The atonement of Christ on the cross will always be controversial. Take a few minutes to read this helpful take on Christ's work from Mark Dever.Read More
This past week, we looked at the stoning of Stephen the deacon and preacher from Acts 7:54-60. I'm too lengthy, generally speaking, so I'm trying to cut out more and more. After mentioning the stoning he received for the charge of blasphemy, I almost included the following:
This is a bit of a tangent, but it’s one I need to briefly take us on. You’ve probably been following the stuff about the Charlie Hebdo magazine in France. Back a few weeks ago, Islamic extremists stormed the paper’s headquarters, gunning down 12 people. Those terrorists were trying to punish the satirical magazine for what they perceived to be blasphemy toward Mohammed. Now some might say, “What’s going on here sounds a lot like that.” We could respond, “Well, yeah, it’s pretty clear it’s bad here, too.” They could say right back, “But it’s still in your Bible - in the Old Testament.” And they’d be right. That’s where some more explanation is in order.
The Lord made Israel out of nothing and called them to be a light to the nations. They were a geopolitical nation. They were a theocracy. God wanted them to be a pure people so they could best honor Him and attract the world. Therefore, the Lord had laws like this. But Stephen is rightly saying here that we’re in a different era now. Now the Lord is forming a nation from every tribe and tongue, one that would span the globe until the kingdom of God comes down and forever. We don’t win people over now with the sword. We don’t stone those who won’t submit or who dishonor God.
The word of the gospel spreads by the power of the Spirit. People come into the kingdom freely and willingly. So, we as Christians should desperately want people to come to know Jesus. But we should be passionate about religious freedom. We should at one moment be in tears, trying to beckon someone into the kingdom of Christ. At the next, we should be defending the rights of people to believe whatever they want to believe. Anybody who says the Bible supports stoning blasphemers doesn’t understand the kingdom of Christ. They don’t understand that the coming of Jesus changes everything. Tangent ended.
It’s not just Halloween today. It’s Reformation Day. Back in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the Wittenburg door. Check out those declarations here. Karis Church is proudly in the stream of the Protestant Reformation. The sacrifice of men like Luther is worth celebrating. Jesus plus anything equals nothing.
It's pretty hip today to let the Lord have it through our statements or prayers. After all, He can handle it, right? At least that's what is often said. Well, of course He can. But that doesn't mean it brings Him glory or is good for us. Job learns this lesson. He goes on a tirade, asking how the Lord of the universe could treat a good guy like Him in such a bad way. God, we see, is not pleased. In chapter 38, verses 2-3, he says this:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me."
The Lord then questions Job, hurling His resume down toward the complainer with eloquence and power. After two chapters of challenging questions, the sorrowful son vows to keep his mouth shut. God says again, in chapter 40, verses 7-8:
“Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?"
"Dress for action like a man." In other words, get your big boy pants on. This isn't going to be fun. "I will question you." It's God's place to give the interrogative smack-downs. He then proceeds to do exactly that. Here are two thoughts of reflection on these verses. First, do we recognize that HE is the one who is primarily meant to do the questioning? True, God wants us to talk to Him. There are sure a lot of hard questions in the Psalms. But there is a line that is often crossed from authenticity to blasphemy. His character and teachings are meant to question our sinful ways, and not the other way around.
Second, in our trials do we LET Him question who we are and how we respond? We need to get in God's word on our knees and read truths about who He is and how He works. That's the way the Lord will snap us back into common sense and worshipful awe. Job learns that lesson. Will we?
Often during trials, we try to run from God. We don't even stick around to yell at Him, so we should give Job some credit for this, I guess (not to mention the fact that the man ultimately stays faithful to God). Will we approach Him reverently, with our Bibles open, telling Him how we feel, while truly being open to see who He is and how He views the situation?
Today Tony Boes preached a great message in Karis Church from Colossians 3:18-21. It brought to mind this fantastic article from Russell Moore, where he says, "Women, Stop Submitting to Men." Fantastic words from Russ. Maybe our problem is that ladies submit too much already.