traveled together, and experienced life together as His followers. Judas heard Jesus’ great teachings and witnessed His amazing miracles, but he still betrayed Him! Judas cared more about money than he did doing what was right. That was his perspective on things.
Sadly, there are many people like that today. They, like Judas, have the perspective of silver. Money is more important to them than Jesus. Their financial goals are more important to them than serving the Lord with their utmost. Their desire for more things drives them away from righteousness and the church. They will betray our Lord for mammon if the opportunity presents itself (cf. Matt. 6:24). What about you, friends?
2. PONTIUS PILATE: The Perspective of Self-Preservation
Luke 23:4 records – “So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no fault in this Man.'” Pilate had spoken to Jesus quite a bit. He knew Jesus was innocent and that He had been turned over to him because of envy. Yet Pilate first allowed Jesus to be scourged; it seemed to be his effort at appeasing the crowd without having to kill Jesus. This was wrong, and it didn’t work. Jesus was beaten to a bloody pulp. He didn’t deserve the beating any more than the cross they would soon hang Him on since He was innocent. The crowd kept clamoring for Jesus to be crucified and Pilate eventually permitted it and gave in to them. But why? Because Pilate was a coward! Continue reading
King David declared, to a very generous Jebusite who was willing to give him everything he needed to sacrifice to God – “‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver” (II Sam. 24:24).
Although studying this context would be productive, our attention in this lesson will instead be directed to the concept of giving and various perspectives toward it. David, although he had sinned recently, here displayed an excellent attitude about giving to His God. However, for every person who has a proper attitude on giving, there are countless others who cling to inappropriate views.
If we slightly modify David’s statement to generalize the focus upon giving to God in general (as opposed to giving a burnt offering), it would read: “I will not give to the Lord that which costs me nothing.” If we then break that statement apart, we can see four unique perspectives on giving. The first three are not proper, but the fourth most certainly is. Let us consider each perspective at this time.
1. I WILL NOT GIVE…
This is the perspective of the individual who loves himself and himself only. He will not give to anyone (whether mortal or divine). Such an individual fails to realize the benefits of giving to others. Indeed,”it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). People of this sort are dead inside, even while they live, for they lack compassion and wisdom, trusting in their money and possessions (cf. I Tim. 6:17). Continue reading
I am blessed to be a part of the AudioEvangelism.com ministry. Although my gifted co-laborer Patrick English and I got it started in January 2005, there are many (specifically the Clinton and Sunnyside congregations) who pitch in (with their time and money) to make this outreach ministry what it is. I’m thrilled that AE is still doing good in the kingdom after all this time!
For nearly 10 years now we’ve been mailing out audio CDs completely free of charge to those who request them. We used to burn them in-house but now have them professionally replicated and labeled for 30 cents a disc. The CDs contain Bible study lessons on a variety of topics and themes. This afternoon I updated this map from our request database. We’ve had requests from 49 states (still nothing from North Dakota!) and 128 countries/territories! I learn something about geography every time I update the map. The website had an average of over 1100 visitors daily for the first quarter of this year. Please consider studying God’s word with us daily, as others have been doing all over the globe. Lessons are posted everyday except Sunday and they are brief (usually 4-5 minutes). To God be the glory!
Want to be able to watch MOVIES with complete control over the amount of CLEAVAGE, CARNAGE, or CUSSING on screen? It’s now possible thanks to VidAngel! And it’s even easier and cheaper than using Redbox or going to the video store.
Why I’m Pro-Life and You Should Be, Too (Part 2)
In our prior lesson, we took a brief look at some objections often offered in favor of intentional abortion and how to expose inconsistency with the use of other questions. I believe it is wise to keep this subject centered on the key issue: What is the unborn? If the unborn is not a human being, then no justification is needed for the practice of abortion. However, if the unborn is a human being, then no justification for intentional abortion is adequate. At this time I’d like to answer this foundational question with science, philosophy, & the Bible to prove why it is the case that intentional abortion unjustly takes the life of a human being–a life that is defenseless, pure, and innocent.
It is a scientific fact that human life begins at conception. This is the case because a conceived embryo is an individual, living, human being. Let us define our terms:
Individual: The fertilized egg is distinct from the parents and has its own unique & complete genetic fingerprint.
Living: The fertilized egg shows all qualities of biological life: metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, & reproduction.
Human:The genetic fingerprint is that of human DNA.
Being:The fertilized egg is self-contained and has its own nature.
At conception, the fertilized egg must be human because it possesses everything necessary to proceed through all stages of human development over time. No other single human cell has this inherent capacity. All the fertilized egg needs is proper nurture and a proper environment to continue developing, which is no different from any human being outside the womb either. Science cannot be properly used to justify intentional abortion. The more we understand about life inside the womb, the more clearly we understand that intentional abortion unjustly takes the life of an innocent human being.
Some are willing to concede that a fertilized egg is a human being only to dig their heels in and claim that the fertilized egg is not a person. I would kindly ask: What is the difference? And what are the implications if we accept this notion that a human being can exist but it not necessarily be a person? Haven’t we been down this road before historically and committed heinous crimes again African Americans, Jews, women, etc. under the guise that they don’t really count as people?
Philosophically, there are only 4 differences between the unborn and a newborn, and none of these differences matter morally. They are not reasons to deny a human being full personhood and the implicit protection that demands.
SIZE: It is true that an embryo is smaller than a newborn, but size doesn’t equal value. Are toddlers intrinsically less valuable than teenagers because they are smaller? Is it right to kill those who are small just because of size?
LEVEL OF DEVELOPMENT: It is true that an embryo is less developed than a newborn, but value is not determined by abilities. Is an eight-year-old intrinsically less valuable than a sixteen-year-old because she cannot reproduce? Is it right to kill those who are less developed, merely because they are less developed?
ENVIRONMENT: It is true that an embryo is in a much different environment than a newborn, but location has no intrinsic bearing on personhood. If your intrinsic value as a human doesn’t change when you cross the street or roll over in bed, why would the value of the unborn change by moving inches down the birth canal? What makes it right to kill the unborn in the mother’s womb but wrong to kill a newborn in its mother’s arms when the only difference geographically is about one foot? Is it right to kill those whose environment is different than yours, simply because their environment is different?
DEGREE OF DEPENDENCY: It is true that an embryo has a higher degree of dependency than a newborn, but viability doesn’t determine value. If an adult is dependent upon a pacemaker, wheelchair, or medication to live, does this mean they are no longer a person of intrinsic value? Is it right to kill those who are dependent upon other people or things to survive, just because they are dependent?
These questions should be answered in the negative for both the born and the unborn. The unborn is just as much of a person as you are. None of the differences matter morally. None of them justify the taking of an innocent human life!
And finally, let us consider some of the Biblical evidence. Although this will not persuade an unbeliever, those who claim to follow Christ should consider these passages carefully:
Proverbs 6:16-19 – “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” God hates hands that shed innocent blood, and intentional abortion sheds innocent blood.
Exodus 21:22,23 – “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life.” The Old Testament view of the unborn was that they counted as a human life.
Jeremiah 1:4,5 – “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.'” The unborn count as people in God’s eyes and He has plans for them. How presumptuous and wrong it is to intentionally take a human life!
Ezekiel 18:20 – “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” Intentional abortion in the case of rape forces the child to bear the guilt of the father. Two wrongs do not make a right.
Psalm 139:13-16 – “You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” David poetically expresses the truth that the development of the unborn is a work of God. It is a work that ought not to be intentionally destroyed.
Friends, I’m pro-life and you should be, too. Intentional abortion unjustly takes the life of a human being–a life that is defenseless, pure, and innocent. This conclusion is inescapable. Tens of millions have been slaughtered in America via intentional abortion. It is right for Christians to speak against this atrocity, correct flawed reasoning that is used to justify it, and defend our beliefs. May we always do so with a spirit of meekness and fear, showing real love for the souls of the born and the unborn.
Why I’m Pro-Life and You Should Be, Too (Part 1)
Christians are commanded in I Peter 3:15 to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” Knowing the right answer is important but not sufficient. We must communicate the truth with a proper spirit of humility and compassion. Both content and presentation should matter to Christians at all times; when we lose sight of either one, we fail.
There are certain moral issues today that are often discussed without the balance called for above. I’d like us to endeavor at this time to speak the truth in love (cf. Eph. 4:15) regarding the issue of abortion. Although my position on this issue has never changed, I must give credit to Gregory Koukl of Stand to Reason (www.str.org) for helping to refine my thoughts on this important ethical matter via his articles & radio program.
Let’s begin here: I believe that intentional abortion unjustly takes the life of a human being–a life that is defenseless, pure, and innocent. I am certain there are rare situations where a pregnant mother’s life becomes in jeopardy medically so that if nothing were done, both she and the baby would die. In that situation, I believe the proper course of action would be to purposely & carefully remove the child from the womb early (by Caesarean, for example) to save the mother. If the baby is too young to survive, no wrong has been committed. This is not an intentional abortion (and the same could be said for most miscarriages). The action taken was to help the mother live, not purposely seek the death of the baby in utero. Some are quick to bring up these rare situations to attempt to justify intentional abortion. Such cannot be done reasonably. These rare situations do not change the position I am advocating.
In conversations I have had or witnessed, most agree that intentionally killing innocent human beings today is wrong. However, many quibble over the precise status of the unborn. Are they just blobs of tissue? Are they fully human? Or, are they something in between? When a woman intentionally aborts her fetus, is an innocent human being killed? I’ve already told you that I believe the answer is “yes,” but why do I believe this way? I intend to share evidence from science, philosophy, & the Bible to make a strong case. But first, let’s consider some preliminary objections often offered by the “pro-choice” proponents, coupled with some questions of consistency that ought to be pondered.
Objection #1: “Abortion is a deeply personal & private matter between a woman and her doctor.”
Is it acceptable for a parent to abuse his child if he believes it is proper & only does so privately?
Objection #2: “I’m personally opposed to abortions, but it should be up to the mother to decide.”
Why are you opposed to intentional abortion? If it takes the life of an innocent human, why do you believe it is good for women to have the choice to kill their babies? If it does not take the life of an innocent human, why are you opposed at all?
Objection #3: “It’s not about right & wrong, but about whether we trust women to make their own responsible choices.”
Should we trust all mothers to make responsible choices when some discard their newborns in dumpsters? If we trust women intrinsically to make responsible choices, why not trust them on all issues and exempt them from all laws?
Objection #4: “You would take away a woman’s right to choose? Who are you to force your morality on them?”
Would you take away a man’s right to torture his toddler for fun? Would you force your morality on him and tell him he is doing wrong? The reality is that our society “forces” morality on parents all the time when the well-being of a child is at stake. Additionally, as soon as one says (explicitly or implicitly), “Don’t force your morality on others!”, he is contradicting himself by doing the very thing he said you had no right to do!
Objection #5: “You would force women to bring unwanted children into the world?”
Many homeless people are generally unwanted in society. Should we kill them, too? And what about old people who aren’t wanted anymore–should they be put to death as well?
Objection #6: “Many poor women cannot afford to have another child.”
If children become too expensive, should we kill them? If a woman cannot afford a child, giving the baby up for adoption is an option.
Objection #7: “If abortion is restricted, women will die from back-alley abortions.”
If the unborn are human, should we blame the law for making it more risky for someone to intentionally take the life of a human being?
Objection #8: “A woman should be able to do whatever she wants with her own body.”
This assumes the unborn is not a separate human being. Can you prove this to be the case with facts and a logical argument?
Objection #9: “If abortion is illegal, then victims of rape will suffer even more!”
Rape is a terrible evil in our world, and this must be acknowledged. However, should we kill one person just to make another person feel better? Does one violent act justify another violent act against the unborn? Should we punish a child for his father’s crime? Adoption may be the best option in this case.
These nine objections do not answer the most foundational question: What is the unborn? If the unborn is not a human being, then no justification is needed for the practice of abortion. However, if the unborn is a human being, then no justification for intentional abortion is adequate. In my estimation, it is wise to keep dialogue focused on this central question as opposed to emotional arguments or ad hominem attacks. It is not productive to minimize the anguish of an unplanned pregnancy or its psychological and practical complexities. However, the topic is not morally complex. Either intentional abortion kills a pure, innocent, defenseless human being or it does not. If it does, we should not tolerate it, period.
In our next lesson we will appeal to science, philosophy, & the Bible to defend the pro-life position.
19. GOD’S BLESSINGS ARE OFTEN TESTS.
Here is a second lesson from Exodus 16:4.
The manna that God provided six days a week was both a blessing and a test. Would the Israelites obey in only gathering what they needed each day (except on Friday), and would they obey in not going out to gather anything on Saturday? Some did not obey; they failed the tests. What about us? Will we use the blessings He bestows in harmony with His will or will we use them disobediently? Money, for example, can be a great blessing, enabling one to give and do good works to God’s glory (cf. Eph. 4:28; I Tim. 6:17-19), but this is only the case if we are its master. If we allow money to possess us, so to speak, the blessing will turn into a curse (cf. I Tim. 6:10).
18. GOD WILL PROVIDE FOR THE NEEDS OF HIS CHILDREN.
Exodus 16:4,35 – “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not’…And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.”
How could God feed over two million people in the wilderness for nearly four decades? Miraculously! God provided for them as He promises to do for any today who seek first His kingdom and righteousness (cf. Matt. 6:33). We must trust Him and do our part, and He will take care of us.
Getting ready to leave for the Southern Illinois Preachers’ Retreat. Should be a good time of study & fellowship, as always. This year’s theme: Joshua, Judges, & Ruth.
17. MAJORITY RULE IS OFTEN A BAD IDEA.
Exodus 16:2,3 – “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
This lesson is underscored in Exodus 23:2 also – “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.” We must ascertain what is right based on the teaching of God’s word, not based upon who or how many support a particular action. A man who always checks to see which way “the wind is blowing” before speaking or acting might make for a popular politician but he won’t be a good leader. Majority rule is not inherently wrong, but it is often a bad idea.
16. GOD IS WORTHY OF OUR PRAISE–ESPECIALLY WHEN HE BLESSES US.
Exodus 15:1,2 – “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: ‘I will sing to the LORD for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.'”
The destruction of the Egyptian army was a great reason to rejoice. In truth, God is always worthy of our praise, even in difficult times. But, humans are naturally more inclined to praise Him when overcoming a challenging situation. At the very least, if we don’t praise Him then, we are selfish, ungrateful creatures indeed. Our aim should be to praise Him always (cf. Eph. 5:20; Phil. 4:4)!
15. WHEN THE LORD IS ON YOUR SIDE, THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR.
Exodus 14:10,14 – “And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD…’The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.'”
In general, the Israelites had weak faith and were scared; in contrast, Moses had strong faith and was fearless. Lack of faith and fear are always related. God provided them a way of escape to their difficulty, as He still does for us today (cf. I Cor. 10:13). If you allow fear to conquer you, cripple you, or turn you into a complainer, your faith is exposed as weak–trust and obey, friends (cf. Matt. 10:28)!
14. MEMORIALS ARE A GREAT WAY TO TEACH CHILDREN.
Exodus 12:24-27 – “And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. It will come to pass when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD…'”
When children witness a memorial of any type, they are inclined to ask questions out of curiosity. Such is the perfect teaching opportunity to explain the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the matter under consideration.
13. GOD IS SUPERIOR TO ANY IDOL.
Exodus 12:12 – “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment; I am the LORD.”
There is only one God! It was true then and it is still true today. Jehovah excels our modern man-made “deities” such as money, pleasure, power, recreation, and beauty. The wise will behave accordingly.