One of the most perplexing parts of the Bible involves the Old Testament food laws. Indeed, many unbelievers will go so far as to use these laws to mock the Christian religion.
While these laws are no longer binding on Christians today, understanding their place and role helps us know more about God's will for our lives now.
1. God is watching out for us - The Jews were some of the healthiest people on the planet. The reason was much because of their diet. Most of the animals that God forbid were, to some degree or other, toxic for consumption. Jews didn't have to worry about scurvy and trichinosis b/c God was watching out for them. Other animals had unsanitary eating habits...and who wants to eat toilet bowl cleaner?
We must remember that obedience is good for us. God's law is meant to facilitate life. If we obey God's law we will likely see good health and much happiness.
2. God loves us immensely - God had given the food laws so that the people of Israel would be distinguished from all the other people's of the earth. They were to stand out as a holy nation, a peculiar people, etc. Their diet only served to reinforce the notion that they belonged specifically to the Lord.
The food laws may not make for devotional reading, but each line should remind us that God has a special love for us. We are His unique people and He has chosen us out of all the people of the earth.
3. Unity - Food is the great unifier, is it not? Our carry-in meals create greater bonds of fellowship among us. We gain encouragement and strength as we sit and eat with each other. So too with the Jews! The food laws of the OT helped the Israelites bond as a people. It reinforced their identity and faith in God.
As the wise have said: "Intimate friendships are formed at table."
4. Bad company corrupts good character - It's not too hard to figure out who doesn't come to a vegan party, does it? Just as food unites, it also separates. It can keep people apart.
The finicky diet of the Jews kept them from having unholy companionship. Since they couldn't fellowship with pagans very well due to the different menues, they were often kept from relationships that would lead to idolatry and sin.
From this we may be reminded that we ought not to be unequally yoked and develop deep relationships with people of different faiths.
5. Redemptive reminder - One of the prime food laws regarded the eating/drinking of blood. Not only was this a practice that was unhealthy and typically associated with idolatrous rites, but it was a reminder of the realities of life and death. Blood (which is a symbol of life) must be shed due to sin. To profane blood is to profane life. Moreover, it reflects poorly upon the blood sacrifice of Christ, whose aim is to restore life.
I have created a study guide for the second question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It delves into why the Bible is the only reliable foundation for our lives and absolutely necessary for determining what is right/wrong.
Barak Obama makes a guest appearance, along with the Grand Sezwhoo. In this self study you'll deal with exploding bombs, gender confusion, and birthday cakes. Check it out now.
Westminster Shorter Catechism
What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
The word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.
I have created a little study guide for the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It delves into the "meaning of life" and co stars great theologians like St. Augustine and Kurt Cobain.
If you are one who wants to understand what your purpose is, download it now.
(Note: Files are Microsoft Word docs)
Who cares about the gospel? That’s what I often wonder, especially when it comes to those in Ashland who are supposed to be ministers of that gospel.
It frequently seems that "Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep...They are shepherds who have no understanding." Isaiah 56:10
A service was held on the campus of Ashland University regarding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Unfortunately, the meeting was a powwow of Catholics and Lutherans that shows us that a new reformation is needed.
If it would have been reported that the priests and pastors knelt together and repented of works based religion, lamented how they have cheated out God’s grace in salvation, wept over their having followed the doctrines of men, rather than the pure word of God, the service may have been something worth while.
If the Catholics would have been noted to have said, “Luther was right, we are justified by faith alone, and not by virtue of our baptism, acts of penance, sacraments, or other good works," that might have been reason to be hopeful.
If they would have announced that they are now looking to Scripture alone as the final authority for all life and faith and renounced the foolish edicts of popes and men, we may have had cause to rejoice.
If the priests would have declared that trust is to be in no other but Christ as the sole mediator between God and man, and all who cling to sacraments, prayers, priests, or anything else to bring them savingly to the Father have forsaken the true gospel put forth in Scripture...if that were said, there might have been common ground upon which to enter into worship.
But, so far as I can tell, nothing like that was said. Instead, there were dopey platitudes and silly side issues that had nothing to do with the true life giving gospel. It was more of a "lets hold hands and sing Kumbaya" moment, proving that no one cares about the fundamental concerns of the Reformation.
May God give us men who are willing to speak the truth.
The Las Vegas shooting is quickly fading from the media's headlines, and becoming "yesterday's news."
But before moving on, let's pause and think about what lessons we can learn from the tragic event.
1. Man is depraved beyond measure: President Trump called the shooting "an act of pure evil." This is perhaps more true than our president realizes. What would cause a man who had nothing more than a speeding ticket in his life to become a mass murderer? It is simple: He was a sinner. His heart was filled with the corruption of Adam.
While our president condemned the shooting with theologically precise language, we must remind ourselves that any heart not subdued by grace is filled with the same vileness.
2. God restrains evil to a significant degree: While man’s depravity is fundamental to his nature, we acknowledge that men are not as bad as they can be. The hearts of men are kept in check. Moreover, humanity does do some outward good (as is evidenced in those who went into the line of fire to help those who had been shot). This, we understand, is due to the benevolent work of God in the world.
3. Life is Tenuous: Those at that concert didn't know they were going to die that night. It came upon them like a bandit out of no where. In like manner, death looms over us all and may come quicker than we expect.
We ever need the reminder that our days on earth are numbered and death may pounce upon us at any moment. Thus, we should look heartily unto Christ and serve him like it is our last day on earth.
4. Life is precious: Monday morning hearts hung heavy with grief. Anger, sorrow, and disgust were in the emotional mix as well. But these emotions seethed only because man has inherent worth as an image bearer of God. The repulsion that many feel is a reminder that life is sacred and it should not be violated without just cause.
5. Evil is a Thing: Tragedies do not comport with our culture’s relativism. Postmodern America would like to say that there is no absolute truth and that right and wrong are phantoms of a bygone era. But when grotesque evils like this rear their ugly heads even the most radical relativist tips his hat to the fact that there is a God in the heavens who has set sure and defined boundaries for morality.
Give us grace to overcome
the sins we hold so dear,
Let us hate and sorrow them,
And live in gospel fear.
Mortify these wretched thoughts,
and purify our speech;
Rectify our putrid hearts;
Thy grace we do beseech.
Turn our feet from evil paths
and break our lust for sin;
Cleanse us in Thy righteousness
and change us from within.
Missions is near and dear to my heart as I have been a church planter and evangelist for the whole of my ministerial career. I came across these two resources this past week, each having a particularly pointed application to the work of spiritual renewal within a community.
Today after church I was asked by a young girl who has been visiting if zombies exist. She has obviously been watching too much tv. However, the question arose in the context of a discussion we were having on Christ's second coming. So I answered in this way,
The Bible says that there will be a resurrection at the end of time. When Christ comes again those who have believed and followed Christ will will be raised up in glory, with renewed bodies. They will enter into an estate of eternal bliss where they will enjoy life, wholeness, and happiness.
Those who have done evil, however, will be raised unto condemnation. They will be as close to a zombie as is humanly possible as they will not be glorified or made whole. They will be resurrected, but they will enter into an eternal state of death and dying. Their flesh will not be renewed like the saints. Rather the damned will be in a constant state of decay and the miseries of their sins will follow them for the duration of time.
Ashland University is giving an endorsement to theistic evolution in its upcoming Faith and Culture lecture. They are bringing in Deborah Haarsma, president of BioLogos, an institution that vehemently denies the biblical teaching of six day creation.
Haarsma herself wholeheartedly backs the humanistic / Darwinian view. This is evidenced by a recent blog post where she says, "We disagree that is it essential to believe God used a miracle to create a first pair [Adam & Eve]; we instead argue that God used the natural mechanisms of evolution to create the first group of humans."
The link she provides takes the reader to another Biologos web page that explicitly denies the fact that Adam and Eve were humanity's first parents. This, of course, is an outright denial of the headship of Adam and the important doctrines that accompany it, such as federal representation (i.e. the imputation of his sin, the atonement of Christ), male headship in the family, etc.
More specifically, this view poses the greater problem of forcing into the text of Scripture the evolutionary worldview. The overall premise is "The Bible really doesn't say what it really says." Thus, it ends up undermining the whole of the Bible.
The lecture itself may or may not necessarily deal with the question of origins. The posed tiltle for the lecture is "Can Science and the Bible Work Together? Christian Perspectives on Creation, Design and Evolution." Even if it does skip matters pertaining to the subtitle and lean more towards the topic of Christian faith being the foundation for science, there are potential problems. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, "theistic" evolution rejects the plain reading of the text and must twist the Scriptures to make it fit the evolutionary worldview. Thus, they inherently say that science and Scripture are opposed to each other. The Scriptures, they essentially say, must be corrected by our "science", rather than the (so called) science being corrected by Scripture.
It is disappointing, to say the least, that this the university is bringing in this lecturer and promoting this as a healthy thing for orthodoxy. Someonefrom a more biblical perspective could easily have been obtained.
I have started reading, Competent to Counsel, a book that I've longed to read for some time. It has been a treasure so far as it dismantles the Freudian blather that typically passes for counseling even within Christian circles.
While my highligher is in danger of running dry for its being used so much, this quote is blog worthy. It hits the true core of Christian counseling...
"Usual counseling methods recommend frequent long excursions back into the intricacies of the whys and wherefores of behavior. Instead, nouthetic counseling is largely committed to a discussion of the what. All the why that a counselee needs to know can be clearly demonstrated in the what. What was done? What must be done to rectify it? What should future responses be? In nouthetic counseling the stress falls upon the “what” rather than the “why” because the “why” is already known before counseling begins. The reason why people get into trouble in their relationships to God and others is because of their sinful natures. Men are born sinners.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.