Rescue Those Who Are Being Taken Away to Death: Remembering What is At Stake in the Abortion Debate

sebastian-grochowicz-qri3tMKrc84-unsplashExchanging Darkness for Light and Speaking Light to the Darkness (Sermon Audio)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
— Isaiah 5:20 —

This Sunday is Sanctity of Life Sunday and with it, we remember the lethal decision of the Supreme Court in 1973 to legalize abortion in our country. In the 47 years since Roe v Wade, and its accompanying case (Doe v Bolton), more than 61 million babies have been aborted in our country.

Put into perspective, this means that 61 million babies created by God, made in the image of God, and created for the glory of God, have been killed in the place where God brings life into the world. A mother’s womb should be the safest place on earth, yet in our day it has become one of the most dangerous.

At the same time, countless lies have been used to deceive women to pursue abortions. Uncertain or unaware of other options, institutions like Planned Parenthood have preyed on women, presenting abortion as their only hope. In other instances, men (fathers, boyfriends, and husbands) have pressured women to have abortions. And still other women vulnerable to lies, have aborted their babies because they believed it was the best way out of their situation. Continue reading

“Give Me Life . . . According to Your Word”: How God’s Law Leads to Gospel Life

ben-white-131241There is a way of thinking today that says life and liberty are found by rejecting or rewriting the law. Personal expression is all that matters: “Just be yourself . . . Be authentically you!” And if any rules or laws—be they religious or otherwise—get in the way, just reject or rewrite those restrictions.

Importantly, Scripture is not silent on this matter. And it teaches the opposite. Instead of rejecting the law as a place of life and freedom, it actually says that life is found in keeping the law. Or to be more specific, life is enjoyed as one seeks to obey the law. Yes, Paul says that the law does not have power to make alive (Romans 8:3), but that is not all he says about the law (see Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:13–14).

Moreover, Psalm 119 demonstrates what a heart cries, when it has been circumcised by the law. In other words, whereas mere obedience cannot earn life; those who have been made alive by God will hunger and thirst for life in the law. Obedience to the law is not antithetical to life; it is the very essence of life under the Lord.

So let us consider how Psalm 119 cries out for life in the Word of God. Continue reading

Finding Life in Leviticus 19: Ten Gospel Notes for Social Justice Warriors

commandments-311202__480The Ten Commandments are listed twice in the Old Testament—once in Exodus 20; once in Deuteronomy 5. They are also explicated at least twice. After each list (Exodus 21–23 and Deuteronomy 12–25), Moses specifies and applies the Lord’s “ten words.” This means that we do not need to wait for Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) to get an inspired interpretation and application of these commands. There is, within the Torah itself, explanation and application.

In fact, there is one other passage on the Ten Commandments which stands between Exodus and Deuteronomy. In Leviticus 19 Moses records the holy standards of God and makes personal application to the people of Israel. In reading this chapter recently, I took note of ten observations related to the content and context of these laws. I share them here to help us to better understand the good purposes of God’s Law, and specifically to show how many modern desires are best fulfilled by God’s all-sufficient Word.

In short, Leviticus 19 is not an archaic list of do’s and don’ts; it is actually a personal application of the Law which deals with so many of the issues Social Justice Warriors seek out. Only because these “laws” are grounded in the personal, holy love of Israel’s God, they retain their life-giving shape—something that no human set of ordinances can ever do.

Take time to read Leviticus 19 and consider how these laws give life by leading members of God’s covenant to trust in him. Continue reading

Exposing the Allies of Abortion: Personal Autonomy, Hyper-Individualism, Sexual Immorality, Technological Utopia

light-bulbAn abortifacient is any man-made device which leads to an intentional miscarriage. Typically, this word is used to describe drugs or devices which terminate a pregnancy. But I want to suggest that it is not only chemicals and syringes that abort babies. Ideas do too!

For instance, when a Christian learns their method of birth control kills embryos, they change. Why? Because knowledge of the world makes their biblical convictions sharper. Psalm 139 says that God forms the child in the mother’s womb, and anything that might result in destroying God’s handiwork is impermissible for biblical Christians.

This is the way that ideas save life or destroy it. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, believed among other things in the Satanic lie that the white race was superior to all others. Accordingly, her ideas led her to found an organization which targeted the elimination of babies—but especially black babies.

Ideas have consequences, and conversely, consequences spring forth from ideas. And so in the battle to protect life, and especially unborn life, we must not only confront the legal system and the abortion providers; we must confront the ideas that strengthen and make plausible abortion. We must confront the lies that lead young women to turn against their child. And we must confront ourselves for believing some of the same lies that fuel abortion.

In truth, abortion only exists in a world with a number of pre-requisite factors. Just as a fire requires a certain source of fuel to keep it burning, so abortion requires a certain number of ideas to keep it burning. And like with the fire, we must bravely confront flames. But just as important, cut off the fuel supply. Hence, with the fires of abortion, we must expose the beliefs that make abortion plausible, even desirable. Only then will we will be able to see abortion stamped out in our day. Continue reading

Dying with Dignity: What Should We Think About Euthanasia?

deathOn November 1, surrounded by her family and friends, Brittany Maynard will take her final breath. Or so she intends.

Earlier this year, Brittany was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at the age of 29. Living in California at that time, she and her husband moved to Oregon so that she could legally commit suicide. Oregon is one of five U.S. states that permit physician-assisted suicide, and so she relocated their to end her life before her cancer would take it.

Her decision has received great support from many, including her husband (Dan), as her viral YouTube video explains. Her story has also reignited the debate about whether terminal patients have the right to take their own life. And it has prompted many strong and compassionate responses.

For instance, Joni Eareckson Tada speaks about the societal impact of Brittany’s private decision. Mrs. Eareckson Tada also refers to many alternative options for people with life-threatening conditions.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler also responded to Brittany Maynard’s decision in his daily news program, The Briefing (audio, transcript). Considering a number facets of this sad situation, Mohler observes how our secular culture befriends death as a way of escaping the pain of life. In fact, he asserts that the support for Brittany is in large part an indication of how far removed our culture is from the Christian belief that God is sovereign over the days of our lives (Psalm 139).

Let me encourage you to read and listen to Mrs. Eareckson Tada and Dr. Mohler, but even more let me encourage you to pray for Brittany and her family.

Talking About Life in a Culture of Death

Even as we pray for Brittany and her family, we must also consider what God says about these matters. When it comes to matters of life and death, Christians are obligated to speak a word of hope for resurrection life after death. But we must also think clearly about euthanasia and wrongful ways our culture is permitting and pursuing death.

For that reason, I want to take note of three issues related to Brittany’s decision and then suggest five ways Christians must think about euthanasia. Continue reading

For Your Edification (4.27.12)

For Your Edification is a weekly set of resources on the subjects of Bible, Theology, Ministry, and Family Life.  Let me know what you think or if you have other resources that growing Christians should be aware.  

BIBLE

A Smoking Fire Pot and a Flaming Torch. Matthew Barrett, editor behind Credo Magazine, has given a brief overview of Genesis 15 and the significance of the covenant made by God with Abraham.  He argues that the conditions of the Abrahamic covenant are fulfilled by God himself, thus making the covenant (un)conditional. For more on the (un)conditional nature of the Old Testament covenants see the forthcoming book, Kingdom Through Covenant by two Southern Seminary professors, Stephen Wellum and Peter Gentry.

‘Covenant’ or ‘Will’ in Hebrews 9. For the aspiring biblical interpreter (with a little Greek knowledge), Bill Mounce has provided a helpful commentary on Hebrews 9:16-17, and why it should be translated “covenant” (NASB, KJV) and not “will” (ESV, NIV, etc).  He questions,

The standard argument is that the author is arguing by analogy. Having mentioned an inheritance, he talks about human wills not being valid until there was a death. “For where there is a covenant, it is required that the death of the one who made it be established. For a will takes effect only when a person has died; it cannot possibly be valid so long as the one who made it is still alive” (vv 16-17, NIV). The will belongs to “the one who made it.” Hence, the translation “will” and not “covenant.” (There are of course other reasons, but you can read the commentaries for yourself.)

The problem, though, is that it is hard to see how an analogy of a will helps the argument. The overall argument is certainly about the covenants. And just as importantly, the next verse draws a conclusion from vv 16-17. “Therefore (ὅθεν) not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood” (v 18, NIV). So are we still are talking about covenants?

Check out the rest at The Koinonia Blog.

THEOLOGY

Are Mormons Christian?  Joe Carter has taken the time to answer a few important questions that distinguish Christians and Mormons.  Since public religious figures (I don’t want to use the word pastor) like Joel Osteen have dropped the ball on rightly answering this question, we need to be better equipped to offer insight into what Mormon’s believe–after all, in a few months our country will probably be voting for or against a Mormon.  So here is a fast and friendly guide to understanding some of the main teachings about Mormons, and the false views they hold.  I would encourage you to print this out and keep it near the front door for the next time they come by.

FAMILY, LIFE, & MINISTRY

Ten Narnia Resources.  Andy Naselli, theologian, author, and librarian of all things Carson, has provided the ultimate Resource Guide for The Chronicles of Narnia.  If you are reading or will read C. S. Lewis’s series of children’s books to your children, be sure to check out his cautions as well as his commendations.

Chuck Colson (1931-2012). In the NY Times, Michael Gerson has provided a warm, personal, and Christ-honoring reflection of the passing away of his mentor and friend, Chuck Colson.  Chuck Colson was indicted in 1974 in his role in Watergate.  In prison he was converted, and over the last three and half decades, he has powerfully witnessed to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.  For a list of his important books, see Tom Gilson’s article on Colson’s life.

The Ugly American – Sex Trafficking and Our National Humiliation. In light of the recent Secret Service scandal in Colombia, Albert Mohler writes an eye-opening piece on something that most Americans are willfully or ignorantly blind to–sex trafficking!  He cites two recent reports in USA Today and the NY Times that chronicle the sex trafficking America (not just Americans) finances.  Mohler’s articles displays how far sin has taken us, and how sexual sin has an insatiable appetite for more and more perversion.  For a ministry that fights sex trafficking and promotes purity, see PureHOPE website.

May God use these resources to help you walk in a manner worthy of the gospel.

A Beautiful, Scandalous Night

A number of years ago The Smalltown Poets—who remain one of my favorite CCM bands—covered the song, “A Beautiful, Scandalous Night.”  It is a powerful meditation on the horrific and glorious reality of Christ’s death.  Here is a video to the song, done by the original artist, The Choir.

As you approach Easter, may the truths of this song flood your heart with joy and thanksgiving. The tree which brought Jesus death has brought us life.

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner, sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flows
For you and for me and for all

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful scandalous night

On the hillside you will be delivered
At the foot of the cross justified
And your spirit restored
By the river that pours
From our blessed Saviors side

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by his blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful scandalous night

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Live Like You Are Dying

Hat Tip to my brother-in-law, Farid Ali, who wrote a great editorial in the Orland Park Prarie. Writing within the secular paper of his Chicago suburb, Farid boldly challenged believers and unbelievers alike to number their days in order to gain a heart of wisdom (cf. Psalm 90:12), and to secure their perilous futures in Jesus Christ. You can read the whole thing here.