Salvation by Vaccination?

The coronavirus issue, and how we respond to it, has become for many people, even Christians, virtually a religion.  The rules laid down have changed over the course of two years, as has the narrative.  It went from:  “Vaccination gives you 96% immunity to “well, it helps symptoms when you get it” (a thing which cannot possibly be measured accurately).  It went from “Nobody should be going around wearing masks” to “masks save lives” to “masks may help some” to “cloth masks are useless.”  The usual excuse offered for the morphing of details is that the “science” changes over time.  The truth is, most things can be known for sure without experimentation or theory.  It is called “common sense” and it doesn’t need constant revision of the narrative to correct or cover itself when proved wrong.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this entire affair has been the faith placed in human wisdom so-called.  People are acting as if being vaccinated and wearing masks is where salvation lies in the world.   So much faith is placed in these things that it may be said of many that their salvation is by vaccination.  People brag about it and some, if not many, abuse others who choose not to… much like a religion.  It has become like one with its own “gurus” in the medical field.  To many these individuals are viewed as god-like saviors.  I have seen more enthusiasm from Christians displayed on social media concerning their vaccination compliance/status than in their salvation in Christ and urging others to be saved also!

Are we putting more faith in medicine than in God?

There was a king in the Old Testament who did.  His name was Asa.  Much is said about him; he was generally a good king.  The text in view of this is 2 Chronicles 16:12-13, “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not the Lord, but to physicians.  And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign.”

Note his failing:  Instead of seeking the Lord, praying to Him for deliverance, he chose to cast his lot with doctors.  The result?  He died with, if not of, the disease.  What is the lesson?  Trust in the Lord God to save you.  Seek His face.  He will direct your path.  He can and will protect you if He so wills it.  If you fail to do this the odds that you will die of an illness, or at least not get fully healed, will be magnified.

Jesus Christ put His faith in God and He was rewarded…

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust.”  Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence… You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.  A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.  Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked.  Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling…” (Psalm 91:1-3, 5-10).

While that was true of Jesus Christ, it has relevance for us also.  God may spare us many diseases and health issues if we trust in Him like Jesus did.

It is true that, as we age, sooner or later, we will die from something, some disease, accident, or illness.  Our duty is to pray to the Lord and let Him determine our course and future.  It is all in His hands.  As Christians, if we live, we live to the Lord.  If we die, we die to Him (Romans 14:8).  If He elects for us to die, then, if we are Christians, we go to be with Jesus (Phil. 1:23).

And note this… it is possible He may be saving us from a worse fate; a more terrible way to die that is coming down the pike for many.  Read about King Josiah who died in battle to prevent him from experiencing the destruction of Jerusalem (2 Kings 22 – 23:30; 2 Chronicles 34 – 35, especially 2 Chronicles 34:20-28).   Modes of dying are not the same in duration and degree of suffering and pain, but that it will come to us all is certain (Hebrews 9:27).  We must be prepared for it and our meeting with God.  Are we?

God engineered both diseases and remedies.  If He sends a plague to punish or inflict judgment then no power on earth can stop it; it will resist all efforts to contain it; it will “mutate.”  Yet for His people, who trust in Him and His power to save, He can and will deliver if He so wills.  I can guarantee you that those who trust in Him alone will do better than any who trust in human wisdom and the “arm of flesh” neither of which can save.

As a disclaimer, I am not advising anyone to make decisions about medical choices.  Do as you like with your health; it is YOUR business, not mine nor anyone else’s. In addition, I am not advising anyone to ignore doctors or take medicine. God provides both and I pay attention and money to both. I do what I think I should, but leave it all in the hands of God whom I trust to heal me by whatever means He sees fit if He so chooses.

What I am advising is that you do not to give your heart to the inventions of men to save either your life or your soul.  Give it to God who can and will do both if you trust in Him and obey the gospel of Christ.  Salvation is in Christ Jesus alone and nothing else.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” Psalm 20:7.

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Conscientious Objectors

This is a follow up to a previous article presenting another point of view on the same topic.

I was a young man of eighteen as the war in Vietnam was raging.  Night after night the news revealed an endless stream of body bags as our soldiers died overseas.  It was gut wrenching.  There seemed to be no end to the war and no way to end it.  I also saw where those young men protesting the war burned their draft cards publicly in defiance of the war.  I am sure some did so out of fear and/or cowardice, but others refused to support the war.  Still, they were all labeled “conscientious objectors.”  The news media did not judge them one way or the other but many people did, thinking they were not patriots because they ran from a fight.  I remember going downtown to register for the draft with my cousin.  When the draft came, I was way down the list but the war ended before that.  Nixon got us out of Vietnam.  It was a mess and a messy end but it was over.  I was grateful to Nixon for that.  I was an only son and that may have been a way out but if I had to go I know I would have.

Today that phrase, “conscientious objectors,” has been lost and nearly forgotten.  Yet it now can apply to people who, for reasons of conscience, refuse to take injections for Covid-19 or any other vaccines if they so decide.

The reasoning behind this is that [1]baby cell tissue from a line of cells drawn from an aborted baby in the 1970s has been used for years to develop many vaccines.  While there is vehement denial that aborted baby tissue is a component of the vaccines themselves, the fact remains it has been utilized in development/testing along the way and some do, in fact, contain aborted baby cells.[2]

If I were to dangle a string and place a drop of water on the top end, it would filter down the string to the end.  It would gather up material along the way, certainly, changing some of its composition, but when it got to the end of the string, it would still be water, not exactly of the same composition as it was in the beginning but water nonetheless.

To me, and many others, the same is true: it began as aborted baby cell tissue and ends as such.  Regardless of what the Vatican or any other religious leader or group determines, it is not acceptable if an individual’s conscience is violated.[3]

Make no mistake here!  This is not an effort to condemn those who disagree, who don’t make the connection or who do not agree with this rationale. I refuse to do to others what I oppose in this article.

God will determine the outcome and it is between each individual and God whether or not it is ultimately right or wrong.  We can only make our own determination. I am not responsible for anyone’s personal decisions; I am not fit to judge them.  Yet if my own conscience is settled that something is wrong for me, it remains wrong for me at least until I can be fully convinced otherwise.

Christians are forbidden to judge other Christians on the basis of conscience.  Paul the Apostle goes to great length to explain this.  In his day there were some Christians who had no trouble eating meat offered to pagan idols, the meat of which was sold in the “shambles” (KJV = city market places) (1 Corinthians 10:25).  Others, however, believed it to be a sin, a form of idol worship, as if the meat were tainted by being used in pagan ceremony/feasts (see 1 Corinthians 8:4-14; 10:27-33; Romans 14). 

Paul gives his verdict on the matter (Romans 14).  He states, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.  For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.  Who are you to judge another’s servant?  To his own master he stands or falls.  Indeed, he will be able to stand, for God is able to make him stand.  One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.  Let each be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:1-5).  He also chided the naysayers, “But why do you judge your brother?  Or why do you show contempt for your brother?” (Romans 14:10).

One could read this under the topic at hand replacing key words , “Let not him who gets a vaccine despise him who refuses to get one, and let not him who does not get a vaccine judge him who gets one.”  The premise conveyed in both versions is identical.

The church of Christ must not be divided much less over an issue that has nothing to do with Christian doctrine but is a matter of secularism and human conventional wisdom. Christians are not at liberty at all to despise their brethren either way and if they are, over this matter, then they sin and must repent.

We cannot violate our consciences under any circumstances.  “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” says Paul (Romans 14:23).  Do not try to force someone to violate their conscience.  If you or I are a “conscientious objector” to anything, we have the right to refuse, and must.  Our fellow Christians, at the very least, and if there are no others who will, must honor our decision.


[1] Labeling a baby a “fetus” is, in my opinion, an effort to disassociate a baby in the womb from being a human being, thereby soothing potentially offended consciences and justifying their destruction as undesirable “tissue.”  I refuse to use it therefore.

[2] https://www.hli.org/resources/aborted-fetal-tissue-in-vaccines/

[3] https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con

_cfaith_doc_20201221_nota-vaccini-anticovid_en.html

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Judging Brothers

Jesus made it clear how we are to view and, if necessary, discipline one another in the Body of Christ. He made the following statements: “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:1, 2). By this Jesus did not at all mean that we should not discriminate between what is right and what is sinful or immoral. He also said, “Take heed to yourselves: If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). These words are not a contradiction! In “judging” others we arrive at a conclusion of condemnation. Jesus tells us not to do this—it is not our job personally; it is His alone (Hebrews 10:30) as He is the best qualified to do it. However, He does command us to look out for one another by rebuking sin.

Sin is the key factor in the issue. What our opinions are about any controversial issue is (outside of a doctrinal one) should not matter and is not the subject of another’s scrutiny to criticize or vilify. The world calls this “shaming.” There are “body shamers” – people who hurt other people’s feelings because they are overweight or out of shape. There are “virtue signalers” who like to stake out a “moral high ground” (in their estimation) and condemn others who do not conform to it. Often these kinds of people have numerous skeletons in their closet on Biblical issues of morality, but that does not deter them in the slightest from attacking others. They are nothing but hypocrites.

Christians must not be among such people! Paul makes it clear that we are not in the business of judging our brothers according to their scruples (fears) Romans 14 & 15. Such fears or reservations are not sinful; they constitute a difference between a brother who is “weak in the faith” regarding doubtful things and a stronger brother who is not concerned by the practice. He strikes out particularly hard against those who bully their brother—”Who are you to judge another’s servant?” he asks. He adds, “To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand” (14:4b).

We are living in a time when people are judging others about various things including taking a shot for coronavirus. Force is being applied from the government, secular health organizations and its media agents/collaborators for all to submit. Yet there are many who do not wish to do this for one reason or another. Shall members of Christ’s Body partake of this battle? Shall it pit brother against brother? Shall it divide the Body? After all these years has Satan finally found a way to undermine and split the church on a subject that has no doctrinal value whatsoever but is simply a matter of personal choice and conscience?

It looks increasingly like he has—unless we do not fall for it. I pray we do not.

The Body of Christ is here to present the gospel of Christ, to seek and save souls, to build its members up in holy faith and doctrine. This charge must never be diluted by personal opinions on hot issues that government fuels and stokes. If we are to judge, it must be righteous judgment (John 7:24) based upon God’s decrees and commandments contained in the New Testament established by Christ Jesus and conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. Clearly, judging our brothers any other way is forbidden and invites the Lord’s condemnation.

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Don’t Get Slain By Politics

One of the most godly kings of Judah was a man named Josiah. A prophet foretold of him to king Jeroboam, “…Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you (the altar Jeroboam built) he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you” (1 Kings 13:2).

Josiah was indeed born. “But the people of the land slew them that had conspired against king Amon; and the people of Judah made Josiah his son king in his stead. Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem…. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 21:26 – 22:1a, 2).

There was no more godly leader and caretaker of God’s people and Law than Josiah. He devoted himself to the way of the Lord. When he authorized the restoration of the temple and the book of the Law was found within and read to him, he rent his clothes in anguish of spirit. He sent for word from the prophetess Huldah concerning the fate of Judah for all their transgressions. Her words were dire: Judah’s doom was sealed. But for Josiah she prophesied, “But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Concerning the words you have heard — because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against its inhabitants…and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place” (2 Kings 22:18. 19a, 20-21a.).

Josiah set about completely restoring the way of the Lord. “Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem” (2 Kings 23:24). He held the greatest Passover since “the days of Samuel the prophet” (2 Chronicles 35:18).

It was written of him, “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.” What a powerful testimony to his character, so godly, so devoted.

There is everything to love about Josiah. I wish I were a hundredth the man of God he was. I do not count myself worthy to loose the latchet of his sandal, to borrow a phrase. He was, indeed, one “of whom the world was not worthy.”

Yet as fabulous a person as he was, he made a fatal error. He got caught up in politics. At the time, Judah was a vassal of Assyria, still a powerful empire and entity. When Josiah heard that Pharaoh Necho was coming through the land to wage war against Assyria, he went out to face him in battle. Necho sent messengers to Josiah warning him to step aside: “What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you” (2 Chronicles 35:21).

Josiah didn’t listen. “Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo. And archers shot King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am seriously wounded” (2 Chronicles 35:22-23). He died and was buried.

We are not told why Josiah was so determined to oppose Necho. Perhaps he felt loyalty to the king of Assyria. Perhaps this was God’s way of ending his life quickly, in a blaze of glory. All we can know is that a political affiliation with Assyria brought him low.

The lesson for us is this: All the good things we can do for the Lord, all the ways we can lead souls to Christ, all the efforts of preaching, teaching, leading, nurturing, caring for, comforting, rebuking, people in and out of the church; with getting on with the work of God, can be frustrated. We can prematurely end our career as God’s man or woman if we get caught up in the madness of the loyalties of politics.

The world lost a great man and king in Josiah. He died too soon and too young. So much more he might have done for the Lord, but he, for a moment, took his eyes off the ball, the prize, to look toward some earth-bound experiment.

Christian, we are too few and too outnumbered to be losing touch with what is needed most in this world – us, active in the work of the Lord, undistracted, focused on the prize of winning souls to Christ. Let us not let politics do us in.

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Gathering or Scattering?

Jesus has an agenda; it is peace between humanity and God through His redemptive act at Calvary, dying vicariously to save us all and His subsequent resurrection from the dead. That process is called “the gospel” or “good news.” God purposed to unite all people and God that one way:

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32).

“…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in ONE all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him” (Ephesians 1:9-10 – caps mine)

That is what He is all about; it is a single purpose, a solitary agenda. He will have it done. He will see it through. He expects His people, the church, to do its part in fulfilling the order, the “Great Commission:”

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of ALL THE NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 – caps mine).

He warned,

“Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matthew 12:30).

Either we are gathering people unto Jesus or we are scattering people away from Jesus. We are either devoting our lives to bringing peace between people and God via the gospel, or we are doing something else – perhaps even devoting ourselves as “social justice warriors” (SJWs for short) who, while decrying hate in others are its very paragon.

We cannot serve a humanly-conceived organization, whether it be a political party’s immoral, sinful, agenda, or any organization that assists or promotes an ungodly, humanistic, often Marxist-socialist, racist, ideology such as Antifa, BLM, KKK, Proud Boys, Skinheads or any other similar group. Despite their claims to the contrary they are dedicated to promoting civil strife, jealousy, hatred, theft, vandalism, blasphemy, murder and chaos among people. The two agendas, Christ’s and that of such groups, is at total variance, diametric opposites, and, as Jesus said, we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

If you are a Christian and are a participant in, or promoter of, such groups, whether assisting by word of mouth or monetary means, or both, get out of it as soon as you can. Repent of your misguidedness today. If you refuse and continue supporting them you will, as Gamaliel warned his people, “found even to be fighting against God” (Acts 5:39). You will lose and lose huge.  I am no prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I can read.

Mock this if it pleases you, laugh it off as a fanatic’s ravings, but I am speaking the truth in love.

We are either gathering people together in Christ Jesus, regardless of color, class, culture, ethnicity, economic status or anything else, or we are “scattering” contributing to the division, hate-mongering, divisiveness that grips our nation and the world.

Are you on board with Jesus Christ as a Christian in heart sharing His goals of world peace through His gospel?  Or are you riding the Titanic as a SJW, Democrat, Republican, Independent, Socialist, Communist, etc. and their agendas as that which gives primary meaning to your life, its direction, fulfillment, and sense of purpose?  Can you be honest with yourself for a moment?

Jesus Christ gathers souls and so do the godly. Ungodly people scatter souls with hate, strife, and division.

Do we gather with Him, or scatter?

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Be Sure

Our nation is undergoing a struggle for its soul.  It happens in every nation from time to time—out with the old, in with the new.  When the pace isn’t fast enough for some, they resort to threats, burning, violence, and murder.  For people without God, religion, or scruples, the sky is the limit.  Disinformation abounds and as the situation deteriorates people who are caught in the middle are forced to choose sides.  In most cases those who are fearful of retaliation and persecution join the most popular band-wagon regardless of what it will cost them in the end.  Those who resist get shouted down and are “virtue shamed” by people who have none of it themselves.

What we are seeing today in America is nothing short of an attempted communist takeover.  Groups claiming to be championing a racial minority or resisting fascism are actually at the center of it.  Their web sites make no bones about it—they are Marxist to the core and intend for this nation to become so.  They are infusing people with a spirit of class and racial warfare falsely claiming the majority race is evil and deserves to be resisted and subjugated.  This is the oldest communist trick in the book.  Communism thrives on class envy and racial jealousies.

Creating strife based on class warfare and skin color is evil.  It is anti-Christ.  It stands against everything the church of Christ is and must be.  Paul said that God’s plan was to create from Jew and Gentile “one new man” (group of people—Ephesians 2:11-22).  That being true, anyone who promotes or stands for enmity, hostility, and violence against another person or persons based on their race, ethnicity, religion, class or anything else, is in direct opposition to Christ’s plan of redemption.  Such persons stand condemned.  They are resisting God and His plan for world peace through Christ Jesus and His gospel.

Let us not get caught up in this!  Before we give our vote for someone or wear some T-shirt emblazoned with their sign or slogan, make sure we KNOW what their intents are, not what we like to THINK they stand for.   To be duped by evil, ignorant thereof, and championing it will be no excuse at the judgment.

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Do We Really Believe in God?

…if we seldom pray to Him, and then mostly when we need help in an emergency?

…if we cannot find it in ourselves to sing praises to Him (hymns) when we can easily find the voice to sing along with secular (worldly) songs despite any off key notes?

…if we find ourselves more concerned with politics and world events than the sad spiritual condition of those we know and claim to love but who are drowning and dying in sin?

…if we are willing to risk exposure to disease at stores, markets and other secular events but recoil and abstain from attending church services for just one hour?

…if our money is so precious to us that we find it painful to part with it for helping the needy and missionaries, but freely dole it out for worldly pleasures and luxuries for ourselves?

…if we simply cannot muster any sorrow over the relentless annihilation of innocent babies in the womb but have no hesitation to (rightly) lament mistreatment of animals?

…if we know and seek to know much about things of the world, but can barely find time to dig into and digest the Word of God, so that we condemn ourselves to forever remain mere “babes” in Christ?

Doesn’t belief in God require more than just lip service?

“…Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” –Jesus Christ (Luke 18:8)

Sometimes I also wonder if He really will.

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The Center of Christian Worship: A Reminder

The government has ordered church assemblies, among other things, to cease due to the pandemic. I understand that idea and will comply. I do not, however, like the idea nor some of the ways in which people are finding it simple enough to offset the problem.

What appears to be lost is the failure of many people to realize that the church worship service and assembly is not mainly about the preacher’s/pastor’s message nor the inspiring singing of the congregation/choir.

Church worship assemblies, at least on Sunday, is about the Communion of the saints; the Lord’s Supper foremost.

It is about Jesus, not about us, nor the preacher, nor anything else.

Now, for most “Christian” groups, this is not a problem; they don’t observe it on the first day of every week anyway. Those who DO care about New Testament patterns of worship, however, will observe it weekly (Acts 20:7).

Sunday is the first day of the week, the day the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ triumphed over death, the grave, and Satan’s power to paralyze us with fear of death, by rising from death.

From the outset Christians assembled together to pay homage to Him and “proclaim” His death until He comes by honoring and venerating Him through the joint participation in the Communion service. This is established fact both in Scripture (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17-26) and in secular, historical, eyewitness context (see Justin Martyr’s description of a Sunday service in his First Apology*).

So when one removes that aspect of Sunday worship, the collective assembly of saints partaking of the Communion, you have effectively neutralized the main venue of worshiping Jesus Christ. Instead it centers on the preaching and the music as the highlights.

I know Jesus says, “…where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). That is not, however, a blanket license for Christians to fail to meet as health and opportunity permit. It certainly was not meant to be used as a means to justify deliberate excusing oneself from assemblies of the saints in favoring of just staying home and “worshiping.”

During the persecution of the church by the Roman Empire, Christians could have used the fear of discovery and death by the authorities to stop gathering. Some did quit meeting together habitually (Hebrews 10:25).  Many refused to quit and paid for it with their lives. (I can safely assure you that a sword is just as effective at killing as is a disease). They refused to allow their fear of death to stop them from congregating over decades of fearful and relentless persecution by the governmental authorities.

I am not urging anyone to disobey the law of the land. That, too, is a sin (Romans 13:1-7). However, do not ask me to believe that Christians can just as easily “worship at home” or via “live streaming” the preacher’s message during any time of crisis and it suffices in place of an assembly of the saints for “Sunday worship.” Let that never put our minds so at ease that we imagine all is as it should be.  Never allow it to lower our guard against forsaking the assembly to be diminished even slightly. We should chafe at having to do this, not welcoming it as if were a satisfying second best.

My fear is that we may become numbed by this procedure, have it become ingrained in our minds that we forget just what we are missing of the value and importance of our collective assembly worship: the veneration of Jesus Christ via Communion with Him as His Body, His church.

It is not merely hearing an inspiring message, singing, or praying, but the joy of being together, unified in spirit, sober-minded, proclaiming to the world that on a Sunday, long ago, our Savior won the victory over death and the fear of it.

In the taking of Communion TOGETHER we convey a united front and unified voice in proclamation to the world of that victory. We show them by our gatherings that we have no overriding fear of death because our Champion, Jesus Christ, is the only One who overcame it, and in so doing gives us the right to partake of His eternal life.

Sitting at home, isolated in tiny groups, we just cannot do that as well no matter how hard we try. Yes, we may have to do so for a time, to be obedient citizens or safety-conscious of others, but let us never forget that it is a far cry from the optimum.

The first chance, the very first opportunity we have to return to the center of our assembly worship; Holy Communion in honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us do so with grateful relief, heart-felt thanks. exuberant joyfulness and re-dedication to the Cause.

* http://www.prayerfoundation.org/justin_martyr_early_christian_worship.htm

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Christians and Politics

Our nation is more deeply divided than it has been since the Civil War.  Some say another one is on the way.  It is not the fault of any one person or group of people no matter what you hear on the news.  It is a sign of the times and the result of years of our nation moving further from God.

There are many issues which divide us but have led us to the brink:  abortion (leading cause of death in the world at 42 million); education (it’s role in teaching our children evolution and sex activities/orientations); money appropriations (funding for organizations which foster abortion and waste taxpayer money); urban homelessness and the lack of any intervention to correct it; the attempt to override the second amendment by government; mass illegal immigration (basically invasion of the country); racism among all races – the barb of choice now (how often do you hear that word being directed at people of an opposite color?); sexual confusion (gender identity, pedophilia, homosexuality in all its forms and degrees); rampant fornication and divorce; covetousness (materialism and worldliness); atheism; underhanded politicians; treasonous, slanderous, malicious, profanity-laced rants against elected officials…to name a few.  These are forcing us to choose sides and the rhetoric is becoming insanely threatening and violent.

Many of those issues are “works of the flesh” and engagement in any of them will bring God’s judgment upon an individual (Galatians 5:19-21) but will certainly doom a nation which practices them wholesale.  God took out Assyria, Babylon, Israel, Judah, and Rome on account of the national sins.  What makes anyone think He will allow it all to continue and dominate in America unimpeded?

Our beloved nation has reached the “tipping point” in its rebellion against God.  There are those who are trying to “right the ship” but there are many who are intent on sinking her with their sinful behavior and way of life.  They do so ignorantly.  Yet there are Christians who want to partake of this as well, who want to contribute some part to the overall mess of things.  Some of them are the worst offenders and sinners.

We may not be able to forestall national judgment due to pervasive sin, but here is what the Holy Spirit tells Christians to do concerning our behavior and attitude toward government:

“I urge, then, FIRST OF ALL, that PETITIONS, PRAYERS, INTERCESSION and THANKSGIVING be made for all people – for KINGS and ALL THOSE IN AUTHORITY, that we may live PEACEFUL and QUIET LIVES in all GODLINESS and HOLINESS.  This is GOOD and PLEASES God our Savior, who wants ALL PEOPLE to be SAVED and come to a KNOWLEDGE of the TRUTH” (1 Timothy 5:4, Caps are mine – DM).

Are you and I praying and interceding (asking for mercy for the sins of others) for our elected leaders?  Are we giving thanks for them?  Are we pleasing God by doing this or are we engaged in the EXACT OPPOSITE, by willfully, verbally and otherwise publicly undermining them??  If that is true of us, then we must repent of it and cease immediately or risk continuing to practice sin and earn divine judgment for it.

Don’t believe me?  Maybe you will believe what Paul said, also by inspiration:

“Let everyone be SUBJECT to the governing authorities, for  there is NO AUTHORITY except that which GOD HAS ESTABLISHED.  The authorities that exist HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED BY GOD.  Consequently, whoever REBELS AGAINST THE AUTHORITY is REBELLING AGAINST WHAT GOD HAS INSTITUTED, and those who do so WILL BRING JUDGMENT ON THEMSELVES…This is also why you pay taxes, FOR THE AUTHORITIES ARE GOD’S SERVANTS, who give their full time to governing.  Give to everyone what you owe them:  If you owe taxes, pay taxes, if revenue, then revenue, IF RESPECT THEN RESPECT; if HONOR THEN HONOR” (Romans 13:1-2, 6-7, Caps mine – DM).

Don’t give me the “He’s not my president because he’s so nasty” rot – the emperor Nero was ruling in Rome at the time of this writing and Paul commanded Christians to HONOR him as God’s representative.  Research “Nero” if you don’t know what kind of man he was.  He likely had Paul beheaded.  No president I know of has advocated killing Christians – at least not yet.

Christians, therefore, have a clear choice:  we can participate and engage in the incivility of the pagans and pseudo Christians around us against people, especially elected leaders, we dislike, or we can pray for them and invoke God’s help to them and our nation.  We cannot do both at the same time.  Feel free to dislike policies of elected officials; there are some policies that must be opposed of course, but joining in the uncivil discord against authorities is out.  So says God, like it or not.

 

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Fatal Exposure

There are two possible reactions or responses when people are confronted and exposed as having sinned.  One will be the way of King Saul and the other of King David.  One will lead to further sin and a journey farther from God, and the other will lead to contrition and a walk closer to God.

King Saul in the beginning was a humble man.  He was the biggest man around in Israel.  He was a shy person, so shy that he hid among the baggage animals the day he was anointed as Israel’s first king.[1]  For a good while he led Israel as a leader should, bravely throwing out the sorcerers in Israel and combating its enemies, the Philistines.[2]  He had a very good son in Jonathan, who was, as it turned out, a much better man than he.

The Amalekites had been a nomadic tribe who evidently had settled in Palestine.  They were a vicious, godless, people who took no pity on their enemies and when the Israelites departed Egypt, they attacked them but in a supremely cowardly fashion.[3]  For their unprovoked and malicious attack, God decreed that they would be wiped out totally one day.[4]

He let them go on for a good while and then gave King Saul the opportunity to fulfill His word against them.  (We must realize that God, being omniscient, knew Saul would fail Him; but one cannot cast blame on someone who has yet to do the wrong!  This was a test of Saul’s heart as much as anything; his fitness to be Israel’s king).  The prophet and judge, Samuel, gave the order:  the Amalekites were to be destroyed; their possessions “devoted” to Yahweh (in similar fashion as Jericho).  None were to be left alive.  (For those of you who think this unfair, please consider that God factors in everything; He knew what kind of people they were and everything they had done through the centuries.  If anything He is a God of justice, and His patience with their brutality had to be addressed.  They got as they had given through the years – no mercy).[5]  Saul had this opportunity to show His faithfulness.  He went on the mission and was successful in the battle.

But he began a war with God.

Instead of obeying Yahweh’s command to obliterate them, he chose to keep the best of the herd animals and livestock.  Worst of all he captured their king, Agag, obviously intending to bring him back to enhance his own personal prestige.  God had expressed His regret to Samuel over this, and the prophet went to meet Saul coming home with the spoils.  The entire story may be read in 1 Samuel 15.

Let us evaluate Saul’s response to the exposure of his sin in disobeying God.

  • He claimed he did what he was told despite evidence to the contrary.
  • He tried to deflect the guilt onto others to clear himself.
  • He claimed his disobedience was for a worthy cause, his own invention.
  • He was concerned only with saving face in the eyes of his peers.
  • He grew angry and vindictive when he did not get his way.

These are all things people, even Christians, will do when confronted by a rebuke to their sin.  Each of them reveals the status of the heart toward themselves and God.

  • There is a serious lack of humility, but an overabundance of pride.
  • There is little concern for their own error, but much concern for the error of others.
  • They play the “blame game” but refuse to be participants therein.
  • They will claim to apologize, but make it conditional, and hold out until their own terms are met first or at least partially.
  • They fail to fulfill their own obligation and duty to God by repentance and restoration (where at all possible).  Samuel himself cut Agag to pieces to rectify that failed duty.

On the other hand there is King David’s sin with Bathsheba.  Actually he sinned against Uriah even more and even worse.  This story is found in 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12 .  He made several noteworthy errors leading up to this horrific event in his life:

  • He was not where he should have been, doing other than what kings normally did at that time.  (Does this not tell us to keep our mind on our work, keeping it active, and not letting it loiter too much?)
  • He took the “second look.” The first look may have been Bathsheba’s fault, exposing herself to his view while bathing, but instead of turning away, he gazed upon her beauty and lusted so that it led him to sin with her.  (What does this tell us about lust and pornography?)
  • When she revealed to him she was pregnant by him, he tried to conceal it. The Law   demanded death by stoning for adulterers and both would have died if that Law had been carried out.  He was naturally fearful of this and who wouldn’t be?
  • He compounded his sin of adultery by the murder of Uriah by the “sword of the Ammonites.”  It didn’t matter who killed Uriah, her husband, as long as he died thus freeing him to wed Bathsheba to pretend the baby was legitimately his.

After Uriah’s predictable demise he married Bathsheba.  Yet the Psalms reveal he was anything but happy and blissfully unaffected by what he had done; he was thoroughly miserable.  (Read Psalms 32, 38, and especially 51).   Yahweh sent Nathan the prophet to rebuke David’s sins.  His reaction is the key element in this lesson, one that we must take to heart and duplicate as needed:

  • He simply acknowledged, confessed, his sin and publicly at that.
  • He offered no excuses for it, as King Saul had, never trying to justify himself.
  • He did not get angry at Nathan. In fact, he apparently named one of his children after him.[6]
  • He accepted the consequences of his chastisement, which were very severe, without being bitter against God.  He actually prophesied the exact penalty (four-fold restoration) for his twisted scheme which included securing Uriah’s death:  David lost four sons as a consequence, beginning with the child Bathsheba carried.  The others were Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah.  What a hefty price to pay for such needless, reckless, foolishness!  God had blessed David with multiple wives (including Saul’s) and great abundance, “and if that had been too little” (that had to sting!)  God would have given him even more.
  • He praised God for having delivered him from his error and recommitted himself to greater service to God.

David’s response must be our response when we are confronted with our sins.   We are all going to sin and blunder at times.  Fatal exposure comes if we react as did King Saul instead of how King David did.  Let us remember this the next time someone who has courage enough to confront, rebuke, and expose our sin to our face because they love us.

Our reaction and response will say much about the condition of our heart which is surely laid bare before God, He whom we can never deceive, nor conceal, our sins.

[1] 1 Samuel 10:20-24
[2] 1 Samuel 28:3; 1 Samuel 11-14
[3] Deuteronomy 25:17-19
[4] Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 25:19
[5] 1 Samuel 15:32, 33
[6] 2 Samuel 5:13, 14
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