“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every part of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, then I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all battlefields besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
May God bring us more Luthers.
Happy Reformation Day!
Way back in 1923 J. Gresham Machen could foresee how public schools would become the “perfect instrument of tyranny” — a tool the state would use to indoctrinate America’s youth with its own secular, relativistic, and materialistic philosophies.
When one considers what the public schools of America in many places already are—their materialism, their discouragement of any sustained intellectual effort, their encouragement of the dangerous pseudo-scientific fads of experimental psychology—one can only be appalled by the thought of a commonwealth in which there is no escape from such a soul-killing system. But the principle of such laws and their ultimate tendency are far worse than the immediate results. A public school system, in itself, is indeed of enormous benefit to the race. But it is of benefit only if it is kept healthy at every moment by the absolutely free possibility of the competition of private schools. A public-school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficial achievement of modern times; but when once it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument of tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the Middle Ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective. Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the ultimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist. Such a tyranny, supported as it is by a perverse technique used as the instrument in destroying human souls, is certainly far more dangerous than the crude tyrannies of the past, which despite their weapons of fire and sword permitted thought at least to be free.
The truth is that the materialistic paternalism of the present day, if allowed to go on unchecked, will rapidly make of America one huge “Main Street,” where spiritual adventure will be discouraged and democracy will be regarded as consisting in the reduction of all mankind to the proportions of the narrowest and least gifted of the citizens.
~ Christianity and Liberalism
While the economy has taken center stage during this season’s political campaign, there is a more fundamental issue that voters need to take into account when considering the candidates. That issue is where a candidate stands on abortion.
Ever since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, a candidate’s position on abortion has been regarded as a defining issue. During this election cycle, where a candidate stands on abortion hardly defines him at all. This should not be.
Where a candidate stands on life needs to be brought to light. Voters also need to realize that a candidate’s position on this issue is critical. So critical that pro-abortion candidates show themselves to be disqualified because they are incapable of fulfilling the most basic duty of one who governs.
Life begins at conception. Scripture has taught this for millennia – “Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps.139:13,14). Today, when you add the recent technological advances that have given us a window to the womb, the time that life begins and the personhood of the unborn are hardly debated.
Life is to be protected, especially when it comes to the most vulnerable. Those who are being taken away to death are to be delivered (Pr.24:11), and the obligation of defending “the least of these” applies to all of us. One way we fulfill this obligation is by paying attention to where a candidate stands on the abortion issue, and making sure we are not complicit in his promotion of death.
If the obligation to protect the weakest among us belongs to all of us, it falls even stronger upon those who have the authority to ensure the protection of the unborn. The Bible teaches us that civil rulers are ministers of justice (Rom.13:4). They are charged by God to preserve the life and liberty of those who are made in His image – including the unborn.
When a candidate takes a pro-abortion stance, he reveals upfront that he will not fulfill this duty. He makes a plain statement that under his or her rule there are some who will not be protected. In this regard, pro-abortion candidates are fundamentally flawed and unfit for office.
The basic orientation of the Bible toward the future is positive.
God wants us to know that He intends the days ahead to be
better than today.
This is an important orientation for us to adopt. Especially,
if things aren’t going so well for us today. Without the positive
future orientation that the Bible reveals, despair and loss of hope
easily colors one’s view of everything.
How to view the future is an issue that people have always had
to deal with. And they have always needed hope for the future
to know how to live in the present.
In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, the land of Judah was about
to fall in judgment to the Babylonian Empire. This judgment is
something the people had brought on themselves. Not only had
they been unfaithful, but the generations before them had also
forsaken the Lord. So, they were about to be corrected for
their own wickedness.
This was all very depressing to the people because it appeared
that they were trapped in an endless cycle of defeat. But God
did not intend to leave them in hopelessness. He intended that
they would learn from their hardship and come to relate
to Him in a better way.
“’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord,
‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and
a hope’” (Jer.29:11)
In order for this hope to be realized, God entered into a new
covenant with the people. Through this new covenant, He forgave
them and wrote His law on their hearts. This led the people to know
Him and His mercy like never before, and it brought them into
a position to live faithfully with Him as their God.
Whenever difficult times come, there arises a mass of people who wonder whether or not we are “living in the last days.” Today, in our climate of political and economic upheaval, people again are pondering whether the last days are upon us.
Recently, I’ve been told more times than I can count, “the end must be near.” But is it? Let’s consider a few facts.
First, in the Bible the phrase “last days” does not refer to the end of the planet as we know it, but the end of the Jewish temple system with the coming of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:17; Heb.1:2). Consequently, we have been living in the last days since the first century.
Second, there are hundreds of instances in history when it was believed that the “signs of the times” proved that the end of all things was near. During the fall of the Roman Empire, for example, it was widely believed that the end of the world must be at hand. It wasn’t. It was simply the beginning of a new world.
Third, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the heir of the nations (Ps.2:8), and that the end will come after He has brought all things under subjection (1 Cor.15:22ff.). It’s because of this Christians have been commissioned to disciple the nations (Mt.28:18-20) and to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt.6:10).
Thinking through these facts presents an alternative scenario to the common end times vision that preoccupies many.
Just because difficult times come does not mean it’s the end of the world. Those difficult times may arrive for other reasons. For instance, the Bible repeatedly teaches that societies who disobey the Lord, He will judge – those who sow the wind will reap to the whirlwind (Hos.8:7).
We have a name for figures of speech that contain normally contradictory terms. We call them oxymorons. So, phrases like “a fine mess,” “a new classic,” and “accurate rumors,” are oxymorons.
Another oxymoron is “unchurched Christian,” because it is a contradiction for a Christian to live disconnected from the church. Sadly, this is a contradiction that is lived out by many who profess to follow Jesus Christ.
There are different reasons why people avoid making a commitment to a local church. These include bad experiences, unwillingness to change, resistance to authority, pride, laziness, and a host of others, I’m sure. And, because of the weaknesses found in any church, it’s easy to find justification to absent oneself from the corporate gathering of God’s people. But, whatever the reason, for a Christian to remain unattached to the church is neither healthy nor biblical.
God commands His people to come together to worship Him. They are not to forsake their assembling together as is the habit of some (Heb.10:25). This point can be easily established by the fact that in the Bible you don’t find solitary Christians, but Christians coming together in community.
This coming together is by God’s design. Although the Lord regularly calls people to Himself as individuals, He does not leave them by themselves. He incorporates them into His body (1 Cor.12:13). The refrain of Scripture is, “I will be your God, and you will be My people” (Jer.7:23).