A friend commented that the Christian bakers should have gone the extra mile and baked two cakes for the homosexuals who wanted to be married. My response? Well... it went something like this...
We should also sell guns to murderers, saute our neighbor for cannibals, give taxi rides for thieves on their heist, offer knives to abortionists, sell dogs to those involved in beastiality.
I think you get my point. A homosexual wedding is a direct violation of God's law. To support it in any way is to be guilty in it. You become an accomplice and advocate. A Christian has more than a freedom to abstain, he has a moral duty.
That is why the bakers are being forced to submit. They MUST support and be a promoter. They are not allowed to not back the wickedness. No one is allowed freedom of conscience in the matter. They may not in any way say that this act is wrong.
The god of secularism may not be defied.
Marriage is the uniting of two sinners. As sinners, they by nature repel one another. We are inclined to break out against one another and there is a sense in which marriages are doomed from the beginning.
This is why all couples must look unto Christ and submit unto Him. It is only a miracle of God's grace that can weld these two differing forces together. The Spirit of God is the only power that can overcome the rebelling forces of the human heart and allow a couple to dwell together in happiness for the extent of their days.
The sordid details of yet another sexual scandal has lit up the news media. Unfortunately, such stories are becoming a daily occurrence.
Since these exploits reveal the prevalence of sexual sin in our day, it is a good time to review some Biblical truths regarding the subject of purity.
1. The innocent will not be put to shame (Ps 25:3). Those who live clean lives will not be disgraced. Chastity has the simple reward of being free from public embarrassment and the shame of guilt.
On the contrary, dishonorable people will eventually be dishonored. If the latest news spin tells us anything, it is this: What is said (or done) in secret will be proclaimed on housetops.
2. God avenges the powerless. Closely related is the fact that God acts to assist those who are weak and defenseless. To be sure, sexual harassment is a form of oppression. Crude talk and lewd advances are at their core power plays (perpetrated by both men and women). Respectful attitudes and actions towards the opposite sex is further reinforced when we remember that the Lord "executes justice for the oppressed." (Psalm 146:7).
3. Keeping Good Company is Wisdom - Who is laughing at Mike Pence now? His policy of never dining with a woman who is not his wife (sometimes called the Billy Graham Rule) has become the gold standard for purity and non-accusation.
Proverbs 2 reminds us that wisdom is the greatest friend a person can have because it connects with people of integrity and provides unassailable alibis.
4. Biblical sexuality is the most fulfilling - Marital fidelity not only offers a life of no regret, but it provides the avenue for the greatest joy and fulfillment. God designed marriage for the express purpose of sexual gratification. Scripture repeatedly associates the deeper concepts fulfillment (unity, intimacy, and happiness) with fidelity, while associating death, despair, and difficulty with fornication.
5. Decency = contentment - Much of the unfaithfulness that occurs in the world has to do with one simple thing: discontent. It is because people are not content with God and His plan that they seek exploits and eroticism. What Paul says about those who are not content with material things is also true for those who are not content with their wife (or lack thereof)--they "fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction."
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.
Kindled Fire is dedicated
to the preaching and teaching ministry of
Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.